Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reading Workshop (Unit A-The First Days of School)

Schema Activation: What do you remember about the first day of middle school or high school?

I remember the first day of my senior year. I thought it was important to dress up and that everyone would be looking at what you were wearing, what that said about your economic situation, give people an image of who you were going to represent that year. People would make sure to get a new outfit for the first day from the most expensive clothing store possible. In the classes, the teachers would go over the syllabus and other rules for the school year and then spend a few minutes working through problems. I also remember going from class to class getting more and more syllabi and learning very little about what the targets were for learning except passing the state mandated standardized tests.

Activity: Reading Unit A: The First Day of school:

TS: Text to self
TW: Text to world
TT: Text to text

Chapter 1: Why you need to succeed on the first days of school

Effective teachers spent time organizing and structuring their classrooms so the students knew what to do to succeed.

TS: I need to establish consistency in my classroom because students want to know exactly what they getting in to and what is going to happen. One of my top prioritiies should be to provide a classroom that is consistent. I have to establish rules and then a set of consequences that are always the same. I cannot back away down and not make the consequencess different.

TW: If I establish consistency in my room, then those students will always know what to expect. Many professors have stressed to us that school life might be the only consistent aspect of their life. At home they do not always know what to expect but we as teachers can help them always know what is going on.

TS: Students want to have a safe, predictable, and nurturing environment, consistency, well-managed classes, no yelling and a place where learning can take place.

Everyone has stressed that we need have a predictable and consistent setting.

Effective teachers teach classroom management procedures that create consistency.

Effective teachers have lesson plans and procedures that produce student learning.

Effective teacher establishes good control of the class in the very first day of school. Control is what you are doing, classroom procedures, and professional responsibilities

Four stages of Teaching

Stage 1- Fantasy
Generally neophyte teachers believe that they just need to be friends.
Relate and be a friend to their students.
Rarely talk about standards, assessment, or student achievement

Stage 2- Survival
Teachers look for busywork for the students to do, students spend time completing worksheets, watching videos, and doing seat work. Goal is to keep their students quiet.

Stage 3- Mastery

teach for mastery, and have high expectations for their students
reading the literature and going to professional meeting to help their teaching

Stage 4- Impact

Teachers who make a difference in the lives of their students. Students come back years later to thank them for helping them.

Reaching the Impact stage will fulfill your fantasy or dream of making a difference in the live of your students.

Teachers were hired to impact lives, influence lives and touch lives.

2-The Effective Teacher

Three Characteristics of an effective teacher

1. has positive expectations for student success
2. is an extremely good classroom manager
3. Knows how to design lessons for student mastery

Positive Expectations

Positive Expectations: means that the teacher believes in the learner and that the learner can learn.

Text to self: I need to believe that the student can and will learn something. The teacher (me) needs to emotionally and verbally communicate that we believe in the learner by not yelling at a students mistake and using the word "yet". The student may not understand something initially but eventually they will meet the target.

Text to text: This is seems to fit in well with the growth mindset.

Text to world: As a body of teachers, we should all demonstrate that we believe that the learner will eventually learn something.

It is essential that the teacher exhibit positive expectations toward all students.

Text to self: I think that it is easy to exhibit favoritism and this quote touches on that. We must have the same expectations for all students. If a student misses a questions, we must have the deep-rooted belief that the student will eventually know it.

Classroom Management

Classroom management consists of the practices and procedures that a teacher uses to maintain an environment in which instruction and learning can occur.

Lesson Mastery

Mastery refers to how well a student can demonstrate that a concept has been comprehended, or perform a skill at a level of proficiency, as determined by the teacher.

Chapter 3: The First Year can be successful

What is a good teacher? One who continually improves themselves by going back to college, joining professional organizations, attends conferences, conventions, workshops, and participate in professional development meets, working cooperatively with others on the staff in collegial support networks, and learning communities

Text to self: I agree with all of those attributes for good teachers. I want to be a teacher that is continually revising and learning. I do not think teaching is about knowing everything and perfection. It is about realizing that you will never be perfect but taking the steps to become as perfect as possible. I can see myself attending conferences and conventions in order to learn more about content knowledge as well as pedagogical content knowledge. I want to be teacher who continually goes back to school and takes classes. I also want to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. I want to be a collaborator and not be so prideful that I don't go to other teachers to ask what works and what doesn't. Teaching is about being willing to admit your faults and grow through more education and more conversations with other teachers.

