Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reading Workshop: How Students Learn

Social contructivism (Vygotsky): Children are naturally inclined to want to learn, a positive atmosphere and praise promotes learning and mistakes are ok-they are a part of the learning process, social interaction helps learning, insight gained by listening to others and verbalizing our own thoughts, give tools to learn with that are fun and engaging, challenge at a level that is not overwhelming, celebrate learning that has occurred, language or a story is used to tap existing schema to make learning and assimilation or accommodation easier, not too soft-not too hard-just right or just enough to challenge (like porridge).
A commonly known language (story) that was simple was used to convey the learning theory.  It took advantage of existing schema and added to it.  It also used visuals to make it easier (the three bears, the house, the kitchen, the porridge--similar to the ironing used by Cambourne)  This builds on the previous lesson from Cambourne's Teaching-Learning-Language and reinforces the learning theory.  Using the existing schema made it easier to understand and learn what was being taught by making connections.  Use of known language in teaching is important in Cambourne’s theory.  You cannot understand a lesson if you cannot understand the language.  Learning has 6 components: Demonstration, Engagement, Transformation, Discussion, Application, and Evaluation. 
Growth Mindset involves the belief that one can learn more, that intelligence (or lack thereof) is not fixed.  If one believes or is encouraged to believe with praise and positive affirmation along with proof of evaluation of learning they will grow.  However, be careful what is praised, show that it is ok to make mistakes (approximate), and encourage putting oneself out there to meet challenges in order to grow. 
All three theories for learning involve motivation to learn with having a reason, purpose, motive, desire, intent, and commitment.  All three tap existing schema and seek to assimilate or accommodate new information with old information.  And all three involve learning as a social interaction from the time they are born; and particularly important to us in teaching when considering classroom teaching and learning strategies. 
Synthesizing:  To me it means assimilation or accommodation to existing schema when reading.  In other words, new questions arise while reading that cause you to think more and possibly give rise to even  more questions, which in the end affects a deeper learning (if you accept what you are reading to be true).  If you accept it to be true, then you can have transformation. Learning involves synthesizing new information with existing schema--it is a building process that increases knowledge on an existing foundation.  The foundation is there, but the building process may change or add to each layer (brick or block) as learning (synthesizing) occurs.  Basically, it is a process of bringing information together.

How students Learn: History, Math, and Science in the Classroom...

Knowledge is built on an existing foundation that begins by making sense of the world from the time we are born.  A simple fish story is used to enhance interpretation and understanding (like The Three Bears).  Kids have existing schema when they begin school in which is tapped when they are learning, trying to accommodate or assimilate what they are learning with what they already know.  Learning occurs when you begin asking questions about what you are reading or being taught.  Factual content and conceptual (big idea) content work together; not separately.  Transitioning from novice to expert (master) involves practice and repitition to recognize patterns or ideas in the process of learning in synthesizing new knowledge with previous knowledge.  Sometimes it involves getting rid of the old erroneous knowledge to be replaced with the correct new knowledge.  Metacognition (thinking about your thinking) is essential in assessing what you are reading, synthesizing and learning--which may involve asking questions and rereading for comprehension. Most of these ideas are similar to the three learning theories mentioned above which include: 

Perspectives on learning environments.
     The learner-centered lens encourages attention to preconceptions, and begins instruction with
     what students think and know.
     The knowledge-centered lens focuses on what is to be taught, why it is taught, and what mastery looks  
     The assessment-centered lens emphasizes the need to provide frequent opportunities to make students’  
     thinking and learning visible as a guide for both the teacher and the student in learning and instruction.
     The community-centered lens encourages a culture of questioning, respect, and risk taking.

Eight-Word Learning Phil.:  Respect, engagement, and positive expectations promote intellectual growth

Engagement Level: 5

Unit B, First Days of School, Reading Workshop

TLW use questions to propel reading of a section on expectations.

Plan: Monitor questions before, during and after reading Unit B.  Unit is about positive expectations which before reading I assume to mean that I would have the expectation that all students can learn and I can expect that all of them will learn from what I teach.  Based on the previous unit, I believe the authors' intent is to present ideas clearly and simply, to back ideas up with real-world teachers and examples, to use positive psychology on us (the readers), and to inform us to set positive expectations.

I began with writing questions for the authors spurred by the reading.  However, mid-way through that changed.  The authors gave their examples, which were mostly grade school and a few middle school examples.  I wanted to address my questions as they pertained to high school students. This is simple reading and the only thing that is going to add to what I am reading is to learn more about how high schoolers think.  And I had a perfect resource for my questions: my son who just graduated from high school this summer.  So, part of my responses are stticky note questions or thoughts I had as I was reading, and part are questions asked of my son.

Regarding quote, "There is absolutely no research correlation between success and family background, race, national origin, financial status, or even educational accomplishments.  There is but one correlation with success, and that is ATTITUDE."  I disagree with this.  There has been a lot written about educational accomplishment, with more accomplishment with affluent parents because they push or encourage their children with higher expectations, poverty districts often do not have as good as teachers as higher economic districts, and there is often a difference in the races that are restricted to poverty-stricken districts.  Attitude I will agree plays a major role and attitudes may vary between districts.  If there wasn't a difference in all of this, there would be no need for programs such as Woodrow Wilson to enhance student learning in high-need districts.

Regarding research experiment on expectations and increase in IQ scores, I was glad to see that teacher expectations made a difference on 20 random students. But the text did not say what the teachers did to achieve this.  Did they spend more time with these 20 students on a one-on-one basis to facilitate learning, since everyone else in the classes remained at the same IQ?  How did they test IQ, and isn't IQ testing arbritrary?  Learning increases, but does IQ really significantly increase in 9 months' time?

