EDTC 6431 – Module 1

The ISTE Standard for Creativity and Innovation include the following objectives:

Students will:

  1. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
  2. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
  3. Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues (i.e. equitable access to technology).
  4. Identify trends and forecast possibilities.

(International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), 2016)

My triggering event question was: How can students use technology to build tools to improve their academic experience? My goal was to find examples to students using technology to create new products or processes to help manage their school experience, such as grade tracking for example. From what I have been able to find, or more accurately, not find, there does not appear to be widespread interest in this topic.

Because of this, I am changing my question to: How can students use spreadsheets to model trends?

Learning how to manipulate data and model trends continues to be an important skill for students to develop. In our age of “Big Data” and the never-ending stream of information coming being thrown at us, the ability to discern what is real and what is not continues to grow in importance.

Project SUCCEED provides a sample lesson on identifying trends of both linear and exponential growth rates (Shodor, 2017). This lesson provides a solid learning experience that includes instruction on inputting data and creating calculations. This is actually the more important part at this stage of development: learning how to structure the data and create calculated fields. It is very easy to input data, create a graph, and add a trend line. Once a basic lesson like this has been conducted, students are in a position to research topics that are more interesting to them. This further sets the stage for collaborative and multi-disciplinary learning. For example, ideas put forth in a History or Social Studies class can be researched to provide more critical analysis.

Interpreting the data is an entirely different lesson that falls outside the realm of technology. This leads me to my concern about how this technology is used. Technology has made available analysis tools that require a great deal of training to utilize properly. A click of a button creates a graph, but is it the correct graph? Is it structured to tell the story the data is telling? Is the data being presented honestly? The instruction on technology is only the beginning of the lesson.

Works Cited

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). ISTE Standards for Students. Retrieved January 15, 2017, from ISTE: http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-students

Shodor. (2017). Excel Curriculum. Retrieved January 15, 2017, from Project Succeed: http://www.shodor.org/succeed/curriculum/apprenticeship/Modeling/Excel/LessonPlan/

Posted in 4 Content Knowledge | Tagged , | Leave a comment

EDU 6160 – Course Reflection

A teacher needs to provide feedback that is timely. When we completed a task, our brain shelves it and quickly moves on to the next task. For the feedback to be relevant, it needs to be delivered in time for the feedback to be matched up with the original task. If the feedback is delayed, it is of little value to the student.

I am currently taking two online math classes and the teachers have very different approaches to the timeliness of feedback. The first teacher has consistently graded homework assignments in less than 48 hours from submission, and often has it done the next day. This allows me the opportunity to review the feedback while the material is still fresh in my mind. The other class has had a much greater lag in getting assignments graded. In particular, it was 24 days between the day I took the mid-term exam and when I received the grade for it. At that point, I have no recollection of anything that was on the test, other than it was multiple-choice with one question that required a written proof – similar to writing an essay. It is nice that I got a good grade that was in line with my expectations, but the time gap is too great to put the score into meaningful context.

A teacher also needs to provide feedback that is consistently high quality. Two important aspects are that it be user-friendly and actionable. If the feedback is not accessible by the students and does not provide insight on how to improve, the feedback is useless.

Let us turn again to my current online class experiences. The teacher that provides very timely turnaround provides feedback that is consistently of low quality.  The first problem is the hand written comments are very difficult to read. This is problematic because the lessons entail the use of mathematical symbols. The second problem is that con

FeedbackSample.jpg

Example of feedback that provides little actionable information.

tent of the feedback provided. This instructor’s feedback can be placed in one of two categories: “Wrong” and “Here is what the correct answer was.” This is not actionable. The instructor has provided little to no assistance to help the student understand what they have done wrong.

Providing timely, high quality feedback is an essential part of student success. It also reflects a level of empathy for the journey the student is undertaking. It is not uncommon for teachers to specialize in a subject they enjoy and excel in. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that not all students enjoy your subject or have the innate gifts that make success in that subject come easy. Further, if you expect your students to do high quality work and turn it in on time, you  also have the obligation to do the same.

