Monthly Archives: May 2010

Student Teaching: Week 10

This week was a good opportunity for me to exercise my new-ish and improving classroom management skills. On Monday, things were a bit hectic. The juniors were gone on a field trip, and I was once against asked to sub for the freshmen English classes. This meant that I spend all day with the same students, and I am proud to say that I stood my ground in the classroom management area! There were several times in which students were acting in ways that I felt inappropriate, and I had to follow through with consequences for their actions. It was an improvement over last week, that’s for sure!

Wednesday though Friday went well, again considering the fact that we are rapidly nearing the end of the school year! I have begun to modify my lessons to include less lecture and note-taking and more group work with some sort of assignment due at the end of the period to hold the students accountable.

One thing that I have continued to think about from last week’s reading is the fact that the students should be doing, essentially, more work than the teacher. As a result, I tried using different activities this week that gave students the opportunity to work together to learn while I walked around the room, keeping students on tasks and answering questions. I’ll admit that I enjoyed it very much; the students enjoy interacting with one another and I enjoy the fact that I am not at the front of the room the entire class period telling students what to do!

While last week’s readings were helpful, but I cannot exactly say I feel the same way about this week’s reading from The First Days of School. Quite frankly, I did not think it “the most important unit in the book for [me] personally.”[1] Many of the ideas either seemed like broad generalizations or rather restrictive categories. Either way, it is important to analyze our behavior and reasons behind our actions. I think much of that can be done through self-reflection and input from others around you. In addition, it is important for teachers (both old and new) to seek to better themselves through more education and keeping up with new information.


[1] P. 271

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Professional Development Plan

This Professional Development Plan is only the beginning of my reflections as a teacher. This document demonstrates how I have grown as a reflective teacher that is committed to professional and growth-centered practice. The strategies mentioned in this document are ideas that I will continue to use throughout my career as I continually develop and grow as a teacher.

Professional Development Plan

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Filed under P2: Enhanced by reflective, collaborative, professional growth-centered practice

Japanese Internment in World War II: Lesson Plan

I wanted to share this lesson that I created for the American history class. I felt like the lesson went really well; students were engaged and shared some very meaningful responses to the lesson afterwards. As I planned this lesson I tried to focus on having a variety of activities to keep students interest throughout the period. By starting with a song by an artist that most of the students would know, I could tell that they were eager to hear more about how the song related to our topic for the day. The reading excerpt that students read in class and finished as homework details the life of a Japanese American girl living in the Seattle area during World War II. As the students read about her experience, they could recognize landmarks and cities from their own area, which helped them make more personal connections to the story. Finally, in the PowerPoint lecture I tried to include pictures that would show students how severe the situation was for many people. The pictures were also helpful in showing students how the city of Seattle was affected during this time.

The attached documents include the lesson plan, song lyrics, PowerPoint, and reading excerpts used in class.

Japanese Internment lesson plan

Kenji lyrics

Japanese Internment

Nisei Daughter

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Filed under T2: Intentionally planned, T3: Influenced by multiple instructional strategies, Uncategorized

Standard P: Understanding Teaching as a Profession

One practice that has been exceptionally beneficial for me throughout my internship has been self-reflection. At the end of each lesson I take several minutes to reflect on what went well, what went wrong, and what I will do next time to improve. Sometimes it is as simple as changing the instructions that I give to the students, sometimes I have to realize that the ideas I found so wonderful in my head just did not materialize the way I had anticipated. Overall, teaching is one profession where no two days will be alike, and my performance not only affects myself, but hundreds of other people each and every day. I view my reflecting and desire for improvement as nothing short of an obligation to my students; they deserve a quality education and it is my job to do that and do it well.

I value student input in my teaching and planning. For that reason, I sometimes ask students how they felt a particular activity or assessment went for them. This gives me the opportunity to see how students view my teaching and planning. I also take into consideration student participation and interest when assessing myself. For example, one particular lesson stands out in my mind as one where students were extremely interested in the subject matter; much of the lesson was based off of their previously expressed desires to learn about gladiators during our unit on Ancient Rome. Both during and after class, students told me how interesting class was and, as reflected in their assessment afterwards, it seemed to be something that they remembered well. I planned this lesson based off of their reaction to previous lessons and their requests to learn more about a certain topic.