Dress for respect:  I don't question myself on what is appropriate for dress in class; I already have a good idea of what that will look like.  But there have been questions about what is appropriate dress from a couple of my young colleagues, so I wonder for them.  They want to be professional, but they don't want to dress old.  The text offers some suggestions, and I mentioned that there are certain stores with professional clothes that are not age-specific, that are stylish and can cross or span generations.  Chapter 8 mentions that we dress for respect, credability, acceptance and authority.  I asked my son to reflect on his teachers, how they dressed, and if how they dressed affected his perception and respect for those teachers.  The answer was yes, he respected teachers more and liked that they dressed nice; men in nice shirts and even a tie is ok, women dressy, but not too dressy.  A Spanish teacher dressed frumpy and often came to class unshaven for several days in a row; he didn't respect this teacher much and as a result didn't feel he was a very good teacher.  He mentioned that a few female teachers dressed in sweat pants on Fridays (their casual day), but he didn't like that.  He was fine with jeans and other casual clothing for casual Fridays, but somehow the sweats bothered him a little.  On the other hand, he had two women teachers that were dressy.  One, which he respected a lot, always dressed really nice, but not the extreme of business suit nice, although once in a while she dressed like one would dress if going out.  Another female teacher dressed business-suit like all of the time (with skirts or pants) and he didn't like it; he felt she was overdressed and unapproachable.  After analyzing this, he realized that he was accepting of the first woman over-dressing at times because she was kind, friendly and warm.  However, the second woman did not have a warm, friendly, inviting personality and this in combination with business-suit attire made her unapproachable--so attitude goes a long way!  To add to this, I agree with the text that we are modeling appropriate dress for the occupational/professional world they will be entering after they graduate.

In regards to the inviting section of Unit B--I wonder how we can connect and be inviting to parents with which we have a language barrier?  How can we make them feel included if we cannot understand each other?  Their children would have to be continual translaters of notes, learning targets, pre-assessments, etc.

Finally, I asked my son who were his best teachers that he feels he learned the most from and why. 
Answer:  He gave me 3 names, all of which often  related material to the real world when possible, and they were nice, fun, funny, liked teaching, cared about the students, and treated ALL students with respect.  He said they never yelled and then he instructed me to never yell saying that students will tune you out and that it would be ineffective.  They will learn not to listen to you.  He said that he best teachers always smiled and were happy and he respected them a lot.  He then said that you knew to change a behavior when they became a little firm, looked at you, and asked or told you to stop the behavior.  Calm firmness was all it took.  And students would stop the behavior out of respect the great majority of the time, but there may always be "one" student who just won't fully behave, and a threat of having going to the office is usually effective.

It was interesting to learn that one of these teachers I respected and learned the most from had only one rule given at the beginning of the school year.  That rule was "don't sit on the desks."  And every time someone sat on a desk, he would tell them to get off of the desk.  When asked why, he always responded, just because.  At the end of the year he told the students about the rule. He said that he picked the stupidest rule that he could fin one year that meant absolutely nothing and has used it ever since because this is what he has found to be most effective--students behaved well with only this one, silly rule.  :)

Engagement Level: 10

Thursday, July 28, 2011

First Day, Classroom vision: What might my first day look like?

TLW post on blog the initial image of my first day in my future classroom.

My most memorable first day of school was in 7th grade.  I remember being scared and nervous because I moved to a new town for the first time where I didn't know a soul.  Not only did I not know any students or teachers, but I had to go to different classrooms for each class, and I remember a science class being in a lab that seemed cold (atmosphere) and uncomfortable.  I remember black and white, no other colors in the room.  The people and the room were cold, and I didn't like it.  The teacher did nothing to make me feel welcome.  There was nothing positive (in my mind) in this room, and it didn't improve.  Thankfully, we moved after being there about a month.  In fact, we moved far away from that room to Montana where my next first day was much better.  This puts in mind the fact that students can play as big of a role as the teacher in creating a comfortable atmosphere for another student.  And recognizing that as a teacher can help me to teach students to be warm, friendly, and respectful to others because it is the right/kind thing to do.

The first day would consist of the students getting to know me and me getting to know them.  My initial concern is setting the stage for a welcoming, warm atmosphere that encourages communication.  I want students to get the idea that I have a personal interest in each of them, and most importantly that I am approachable.  If they feel I am approachable and non-judgmental, they will be more likely to ask questions throughout the year when they are struggling with concepts or hopefully, from stimulated curiosity.  I may even take pictures of the class or groups in the class with each holding their names in front of them so that I can practice learning their names more quickly at home.  Another idea might be to pass out an index card to everyone where they each list their name, favorite hobby or activity, favorite subject in school, favorite book, favorite snack or drink, favorite store to shop at, number of siblings, and the one person (dead or alive) they would most like to meet.  I might even ask how much they think they will like biology, and how important they think school is to their future on a scale of 1-10 (I wonder how honest they would be?).

I moved a lot when I was in junior high and high school, not only to different towns, but to different states.  I know what it is like for new students who begin classes not knowing anyone.  I remember how a teacher can make the experience warm and welcoming  or seem cold, distant, and uncaring.  The teacher can set the tone the first day for what is to come.

