Monday, October 10, 2011

Workshop Exemplar

The workshop that helped me be immersed the most was the observation report.  The observation report helped me understand the characteristics of my learners.  I was immersed while I was observing teenagers because I tried to find patterns and understand what made those individuals excited and able to have fun.  I found that students like to do activities in group.  I have seen this in practice in my school districts.  When students work together in groups, some people are upset because they have to fill all the shoes for their teammates.  In other cases, people jump to the option of working together because they can collaborate and delegate the tasks.  I find that teachers need to be flexible when it comes to group work and that if a student will succeed at a high level by themselves that they should be allowed to work by themselves.  I also found out what boredom looks like in a teenager.  This experience also helped me because I now notice boredom in my students.  Right now, I hear many comments about how they do not understand the purpose of the class activities and are very bored.  I am keeping this in mind as I plan my units so that I try to come up with innovative ways to get content standards across.  Lastly, I feel as though my experience doing the observation report helped me understand the demographics of my students. Many of my students come from difficult situations at home.  This has helped me understand that I need to create a safe haven for my students.  

The blog entries that indicate my progress on my observation report are as follows: 

Thursday, August 4, 2011: Moving Forward with the Observation project 

Observation Workshop (Write-up) Who are my learners? Part II

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shadow Study

Shadow Study:

Schema activation: Engagement looks like paying attention to the teacher by:
1.     not talking with friends
2.     answering teacher’s questions
3.     keeping one’s head off the desk (not sleeping)
4.     not being disruptive through getting out of the seat or
5.     doing the classwork

Method for measuring student activation:
The purpose of this activity was to record a particular student’s engagement through their classes all day long.  The method that I used to collect data on being engaged/or disengaged was by indicating whether or not the student was engaged/disengaged and what evidence I had for my conclusion.  I collected data every 5 minutes and my chart of engagement looked like:

Time into class 
Not Engaged
What evidence did I use to make my conclusion
0-5 mins

5-10 mins

10-15 mins

15-20 mins

20-25 mins

25-30 mins

30-35 mins

35-40 mins

40-45 mins

45-50 mins

50-55 mins

Table 1: Data table used to collect data

The figure above is the data table that I used to collect data for each class hour of the day.  I would check a box for engaged or not engaged and then record what type of evidence I had for my conclusion.   I also would include a number on a scale from 1 to 5 to indicate how engaged or disengaged she was.   The scale went from 1 being very disengaged to 5 being very engaged.  Each class is around an hour in length. 

Information on the student I chose:
My student is an eighth grade girl who seems to be relatively engaged in the science course that I have her in.  She has science 1st hour and is always prepared for class with a pencil and does well on course assignments.  I chose her because I wanted to see if she was attentive in all of her classes or if it was just for science courses.  I also wanted to choose her so that I could see what attentiveness looked like in other course types.  My student’s schedule was as follows: 1st hour: 8th grade science, 2nd hour: Orchestra, 3rd hour: 8th grade history, 4th hour: Art, 5th hour: 8th grade English, 6th hour: 8th grade math. 

Reflection:  I found that my student was relatively engaged for each of her classes except 6th hour.   I also noticed that for the most part my student was relatively disengaged (2-3) during the first 10 minutes of class.  This could be a result of the teacher having to take care of attendance and other paperwork necessary for starting class.  Generally speaking, I found that after taking attendance, my student made sure not to talk with her friends and started to be engaged in her coursework.  There was a few times where I found that my student was disengaged. 

Evidence of engagement:
1.     completing the warm up in each of her classes
2.     listening to the teacher’s instruction and completing the group work (i.e. in art class she listened to the teacher’s instruction and then spent the rest of the class completing the activity for that class period)
3.     actively participating in the class (i.e. in orchestra she always had her violin ready to play and would stop when the teacher stopped)
4.     quietly sitting while the teacher talks
5.     answering questions that the teacher asks

Evidence of disengagement:
1.     talking with friends
2.     not completing the task at hand (for instance, I saw in her sixth hour course and she did not complete the task at hand and did not ask her teacher for help; this could have been a result of

Top 5 Things that I learned about engagement:

  • 1 When I first conducted this project, I thought of engagement of a student differently. I thought that if a student was not being disruptive, was not talking with their friends, and was not sleeping, it meant that they were engaged.  After completing this task and talking with other fellows, I realize that engagement means much more.   I also thought that engagement meant following the teacher’s instruction.  The main problem with this assumption that I had made is that even if a student writes down the directions to a lab experiment, if they do not understand the steps or why they are doing it, then they might just go through the motions to get the task done.  I saw this happen when my student was in art class. She was told to complete a worksheet but she did not understand how to complete it.  Instead of asking clarifying questions she tried her best to complete the activity.  I heard comments such as, “why are we doing this”, and “I don’t understand this”.   I realized after witnessing this, that it is very easy for teachers to think that their students are engaged when they are actually struggling and not understanding the task at hand.  
  •  Engagement means listening to the teacher’s instruction and synthesizing through the information to achieve understanding.  This is possibly the most important aspect of engagement.  Engagement needs to lead to “aha” moments and that the activity that they are completing could be completed on their own correctly without any help. 
  •  Engagement means asking good questions about the topic that is being covered in class.  Questions in class could be about the content being covered or how it is relevant.  The biggest struggle for teachers is to keep students engaged in the classroom.  Many students want to feel as if the information they are learning is going to help them in the future.  If they do not feel as though it is relevant than they will check out of the classroom and become disengaged.  I have seen this in my observations so far of my student in her science and math course.  
  • Sixth hour seems to be for whatever reason the hardest class hour to have students stay engaged for.  Many of these students have already checked out of the classroom and are thinking about the rest of their day.  A couple of ideas I have to help mitigate this are: 1.  have activities that last 15 minutes or less and then change the activity. If an activity lasts longer than 15 minutes, it is easy for students to become disengaged.; 2.  Try to incorporate hands-on activities so that students are minds-on, hands on.   
Overall, I think that being engaged in a classroom is much much more than just paying attention in a classroom and not causing problems.  It is about making the information relevant to themselves and asking the teacher questions to help clarify the information.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blackboard Workshop (Reading Groups) Chapter 2

Notes on Chapter 2

Behavorial Techniques: Practices used to modify classroom behaviors.

Behavior modification: Programs developed for individual students.

Importance of Pavlov: began the behaviorist movement with his experiment with dogs. He noticed that when a conditioned stimulus is applied with an unconditional response, the result is a conditioned response.

Importance of John Watson (1878-1958): found that learning was the process of conditioning responses through the subsituation of one stimulus for another.

Importance of Edward Thorndike (1874-1949): operant conditions and came up with the Law of Effect (a rewarded behavior will be repeated and an unrewarded behavior will cease).

Importance of B.F. Skinner: operant conditioning is a theory and concentrated on the observation and manipulation of behaviors. What is operant conditioning? describes the relationship between behavior and environmental events and focuses on the use of reinforcement to obtain desired behaviors.

Behavorists: believe that all behaviors regardless of whether they are good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate, are learned and maintained by reinforcement.

Elements of Behavior Management:

Consequences: events or changes in the environment following a behavior.

Three basic consequences of behavior:

1. Behavior followed immediately by a reward (reinforcement) will occur more frequently

2. Behavior followed closely by a punishing consequence will occur less often.

3. Behavior will be extinguished (stopped) when it is no longer reinforced.

As a teacher we have three choices of ways to respond to inappropriate behavior:

1. Rewarding appropriate behavior in order to increase the chances the desired behavior will occur again.

2. Ignoring the inappropriate behavior in hopes of extinction.

3. Punishing the student for inappropriate behavior.

Consequences of behavior:

Reinforcement: operates on the likelihood that the desired behavior will be repeated under the same or similar circumstances. Can be positive or negative.

Positive Reinforcement: presentation of a reinforcer wanted by the student after the desired behavior has been exhibited. This only works if:

1. reinforcement is given only if the student exhibits the desired behavior
2. reinforcement is individualized for a particular child
3. desired behavior is reinforced immediately after it is exhibited
4. verbal praise is combined with the reinforcement
5. the target behavior is reinforced each time it is exhibited
6. the reinforcement is given by someone the child loves, likes, or respects.

Negative reinforcement: strengthens the behavior, a behavior that is strengthened is more likely to reoccur.

It involves the removal of an aversive stimulus following a desired behavior

Removal: something aversive is removed
Desired behavior: wanted behavior, expected behavior

Negative reinforcement is not punishment.  Reinforcement strengthens the behavior whereas punishment suppresses the behavior

Punishment: application of an unpleasant stimulus or the withdrawal of a pleasant reward in an attempt to weaken a response

1. Presentation punishment: presentation of an aversive stimulus in order to decrease inappropriate behavior

2. Removal punishment: pleasant stimulus or the eligibility to receive a positive reinforcement is taken away. 
Detention, in-school suspensions are examples of removal punishment

3. Three Types of time out: 

a. nonseclusionary: The student remains in the classroom but must be completely silent or is required to put his or her head on the desk.

b. exclusionary: Removed from the immediate instructional area to another part of the room

c. seclusionary: The student is removed from the classroom. 

