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:

Advertisements

E1 – Professional Development Student Surveys

E1 – Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice. Teacher candidates develop reflective, collaborative, professional growth-centered practices through regularly evaluating the effects of their teaching through feedback and reflection. This means that teachers are making reflection a regular practice to improve instruction and student learning. In the Internship Seminar class we were asked to provide a student survey about our teaching practices. I already ask students to provide feedback at the end of each unit. student reflectionMy piece of evidence is another type of survey I incorporate into my regular teaching practices. After students take a unit test, I ask my students the following question to respond in their reflection journal: “In what ways can Mr. G improve the teaching of this unit?” This response was particularly representative of the whole classes responses and provided constructive feedback with positive behaviors to continue. When this student wrote this reflection, I saved it because their feedback was helpful to me, both positively and constructively.

This student’s reflection about my work as a developing teacher, demonstrates my growth in my teaching practices throughout the year. The student says, “He does great when he is showing all the steps to solving something. Her is also very good at keeping the class engaged.” Both of these have been points of emphasis as I begin my teaching career, particularly keeping students engaged in rigorous academic work. Research shows that keeping students engaged improved retention of material (Borich, 2014), I am excited that students recognize my efforts to keep them engaged in learning. I will continue to ask students these and similar questions to receive feedback that I can improve upon (such as improving group work protocols to optimize student learning when working in small groups).

This student work sample, along with my reflection to the assigned student survey, that aims at different teaching practices, help me target areas of success and areas of improvement. I can ask specific questions to measure my effectiveness as an educator. “In mathematics, several factors have been consistently found to exert a positive influence on student achievement gains: teacher coursework, degree attainment, and certification coupled with pedagogical training in how to teach mathematics (Hightower, et al., 2011, p.32 ).” Teachers play a crucial role in student achievement, the improvements I can make directly impact the student’s success.

In the past, since I have asked the same static question at the end of each unit, I would like to get more diverse feedback. As I work with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, I will be developing a long-term teacher inquiry questions for the first several years as a teacher. As this question develops and I work in collaborative work groups to help me establish steps towards meeting these professional goals, I would like to use the student surveys to ask my students questions as evidence towards those goals. The student feedback will help me assess if I am meeting my practitioner inquiry goals and can help me find next steps in any are needed.

References:

Borich, G. D. (2014). Effective Teaching Methods (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Hightower, A. M., Delgado, R. C., Lloyd, S. C., Wittenstein, R., Sellers, K., & Swanson, C. B. (2011). Improving Student Learning By Supporting Quality Teaching.

Inquiry, Teaching and Assessment Methods II Reflection

E1- Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice. Teacher candidates develop reflective, collaborative, professional growth-centered practices through regularly evaluating the effects of his/her teaching through feedback and reflection. This standard means that teachers will use student feedback and formative assessment to guide lesson plans and class activities to meet the needs of students.

Parametric POGIL Student Work Sample

The document included is a student work sample from an activity which demonstrates some implementation from the Understanding by Design unit plan structure and implementation of teaching based on formative assessment. While this document is not from coursework, it demonstrates that I can take what was learned in the course and implement a lesson where I am designing activities from pre-established goals and finding acceptable evidence to show that students have met the goal. The student work sample is a class activity which was implemented after some feedback was given by students. During my internship, I noticed that students were not completely understanding the ideas of parametric equations and the importance of the location of the “T” in the equation. My mentor teacher and I discussed various forms of evidence which would allow students to demonstrate their understanding. After learning the POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) lesson strategy for group work, I decided this would be an appropriate way to formatively assess students again to see if they can distinguish differences between parametric equations which have “T” in different locations. Additional goals were for students to build some intuition about what parametric functions would look like when graphed on paper or their calculator and make sensical choices for plot windows.

This piece of evidence demonstrates my application of designing a lesson with the outcomes in mind and to address student concerns discovered through one on one student conversation. My engagement in this activity has taught me several important key concepts about lesson plan and unit design such as planning with the goal in mind and creating activities which help students meet the goals. I have been challenged with identifying the true needs of my students and then finding (or creating) lessons which help students meet the needs. I have learned the importance of being in touch with my students and listening to their frustrations and needs. When they ask for help or sound confused on concepts, this is a clue for teachers to think about how activities are helping students meet pre-established goals for the lesson or unit. When teachers are careful about the intentions of their lessons, student have more to gain. The Understanding by Design structure for creating a lesson or unit helps teacher focus the class activities around the ending outcome. Teachers who use Common Core State Standards and the UbD lesson structure are sure to bring students to standard because the activities are structured around the goals.

