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Standard 4 Meta Reflection: Pedagogy August 12, 2013

It is probably safe to say that most teachers desire to bring each of their students up to standard and effectively prepare them to advance to their next grade level or graduate ready to succeed in college or the work place. We are given a nice and neat list of learning standards, aligned assessments and a curriculum that ideally supports all of the above. We are armed with school and district systems that will address the needs of exceptional students at both ends of the learning spectrum. While these educational components are valuable, we can probably agree that they do not fully equip teachers to reach all learners. Further, they can even provide a false sense of security leading teachers to believe that all bases are covered. While most students might reach standard, it is not likely that all students are reaching their full learning potential. For this to happen, teachers must account for the different learning styles of their students. They must also understand the nature of specific content and how it lends itself (or does not lend itself) to certain instructional strategies. Through this class, I have come to understand that there are a variety of instructional strategies from which educators can pull in order to ensure that students are learning to their full potential.

One such strategy that I consider to be extremely useful is the Inductive Model. This strategy encourages students to generate ideas, analyze and make connections between the ideas, and describe the observed relationships. It is the process of reasoning from the particular to the general (Williams, 2013). Macauley (2004) states that “The mind of the child is made to search out connections in life and learning.” Since inductive reasoning is “the process of reasoning from the particular to the general” (Williams, 2013), Macauley’s remarks pertaining to a child’s mind align well to inductive teaching. A child will naturally seek to make connections between different bits of information (“particular”) and assimilate these connections to reach a broader understanding (“general”). The teacher’s job is to guide this assimilation and make the necessary tools available.

Concept Attainment is an instructional strategy that fosters inductive thinking wherein students observe and analyze exemplars (or examples) of objects or ideas that go together in some way. The goal is to have students create, test, and affirm hypotheses that state the possible category that is relevant to the exemplars. (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p.112) I was eager to use this strategy to teach a Social Studies lesson on needs and wants to a sample group of first graders. I have included links below to a description regarding how I will implement this strategy, notes regarding its actual implementation, as well as a lesson plan and video snapshot of Concept Attainment in action:

Description:  https://lkgale.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/427/

Implementation: https://lkgale.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/implementation-entry-1-concept-attainment/

Lesson Plan/Video: https://lkgale.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/concept-attainment-wants-and-needs-1st-grade/

As I consider using this strategy in the future I will be cognizant of scaffolding student discussion so that it does not wander to areas that do not support the learning target. Additionally, I will focus use of this strategy on content that is more specialized and allows for a clearer distinction between “yes” and “no” exemplars.

The Jigsaw strategy is another instructional model that is a favorite of mine. It falls within the realm of the cooperative learning approach and fosters social interaction amongst the students.  Gerlach 1994 and Vygotsky, 1978 have shown that learning can be maximized through well designed, intentional social interaction with others. (as cited in Dean et al., 2012, p. 37). This artifact, Strategy Entry 2, illustrates how Jigsaw could be incorporated into a third grade lesson on Scarcity. This strategy is also well supported through research as indicated in the Research Elements section of the above artifact.  Further, Jigsaw lends itself well to the learning styles of many different students as it enables the teacher to strategically compose small groups that best fit the needs of the group members.

Going from learning about the various instructional strategies to actually trying some of them out in this class has moved me to a far greater understanding of how it is possible to reach all learners. I have also gained much insight into how valuable it is to reflect on the use of different instructional strategies, make note of my reflections, and interact with colleagues in order to get the full benefit of this professional development. Dell’Olio and Donk  reflect this teacher’s frame of  mind aptly when they write “Continuing reflection about your students’ learning and your own commitments as a teacher will help you analyze life in your classroom in greater depth and to your greater satisfaction.” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p.43)

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Denver, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning

Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Macauley, S. (2004). When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today. Retrieved July 6, 2013

Williams, T. (2013, July). Induction models of instruction. Survey of instructional strategies. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA

 

Values, Citizenship and Morals in the Classroom August 11, 2013

     The reading that most impacted me throughout this module on values, citizenship and morals education is that by Mark Hyatt (2013) titled No Refuge for Role Models. The main theme through this reading was that children learn about good character mostly from the adults in their lives who model it for them. Mark Hyatt was specifically referring to the adults who students encounter on a daily basis at school. This includes teachers, administration, janitors, lunch workers, bus drivers, etc. The character that students see emanating from these individuals speaks so much louder than the lessons they hear in the classroom on respect, honesty, diligence, kindness, etc. Hyatt went so far as to say that “there is no place to hide” when it comes to the impact a respected adult can have on the character knowledge of a child. I honestly believe this to be true. Moreover, the adults who work with children in an educational setting are likely held to a higher standard than most other adults in their lives save for their own families.

