HOPE Reflection P3

P3 – Practice standards-based assessment. Teacher candidates use standards-based assessment that is systematically analyzed using multiple formative, summative, and self-assessment strategies to monitor and improve instruction. This means that teachers are regularly assessing students using standards that align with the goals of the class, the teacher regularly check’s for student understanding through formative assessment and standards based grading. Additionally, I believe that the teacher should help students assess their own learning and teacher request feedback from students and other faculty to assess teaching. While the evidence in this bPortfolio reflection does not capture all of these types of assessment, they are regular parts of my classroom.

The evidence being submitted is a copy of a practice edTPA Task 3. This assessment was a comprehensive final assessment from semester 1 where students were asked to demonstrate understanding of several learning targets throughout the 20 weeks of learning. In this task, I identified the standards being assessed for each item of the exam and used three student work to provide student feedback and collect student reflections of the assessment. The best part of this assessment was my ability to grade students on understanding of specific learning targets, rather than just correctness.

Assessment has been the focus of my internship since the start. My mentor teacher has guided me in learning how to grade based on students’ demonstration of understanding on the page and subjectively deciding how items should be graded. My largest piece of learning has come from the development and implementation of

TestRubric

this grading rubric which helps me identify the level of understanding of my students. My work in my internship and the assessment methods course have helped me in responding to the edTPA questions. For example, when providing analysis of what students understand, the above rubric helps me identify exactly what evidence is on the paper to support the students understanding. Since each question is related to a specific standard, students can clearly see the areas which need the most improvement. Writing the practice edTPA Task 3 has helped me gain insight into how to view assessment and evidence collection. Additionally, I was forced to provide written feedback to students (which is not a frequent because of the time it takes to respond to each student individually in writing). This was effective for students, they have a tangible piece of writing for them to reflect on. Finally, I learned about the value in asking students “what are your next steps for understanding?” While this seems logical to me to ask when I’m struggling, I have developed this skill over the years of learning and students need to learn to self assess and identify ways to improve their skills.

I think standards based grading is a smart way of assessing students, it helps them identify areas of growth. HOWEVER, through our study of standards based grading, the implementation of the system seems to have many failures and has been met with some resistance. Because standards based is highly subjective (rather than objective) it is increasingly difficult to match a quantitative score to a qualitative analysis of student work. The feedback is better, but often unfamiliar to parents. To improve, I hope to bridge the gap between quantitative and qualitative feedback. Students like to know “percentage grades,” but there is also value in providing specific feedback about how students can improve and in which areas. There is no easy solution, i’m sure this pursuit will be career long, however through a wide variety of feedback (including student reflection, teacher reflection, informal assessments, student journaling etc.) students, teachers, parents and administrators can gain a wider view of a students understanding of the content material.

STEM Research End of Course Reflection

 

EDU6978 – Introduction to STEM Research was an enjoyable course that helped me better understand the STEM model and ways of implementing formative assessment techniques in my classroom. The course started by introducing the initial purpose of STEM, as a way to integrate math, science, engineering (problems solving) and technology into high school courses to prepare students for work in industry. We discussed there are different models for STEM that are being implemented, sTEm, SteM, S | T | E | M and STEM. Each capitalized letter represents an emphasis a school puts on each subject, while dividers separate the courses into discrete subjects not connected. We learned that the intent of STEM was to share the responsibility equally over all four topics and help students notice as many connections between these as possible.

While discussing formative assessment, my biggest take away from the course was the sections about how to appropriately question students. Wiliam’s (2011) Embedded Formative Assessment book. From this section, Wiliam (2011) stresses using randomness to select students for answering questions in class for assessment. Randomness allows teachers to hear all students equally, not just the most vocal and engaged in class. Additionally, Wiliam cites research (Brosseau, 1984) who suggests participation should not be optional and that students must be held accountable for answering questions by the teacher to remain engaged in the content. To aid in this, teachers should ask questions first and then select students to respond, this helps students to always be ready to answer. As soon as a solution is deemed correct, students stop thinking so it is important to avoid Initiate-Respond and Evaluate (IRE) style classroom banter. I had never thought bout making answering mandatory and have been searching for ways of helping include all students in class.Talk Moves

While watching the questioning presentation for module 3 and talking with another teacher at a conference over the summer, I learned about Talk Moves. These are a way for teachers to ask questions of students and help them explore more, some examples include revoicing student statements to help them hear about their reasoning (even if their logic is flawed), saying, “tell me more about that” to help students articulate their thinking, asking another student to restate a comment, waiting for students to think while responding to the group and more. As I continue, I want to improve my questioning skills and ability to help ask questions that make students think. I would really like to improve as a questioner in helping students think without scaring students away from the conversation. I have already set a goal to write some socratic questions, possibly those used in talk moves, and will work at incorporating these more into my rhetoric as a teacher engaging students in inquiry learning. I am really excited to implement some of this research, I think that the Embedded Formative Assessment book by Wiliam (2011) is has several practical, simple to implement ideas that improve teachers instruction and help students become more aware of their learning, understandings and misunderstandings. Now that I have this knowledge, it’s time to introduce the students.