Text to world: This goes along with what we are learning in other classes. In Becoming a Teacher, we analyzed our content knowledge to find those areas that we are week in and come up with a professional development plan about how we are going to address those weaknesses. We then came up with solutions to those weaknesses.

Effective districts and schools, likewise have a training or comprehensive induction program for all newly hired teachers.

Text to self: I think this is really important. I am actually really looking forward to professional development. I think this relates back to the idea of teamwork and realizing that being a teacher is not about being alone. I also realize that I am going to have to do a lot of work as well.

Question that I have: Do most of he high need schools or Title 1 schools that we will be applying o in the Winter/Spring have induction courses or professional development specifically for entry-level teachers? Does Muskegon Public Schools, G-L Public Schools and Grand Rapdis Public school districts have this type of training for new teachers?

Text to self: When signing a contract, I must see if they have professional development and make sure that they are investing in me as a new teacher.

I will be required to perform immediately and education is not a product

Text to self: I must approach teaching as a never-ending process and not as a product. I totally agree with this and some of the best teachers I have had have instilled this belief in me. To teach is to believe that there is still much to learn. I actually love this idea. I do not want to think I have mastered anything or that I have learned everything there is. There is always more to learn and more to sink my teeth into. Teaching is always changing with the times and as a teacher I must be willing to change and make my teaching better through conferences, conventions, etc.

I was shocked by the following:

1. Teachers do not go to conferences.

Wow. As a graduate student, I was encouraged to present my research at professional geology conferences. I also was encouraged as an undergrad to do the same. I cannot imagine becoming a teacher and not attending a conference for continuing education. That is one of the things I am looking forward to the most. I wonder where their statistics came from to come up with a statement like that.

2. By 2013, the U.S. will need to hire more than 2 millino teachers and administrators.

This should be encouraging because that is a lot of teachers. My question is if this is still true with all the budget cuts and changes in the educational system in America.

Chapter 4: The Importance of Effective Teachers

What is the difference between an effective teacher and an ineffective teacher?

Effective teacher: steal from the best and learn from the rest. These look at the resources that are available to them and reorganize those resources to reach a goal. Effective teachers are problem solves who analyze, synthesize, and create materials to help students learn.

Ineffective teachers: busywork, survivors, whine that nothing useful ever applies to them.

The The single most important aspect of an effective teacher is that they steal from the best and learn from the rest.

Teachers do not want programs; they want achievement for their students. Programs do not produce achievement; teachers produce student achievement.

The effective teacher, even in an ineffective school, produces improved student learning and increased student achievement.

I was shocked at the statistics for students who have ineffective teachers in an ineffective school. I could not believe that the student achievement would drop by that amount. In thinking about it though, it does make sense that how well a student does has a lot to do with the teacher. The teacher has to foster critical thinking and an environment where learning can take place.

The achievement gap can be closed with a school of average to above-average teachers, but the school and the teachers must work together on improving student achievement.

The achievement gap is something that I really dislike. I think that it is really important to address the achievement gap in education circles as well as by government programs. I think that students in at-risk schools do deserve to have the best teachers. Unfortunately, those schools might be the ones with the least number of teachers that stay for more 2-3 years. This could be because of a lack of support that those teachers are given. It should be a priority to have a support network for those teachers.

What are the characteristics of a teacher?

1. Teachers are poets.

Teachers weave with colorful language a passion for your subject. We come up with secrets, pictures, etc.

Totally true!

2. Teachers are physicist.

We bring magic, logic, reason and wonder to the properties, changes and interactions of our universe.

3. Teachers are maestros. We conduct and orchestrate individuals' thoughts.

We are architects by providing students with a solid foundation for future thinking and learning.

Teachers are diplomats and the ambassadors of tact and sensitiivity.

I need to work on tact. I sometimes speak everything I am thinking in a moment because I am an external processor. This is why I struggle with conflict because generally I go right for the heart or juggular because then my thoughts are out and done with. I need to be very careful in my classroom that I do not hurt my students' feelings.

Teachers are philosophers, as our actions and ethics convy meaning and hope to young people who look to you for guidance and example.