Posted in 6 Assessment | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Course Reflection – EDU 6942

“The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.” If it had not been clear before, this point makes it clear the teacher is working with real people and not educational widgets. While we, as teachers, are measured on student performance on standardized tests, our true obligation is to help our students become happy, healthy, self-actualized people.

One of the teachers I have observed has sought to be a maternal figure for her students. While part of this reflects her personality, she also stated that she wants to be an adult that students felt they could turn to in times of need. In her first year of teaching, she has already dealt with a student who was suffering abuse. The teacher recognized an abrupt change in behavior:  a previous outgoing student had become very quiet, prone to angry outbursts, and no longer completed assignments. The teacher used a poor test score as the reason to meet with the student and inquire about the changes. This student is from a culture that expects males to be authoritarian figures in the family. He and his older brother were being raised by a single mother and were separated from older male family members. The older brother had decided it was time to take on that role and the relationship with the student had become physically and emotionally abusive. As required by the district policy, she then turned this information over to the school counselor (fwps_reporting-policy).

As a high school teacher that has more than 120 students, it is easy for these kinds of issues to get overlooked. The list of what teachers need to be aware of and focus on is extensive. When you combine this with the fact that adolescence is fraught with personality changes and drama, it becomes easy to excuse some of the abuse identifiers as “teenager drama.”

As teachers, we also sometimes forget how difficult life is for our students. They are managing academics, extra-curricular activities, family, friends, and the “what do I want to be when I grow up” question. Being the victim of abuse and neglect not only makes some of these areas much harder to deal with, it can remove the student’s ability to deal with them at all. It’s hard to worry about your homework if you are worried a physical beating is waiting for you.

How can teachers do a better job with this? I think it starts with classroom management. Part of classroom management is building relationships with students, which makes it easier to identify when signals of abuse exist or start to manifest. Further, an effective classroom management strategy tells the students they are important and you do not want to waste their time. When you tell them they are important, you are also telling them you care about them. And that message is the one that opens the door for students to come to you in times of need.

Posted in 7 Families and Community, 8 Professional Practice | Tagged , | Leave a comment

EDU 6132 – Unit 4 Reflection

One of the more interesting ideas to come from the course material is the idea of structuring lesson plans and units around how the brain works and not just based on the subject material. In particular, the ideas from the “Memory” chapter in Brain Rules (Medina, 2014) hold some important ideas. Previously, when writing lesson plans, the idea was to review either the learning from the previous day or previous learning that was necessary prior knowledge for the current lesson and provide time for reflection with some sort of informal assessment, such as an exit ticket.

Medina states that 90% of what is learned in class is lost after 30 days (Medina, 2014, p. 130). After reading this I will plan to include more review time into the lesson plans. Not only will there be review at the beginning of class, but there will be more frequent review of material from the duration of the class. One approach that I am now considering is a weekly review, maybe on Wednesdays, where we will review previous coursework regardless of its applicability to the current topic. This approach will allow us to cycle through all the material multiple times during the school year. This process of regular review will also increase the likelihood that students will be able to make additional connections between the topics.

Works Cited

Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules (Second ed.). Seattle, WA, USA: Pear Press.

Posted in 2 Instruction | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

EDU 6132 – Pre-Assessment

My knowledge of child development is driven largely by raising my two teenage boys, being a Boy Scout leader, and working as a substitute teacher. What this means is that I have a basic understanding of some concepts but probably cannot articulate them in a technical way.

The most challenging aspect of child development is that the rate of development differs from child to child. My two boys, who are now 17 and 15, have shown wildly different rates of development. When working with Boy Scouts, you see a broad range of development stages as you are dealing with children from ages 10 to 18. The complexity is increased because development in different areas, such as physical, emotional, and cognitive, happen at different rates within each individual. For a teacher, this means you need to have the ability to recognize students are at different stages and adjust for that difference.