Sources:

Brousseau, G. (1984). The crucial role of the didactical contract in the analysis and construction of situations in teaching and learning mathematics (G. Seib, Trans.). In H.-G. Steiner(Ed.), Theory of mathematics education:ICME5 topic area and miniconference (Col. 54, pp. 110-119). Bielefeld, Germany: Insitut für Didktik der Mathematik der Universität Bielefeld.

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Solution Tree Press.

 

EDSP 6644 bPortfolio Reflection

Peer Review Paper: Special Learning Needs In Secondary Mathematics Classroom

This peer review paper focuses on students with specific learning disabilities, particularly around mathematics learning and how teachers can improve student learning in spite of students learning disabilities. Individualized and differentiated instruction is one of the largest challenges I face at this time. I’m challenged to create an appropriate adjustment for students with special needs. A common misconception that I learned was the relationship between a students reading ability and their understanding of mathematics. Many people believe that a reading disability is also connected with a student’s mathematical disability and this is not true. While a specific learning disability (LD) in reading is the most common type of LD’s, this does not generally impact a student’s ability to perform well in math class at a cognitive level. Students with reading disabilities still struggle in math classes because of their ability to access the information, they are however, completely able to problem solve appropriately.

Additionally, through the peer review research task, I learned how to improve my instructional strategies to impact student learning overall. The use of Enhanced Anchored Instruction (EAI) is an easy way to help students with math LDs more than traditional instruction and also improved the learning of students without LDs. Since reading and mathematics are not necessarily connected types of LDs, I am able to help a student with a reading disability access the cognitive tasks in mathematics by helping them through the math language in the questions. Once the student understands the requirements, of the task, they will be able to perform well on the math task. The EAI is beneficial because students can learn the nuanced connections between concepts when working in a familiar contexts.

Students who are struggling with mathematics often encounter problems at the numeracy problem, the scheme for how the numbers work. To assist these students, I could provide a different learning medium to help them access the ideas. For example, to help students struggling in numeracy, providing counting block manipulative or a number line may help that student overcome their learning disability to access the content. It is essential for me to be able to assess what concept or idea the student is struggling to overcome to address the barrier to learning.

M6 Reflection – Challenges Implementing STEM

What do you view as some of the challenges associated with implementing an effective STEM model given your current teaching context? What are some potential solutions and/or innovations you can create to eliminate some of these challenges?

As a beginning teacher, I think I have been more adventurous in the ways I approach lesson plans and creating curriculum that of some of my teacher peers. One of my greatest challenges is my content knowledge for teaching interdisciplinary topics. In efforts to construct lessons that incorporate complex scientific topics or technology (such as computer programming), I am limited by my experiences working in those fields. Even providing students with context specific activities, I only have academic settings to apply my understanding of application. I have never worked in industry so I cannot provide real world experiences. Thus, I rely heavily on other sources, such as textbooks and the internet to provide high quality content for my students. This is a lot of additional work for me as a teacher, I’ll discuss this later.

Practice five of the Next Generation Science Standards suggest the importance of the connection between mathematics and sciences. Mathematics is a way to explain many scientific phenomena, and so mathematics can be taught through many scientific ideas. The whole reason Calculus was created was because Sir Isaac Newton was interested in physics and needed a way to explain how things changed over very short periods of time. Hence, we should be taking an approach to mathematics in with this idea in mind: “If math is the aspirin, how do we create the headache? (Meyer, 2014)” My fear in generating math content, is that I am unable to create such a headache for my students.

Another, probably more common response to the lack of implementation of STEM is the time constraints faced by teachers (Petrinjak, 2012). Within my context many teachers are more worried about a students ability and content knowledge than their ability to create well integrated STEM classes. It is not in the job description for teachers to collaborate with others to design a STEM integrated learning unit. According to the principals at my school, many teachers are independent workers in an environment that needs more collaboration. Luckily, there are new initiatives to entice teacher to collaborate more with others.

