Posts Tagged ‘Instructional Strategies’

Capstone-Standard 04 Meta-Reflection: Pedagogy

Capstone-Standard 04 Meta-Reflection: Pedagogy

Engages students in learning experiences that are meaningful, stimulating, and empirically proven to promote intellectual growth.

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

The learning experiences I provide for my students should be interesting, inspiring, and research-based. Instruction to promote thinking skills should be delivered in the student’s least restrictive environment. Additionally, I must keep up-to-date and aware of methods and techniques to actively involve my students in the learning process.

Meta-Reflection following completion of EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies

Amazed by the Gifts of my Colleagues~

As I reflect on what I have learned in this course entitled Survey of Instructional Strategies, I have much to consider. Reflecting on this past week, filled with reading the papers written by my colleagues and the corresponding comments from our peers, I am filled with a sense of amazement. The quality of their work as graduate students, their professionalism as educators, and their integrity as individuals who desire to give of their best to others is overwhelming. I believe the richness of their gifts, the creativity evidenced in their endeavors, and their dedication as lifelong learners will continue to impact the future in positive ways. I feel privileged to have shared this quarter with these outstanding people of character. A few of the many highlights, according to the “research”, noted in Blackboard Discussions: Final Papers for Peer Review—Seattle Pacific University (2012) are as follows:

Positive Student Behavior—Cara Botz, Collaborative Learning in the Resource Room–Amy Guatelli, Cooperative Learning & Middle School–Connie Taylor, Cooperative Learning–Josh Auckland, Character Education–Keri McManus, The Use of Direct Instruction in Response to Intervention Models–Sara Mirabueno, Josh’s Final Paper–Joshua Hollingsworth, Cooperative Learning in the Classroom–Allison Shannon, GRR–Mackenzie Quartly, DI and Constructivism–Elle Sauro, Inductive and Inquiry Models and My Teaching–Chris Howell, Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Kindergarten–Amanda Burke, Nonlinguistic Representations–Melissa Klein, Constructivism and Concept Attainment–Philip Benson, Concept Maps for All–Laurie James, Nonlinguistic Representations for English Language Learners–Meagan Wilson, Vocabulary Instruction in the Elementary Grades–Kami Cottrell, Project Based Learning–Jessie Scanzon, Nonlinguistic Representations–Julie Schocken, Reciprocal Teaching–Taylor Hansen, In Defense of Direct Instruction–Aimee Chew, Cooperative Learning–Emily Whitten, The Power of Feedback–Alison Brynelson, Homework Purpose and Considerations–Jim Mendes (2012).

If time and energy permitted, I would create concept maps representing themes from each topic and show the interrelationships between key ideas, create connections between old and new learning, etc… and these would serve as a powerful review strategy for this course!

I would like to call particular attention to a comment from Keri McManus, who was my peer review partner for the final paper. Within her paper entitled, Character Education: An Effective Instructional Model to Promote Student Well Being, Cultural Competency, and Academic Achievement she states, “I integrate character education through teachable moments as they arise in my classroom…”(McManus, 2012). Indeed, a worthy goal I hope to strive for each day.

Our professor, Dr. Tracy Williams, set high academic standards for us to reach. She has successfully led us through times of “wind, rain, and snow (with or without power)”, and has maintained continuity for us—despite her own encounter with grief in the loss of a family member. I am grateful for her as a person and am thankful for her vital encouragement along the way.

On an even more personal level, I wonder: Has the greatest learning and revelation during this course come to me as a learner? as a teacher? or as a wife, mother, and grandmother striving to maintain a sense of balance in the midst of learning and teaching? Perhaps the revelations have come in waves—encompassing all three facets of my life. At times, the waves have threatened to overtake me, but as I’ve prayed (without ceasing), I’ve come to understand (and remember) that I can tread water and breathe at the same time. God’s power has provided the courage needed to persevere. He never changes, and will never fail to bless beyond measure. Laurie~

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown”.

