EDU 6363: Meta-reflection

Thinking back upon the class lectures, course readings, and each of my reflection posts one thing seems to always stand out. When it comes down to teaching, it is the importance of individualizing instruction in a way that can inspire our students to be fully engaged and wanting to learn more. Whether that is through integrated curriculum or relevant themes, the students must be at the forefront. In the realm of social studies, language arts, and fine arts providing enrichment opportunities for students through integrated curriculum and relevant themes is an effective measure. Many districts incorporate The Oregon Trail into their elementary curriculum. This provides a great opportunity to create lessons that develop the conceptual ideas in social studies, incorporates analytical writings of language arts, and creative representations in fine arts.

One of the most impactful statements which I reflected upon last week was “teach less, and teach well”. To me this incorporates the full immersion into a text, story, project, or lesson. Putting thought into the lesson that will provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of each individual student and worrying less about keeping up. When I begin my first teaching job, I will always remember that teaching more isn’t necessarily best for the students. To always remember the importance of slowing down to ensure that student comprehension is taking place. Finally, I hope to have the opportunity to create an elaborative integrated unit that incorporates aspects of all subject areas.

EDU 6363: Teach Less and Teach Well

In school districts state-wide there has been an emphasis placed on pacing guides and passing the standardized tests. I feel that this has caused many teachers, schools, and districts to become too focused on meeting these pacing guides that they have lost sight on the needs of their students. It is almost saying “if we cover all the material, students will learn it” but in reality students may not be learning anything if one just flies through the materials. Scheuerman (2014) states that “the speed of learning is not the same as depth of learning; likewise rate is different from level” and furthermore, “teach less, and teach well”. Both are great examples that educators need to be reminded that the speed is not important, but the focus should be placed on the depth of learning.

The fourth grade classrooms at the school where I intern has adopted a new way of approach their math curriculum to help students conceptualize the theories and practices. Rather than force feeding algorithms and answers, students are required to solve problems on their own. The goal is for students to not rely on teachers being the “answer book” and for students to begin to understand the greater concepts of math. We are currently one unit behind the district pacing guide but feel that this is not an issue. We have seen the progress students are making by working through and conceptualizing problems on their own. Our hope is that with the development of these skills, students will be able to progress at a much quicker pace. This ideal ties back into the fact of teaching less and teaching well. It really focuses on not trying to cover too much material at one time (Scheuerman, 2014) and making sure students understand a concept before moving on.

Reference

Scheuerman, R. (2014, March 5). EDU 6363 Course Lecture – Session 9: Technology and community and arts methods II.

EDU 6363: Art in Elementary Education

Art is such an integral part of elementary education. Whether it is a well-planned out lesson that incorporates art activities or an experiment that requires students to draw what they have observed; art components are evident. I have learned through my course work and observing in my 4th grade classroom is that students truly enjoy making and creating things. This was evident last week when students were given the opportunity to create a penguin themed Valentine’s box. Though this activity had no academic basis, my mentor teacher stated that the students had not worked this quietly or intently the entire school year. This was the case because students were given the opportunity to create something and add their own artistic touch upon it.

When creating a unit that has an art component, we must remember to plan activities that will motivate students but also meet the requirements of the state standards. We can motivate students through four aspects: love of color, love of landscape, love of making, and interest in others (Scheuerman, 2014). One of the state standards is to use visual arts to express feelings and present ideas. In most subjects students can present ideas artistically through visual representations. Likewise, incorporating a lesson on the love of color where students are painting from imagination, meaning, or events. We can tie this in with expressions of feelings. For example, students could create an image depiction on a meaningful event in their life that relates to the unit. This will meet state standards but also inspire students to think creatively and express themselves in unique ways. Many times art is one of the first programs to be cut at a school, but it is important especially as elementary teachers that we continue to incorporate motivational art activities within our curriculum.

References

Scheuerman, R. (2014, February 26). EDU 6363 Course Lecture – Session 8: Standards-based assessment and art methods (I).

 

EDU 6363: Relevant Themes

The idea of choosing a relevant theme for an integrated curriculum unit may seem simple or easy on the surface, but can play an instrumental role in the unit’s outcome. If the theme has no relevance towards the students, then student interest and effort may diminish resulting in undesirable growth and development in the subject matter. Drake and Burns (2004) state that one way to increase the relevance to students is to select a theme with local contexts (p. 81). For instance, if a lesson examines the economic effects of the Oregon Trail on the tribes of the Pacific Northwest; finding tribes of who resided in your local neighborhood or students may have Native American heritage that could be examined. Either approach gives relevance towards a lesson on economic effects of the Oregon Trail. It is important that a themed unit has intrinsic value – this can be achieved when the theme is important to our present lives. Another approach to ensuring relevance is by having students involved in the decision making process (p. 81).  It is amazing the type of themes students can come up with. Students are constantly trying to make sense of the world around them and wanting to learn more. The interests of our student should not go unnoticed and we should be fostering these thoughts. Allowing students to select an acceptable theme for a unit will add significant relevance.