If there is time remaining after introductions, discussion, and filling out cards, I would share with the students what they can expect from me and from the class.  I would begin with the importance of respect towards everyone and the importance of organization.  I would tell them that they need a notebook, folder and binder for each class to keep classes separate.  I would pass out a small piece of paper to each student asking: 1) do you have these materials for our class?, 2) are you able to purchase the materials immediately for this class?, or 3) are you unable to purchase the materials for this class?  If they are unable, then I will do my best to purchase the materials they need.   I would explain to them that they will always be prepared for what is coming up (no surprises) because I will have organized for them a list of learning targets that they will always have at hand, and will continually remind them of what is due and when.  I will have constructed a rubic that they (and their family) can follow (with learning targets), explain the idea of putting together a portfolio for each student as we go along for self-assessment of what they need work on and what they have learned,  and that all of them can learn and will and I will do my best to help them.  This last portion would probably spill over into the second day, so this is my vision of the first couple of days of school.  Hopefully, Vlad will be in agreement with this vision since we will be working together.

Steve Rierson asked, "What types of daily routines/procedures would be beneficial in assisting learners to become more organized as well as setting up the daily atmosphere in the class?"    As mentioned above, I would have a learning target rubric for them, ensure they have the materials they need, continually remind them of what is due and when, and perhaps have a running list on the board that shows what we will be doing that day and what we will be covering the following day so they can always see one day ahead what they can expect for certain.  I may also have a tentative weekly plan (list) of topics at the beginning of each week (with the idea that we may not get to all of them if we need to spend more time in a certain area).  I would also have a hole puncher in the class so they can insert important papers into their binders to keep them in order.  I might also purchase folders for each student's portfolio to keep these separate from the rest of their papers.  Ultimately, it is up to me to be organized and prepared in order to help keep them organized and prepared, and routines should be fairly consistent to maintain order, functionality, and effective teaching and learning.

Engagement Level: 10

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reading Groups (Chpt. 12 ECM)

What should we share?  TLW read chapters on classroom management as instruction that will be shared with their peers. 

What I know about classroom management is there are 3 different styles/perspectives as mentioned in a previous blog: discipline, system, and instruction.  I also know that they are not necessarily exclusive, one may use parts from each.  I also know that classroom management is crucial for effective teaching and  effective learning for the students.  How a teacher does this depends a great deal upon their values and teaching philosophy.

What I want to know is what the difference will be between classroom management as instruction compared to discipline and as a system.  Will it incoporate parts of the other two or is it primarily prosocial with emphasis on the individual student?  So far, I like the idea of management as a system that combines instruction with building a community.  How successful is management as instruction in preventing problem behavior?

3 methods of conflict resolution: mediation, negotiation, and consensus decision making.
Mediation usually involves a teacher as a mediator (or a neutral third party which could be a peer), where the mediator insures that the debate does not escalate, guides the process of conflict resolution by making sure that each party gets to present their side and ensures that each side is heard.  With all three methods, it is the process and end result/negotiation that is important.  Who is right or who is wrong is not the focus.  The students come up with the negotiation, not the teacher, but she can guide with questions and helps to ensure that they follows the steps of the conflict-resolution process (set the stage, gather perspectives, identify interests, create options, evaluate options, generate agreement).

Negotiation: the two students who are in conflict may go to a quiet area and resolve the issue between themselves.

Consensus-decision making: by the classroom as a whole. 

Central to this concept is the teaching of prosocial behavior and for students to learn to resolve conflicts as this is something they will deal with throughout their lives.  It promotes social growth, increases listening skills, involves critical-thinking and problem solving--skills which are basic to all learning.  Specific benefits to resolving conflict are that students who can resolve conflict constructively:  are  healthier psychologically, develop socially and cognitively in more healthy ways, are happier more of the time, have more positive and supportive interpersonal and intergroup relationships, have a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life, are more engaged with the school and its academic program, make more friends and have stronger relationships, have more successful careers, achieve higher academically, and show more empathy and less prejudice.
Especially important to me as a teacher is to be aware that the reasons for the conflict occurring are more complex than one might think.  It could stem from not understanding another person's actions because their perception which differs from another based on the fact they come from different backgrounds (ethnicity, race, etc.).  Alternatively, there could be underlying anger from issues outside of school such as problems at home with divorce, abuse, drugs, poverty, etc.

In answer to the question I asked above, conflict resolution and peer mediation could be used in combination with classroom management as a system.  However, the downside is that it can be time-consuming and take away precious time from the classroom that these students need for learning.  High school classes are short.  This would be easier to spend time with this sort of intervention (especially in the case of consensus-decision making) when students are in grade school where they spend all or nearly all of the day in one classroom with one teacher.  I hope to hear what the other students have to say that were assigned to read chapters 10 and 11.  If not, I will have to look at them when I have time to see what preventative measures through management as instruction are presented in those chapters.

Engagement level: 7

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reading Workshop, Unit A-The First Days of School

How does this relate to? TLW read a professional text and connect the reading to other experiences.

Looking back on my first day of middle school or high school.  These were a little traumatic for me.  I had quite a few first days of middle school and high school because we moved a lot.  For me, not only was I introduced to a new school and several new teachers, but I also was in an environment where I didn't know a single person.  The first two can be overwhelming by themselves.  It was a new style of school since we didn't have one teacher throughout the entire day.  There is a lot of new things and a lot of transitioning and a lot more responsibity expected of you.  You have to learn to be more organized and keep track of what is due in each class and when.  I think that one big question mark was what each class and teacher was going to be like (nice or not so nice, warm or distant, by the book or engaging, personality or no personality, will he/she like me or not care)...

As a learner with the above experiences, I can relate to how students will feel when they first walk into my classroom.  It is my job to set the tone and calm their fears.  It is my job to ensure that it is a welcoming, positive, and respecful atmostphere.  That is the connection.

