CRAAP TestE2– Exemplify collaboration within the school. When teachers work together, they can support each other and develop best practices for improving student learning. Though each teacher will have to make individual decisions to meet the needs of each of his or her classes, it can be useful for teachers to give similar lessons or give common assessments to make sure students are consistently held to high standards across the department. When I began observing the classes of my English mentor, Mr. Moore, all of the sophomore English teachers were starting a research writing project that they planned collaboratively. During one of the first lessons, students learned to evaluate web resources using the CRAAP test excerpted above. When I asked Mr. Moore where the tool originated, he said that a former staff member had learned about it in her college days and spread it through the school.

One of the ways that ideas and resources are shared is in professional learning communities (PLCs). I attended weekly PLC meetings with Mr. Moore and the two other sophomore English teachers. Since the students were working on a common project, we were able to share their successes and challenges and give each other suggestions for improving student learning. I think that the instructional product that students received was at a higher quality because it had been reviewed and revised multiple times in the PLC. It was great to collaborate with teachers at the same grade level, but I would also like to practice working with teachers across grade and content levels.

P4– Practice the integration of appropriate technology with instruction. Technology can make teaching more engaging, efficient, and effective, but only if used in meaningful, intentional ways. I had the opportunity to speak with US history teacher Mark Gaul after observing a lesson on the US decision to use atomic weapons in World War II. Since the school where I am completing Internship practices one-to-one computing, I was curious to hear about how teachers are using technology to enhance student learning. Mr. Gaul does something unique among the social studies department in that he maintains a class website with the academic plan, calendar, and lesson materials available publically from his faculty directory page on the school’s website.

Website

Using technology to communicate, he says, helps keep everyone on the same page, and is also a classroom management tool. Students can have early access to assignments and be aware of next steps without being directly informed by the teacher. Mr. Gaul also uses the district’s web platform “Skyward” to make grades and assignments accessible to students and families at all times. The advantage to maintaining a public site is that no login is required, so there are fewer barriers between the classroom and all the people who are involved in students’ lives to help them succeed. With current technology, the information “is out there” for everyone who needs it. I also think that technology’s best use is for communication and increased interaction with students. I am curious about using feedback tools like Google Forms to inform instruction and social media platforms like Twitter to communicate broadly with the important people in students’ lives.

 

P2– Practice differentiated instruction. The internship performance criteria offers the following definition for differentiation: “The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual intellectual and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust practice by employing strategies that advance student learning.” Without a doubt, my social studies mentor, Theresa Turner, has been a fantastic model for student-centered teaching because of how well she knows her students as individuals. This is what she had to say about her classroom practice from one of my initial interviews:

Differentiation

When first I observed Theresa, her students were working on a letter to the editor of a news magazine to inform him about one of the human rights issues they were studying and urge him to bring awareness to the problem. As Theresa circulated among the busy students, I was most impressed with the time she took to speak with each student, not just about the assignment, but also about each of their personal lives and interests. I can see how at the beginning of the semester with a new group of students taking this time would be especially important. Throughout our time together, whenever we have talked about grades or lesson plans, Theresa has brought up a specific detail about a student to rationalize why she believed a particular strategy would or would not work. Her knowledge of students has helped her develop a great rapport with students that she uses to encourage them to succeed. When I took over teaching, this is a habit that I tried to adopt as well. I started out my time in class with student surveys and tried to tie student interests to content material. The next step for me would be to determine the appropriate level of challenge for students based on the feedback they share in our conversations.

brain song

Excerpt from Mr. Shepard’s brain song

H1– Honor student diversity and development. Students have different needs and learn in a variety of ways, which is why it is important to provide multiple access points for learners to grasp the content of a lesson. On my first day of Internship, I had the pleasure of observing Mr. Shepard’s psychology class in which students were learning about the parts of the brain. His first instruction was to have students make fists with their hands and press them together. He then explained the different parts of the brain using the hand as a model, similar to Siegel (2010). I thought this was a great tactile activity, but I was most impressed with the “brain song” he taught students to help them remember the different parts. I find it difficult to activate musical intelligence in my lessons, so I thought this was a great lesson that would be engaging to learners on multiple levels. The homework was to come up with a personal mnemonic for remembering the parts of the brain (in song form or otherwise) and to label a drawing of the brain with different colors, which activates visual and logical learners.

What I learned from observing Mr. Shepard’s lesson is that it is worthwhile to take multiple passes at essential knowledge and that teachers should use a variety of strategies to reach students. The implication for student learning is better comprehension and knowledge retention. I would be willing to bet that after nearly four months, students still remember at least a few verses of the brain song. My goal is to develop a similar repertoire of strategies for honoring multiple types of intelligence and the diverse needs of students.

Reference:

Siegel, D. (2010). Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation. New York, NY: Bantam Books

P3–Practice standards-based assessment. To me, this means that teachers and students regularly measure learning and can communicate about this learning using the common language of standards. One tool that is helpful for developing valid and reliable assessments is a rubric. I created the rubric seen below to assess my students’ ability to create and present arguments in a debate.

Creating the rubric allowed me to split the class into smaller groups and have peers and other adults assess the teams that I was not personally ableRubric to observe. The behavioral descriptions are clear enough that multiple scorers came to the same conclusions.What I learned is that a detailed, standards-based rubric makes scoring assignments a much simpler and quicker task. The rubric also makes giving feedback to students simpler because I can highlight the descriptors that show the student’s strengths and weaknesses. There is little room for confusion as to why a student received a particular score. On the other side of the coin, students can also use the rubric as a guide and provide evidence that they met the assignments expectations if they feel they have been mis-scored. Access to a rubric gives students agency and responsibility for their own learning. For this assignment, I did not collect a self-assessment based on the rubric, but in the future, this is something I would like to try next time.