Posted in 3 Differentiation | Tagged | Leave a comment

EDU 6150 Course Reflection

4.4 Component 1e – Designing Coherent Instruction

When I began this the Master of Arts in Teaching program my understanding of designing instruction would be summed up as “teach students so they know how to do math.” According to the Internship Performance Criteria, in order to be proficient at this, “The lesson or unit has a clearly defined structure around which activities are organized. Progression of activities is even, with reasonable time allocations.” This was one area I was intimidated by as I began the program. However, over the course of EDU 6150, I have become more confident in my ability to do so in a way to help students succeed.

Designing coherent instruction requires a solid grasp of the subject matter and the learning standards that are being addressed. Below is a section of a lesson plan focused on performing addition, subtraction, and multiplication of polynomials that I wrote for EDU 6150.

Lesson_Plan_Heading

The learning standard has been identified and from this the Central Focus and Learning Targets have been derived. There is a list of the Academic Language to be included. Now that the end goals have been defined the designing of the lesson can begin.

Properly designed instruction will likely begin with some sort of review of prior learning. This not only reinforces prior learning but helps identify if students are ready to begin learning new material. This is the section of the lesson plan where instruction actually begins and it does so with review of prior knowledge. This review might include both recently learned material and material learned in the more distant past. The informal assessment serves as a checkpoint that helps recognize if students are ready to proceed.

Lesson_Plan_Review

The next part of the lesson plan is the new material: addition of polynomials. This lesson plan utilizes the “I do, we do, you do” model. This approach allows opportunity for a great deal of formative assessment. This structure was repeated for subtraction of polynomials and multiplication of polynomials as well.

Lesson_Plan_Instruction

This lesson plan follows a very methodical, structured approach. It benefits the teacher and students by making sure all necessary steps are taken.  It also provides checkpoints to make sure there is understanding by students prior to moving on.

What I learned in the writing and teaching this lesson was that it was too dense. It needs to be broken up into 2 (addition/subtraction and multiplication) or 3 lessons (addition, subtraction, and multiplication). There could also be a greater variety of informal assessment methods used.

While many of the concepts of mathematics are fairly simple in concept, their execution can be rather complicated. Following a methodical, structured approach allows math practitioners to minimize simple errors and identify where those errors are made. Modelling a methodical, structured approach, both in the solving of examples and the overall instruction of the subject will reinforce this idea to students. Going forward, a greater number of learning activities will need to be incorporated into my instruction. The “I do, we do, you do” model is very effective, but if overused it will be become “I do, we ignore.”

Posted in 4 Content Knowledge | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Course Meta-Reflection EDU 6526

Direct instruction is not the shiny new toy of educational theories, but in some areas, it is still very relevant (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 340). Mathematics has lots of rules and procedures that can be learned inductively, but that is not always the best approach. I view mathematics as a collection of tools. You first need to know how to use them in order to know when to use them. You will be hard pressed to screw two items together if you don’t know what a screwdriver is. Musicians spend hours learning scales, chords, inversions, and progressions, but not solely for the purpose of pure knowledge. Without this knowledge, which is generally learned through direct instruction and reinforced with rote memorization, they cannot solve the problems of, “how do I make this song sound sad?” or, “how does the guitarist compliment what the piano player is doing?” Direct instruction can provide the means for students to go on to inductive learning.

And while mathematics is not thought of as a social endeavor, there is great value to studying it in a social way. In a group, learners have the ability to learn from each other (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 234). Because each member of the group has different strengths, the group has greater learning and problem solving abilities than each of the individuals. This collaborative approach is also beneficial for learners, as later in life, they will often be called on to work with others to solve problems, whether it is in a professional or personal setting. This becomes even more important when trying to solve multidisciplinary problems that require a person to work with people who have different specialties.

Works Cited

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. New York City: Pearson.

 

Posted in 2 Instruction, 5 Learning Environment | Tagged | Leave a comment

Building Self-Esteem in Students

While is it not a specific task of the teacher, it is important for teachers to foster positive self-esteem in their students. Research has shown that positive human relations are related to positive human behaviors . These positive behaviors are fostered in students by both displaying and encouraging positive behaviors, along with managing vocabulary used about students.