Now, in consideration of the first chapter of Unit A of The First Days of School, my text-self connection is that I will be experiencing some of my schoolday experiences once again, except I will be wondering how the students' personalities and reactions will be.  I will be nervous in the sense of beginning my first day and wondering how good of a job I can do; can I teach them in the way that they deserve to be taught, can I connect with them, do I understand where they are coming from, am I speaking in terms or language they can understand, can I earn their trust, and can I properly manage a classroom that minimizes disruption and elicit respectfulness towards everyone in the room? 

Most of the connections in the reading were text-to-text in the sense that they reflect a lot of what I have already heard or read in my classes this summer.  The jist of the Unit A is what makes an effective teacher which in turn makes for effective learning (for teacher and students).  It is important to be well prepared for the first day of class and establish control in the first week in a positive way.  A teacher needs to be proficient and can impact many lives, finds out important information about her students, and lets them know what to expect in the coming days.  A trusting relationship is built and there are positive expectations for student success.  She can manage the classroom and knows how to design lessons for student mastery.

Effective teachers beg, borrow, and steal teaching methods and lesson plans that are effective; they collaborate with other effective teachers for advice. They continue to learn through classes, workshops, conferences, professional meetings, books, journals, etc., and has a goal of striving for excellence (something that this cohort obviously already excels at--we wouldn't be here if we didn't strive for excellence already).  Like other readings and class conversations, innovativeness and presenting material in a way that engages students is most effective, with an emphasis to not teach in the traditional way we were taught (ineffective).  I liked how the book stated, "Teaching is a profession, and like all professions, its members must learn new knowledge and skills continuously.  Becoming a truly accomplished teachers is a journey, not a destination."  Just like the student, the teacher is a continual learner.  I also appreciated how the text mentioned several times that it is the teacher who makes the difference in the classroom, and by far the most importan factor in school learning is the ability of the teacher.  Furthermore, she must be able to translate the research and body of knowledge about teaching into increased student learning.  A teacher can make or break a class and this is exactly how it was for me in school.  In fact, this is how it has been for my son as well.  It was the interesting, fun, respectful teachers that made a class interesting for him and he in turn learned more.  He hated the classes where he didn't like the teachers--that says a lot.  And sometimes those classes that he hated were the classes that he would have normally been most interested in and vice versa.  He and I had this very conversation several months ago as well as the year before.

Yes, the connections helped me to understand the points that the reading was trying to get across at a deeper level.  This reading and my past connections and conversations with my son have reinforced the importance of my role as a teacher, how I can impact my students in a positive or negative way, and how I can affect their learning.  I will do my best to create the atmosphere and relationships as mentioned above, continue to increase my knowledge, and always be prepared with inclusive lessons while being engaging as possible with teaching processes I use to optimize their ability to learn.

In addition, since I have come across several common ideas/themes in classes and texts that have really reinforced their importance and seated them into my memory, I will be sure to bring up ideas or terminology in my class that is important to learn several times to reinforce the concepts in the learners' minds.

Engagement level: 10, So far I really like this book.

Personal Statement-Part One

Where does my teaching philosophy fit?
TLW begin the process of developing a personal statement that considers ow a Classroom Management as Discipline fits my beliefs, values, experiences, and the learners I expect to work with.

Schema Activation:  Review the ideas discussed in chapters 2-5 in ECM (Classroom Management as Discipline) and review my current teaching philosophy (that as much described by Kohn & Canter and Canter).

I do not like the ideas of behaviorism, and assertive discipline entirely on its own does not appeal to me. In fact, the word discipline does not appeal to me. Both are authoritative approaches, both can be intimidating and cause students to dislike the teacher and school-the opposite of what I want. Both would seem to treat adolescents like children, rather than promoting them to behave like adults.  However, I would use the idea of a set of rules or guidelines that are expected of students for a positive, functional learning environment and let the students know what they can expect from me. I want to teach them how to help create a positive atmosphere, for them to be feel comfortable in that atmosphere, to enjoy my class, and to be paticipatory in interacting with me and their classmates.  I want them to know that they can achieve what they came her for; to learn.  I feel that behaviorism is more individual (would be extremely time consuming) and gives different rewards to different students--which would be inconsistent.  Assertive discipline is all about rules, rules, rules and exercising them.  To me, this creates a negative atmosphere/perception from the very beginning, but again, some need to be discussed for their own benefit and so I can be the best teacher possible to and for them.  Neither discipline looks at the causes of disruptive behavior; it could be problems the student is dealing with at home, or it could be the tasks and method that the teacher is using in the classroom.  Neither cause the teacher to reflect on what he/she may be doing to influence this behavior or what he/she could change that may curb the behavior (e.g., assignments too difficult and frustrating, talking to students authoritatively instead of respectfully, not presenting lessons in a way that is engaging to students).  If there is one method of management as discipline that I think I could use to a degree, it would be positive classroom discipline with limit setting, responsibility training wit PAT (Preferred Activity Time) as a group, and a backup system for the most problematic individuals as I realize that no matter how much trust I earn or how engaged I can make my class or how positive the atmosphere is, there may be those individuals that will continue to be a challenge and display problematic/disruptive behavior.  Therefore, I will need some form of  action in place when all else fails, some kind of intervention or consequence. I am hoping that I will find an even better way to manage problematic behavior with additional reading in this book.  I like the idea of giving the students something grand to look forward to, perhaps once a month or at the end of a unit, such as a fun field trip outing that includes learning at the same time.