 

E1– Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice. This means that teachers are continually learning and adapting in order to meet the needs of their students. Professional development and personal growth were two of the reasons that I chose to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching. One of the tools that MAT candidates learned to use in Internship Seminar is the Professional Growth Plan, in which we identified the skills we would like to improve during our first years teaching. The following is an excerpt from my draft summary.Draft Professional Growth Plan

By identifying areas where I would like to grow and making connections to the professional standards that I will be measured against as a new teacher, I am demonstrating an emerging growth mindset. From doing this activity, I learned that I have a lot of accomplishments of which to be proud after my two years in the MAT program, but also a lot of work still to do. I selected knowledge of students, questioning, differentiation, and classroom management as focus areas for the first few years in my own classroom. One of the things that I think will be helpful in developing these areas is good recordkeeping and regular reflection. I think it can really help students to have a teacher who models growth mindset so that they do not believe they have to perform perfectly all of the time. Even students who are doing well should realize that there is always a new challenge and a skill to improve. I want my classroom to be a place where everyone is working toward their personal best.

H5– Honor student potential for roles in greater society. To me this means that schools and teachers should help students explore their interests and facilitate meaningful interaction with the community. In Dewey’s Pedagogic Creed, he says that education is both a psychological and a sociological process; A good education should develop a person individually and help them become good citizens. One way that I saw this happening during Internship was the play put on by the school’s drama department. Even though drama is not typically considered a core academic subject, students with an interest in performance or technical production can demonstrate great achievement in a way that is valuable to the community.

I know that the play was meaningful to the community because several weeks prior to the event, posters like the one seen below started appearing around the school and in the windows of local businesses. The local middle and elementary schools were invited for daytime performances, which created a community bond and a legacy of sorts for the younger students. I heard from students who were in the play that parent involvement was crucial to the success of the show, including that a parent made the bird puppets that were used throughout the production. When I attended an evening performance of the play, I saw that most of the seats were filled by families, but that several school faculty members were also present. At the end of the show, the cast greeted the audience in the foyer and thanked them for their attendance.

image

What I learned from attending the play is that students are willing to work extremely hard to produce a product that has personal significance and is valued by the community. I was extremely impressed by the professionalism of the cast and crew. The implication for student learning is that students will succeed when the work that they do reflects their interests and has an authentic application. What I would like to do in my future classroom to improve in this area is to incorporate more student choice into assignments and give students an opportunity to share their work with the community. In an English class, for example, students could create a newsletter to distribute to parents that would allow them to write on a topic of personal interest.

Follow the link below to view detailed plans for a two-week unit designed to introduce 10th grade students to the poetry genre by starting with what they know about music. The second week of the unit fosuses on Shakespearean form and language to prepare students for the drama genre and a reading of Macbeth.

From Snoop Dogg to Shakespeare

P1- Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. This means that teachers determine what their students need to learn, and put time and attention into deciding how best to meet these needs, considering the individual as well as the group. Smagorinsky (2008) states that “It is important, therefore, for you to think through your teaching decisions as carefully as possible so that your students can see you are acting in principled ways” (p 140). I practiced an intentional planning mindset when I wrote a unit rationale for Macbeth. A portion of this rationale is presented below. In it, you can see that I have considered what my students need to know, why the knowledge is important, where students might struggle with the content, and how I intend to respond to these challenges.

References: Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2012). Close reading in elementary schools. The Reading Teacher, 66(3), 179-186. Hinchman, K. A., & Moore, D. W. (2013).  Close reading: A cautionary interpretation. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(6), 441-450. Park, K. (2002). Macbeth: a poetry workshop on stage at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. British Journal of Special Education, 29(1), 14-19.

References: Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2012). Close reading in elementary schools. The Reading Teacher, 66(3), 179-186.
Hinchman, K. A., & Moore, D. W. (2013). Close reading: A cautionary interpretation. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(6), 441-450.
Park, K. (2002). Macbeth: a poetry workshop on stage at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. British Journal of Special Education, 29(1), 14-19.

This was my first time writing a unit rationale and my first time writing a detailed unit plan. I thought it was a very valuable experience, and in particular I learned that focusing on only a few key standards during the planning stage ensures that students will be taught what you want them to learn. There were several directions I could have taken the material, and multiple activities and assignments I decided not to include because they either did not match up to a standard, or they followed a standard that was not a central focus for this unit. The implication for student learning is that instruction is more focused, and students benefit from deeper exploration of selected content. I have experimented with revealing a short unit rationale to students in my internship classes, and I found that telling them why I planned certain experiences for them made them more attentive and willing to participate. I think I will continue writing unit rationales both to focus my teaching and increase student motivation, although I would probably do so with less elaboration and more familiar language.

Reference:

Smagorinsky, P. (2008). Teaching English by design: How to create and carry out instructional units. Pourtsmouth, NH: Heineman.

Please follow the link below to read a gateway lesson I created to introduce my 10th grade Contemporary World Problems students to our World Economics unit. We engage in a simulation to help students think critically about the issue of resource distribution, and provide reference for key vocabulary that we will use throughout the unit.

Unit Gateway: Candy Resource Simulation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.