To improve my ability of being a growth centered, informed instructor, I need to constantly ask myself whether or not students are learning and if I am meeting my goals. Within the teaching profession, where teachers may repeat these lessons year after year, I can improve each lesson by assessing whether or not the activity really met my goal for the unit and revise for the following years. Growing as a teacher doesn’t end when I have taught for a few years, I am obligated on continue growing and improve my students learning every single year. I believe the key is intentional improvement and measuring student growth.

Introduction to Teaching Course Reflection

Discussion Post Entry: Education Reform

Discussion Post Entry: Education Reform

E1 – Exemplify professionally-informed, growth centered practice. This means that teachers have demonstrated an understanding of current educational and suggest strategies for improvement. The attached screenshot shows an assigned discussion post about recent reform in public education. Hunt (2005) discusses the problems with previous reform, (i.e. career education reform), as being over ambitious and under studied, claiming that reformists fail to anticipate long term affects when solving short term problems. My discussion post agrees that many reforms do not meet the needs and there is some concern for the Common Core State Standards as they approach full implementation. I suggest differentiated teaching as a potential solution to work around the many reform systems implemented in classrooms. This relates to the program standard E1 because teachers who are educated about policy reform can adjust their classrooms to best fit student needs while accommodating reform policies.

Since writing this discussion post, I have learned specific research based strategies for improving classroom instruction such as scaffolding lessons and teaching just above student understanding to maximize learning. From reading articles about education reform, I have learned how implemented systems intended to help the educational process are often challenged and rejected because of cost. An example of this was a class discussion of suggestions from “A Nation at Risk” where longer class days were suggested by researchers, but rejected by politicians because of costs.

Students have always been impacted by school reform. In the discussion post, I talk about my experience of the WASL throughout my middle and high school education and how I felt about standardized test reform. Hunt (2005) makes a strong argument in his article about how students change because of reform. One danger of the current standards based education is that low motivation students tend to complete the bare minimum to pass. On the other hand, the standards require generally require more rigorous understanding to meet expectations ultimately raising the level of general education. To improve my teaching and grow as an effective educator, I am pursuing professional development opportunities after earning my teaching credentials geared towards improving math and science teachers and retaining highly qualified educators in high schools. By becoming more engaged with my own professional development, I can collaborate resources with other educators to research and improve teaching to more positively impact student learning during immanent educational reform.

Source:

Hunt, T. C. (September 2005). History of Reforms: Education Reforms: Lessons from History. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(1): 84-89.

Learners in Context Post-Course Meta-Reflection

[1] The Learners in Context course focused on two principals of HOPE, E1 — Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice and H1 — Honor student diversity and development. The standard E1 means that teachers are adopting best professional practices based on research and tested to maximize student learning. The H1 standard means that teachers are able to recognize that students are different and have very unique needs. Taking these differences into account, teachers are strategically thinking about their practices to improve student development.

[3] During the course I learned about the importance of exploration for students during their learning process. Medina (2008) talks about his learning growing up and his mother’s willingness to adapt to Medina’s changing needs as he explored his interests. Teachers must show willingness to adapt to students interests and work to encourage learning, not inhibit exploration through standardized testing. [2] Jamie Gephart is a student in our class and responded to a discussion post about incorporating exploration into learning while recognizing the requirement of testing, she writes

I had a teacher in high school that referred to his tests as a “celebration of knowledge”.  I know that may sound cheesy, but this subtle twist helped to relieve some of the pressure.  And in reality, shouldn’t this be the purpose of an exam?  Students have worked hard to understand and incorporate this new knowledge.  What if teachers presented exams more like game day, as an opportunity to show off all the hard work and practice they have endured? (Gephart, 2014)

[5] This matches the standard of H1 since it encourages student development through an effective way of allowing exploration and a creative way to test students without hindering natural curiosity. [4] From exploring and engaging in this discussion post, I learned that when students change their frame of reference from the testing frame to the game day frame their anxiety is drastically decreased and students can demonstrate their true knowledge. I have not needed to use these tools because I have been fortunate not to suffer from text anxiety, hover some students are not as fortunate. [6] In my classroom, I will try to frame tests as demonstrations of learning rather than a ritualized practice used to assign grades and create a classroom hierarchy.

Another point of learning from this course was Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and the use of scaffolding to guide students’ learning (Pressley and McCormick, 2007). [1] This aligns with HOPE standard E1 since Vygotsky has conducted significant research on human development and learning. [2] These two pictures from Pressley and McCormick (2007) have been incredibly beneficial to my understanding of the ZPD and how good educators should teach students to maximize learning.