     Russell Kirk (1987) speaks directly to the role, or to the diminishing role, of families in providing exemplars to serve as role models to children. He states that “… the recovery of virtue in America depends in great part upon the reinvigoration of family.” Russell points out that, at the time of his writing, affluence and mobility have played a significant part in the erosion of family which, in turn, has diminished the power of family to pass on a sense of virtue to children. He laments that even many of the Christian churches in the U.S. today have replaced the traditional virtues of Christianity with the more nebulous concept of “humanitarianism”.

All of this is to say that perhaps we should take a closer look at how we can best teach values, citizenship and morals in the classroom.  Russell  Kirk (1987) asserts that the family (ie. Parents and grandparents) has, at least in the past, effectively transferred morals and values to their children. It would therefore seem appropriate and imperative that we engage the family in the development and implementation of a character education curriculum in the classroom. Secondly, Phillip Johnson offers many practical ways to incorporate character education into the day to day activities in the classroom (as  stated in Dr. William’s lecture, August, 2013) Some of these are: explicit character instruction as part of the curriculum, moral instruction through literature and music, rituals and ceremonies on special holidays (such as Martin Luther King Day),  classroom rules, to name a few. Finally, as expressed by Mark Hyatt (2013), we as educators must take our role seriously and “… live the values that (we) hope to see in these children.” What we profess should also be what we project.

Hyatt, M. (2013). No refuge for role models. In Character Education Partnership. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from http://www.character.org/about/news/newsbriefs/no-refuge-for-role-models/

Kirk, R., (1987). The wise men know what wicked things are written in the sky. Washington, D.C: Regnery Publishing, Inc.

Williams, T. (2013, August). Values, citizenship, and moral education. Survey of instructional strategies. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA

 

Module 6 – Learner Centered Instruction August 5, 2013

Filed under: Standard 4. Pedagogy — lkgale @ 10:37 pm
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Our focus during module 6 is on learner centered instructional approaches. Dr. William’s screencast noted that learner centered classrooms address the learning needs of the whole child and are developmentally appropriate (Williams, 2013). Students are encouraged to play a role in choosing the curriculum that is of interest to them.

Carl Rogers found that classrooms that were led by teachers who were encouraging, respectful, and valued student ideas and thinking were more likely to have fewer disruptions than classrooms that were weak in these areas (Rogers, 1983). Learner centered classrooms – or, as Carl Rogers terms it “person-centered” classrooms – reflect what Rogers concludes from his studies: that “positive human relations are related to positive human behaviors.”

Ronald Ferguson likens such positive teacher-student relations to a leg on an “instructional tripod”. Effective student learning depends upon 3 critical components: course content, pedagogy, and relationships. (McAdoo, 2011) Each instructional “leg” carries equal significance when educating the whole child.

Learning centers are one instructional approach that can be supportive of a learner centered philosophy. Learning centers are more commonly used in the primary grades and allow students to choose from an array of learning experiences that are of interest to them.  At the same time, teachers can observe students in order to get familiar with their individual learning styles, maturity, and academic levels. Learning centers are thought to naturally foster a respectful classroom environment. (Williams, 2013).

This particular module has caused me to look critically at my own practice of learning centers in my classroom. Often, I will set up centers in order to give students relevant learning experiences while I work with small groups in reading. Students rotate through a set of centers over a period of a week and are responsible for a specific set of tasks at each station. This practice has been effective in that students are independently engaged in meaningful activities while I have an opportunity to work with small groups. However, I realize that this system does not give students the opportunity to choose their centers and I have not been using this time to observe students and gather data regarding their individual learning needs. I plan to revise my learning center protocol to include student choice as well as time for me to observe and record student behaviors that will inform my instructional planning.

