Field Experience Observing at wms

Journal Three

(3) Technology in the classroom...

In the classrooms at WMS, technology is used almost everyday. Even though each class has limited access to technology, they make the most of it. Most classrooms only have one projector, one desktop, and one laptop. However, iPads are available to rent from the library if technology is needed for the lesson plan. What makes WMS so successful technologically, though, is their BYOD policy. Students are allowed to bring their phones and use them for learning purposes. At the front of each classroom is a sign that teachers can swap out that says, "Device Free Zone," or "Device Flexible Zone." If it is a free zone, phones must be put away unless they individually get permission from the teacher to use it. For the flexible zone, students are allowed to have their phones out to do research, read, watch educational videos, or whatever else they need to enhance their learning. Of the 3 times I have visited the classroom, students have been able to use their phone to help them prepare for group projects and classroom assignments. Because of the availability of technology in the classroom setting, it would not leave room for disadvantages because students do not have access to technology at home. They can always get the work required of them done in class.

So what does that mean for me...

I would like technology to be an important part of my classroom in the future. Since the workplace so heavily involves the need to be technologically proficient, I see it as my duty to teach students to be effective communicators through relevant mediums. That is an important aspect of TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge). Technology should not take the place of factual information or stop me from growing as a teacher, but it should help me find the balance of a fun, effective, and relevant learning environment.

A closer look at the readings...

In the article, "Using the TPACK Framework," teachers are reminded of the time and dedication that needs to go into the inclusion of technology in the classroom. It "requires teachers to go beyond their knowledge of particular disciplines, technologies, and pedagogical techniques in isolation" (p. 16). It is important that when creating a lesson plan, teachers keep the goals, standards, and the means of teaching in mind. They need to flow cohesively together, otherwise technology is not useful or relevant in the classroom. It requires extra work, and more time, but in the end our students will be more well-rounded critical thinkers who are ready for college and the future workplace.

Journal Seven

(2) Language development...

Today in class there was a substitute teacher. It was interesting to see the similarities between her and the other teacher that I usually observe. While I do not know what the school's policies are for the language development, I felt as though the substitute teacher did a good job of addressing this in her class today.

Language demands...

For today's lesson, the teacher had set some assignments that involved summarizing and answering some questions about a play that they had read last class. Students were supposed to use complete sentences, proper grammar, and paraphrase correctly (instead of directly copying lines from the play). What I really like about this was the way the substitute, Mrs. Connelly, checked that the students were getting things done correctly. The teacher only required students to put the finished product in a folder, but Mrs. Connelly individually checked a couple of the answers with each student before they turned it in. She helped the students see what needed correcting, and then explained why. One student did not capitalize some of the words that needed to be, including Africa. She helped this student understand what needed to be fixed, and then explained that Africa was a proper noun and they always need to be capitalized.

Another great tool that Mrs. Connelly utilized was having students read a journal article aloud for the class. She would then ask questions as they were reading about what certain words meant. Students seemed to be more engaged and actively participated in the reading because of these questions. It also probably made the article easier to follow along because students were able to discuss the meaning behind the more difficult words and not get lost.

So what does that mean for me...

As a social studies teacher, it is still important for me to be proactive about teaching students the correct writing and language skills needed for historical writing. In both my ED and ECI classes, this concept of needing to be disciplinary literate has come up several times. Teachers need to be aware of the writing conventions for their discipline, and they need to include it in their classrooms. In every class, there needs to be some form of writing and reading activity so that students are aware of the correct style of writing and citations. In my future social studies classroom, I will leave room for at least one primary source (or continuation of a specific primary source) in every lesson. Students will always need to know how read and analyze a primary source, no matter what subject they are in. It fosters good learning.

Journal Five

(1) Content...

In the classroom today, students were learning about monarchies. Every lesson, regardless of the topic, starts out with students watching CNN students' news. This is to keep them up to date with current events, and they have to keep a summary of the main stories discussed, on their warmup page. Then the teacher transitions into a brief lecture time, where he uses direct instruction to get the information that he wants students to understand communicated to them. Even though a teacher talking to students may not be as engaging, it is important for students to understand what the lesson is about. When the teacher is giving the information, there is less room for students to misunderstand concepts. After the direct instruction, students watched a ten minute cartoon video about monarchs, specifically Louis XIV, Peter the Great, and Shah Jahan. It was a comical, yet informational video, and students had to answer questions on a worksheet that the teacher had given them. The questions were short answer; an example is, "Describe 3 luxuries in the Palace of Versailles." After the video, the class discussed the answers to the questions and the teacher made sure that everyone got the same information out of the video. For the last part of the lesson, students were given a worksheet with vocal words on them. The definition for each word was given to them, and they had to put that definition in their own words and make a visual or connection for each word.

Bloom's Taxonomy in the classroom...

Both the warmup and the video activity did not hit very high on the Bloom's Taxonomy. They were both really helping students to remember and understand. That is ok, but there probably would have been some other ways to get even more out of the activities. A way to make things a higher level of thinking would be to not only ask students to summarize/recall what they watched, but to ask them to write a paragraph or two about how they feel about that issue, or put themselves in someone else's shoes. That would really enhance the learning of the students and help them think in a deeper way. The vocabulary activity required more of a higher level of thinking, and it probably hit analyze on Bloom's Taxonomy. It required students to make a connection between what they were learning and other concepts they had talked about/related to them on a more personal level. Students are more likely to grasp concepts if they are having to analyze or apply the ideas they are using rather than just remember them or understand them.

Overall...

