About cmf1014

Aspiring elementary teacher

EDU 6139: E1 – Exemplify Professional-Informed, Growth-Centered Practice

E1 – Exemplify professional-informed, growth-centered practice. This program standard emphasizes teachers developing reflective, collaborative, and professional growth-centered practices through feedback and reflection. As a new teacher, one of the areas I must become more familiar with is teacher evaluations or TPEP. This involves understanding how teachers are evaluated and what scale is it based upon. Knowledge of the framework in which the school uses for evaluations will help me to be better prepared for observations. In addition to being better prepared for observations, striving to be proficient or distinguished in general will improve my overall teaching practices. The evidence presented is part of the rubric for the Danielson framework which was being implemented at my student teaching site. I specifically chose criterion 5: fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment – 2a: creating an environment of respect and rapport.

Danielson Criteron 5

This evidence demonstrates a specific area of the Danielson framework which I put forth extra attention towards during my student teaching. The classroom I had was rather challenging at times and I know that it is my responsibility as a teacher to creating a safe and positive learning environment. Reviewing the framework helped me understand what proficient and distinguished teachers achieve in order to create a safe and positive learning environment. For example, a distinguished teacher would respond to a student’s incorrect response with respect for the student’s dignity. Sometimes, simple things like how we respond to students can be overlooked and even cause students to become reluctant in sharing their answers for the fear of being wrong. Students should feel safe and comfortable enough to ask any questions or share their thinking regardless of how incorrect their response may be. What I learned from reviewing the Danielson rubrics was that I became more familiar with what makes a particular teacher proficient or distinguished. I was able to see the specific qualifications and attributes which these teachers possess. This gave me something to strive for as I begin my teaching career. As a new teacher, I hope to continue to develop and grow my skills and become proficient and/or distinguished in all areas. Becoming familiar with my schools framework will help me set goals for becoming a better teacher. This will result in students receiving more efficient instruction and learning in a positive and safe environment.

In the future, I will seek out more experienced teachers for support for becoming a proficient or distinguished teacher. Areas in which I feel I need more improvement, I can seek these colleagues for advice on improving my instructional practices.

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Internship Week 14: P2 – Practice Differentiated Instruction

P2 – Practice differentiated instruction. This program standard emphasizes the significance for teachers to apply principles of differentiated instruction. This includes theories of language acquisition, stages of language, and academic language development in the integration of subject matters. The evidence presented is the place value poem which was utilized and recited during the decimal unit. It was presented as a smart board slide but was also recreated as a poster to place on the walls of the classroom for students to reference throughout the decimal unit.

Place Value Poem

This evidence demonstrates the use of differentiated instruction as it incorporates a poem which was recited by the entire class in order to help students say and write decimals. This was used in combination with the district curriculum which places an emphasis on a place value organizer. The combination of both the poem and the organizer helped students become more successful in writing and saying decimals. The place value poem also helped promote students language acquisition of tenths and hundredths. This was a struggle for many of the ELL students in the classroom as they had difficulties spelling and saying both of these place values. The poem also promoted students’ academic language development as one of the focal points of the lesson was to be able to say decimals accurately. Many students began the unit saying for example 0.43 as forty-three hundreds rather than hundredths. By the end of the lesson, students were more successful in saying and writing decimals. During the next day’s lesson, the whole class reviewed the poem and practiced as a group saying various decimals.

This experience has helped me realize the importance of differentiating instruction for all students. Not only did the place value poem really benefit those students who had language acquisition deficiencies, it promoted all students in the classroom to really grasp and understand the concept of saying and writing decimals accurately. In additional to this, this experience taught me how important it is to differentiate the instruction due to the fact that each student individually learns in a unique way. The place value poem incorporates reciting (reading and saying) and has a visual component (for visual learners). It also requires students to chant tenths and hundredths at the end which is good practice for saying these decimal vocabularies and realize the difference between tenths and tens. It provided multiple approaches to reach the objective of saying and writing decimals because when students are able to say decimals correctly, they can then write them.

