P2 – Differentiated Instruction

P2 – Practice differentiated instruction. This means that teachers use a variety of instructional strategies or personalized instruction to help students acquire knowledge. Teachers will create opportunities for students to learn the same standards in different forms or with small modifications to fit the students’ needs.

The evidence is a series of mini-lessons presented over three days of instruction as outlined by a previous blog post found here. (LINK TO OTHER POST CLICK HERE) This post also includes some background information about the project, goals and outcomes. These lessons used student activities to help students to learn about and become familiar with vertical asymptotes, horizontal asymptotes, x- and y-intercepts and holes in a graph. Rather than providing students with direct instruction, the activities are built to facilitate student discussion around the topics and the teacher can target students with special learning needs during the activity. Each group was strategically selected to include students who brought different strengths (such as good communicator, critical thinkers in a single group). Group roles were assigned to draw out strengths or compensate for weaknesses of individual groups (quiet students were assigned as readers, critical thinkers assigned to questioner role).

Lessons 1 through 4 use student’s prior knowledge of polynomial functions to build on new understandings. Stations which revolved around asymptotes had students use limits by completing a table of values. For horizontal asymptotes, the values approached infinity and negative infinity. For Vertical asymptotes, the values approached a fixed value of x. Structuring groups with specific roles, students were able to converse and think critically about each of the four topics. Since the conversations were NOT teacher lead, students could explain to each other concepts they were unsure of. Most importantly, I would circulate the room during the activity to check on students progress and assess needs or misunderstandings with groups of about 4 students. I would target groups that were working fast to ensure they understood the intricacies of the activity and would provide challenge or extending information to groups who were able to build on more complex ideas.

After completing this activity, I learned that station learning can be valuable but should be thought through carefully. I would reconsider several processes to make this better.

  1. Allow more time for students to complete the activities. Some groups seemed rushed and were not able to complete ideas.
  2. Debrief with groups after each activity to ensure students understood the purpose of each question.
  3. Provide a little bit of direct instruction before turning to station learning activity to motivate the learning more.
  4. Remove the unit about holes since it is not a standard, but a good to know topic.
  5. I would remove the idea of making the students physically move around the room during the activity, this wasted time.

There are some pieces of learning that I thought were beneficial to the activity.

  1. Assigning students to groups to ensure there are a variety of learners in each group of learning.
  2. Assigning group roles to draw out strengths of students to benefit others in the group.
  3. Circulating the room to provide direct instruction as needed rather than lecturing at the front of the room. The dynamic of a teacher roaming helps students by providing small group instruction AND if the teacher is unavailable, groups must work together to problem solve before asking for assistance and receiving help. The delayed gratification is more effective because students are more receptive to the learning (Meyer, 2010).

While many of the suggestions above would help students learn and are keys to improving the instruction better for next time, I can continue to improve by learning and practicing differentiated instruction and providing alternate means of learning to students when station activities are not being used, such as times when direct instruction is used more. There is more research and practice that can be learned.

References: Meyer, D. (Speaker) (2010, March 1). Math class needs a makeover. TEDxNYED. Lecture conducted from TED Conferences, LLC, New York City.


Professional Issues Reflection – E3

E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. Teacher candidates demonstrate knowledge of professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities and policies. Essentially, this means that teacher candidates are learning about the responsibilities for professional growth within the field and the ethics of improving as a professional. The Collaborative Learning Notes – Germanis taken about improving professional practices through Collaborating, Coaching and Consulting provide evidence to my learning in this HOPE standard. The assignment was to make notes about how professional teachers continue growing in their role as teachers and the importance of growth for job satisfaction. The notes start by addressing the professional issue of burnout and then turn to collaboration and relationships as the solution to this concern. Additionally, through connections with my internship, collaboration with other staff and professional growth are performance requirements for some teacher evaluation models.

