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.

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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 checks 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 and are important for teaching and learning.

Practice edTPA Task 3

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 beginning. My mentor teacher has guided me in 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 grading rubric which helps me identify the level of understanding of my students.

TestRubric

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 provided written feedback to students (which is not as frequent as I would like because of the time writing takes). 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.

A Day in the Life of a Student

Today’s goal was to follow the school day of a sophomore student throughout their day. To protect the identity of this student they will be called MW. The goal was for me to observe five different classrooms during a six period day. Within each class, I was looking for teaching strategies and tools to use in my own classroom. At the end of the day, I asked MW some questions about their day. While the student interview was only a case study, MW provides several helpful suggestions to improve their learning experience.

The morning classes include Math, English and Biology. Within all of these classes, I noticed good responsive listening. Teachers would ask student questions and then summarize what the student said and repeated the comment to the class so all could hear. In English, the instructor was careful about making smaller comments to encourage conversation in class. The activity in English was to analyze a short story, a topic which can be shallow or deep depending on the students’ understanding. The instructor contributed to the classroom discussion as well to prompt students to analyze the short story more deeply. At the end of the classroom discussion, the teacher make a more sophisticated analysis than the students were able. This exposed the students to higher expectations. The teacher used OneNote to distribute materials to students and students were able to access copies of the teachers journal.

In math class, students started with an entry task to summarize their homework and clarify questions. The class activity was to debrief a challenging problem from the homework and clarify understanding of the basic elements of trigonometric ratios. Students had questions to prepare for a quiz the next day. The activity included a worksheet where students needed to use prior work to plot data and discover a relationship of a sine wave. The end of class, summarized their understanding of “accuracy” and careful procedures for getting more reliable results.

Biology was a very busy class, the lesson was very engaging and highly differentiated. One comment about the lesson that I particularly enjoyed was the presentation of the entry task. The day’s objective was clearly posted on the board and students were able download a copy of class activities from OneNote. Student’s shared out the Initial Thinking questions by popcorn method, students would choose others to “keep the conversation going.” The instructor was clear about the importance of understanding the Carbon Cycle and other biological systems and stated that this would be tested on the End of Course Assessment (EOC). The class activities included a dice game and students would mimic a carbon molecule in the journey throughout the day. Students seemed to enjoy the activity and learned about the many processes of the carbon cycle. Students were able to articulate what happens to a carbon atom as it moves from the sun to plants and then into animals and back into the atmosphere. The activity was followed by a debrief so students could articulate their learning. After the debrief, students watched a video that repeated the material again. This instructor was very smart about providing many learning opportunities for important content. The class ended with an exit slip that informally assessed students learning from the day. Students were instructed to make a carbon cycle as homework to use to prepare for their EOC test in the spring.

After lunch, MW was schedules to attend Current World Problems, Spanish and Health. Mostly, this class period was work time for students to finish a group project about government systems since 1500. MW shared with me the group project and the required elements for a grade. Before work began, students the teacher had a student present a “SHIELD” which allowed the student to comment about their past present and future. The intention of the exercise if for the class to know each other better. Students can share about their interests and goals. Next the teacher gave instructions of work time, he was very clear about presenting a product at the end of the period and made suggestions for groups to produce exemplary work (i.e. Review each other’s papers, get organized and then work together to produce a product). Essentially, the teacher anticipated potential shortcomings and took preventative measures to work through the project. We also talked about some of the functionalities of the grading system to optimise its use.

Next was Spanish in which students entered the class and listened to the instructor through an immersion lecture. The teacher spoke little english when teaching the material, but frequently broke into english to emphasize important points. He continued to discuss why immersion was used and why he believed in this philosophy for language acquisition. Most of this period was direct instruction and lecture based. Students did not respond frequently and when they did, it was brief.

The last class was Health where there was a lot of individual work time. Some of the lesson was direct instruction where students had access to a OneNote document to help follow the lesson and take notes. The period was an introduction to nutrition and involved the explanation of a project. The teacher clearly displayed the objective and the required elements of the project so that students knew what was expected of them throughout the unit. Many students who were in previous classes were also in this class. It was interesting to note the difference in classroom dynamic because of these students. Those who were quiet in the morning, we not more rambunctious and hard to get back on task. Teachers should consider this when teaching.

Finally, after the day, I asked MW some questions about their day. This student liked the biology lesson because there was an activity where she could move. She mentioned this was uncharacteristic of her typical day, but when she moves around, she claims she remembers more. Typically, she enjoys her math class because there are clear instructions and she tends to work hard. MW is also in a robotics class (which I did not attend) but this takes up a lot of her time. Sometimes teachers don’t understand that this is a challenging workload. Along these lines, MW claims that she becomes overwhelmed when projects are overlapping and she does not have the tools to manage this better. MW recommended teaching students in advisory time management and note taking skills. She also would like a space after school to get some work done and manage her schedule. Throughout the day following the student, I realized that the school has very high expectations for the students and teachers don’t often repeat information. This school expects students to understand verbal instructions the first time, which is a challenging skill for many people, even adults.

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.

M4 Reflection: Cognitive Development to Assist Student Learning

H1 – Honor student diversity and development. To me, this standard means that teachers should be studying current and relevant research articles which pertain to educational development and work to apply the findings within the classroom. Modern educators have the duty to use cognitive research surrounding student learning in their classrooms. After reading “Brain Rules,” (Medina, 2008) chapters about short and long term memory, researches have clarified many tools educators can use to help student retain information. Medina states that sadly “People usually forget 90 percent of what they learn in a class within 30 days”(p. 100, 2008). Many classmates have suggested tools for helping students remember, two stands out in particular. First, using cumulative tests and quizzes encourages students to revisit old ideas. According to Medina (2008, pp.147), “The way to make long-term memories more reliable is to incorporate new information gradually and repeat it in timed intervals.” Other class suggestions for repeating information was incorporating games in class as review at the end of a unit (Benton, 2014).

Another cognitive development strategy which can foster learning in the classroom is constructivism teaching. With constructivism, teachers build upon older ideas, this too requires students to rehearse old concepts for long term memory storage. Particularly in math, where content continually builds onto itself, constructivism provides teachers the opportunity to remind students about how their old knowledge can apply to a new situation. Prompting and coaching can be assistive for this teaching strategy in which students develop critical thinking skills consistent with their own perceptions of information. This does not imply teacher provide answers, but rather give students resources to direct their learning. Students can learn to adapt their current schematic understanding of math concepts and adjust their thinking of new information when teachers construct learning to build upon itself.

Constructivism Evidence

Teaching methods assist educators in implementing these cognitive skills into the classroom. Students can review concepts through words-, quote-, person-of the day, suggested by Antje Brewer (2014) when supported by rich class discussions. Additionally, providing students with opportunities to explore, though class projects can encourage curious learners similar to that of Medina’s explorations through his childhood (2008, pp. 272). Using many strategies to encourage cognitive development helps educators teach their students through proven, research based discoveries of cognitive development.

 

Sources:

Benton, Alex. (2014, July 17). Teaching Strategies to Help Encoding & Consolidation. BlackBoard Discussion Post. Module 3. (Web)

Brewer, Antje. (2014, July 16). Teaching Strategies to Help Encoding & Consolidation. BlackBoard Discussion Post. Module 4. (Web)

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