This evidence has promoted student learning in that the majority of the class were able to successfully say and write decimals. Students demonstrated their ability during whole group instruction and in small groups. Furthermore, students showed their acquisition of being able to say and write decimals throughout their homework which was turned in the next day. Students really enjoyed and were engaged with being able to recite the poem. It also allowed students to make the connection with their background knowledge of individual names. This really helped students understand how to write decimals as they are all familiar with first names and last names.

In the future, I plan to different instruction in a variety of methods. I believe that utilizing instructional strategies of reciting poems or songs provides students with a different type of exposure rather than just directly instructing the students. I hope to continue to use and learn methods to differentiate my instruction so that it best meets the needs of each individual student in my class.

Internship Observations

Opener and Closer

Mrs. H 5th grade reading

The learning target of the activity was integrated into the activity with a brief introduction where the students were introduced with the learning target and the whole group read it aloud. Mrs. H mentioned that this specific learning target was not further discussed because it was a continuation from a previous lesson. During this observation, students did not articulate the learning target in their own words – they just repeated it. The opener did activate student prior knowledge by allowing students the opportunity to review their sticky notes on the evidence from the text. Students were able to communicate their learning through discussing the text and supporting it with the evidence they had collected on their sticky notes. I left before I could observe the closer to the lesson. After the class discussion, students were transitioning into small groups and/or independent work. These were both routines that have been established throughout the school year and students knew their expectations and began their work accordingly. What I liked was that the learning target was in direction relation with the Common Core standards. I feel that it is always important to integrate the state standard within any lesson. Students were able to demonstrate their understanding of the text in relation with the state standard through the student led discussion. This is another aspect I thought was particularly positive was that it was a student led discussion. Only when students were faced with a difficult question did the teacher interject. The teacher used turn and talk to prime their brains in order to answer the difficult question. Overall, the observation was a positive experience and in addition to observing the opener and close, I was able to see various teaching strategies implemented within the classroom.

Questioning

Ms. G 4th grade literacy

The teacher used question to informally check for understanding by reflecting on the previous day’s lesson. This lesson was a continuation for the literacy lesson which involved multiple days. Ms. G used both types of questioning – closed and open-ended questions in an equally distributed manner. Likewise, 3 boys and 5 girls were called during the whole group instruction. Of these students who were called upon, all the students were raising their hands. Not one did Ms. G call on someone who wasn’t raising their hands. She informally checked on students understanding throughout the lesson by asking students clarifying questions and checking for clarity by prompting students to show “thumbs up”. Ms. G also used questions like “can someone repeat what you are going to do when listening?” and “who haven’t I called on yet?” in order to ensure understanding and equality of student voice. In the middle on the activity, Ms. G had students discuss the objectives for the lesson activities. This was used as a check-in opportunity and for students to think back upon the goals for the lesson. Overall, I liked the questioning that was used. I felt that students were not pressured into answering and felt comfortable to share their thoughts and ideas. The equality of student voice between genders was good as well – even though the girls were the ones who were typically raising their hands. It was a good experience to really focus on just one aspect of a lesson and to really notice the little questioning strategies that were used throughout to ensure student engagement, understanding, and encouraging all students to share.

Classroom Management

Ms. H 5th grade reading

Based upon the pre-observation conference, what I observed was expected. This teacher mentioned the importance of having routines which is managed with firmness to indicate the urgency to cover materials. There were several classroom management techniques that were used throughout the lesson. One effective strategy that was used is the class has one person scouting throughout the lesson and during transitions. The teacher would say “your point or my point” which goes towards earning recess time. During each transition, Mr. H played music which was in relation with a time limit goal for transition. After the time limit, Mr. H would ask the point who earned a point. Another effective strategy was using the school-wide quiet sign. Mr. H would wait until the entire class was following expectations – students are who are or were not, she would say their name to get their attention/focus back. Likewise, Mr. H would wait to transition until the entire class was ready – which means seated and quiet. What I was able to learn from this experience was that playing music during transition time was really effective. It makes it a lighter atmosphere, instead of the teacher counting down. Also, students are able to listen to some music which I felt they enjoyed. I also appreciated the firmness which Mr. H ran her classroom but it was done in such a gentle and kind way in which students new their expectations and responded well towards. It was very quick paced as students were expected to go from task to task as independently as possible.