Earlier this year, I read a book called Teaching as Inquiry (Weinbaum, et al, 2004) about engaging in inquiry groups with other teachers. This book provided insight into how to create a collaborative work environment with other teachers to help improve my own teaching, be that STEM integration, classroom management practices or the like. Many anecdotes throughout the chapters empowered me to view colleagues as a support team, especially when teaching similar content. Other teachers have a lot of background knowledge too, collaborating with them to build a unit both teacher can use greatly reduces working time overall. Similar to the way that we are working collaboratively for the STEM Research class to design a project based learning unit, the time spent working collaboratively is much more useful than time spent along attempting to integrate STEM.

Working as a team can help a developing teacher find the “headache” needed to inspire some learning around STEM which can serve as the “aspirin.” Over the past year, I’ve had many headaches trying to figure out a STEM application, I could have cured that so quickly by asking a colleague for a simple application, someone who had the content knowledge I was lacking. Part of the Weinbaum book talked about creating a colleague climate. The saying, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch my back” is all too true, as a new teacher working to implement STEM, many favors will need to be asked.

ICCSS2NGSSn my current context, I will be teaching Algebra 1 which is taught primarily to the 9th grade class. My school has a freshman program meant to help reduce the dropout rates early on. These cohort groups include science, English, history, and health, but Mathematics is missing from this equation. The teachers of these cohorts have a very special, administration facilitated, opportunity to work together, get to know students and collaborate in learning. Unfortunately, I am out of this collaborative look because students entering 9th grade are at vastly different levels of math (unlike the other topics). In the coming years, I want to start creating a structure around how to improve this cohort model to include math classes, even when students are not on track. Mayes & Koala (2012) published an alignment between mathematics and science practices, if teachers are able to work together could help with the collaboration process. These show important 21st century skills students need as a STEM model.

As mentioned earlier, time is a significant constraint on teachers as they work. In our lecture this week, Dr. Henrickson mentioned the need for teachers reject the need to create their own materials for every class session. They do not! A lot of curriculum out there is perfect for the needs of our students, there is a lot to pick from. Teachers DO need to be able to assess students needs and be able to select lessons that meet the standards aimed to be met. By selecting content rich activities, using an engagement learning method, students learn much more by inquiry than by traditional forms of education (Eddy, 2015), including IRE (Initiate, Response, Evaluate) or by providing students with copious amounts of worksheets (Wiliam, 2011). According to Eddy (2015) students need to have some background knowledge before the active learning is effective, but when students are asking questions about what they are learning, what learning that does occur is much stronger. She claims that the process may be slower, but the learning is significantly better (yes, statistically significant).

A few weeks ago, I attended a Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) workshop. Their process was developed for a chemistry undergraduate classroom to engage students in inquiry learning, but help guide them through the process. The POGIL workshop helped me understand that the scientific process is an inquiry based model and can be implemented in any classroom. Through active learning and student inquiry, along with “hinge point” questions or other formative assessment (William, 2011), teachers can improve their students content knowledge in a STEM integrated classroom. Some lecturing is required to help students gain essential skills, but overall, regular questions can be adapted to fit this model when facilitated by a teacher.

Overall, the challenges with implementing STEM is a challenging project. The major obstacles for me include content knowledge of STEM topics the the teacher collaboration to improve a rounded STEM program. The connection between math and science is strong, engineering can be incorporated in the problem solving aspect and technology is a tool to help scientists and mathematicians complete their work more economically, this is clear. What is not clear is how teacher will work together, either with each other or industry experts to create a learning plan for students to become STEM educated. Small steps as a new teacher will help get my school there, but many teachers will need to make larger differences to make a significant systematic impact.

Sources:

Eddy, S. (2015). Active Learning Across the Sciences: Does It Work in College Classroom and Can We Make It Inclusive? POGIL Northwest Regional Workshop. Portland: Lewis and Clark College.

Mayes, R., & Koballa, T. R. (2012, December). Exploring the Science Framework: Making connections in math with the Common Core State Standards. NSTA K-12 Journal .

Meyer, D. (2015, June 17). If Math Is The Aspirin, Then How Do You Create The Headache? Retrieved August 6, 2015.

Petrinjak, L. (2012, June 8). Gauging the STEM Effect. Retrieved August 6, 2015.