Quality themes will deepen the level of learning by using information and skills to promote moral well-being, literacy, and problem solving (Scheuerman, 2014). When themes add relevance towards students, the deepening will be even greater. The importance of selecting a theme that each and every one of our students can relate to is significant and should not be overlooked.

References

Drake, S.M., & Burns, R.C. (2004). Meeting standards through integrated curriculum. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Scheuerman, R. (2014, February 12). EDU 6363 Course Lecture – Session 6: Unit Themes and Language Arts Methods (II).

EDU 6363: Aligning Assessment and Instruction

One difficulty that may arise is the ability to align assessment and instruction within a unit. It is the goal for teachers to create a unit that is rich in the connectivity to curriculum goals, student interests, potential for complex associations, and collaborative projects (Scheuerman, 2014). Even though a unit may provoke all these aspects, it is important to complement ongoing instructional activities with ongoing assessments. As Drake and Burns (2004) states teachers should be asking, “How do I know when the student knows this?” and at the same time be considering, “How do I make this an interesting and relevant activity?” (p. 77). It can be difficult to implement a meaningful assessment activity that will complement the unit activities. Some ways a teacher could achieve this are through clear expectations, reflections, or by students teaching others. Clear expectations can be made through having specific performance criteria or a rubric (p. 78). Rubrics allow students to understand the criteria for assessment before beginning the project. Reflections can be done through daily journals, discussions, or self-assessments. This is a great approach in providing an ongoing assessment that can be easily referenced. Finally, one can assess a student’s teaching performance through tutoring or demonstrations (p. 78). When students truly know the material, they are able to articulate and teach it to their peers.  These are all methods in which a teacher can align their teaching and assessment with their learning principles.

References

Drake, S.M., & Burns, R.C. (2004). Meeting standards through integrated curriculum. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Scheuerman, R. (2014, February 5). EDU 6363 Course Lecture – Session 5: Integration, Academic Integrity, and Language Arts Methods (I).

EDU 6363: Reflective Thinking

As John Carroll states “without sufficient time for reflection, what is taught is not internalized or connected to other learning (Scheuerman, 2014). Many times, students are not given the opportunity to reflect upon their activities throughout the day. Sometimes the issue is due to the lack of time or the teacher’s preference not to do so. Whatever the reason, the opportunity for reflection should not be disregarded. Drake and Burns (2004) state, “that students learn best when the material is relevant to them (p. 53). How can we build this relevance within our students? One way is by giving students the opportunity to reflect. Reflection on how the lesson connects with other subjects or our own personal lives. This connection which students are making will help deepen their knowledge and understanding of whatever is being taught and learned.

Allowing the opportunity for students to reflect upon a lesson does not guarantee that the student will internalize or connect the lesson to other subjects. Teachers must create an engaging lesson that will excite their students, causing them to want to learn more. Teachers need to use a variety of teaching strategies to meet the diverse learning needs of each individual student (Drake and Burns, 2004, p. 58). One way this can be achieved is through various visual organization tools. Students can utilize circle diagrams, multi-flow maps, or bubble maps in order to organize and make sense of the information. These tools also provides component for those individuals who may learn better visually. When a lesson has many dimensions or aspects to it that will cater towards the diverse needs of students, incorporating a reflection will help students to be able to connect with information at a much better level.

References

Drake, S.M., & Burns, R.C. (2004). Meeting standards through integrated curriculum. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Scheuerman, R. (2014, January 29). EDU 6363 Course Lecture – Session 4: Reflective Thinking and Language Arts Standards

EDU 6363: KNOW/DO/BE Framework

The KNOW/DO/BE framework encompasses three questions of: what is most important for students to know, what is most important for students to be able to do, and what kind of person do we want students to be (Drake, & Burns, 2004). This reflection will focus of the “be” aspect which includes the attitudes, beliefs, and actions that we expect students to demonstrate as a conclusion of the lesson (p. 33). The “be” of the framework is extremely important because it reflects upon what the student does with the “know” and “do” of the framework (p. 35). In some sense, this “be” portion of the framework can be viewed as a type of character education. Character that includes values, beliefs, attitudes, and actions those students will reflect as a result of the lesson. Students should be applying lessons to their very own lives. Lessons can be geared towards not only learning key concepts about a specific topic, but also to develop citizenship. It can be as simple as student participation and compromise, or as detailed as themes including loyalty, perseverance, or courage (Scheuerman, 2014). Students require the skills of “know” – facts, topics, and concepts; as well as “do” – skills of communication, research, and information management (p. 33). The “be” will connect the “know” and “do” to bridge the information together and make it applicable to the lives of the students. When students are utilizing the information they have learned in class outside of school, it then becomes meaningful and relevant. When lesson planning, remember the “be” is important because as teachers we are shaping the lives of our students.

References

Drake, S.M., & Burns, R.C. (2004). Meeting standards through integrated curriculum. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Scheuerman, R. (2014, January 22). EDU 6363 Course Lecture – Session 3: Inquiry, Understanding, and Social Studies Methods II.