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.

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Instructional Strategies Observation

This observation compares two very different types of instruction instruction strategies between STEM related topics. The first strategy is project- and inquiry-based instruction the other is a game to demonstrate a concept. In the first class, a class titled “The Physics of Flight,” students are tasked with creating a protection system for a payload on a bottle rocket they will launch at the end of the week. Students are provided a budget, materials and a critical friend who must approve the design before the build. Students must use their knowledge of drag, friction, air pressure and mass (topics of physics) to design their payload protection system to minimize damage. Students who are careful with their design and focus on the prior knowledge built more robust systems.

The project is a long term project where students will revise their plans and rebuild their payload protection system many times as they learn more about the physics required for flying and space. What I like about this project and instructional strategy is that it is very real world. Students have to work within a budget, they need to be creative, their plans need to be approved by a critical friend and finally they can actually build and test their end product and have the opportunity to revise their original plans. I asked a student about what they would do differently, they mentioned that they would not have used such heavy material to protect their payload because the mass is difficult to slow down when the object is falling. They need a lighter protection system to be slower. I think these students are really learning about the concepts of physics in a real world environment. Some students were confident in their protection systems and the teacher didn’t challenge their thinking much after they took their mind off the task. If I were to provide feedback I would encourage this teacher to talk one on one with the students who claimed they were done and ask them about how their learning changed design elements on their product. This would re-engage these students who felt they already knew how to do the activity well. I think that mathematical modeling is one of the most useful applications of math, so I may use the project based strategy to provide a project for my students to apply their math knowledge to the real world.

The other instructional strategy that I observed was a game to unpack a scientific concept. The students were studying the carbon cycle and the teacher wanted to emphasize that particles of carbon get stuck in different areas. For instance, carbon that forms oil will be stuck in the ground for a long time until it is drilled up and then moved through the air as oil emissions. Students played a game were each student was a carbon molecule and they started evenly distributed. Students would roll dice and read a legend to determine their fate as a carbon. Some tabled became very full while others were less full because carbon stays in certain forms longer. Students recorded their fate and then at the end of the game the teacher had students discuss what happened to their molecule. I think this was beneficial since it was an activity where students could move around the classroom and see/feel what a carbon would be in the larger scheme of the carbon cycle. I especially liked that the class debriefed the activity so that those student who could not make the conclusion about the activity could be clued into what learning was supposed to take place. This type of activity could implemented in a statistics unit where randomness can be visualized.

Between these two instruction strategies, I think they were both effective because they had clear goal for the students and were well planned out. Students were able to articulate the goals of the activity and the activity was differentiated so learning could be achieved despite different learning styles. The take away from these observations was that I need to incorporate more movement into my classroom and differentiate instruction with intentional activities for students.

Classroom Management Observation

Period: 1 & 2

Subject: Algebra 1 & Geometry

IMG_0921 IMG_0922This observation was completed at a school other than my internship. This school is a typical larger high school with about 1,200 students and many math teachers. Before school started, I had an opportunity to look around the classroom and talk with the teacher. This teacher LOVED Wong & Wong’s (2009) First Days of School Book which we are studying in the Classroom Management Class. When looking around the classroom, the teacher had the activity, warm up standards and homework posted for students to see a forecast of the week.

Ms. P was very clear with her students about expectations, she had many graphics about the procedures of her classroom. As the bell rang, she posted a small picture under the document camera which instructed students to turn their phones off, get materials out, homework out and begin the entry task. Each student had an assigned seat which they were expected to sit in. According to Wong & Wong (2009) this is to establish some control within classroom and maintain authority as the person in charge. In the classroom, a large calendar was posted to emphasize upcoming events in the class, such as quizzes or days off school. The current date and the day’s bell schedule was posted (rotating schedule for the school).

During class, students filled out an activity sheet where Homework was to be recorded and a grade for completion would be posted. Students self-assessed their effort on the homework (4 – All work shown and all problems attempted, 3 – Almost all, 2 – Half, 1 – No work shown, 0 – Not completed on time). This school district requires teacher to use standards based grading, all students are graded on a 4 point scale for all of their work based on the standard for the assignment or test.

One of the most impressive elements of classroom management was the use of students to help run the class. In the first period class, two students were brand new to the classroom. One of them spoke no english and didn’t understand all of the procedures to the classroom. Ms. P has trained her class so well, that she asked a reliable student to show the new students around and explain the classroom procedures. New students were prepared for the next class with the help of peers to obtain a homework assignment sheet, worksheets for the class and tools for completing the in class assignment. This seemed to take a lot of stress off of the teacher in the classroom and allowed them time to instruct the whole class. Having such a strong routine and organization seemed to really help the effectiveness of this classroom.

The power of organization as an element of classroom management became very clear when a portion of the lesson was not as well organized. Ms. P was preparing students for Student Led Conferences when she became slightly confused by the procedure and how to instruct the students. During this period, student’s didn’t know what to do and the class was not as productive as other times during the period. This shows that organization makes a HUGE impact on classroom management.

My last two take aways for classroom management include providing crucial feedback to students when passing tests back (i.e. please include last name, no pens on assessments) so students are clear about their expectation for their assessments. Finally, Ms. P has a quiet space in her classroom where she will stand when she expects the class to be silent. The space is separate from her instructional area and prominently placed near the front of the room so all students can see. This is an excellent nonverbal way to communicate to students that you need their attention.

Based on my understanding of Wong & Wong (2009) and Ms. P’s classroom management plan, this was nothing like I expected, in the best possible way. The theory from the Wong & Wong book really works well. According to Ms. P, first period is a challenging class and I was surprised that she said that because the classroom was running so efficiently. I’m confident with the students attention, this class will make very large improvements, especially with a teacher as organized as Ms. P.

Sources:

Wong, H., & Wong, R. (2009). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.

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.

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 .