All of the self-reflection in the world could not fix some lessons; this shows the importance of community and communication among other teachers and administration throughout the school. This not only provides a fluency found in healthy communities, but it gives students the opportunity to know what is expected of them. Although some rules may vary from class to class, students have the right to know what is expected of them and their behavior. I strongly believe that a faculty and staff comprised of people who are passionate about their profession and are committed to their responsibilities will produce effective teachers and responsive learners.

A safe and respectful learning environment does not, unfortunately, seem to come naturally to high school students. For this reason, to say that we need consistency among teachers is not enough. The important thing is that we are all consistently modeling ethical behavior and that we are encouraging our students to do the same. Understanding the legal and ethical procedures in education is vital to the survival of an effective learning environment. Again, being in a private, Christian school for my internship has added an additional element to this idea in that not only am I forming my attitude and actions from ethical ideas, I am encouraged to share faith with students. This can be done in a number of ways, but most commonly I simply take the time to explain to students the reasons behind certain actions and consequences.

All students deserve access to a quality education, and much of that learning can take place only when the student feels like their environment is safe and secure for them. As a professional, a teacher, and a caring adult, it is my responsibility to make sure that I do whatever I can to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed.

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Filed under P3: Informed by legal and ethical responsibilities, P: Understanding of Teaching as a Profession

Standard T: Knowledge of Teaching

It seems that not many students are always comfortable with the idea of thinking critically or abstractly about how they learn. What I mean by this is the fact that many students need to be taught how to think about their learning processes and, with practice, can articulate how the process works for them. This is important on many levels, and it specifically helps students understand their progress and achievement.

Standard T1 shows that the work is “informed by standards-based assessment (analysis using formative, summative, and self-assessment.)” While planning different assessments throughout my internship, I have spent a great deal of time researching both the Washington State Classroom Based Assessments and different standards for the social studies. Another important part of standards-based assessment is the idea that students are well-aware of the expectations for their performance. By giving students specific criteria, including a detailed rubric, they know exactly what to expect and know what they need to do to succeed. Not only are my lessons informed by standards-based assessments, but they are very intentionally planned in that the standards are deliberately chosen to help students create their own product that aligns with several state social studies EALRs.

In addition to providing clear expectations for students, it is important to me that students feel that they have the opportunity to succeed. I attempt to do this by providing a variety of options for students that appeal to different learning styles. While it is easy for me to simply lecture for 40 minutes about history, this is certainly not the answer for every class session. Instead, I have tried a variety of strategies and approaches to lessons to see how students react to them. During this time, student achievement, attitude, and feedback are all taken into consideration to see whether or not it worked well. Even within one class session, I have tried using multiple strategies spread throughout the class with shorter activities. This might mean that there is a short lecture followed by silent reading, group work time, individual responses, and class discussion. By using different strategies, students are engaged in learning as they need to be paying attention to the changes. However, this can take time to accomplish as some students may struggle with the changes in strategies. I have found that providing clear verbal and written instructions helps a considerable amount.

One strategy that seems to be both a great advantage and challenge is technology. Students are increasingly familiar with different technologies that can be extremely useful in the classroom, but there is also plenty of room for students to misuse time and resources when using certain technologies, like the internet or computers. I personally try to use different technologies as often as possible for several reasons. The first, and probably most influential, is the fact that students today are so used to technology that they come to expect it. Modeling good “digital citizenship” is extremely important today and I believe that it is one of my many roles as a teacher to show students how to correctly use technology. The other reason for using it is quite simple: it is convenient! After an incident where several students used information directly copied from the internet to write an essay, I have made it a point to give credit for all of my sources when I create a PowerPoint presentation or use photographs or other media in the classroom. By showing students the proper way to use technology, I can demonstrate to them the positive relationship between the use of technology and learning.

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Standard L: Knowledge of Learners and Their Development in Social Contexts

Throughout my internship experience I have come to realize just how many potential roles the teacher can play in the classroom. In addition to planning classes that engage students and encourage them to participate, a certain understanding of how students learn and how they connect with others is vital. Each moment in the classroom should be a chance for them to learn more about themselves and how they interact with others. Having a classroom management plan is only part of the issue; instead, teachers must be equipped with the knowledge of how and why students act and learn the way that they do, how students interact with others, and how they will continue to interact with all of their surroundings.