The Bible, New Living Translation (©2007)

 

Artifacts for Standard 4

Paper: Concept Maps for All–retrieved and scanned Please note: The digital form of my original paper was lost, due to a computer virus, therefore, I scanned and attached my hard copy. In the process, the formatting became very distorted.

Module 1 Reflection:Cultural Competence–a work in progress~

Module 2 Reflection:Encouraging words…”Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition”~

Module 3 Reflection:Discovering “Induction/Inquiry” processes in our midst~

Module 4 Reflection:The “Big Idea” of Concept Attainment~

Module 5 Reflection:Announcing…Advance Organizers!

Module 6 Reflection:Excellence in Constructivism~

Module 7 Reflection:Encouragement with Respect~

Module 8 Reflection:Character Education: In the midst of this process called “life”~

Module 9 Reflection:Direct Instruction—With Flexibility~

Capstone–Standard 02 Meta-Reflection: Learning Environment

Standard 02 Meta-Reflection: Learning Environment

Creates and maintains school-wide and classroom environments that are safe, stable, and empowering.

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

In my role as the special education curriculum leader in an inclusion setting, I must ensure that a continuum of services is available for consideration by each student’s IEP Team. I must see to it that my students are provided services in the “least restrictive environment” and that they are given the opportunity to access free and appropriate public education.

Meta-Reflection following completion of EDU 6655 Human Development and Principles of Learning:

I enjoyed the opportunity to have guidance in this course toward some of the most recent brain research relating to education. While reading the first week’s chapters and articles, I found myself most intrigued and inspired by the Jossey-Bass descriptions of “mirror neurons”, and saw for myself many possible explanations of experiences encountered within my family (a brother who is severely disabled, and my father having suffered two gunshot wounds to the head) as well as those of students within my classroom. I found reading the article, On Empathy: the Mirror Neuron System and Art Education, to be very informative. In settings where I hear people (including my students) share their challenging, real-life stories find that I experience what some might refer to as “compassion fatigue”—therefore, I am interested in the impact of stress on learning. As stated within the Jossey-Bass Reader in Chapter 4, “It is increasingly recognized that efficient learning does not take place when the learner is experiencing fear or stress…inappropriate stress has a significant effect on both physiological and cognitive functioning….stress or fear also affect social judgment, and responses to reward and risk” (p. 44).

In my first paper written for this course, Personal Background Reflection Paper (please see link to Artifact 2.1 below), I reflected on my own childhood experiences in comparison to that of many of my students, and discussed how these intertwining factors influence my teaching interactions with students. As authors Stiggins, Arter, and Chappuis (2006), have clarified, the distinction between assessment of learning vs. for learning, places the emphasis on helping students answer the three questions, “ ‘Where am I going?’; ‘Where am I now?’; and ‘How can I close the gap’?”

Within my second paper, Professional Philosophy of Education and Developmental Theory (please see link to Artifact 2.2 below), I expressed thoughts pertaining to Erik Erickson’s developmental theory. “Erikson defined eight developmental stages during which a crisis must be resolved in order for a person to develop psychosocially without carrying forward issues tied to the previous crisis…” Author, Crain, states, “The adolescent’s primary task, Erikson believed, is establishing a new sense of ego identity—a feeling for who one is and one’s place in the larger social order. The crisis is one of identity versus role confusion” (p. 291). A reflective process I use with students (described below), is one method I believe helps them engage in the development of their ego identity:

Currently in my position as a special education teacher in a largely “inclusive” high school in terms of service delivery, much of my work with students is conducted in the context of individual appointments in my office. One tool that I use regularly with my students is a self-evaluation process—involving both written and verbal responses to a weekly progress report including; detailed listings of assignments, scores, current grade-to-date, attendance, etc. for each of their six classes. An overarching purpose of the use of this tool is to assist students with developing self-advocacy skills as they strive to succeed in high school as well as prepare for post-secondary endeavors. The reflective exercise guides the students through the process of reading information pertinent to their day-to-day life as a student. The completion of the form requires analysis of their current progress as well as the development of strategies for establishing and reaching both short and long-term goals, and encourages students to take ownership, responsibility, (and credit) for their actions and efforts (James, 2012).