Here I am going to paste an excerpt from my discussion board response because it completely applies and goes along with my philisophies for pragmatism, progressivism, and existentialism.  I am fond of both classroom management as a system and as instruction, primarily the latter (and would like to do more reading on this one):

Classroom management as a systematic approach with solid instruction and a purposeful learning environment that keeps the students engaged in hands-on activities or group discussions that are interesting, which are contributing factors to success.  I want to learn how to effectively manage a classroom while not being viewed as authoritative. With management as discipline there are still rules, rewards and disciplines, and this style lacks the teaching of prosocial behavior and self-regulation that could go even further.  I do feel there has to be an understood classroom etiquette that needs to be respected in order to have an optimal learning environment.  I want students to feel comfortable asking questions,being interactive discussing material with me and with each other, and learning from each other, etc.
Canter (2010) states in Chpt. 3 that instead of using management as a discipline with punishment, establishing a positive relationship with students can reduce disruptive behavior by up to 50 percent.  Part of this is getting to know your students on a personal level, contacting students and parents before school begins to begin a welcoming, positive relationship, and attend extracurricular activities that show you are interested which offers students the opportunity to talk to you about things they do or are interested in.  I agree that assertive discipline does nothing to find the cause or treatment for misbehavior, it merely treats the symtoms (with discipline).  Misbehavior could be occurring as a result of stresses such as child abuse, malnourishment, rejection, insecurity, loneliness, and emotional distress.  I would add that economic status and the established norms of behavior by the adolescents in their immediate community are also contributing factors.  There is the hope that a caring teacher can help.
In Chpt. 8, Kohn suggests that communication, not rewards and punishments, is the key to effective classroom discipline.  He states that discipline may temporarily change behavior but cannot help students become ethical adults.  He argues that the goal of traditional discipline programs is to make children behave a certain way and to comply with adult demands rather than to support and facilitate children's social and moral growth.  Here, the ultimate goal of classroom management should be having students behave appropriately because they know it's the right thig to do and because they can understand how their actions affect other people.  Teachers need to look at their own behaviors as well and see if they are playing a role in contributing to the disruptive behavior.  Are teachers giving too many worksheets, are they disrespectful or are they modeling good, positive interactions, are they keeping students engaged with interesting material, are they asking students the right questions (or asking questions at all) to get at the real source when a disruption occurs?  In this classroom as management system, problem behavior is addressed as a class, where the class is the community and they discuss the problem, what the appropriate behavior would have been, and how to best rectify and prevent that behavior again. The consequence is discussion rather than punishment where other people's feelings are considered, students learn how to openly discuss issues, and it is thought that students learn how to build community skills that they will continue to use in society throughout their lives.  I can see this classroom community style of management working in grade school and perhaps middle school, but I am not sure this would go over well with high school students.  They may think it silly and uncomfortable ? 

 When we get these kids in high school, they have likely been exposed to and are quite accustomed to more authoritative instruction in school (and perhaps at home) and thus acting out with disruption.  Changing these expectations, mindsets and behaviors in a classroom is problematic because it is timely, especially given that each class only lasts about an hour.  I would try to keep them actively engaged with hands-on problem solving, experiments or projects that are interesting and hopefully apply to real world situations they can relate to.  It's interesting that in the beginning I did not think it was a teacher's responsibility to try and shape moral development with students.  I felt it important to be a good role model displaying good moral behavior, but ultimately that role is the parent/family's responsibility.  I am beginning to change my mind about teaching prosocial behaviors.

Engagement level: 10

A Simile Survey-Schema Activation

Similes were given such as:
A learner is like a(n) computer, mechanic, explorer, reporter, inventor, sponge.
A teacher is like a(n) coach, gardener, doctor, news broadcaster, entertainer, orchestra conductor.

We were to state if we stronly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree and aggregrated into the groups that agree with us.  When discussing why we chose the degree of agreement or disagreement, it was interesting to see different perspectives that essentially blurred the lines we had fixed in our minds.  We could see how others thought and why their perspective were chosen.  This at times caused us to question the degree of our own choosing of agreement or disagreement because we could agree with their point of view as well.  This shows that we need to be open to different interpretations and learning styles by individual students and by teaching styles of other teachers. 

Engagement level: 10


Discussion in class on what is expected of us for Participation (rubric) 20%, Observation Report 5%, and Classroom Management Presentation 5%. 

Observation Report: 3 observations, summary report of interactions and communication.
It's about natural learning in a classroom.
What would I like to get out of this assignment that demonstrates the two standards: 1) The teacher develops learning experiences that engage learners in collaborative and self-directed learning and that extend learner interaction with ideas and people locally and globally, and 2) The teacher communicates verbally and nonverbally in ways that demonstrate respect for and responsiveness to the cultural backgrounds and differeing perspectives learners bring to the learning environment.
How can I demonstrate my ability to completely comprehend these standards?
     -Learning takes on many different views/areas.
     -Things we see can help us create a more natural environment for them.
     -Where do they go, what do they like to do, how can we connect/relate to them
       locally, individually, globally-in district and beyond?

Clear description of process
Coherent-clear point trying to get across
Complete-what got us from start to finish

Why did you go where you io in the direction of connection and observation?

Engagement level: 10

Chpt. 1-Effective Classroom Management

What's so important about classroom management?  TLW use the reading strategy of determining importance whiel reading a professional text.

Classroom management is the style you use to create a productive learning environment in your classroom.  This style is greatly influenced by your underlying world and teaching philosophies.  The three types are Classroom management as discipline, as a system, or as instruction.

The top three important items are classroom management as discipline, as a system, or as instruction.  As mentioned above, the style we choose to run our classrooms will fall under one of these categories.  Thus, it was most important to me to understand what each of these styles means and how they may or may not pertain to me and my classroom.  It is also instrumental in understanding how different classrooms are ran under these different styles, the strengths and weaknesses of each, the success or failures of each, and to see how I feel about each of these styles. It really causes you to think, imagine, and reflect on each of these styles as you are reading them, and they may not necessarily be isolated, depending upon how you choose to run your classroom (at least in my opinion at this time).