It is important for students to learn and practice life skills when in the classroom. This affects the way that they interact with me as the teacher, as well as their peers and ideally carries over into the way that they interact with people outside of school. That being said, there are a number of measures I can take to ensure that my students are learning how to be responsible citizens. Assigning students to group activities is one way in which I try to practice these attitudes in the classroom. In addition, I see it as a daily responsibility of mine to work with students to encourage them to treat others the way that they want to be treated. This can work in many ways, but one of the most common usually means that if a student is being disrespectful towards someone or something, I take them aside and discuss with them how their actions and words affect other people. This has become especially helpful in working with the freshmen classes; I have already seen a transformation in some students with the way that they interact with others.

In addition to learning skills to succeed inside and out of the classroom, I have found it fascinating to learn more about how students learn and what motivates them. Of course, every student is different so there is no way to learn everything about each one, much less predict his or her exact behaviors. However, I have found that many students are willing to share with me what I can do to help them, and taking the time to know them personally has made a dramatic difference with several of them. For example, there is a particular student that struggles with motivation and getting his work in on time. For this student, I initiated conversations outside of class to the point where he now feels comfortable to talk with me about his interests and passions. This has led to me find topics that interest him and help him incorporate those into daily lessons or assignments. On a broader scheme, I try to regularly take the time to ask for student input on what works for them, what they want to learn about, and if they enjoyed a particular lesson. This gives me the opportunity to understand what works for them.

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Standard S: Subject Matter and Curriculum Goals

Being nearly two months into teaching, planning ahead has never been so important. As I develop new lessons and units, I have been very aware of state and school standards to help guide my thinking. Being at a private school gives me a unique perspective on these standards as I draw from them and supplement them with school-specific standards. In addition to the influence that these standards have on my planning, I take into account the level and ability of my students as well as their individual interests and passions. Throughout my internship and time at Seattle Pacific, I have had many experienced teachers inform me of the importance of a compelling curriculum. Student engagement and interest plays an extremely influential role in how I have continued to plan and is a skill that I have begun to develop. A key aspect of student engagement and learning has to do with their ability to make connections to either outside content areas or prior knowledge. Tapping into this resource is extremely important and has allowed students to flourish and succeed.

It is important for students to understand the purpose of learning. Each time I begin a unit, I give students an overview of what they can expect from me and what kind of work I expect from them. Before introducing a new topic, I review the previous one in order to help students make connections from one to the next. In doing this, students are given a purpose for their learning and they can be sure that the things we are doing in class were deliberately planned. Furthermore, a school-wide practice that I will adopt into my future teaching plans is that teachers share at the beginning of each lesson a daily objective. This guides student thinking and expectations and allows them to see a purpose for the class session.

Integration of various subject matters is extremely important for student learning and engagement. When students are able to make connections to previous knowledge, they will be more likely to remember the material. That being said, it is also important to help students develop additional skills that may not appear obvious in certain subject areas. For me, reading and writing go hand-in-hand with the social studies. When planning my lessons, I am continually trying to think of different ways in which I can incorporate reading and writing into the lessons. Researching different reading strategies and writing activities has helped, and one of the things on which I focus is bringing in material that students may not typically see in a history classroom. For example, one specific lesson that I recently conducted in the American history class involved the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This lesson is a strong example of how I incorporated reading and writing into history while accessing prior knowledge that the students had. Earlier in the school year, the students heard a guest speaker share about their experience living in an internment camp. I first asked students in the class to share with me what the learned and remembered from the speaker. After sharing more information about the internment camps, I gave students a copy of excerpts from a novel that shares the personal experiences of a Japanese American girl living in Seattle during World War II. After starting the reading together in class, they were to finish reading the selection on their own and then write a one page response to the reading. Part of what made this lesson so successful, I believe, was that students were interested in the material and were given a homework assignment that was meaningful to them. The lesson also gave them another chance to improve their reading and writing skills, which is something I strive to do as often as possible.

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