EDU 6132: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is not a response due to any particular situation. GAD is more of a global and indiscriminant type of anxiety where students usually worry a lot. They tend to worry in excessive ways that are unrealistic and have a hard time controlling or limiting these worries (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007, pp. 375-376). Many times these students view life in general as capricious and that horrible things will occur if they do not perform perfectly. Furthermore, they lack security and are very concerned about their future and future events of academics, athletics, and social accomplishments being inadequate (p. 376). Typically with students who suffer from GAD have physical issues of: headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, restlessness, muscle tension and cramps, disturbed sleep, and difficulty concentrating and irritability (p. 376). Eventually the worrying and physical issues will create an atmosphere where the child’s performance academically, socially, and psychologically will be inhibited.

One of the biggest components for reducing the anxiety in students is through creating a positive classroom environment. This can be achieved through a teacher demonstrating a positive attitude during the daily interactions. Teachers must give praise and encouragement through all learning experiences, especially those which may challenge students. By providing reinforcement in circumstances where students were successful, students will begin to feel competent as if they have mastered the subject matter which can help prevent and reduce anxiety (Hey, Bailey, & Stouffer, 2001). In scenarios when things may have not gone according to plan for the student – it is the teachers responsibly to help students learn to accept and handle these outcomes. More specifically for students to accept responsibility and live with the mistakes, rather than letting their anxieties take control.

As teachers, we must always be learning about our students and adapting to their specific needs. Teachers should be active and effective listeners, patient observers, and provide opportunities for students to express their feelings openly (Hey, Bailey, & Stouffer, 2001). Student will feel this way if they have a strong relationship with their teacher. This relationship can influence the student’s perceptions of acceptance, trust, support, self-esteem, and independence (Hey, Bailey, & Stouffer, 2001). The role a teacher plays in a classroom is immeasurable in terms of the effects in which they can have on the lives their students. Teachers must treat their students as unique individuals, catering to their diverse needs. When students feel as if the classroom is a safe environment, then the student’s anxiety levels are manageable.

Hey, W.T., Bailey, D.L., & Stouffer, K. (2001). Understanding adolescent anxiety disorders: what teachers, health educators, and practitioners should know and do. The International Electronic Journal of Health Education, 4, 81-91.

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

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EDU 6132 : Student Motivation and Attention

There is a strong correlation between the student’s motivation and attention. Both are important issues and various methods should be used to improve student motivation and increase attention especially during school. An ever growing concern in schools today is that with the increasing of age during the schooling years, academic motivation is declining (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007, p. 261). As students are becoming less motivated in the class, so too will their ability to pay attention in class, especially in subjects that are uninteresting. The more motivated a student becomes, the more they will pay attention and focus on what is being taught. Medina (2008) states that, “the more attention the brain pays to a given stimulus, the more elaborately the information will be encoded – and retained (p. 74). One cannot stress enough the importance for educators to facilitate activities which maintains high motivation and attention levels for students. There are many strategies which can be used in the classroom and a few of these will be touched upon.

One method that can be used for elementary reading activities is dynamic literacy. Dynamic literacy calls teachers to intentionally select stories or novels that draw our students into a closer relationship with the lives of character (Keuss, 2013). Steven Garber claims dynamic literacy promotes good reading habits in four basic vectors of: good reading is done repetitively, reading is voluntary and passionate, good reading will be remembered and reflected upon, and good reading is a momentous experience (Keuss, 2013). Furthermore, Pressley and McCormick (2007) states that, “students spend more time reading interesting texts as compared to less interesting texts” (p. 279). There are several ways in which the teacher can increase the student’s interest and motivation through good reading. Offering meaningful choices to the students and allowing them to sometimes select the text themselves, by selecting vivid and relevant texts, consider the student’s prior knowledge, and by encouraging students to be active learners all will help facilitate learning (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007, p. 281). Just reading a book to promote literacy skills is not adequate enough. Teachers should provide rich and fulfilling texts with experiences that will motivate the students and maintain their attention. These novels should compel students to want to read more and continue to learn.

Medina (2008) states that when it comes to paying attention; the brain can only focus on one thing at a time (p. 84). Thus, I really like the idea of having an interruption free-zone during the school day (p. 93). This is where we can provide the opportunity for students to pay attention to only one thing. Removing distractions of outside noise, music, or computers and allowing the students focus to shift towards one task. It could simply be having the students right a reflection on a piece of paper – but closing the doors, blinds, and not allowing talking so that each student can focus on the assignment. The goal is to try and eliminate any possible distractors. Remember though that the teacher themselves can be a distractor. If the teacher was moving around or going through papers – this can be very distracting to students and deter their attention away from the assignment.

