1.2 Content Connects with Students’ Knowledge and Experience

 

  1. Expectations– The teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

1.2 Communicating with Students

Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience

Teachers can enhance the learning content by using a number of different resources in order to make the learning more culturally relevant and understandable. When students can connect the content to a personal experience, the content becomes meaningful and deeper learning occurs. Students are able to fill in the gaps of understanding with the background knowledge that they have experienced. Learning is then relevant and students become more motivated to explore the content further.

Teachers must learn about his/her students’ backgrounds, cultures, interests, and experiences in order to make the content appropriate and connect it to students’ knowledge and experiences. Campbell (2008) states that, “Students, of any age, bring beliefs and life and academic experiences to the classroom that influence what and how they learn. Teachers can learn about his/her students by spending time to get to know the student personally. My mentor teacher and I have the opportunity to get to know our students before the first day of school. We meet with the families and the student to learn about them, their interests, their culture, their families, and their excitements and/or worries about kindergarten. My mentor teacher and I record the information in a packet and hold on to it for the entire year. We intentionally look for ways to connect with our students throughout the year, as well. Every Monday morning we check in with our students during a class meeting. We ask if anyone did anything exciting over the weekend, what books they read, or if they experienced any of their learning in real life. This gives us a chance to hear from our students. We have noticed that a large number of our students are Seattle Seahawks fans. Knowing this, we try to incorporate the Seattle Seahawks into our math problem of the day or into a quick write. Our students have also expressed interest in candy and sweets.IMG_0420.jpg My mentor teacher and I have incorporated Skittles, M&Ms, Oreos, chocolate, Starbursts, and cereal into “Munch, Munch, Math” during our addition and subtraction math units.  Last, we have intentionally incorporated culture and family traditions into our writing unit. We have asked our students to share a narrative story about one of their favorite holidays that they share with their family. We used narrative exemplars from a Vietnamese author and from a Hispanic author. I also shared an exemplar narrative about my favorite holiday that I share with my family. These exemplars connected with our students’ knowledge and experiences because all of them have experienced a holiday that they have shared with their family. This learning activity was approached by our students with great motivation and in turn, great results.

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3.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Students

  1. Differentiation – The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual intellectual and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust their practice by employing strategies that advance student learning.

3.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Students. Teacher recognizes the value of understanding students’ skills, knowledge, and language proficiency and displays this knowledge for groups of – students.

Students can most efficiently advance in their learning when the teacher knows each students’ strengths and needs and is flexible and responsive to them. Effective teachers know that there is a wide range of ability levels across subjects. There are many benefits to small groups both for the teacher and the student. Small groups are essential to best tailor instruction to the needs of each student. They give the teacher a chance to meet students where they are at in their understanding and tailor the instruction so that the learning will be most meaningful to them. Specifically for reading, small groups boost self- esteem, increases motivation, and closes the cap between good readers and struggling readers (Barr & Dreeben, 1991; Slavin, 1987) (Calfee & Brown, 1979; Good & Stipek, 1983; Hiebert, 1983; Rosenholtz & Wilson, 1980).

In my kindergarten classroom my mentor teacher and I have created small reading groups based on ability levels. Each group is given an animal as the group name. For example, we have the teddy bears, frogs, sheep, tigers, and the robots.

FullSizeRender (1).jpg Groups are created at the beginning of the year based on the students’ performance on a formalized kindergarten assessment. The parts of the kindergarten assessment that we use to make the reading groups are the sections where we assess students’ knowledge on letter identification, letter sounds, segmenting, blending, and rhyming. These areas provide information about each student’s prior knowledge and exposure to reading. Students may be switched to a different reading group depending on their progress throughout the year. In February, students are formally reassessed using the Fountas & Pinnell assessment. This data informs teacher about which students need to be in a different group and what specific areas our readers are struggling with.

Reading groups give us the ability to provide reading instruction that both challenges students but also provides instruction that is meaningful. For example, in the highest performing group we may be providing instruction on vowel rules whereas in our groups that need more support, we may be providing instruction on how to sound out C-V-C words. Each group focuses on reading fluency and reading comprehension.

It has been exciting to see how effective ability groups have been and how they have greatly increased the confidence in my students. I am excited to apply this concept across other subjects.

 

 

 

 

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5.4 Establishing Expectations with Students

  1. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

5.4 Managing Student Behavior by Establishing Expectations. Standards of conduct are clear to all students.

Clear expectations and standards of conduct are essential for managing student behavior. Once expectations are in place, learning can most effectively occur. Without management, learning time is lost. Students feel safe and can achieve their greatest potential, both academically and behaviorally, when expectations and routines are in place.