Module 5 did not facilitate much discussion about the ZPD as much as the book or classZone of Proximal Development lectures, however, the concept was impactful. [3] The ZPD is an essential tool for teachers to know where students are located in the curriculum, the process of scaffolding provides an essential tool for teachers to implement and practice providing work to students which is in their ZPD. [4] Prior to this reading, I did not know how to best implement challenging material, Vygotsky’s research has explained the precise level of challenge to present to students. I learned a lot about scaffolding and how to present challenging material and provide a guide to full understanding by providing many resources to students. [5] Students benefit the most when teachers practice these techniques. By scaffolding lessons of Scaffoldingchallenging materials, students receive adequate help and can feel successful in their work while also learning. [6] Practicing using ZPD and scaffolding in my classroom will not be challenging, in fact this will be an essential tool. I will use to explain complex materials, especially during my internship while working with exceptional students and provide support to students where the content falls beyond their ZPD. Finding the balance between too challenging and not challenging enough will take the most amount of practice.

Sources:

Gephard, Jamie. (2014, July 9). Module 3 Discussion Forum A-G. BlackBoard Discussion Post. (Web).

Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Pressley, M., & McCormick, C.B. (2007). Child and adolescent development for educators. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Annotated Bibliography: Mathematical Literacy

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Our class was provided ten peer-reviewed journal articles discussing various techniques about math and student literacy. The following document provides the sources for the articles and my commentary about each article. Each commentary is divided into three paragraphs. Paragraph one summarizes the article. Paragraph two assess the utility in my classroom, ratings are on a scale of 1 (I could use this tomorrow) to 3 (this research will not affect my teaching) and commentary is added to discuss reasoning. Paragraph three is a reflection on the application within the classroom or reasons why the research is not useful.

Annotated Bibliography Document

Cited Articles:

  1. Alsina, C. (2002). Too Much is Not Enough, Teaching Maths Through Useful Applications with Local and Global Perspectives. Educational Studies in Mathematics , 50, 239-250.
  2. Bintz, W. P. (2010). Fibbin With Poems Across the Curriculum. The Reading Teacher , 63 (6), 509-513.
  3. Checkley, K. (2001, October). Algebra and Activism: Removing the Shackles of Low Expectations. Educational Leadership , 6-11.
  4. Draper, R. J. (2002). School Mathematics Reform, Constructivism, and literacy: A Case for Literacy Instruction in the Reform-Oriented Math Classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy , 45 (6), 520-529.
  5. MacBride, R., & Luehmann, A. L. (n.d.). Capitalizing on Emerging Technologies: A Case Study of Classroom Blogging. School Science and Mathematics , 108 (5).
  6. Mancil, G., & Maynard, K. L. (2007). Mathematics Instruction and Behavior Problems: Making the Connection. Beyond Behavior , 24-28.
  7. Martinez, M. E., & Peters Burton, E. E. (2011). Cognitive Affordances of Cyberinfrastructure for Science and Math Learning. Education Media International , 48 (1), 17-26.
  8.  Özgen, K., & Bindak, R. (2011). Determination of Self-Efficacy Beliefs of High School Students towards Math Literacy. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice , 11 (2), 1085-1089.
  9. Phillips, D. C., Bardsley, M. E., Bach, T., & Gibb-Brown, K. (n.d.). “But I Teach Math!” The Journey of Middle School Mathematics Teachers and Literacy Coaches Learning to Integrate Literacy Strategies Into Math instruction. Integrating Literacy Strategies… , 129 (3), 467-472.
  10. Singer, D. (2007). Discourse Time! Developing Argumentative Literacy in the Math Classroom. Coalition of Essential Schools .

 

Characteristics of an Effective Educator

According to the US Census Bureau in 2011, more than 79 million people were enrolled in school between nursery and college, that’s 29.6% of the US population. Since a major portion of the populace is engaged in school related activities, it’s essential to look at the characteristics of the 3.3 million educators who teach students every day.

Particularly for secondary school, effective educators are well versed in their content area. They should have deep background knowledge to challenge the most curious student with engaging material but also the ability to break down challenging concepts into elemental chunks. Mandating attendance means all students are present and educators should know how to make their subject relatable. From experience, engaging presentations, activities and lessons foster growth. This is the result of differentiated teaching, changing styles to keep the classroom experience engaging. Most importantly, effective educators show their students they have faults. Being vulnerable in content knowledge can be an opportunity for a teacher to show their students that they are constantly learning as well. Teacher too often don’t ask for help fearing of being ostracized by students.

Teaching is a daily presentation, effective educators come to work with tenacity (the determination to work with challenging students), patience (to serve students in a healthy learning environment) and flexibility (to face challenging situations with grace). These three dispositions are essential for all educators to find success working with students. With an engaging teaching style targeted at all levels of students, the ability to make mistakes in front of students and strong dispositions, these traits combine to be the characteristics of an effective educator.