I look forward to this the most. I want to provide students with hope and the idea that with a certain amount of work they will be able to achieve their dreams and have better lives.

Chapter 5: The Research Process.

What is reasearch? process of critical thinking and problem solving employed by thousands.

We must not teach how we were taught. This is huge! I am so worried of teaching how I was taught and demonstrating a fixed mindset when I want to foster a growth mindset. I do not want to be someone who talks as if they have a fixed mindset when in the heart there is a growth mindset. It is about mentally sitting down and thinking critically about the growth mindset and how best to put it to practice.

Closing thoughts: I need to take teaching as something that is fluid and always changing. I need to change with the times and after my first year of teaching critically think about what worked and what didn't. If something didn't work than I need to be willing to change or get rid of it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reading Workshop (Chapter One-Effective Classroom Management)

Journal Jot: What is classroom management and why is it important?

Classroom management is creating a safe environment for all learners, having a set guide of rules that the students must follow and having consequences when students do not follow the rules. There should be a component of a classroom management plan that involves the students which shows that the teacher believes that the students are capable of coming up with rules and subsequent consequences. In a geology lab, there are certain rules or standard operating procedures (SOP's) that must be followed in order for a safe environment to be created. These should be required by the state so that if an emergency happened, there would be a plan in state.

List of Information, Facts and Ideas that are important to me:

1. There is a debate about whether or not classroom management and discipline are synonymous terms.
2. Some educators think that classroom management should be a process of controlling students' behaviors. Other educators think that classroom management is not discipline and more about the practices and procedures that allow students to learn and the teachers to do their job.
3. Educators that take the student-centered approach, view classroom management as a way of preparing students for their future and how to live in the tomorrow-world.
4. Discipline: n. rules established to maintain classroom order
v. what teachers do to help students behave acceptably in school.
5. There are three models: Classroom management as Discipline, as a System, as instruction.

Classroom Management as Discipline:
teacher is expected to maintain classroom control and disciplining students comes before control, there must be a set of consequences for misbehavior.

Classroom Managament as a System:
Classroom management is systematic and management and instruction are interwoven, there is a focus on the building of learning communities. In order for this plan to work there needs to be planning.

Classroom Management as Instruction:
Focus on teaching prosocial skills, goal is to establish habits of peacemaking, conflict resolution and peer mediation, teachers help students make ethical judgements and decisions

Classroom management is influenced by our own philosophy of classroom management.

Information on Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg:

"key students"-students who influenced other students

Four types of interactions that are effective in dealing with difficult situations:
1. Teacher provide support for self-control. Teacher models by using an appropriate tone. They also should cue behavior that is appropriate in a particular situation.

2. Teacher proves situational or task assistance by helping students in getting past temporary frustration, resturcturing or changing the activity, and using situational routines to minimize confusion.

3. Teacher to provide reality or value apprisal. This is the realty check. Students need to know the real life consequences for their actions. If a student is caught stealing another students' possession then the teacher needs to step in and explain that if this was in the real world there would be serious consequences.

4. The teacher needs to apply the pleasure-pain principle. This suggests that if you do something good you will be rewarded but if you act in a bad way you will be punished.

Jacob Kounin:

Desists: Teacher's actions and words used to stop misbehavior
Ripple effect: Teacher's method of handing a student who is acting out, influences the behavior of other students in the classroom.
Withitness: This principle is based on the teacher's ability to know everything that is happening in the classroom and an awareness of the verbal and nonverbal interactions of students with the teacher and their classmates.
Overlapping: Teacher's ability to manage two issues simultaneously
Transition smoothness: Teacher's management of various activities throughout the day.

Rudolf Dreikurs: Every student views the world differently and teachers cannot change student behavior until the reasons for the behavior is understood.

William Glasser: Glasser came up with the Reality Therapy which states:

1. Individuals are responsible for their own behavior. Behavior is not seen as a by-product of society, heredity, or an individual's past.
2. Individuals can change and live more effective lives when given guidance and support.
3. Individuals behave in certain ways in order to mold their environment to match their own inner pictures of what they want.

Good quality schools: satisfy 4 student psychological need:

1. need to belong
2. need for power
3. need for freedom
4. need for fun.