 

Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

McAdoo, M. (2011). Inside the mystery of good teaching. In Education Oasis. Retrieved August 5, 2013, from http://www.educationoasis.com/resources/Articles/mystery.htm

Rogers, C. (1983). Freedom to Learn

Williams, T. (2013, July). Learner centered models and multiple intelligences. Survey of instructional strategies. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA

 

Implementation Entry 2 – Jigsaw Activity – Scarcity, Grade 3 August 3, 2013

CLASSROOM CONTEXT–

The students who will participate in this lesson are from an affluent and ethnically diverse community in Western Washington and attend a school that currently has 612 students enrolled. This particular school has been named one of Washington State’s High Achieving Award Winning schools and recently received the School of Distinction Award. This elementary school enjoys a high level of involvement from parents and consistently reports 100% PTSA membership.

LEARNING GOAL SPECIFICATION –

Third Grade Social Studies Power Standard 2: Understands and analyzes the costs and benefits of people’s decisions to move and relocate to meet their needs and wants.

Essential understandings:

  • Students understand the impact of scarcity on their personal life and on the households, businesses, governments, and societies in which they are participants.
  • The condition of scarcity requires people to choose among alternatives and bear the consequences.

Lesson target: Identifies possible choices people must make when a resource is scarce and predicts the consequences of these choices.

OUTCOMES PREDICTED –

Students will have participated in a previous lesson that focused on the definition of “scarcity” in regards to a resource and will be familiar with the term.

  • Expert Group:
    • Students will find their designated expert group-mates and will watch the video or read the material pertaining to a specific scarcity event. As a group, they will complete the Expert Group Task Sheet (file also included under “Artifacts” section of this document). As I considered possible student responses to the task sheet for the water scarcity video, I was able to spot some trouble areas that will need to be addressed. These areas are described in red on the Expert Group Task Sheet-Sample (also included under “Artifacts”). Possible student responses are noted in script font on the sample sheet.
    • I presented this section of the lesson to a student entering the third grade in the school referenced in “Classroom Context” above. Her responses to the task sheet are included in the document titled “Expert Group Task Sheet- Student Sample”. This example shows me that this student was able to determine the scarce resource, identify the choices made, and recognize the associated consequences. I can also see from this example that this student was able to link choices made in a scarcity event to her own life. I would like to follow up with her to see if she can determine whether or not her scarcity involves a want or a need.
    • I anticipate that this expert group activity will provide a focus for group members that will allow them to identify the critical content of their resource. In turn, they will be prepared to share and teach the material to their Home Group.
    • Home Group:
      • Each member of the Expert Group will receive a copy of their Expert Group Task Sheet to serve as a guide when sharing the information with their partner in the Home Group.
      • Each pair member will receive a Home Group Task Sheet to complete which will record the material that is learned during the Home Group session.
      • Each student “teacher” will monitor his/her partner’s learning by comparing notes on the Expert Group Task Sheet with the partner’s “What I Learned” section. Inconsistencies will be discussed and corrected.
    • Debriefing:
      • Students will conduct a full-class discussion. Students will discuss and share material learned according to their Home Group Task Sheet. The student “teachers” of the material, as well as the classroom teacher, will discuss and support this learning.
      • My job during this period will be to ensure that critical content is covered accurately and that any home group concerns are addressed.
    • Group Processing:
      • Discuss the jigsaw process as a whole group. Delineate what worked well and what did not work well. Set goals for future Jigsaw activities.
      • I anticipate that this first experience of Jigsaw will have areas of improvement, particularly in the Home Group activities. Home Group interactions are occurring once removed from the original event resource (video or reading) and are being delivered by students who only recently learned the material. The uncovering of areas of improvement will be celebrated as goals are set for the next Jigsaw.
    • Opportunities for differentiation
      • As groups are formed by the teacher, student ability levels and prior knowledge can be considered. Teachers can group and assign roles to students in the expert groups that will be supportive of their strengths and needs.
      • Student characteristics and personalities can also be considered during the forming of groups. Gender, age, ethnicity, culture, language factors, social and emotional maturity, learning styles and leadership qualities are factors that can contribute to effective heterogonous groupings.
      • Students that struggle in reading skills can be assigned to an expert group that uses a video as a resource. Support in reading and writing can be available by peers during the task sheet portion of the experience.
      • As students are engaged in the group discussions, teachers can be available to offer support and challenge to students as needed.

ARTIFACTS –

Expert Group Task Sheet

Expert Group Task Sheet-Sample

Expert Group Task Sheet- Student Sample

Home Group Task Sheet

 

Cooperative Learning Strategies July 30, 2013

Module 5 focused on cooperative learning strategies, particularly the Jigsaw model. Through this strategy each student in a group is responsible for meaningful and essential contributions towards a group goal. Students interact with each other, are accountable for their part of the task, learn and practice appropriate social skills, and reflect as a group on how well they worked with one another. (Del’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 246)

As stated in Dr. William’s Module 5 lecture (Williams, 2013), the interpersonal and small group skills necessary for cooperative learning must be explicitly taught. It cannot be assumed that these practices will occur naturally. Such skills include communication, decision making, conflict resolution, leadership, and trust. In my particular school these skills are addressed in our character education curriculum (Kelso’s Choices and Peace Builders) along with our Social Studies curriculum “Social Studies Alive!” by TCI. It is important to refer to the skills learned through these curriculums as students engage in cooperative learning.

Further, cooperative learning must not be overused. (Dean, et al., 2012, p. 42) While the benefits of cooperative learning are definite and research based, students must engage in independent practice as well. When cooperative learning is used, the grouping should be varied as well. Dean et al. (2012) caution to avoid ability grouping on a consistent basis. This can lead to “group think” and restrict the knowledge available during the learning activity. (p. 43) Alternative groupings can be random, using name cards or popsicle sticks; student choice; purposeful heterogeneous groups (high to lower level learners distributed evenly amongst groups); or interest based, just to name a few.

Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) state that Jigsaw can be used as early as third grade “depending on the particular makeup, maturity, and social skills of the class.” (p.247) It would seem that there are many things educators can do to prepare younger students for cooperative learning as early as Kindergarten. First, young students should learn about and practice interpersonal skills such as conflict resolution and communication. Primary age students should also experience working in simple small groups such as “turn and talk” or “think-pair-share” as these experiences lead well into more sophisticated small group collaboration. Guided reading groups and thematic centers are other experiences that prepare young students for effective cooperative learning.

Resources:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Denver, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.

Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Williams, T. (2013, July). Induction models of instruction. Cooperative/collaborative learning. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA

 

Concept Attainment – Wants and Needs –1st Grade

 

Youtube video link:  http://youtu.be/a44N3kxPdOc

Teaching Environment:

The students who will participate in this lesson are from an affluent community in Western Washington and attend a school that currently has 612 students enrolled. This particular school has been named one of Washington State’s High Achieving Award Winning schools and recently received the School of Distinction Award. This elementary school enjoys a high level of involvement from parents and consistently reports 100% PTSA membership.

The group of students receiving this lesson includes three pairs of siblings. All three of the younger siblings are entering first grade and all three of the older siblings are entering third grade. The third grade students will serve in a supportive role such as camera operator or materials manager, along with contributing to the discussions.

Strategy Rationale and Analysis:

In this lesson I am using the Concept Attainment strategy to teach a first grade lesson on wants and needs. At this point students have had no previous exposure to the concept of wants and needs in the classroom. I chose this strategy because it aligns with the constructivist view of learning – so that students could learn the attributes of this concept through observation and engaging in student directed discussion (Dell’Olio, et al., 2007) I believe that wants and needs have clear attributes that lend themselves well to this strategy.

After implementing this strategy I realize that it will take practice in order for me to become familiar with concept attainment and be able to adjust my scaffolding during discussion. Further, the mixed age of the group that was featured in the video created somewhat of an uneven opportunity for all to participate. An astute peer reviewer recognized that the self-directed nature of the discussion was a bit much for first graders to keep up with. I agree and will focus on stronger scaffolding when this strategy is presented in the first grade classroom.

Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Peer Review Questions to Consider:

1. Do you think that the pairings of exemplars were appropriate?

2. Did students receive the full benefit of self – directed discussions and had the right amount of teacher scaffolding?

3. Would this lesson have been better if 2 concept attainment activities were done to address the two separate concepts of “wants” and “needs”?

LessonPlan:

See attached below

Video Policy:

Attached are two Lake Washington School District parent permission forms that are used when student information or photos are to be released on the internet or in the directory. The Directory Information Withhold Form is sent home to families at the beginning of the year. If the form does not come back then it is assumed that directory information can be released per the parameters specified on the form.