Extinction: process of ending undesired behaviors by withholding reinforcement

Schedules of Reinforcement: 

1. Continuous schedule: children are reinforced every time they respond

2. Intermittent schedule: child is reinforced after some occurrences of the desired behavior, not each time

a. Interval schedules of reinforcement: distribute reinforcement based on time

b. Ratio schedule of reinforcement: based on the number of responses rather than the passage of time

3. Variable schedule: the giving of the reward is so varied so that no patterns can be established. 

Types of Reinforcement: 

1. Primary reinforcements: satisfy the biological needs or drives of a student, and their reinforcing value does not have to be explained (eating, water, sleep).

2. Secondary reinforcements: get their power from the significance attached to them by students, can be in the form of a tangible object, approval or attention from another

3. Token reinforcements: has no intrinsic reinforcing properties; its value is based on the tangible object or desired activity for which it can be exchanged

4.  Social reinforcers: behaviors of other people (teachers, parents, peers, and administrators) that increase desired behaviors, include compliments, praise, facial expressions, physical contact, and attention

5. Activity reinforcers: rewards by allowing the student to participate in perferred activities and are another natural and easily dispensable reward for desirable behavior, includes extra time at the computer, leadership roles in the classroom, etc.

Working with Individual students: 
1. Shaping: used to teach new behaviors and skills and refers to the reinforcement of successive approximations of a terminal behavior

2. Behavior modification: involves systematically applying behavioral principles in an effort to change specific behaviors in an individual

 Strategies for dealing with difficult students: 
1. Functional behavioral assessment. The research shows that interventions based on functional behavior assessments are more likely to be effective in changing behaviors than interventions developed without the use of a functional behavioral assessment.
What is this type of assessment? multi step process that is designed to identify causal factors associated with challenging behaviors and to generate plausible hypotheses about the functions of problem behaviors and also to develop possible interventions aimed at replacing such behaviors. 

Take aways: 

Those behaviors that are inappropriate or unwarrented need to be stopped either through negative reinforcement or extinction.  Those behaviors that are appropriate need to be encouraged and praised and have positive reinforcement. 

The praise needs to be given regularly on some sort of schedule otherwise the student will not know that they are doing well. 

We also need to think about our learners when we give positive or negative reinforcement.  For instance, in the chapter it talks about a boy whose parents think that baby talk is cute and how it would be much harder for the teacher to stop that behavior.  They also state that if you give a student a piece of candy that they do not like, they might not see it as a reward.  I think the latter example is a little shallow because the teacher would explain that it is a reward and even if they didn't like the piece of candy they could see that the teacher was proud of them. 

Moving Forward with Observation project

I have decided to work with Tammy, Anne, and Ana on this project. We are going to come together to work on a Prezi presentation so that we learn how to incorporate newer technology into our classes.

We are going to meet during class today to go over our notes and what we have individually noticed during our observation. Hopefully, we can synthesize our information together so that we can concentrate on looking for certain attributes in our last chunk of observation.

For instance, Tammy and I have already agreed that we are going to go back to Rivertown Mall tomorrow at 5 pm to observe. I think that Tammy wants to concentrate on the type of clothing the learners are wearing and where they like to shop.

I know that I will be at Muskegon in the Fall so I hope that some of this will relate back to what I will be seeing.

The main objectives that I would like to concentrate on when I go back to observe at Rivertown Mall are:

1. Are Caucasian youth primarily by themselves or with a parent or do they seem like they are taking care of their younger siblings? If they are by themselves, it could suggest that they have more free time to be with just their friends and that they do not have as many outward responsibilities to their families.

2. Do Latino youth go to the mall with their family and are they expected to take care of their younger siblings or friends of their parents? How will this make their school experience different? How can I meet their needs in the classroom when they might be focused on family issues?

3. Do I see any other instances of boredom in middle school youth? If so, what might be the cause of the boredom? This can relate back to my classrooms because I will know what boredom looks like. The goal would be to have classroom activities that change their boredom into interest. (This goes back to what Jacque Melin talked about in her class when she said that middle school students can concentrate for around 15 minutes before they need a different activity.)

4. Are middle school learners more active then high school learners? This is very important to notice so that I can foster a classroom environment where they feel like they are active and can channel their energy to classroom activities.

Hopefully, each of us participating in this group (Anne, Ana, and Tammy) will bring different perspectives to the table and we can work together to make our Prezi presentation showing the natural environment of our learners and how we can take what we learned in our observations and apply it to the classroom.

I would also like to go back to Muskegon this weekend and see if I notice anything different than in Grand Rapids because I will be in Muskegon.

I have three hours left to observe and am going to concentrate on those points that I stated above.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Observation Workshop (Write-up) Who are my learners? Part II

Notes on Observation in Muskegon, MI (1 hr on Pere Marquette Beach)

Who? I observed multiple groups of high school and middle school aged learners on the beach. They were primarily groups of Caucasian high school or middle school learners. I observed one group of three teenage Caucasian girls who were wearing the same exact swimsuit but in different colored stripes. This struck me as important as the teenagers thinking it was cool to wear the same type of article of clothing but that it could not be 100% exactly the same.
I observed a group of Caucasian boys who were all in swim attire walking down the pier. They were socializing with each other and seemed to be getting along.
I did not see a large number of African American or Latino students on the beach. This could be because I went later in the afternoon (around 4 pm) which is not a prime time to go the beach.

So what? Fitting in seemed to be a number one priority of the girls I observed and that wearing a similar swimsuit indicated solidarity but the different colors indicated individuality. This could be reading in between the lines but I think there is something about wanting solidarity and individuality at the same time. It also seemed like many of the people at the beach were probably with their families but were allowed to walk the beach alone in their group of friends. It seemed like they were happy when they were away from their parents.

Now what?
I would like to observe the beach either at an earlier or later time to see if the demographics change with the time of day. I would also like to see if latino and African American learners are with their families on the beach or if they are by themselves. I would also like to see whether or not the sense of solidarity/individuality is as important to African Americans or Latino? Does clothing matter or is it about the personal relationships? Is what I am seeing at Rivertown mall with the Caucasian populous caring about brand names and African American/Latino populous not caring as much true as well at the beach?

Observation Workshop (Write-up) Who are my learners?

Notes on observation at Rivertown Mall July 22, 2011 (2-4 pm)

1st Group of students:
Who? 2 students:
-one girl and one guy
-playing with a phone and texting.
-They are both high school aged.
-Interaction is revolving around using the phone.
-sometimes the phone is used as a tool for conversation for both of them perhaps to look at something like a text, picture (media file) or even the internet
-sometimes it is used individually so that they can communicate with others outside of the situation.
So what? The interaction seemed to revolve around technology. This suggests that they find it very useful and they are familiar with it.
Now what? If technology is very familiar to them and they use daily, then I should not feel apprehensive about using it in my classroom. The key is how to incorporate it appropriately in the classroom. I also wonder if I should allow cell phones in my classrooms or have a policy that they can only be out and used when we are doing an activity with them.

2nd group of students:
Who? I observed a group of 3 boys who are latino. They have no cell phones out (at least that I could see from a distance). They are wearing simple clothes (white short sleeved t-shirts). They are joking with each other and appear to be in late middle school or early high school. They do not seem to be focused on appearance and have simple sneakers on.
So what? They seemed focused on each other and personal interactions without technology being used. They also seemed interested more in their friendship than what they were wearing or their outward appearance.
Now what? This was the first experience I had with really observing Latinos in terms of a classroom setting. It seems that they were definitely interested in each other and the social interaction which is interesting because of their sex. Perhaps, Latino culture values interaction over personal appearance. This is important to know as a teacher because I can make sure that I do not favor those students who are dressing nice. It is so easy for teachers to not purposely give attention to those students who dress nicer or have brand name clothes on. However, the book The First Days of School, stated that no matter whether we think that it is right or wrong to judge people on their outward appearance, it happens anyways. The goal as teachers is to not show favoritism.

3rd group of students:
Who? I observed a group of 7 boys and 3 girls who were all middle school aged. They are all Caucasian and most of them do not have visible cell phones out. When I did see a cell phone it was not a smart phone. I observed that they were telling each other stories and one of them was pretending to use a telephone as part of the story. They were a very dynamic group of students when they were all together. They could not sit still and were very vocal. The boys primarily had a “skater” boy look and had hair in their eyes. One of the boys had an Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt one and another one had a Hardley t-shirt on. The girls were wearing standard informal clothes but did seem slightly worried about looking good (one of the girls had a t-shirt that was tied in the back with a hair-tie making it slightly more tight). I observed twice that the boys got up and left, leaving two girls behind. The two girls that were left behind seemed very bored and did not appear to be having a good time. Eventually one of the girls started playing with yarn to make friendship bracelets, and another girl brought out her ipod. They were staring out into thin air and were not talking with each other. When the group returned they had not bought anything. I thought that was interesting because most students were buying things and had bags with them. Perhaps they were just hanging out at the mall.
So what? It was important to observe a group of students who were younger as I will be working with middle school aged students. I need to realize that they have a ton of energy and find ways in my classroom to channel that energy to a positive end. It also means that I need to be willing to do multiple activities so they are not sitting too long. I also know what it looks like to be bored and as a teacher I need to watch for that in my classroom. If I do see boredom, I need to have activities in place that hopefully mitigate the boredom.
Now what? The next step is to see if I see the same level of energy in other similarly aged students and note whether or not I see boredom as well. I also want to note if other middle school aged students do not generally buy products at the mall but use it as a hang out.

4th group of students:
Who? I observed three boys and one girl. They seemed more appearance focused based on the clothes they were wearing. The boys all had baseball caps on and had Pac Sun bags. One of the boys seemed a bit younger and it did seem plausible that the older siblings were taking care of the younger boy. They were middle school aged.
So what? It was important for me to see what might be family interactions and how family life influences the social relationships that my learners have.
Now what? I would like to observe more of the family relationships that my learners have. I think that it is important that I know where my learners are coming from (i.e. if they have to take care of siblings, etc.)

5th group of students:
Who? I observed two girls who were eating Taco Bell. They were high school aged, and Caucasian. One girl had a Vera Bradley bag and the other girl had an iPhone. They were talking to each other but the girl with the iPhone kept having her hand on her phone either as a security measure or to check for texts.
So what? This is important because there were only two girls interacting with each other and I also got to see where they shopped. Vera Bradley is a high-end quilted purse company and iPhones are not inexpensive. I was able to view that they probably were middle class.
Now what? I do not know who my learners are going to be but I think that it is important to note all learners that come from a variety of backgrounds. I would like to see if Muskegon has a similar group of Caucasian girls. Is what I am seeing here indicative of my student population?

6th group of students:
Who? I observed a group of African American girls and boys. There was one boy and 5 girls (one of the girls seemed like she was late elementary or early middle school aged. It seemed like there were 4 teenage girls and 1 teenage boy. Near the end of observing them, I noticed that 2 younger boys joined them who were late elementary or middle school in aged. Perhaps this was a group of sisters and brothers or a group of children from two families. One of the girls was on her cell phone and she seemed like one of the older girls. Perhaps, she was the one who was in charge of them all.
So what? This was interesting because I got to observe a group of African Americans and see how much they valued the family environment and caring for one another.
Now what? Am I making a generalization about African American families in that they congregate? Do older siblings generally take care of younger siblings or is that generalization unfounded? I would like to see if I see the same pattern with other African American learners or if the pattern is different.

7th group of students:
Who? I observed 6 latino teenage girls and boys. They were sitting for a long time and had cell phones out until a mom or family member came. It seemed like they were joking with each other and having a good time.
So what? Like African American students, it seems like these teenagers have a huge responsibility to their families. It seems as though they take their family as their number one priority. This means that my learners that are Latino might have more of a responsibility to their families and for taking care of their younger siblings.
Now what? Is this really a pattern? How do I deal with this in a classroom setting? How do I meet their needs in a classroom when their minds might be focused on home issues?

8th group of students:
Who? 2 teenage girls, Caucasian, looking for friends, using long strapped purses, simple shirts, trying to find their friends.
So what? The mall is a place to find their friends and socialize and enjoy each other.
Now what? Friendship is essential to development and how can I create an environment in my classroom that fosters real relationships.

Lastly, I observed multiple high school couples. Some high school couples seemed shy about their affection and were only talking with each other and not publicly holding hands where other couples did not feel shy and were showing affection by holding hands. This is important because I need to realize that teenagers might be uncomfortable admitting they are in a relationship and do not want to bring attention to it whereas others might be overly public about it. This is important in the classroom because I should not comment on a person’s relationship unless it gets in the way of the learning process.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reflection on class

I can see how you have incorporated various techniques into your teaching to provide us with ideas for our classrooms. For instance, I have really enjoyed the interactive activities such as the Twitter-posting during a speaker, the TED talks and Jigsaw activity afterwards. The interactive events in our course have been very useful.

I can also see how you have provided us with professional contacts who can help us in our transition from pre-service teachers to in-service teachers. It was great that you were able to get us in contact with ThinkThankThunk as well as Dr. Britten. That was great.

I have been a little frustrated at the amount of handouts and expected work. I have felt like I had to do everything and do every worksheet but now I realize that is not the case.

You have employed responsibility in that you have told us that we are responsible for deciding what is important and what is not important.