Ironically, just this week in April of 2013, as I am working on completing the requirements for my master’s degree by writing/rewriting reflections on my own learning as a graduate student, a dramatic event occurred within my classroom as a student was completing his own written reflection. (Note: As of result of new learning in my graduate studies, I have increased the level of expectation for student reflection to include more extended written responses. The following account of a very recent experience relates also to the use of technology in the classroom—proving that even outdated technology can be used to connect with students).

Since I don’t have enough computer access for all students in my special education Learning Strategies class, I have chosen to use small keyboards to have students write reflections on a regular basis. Although the small, “NEO” keyboards are outdated devices, they are available for my use. Each device holds 8 separate “files” which I have students use to make progress notes in response to specific prompts at various times throughout each term. Files 1-6 are reserved for periods 1-6, and file # 7 is for “other”. Usually, I encourage student to describe in File # 7–accomplishments of which they are MOST proud. I upload their responses regularly and find this process to be extremely valuable in helping me maintain a connection with students and to assist me as I endeavor to respond to their individual needs. Some students are able to express so much more in writing than they would in face-to-face conversations.

Tuesday, as I was uploading and reading student reflections, I noticed the reflection of one very quiet and studious student was prefaced with the comment: “Mrs. James, be sure to read paragraph # 7″. As I continued to upload his work, I found a most heart-wrenching, yet beautifully written expression from this student who had recently been placed on probation. It was evident that he was experiencing a downward spiral toward severe depression. His cry for help included the words, “I can’t go out and make friends or give a shout out to others about my emotions. I get it out in writing or typing now. I stay silent and lonely to rot away…” Thankfully, I was able to talk with him after class and set up an appointment for him to meet with the counselor. The student and I have agreed that he will continue to use writing as a way to help him process his intense emotions.

An example of how research validates the threatened needs of this young man to be connected with his friends and to know that someone cares is referenced in my third paper, Professional Analysis of Developmental Appropriateness (please see links to artifacts 2.3.1, 2.3.2, and 2.3.3 below). As I discuss the Individual Transition form of the Individual Education Plan (IEP), I make the suggestion that work habits and interpersonal skills should be addressed on this form for secondary students because these skills relate to Kohlberg’s Level II Conventional Morality. Crain refers to Kohlberg’s Level II Conventional Morality—Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships. “At this stage children, are by now usually entering their teens—see morality as more than simple deals. They believe people should live up to the expectations of the family and community and behave in “good” ways. Good behavior means having good motives and interpersonal feelings such as love, empathy, trust, and concern for others” (p. 161).

In my Week 4 Blog for this course, EDU 6655: Mind and Brain….Techniques–backed by research? (James, 2012), I expressed my conflicting thoughts about controversial brain research. I conveyed my tendency to agree with author, Hyatt, who suggests “that much of the rush by educators to provide ‘brain-based’ learning opportunities for children is based on information that is selective, oversimplified, or incorrectly interpreted, and he strongly urged that educators and the public exercise great caution when trying to apply findings from brain science to educational interventions” (Hyatt, 2007, p. 120).

Based on my informal, anecdotal research gleaned as an educator in the classroom from 1980 to the present, high school students generally experience a relatively high degree of stress–which I maintain to be a contributing factor to some of the struggles I observe in their lives. My goal is to continue in my endeavor to use any means available to meet the needs of my students as I address Standard 2: Create and maintain school-wide and classroom environments that are safe, stable, and empowering. In the process of completing the requirements for this course (see links to artifacts below), I appreciated the opportunity to reflect with a fresh and guided focus on my years in the classroom and I intend to continue to view new research as it becomes available. I believe new insights will continue to come, along with validation for long-held convictions.