Haim Ginott

Ginott stresses that teachers set the tone of the classroom through positive communication.

Take aways from the reading:

1. The most important factor when constructing a classroom management plan is to think of your learners and developed by an individual teacher. In the chapter, there are three main factors to consider when designing a personal classroom-management plan:
1. Teacher traits: personality, personal values, teaching styles
(This means that I need to reflect on my own personality traits and how my values influence how I approach classroom management and discipline issues. This also relates to my teaching philosophy.)
2. School environment: age-grade level of students, students' characteristics and needs, principal style, school policy, parental support.

The struggle that I can see is having the parental support. Many parents want their daughters and sons to do well in school and behave themselves but might not have the time or energy to model appropriate behavior. Also, with cultural differences in how conflict is dealt with, we have to be careful to critize students who might not know that it is not appropriate to swear or yell.

3. knowledge and Experiences: Personal experiences, knowledge of models of classroom management and knowledge of research on effective practices.

We have to be willing to change our classroom management plan based on what works and doesn't. If we don't approach classroom management as something that is fluid and evolves, then we will not service our students.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reading Workshop (Teaching-Learning-Language)

I learned that the six most important words are: Engage, Demonstration, Discussion, Transformation, Application and Evaluation.

In order for learning to take place these parts need to be incorporated:

1) The person must have a need to learn and must actively seek demonstrations and actively engage in the demonstrations.
2) In learning, transformation must happen by the learner adding new information to old and reflect upon and think about what had been demonstrated and said.
3) There needs to be a discussion between the learner and teacher. The language needs to be accessible to both parties.
4) There need to be multiple opportunities for application to take place which will enforce the learning.
5) Evaluation needs to occur. This means reflecting on and subsequently modifying my ways of operating as I make new connections and add new knowledge.

These are not to represent a linear sequence and some of them will co-occur.

There is a tenuous link between language and learning. Also each subject are uses distinctive phrases and words to fram its concepts and relationships. When we are teaching we need to be very careful we don't slip into Englishese, Biology-ese, Geology-ese, or Math-ese because most of our students will be lost. Teachers and learners also have to share a common set of meanings and there is a need for access to the same patterns of language. Lastly, teachers have the responsibility of helping their learners get control of those forms of language that they themselves had learned to control.

Here are the most important aspects of each word:

1. Demonstration: actions vs. artifacts
Action: someone ironing a shirt
Artifact: a shirt folded perfectly in a drawer, a shirt without any creases on a hanger

2. Engagement: fundamental to learning
Buzz words: attention, attending, active participation

In order for engagement to occur the learner has to believe that the that they will eventually be capable of learning and doing the expected activity. They will be increasingly engaged if they feel whatever they are learning has purpose, value, use for them, and if there is no pressure or anxiety associated with learning it and if the teacher shows them respect and trust.

3. Transformation: Creating personal paraphrases and a unique style based on your worldview.

4. Discussion: Exchange/interchange of interpretation

5. Application: approximation

The teacher needs to allow the learners to go from amateur to expert. They must not evaluate a student as highly from the beginning if the skill is new or if it is common for them to start in an amateur way.

6. Evaluation: Engage, discuss, transform, apply

There needs to be a authentic supportive relationship between the teacher and learner.

In conclusion: This article stressed a lot of the same principles that were covered in other articles but in more detail. I really like the idea that the teacher needs to have a good relationship and should be viewed as mentor, friend, and trusted source.

Learners will learn best when they do not feel threatened or undervalued. it is imperative that the teacher foster this type of environment.

Reading Workshop (Vygotsky and the Three Bears)

Journal Jot:

I think that learning happens through modeling, good instruction, thoughtful feedback, and kind words. For instance, if one is riding a bike, I feel like one learns the best if they are taught by someone else and shown some of the basic skills. I think it is also important to touch on the fact that sometimes you have to learn by not succeeding the first time and making mistakes. With mistakes, you need to be in a safe environment where mistakes are okay and you will not be ridiculed.

Vygotsky and the Three Bears:

Notes: "How do I reach all the needs of my students?" This is a really good point and one that I am afraid of. When you have a classroom of 30 kids then how can you reach all your learners? What activities can you do to show that you care about the needs to every child? Perhaps this is why we talked about differentiated instruction in Jacque's class and how we as teachers need to design activities that help every learner through the learning process.