This lesson was engaging to students, and they did seem to learn a lot from it. I would probably change the level that I required them thinking at to something a little higher. The way I would go about this is by asking students to write a narrative from someone else's perspective, or ask them to connect a recent or current event to a historical one that we are learning about. I would include less worksheets so that students did not feel as though it was too repetitive.

Journal Four

(1) Learning objectives...

The learning objectives for every class period have been written on the board. They are always in the same location on the board, and they are always neat and concise. Whenever students look to the front, they have the opportunity to understand what they are supposed to be getting out of that lesson and the overall unit. Assessments are also the same format for every unit. Each unit students have to keep a portfolio of all of their assignments called a "notebook" that they submit to the teacher. Every worksheet or "page" of the notebook is written down on the board once it is completed, so that students know what they need to finish or hold on to for submission at the end of the topic. When it is time to submit it, they are given 20 minutes to compile it all and make sure that it is neat and in order. On top of submitting their notebooks, they have to take a unit test. This test is the same format for every unit, and is multiple choice. Test corrections are also allowed for students who get below a 70 (failing).

So what does that mean for me...

I really appreciate the consistency of having the same format for every unit. I think it helps students thrive when they know what is expected of them and they get into a routine. In my class, I would like to verbalize the learning objectives, as well as writing them on the board, so that students actually understand why that is relevant to them. I do not think that students would pay much attention to the learning objectives if they are just written on the board. Sometimes they need that extra help. I also really love the consistency of the unit notebook that they hand in at the end of the unit. It helps bring a sense of connection for all the assignments, like the students are working toward something. The only thing about the notebook, is that I feel as though it limits lessons to only worksheets. I feel like there is a better way to still allow students to create this portfolio, without it just being a bunch of worksheets. That becomes a little too repetitive to students.

Journal Six

(2) Accommodations in the classroom...

The teacher that I have been observing over this semester has 119 students total that he teaches. Only six of those students have learning needs, or IEPs. The school as a whole comes from a wealthier area, so I assume that may have a correlation that explains the small number of students with disabilities. That being said, there are still accommodations that teachers need to make to ensure that all students get a fair chance at education. In the classes I have observed, the six students that have learning disabilities are all some kind of Specific Learning Disorder (SLD). They all have to do with either reading or writing. The way that teachers at Wakefield provide students with SLDs the help they need is by providing a separate setting for tests, copies of notes, mark in book for tests and preferential seating. That way students can make sure they are taking the extra time to really understand and focus on what is being asked from them. It is to help create an environment where equity is the main goal for every student.

So what does that mean for me...

One of the resources on the Moodle page discussed what No Child Left Behind really means. One of the first points that it makes is the difference between an accommodation and a modification. There are some people who misunderstand what accommodations are, and they feel as though schools are making it easier for students with disabilities by lowering the learning standards. Lowering the standards is not an accommodation, it is a modification. An accommodation does not lower the standard, it actually helps bridge the gap. It gives students who have disabilities the same access to getting a good grade as every other student by providing them with the help and tools they need. It promotes success, not lowers the standards. When I get to my future classroom, I need to make sure that I am aware and familiar with all the students who have IEPs. I want to make sure that they are comfortable, and that their needs are met. Part of my classroom philosophy is to make sure that every student feels welcome, and I want to make sure that I cater to this, especially when it comes to learning disabilities.

N. (n.d.). No Child Left Behind: Determining Appropriate Assessment Accommodations for Students with Disabilitites. Retrieved December 4, 2016, from https://nceo.umn.edu/docs/OnlinePubs/NCLD/Accommodations.pdf

Journal Eight

(3) Assessment throughout the class...

In the classes that I have observed, there has been little assessment throughout the class. There has been lots of helpful assessments after the class has submitted what they worked on for the day, when they submit the end-of-the-unit notebook, or when they take the test at the end of the unit. All of those assessments are helpful for reflecting on how the student did throughout the unit after the lessons are over; however, there has not been much assessment in the class, or real time feedback. I think it is very important that students get feedback, whether it is through working together as groups, answering informal questions when the teacher asks, or participating in activities like discussions or projects. Students need to know how they are doing in the class so that they can become better students. With feedback, students can realize their weaker areas, grow in those areas, and do better when it comes to the end-of-the-unit assessments.

So what does that mean for me...

It is important for me as a teacher to give students the full opportunity to grow and get better. That is why I would like to make sure that there are small assessments throughout the class, where there is time for feedback, as well as the unit assessments, which is where I assess what they have learned. Some of the ways I plan to do this would be through discussion based classes, informal questions, exit questions and peer review. I like having small informal assessments because then I can gauge what my students know without them feeling the stress of testing or submitting a formal project. I also feel as though it can help me correct a student before it is too late. Sometimes students hear or perceive information in an inaccurate way. It is easier to correct this early on during something informal like a lesson, rather than letting a student unknowingly believe inaccurate information for a whole topic. It would be much harder to reteach that student the correct information after a long time. That is why I see feedback throughout a lesson as so beneficial, to not only my students, but also to me.

Created By
Hannah Smith
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Created with images by kevin dooley - "School bus" • US Department of Education - "IMG75" • pwjamro - "School" • AlexanderStein - "colored pencils pens crayons" • klimkin - "apprentice school boy" • ambermb - "school backpack childhood" • Wokandapix - "student school back to school" • aforiers - "Photomarathon School" • justine warrington - "school" • Hans - "glasses read learn" • Unsplash - "books bookshelf library" • Unsplash - "books old pile" • Mimzy - "back to school pencils rainbow"

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