Weinbaum, A., Allen, D., Blythe, T., Simon, K., Seidel, S., & Rubin, C. (2004). Teaching as inquiry: Asking hard questions to improve practice and student achievement. New York: Teachers College Press

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded Formative Assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

POGIL Conference – Portland, OR – July 27-29

As part of a KSTF Professional Development Grant, I was able to attend the Northwest Regional Conference for POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning). In an effort to meet my obligations for the grant, I will post the implementation plan approved as part of the grant and then comment on the outcomes for those specific action items. In this commentary, I will provide the learning from the conference and links to tools learned along the way.

June – July

Read for about 2 hours different published POGIL activities from math or science disciplines to see their successes, challenges and recommendations for improving POGIL in the classroom. Additionally, I will collect and review my previously created POGIL-like activities to compare my lessons with those created using the POGIL process. Conduct an internet search of leading questions (or directives) that could be used in the classroom environment to extract deeper responses from students (such as “can you tell me more about that?”) and make a list. Throughout the implementation of this plan, I will refine this list as I find what is and isn’t appropriate to foster learning.

Results:

July KSTF Meeting

Talk with other KSTF fellows about their practice of group activities, particularly science teacher who have lab classes. Since POGIL activities are similar to the group work and inquiry of a science lab, experienced science teacher may have tools for asking questions of students that lead to critical thinking in the inquiry activity. I am looking for questioning strategies when other teachers are working with groups.

Results:

July 27-29 (POGIL Conference)

Attend POGIL Workshop: Portland, OR. – I will begin on the Introductory Track for the workshop since I have no formal experience with POGIL. During the workshop, I will learn about the process and structure of the POGIL activity, list student learning outcomes from a POGIL activity and create plans for implementation of POGIL in my classroom. POGIL implementation includes facilitation tools for teachers that include questioning and keeping students engaged. I will use this learning for facilitation questioning to refine my bank of questions. Additionally, I will attend workshops about the Activity Structure of a POGIL (creating a framework for learning) and Writing Learning Objectives for the activities.

Results:

August – December

Create a clear classroom procedure for students to teach them how to positively engage in group, inquiry learning. I will Implement this procedure for my Algebra and Geometry classes in the fall when using group work. Additionally, I will create a POGIL lesson for my classroom and I will share out with other staff members to increase success in their classroom. In creating these activities, I would like to work with an instructional coach (provided by the school district) or a colleague to ensure effectiveness. Finally, I will continue to incorporate open ended questions (probing and clarifying questions otherwise known as socratic questioning) during my regular teacher to help extract deeper, more thoughtful responses to my students.

Results:

M3 bPortfolio Reflection – STEM Research

My ideas of STEM have changed slightly, but significantly since beginning the course. I have learned about the different models of STEM (Henrikson, 2015):

  • SteM – Science and Math are the “bookends” and most important
  • STEM – Integrated focus for both math and science – T&E are integrated and focused on contend and application
  • S | T | E | M – each discipline stands on its own
  • s(TE)m – increased focus on CTE classes that help prepare for selected careers in science, math, technology an engineering.

The best model according to Lantz (2009) is that STEM should be well integrated into the curriculum and that teachers should be collaborating to create cohesive units of instruction that help students learn about all topics together. One tool for accomplishing a truly effective STEM model that was discussed in our class discussions was common planning time across disciplines to help teach similar concepts in different classes. Verlaine (discussion post in Module 2) shared her collaborative approach within her school district, a push for cross curricular teaching. Additionally, Verlaine supported her claims of this effectiveness of teaching similar subject by citing psychological research (Medina, 2008) for increasing long-term memory by repeating information multiple times, within a short period of time using different modalities.

Wiliams (2011) discusses how the use of questioning is important for teachers to formatively asses student understanding to inform next steps in teaching. I assume he would support the STEM model, where each element has an equal share of a given lesson. This assumption is based on his desire to ask inquiry questions such as, “What do you notice?” Earlier this year, I was introduced to an NCTM lesson called “The Hexagon Train Task.” I was part of a group of math and science teachers, we were given four yellow plastic hexagons and asked to line them up “end to end” where a long side would touch another. We were then asked to ]reflect on what we noticed about the aligned hexagons. Some mentioned the color, some discussed the perimeter, others discussed the shape, but overall our ideas were broadened to to accept the next question because of our ability to think abstractly was opened. Soon after, we were asked to think about perimeter and how this could be calculated for longer “trains.” We were just told the purpose of the activity (only slightly though, but the instructor had a clear academic purpose for the lesson, sequences). Having the opportunity to think generally before getting specific allowed both the math and the science people around the table consider a question without fear of being incorrect. Sometimes I struggle with IRE (Initiate, Response, Evaluate) which is off putting to many students, I think I can incorporate more of this open discussion and individual reflection into my lessons this coming year.

Some of our discussions in Module 2 & 3 were about purpose with instruction. STEM cannot be accomplished without clear purpose. Provided that many of us took a methods course about Understanding by Design by Wiggins & McTighe (2005) which stated the purpose of the lesson should drive the activities and goals should establish each lesson (rather than the other way around). This method (backwards design), is at the heart of educational research and is supported by Williams (2011, p. 61). In our class discussions for Module 3 about Project/Problem Based Learning, comments arose about the intent of the learning, rather than the activity itself. Lura’s post about the Rube Goldberg Machine commented on her investigation of PBL activities found on the internet. She mentioned, “Many so-called ‘STEM’ lessons that I did find weren’t anything new, just standard math or science lessons with some videos added about applications” I think this is part of the challenge with PBL is that the purpose should be the beginning of the project, not the act of completing a project, making a presentation or doing STEM. The purpose should be to meet educational standards where multiple modalities should be used to approach concepts. Projects could include multiple standards from a variety of subjects, but that’s not necessary.

Overall, I have learned that STEM should be well integrated. To accomplish this, teachers from different subjects need to work together and students need to work in collaborative groups facilitated by a teacher. The planning can be though common planning time (which is becoming more typical in schools) or it could be through another framework of providing collaborative work time for teachers. Lessons should be revised and adjusted based on formative feedback and through a teachers understanding of unique students needs. Finally, when planning projects, there is a general consensus (although not by all) that the purpose should come first and activities should support the learning of those targets.

Sources:

Henrikson, R. (Lecturer) (2015, June 22). Module 2 What is STEM. EDU6978 Module 2 Course Lecture. Lecture conducted from , Seattle, WA.

Lantz Jr, H.B. (2009). Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. What form? What function. Baltimore, MD:  Report, CurrTech Integrations.

Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. (Expanded 2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wiliam, D. (2011).  Embedded formative assessment.  Bloomington, IN:  Solution Tree.

Action Research Hope Reflection – E3

E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. Teacher candidates demonstrate knowledge of professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities and policies. This standard means that teachers are improving their teaching practices, as an effort to become professional educators, by researching and strategically adjusting classroom elements. An interpretation of one professional policy that teachers must meet is continuing education after a certification program and master’s degree, pre-service teachers should practice a strategy that will influence teaching practices long-term.

Action Research Proposal

To meet this standard in this class, I am presenting my Action Research Proposal. This proposal is for a project that any teacher can undertake to evaluate a current teaching practice, explore educational research surrounding a particular topic and propose an action plan to adjust a teaching practice. For me, this action research helped me explore researched philosophy about homework as a teaching tool. Within this document, I clarify reasoning for wanting to research homework, detail literature about improving homework completion, create a plan of action (in my case a Student Responsibility Survey) and a method of data collection. Each of these elements is a professionally centered practice that is crucial for continuing education as a professional.

By creating this document, I have shown that I am capable of critically analyzing my teaching practices and creating steps to a solution with the aim of student improvement. I believe that by improving my practices with the goal of student learning is my ethical responsibility as a public school teacher. Additionally, from the preparation work for this Action Research Project, I learned about some best-practices for assigning homework and encouraging students to complete homework. This project shows that I am able to collect usable data and analyze the effectiveness of the changes happening in my classroom.

Within the data collection piece, students are able to provide their own voice for their circumstances. This Action Research Project will help me learn more about my students and their unique needs as learners. While it is my responsibility to learn about how to be a better teacher, these improvements should overall help students become better learners. By implementing this professional growth practice and other similar to this in the future, my students will benefit from my increased ability to teach effectively.

While this project only touched on a part of this standard, mainly an understanding of the professional and ethical responsibility teachers have for continuing to grow as professionals, I can improve my demonstration of my understanding of teaching policies. To show more evidence of legal responsibilities, I think that I could have researched more about the teachers role in proving opportunities for student to learn information or ways that educators have provided access to homework for students with specific needs, such as 504 plans, IEP plans, students who have unstable home lives, students who are transient and switch between schools regularly. As I move forward, I will need to be aware of my schools policies about homework and how they encourage students to access course materials to gain understanding of concepts.