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Lesson Analysis-Principles of Experts’ Knowledge August 23, 2013

I am posting a series of blogs that illustrate a variety of learning experiences as they pertain to 3 focus students in my kindergarten classroom in 2009.  These posts were originally published on SPU Blackboard for EDU 6655 – Human Development and Principals of Learning- but have since been removed. I had saved hard copies and am re-posting them here as a WordPress Media File link.

This second post is a lesson analysis that points to several of the six key principles of experts’ knowledge (National Research Council, 2000) . These six principles are:

  1. Meaningful Patterns of Information
  2. Organization of Knowledge
  3. Context and Access to Knowledge
  4. Fluent Retrieval
  5. Experts and Teaching
  6. Adaptive Expertise

10-17-09 Lesson Analysis

National Research Council. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind experience and school (expanded ed.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


Focus Students

I am posting a series of blogs that illustrate a variety of learning experiences as they pertain to 3 focus students in my kindergarten classroom in 2009.  These posts were originally published on SPU Blackboard for EDU 6655 – Human Development and Principals of Learning- but have since been removed. I had saved hard copies and am re-posting them here as a WordPress Media File link.

This first post describes the students and their learning contexts.

10-10-09 Focus Students


Learning Environment Perspectives

Filed under: Standard 2. Learning Environment — lkgale @ 5:54 pm
Tags: ,

As I read about the Learner Centered perspective (National Research Council, 2000, pp. 133-136), specifically regarding respecting language practices, I was pleased to hear about how the everyday speech of African American high school students was validated rather than discouraged.  Historically, African American everyday speech was viewed as improper and/or underdeveloped and students were required to alter their informal speech practices which often resulted in feelings of inferiority. I believe that students should learn that different speaking situations require a variety of speech styles and that having a repertoire of language styles and knowing when to use them is a worthwhile skill.

The section describing a Knowledge Centered perspective (National Research Council, 2000, pp. 136-139) discussed “progressive formalization”. I would like to incorporate this strategy more in my classroom and have come up with a couple different ways I can do this easily. First, a KWL chart allows students to see how their initial ideas can be “transformed and formalized.” You simply compare the “know” section with the “learned” section. Secondly, if students take a pre-test at the beginning of a unit they can compare the results with the same test taken at the middle of the unit and also compare these results with another one taken at the end of the unit. This would provide a clear picture to students of how their learning has developed. I notice that our instructors for this class are employing this strategy as they ask us to synthesize our current learning into the original hypothesis we developed at the beginning of this course!

An Assessment Centered classroom (National Research Council, 2000, pp. 139-144) uses frequent formative assessment with many opportunities for feedback. This made me re-think my use of portfolios. Rather than collecting students’ work and compiling it for an end of the year look at their progress, I plan on making my portfolio system more interactive.  I plan to have students take more of a part in compiling their portfolios throughout the year and at the same time encourage them to discuss how their learning has developed, what they have learned well, and what they can do to improve their learning.

Community Centered classrooms (National Research Council, 2000, pp. 144-149 )often are part of a school that has positive relationships among the adults in that school. This reminds me that as a teacher, it is important to continuously connect with other teachers and staff. It is important to take the time to join others in the staff lounge during lunch or to go ahead and quickly share my student’s success/frustration story with my neighbor teacher. These are the interactions that help form a strong staff community, and thereby foster an optimal learning environment for students.


National Research Council. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind experience and school (expanded ed.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


Standard 8 Meta Reflection: Exceptionality

Students with unique needs can display a wide variety of behaviors in a learning situation and educators must become familiar with the specific difficulties and challenges associated with their particular situation. Often times, it is the general education teacher who first brings the needs of exceptional students to the attention of a referral team. Identifying and serving students with such needs will require special considerations and purposeful modifications on the part of the educator. Teachers also must familiarize themselves with the legal requirements associated with serving students who are exceptional.

There are several categories of disabilities, each with their own challenges as well as overlapping characteristics. Each category also requires a different set of general modifications, accommodations and instructional strategies.

Students with learning disabilities are usually of average or higher intelligence but are challenged when it comes to information processing. They don’t typically have physical, health or emotional disturbances. Such students might exhibit reading difficulties, high activity levels, short attention spans, poor organizational skills and often fail to recognize subtle communication cues such as body language and facial expressions (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, pp. 52-54). Students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can display “inappropriate attention skills, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity.” (p.58) Classroom modifications for this category primarily are related to instructional strategies that involve remediation and compensation.(p. 193)

Students with intellectual disabilities exhibit a slower rate of learning and often have developmental delays in several areas such as language, social and vocational skills. Such students may experience learning difficulties with specific types of learning. For example, reading comprehension will be more challenging than reading recognition or math problem solving will be more difficult than math computation. Instruction is geared primarily towards habilitation in an effort to prepare students for the skills necessary for successful adulthood. (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011 p. 210)

Behavioral disorders can affect classroom behaviors, social skills, and academic instruction. It is characterized according to three indicators: “1. If it deviates from the range of behaviors for the child’s age and sex which significant adults perceive as normal: 2. If it occurs very frequently or too intensely; or 3. If it occurs over an extended period of time.” (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, p. 232) Program modifications often are necessary in the areas of classroom behavior, social skills, and academic instruction. This can involve detailed data collection followed by a customized intervention program that seeks to either increase or decrease a behavior or teach a new behavior.