Attachments:

Lesson Planning Template-Video Lesson

Directory-Information-Withhold-Form 

Permission-Form-for-Web

 

Strategy Entry 2 – Jigsaw

Strategy Description –

The strategy I will be focusing on for this entry is the Jigsaw model. This is a type of instructional strategy that follows the cooperative learning approach where each student in a group is responsible for meaningful and essential contributions towards a group goal. Students interact with each other, are accountable for their part of the task, learn and practice appropriate social skills, and reflect as a group on how well they worked with one another. (Del’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 246)

The Jigsaw strategy requires each student to learn one part of a content area for which their group is responsible. Students are then responsible for teaching their particular part to the rest of the group. In order for the group learning goal to be met, each member must fulfill his/her role effectively. Furthermore, there is little opportunity for members to dominate over others. Another benefit of this strategy is it is flexible in that it can accommodate different learning styles and abilities as well as be used across the content areas.

Research Elements –

  • Lou et al. have found that cooperative grouping strategies are most effective when used once per week. (as cited in Dean et al., 2012, p. 42)
  • Gerlach 1994 and Vygotsky, 1978 have shown that learning can be maximized through well designed, intentional social interaction with others. (as cited in Dean et al., 2012, p. 37)
  • Bandura states in a 2000 study that deeper learning occurs when students talk through material with others. (as cited in Dean et al., 2012, p. 37-38)
  • Slavin (1991) has synthesized 67 studies that investigated the academic benefits of cooperative learning. Sixty-one percent of these studies show greater achievement in cooperative learning environments than in control groups.
  • Most of the research on cooperative learning has been conducted in grades 3 – 9. More research is needed on the upper grades. (Slavin, 1991)
  • Slavin (1991) has found that the benefits of cooperative learning can be found in urban, suburban, and rural schools.
  • Slavin (1991) also finds that the effectiveness of cooperative learning is enhanced when both group goals and individual accountability are present.
  • Jigsaw lessens classroom emphasis on competition. (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007)
  • Both White and minority students show more positive attitudes towards school when having participated in Jigsaw activities. (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007)

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Denver, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.

Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Slavin, R. E. (1991) Synthesis of Research of Cooperative Learning. Educational leadership, 48(5), 71-82.

Implementation Notes –

  1. Preparation for a Jigsaw activity
    1. Consider lesson content:
  • Third Grade Social Studies Power Standard 2: Understands and analyzes the costs and benefits of people’s decisions to move and relocate to meet their needs and wants.
    • Lesson target: Identifies possible choices people must make when a resource is scarce and predicts the consequences of these choices.
    • Essential understandings:
      • Students understand the impact of scarcity on their personal life and on the households, businesses, governments, and societies in which they are participants.
      • The condition of scarcity requires people to choose among alternatives and bear the consequences.
      • Guiding questions:
        • How do people in different cultures and societies meet their needs and wants?
        • What economic consequences drive people’s decisions?
  1. Consider time forecasting
  • Students have not engaged in Jigsaw activities before but have had some experience in think, pair, share and small group interactions. They have been taught basic social skills such as conflict resolution and group decision making.
  • Plan for 2 – 3 one hour sessions to complete the Jigsaw activity across 2 – 3 days.
  1. Compose groups
  • Since this is the first Jigsaw experience for students the expert groups will be small – approximately 4 students
  • Expert groups will be heterogeneous based on gender, prior knowledge, language skills, and social skills
  • Home groups will be in pairs
  1. Prepare materials
  • Scarcity videos/articles
  1. Water shortage
  2. Gasoline shortage
  3. Food shortage
  • Task sheets
  1. Experts’ task sheet
  2. Home-Group task sheet
  3. Day One
    1. Jigsaw introduction
    2. Expert groups review material, complete task sheets
    3. Teacher addresses questions, facilitates and supports group interactions
    4. Day Two
      1. Review material and task sheets in expert groups
      2. Move to home groups, complete task sheets
      3. Teacher addresses questions, facilitates and supports home group discussions. (At this point, assess if students will be able to complete the Jigsaw experience on this second day. If not, break at this point and complete the activity on day three.)
      4. Whole group debriefing
      5. Small and/or whole group processing. Discuss the Jigsaw process and set goals to improve group work and social skills.
      6. Individual accountability activity

Resources –

Possible expert material:

Jigsaw strategy resources:

Possible task sheet (original artifact):    Expert Group Task Sheet