Comments on reading:

1. This article stresses that the world should be a "fascinating place" where learning is fun and new adventures are key and accomplishments are endorsed.

2. Direct quote: "Take one precious bear cub and give him a safe, encouraging environment. Let him grow strong with good food and a positive atmosphere to try new things, where getting the wrong answer is ok". Can you say growth mindset? :-) This reminds me a lot of the other articles we have read so far on making sure that students feel okay with making mistakes. This also goes along with the idea that I have that learning takes place only if the students feel safe and that they are not going to be made fun of.

3. Direct quote: "My other concept is called zone of proximal development. Children will make progress learning when parents and teachers give them opportunities that are challenging but not to the point of frustration." Learning must require stretching of what the learner already knows but it cannot require too much stretching that they get overwhelmed. This also goes with the growth mindset we read about earlier. Learning happens by challenges and overcoming those challenges.

4. Learning takes place in groups. The learning process cannot always happen on one's own. Sometimes students need to help other students through modeling and more explanation. This is key to the learning process.

5. Learning expectations need to be age specific and appropriate for the learner. A teacher cannot assign a high school assignment to a middle schooler and have the expectation that they will succeed.

6. "The more opportunities to manipulate physical objects to understand the relationships the better." In my mind this touches on project based learning activities to promote true understanding of a topic. It is imperative that we have a chance for students to learn the information in the way that makes sense to them. This might mean using objects, constructing a visual, or writing a paper on the topic. This also touches on the idea that students need to practice and practice.

7. Like I said earlier, learning needs to take place with playmates, groups and teachers. Learners need to feel like they can come up with their own way for understanding something and that if their way is different from the teacher, playmate, and group it is okay.

Overall, I thought this article was okay. I was kind of annoyed though that it was in parable form because I feel like the main points could have just been stated and it would have been the same. But perhaps, I learn in a practical way and listening to a story doesn't work for me.

Reading Workshop (Stanford Report)

This post is relating to the idea of fixed vs. growth mindsets when it comes to classrooms. Below is my journal entry while I read this article.

Questions I have before I read:

What is the main point of this article?
What will I learn about working hard?
What will I learn about geniuses?
Why is the article called "Even Genuises Work Hard"?
What was the writer's intent when writing this article?
What can I learn about facilitating good classroom environments from this article?

Questions I have while I read:

1. What does it mean if you say that you can be as smart as you want to be? I feel like this touches on a really big topic of students willingness to learn. If a student does not feel like they can learn or feel like they will never understand a topic or lesson or unit, then they might give up and not work hard.

2. Why should students enjoy effort? Isn't life about it being easy? effortless?
I am being sarcastic here. I think that life is about struggling,and learning through your mistakes. I think that students can learn a lot from discovering answers on their owns, being guided when necessary and having direct instruction in some cases.

3. What is a growth mindset and why is the author putting so much emphasis on it?
A growth mindset is important because it will lead to long term success and not in the moment success. We want to have our students take responsibility for their learning. A growth mindset suggests that if a student does not understand a concept they eventually will. A student with a growth mindset believe that they can change their intelligence level over time.

4. What is a fixed mindset? A fixed mindset is when you believe that your intelligence level is an inborn trait and you can never become smarter. You either understand or do not understand something. Students are unwilling to try and don't think effort is important.

5. Why is there so much emphasis on looking smart? Is that something that the parents are instilling in the students, society enforcing, or something that the students inherently feel?

I know that as a child I put a lot of emphasis on looking smart and was embarrassed when I did not look smart or struggled with a concept. I was always trying to save face and not publicly humiliate myself.

6. We need to reward students for the process of learning. We need to demonstrate the right type of praise.

7. I really liked when the author talked about the baseball student who was not good at playing baseball initially but through practice got successful. That is what we should suggest to our students.

8. Teachers need to foster the idea that challenges are good, exciting and that they are essential for learning something. I also liked that the writer emphasized that those students who "think they know everything" or are not struggling should have activities that make them struggle and get to an even deeper knowledge.

9. I really liked the paragraph on homework. I remember having mindless assignments that had so many of the same type of questions on it that if you struggled there was no escape. You need to have homework that enforces a growth mindset so struggles seem like a positive thing and it enhances the learning process.