     Communication disorders affect student interactions and are some of the most common disorders. Some common difficulties are mispronunciations, dysfluency, and unusual voice quality which interferes with communication.(p. 250)  The main accommodations teachers need to focus on here speech and language impairments are opportunities to practice what the speech-language pathologist has implemented.

Autism Spectrum Disorder can exhibit a range of characteristics from severe delays to giftedness and can affect verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and social interaction. In most instances, teachers work with the special educator to decide on modifications in the classroom. Motivational systems can be helpful to modify certain behaviors. Additionally, the classroom may need to be physically arranged in order to support the student’s social interactions, maximize participation and decrease problem behaviors. (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, p. 264) For example, a student who calms him/herself with pacing can be positioned near an area with clear space along a wall.

In her book, Ellen Notbohm writes from the perspective of a child with autism. One quote reads, “Because I think differently, my autism requires that you teach differently.” (2006, p. xxv) While this is true for many students with disabilities, I believe it is especially true for students with autism. Notbohm suggests the  instruction that is visual/spatial, repetitive, and presented in whole chunks is most effective for students with autism (p. 29-30).

Students with physical and health impairments have a wide variety of conditions such as cerebral palsy, asthma, diabetes or allergies. Some of these conditions require no modifications while others might require extensive services. The Individual Educational Plan (IEP) for this student will address the goals pertaining to a student’s specific needs.  This may include modification of the physical environment, schedule format, and/or the structure of instructional activities and assignments.

Regular progress monitoring is an important component to consider when providing accommodations for students with special needs. Frequent data collection and recording will help inform educators of whether or not students are making progress towards goals, what are areas in need of improvement, and what goals need to be revised. Frequent progress monitoring also allows educators to provide timely feedback to the student, family, and care team.

Finally, it is imperative that a positive and collaborative relationship be fostered with the families of students with special needs. Seligman (2000) references numerous publications that support the notion that school environments that are rich with strong parent-educator partnerships are more likely to foster accelerated academic progress. Current literature also reflects that parents of children with special needs can provide information that is vital to the planning and implementation of their child’s educational program (McCloskey, 2010).  Numerous resources offer strategies and ideas that foster the building of bridges between school and home. Beth Perce (2013) offers several suggestions that educations can follow to enhance communication such as parent surveys, home visits, and weekly communication. Further, student guardians and caretakers are likely fearful for their children as they maneuver through the education system and simply need a compassionate and informed advocate who can offer support and reliable information. I am providing links below to two papers that address this very issue:

Collaboration with Parents of Exceptional Children: The Role of the Educator

Parental Positioning in Special Education

These artifacts illustrate the legal and ethical side of collaborating with parents of children with special needs. They also provide a perspective from the parents’ side that can help promote an atmosphere of empathy and cooperation.



Lewis, R. B. & Doorlag, D. H.(2011). Teaching students with special needs in general education classrooms. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

McCloskey, E. (2010). What Do I Know? Parental positioning in special education.

            International Journal of Special Education, v25 n1 p 162-170 .

Notbohm, E. (2006). Ten things your student with autism wishes you knew. Arlilngton, TX: Future Horizons, Inc.

Perce, B. (2013, May 21). Teaching Secrets: Learning From Parents. In Education Week. Retrieved August 23, 2013, from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2013/05/21/tln_perce_parents.html?qs=IEP

Seligman, M. (2000). Conducting effective conferences with parents of children with disabilities.

 New York, New York: The Guilford Press


Standard 11 Meta Reflection: Inquiry/Research

Filed under: Standard 11. Inquiry/Research — lkgale @ 2:39 am
Tags: ,

Taking two courses pertaining to educational research, while a bit daunting, was instrumental in supplying me with the skills I need to understand the role of research in education as well as apply the concepts, procedures and vocabulary to my educational practice. The appropriate use of educational research enables educators collect and analyze data to make make sound instructional decisions, evaluate research findings for validity and effectively communicate research findings to others.

Research methods can be either quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative studies are objective and seek to bring forth unambiguous findings. Such research emphasizes numbers and measurements. Qualitative research involves the interpretation of verbal narratives and observations rather than numbers. Historically, educational research was primarily quantitative but today it is common to find useful qualitative studies or mixed-method designs. (McMillan, 2012)

Researchers must also decide whether the question or hypothesis requires an experimental or non-experimental design (McMillan, 2012) . An experimental design is necessary if the investigator wishes to directly manipulate a variable and establish cause and effect. For example, experimental design would be appropriate if a researcher wanted to determine which group of students achieved higher fluency scores, those that practiced with a parent volunteer or those who practiced with an older buddy student. An investigator who does not plan to manipulate a variable will employ a non-experimental research design. This would be appropriate if there was a desire to investigate whether or not there is a correlation between teacher attitudes towards a particular math curriculum and student achievement. Observations would be made and data collected but no variable would be manipulated.