In order to make the standards of conduct meaningful to our students, my mentor teacher and I facilitated a class discussion and brainstorm activity that led to the creation of our classroom standards of conduct. We asked our students how they want to feel at school and what they will actively do to make sure that their classmates feel this way every day. The class decided to title our standards of conduct, “Classroom Charter” and  chose to hang the charter on our classroom wall. This ensures that students can look to the charter if they forget how they are expected to behave. Before hanging it up, each student signed their name at the bottom of the charter.

As part of the morning routine, students stand to say the pledge of allegiance and then immediately turn their bodies to face the classroom charter.” As a class we recite the classroom charter. This daily morning routine reminds the students how their classmates what to feel at school and what they need to do in order for them to feel that way. Each student trusts that every student is looking out for the well-being of each individual student.  IMG_0304.jpg

There are many benefits when student voice is incorporated into creating the classroom standards of conduct. Students are more motivated to follow the classroom standards when they were invited to participate in creating them, student engagement in classroom activities is enhanced, and students are able to deeply understand are articulate the standards because they are written in student language (Toshalis & Nakkula, 2006). Student language is important because it allows the teachers to keep students accountable for their actions because we are confident that students are aware of what they will do in order to make sure their classmates are feeling happy and safe. In the event that a student acts out, we take the student to the charter and remind them of the expectations he/she created and agreed upon with the class. We ask the student if they are upholding the classroom charter and ask them to list what they need to do in order to make their classmates feel happy and safe.

I have found it very effective to invite students into establishing behavior expectations, routines, awards, and consequences. Students feel valued and respected when they are invited into decision making in the classroom and in turn, perform and produce more positive results in all areas, academically, behaviorally, and socially.

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7.1 Communicating with Families

Communicating with Families- Teacher communicates with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and is available as needed to respond to family concerns.

Communication with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and being available as needed to respond to family concerns is an extremely essential part of supporting each individual student so that their best learning can occur. During my internship experience I have seen the great success that students can achieve when teachers and families team up to support the student.

To invite communication and teamwork my mentor teacher and I meet one- on- one with students and their families before the first day of school. During this time, we are able get to know the student on a personal level, ask them about their interests, culture, and excitements and potential fears of coming to school. We are able to ask the parents/guardians about any student or school concerns, exchange contact information, and we are also able to tell them how they can be supporting the student academically at home. This one- on- one time builds trust, support, and relationship with the student and families. It open lines of communication and tells the parents that we are committed to supporting the student both academically and emotionally. One- on- one conferences occur again in November. November conferences provide a formal meeting where parents and teachers are able to check in on the students’ progress.

A monthly news letter is sent home to parents and families updating them on what we have been learning this month, on up-coming events, and a note from the teacher. My mentor teacher and I also write quick personal notes to each student and their families about what the student can specifically be working on at home. The image shows one of the monthly news letters that is sent home to each student. As shown, the teacher leaves her phone number and email address if the parents have any questions.

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My internship has taught be a few specific and powerful ways to communicate with students’ families. I have learned that there is great student success when teachers and parents team up to support the student together. The parent teacher relationship is extremely important in communicating to the student that he/she is cared for on an individual level and that both the parent and the teacher will work together to support the student in their best learning (Merkley, Schmidt, Dirksen & Fuhler, 2006).

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4.0 Content Knowledge to Impact Student Learning

4.0 Content Knowledge – The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning

As I am planning my lesson, I incorporate a number of essential components to ensure that my teaching strategies are effective so that deep and meaningful learning takes place. My content area knowledge is displayed through use of a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches, clear learning standards, and learning activities that are organized, suitable, challenging, differentiated, and progress with reasonable time allocations (Ernst & Ryan, 2014).

Effective pedagogical approaches that are practiced in my lessons include open- ended instruction, discovery learning, valuing clarification, authentic learning tasks, assessment and evaluation of learning, and peer teaching.  These elements create a learning environment that supports critical thinking skills, independence, and discovery of meaning and learning that is meaningful to each individual student. I include assessment and evaluation of learning into every lesson. Rubrics that are presented at the start of the lesson present lesson objectives that are in student language and list the clear success criteria so that students know the exact learning goal for that specific lesson. I find that when assessments are distributed throughout the lesson segment the teacher and student become aware of and can cater to the immediate gaps in understanding.

