Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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

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EDTC6433: ISTE2 Using technology to meet individual needs: Writing as an intervention

EDTC6433: ISTE2 Using technology to meet individual needs: Writing as an intervention

Throughout this week, I have been inspired to consider using some of the technology shared by colleagues in support of the ISTE 2—especially those that focus on encouraging individual students to respond in writing.. One of the resources shared can be found at the following link: http://www.edmodo.com/home#/. From this link, I have since set up a free account and have joined a community of special education teachers. I am eager to continue in my efforts to seek out technologies that will benefit my students. At the beginning of this module, the question I raised was:

Can the use of online student portfolios support transition needs for high school students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs)?

http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2010/04/25/online-student-portfolios/

I shared that I am interested in finding a method to gather student input throughout the year to address key transition interview questions required for discussion during each of my students’ IEP meetings. Ideally, rather than being located in a teacher’s file, this information should be accessible to the student on an ongoing basis so that they can provide updates upon request or as they choose (for example: a new job, experience, career interest, accomplishment, etc.). I see the need for empowering students to understand their strengths and to develop a way of presenting themselves positively to others both now and in the future.

The section of the ISNT 2 Standard I find most applicable to this focus is: c. Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources.

Although my high school currently has an online portfolio system available to students through a resource called WOIS, it is not free and is only available as the budget allows. I will continue to investigate the various free online portfolio options to determine which format might be most “student friendly”.

This article discusses the pros and cons of various online portfolios and provides a variety of links to examples, reviews, and even the ISTE standards. One major consideration in addition to whether or not students will continue to have access to the portfolio after graduation, is whether the portfolio is functional in the event they move to another school

In the process of working on module 2 in this online course, as well as preparing my students for wrapping up the end of first semester, I learned something about priorities. The following explanation (perhaps a bit lengthy) is intended to show how sometimes in the midst of our quest for one thing, we find ourselves learning quite another.

Within one of the readings this week, Deepening Connections: Teachers Increasingly Rely on Media and Technology, the results of a recent PBS study were cited. One of the specific results that stood out to me was that 81% of teachers rated laptops as a “portable technology with the greatest educational impact”. (p. 7). Based on my experience, I must say that I agree with the thought that access to laptops increase flexibility for both teachers and students. Currently, in my setting, the available laptops are in the form of computers on wheels (COWS) which can be checked out by teachers for a given period. As a special education teacher, my classes are generally comprised of only 15 students, so I choose not to check out a COW with 30 laptops, since the COWs are regularly in high demand. An easier solution for me when I am choosing to focus on word processing only, is to use NEO keyboards. http://www.neo-direct.com/intro.aspx Although a rather antiquated technology, I would like to convey how this week, use of this tool served an especially vital role in addressing an individual student’s needs.

Since October, my students have written self-reflections to guiding questions using the NEO keyboards and I have uploaded these into individual templates I created in Word. Often times, I can easily see the changes in how students view their progress, as well as see the development of their writing skills. Although I had high hopes of switching to an online blog format, I chose instead to use the NEOs for the final exam in my Learning Strategies classes. Each student was required to write a self-reflection, elaborating on their performance throughout the semester. One particular student, who had refused to complete any handwritten responses and was also quite reluctant to type any responses early in the term, has become more open to using the NEO. During the final exam last week, all of my students were readily typing their reflections. Unlike when using laptops, there was no time-consuming set up, logging in, or wait time required. Students simply picked up the NEO with the number that had been assigned to them for the term, clicked the power button, and began to type. Even my previously reluctant student showed evidence of being fully engaged in the writing process. As one of my colleagues and I discussed this week in our Google+ threads, “People who would not normally participate in class are more likely to (express thoughts using technology) because they are not actually speaking aloud”.

What I was not prepared for, however, was the content of this student’s written reflection. As I uploaded his final exam from his NEO keyboard to the word document on my laptop, and watched his extensive and articulate writing spill onto the page, I read very angry, hostile, violent, and extremely disturbing words—including his desire to kill and inflict pain—especially to innocent people. Though not directed at anyone in particular (thankfully) the tone and content gave clear evidence of a very troubled young man. Do I believe he would have shared these thoughts verbally? No. Do I think he would have shared them, given only the opportunity to write by hand? No. Do I believe he would have shared these words in a blog that he knew would be read by other students in his class? Probably not. I do believe, however, that he knew I would read this assignment and that somehow he felt “safe” enough to express himself–using a tool that assisted him with his writing disability. Needless to say, I was able to print his reflection and take it directly to my assistant principal so that this situation could be properly addressed.

Indeed, I do believe that technology can assist me in addressing the needs of my individual students—even if the technology is not the newest and best.

#EDTC 6433 #ISTE2    #intervention   #self-reflection   #writing

London Trip Day 4 031

Resources:

http://www.tonybates.ca/2012/04/03/5-video-case-studies-of-e-portfolio-implementation-an-implementation-toolkit/

https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-826131-dt-content-rid-1271987_1/courses/EDTC6433_27233201232/Deepening%20Connections%20-%20Teachers%20Increasingly%20LLC%281%29.pdf

NEO Keyboards

EDTC6433: ISTE1 Creative Connections—Linking students through blogging~

In my initial introduction post for this class I stated, “I feel comfortable with technology”, yet  I am reminded that “comfortable” is a relative term. The truth is, I have grown comfortable with certain technologies–(and at times over the years have been the “go to” person for helping other staff members), however, I realize that my “range” is rather narrow. I am hoping that this course will help me to gain needed skills and confidence.
As a high school special education teacher, I am especially interested in discovering new ways to motivate my students to express their thoughts in writing. Currently, in my Learning Strategies classes, we have limited access to computers, so I have been looking for a method to allow students to easily write from home. I anticipate that  at home, with ample time and a comfortable location, they might be more relaxed and perhaps more creative and reflective. I see this as being a way to promote ISTE Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

My question is: What resources are available to address individual student needs and draw out student strengths, while also encouraging reflective writing? In the midst of the readings this week and discussions with colleagues at school, I learned of a resource called Schoology. https://www.schoology.com/home.php This is a free online tool that allows teachers to create an online, interactive classroom in which connections with students (and even other educators) can be easily facilitated. Most exciting to me is the feature which allows you to customize and differentiate instruction for students within the same course.

Another reason I selected this resource to share is because three of the most “techie” teachers at my school (one teaches history and the other science) have begun to use this tool with their students. My thinking is that I might be more likely to use it with the added support of others—especially when it comes to any potential “glitches”. Additionally, some of my students also have these other teachers—so using the tool with multiple teachers might increase familiarity all around.

In Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century, one of our readings for this week, author Bernard Robin conveys the important role that digital stories can increase student comprehension through “integrating visual images with written text” (p. 222). In another article , Learning, Teaching & Scholarship in the Digital Age, the author noted that  for high school students in particular, opportunities to exchange thoughts in written form via social networks can assist students in working out emotional and interpersonal issues (Greenhow, 2009).

Several colleagues shared wonderful resources promoting digital storytelling, and student blogging, however, one of the most helpful resources for me right now, was shared by one of my “blog buddies” encouraging us to be role models in learning to be creative with technology. The site is:

“Learn it in 5”,http://www.learnitin5.com/ and offers short tutorials made for teachers to learn new tools in a very short time.

As I end one module and begin the next, I am anticipating that increased familiarity with new tools will lower my level of stress and bring forth new creativity as I endeavor to do the same for my students. The attached photo of Mount Rainier, I am choosing to share because it creates a sense of calm for me as well as inspires creativity to reflect, write and paint.

Mount Rainier

#ISTE1    #differentiation   #individualized   #writing

References

Greenhow, C. & Robelia, B. (2009). Learning, Teaching & Scholarship in the Digital Age.Educational Researcher  Vol. 38, No. 4, pp. 246–259. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X09336671

Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory into Practice, 47(3), 220-­‐228.