Finally, the way in which a teacher interacts with their students can promote more motivated students as well. Students were more motivated when they perceived that their teachers were supportive (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007, p. 283). Additionally it helps if the students feel as if they have some sort of control, as in their efforts matter (p. 283). Most importantly, student’s motivation and engagement increased when the students believed their efforts were because they wanted to do so, rather than being forced by the teacher (p. 283). It is always important as a teacher to be aware of how we are interacting with our students as it can impact their motivation.

Keuss, J. (2013). Dynamic literacy and character education – the context of today’s teenager [Word document]. Retrieved from SPU Blackboard web site.

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

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

EDU 6132: Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Learning Theory

Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theories main emphasis was, “it is impossible to understand development without considering the culture in which development occurs” (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007. p. 153). In other words a student’s development occurs or appears first on the social level and later on the individual level. The biggest area that is applicable towards classroom learning is through Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD). ZPD is an area of development where a student cannot accomplish a task independently but can complete with assistance (p. 156). The main principle which stems from this is the teaching strategy of scaffolding. Scaffolding is an instructional technique commonly used throughout classrooms today where teachers would provide help to students on an as needed basis (p. 158). Scaffolding works with a student’s ZPD in order to allow the student to do as much independently, and when the student faces any challenges the teacher would provide adequate hints or support. It is very important to know that a teacher can easily over prompt, support, or give excessive hints to students. This may result in the students not learning as much because too much information was presented rather than the students learning for themselves.

A specific method that is applicable towards my future classroom is of reciprocal teaching during reading sessions. Reciprocal teaching is consistent with many of Vygotskian principles and is an effective method for helping students to think about their own thought process, learning to be actively involved in their comprehension, and it teaches students to ask question to make the text more comprehensible (Reading Rockets, n.d.). Students will primarily use comprehension strategies of predictions, questions, clarifications, and summarizing while in small groups (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007. p. 164; Reading Rockets, n.d). The ultimate goal is for each group to be student lead as the teacher is progressively less involved. This follows Vygotsky’s theory of social learning because students are first learning through the social level and additionally the teacher would provide support through scaffolding depending on their ZPD.

I personally remember in college during my undergraduate degree doing many group research projects. The knowledge that each member provided to the entirety of the group was instrumental to our success. I felt many times that I had learned much more through the teachings and interpretations from my classmates rather than the professor. It helped put things into clearer perspective when coming from a peer or someone at a similar cognitive level rather than a college professor who is an expert at the subject matter.

Finally, here is a great example of reciprocal strategy used in an elementary classroom:

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

Reading Rockets, Classroom strategies: reciprocal teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2012, from http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/reciprocal_teaching/

EDU 6132: Piaget’s Theory of Development and Information-Processing

When comparing Piaget’s four-stage theory of development and the information-processing theory, there are many similarities and differences between the two. Piaget’s theory believes that development occurs in an orderly fashion through four distinct stages (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007, p. 61). Whereas information-processing claims on the notion that knowledge is continually learned. Similarly, each theory understands the limitations children will have throughout their development.

The student example is demonstrating a child in Piaget’s concrete operation stage of learning. This is the case because the worksheet uses concrete objects with the various shaded shapes. Similarly, the example exemplifies the student’s capabilities of handling only two attributes at once. The aspects of thinking in only concrete terms and thinking about only two attributes at once demonstrates the character limitations of a student in Piaget’s concrete operational stage (p.66).

I would like to note that the student does show minute signs of ability for Piaget’s final developmental stage referred to as the formal operational stage. The student is demonstrating the ability to think of possibilities beyond the worksheet while making it applicable to his/her lifestyle (p. 64).

Additionally, this example shows the importance of the information-processing perspective through the usage of rehearsal strategies.   The rehearsal strategy emphasizes on repeating information in order to recall it later (p. 95). The worksheet utilizes twelve examples to improve short-term memory capacity through the rehearsal of similar fraction problems. Additionally, the apply/practice section demonstrates the students continual development in long-term knowledge by making the worksheet applicable to his daily lifestyle.

What one can take away from this information is the fact that “the amount anyone can hold in memory at once-the amount anyone can think about at one time-is limited, with the limitation greater the younger the child” (p. 96). Being aware of the demands which the classroom task has upon the students is very beneficial. As educators we can create lesson plans better suited towards our student’s skill sets, by understanding where student’s current level of learning is at. This may be to simply breakdown the lesson into parts less demanding. Finally, through utilizing strategies of rehearsal, elaboration, and organization can help students improve their knowledge capacity.

Worksheet Sample

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

EDU 6132: Biological Development and Interference

What is a teratogen? According to Pressley and McCormick (2007) teratogens are “environmental agents that can interfere greatly with normal development by affecting the beginning of the nervous system” (p. 48). Why is this information important, especially as it pertains to the development of a child physically and academically? Research has shown the importance of neurological development in the first 2-3 months of life, which is a time of neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is when new nerve cells are forming and teratogens are agents which can cause adverse effects of normal development (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007). The most common teratogens being drugs and medications, some examples are: alcohol, cocaine, tobacco, cannabis, prescriptive drugs, and non-prescriptive drugs. This reflection will only focus on the adverse effects of tobacco on normal development.