Engagement Level: 10

Reading Groups: What Should We Share?

Chapter 1 introduces 3 views of classroom management:
1.  Classroom management as discipline: The teacher is responsible for maintaining classroom control, discipline comes before instruction, and consequences must exist for inappropriate behavior.
2.  Classroom management as a system:  Classroom management is systematic, management and instruction are interworven, there is a focus on the building of learning communities, and planning is essential.
3.  Classroom management as instruction:  There is a focus on teaching prosocial skills, the goal is to establish habits of peacemaking, schoolwide programs teach skills of conflict resolution and peer mediation, and teachers help students make ethical judgments and decisions.

We read and discussed chapters 2 and 3 which were behaviorism and assertive discipline (management as discipline.

Following is what I posted on discussion board from my readings of chapters 1 and 3:

I am not one who supports an authoritarian viewpoint, though assertive discipline was not quite as harsh as the name sounded like (but then I guess it depends upon the teacher).  Still, I didn't like the idea of putting students' names on a board for negative behavior for everyone to see all day long (some could be embarrassed or ashamed, others may be proud--for attention).  But as I was reading, I was wondering how one could maintain control of a classroom without having a list of rules with consequences and rewards.  In chapter one it discusses classroom management as a systematic approach with solid instruction and a purposeful learning environment that keeps the students engaged in hands-on activities or group discussions that are interesting which are contributing factors to success.  I want to learn how to effectively manage a classroom (maintain control--if that is the correct term as I actually don't want to "control" students) while not being authoritarian.  It sounds like there are still rules, rewards and disciplines, and this style lacks the teaching of prosocial behavior and self-regulation that could go even further.  I do feel there has to be an understood classroom etiquette that needs to be respected in order to have an optimal learning environment, but the children need to be seen and not heard mentality disgusts me. I want them to feel comfortable asking questions, discussing material with each other, learning from each other, etc.

What I found most important in chapter 3 was  that a solution to working with problem or difficult students is to establish a positive relationship with them.  Canter (2010) states that establishing a positive relationship with students can reduce disruptive behavior by up to 50 percent.  Part of this is getting to know your students on a personal level, contacting students and parents before school begins to begin a welcoming, positive relationship, and attend extracurricular activities that show you are interested which offers students the opportunity to talk to you about things they do or are interested in.  I agree that assertive discipline does nothing to find the cause or treatment for misbehavior, it merely treats the symtoms (with discipline).  Misbehavior could be occurring as a result of stresses such as child abuse, malnourishment, rejection, insecurity, loneliness, and emotional distress.  A caring teacher can help.

Here's the thing:  I believe that many of children's/adolescent behaviors are a result of how they have been raised and their experiences.  I never really had to use an authoritative disciplinary style with my boys.  They are respectful, caring of other people's thoughts and feelings (including mine and vice versa), responsible, and never acted out in school.  And to the most part they did not act out at home with a few exceptions with my oldest son (and those were nothing major--just trying to exercise/anty up his independence).  I can honestly say that school teachers continually told me how good my sons were, and I continue to hear it on gatherings with friends and family (graduation, etc.).  So I would like to use a different method than authoritarian, because I know that repect, closeness, and praise can go a long way.  But I will be beginning with students who have had their own experiences that may be completely opposite of my own practices, so I am curious how far I can get with them with my style and earn their trust.  How long would it take to earn that trust???

Engagement level: 7

Choice: Catch-up on Past Assignments

Updating participation rubric and catching up on past assignments.

Schema and Focus
Plan: Tease out the areas of the worksheets that didn't get completed and complete them in the time suggested on the worksheets.  Try to get as much done as possible so I can be current and not behind.  I hate being behind!  Organize worksheets, label first group of handouts as 1, 2nd handouts as 2, 3rd as 3, and 4th as 4.  Write "done" on the top of each worksheet that is complete.  Time spent = 20-30 min. 

Reflection:  At this time, I am still not yet able to force myself to stop at end of the suggested amount of time to work on an assignment and move on to the next without feeling disappointed and frustrated.  I find that I want to complete it fully and satisfactorally.  I spent way more than the allotted 100min b/c, but I had a lot of work to do, and it is NOT due to procrastination. How do you compromise in your mind what has to be done with lack of completion?  This is an area I need to work on with myself. However, I am able to do piece-work on worksheets, meaning, I can complete one of the several tasks on a worksheet, that which I feel is most pressing, and come back to the others later.  This is a step forward for me.

It's interesting that on this Choice worksheet it says, "Learners need to make their own decisions about when, how, and what 'bits' to learn in any learning task.  Learners who lose the ability to make decisions are 'depowered.'"  I feel like I have to do it all and learn it all to do these assignments and get the most out of it and that we are going to be graded on this when you evaluate what we have done and/or learned (that grade-reward-punishment mentality that is still fixed in my mind).  Yet, the new behavior has been to make the choice to do the tasks when and how I decide it is best for me to do it.  I am steps.  I realize this serves to empower us, but it doesn't feel empowering yet.  I also realize this is a result of having difficulty assimilating or accomoding or changing my existing schema! 

Engagement Level: 6

Vygotsky and the Three Bears

How do we know when it's just right?  TLW read an article regarding learning theory and connect it to other ideas about which we have discussed and read.