10. I don't understand it "yet". I love this as well. It proves to the student that the teachers believes that they will eventually master a concept.

So, I really like growth mindset. It is such a fresh approach to teaching. My concern after reading is how I will implement it. Research shows that you teach the way you were taught. I hope to break from that model and teach to my learners. I want to foster an environment that shows that students will eventually learn something or they will eventually like something they are learning. Learning is fluid!

Questions for the future:

Are there websites and other articles that deal with growth mindset?
What do older, experienced teachers think of the growth mindset? Do older teachers approve/disapprove?
Have we conditioned ourselves to believe that it is bad if everyone got an A because then there would be no comparing and stratification in the classroom?

This was an awesome article and I feel like it is good to acknowledge where education and instruction have not been the best.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Safety Standards for Lab

When I think of a perfect lab set up, I think of a classroom that is very clean and orderly. I think that it is imperative that the classrooms are this way because if they are cluttered or the chemicals are not organized then an accident could happen very easily. I will be working with few chemicals but it is imperative that the chemicals be stored appropriately and in a locked closet that the students cannot get to. The teacher should be the only one with a key and the students should not be able to handle any large amounts of chemicals. When rock hammers, and tools for identifying minerals such as a glass plate or porcelain plate, nail, etc. are used appropriate rules need to be told and demonstrated to the student before they even touch them. I know when I was going through school, as a student I had to sign a paper that I passed a quiz on safety procedures before lab officially began. If I did not pass the quiz then I had to retake it and was not able to participate in the labs until I did pass it.

The first 10 safety procedures or rules of safety that I came up with are as follows:

1. Do not touch anything until you are told to. If there are supplies at your workstation, you must not touch them or pretend to use them as weapons, or toys.
2. When handling chemicals, ask your teacher before getting them. Do not go into the chemical storage area and get them yourself.
3. Be aware of safety rules around the classroom and obey them. (These should be standard operating rules that are on a poster indicating safe lab procedures.
4. Identify the safety equipment. This means locating the safety eye/face washer, fire extinguisher, fire blanket, first aid kit, and safety emergency shower. Know how to operate all safety equipment but do not tamper or play with equipment unless it is an emergency.
5. Don’t eat or drink in lab. There could be chemicals on the surface and you do not know if they are toxic or if they were cleaned up appropriately.
6. Never perform laboratory experiments unless directed to and under the supervision of the teacher.
7. Do not run, or horseplay in lab. You may hurt yourself or another student unintentionally.
8. Report any spill or accident to a teacher. Do not try to clean up a spill by yourself. Notify the teacher immediately.
9. Dress appropriately for lab. This means long pants, closed toed shoes, and hair tied back if it is long. If you are not appropriately dressed then you will not be able to participate in lab.
10. Always wash your hands after lab with soap and water. This is imperative as you don’t know what might be on your hands.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Questioning a teacher

My favorite teacher was Professor Shelly Judge. She taught me Field Camp as well as Structural Geology and Oceanography. I liked her classes because she would try to create a very interactive classroom setting by having us use clickers before an assessment to gauge our understanding of the content she was covering. She was also very willing to meet outside of the classroom setting to talk about content or live in general. She seemed like she wanted to create a relaxed learning environment where all students felt comfortable. She also seemed like she genuinely cared about the well being of her students. Before she taught college, she taught at a middle school so she brought that experience with her.

Questions I have for her are:
1)How did you keep your energy up when students were discouraged or not focused?
2) How do you deal with a student that is disrupting the lesson or clearly trying to bring attention to themselves?
3) What is one piece of advice that you wished you had had before you walked into your classroom?
4) How do you create an environment that has “managed” chaos? I am thinking about the clickers. Middle school students could totally loose focus and therefore miss the learning.
5) What was your approach to making the course seem relevant to your students?

Bonus questions:

6) What skills did you want your students to walk away with?
7) How did you teach certain topics that have misconceptions?

The interesting thing about this project is that I could actually talk to her and ask her these questions. She has been so supportive of me and even though she is a college professor and has college students to focus on, would still be so willing to have a phone conference with me to help me out. In fact, she is the person I consulted with before my interview for the Woodrow Wilson teaching fellowship.