References

Arter, J., Chappuis J., S.,  Stiggins, R. (2006). Classroom assessment for students learning. Doing it right, using it well. Boston, MA. Pearson Education, Inc.

Crain, W. C. (2011). Theories of development: Concepts and applications. Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.

Hyatt, K. J. (2007). Brain gym[R]: Building stronger brains or wishful thinking?. Remedial and Special Education, 28(2), 117-124.

James, L. (2012). Professional philosophy of education and developmental theory, Seattle Pacific University.

James, L. (2012). EDU 6655: Mind and Brain….Techniques—backed by research?, WordPress  blog, Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved from https://lpettengilljames.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/edu-6655-mind-and-brain-techniques-backed-by-research/

Jossey-Bass Inc. (2008). The Jossey-Bass reader on the brain and learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Links to artifacts for Standard 2:

EDU 6655-ARTIFACT 2.1 Personal Background Reflection Paper

EDU 6655-ARTIFACT 2.2 Final Professional Philosophy Paper

EDU 6655-ARTIFACT 2.3.1 Final Paper SECONDARY TRANSITION Form Analysis

EDU 6655-ARTIFACT 2.3.2 TRANSITION Form Analysis.list

 EDU 6655-ARTIFACT SECONDARY TRANSITION pp

Amazed by the Gifts of my Colleagues~

Survey of Instructional Strategies–Meta-Reflection~

As I reflect on what I have learned in this course entitled Survey of Instructional Strategies, I have much to consider. Reflecting on this past week, filled with reading the papers written by my colleagues and the corresponding comments from our peers, I am filled with a sense of amazement. The quality of their work as graduate students, their professionalism as educators, and their integrity as individuals who desire to give of their best to others is overwhelming. I believe the richness of their gifts, the creativity evidenced in their endeavors, and their dedication as lifelong learners will continue to impact the future in positive ways. I feel privileged to have shared this quarter with these outstanding people of character. A few of the many highlights, according to the “research”, noted in Blackboard Discussions: Final Papers for Peer Review—Seattle Pacific University (2012) are as follows:

Positive Student Behavior—Cara Botz, Collaborative Learning in the Resource Room–Amy Guatelli, Cooperative Learning & Middle School–Connie Taylor, Cooperative Learning–Josh Auckland, Character Education–Keri McManus, The Use of Direct Instruction in Response to Intervention Models–Sara Mirabueno, Josh’s Final Paper–Joshua Hollingsworth, Cooperative Learning in the Classroom–Allison Shannon, GRR–Mackenzie Quartly, DI and Constructivism–Elle Sauro, Inductive and Inquiry Models and My Teaching–Chris Howell, Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Kindergarten–Amanda Burke, Nonlinguistic Representations–Melissa Klein, Constructivism and Concept Attainment–Philip Benson, Concept Maps for All–Laurie James, Nonlinguistic Representations for English Language Learners–Meagan Wilson, Vocabulary Instruction in the Elementary Grades–Kami Cottrell, Project Based Learning–Jessie Scanzon, Nonlinguistic Representations–Julie Schocken, Reciprocal Teaching–Taylor Hansen, In Defense of Direct Instruction–Aimee Chew, Cooperative Learning–Emily Whitten, The Power of Feedback–Alison Brynelson, Homework Purpose and Considerations–Jim Mendes (2012).

If time and energy permitted, I would create concept maps representing themes from each topic and show the interrelationships between key ideas, create connections between old and new learning, etc… and these would serve as a powerful review strategy for this course!

I would like to call particular attention to a comment from Keri McManus, who was my peer review partner for the final paper. Within her paper entitled, Character Education: An Effective Instructional Model to Promote Student Well Being, Cultural Competency, and Academic Achievement she states, “I integrate character education through teachable moments as they arise in my classroom…”(McManus, 2012). Indeed, a worthy goal I hope to strive for each day.

Our professor, Dr. Tracy Williams, set high academic standards for us to reach. She has successfully led us through times of “wind, rain, and snow (with or without power)”, and has maintained continuity for us—despite her own encounter with grief in the loss of a family member. I am grateful for her as a person and am thankful for her vital encouragement along the way.

On an even more personal level, I wonder: Has the greatest learning and revelation during this course come to me as a learner? as a teacher? or as a wife, mother, and grandmother striving to maintain a sense of balance in the midst of learning and teaching? Perhaps the revelations have come in waves—encompassing all three facets of my life. At times, the waves have threatened to overtake me, but as I’ve prayed (without ceasing), I’ve come to understand (and remember) that I can tread water and breathe at the same time. God’s power has provided the courage needed to persevere. He never changes, and will never fail to bless beyond measure. Laurie~

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown”.

The Bible, New Living Translation (©2007)

Announcing…Advance Organizers!

Module 5–Advance Organizers

“Advance Organizers are a model for helping students organize information by connecting it to a larger cognitive structure that reflects the organization of the discipline itself” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 388). Much of my teaching occurs in the context of individual appointments with high school special education students—with a large focus on teaching goal-setting and problem-solving skills.  Not only is my purpose to help these students make progress toward their IEP goals, but also to assist them in navigating through their high school years—gaining in confidence and skills to successfully advocate for themselves–both in the present and in the future. Often the emphasis is more on process than specific content. In Classroom Instruction That Works, authors Marzano, Pickering, and Pollack state: “Advance organizers are most useful with information that is not well-organized….for example, an advance organizer might work better as a preparation for a field trip than it would as a preparation for reading a chapter in a textbook that is well organized with clear headings and subheadings” (2001, p. 118). Preparing for life after high school—unfortunately does not fall under the category of being “organized with clear headings and subheadings”.

An advance organizer I might use with an individual student working on self-advocacy skills is to describe the process our family went through to go on a camping trip. I might briefly (verbally) state topics we had to think about as we made our plans, such as: Deciding on a destination, where to stay, what clothing to pack, directions on how to get there, what to eat, gear to take, vehicle to drive, time to leave/return, etc. The advance organizer of the camping trip analogy can serve as a springboard for having a student create a step-by-step plan to accomplish particular personal or academic goals—and to carry out the actual process.  This advance organizer could relate to any type of goal—from preparing for a test, working a long-term project, preparing their senior portfolio, or applying for a job. Students will be required to take into consideration necessary time, materials, schedules, possible need for accommodations, as well as how to ask for assistance along the way. Having students create their plan using an actual visual or graphic organizer –specifically designed in a checklist fashion and customized for the particular outcome–could provide extra scaffolding for students, as needed.  “Ausubel’s definition of advance organizers does not include strict operational guidelines for constructing them….Perhaps the key is flexibility and consideration of the learners and the content” (Dell’Olio and Donk, 2007, p. 394).

This week, one of my colleagues (a fellow special educator) wrote: “My students need social skill instruction and some of my students need things very clearly defined”. She went on to describe great examples of situations in which she effectively uses advance organizers with her students in a very strategic manner.  I then shared that last week (in a far less structured manner), I had an impromptu opportunity to use a “word picture” as an advance organizer with one of my high school boys. He was returning from several days in juvenile detention–following an incident of poor judgment on his part. As he was sharing of his desire to improve, I was reminding him of the fresh start of a new semester. In the process, he was saying “I really do want to make good choices, Mrs. James, but sometimes in the moment– I just get carried away”. Instantly, an image of a lawn mower came to mind, so I drew the analogy of the importance of “hanging on” to the handle and not letting the mower go off on its own, or down a hill. He laughed out loud—immediately getting the point! We then created an agreement that if I noticed him beginning to “rev his engine” in class, that I would quietly come over and ask him how his lawn mower was. We’ll see how effective the strategy will be, but at least he was non-defensive and agreeable to the informal plan. 

The post of another colleague reminded me of the different situations when graphic organizers overlap with advance organizers and times when they do not. This helped me to understand that the seeming “contradictions” in definition do not have to lead to confusion, but simply the realization a method can be used differently in various settings. Perhaps the true test of a particular approach should be based on the effect it has on the student, as suggested in our text:  “…an advance organizer may best be defined by what it does. It allows students to develop and understanding of the structure behind a subject or content area—the hierarchy (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 394).

Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Encouraging words…”Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition”~

As I reflect back on this week filled with pondering the assigned readings from the texts as well as the numerous discussion posts, I must say that first great “ah ha” came to me while reading the excellent description by the authors of Classroom Instruction That Works, regarding “effect sizes” in chapter one. I found the clear explanation to set a positive tone and allowed me to more readily embrace and understand the statistics presented, while reading each of the successive chapters. To be honest, this is more of a victory than you might imagine. (Although I am a teacher, I am also a student with a previous distaste for statistics).

Early in the week, before listening to this week’s screencast or even opening the Marzano, Pollack, and Pickering book, I must admit that I was a bit discouraged while reading the discussion question, “Give several examples of strategies used effectively in your classroom”. I am not certain whether this discouragement was due to the natural fatigue I experienced following my husband’s successful, but unexpected hospitalization and procedure to implant 3 stents in his heart last week—or the fact that I do not have my own classroom. Either way, I am happy to report that my attitude is better. Not only have I begun to b-r-e-a-t-h-e again—(with my husband back home and hearing positive doctor reports), but I have also reminded myself that rolling a cart from classroom to classroom as I “borrow” the rooms of other teachers—does not mean that I am any less of a “teacher”. As I work with students–whether during individual appointments in my office, or in a “borrowed” classroom, I employ several of the 9 strategies addressed in Classroom Instruction that Works. The strategy I use most consistently, however, is: Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition.

With regard to research on reinforcing effort, as cited within Marzano, “…one study (Van Overwalle & De Metsenaere, 1990) found that students who were taught about the relationship between effort and achievement increased their achievement more than students who were taught techniques for time management and comprehension of new material” (p. 51). As a special education teacher who has always stressed effective time management with my students, I am interested to also see that another aspect I’ve emphasized is so clearly backed by research. Most of my students have experienced a significant amount of discouragement in school and many, by the time they’ve reached high school, have come to feel quite powerless and at times–unable to compete. Therefore, I make it a practice to help students evaluate themselves on a weekly basis—focusing on incremental changes in their efforts, and corresponding outcomes, as we together look at the data which includes weekly grade printouts from all six of their classes. Marzano states, “A powerful way to help them make this connection is to ask students to periodically keep track of their effort and its relationship to achievement” (p. 52).

Even with students whom I only see weekly, I find that as we together observe and discuss the changes in their performance and grades, I find the truth in Marzano’s statement: “Reflecting on their experiences and then verbalizing what they learned can help students heighten their awareness of the power of effort” (p. 53). I am always encouraged when a student can non-defensively and honestly express to me how they doing, take responsibility for what has been accomplished—and to articulate steps for what needs to be done.

Fellow student, Chris Howell, shared from his experience working with students in an alternative school setting: “I have had students where the “light” has gone on for them. They have learned that with a little effort and trust in their abilities, they can be successful in areas that they never thought they could be. This goes along with a statement in the Marzano book. “An interesting set of studies has shown that simply demonstrating that added effort will pay off in terms of enhanced achievement actually increases student achievement.” (Marzano, p. 51)

I appreciate Marzano’s distinctions between praise, reward, and recognition and his statement that, “we believe that the best way to think of abstract contingency-based rewards is as ‘recognition’—recognition for specific accomplishments” and that “it is best to make this recognition as personal to the students as possible” (p. 58). I believe that the context of a one-on-one conversation with each student—counts as “personal”.

Though I indeed have many areas of instruction that I desire to improve as I work with my students, I am encouraged to see that one of strategies I use every day (whether in my own classroom or not) is so clearly backed by current research.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.