1. As you read, monitor your schema as it related to learning theory.  How is the reading fitting within your pre-existing schema?
2.  Record where:
a.  your understanings are supported.
Children are naturally inclined to want to learn, a positive atmosphere and praise promotes learning and mistakes are ok-they are a part of the learning process, social interaction helps learning, insight gained by listening to others and verbalizing our own thoughts, give tools to learn with that are fun and engaging, challenge at a level that is not overwhelming,celebrate learning that has occurred, language or a story is used to tap existing schema to make learning and assimilation or accomodation easier, not too soft-not too hard-just right or just enough to challenge (like porridge).
b. your understanding are extended.
All higher functions originate as as actual relationships as individuals which infers the early development of schema a little different than I had imagined it, it can be inferred that some of the kindergartners were struggling doing a task that made more sense to others--some may not have been able to put blocks together like others, and the girl didn't understand the number 2, reflection is key to figuring out what is going on with the learners in a classroom-who gets it and who doesn't and where the difficulty may be stemming from.
c. your understanding are challenged.  I didn't really have any challenges with understanding.

A commonly known language (story) that was simple was used to convey the learning theory.  It took advantage of existing schema and added to it.  It also used visuals to make it easier (the three bears, the house, the kitchen, the porridge, similar to the ironing used by Cambourne)  This builds on the previous lesson from Cambourne's Teaching-Learning-Language and reinforces the learning theory.  Using the existing schema made it easier to understand and learn what was being taught by making connections.

Engagement level: 10


For 7/19/11: What role does language play in learning? TLW use the strategy of making connections to develop further understanding about learning.

Cambourne discusses conditions necessary for learning and motivation for learning.  First, for the journey from novice to expert there has to be a need (reason, purpose, motive, desire, intent, commitment) to learn.  The process of learning happens by demonstration, engagement, transformation, discussion, application, and evaluation. Basically this article shows how connections are made in learning by explaining the processes of learning to iron.  The steps are listed below.  Central to this is understanding that language, how we present lessons, is important to their learning and how existing schema is used to learn new things or may need to be altered somewhat, because the way in which one interprets is a function of all of the experiences that one has ever had.  The explanations of the learning process in ironing helped me to make connections in the steps that students use to learn new things.  I was using existing schema and it was transforming what I already knew to apply how students (and adults) learn as I was picturing what he was saying with language and processes I understood.  Cambourne also showed the disconnect and lack of learning that takes place when jargon is used that one doesn't understand--he showed this with trying to learn math in a language that he could not understand, thus couldn't learn.

Demonstration (actions and artifacts) are the raw material from which our students construct their meanings.  Questions to ask self: Am I demonstrating what I intennd to demonstrate?  Are my learners engaging with what I intend to demonstrate?  Must have the attention of the students with something that is interesting or presenting it in a way that is interesting.  Language must be meaningful and can connect with what the learner already knows and what she or he needs to know.  Speak in a way that they can understand what you are saying.

Engagement: Principles of engagement
1.  Learners are more likely to engage deeply with demonstrations if they believe that they are capable of ultimately learning or doing whatever is being demonstrated.
2.  Learners are more likely to engage deeply with whatever is being demonstrated if they believe that learning this has some potential value, purpose and use for them.
3.  Learners are more likely to engage with demonstrations if they're free from anxiety.
4.  Learners are more likely to engage with demonstrations given by someone they like, repsect, admire, trust, and would like to emulate.

Transformation is when one knows and understands, thus should be able to explain what was learned in own in his own words while still maintaining its truth value. Schema is transformed (reconstructed or accommodated) where their old knowledge incorporates the new understandings from demonstrations.

Discussion: Learning has a social dimension to it.  Learning, thinking, knowing, and understanding are significantly enhanced when one isprovided with opportunities for talking one's way to meaning.

Application is trying to resolve a problem that includes the above steps in the process.  Here the freedom to approximate  (make mistakes, and be wrong) is an important component.  Eliminate punishment for wrong answers, encourage practice and working through the mistakes.

Evaluation: Potential learners are constantly evaluating their own performance as they engage, discuss, trasform and apply.  Students should be asking, how am I going?  Learners need feedback to evaluate their performance.  Needs to be an authentic, supportive relationship between teacher and learner.

Engagement level: 7

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Stanford Report

For 7/14/11 TLW read a scholarly article using the asking questions comprehension strategy. What's important?  Even Geniuses Work Hard by Carol S. Dweck

Reading with Meaning.

"You can be as smart as you want to be."  Where is she going with this?

Ahhhhhhh, we already went over this with the previous reading and with the visitors that came to our classroom.  Sorry, but I don't have any questions and cannot read with a purpose for questions, because I already know what this is all about.  I read the first paper New study yields instructive results on how mindset affects learning before class and did the reading and highlighting with the importance of identifying key points.  I am a deep reader anyway, so honestly, I know how to ask questions and reflect on answers that I find or infer where a story is going or what I think the answers will be.  I am an avid reader.  Plus I read this paper a few days ago, but forgot I read it until I got into the first paragraph.  I do agree with her thoughts.
Engagement level 4 b/c already familiar with it, but that was my fault.

Stanford Report

For 7/14/11: TLW read a scholarly article using the determining importance comprehension strategy.

Processes I use when reading a scholarly journal:
1.      Read the title
2.      Read the abstract
3.      Look at the headings of the sections
4.      Look at bold or italicized words in the text
5.      Focus on the topic sentence to get a better idea of what is to come in the paragraph
6.      Consider the experiment used; bias or no bias, validity, size of experimental group, use of control group, use of other literature cited
7.      Is the author a good source himself/herself; a professional, experience

I found that in the first go-round I highlighted more info than I needed to.  The second go-round included on that which I really needed to know. 

Engagement level: 8, b/c I found the topic of the paper that I was reading interesting, "New study yields instructive results on how mindset affects learning."  We also had guest speakers that made the topic even more interesting on fixed vs. growth mindsets that was interactive.  Another task that we participation/group discussions.  Focus was on quality teaching and learning: facilitating a growth mindset!

right environment, right support, but limited
phenotypic plasticity
desire to pursue
belief that they can
hunger for learning

not listening, not open to change
lack of desire to be challenged
intelligence inborn
value being smart above all else
staying in comfort zone
small zone
constricted-only do what good at
fear of failure

Teacher with fixed mindset tremendously impacts fear, treatment, learning, and growth potential of students.

Note to self:  I am sure that the intention is to teach quality, but the effect is quantity over quality.  Too scattered and too much.  I can multi-task, but this is ridiculous.  And I don’t like leaving something in the middle of it and coming back much later when I have more time.  Priority is key; have to make decisions on what to set aside?  I don’t like the idea of coming back to something much later, to find I have to start over to refresh everything again to know what I have to do.  I will not teach this way.  It is frustrating and overwhelming.

Talked with Coffee and Rierson.  They listened to my frustration and really heard me.  No judgment.  Explained and validated thoughts I was having about why they might be teaching this way.  Priorities and recognize how teachers working too hard all of the time get burnt out.  Tammy needs to learn to take time for herself and for others.  :( 

Questioning a Teacher

For 7/13/11: TLW post on questions that ask teachers about how thy facilitate learning environments.

Reflection on Favorite teachers:  Were a couple of college professors because they took the time to converse, discuss topics that fascinated me in more depth, offered reading suggestions outside of the course content that stimulated me and made me passionate about biology, and were engaged with my continued interests and successes.  They took personal interest and went above and beyond their duties as an instructor.
25 questions to ask a teacher about how he facilitates a learning environment:
1.       How do you keep students engaged?
2.      How do you know if students are learning?
3.      How do you deal with students who are at different levels in a classroom?
4.      How do you make an uninteresting topic or subject interesting?
5.      How do you deal with unmotivated students?
6.      How do you deal with students who have severe personal problems?
7.      How often do you use project-based learning as opposed to traditional style?
8.      How do you teach for standardized tests?
9.      How do you keep yourself motivated day after day when so many kids seem uninterested in learning?
10.  How do you keep up with your field of study in light of your busy schedule?
11.  How do you deal with the dynamic of parents not being participatory in their child’s education?
12.  How do you deal with kids’ religious beliefs that conflict with the topics taught (e.g., evolution)?
13.  In grading, do you give kids non-graded quizzes and pre-tests in preparation for exam?
14.  How do you deal with kids who miss a lot; how do you spend time relating material that they missed since you can’t go over things again and again in class.
15.  Since all students learn individually, how do you deal with a class of 30 students?
16.  Is it important to get parents involved in classroom activities?
17.  Do you believe in students teaching students?
18.  How important is it to befriend your students?
19.  How much homework do you give your students in light of the fact that high-need kids can’t take much time to do it?
20.  Regarding above, if you don’t assign much homework, how can you adequately get through all the material required by standards and really ensure that kids are getting the most out of the lessons with long-term retention?
21.  How important is it to bring in outside specialists to work with kids on science projects?
22.  How do you find the contacts for professional or specialists in fields who want to work with kids?
23.  Do you think it is important to teach topics that the kids can relate to the real world and their future careers?
24.  How important are field trips to students’ education?
25.  Do you integrate other subject in your lessons?

I posted the 5 most important questions to me previously, and I received a response from Rierson.  All of the questions I chose because I want to be the best teacher that I can be, and I want to create an environment and lesson plans with realistic expectations that will foster the best growth in learning for my students.  I want them to be a success in my class as well as in future classes. I hope to be a help in enhancing their success when they get out in the world and be productive individuals in the workforce.

Engagement level: 10. I enjoyed reflecting and thinking about what was important to me in facilitating a learning environment.


For 7/13/11: What can we expect in this course
TLW ask questions to clarify the meaning and purpose for our course.

Reading with meaning: Questions before, during and after reading.

July 13
Reading questions/reading assignment

Questions I have before reading
1.      What is this course all about?
2.      How much homework will we have?
3.      Do I have the texts or other materials that I need?
4.      Will there be other reading materials on BB?
5.      How much will the texts be used?  Will I feel like I have wasted my money for just a little bit of reading?
6.      How long is the course?
7.      Are there any projects, research papers, or other big assignments?
8.      Rubric?
3. Yes, I do
7. Yes, presentation, reflections, projects
4. Yes, supplemented on BB
8. Provided
6. Wow, 3 semesters!
5. Extremely little in summer semester, don’t know about the other 2 semesters.
1. Preparing us to be pros at facilitating learning environments that include standards, student motivation, promotes effective learning by teaching styles and addressing student needs, trusting, respectful classroom atmosphere.  Gives us the necessary tools in our learning process and build upon the.

Questions I have during reading
1.      Wondering what prevention is in the rubric?
2.      What is critical incident?
1.      Describe which classroom management model(s) that we have researched best fits your beliefs, values, experience and the students  you expect to work with.
Questions I have after reading
I am concerned with the amount of work and the amount of time available to complete it all in the best form possible.  It seems to against the pedagogy that college of ed. teaches which is not to give so much work and new material that is too overwhelming.  It seems like it is very quantity based while wanting the best quality at the same time.  How can we produce the best products possible when we have to prioritize the time we can expend between the many time-consuming, scattered assignments?  I can tell you that this shows me what I will not do in my classroom.   
 I understand now, after conversations with you, about why you are doing things the way you are doing it.  Priorities that we need to learn to set, come back to things later when you can, help to prevent teachers from getting burnt out and helping us to recognize the signs in the paths that we choose to take.

I posted any unanswered questions that I found helpful in understanding the purpose of the course in Discussion Board.

Engagement level: 2  Sorry, this was a boring assignment, lol.