The learning activities are aligned with the learning target. The learning activities are engaging, include multiple learning styles, and challenge critical thinking skills. Learning activities build on each other throughout the lesson. As students are participating in the learning activities I scan the room to check and assess student engagement. When students are engaged, rich learning occurs. I will see active movement, the use of manipulatives, discussion and discourse, and students recording their answers as evidence of their lgroup-work-1.jpgearning (Ernst & Ryan, 2014, p. 17). During the learning activities students are grouped into ability levels. In a math lesson, I will pair or group high-performing students with benchmark students, and benchmark students with students who need more support. This way peer teaching and learning can occur. In reading, I pair and group students of the same ability. This way students are given equal opportunity to learn with each other and provides efficiency when I am trying to meet with the most students in a small amount of time. I focus my time with the students who need my scaffolding and support, and allow the proficient students independently engage in the learning that is necessary for their needs and growth.

References:

Ernst, Kathy, and Sarah Ryan. Success from the Start: Your First Years Teaching Elementary      Mathematics. Print.

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Questioning and Discussion Techniques

2.1 Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques

classroom-discussion-questions.jpgMost of the teacher’s questions are of high quality. Adequate time is provided for students to respond.

Highly effective lessons include high quality questioning and discussion techniques throughout the lesson segment. These elements enhance student problem- solving skills, provides space for clarification of concepts, offers data to inform the next steps in instruction, and encourages higher-level thinking and reasoning. High quality questioning that focuses students’ attention on important elements of the lesson supports students in mastering the lesson objective. High quality questioning is best organized using Bloom’s Taxonomy. Higher level questioning is interpretive, inquiry based, inferential, open- ended, and synthesis questions. I incorporate higher level questioning into my math lesson every day by asking some of the following questions:

Is there a different strategy to solve this problem?

How do you know this is the correct answer?

Do you agree with this answer? Why or why not?

Is this the most efficient way to solve the problem? Why or why not?

What do your numbers represent?

What do your drawings represent?

Questions like theses are not fact based, closed, or based on recall.

When discussion techniques are paired with high level questioning, deeper and increased learning takes place. Discussion techniques include wait- time, redirecting, probing, and responding. There is higher student achievement when teachers open up time for students to think through the posed question. According to Lemov (2010), the average
wait time is about a second or less. The author’s research reveals that lack of wait time does not set our students up for superior learning. Increasing wait time leads to higher quality student responses and increased student participation. If a student answers a question, I will redirect the student’s question to another student in the class. For example, I might say, “Mary, how would you answer Tin’s question?”. When a student answers a question, whether correct or incorrect, I might say, “Arden, do you agree or disagree with Heather’s response? Why? Or would you like to add on?”.   Redirecting encourages student- to- student discourse, discussion, and independence. Probing a student’s surface level response encourages the student to greater critical thinking and analysis. A teacher can probe a student’s response by evaluating the given response and asking a questions in return.

 

Reference:

Lemov, Doug. Teach like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010. Print.

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Keeping up with Technology

How can I continue to improve my professional practice with technology use in the classroom so that all technology uses and resources are kept current and up-to-date?

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As teachers, our practice is continually changing and never ceasing to be fully refined. Although this might sound exhausting, I find it to be extremely exciting and challenging. Alongside teaching, technology is also constantly changing and because technology and teaching have been closely intertwined, many teachers have found it to be difficult to keep up with the trends of teaching while also feeling pressured to keep up-to- date with technology. I have found that making an extra effort to keep up with both pays back great rewards for our students’ learning, engagement, and preparation for college, career, and life. Jacqui (2015) lays out five ways teachers can “stay on top of technology.” The author suggests practical and applicable steps that teachers can take in improving practice with technology, which will support them in aligning their classroom practices to ISTE Standard 5. These steps propose listening to technology pod casts on the way to school, taking time at the end of the school year and searching for technology trends of the year, becoming familiar with current tech devises at home so they’re more approachable at school, finding a person who you can go to with tech questions, and seeking out articles that talk about the newest technologies and their benefits to society. As the author elaborates on each sub- section, she stresses the responsibilities that teachers have in exposing and encouraging up- to- date technology resources in the classroom.

A colleague of mine, Stephanie, suggested trainings from the technology leader at each school to encourage and support the integration of technology in education. It would be a great benefit to the school staff to receive an annual training from the tech teacher to inform them on the newest and up- and- coming technology resources. The difficult part that I ran into with this idea is realizing that not all schools have a tech leader onsite. It may become essential for districts to budget in funding for a district wide tech teacher/leader who floats from school to school since technology is becoming a critical resource in education.

 

Resource: http://askatechteacher.com/2015/04/15/5-ways-teachers-can-stay-on-top-of-technology/

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