Interesting to note that the effect of smoking tobacco during pregnancy was first realized in 1935 but the effects on prenatal development was not recognized until the 1950’s (Payne, & Isaacs, 2005).  The effects had become so widely known that in 1964 the General’s Report led to warning labels on cigarette packets (Payne, & Isaacs, 2005). Maternal smoking during pregnancy can result in low birth weight and expressive language difficulties (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007). Additionally smoking tobacco can cause an increase rate of mortality at or around the time of birth, increased miscarriages, decreased mental functioning, and increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (Payne, & Isaacs, 2005). There are also some postnatal effects for households where smoking is prevalent. This caused more episodes of respiratory disease such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia (Payne, & Isaacs, 2005). The effects do not just end with physical complications, where maternal smoking has shown to cause behavioral effects. Research has shown behavioral changes of reduced mental alertness, reduced visual alertness, and mothers are less likely to breast-feed (Payne, & Isaacs, 2005). All aspects interfere with learning as they grow because of smoking’s disruptions on biological development.

Implications which can be taken away from this as it pertains to classroom strategies and supporting the students learning with such a disability can be difficult. Typically, when a student has some sort of learning disability they will be on some sort of individualized educational plan (IEP). If there is a student with such issues in my classroom, it would be vital to be aware of his/her IEP and to be in contact and communication with the student’s case manager. Simple communications and collaboration with parents and the student’s case manager will help me to become better equipped with methods or strategies to use in providing an ideal learning environment. Additionally, I would be able to further realize areas where the student may be struggling or excelling – to accommodate struggles and to utilize strength. Since maternal smoking causes decreased mental functioning – an example would be a student who may be developmentally delayed in his/her reading comprehension. Research shows that learning predictions, questionings, clarifications, and summarization strategies results in improved comprehension (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007). Overall, I feel the most important aspect in order for any teacher to support a student with a learning ability is to be educated themselves. Understanding the cause and effects the disability has upon learning and to utilize all the resources one has around. A simple solution may be a student just needs more time to finish his homework, tests, and/or projects. Accommodating so the student simply has the opportunity to complete his/her work without time restrictions can go a long ways. Simple changes in how the information is given or portrayed will help students with disabilities to learn and comprehend information.

Again there is no easy solution for supporting students with learning disabilities. Disabilities come in a variety of shapes and sizes effecting different areas of learning development. The most important thing to remember is to keep the students best interest in mind through provide optimal support for his/her learning. Never being afraid to seek the help and support from others.

Payne, V.G., & Isaacs, L.D. (2005). Human motor development: a lifespan approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies.

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

EDU: 6132 Child/Adolescent Development

My undergraduate study was in exercise science, so I had taken several classes on the human motor development. One class in particular was called motor control and learning which focused on childhood motor development. Similar to the Pressley and McCormick’s (2007) textbook, the one which I had used in college covers like materials but in much greater detail. A thing that I specifically remember from that class was the importance of reflex development from birth to the first few months of age (Payne, & Isaacs, 2005).  For example, a few primitive reflexes seen in early childhood are sucking reflex, moro reflex, and the search reflex (Payne, & Isaacs, 2005). Each is very instrumental in their development process. These are just a few examples of the types of reflexes infants develop and use. Since my major focused on exercise, the majority of this course was on the landmarks in motor development.  Pressley and McCormick (2007) illustrate the types of motor skills children has as they progress in age. Younger children when throwing tend to only use their arm, and as the child progresses in age, coordination, and strength they begin to throw utilizing a whole body motion (Payne, & Issacs, 2005; Pressley, & McCormick, 2007).  Another area of importance in child/adolescent development is their fine motor skills. Such as holding a writing implement – where younger children tend to grasp the instrument and as their fine motor skills progress they begin to hold and efficiently use the writing implement (Payne, & Isaacs, 2005). These are just a few of the things I remember and stand out from my college courses in the realm of child/adolescent development.

I feel that my current knowledge of development plays an important role in my philosophy of instruction. By understanding the developmental process of children, I am able to recognize and realize skills which they should have already developed or needs continual practice. This understanding will allow me to not set up expectations that far surpass their development level. It is important to note that instruction and lesson materials should not only help children learn new topics but should challenge them as well. Additionally, I know that importance of their childhood development as it relates towards their later school year learning. Creating an environment that is of high-quality has been shown to increase measured intelligence (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007). There are many factors that can affect the development of a child, and understanding these issues will help better equip me as an educator.

Payne, V.G., & Isaacs, L.D. (2005). Human motor development: a lifespan approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies.

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