Action research is another research design that is used to solve specific problems at one site such as a classroom or school. There are three types of action research which are individual teacher research, collaborative action research, and school wide action research.  Veteran teacher Wendi Pillars conducted an individual action research study to address the problem of minimal reading growth in her ELL third graders. Although she did not find the all-inclusive answer to her question, she found that “AR can be a way to practice what I preach, take my own learning deeper, and improve my effectiveness as a teacher “(Pillar, 2012).

Having an understanding of the processing and analysis of research data allows one to organize data in a meaningful way as well as critically review and interpret the research of others. Researchers are able to summarize and compare scores and values by understanding the nature of percentages, measures of central tendency, the normal curve and probability.

The ability to determine the validity of a research study is valuable both for the researcher and the consumer. Validity can be external or internal. External validity addresses how well the study results can be generalized to different subjects within the same defined population parameters. Internal validity refers to “the extent to which the intervention, and not extraneous or confounding variables, produced the observed effect” (McMillan, 2012). In order for research studies to be considered credible consumers and researchers alike must evaluate factors that contribute to or detract from validity. As an illustration, validity is questioned in a study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) which concluded that there is steady progress in student achievement level in charter schools. In a letter to the editor of Education Week (Center for Education Reform…, August  2013), the writer claims that randomized control trials were not used to measure progress. The writer also stated that CREDO employed “statistical gymnastics to compare student achievement in charter schools across state lines while adjusting data to ensure that all students start at the same level” (Center for Education Reform…, 2013). Such factors would threaten the external validity of the study.

The value of sound educational research cannot be understated. Equally important is being an informed consumer of research so that decision making and problem solving can be based on the reliable and accurate interpretation of data. It is true that data shown through statistics can be intentionally misleading. As Sprinthall states (2012), “To the uninitiated, liars can figure plausibly.” I am thankful for the tools and knowledge I received in EDU 6975 and 6976 that have enabled and inspired me to be initiated.

I am including a link to a description of a research hypothesis and outline I prepared here:  Instructional Grouping Strategies that Affect Reading Fluency in Kindergarten  that includes notes regarding the subject relevancy, related literature references, sampling procedures, a description of variables and measures, possible threats to validity with plans for correction, and operational definitions.


Center for Education Reform ‘Skeptical’ of Charter Study. (2013, August 5). In Education Week. Retrieved August 23, 2013, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/08/07/37letter-3.h32.html?qs=research+validity+in+education

McMillan, J. H. (2012). Educational Research: Fundamentals for the Consumer (6th ed.).             Boston, MA: Pearson.

Pillars, W. (2012, September 5). What Teachers Need to Know About Action Research. In Education Week. Retrieved August 23, 2013, from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/09/05/tln_pillars_actionresearch.html?qs=action+research

Sprinthall, R. C. (2012). Statistical Analysis (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


Linear Regression

Filed under: Standard 11. Inquiry/Research — lkgale @ 1:45 am

Module 8 Reflection

During this module I learned about linear regression and how it allows us to predict a value of y based on a given value of x if there is a significant correlation between x and y. I also learned that the regression line helps us determine how much y changes as a result of x changing as well as helps to determine the “intercept” or the value of y when x is 0. I learned that the confidence interval refers to the range of data in which there is a 95% chance that the value for Y can be found.

Linear regression relates to previous content in that it is another way to analyze data. In this case cause and effect cannot be determined but analysts can make predictions about how one variable will change in a population when another variable has a significant correlation with it.

I am finding that at my first time through in the readings and the lecture I tend to be pretty lost, but I persist anyway. After reading the clear and concise discussion posts of classmates and answering the discussion questions presented by Dr. M, I am able to straighten most of it out.


Sprinthall, R. C. (2012). Statistical Analysis (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


Reflection on p value

Filed under: Standard 11. Inquiry/Research — lkgale @ 1:38 am

Module 3 Reflection

Module 3 reinforced to me that if a study did not use random selection or random assignment there cannot be a cause and effect relationship to the variables. I also learned that the p value of a study that assumes a null hypothesis indicates what percentage chance there is of drawing a random sample with a given difference in value between the control group and the group that had the treatment. The p value relates directly to how strongly the evidence either supports or rejects the null hypothesis. Further, I realize that if a p value does not support the null hypothesis, it only means that the results obtained are not likely to be due to chance. It does not necessarily mean that the alternate hypothesis is supported. Therefore, both studies that we reviewed in this module only showed that the results were probably not due to chance. They did not show that the independent variable actually caused the difference.

Previous content introduced and reviewed topics such as the null hypothesis, randomization in research, and characteristics of the normal curve. This module showed us how these concepts can be used to evaluate research studies.

This module pulled several things together for me and gave me quite a few “aha” moments, especially regarding the significance of p value.

Sprinthall, R. C. (2012). Statistical Analysis (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.