Within this work sample, I am learning about the responsibility of seeking help, especially as new teachers become more confident in their role. Teachers should continue to collaborate with one another through professional learning communities, critical friends, coaching or professional circles. It would be irresponsible to continue learning about the current generation of students when attempting to teach. Since students needs are continuously evolving, teacher are responsible for meeting the new needs of students as a whole. Professional development within the school can help teachers (even veteran teachers) overcome some systematic obstacles.

Students are directly impacted by professional development through collaboration. From experience, some students claim that teacher X is better than teacher Y because teacher X does A, B and C. Within professional learning communities (PLC), teacher X could share with all of the other teachers their success in addressing a particular issue and the PLC could provide suggestions to create a homogeneous plan to address specific student concerns. During a classroom visit last spring, I had the privilege of participating in a PLC at a local high school. It was powerful to see the suggestion from coworkers for the teacher presenting his problem to receive suggestions to better support students.

From participating in the note taking activity, I learned about the various types of professional development that can happen at a school. In my internship, I am not experiencing good teacher collaboration…it’s not built into the culture of the school and only one or two teachers at the school teach the same subject. I also came to realize the important of staff relationships for new teacher to reduce burnout. Creating a strong working community could potentially reduce loneliness when many teachers can discuss similar work related issues and develop improvement plans.

While my school does not actively participate in joint teacher collaboration, within my internship, I am excited to work with my mentor teacher to address professional issues well. We have vibrant discussions about student working with IEP’s and my responsibility to adjust my teaching to meet those students’ needs. We talk about lesson planning and specifically how our goals will meet the needs of our students. One case of this has been in observing him teach a particular class, we have collaborated and he has told me that he is learning from these conversation, even after 30+ years of teaching. There is a lot of power in collaboration and professional learning teams. Throughout this year, I intent to be intentional about connecting with this teacher about our teaching philosophies to meet student’s needs. After this year, I hope to intentionally join a school where professional development is important within the school’s culture. This will be the topic of one questions I may ask in my interviews when applying for different schools.

Micro-Teaching Reflection

Micro-Teaching Lesson Plan

[1] O1 – Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes. This program standard means that teachers will be thinking critically when writing lesson plans and will make sure that students are learning relevant material which meet state and national requirements. In teaching, curriculum should be easy to follow for maximum student understanding. [2] The attached document is lesson plan for my micro teaching lesson presented to the MTMS Cohort. The accompanying picture is a sample of student work from the micro teaching lesson. This lesson plan demonstrates my understanding of planning collaborative learning and inquiry based learning activities. Asking good questions and facilitating a collaborative learning environment increases student engagement and ultimately increases learning (Borich, 2014).Micro-Teaching Student Sample Work

[3] Within the lesson plan, I include questions which help students engage with the lesson and informally assess understanding. Students were also encouraged to work in groups where they could discuss their misunderstandings. The lesson clearly states the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and the lesson aligns the learning activity with the learning target which helps students learn math concepts prescribed by the standard. [6] After teaching the lesson, I reflected on improvements I could make to improve the lesson or better achieve the learning targets. I would scaffold the learning more, my understanding of vocabulary relating to sets and subsets is strong, yet often times students do not have such deep understanding. I worked to scaffold the lesson with some vocabulary, although, if I were to teach this same lesson again, I would use direct instruction to introduce vocabulary and concepts and then use the activity to help improve understanding by allowing structured freedom. I would conclude by providing more independent practice. [5] The result for the student is that when lessons are highly organized and scaffolded well, their learning improves. The student will retain more taught information if we guide them towards independent thinking. [4] In summary, by constructing this lesson, I learned about scaffolding well, using student inquiry when teaching a lesson and the possible challenges associated with gauging student learning. [Extra Learning] An additional learning point during creating the lesson is how easy it can become for teachers to use powerpoint slides to dominate classroom instruction and how dangerous it is to overload students with words on slides.

Reference List:

Borich, G. D. (2014). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Pearson Education, Inc.