Instructional Strategies

Ms. W 3rd grade math

The math block for this class was separated into two sections. The first section involved a small group working with Ms. W (these students were lower achieving students) and the rest of the students were playing some sort of math game (like Blokus). In math, this class was being introduced to money. Ms. W working with the small group used play money in order to introduce proper money names and amounts. In addition to this, the emphasis was on recognizing the amounts for each money (nickel = 5 cents). I thought it was especially important to use play money as it provided a tactile/hand-on approach that really engaged the students. The ability to move and work with the play money really helped students understand the concept to be able to visually see that 5 pennies is the same as 1 nickel. After the first session was completed, the class was divided into two equal groups. One group had blue bin work (worksheets to work on with their partner) and one group was with Ms. W for group instruction. Ms. W used strategies of direct instruction, wait time, and pair-share opportunities to help deliver and meet the lesson objective. What was really effective for meeting the lessons objective (how to determine and estimate the values of money) was allowing students adequate think time in combination with students sharing their thinking on the smart board. I sensed that students really respected their classmate’s response and this help with student engagement because they all wanted to share their thinking.

Use of technology

Various teachers

I took a different approach for my use of technology observation, as all the observations I did included some use of technology in a similar manner. The main usage for technology in the classrooms at Stevenson is through the use of the classroom smart board. This is a very effective approach as you can create visual presentations and record student thinking directly on the smart board slides. Smart board also has the ability to save/print of specific slides if you wanted to display any around the class. This relates to the only negative thing I see with the usage of smart boards is that it does make it difficult to display student thinking that can be displayed on the walls – as a permanent reminder. Like I mentioned, you can print off slides but the biggest the copy machines can do is 11×17 which is not nearly large enough. To make larger copies, it would require utilizing the district printing services. Overall, utilizing smart board’s capabilities is an efficient means for reaching the learning target. As stated previously, recording or clarifying instruction/information on the smart board can be easily done because you can simply write on the specific slide. It also adds the component of an immediate response that is quick and effective during instruction. If you make a mistake, you can simply erase it and you can quickly write a response. I personally found using the smart board as an effective teaching approach. Having the slides really helped organize my instruction and kept a more steady flow through my lessons. It also provided an easy way to make spontaneous changes during a lesson because I could simply add a blank slide. This was helpful when misconceptions or misunderstandings arise and more clarification was needed. I consider myself a tech savvy person and I thought it was beneficial to the teachers and students alike for having a smart board in each classroom.

Extra-Curricular Observation

Soccer Practice

At Stevenson, they have several sports teams (basketball and soccer) that practices several times a week after school. They compete against the other schools in the district and practices are run by Stevenson staff or volunteers. What I observed was soccer practice for boys in the 4th and 5th grade which was coached by one of the teachers at Stevenson. Most of the interactions that I observed were student-to-student interaction as they were scrimmaging. The coach had interactions by leading and instructing the plays or drills during practice. I did not observe any type of behavior issue as all the students seemed happy just to be outside and playing a sport they loved. The coach and parent volunteers did not have to manage behaviors and students followed directions. Students were very engaged throughout the entire practice, eager to improve their soccer skills. I have a strong athletics background and I really enjoyed watching the soccer practice because of how well the students interacted. There was one point of the year when every day for almost 2 weeks there was some sort of issue with the students playing soccer during recess. Students would fight, argue, and complain. If became such a big issue that they stopped soccer for several days and when allowed to play again. They could do so only if one of the recesses supports staff was there to supervise. So it was very pleasant to observe students cooperatively playing and supporting their teammates during practice.

Internship Week 13: O2 – Offer Appropriate Challenge in the Content Area

O2 – Offer appropriate challenge in the content area. This program standard highlights the teacher’s ability to plan and/or develop curricula that is standards driven so that students will develop understanding and problem-solving skills in the specific content area. The evidence presented is several journal prompt entries for mathematics. The journal prompt on the top is the hardest problem, then in the middle is harder, and the bottom is hard. Students may feel uncomfortable or incapable depending on their selection if these were labeled beginner, intermediate, or expert. Therefore, these prompts are labeled as hardest, harder, and hard in order to provide students with appropriate challenge levels in a manner that builds confidence and promotes students to strive to solve more difficult problems.

Journal Prompts

This evidence demonstrates math journal prompts that are derived based upon the state standards. Furthermore, they are developed so that the prompts will meet the needs of the various skill levels of students in the class. Having prompts that are appropriate for skill level will help support students to be able to develop deeper understanding and problem-solving skills. If problems are too difficult or too easy, then students will not be deepening their understanding or furthering their problem-solving skills because these problems would be solved with many mistakes or little effort.

This has benefited me in that I now realize the importance of finding appropriate challenges within all content areas that are derived from the state standards. This alignment will ensure that students are learning things vital to their success in future mathematical lessons and in following lessons or units. Also, working in a highly diversified school has taught me to provide appropriate challenge levels for all students in the class. This journal prompt is a great way to facilitate learning that is appropriate for the various skill levels identified within the class. It also provides a way for students to have some involvement within their learning process. Students are given the choice of which journal prompt to select. This gives students a sense of ownership and accomplishment when they can successfully answer a journal prompt they choose in order to challenge themselves. Students were able to learn in ways that is appropriate to their skill level in the mathematics unit. Providing prompts or problems that are challenging enough that causes students to tap into their prior knowledge of what they have learned and what they are learning will appropriately challenge them.

In the future, I would like to continue to create lessons that are standards based and provide every student with an appropriate challenge level. As we know students are individualized in their learning and that no two students learn in the same fashion. Due to this fact, teachers must different and individualize instruction to better meet the needs of each individual student. Providing journal prompts with various difficulties is a way to ensure that a student is receiving an appropriately challenged problem. I plan to continue to assess students in my class and to provide appropriate work so that they are not only successful but are challenged to deepen their understanding and to improve their problem-solving skills.

Unit Plan Overview #2

General Unit Characteristics

The unit was titled fourth grade decimals, specifically on developing a deeper understanding of place values, adding or subtracting decimals, and placing decimals on a number line. The unit which came before this was the fractions unit. Due to MSP testing and needing to cover so much material, the class will continue and finish the fractions unit after completion of the district decimal assessment. Students are pre-assessed through the discussion and analysis on what they remembered about decimals. Many students come with strong background knowledge of decimals because of their extensive third grade work working with money. The goals for the decimal unit are for students to be able to recognize place values in the tenths, hundredths, and thousandths place. In addition, students will be able to compare, add, and subtract decimals. The long-term goal would be students to continue in developing their number sense of recognizing, interpreting, and analyzing decimals. The unit consists of eight lessons which were spread throughout approximately two weeks. The instructional practice that this unit emphasizes is direct instruction, number talks, paired work, and whole-group work.  Students are assessed at the end of the unit through the completion of the district assessment which is a district mandated test.

General Lesson Characteristics

The titles of the lessons are as followed:

  1. Recognizing decimals
  2. Reading, writing, and saying decimals
  3. Comparing two decimals
  4. Reading, writing, and saying decimals from hundreds to hundredths
  5. Plotting decimals on a number line and rounding to the nearest tenth or whole number
  6. Plotting whole numbers, mixed numbers, and decimals on a number line
  7. Compare, order, and round decimals to the tenth, hundredths, and whole
  8. Add and subtract decimals

The learning targets build upon one another because each subsequent lesson provides necessary skills in order to be successful in the following lessons. Students are developing their skills in working with decimals in order to ultimately be able to add, subtract, compare, round, and plot decimals. The learning targets relate to the central focus because they are vital skills in order to student understanding on the concepts of decimals. For example, lesson focus is placed on comparing decimals. When students are able to accurately compare decimals, they are demonstrating their skills in being able to interpret and analyze decimals which are both essential for the central focus. For lesson 8, the objective was for students to be able to add and subtract decimals. This lesson began with a number talk on a problem ($23 + 10¢ = $33) where students are to address if they agree or disagree with the problem and what went wrong. Through discussion, students were able to come to the conclusion that $23 can be represented as 23.00 and 10¢ as 0.10 and when adding or subtracting decimals you must align the decimal. Therefore the solution is $23.10. The supporting activities and homework continued to affirm the importance for aligning the decimal in order to accurately add and subtract decimal numbers. This demonstrates that the number talk, lesson activities, and the homework are all in alignment with the learning target and will foster student achievement towards these targets. At the end of the lesson, students were given two exit questions (one addition and another subtraction of decimals). Students will be assessed on their ability to align decimals accurately by lining up the decimal and the basic addition and subtraction computational skills. Students must show all this in their work. I will assess and record student exit questions according to their responses.

Internship Week 12: H3 – Honor the Classroom/School Community as a Milieu for Learning

H3 – Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning. This program standard emphasizes the importance implementing classroom/school centered instruction that is in direct relation with the communities within the classroom and school. More specifically, this includes the knowledge and the skills for working with others. The evidence presented is several smart board slides from a class building activity. Several times throughout the week, we try to have some sort of class building activity that places a focus on building the classroom community and various social and cooperative skills.

11A

 

 

 

11B

 

This evidence demonstrates several components of honoring the classroom community as a milieu for learning. First of all, one of the goals for the activity places a focus on a community skill of being able to use complete sentences while maintaining a friendly conversation. Prior to the activity, I demonstrated with a student an example of a friendly conversation and students shared what they noticed. For example, students noticed eye-contact, smiling, and not interrupting each other. In addition to this, students were able to find out more/new things about their classmates because they were given various questions to ask different students in the classroom.

This has benefitted the class in a variety of ways both academically and socially. First, students were able to practice good conversational skills while participating with various members in the class. An emphasis was placed for students to seek out individuals who they normally don’t talk with. In addition, students were given the instruction that sticks would be drawn for sharing something new they found out about any of their classmates at the end of the activity. The activity provided an academic skill of using complete sentences when asking questions and responding. Students in the class have been struggling using complete sentences and this activity helped support this skill. Likewise, the activity requires students to give their partner a high five when beginning and ending. The combination of taking turns in a friendly conversation, high fiving, and finding out new things about the class has really shown to improve the community atmosphere. Students were eager to share the new things they found out about their classmates and I even observed students who typically don’t participate, were seeking classmates to have a conversation with. Students were able to learn skills necessary for working with others. Skills such as taking turns, maintaining eye-contact, and finding a new partner all help facilitate students’ ability to work cooperatively with others.

In the future, I would like to devote a consistent weekly time for social and/or community building time. This is especially important in promoting a positive environment where students feel comfortable and work cooperatively together.

Internship Week 11: P1 – Practice Intentional Inquiry and Planning for Instruction

P1 – Practice Intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. This program standard emphasizes the importance of preparing curricula that is personalized to the diverse needs of each individual student. The evidence presented is a smart board slide from a math lesson covering the topic of line plots. Though the slide may seem simple in appearance, it was made in a way to meet the diverse needs of each student.

Visual and Sentence Frame

This evidence demonstrates the use of multiple methods to communicate more effectively towards the students in my class. Since the school is so diverse, many of the students have been or still are considered an ELL student. Due to this, it is essential that when I am planning my instruction to always consider the needs of the ELL students. The evidence utilizes the combination of a visual representation as well as a sentence frame structured around the essential question on the slide. Incorporating visuals or simple clip-arts in regards to the topic are great ways for supporting ELL students. In addition to this, sentence frames can help all students to more effectively communicate their responses. Both aspects in the lesson plan were created in order to personalize the lesson to the diverse needs of my class. The slide as well as the entirety of the lesson is based upon the state standard of being able to represent and interpret data using tools like line plots. This has benefited me in a variety of ways. First, I understand the importance of using standards-based curricula. Though, I also must be aware if this curriculum does in fact meet the diverse needs of each student or not. In addition, I have learned the importance to make the necessary adaptations to promote student learning and understanding. Student learning can improve when I use and make the necessary adaptations to standards-based curricula. Adaptations may be simple in nature by incorporating visuals or sentence frames, but have shown to improve student comprehension. For example, a student was trying to articulate their response or answer; I simply referred to the sentence frame. From this, the student was able to articulate their response effectively.

In the future, I would like to devote more time for intentional inquiry and planning for instruction, so I can better meet the diverse needs of each student. I believe this involves being aware of possible student struggles and making the necessary adaptations to minimize these. In addition, I will continue to learn new tools for adapting curricula to meet the needs of struggling learners as well as high achieving students.