The primary way of fostering positive self-esteem is to model the expected behaviors. Students see how teachers interact with other teachers, parents, and administrators. The self-talk of the teacher while in the presence of students teaches them how the teacher feels about themselves. Further, the way the teacher interacts with the students shows how the teacher feels about the students. All three of these types of interactions need to reflect the empathy and respect the teacher is expecting from the students.

The teacher also needs to encourage the students to use these positive behaviors. This can happen is both a direct and indirect fashion. The teacher can call out certain behaviors that are expected and mandate their use by the students. The teacher can also identify behaviors that are forbidden and require they not be used. Besides the direct methods a teacher can address this in a softer, indirect way. An example of this is to say, “Wow, is that the way we talk to each other?” or, “Is that the way we do things?” when poor behaviors are exhibited. This has the additional benefit of making the students think about what they have done and compare it the identified expectations.

The final, and possible most important, is the vocabulary used by the teacher. When discussing problem behavior of a student, be sure to address the behavior, not the student. “Jonny is acting like a bully,” is better than, “Jonny is a bully.” This separates Jonny from his behavior and let’s Jonny know his behavior is bad without saying that Jonny is bad.

Posted in 5 Learning Environment | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How practical are Multiple Intelligence activities

In order to answer the question of how practical Multiple Intelligences activities are, you first need to define what those activities are and who they need to be practical for. The idea behind Multiple Intelligences is the existence of a variety of learning styles that include, but are not limited to linguistic and logical quantitative modes that are viewed most favorably by today’s educators . And in a discussion of Learner-Centered approaches, the question need to be of the practicality for students.

Along with the previously mentioned linguistic and logical quantitative models, the Multiple Intelligences model includes putting emphasis on visual spatial, bodily kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist. Looking at the subject area through the lens of the other Intelligences allows a teacher to unlock some potential learning tools for their students. Many mathematical concepts can be expressed through visual spatial representations. Musical tools are often used to help with memorization of facts. Imagine how students might respond to using bodily kinesthetic methods to teach about the interaction of chemicals in a Chemistry class. This not only allows students to who are to inclined to the linguistic and logical models to make breakthroughs, but it also can allow students to unlock learning tools they may have but are not aware of.

The question of practicality implies there is one method that is best for instruction and that other methods are inferior (either in general or for a particular subject area). But under the idea of Multiple Intelligences, the appropriateness of the instructional technique is determined by the student, not the teacher. Gardner believes students should be encouraged to be well rounded, but there is also benefit from the discovery and cultivation of strengths. If a teacher is going to reach out to the student where they are, they need to use a variety of methods. In this case, the use of multiple methods is not only practical, but necessary.

_______

Edwards, Owen. “An Interview with Howard Garder, Father of Multiple Intelligence”

Posted in 2 Instruction, 5 Learning Environment | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Catching Morals

What are the implications of, “morals are caught, not taught”? Simply put, it means talk is cheap and your actions speak louder than your words. It also means people are watching you, even when you do not know they are.
I bought an inexpensive, used motorcycle when I started riding. This motorcycle had a unique paint job that stood out in my small town. I referred to it as the “accountability paint job,” as it meant not only could everyone could see me, they knew it was “Mr. Reed”, “Joseph & Stephens Dad”, or someone who works at their school. There was nowhere to hide. This knowledge forced me to develop good riding habits and to be aware of where I was when I was riding. Speaking to students about how rules exist to promote their safety is thrown out the window if they have seen the teacher speeding through town.

But people see you even when you do not know they are looking. One day I stopped for a soda at a mini-mart just outside of town. As I was paying for my soda, a voice behind me said, “You teach at our school.” I turned around to see two young ladies standing behind me. Not only did I not recognize them, I did not know they were in the store. They did not venture down to the store so they could evaluate if my personal behavior was in line with what I expected of them in class, but they were in a position to do so just the same.

It is good to have moral expectations of your students. In order for those expectations to be communicated effectively, and practiced by your students, they need to see you modeling them as well.

Posted in 1 Expectations, 5 Learning Environment, 7 Families and Community | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment