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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Student Teaching Week 9

This week was tough due to the fact that I was not feeling well; I stocked my area with tissues and hand sanitizer and convinced myself it was time to make it through the week. The students, for the most part, were respectful of the fact that I wasn’t feeling well and were generally cooperative and willing to work. I feel like things went rather well this week as I continue to come to grips with the fact that it is now Spring and students aren’t exactly excited about sitting in the classroom while the sun is shining and the temperature rising.

As I continue to plan for classes I have been trying to be more aware of involving students in a meaningful way. This means less lecture and more activities! Coincidentally, the reading from the Wongs’ talked this week about increasing student learning. They covered several areas of interest, and after reading several of them I either felt convicted or comforted. Some of the things that I have been trying to do fall into place with what the Wongs are saying; on the other hand, I’m beginning to realize how much work it takes to do less work in the classroom. To put it in their words, “the effective teacher has the students spend time working and earning their own achievement and success”[1] while “the person who does the work is the only one doing the learning.”[2] That being said, the students should be putting in more work into the class session.

Another interesting (and vitally important) point made in this chapter involves students’ readiness to learn. A classroom procedure in place before I began my student teaching and one that I will take with me is this: you are expected to be prepared for class. It’s as simple as that. The text points out that “successful people prepare themselves daily for their work. That is why they are successful.”[3] In this classroom, students are expected to be prepared with materials (including paper, writing utensil, and textbook) and homework. If a student comes to class and does not have their textbook, they are permitted to go to their locker and retrieve it, but they will be marked tardy. Students have learned through this policy that there are consequences for not being prepared to learn. Although the textbook is only one piece to preparation, it seems to have shown students that they need to be ready and on time. Of course, there are still plenty of times in which students do not have supplies, but they are told that they need to get them from their peers without interrupting class.

Overall, this chapter, in conjunction with this week, was helpful for me to see that it is okay to push students and expect a lot from them. I should set expectations and follow through with them. “Follow through” is my goal for this upcoming week (and the weeks to come.) In U.S. history we talked about the Cold War. I used this cartoon to illustrate how the different sides were “battling” against each other, and asked the students, “what good would arrows do in a battle when you have atomic bombs?” followed by “what do these arrows represent?” I got some good responses, but the overall theme was that the arrows represented threats—ineffective ones at that. While I’m not afraid of retaliation for using my “bombs” (detention, staying after class, etc.), I do need to hold students accountable for their actions. When I say  I’m going to use a punishment, I should actually do it (as opposed to asking repeatedly.) Although this will be a challenge for me, it will be a really helpful attitude as I finish out the year!

[1] Wong, H. K., and Wong, R. The First Days of School (Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, 2004) 200

[2] 206

[3] 203

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

Student Teaching: Week 8

This week was short for me due to the fact that the students had two days to work on their research papers in the computer lab and the World history class took a test. However, this was a good week to reflect on having a well-managed classroom after reading The First Days of School. Among many things, this week I was encouraged to think about the objectives for each lesson and to make sure that students understand the main objectives for their learning as well. Maybe that sounds obvious, but a good example of this would be the activity that I did the with World history classes on Wednesday. As a wrap-up for our Ancient Rome unit before a review day and test, I decided that the class would work in groups to create skits that portray various aspects of daily life in Rome. As the students were working, one student asked me if they were being graded on this activity. It got me thinking that sometimes students do not understand the purpose of an activity and it is my job not to convince them that it is important, but to show them how it helps them learn.

On the other hand, I feel that another class this week proved to go very well and the objectives and student achievement were much more obvious. On Wednesday, the American history class talked about Japanese internment during World War II. I used a number of instructional strategies during the class session, and I saw more clearly than ever before how a compelling or interesting curriculum is the best treatment for classroom management issues. During the class I used a number of different activities including using music, reading aloud, lecture, discussion, and photographs to keep students interested and I don’t recall ever having to ask a student to stop talking (which is a usual occurrence!)

It is my goal to continue to work on these practices in order to create a classroom where students can always expect to be engaged and ready to learn!

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Educating Exceptional Students

The attached document is a brief, albeit wordy, presentation regarding “specific learning disabilities with an emphasis on reading within the context of a high school social studies classroom.” Although written over a year before I entered the classroom for my internship, my interest in literacy spurred me to learn more about reading disabilities. Much of my research yielded results on how to help students with reading difficulties in the classroom. I have made an effort to apply many of the strategies in my classroom. Even for students who are not labeled as having a learning disability in reading, they can benefit from using these strategies. One in particular that has been extremely beneficial as I work with certain students has been the idea of model thinking. By reading aloud and then walking students through my thought process verbally, they begin to see how they can think through some of their struggles.

Specific Learning Disabilities and Inclusion

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Filed under L1: Learner centered, T2: Intentionally planned

Teaching Secondary Social Studies

Throughout this course I learned about the importance of integrating different subjects into my social studies lessons. It has become apparent to me throughout my internship that students can retain more information when they are able to make connections to prior knowledge or are able to see the relevance of their classwork. That being said, it is essential that I intentionally plan lessons that allow students to draw on knowledge from other classes that they are taking. One activity in this unit specifically requires students to work as a factory owners and families to see how wages and cost of living were very important during the Industrial Revolution; the math portion of this activity gave students the opportunity to strengthen their skills while giving certain students the potential ability to use their math talents. In addition to math, I make every effort to include reading and writing into the class on a daily basis in order to strength their skills and give them the opportunity to practice outside of the Language Arts classroom. By using integration across the content areas, students begin to see the importance and relevancy of the learning taking place in the classroom.

Unit Plan

Lesson Plans

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School Culture Study

Acting as a professional is important in any position, but with the teacher position comes many responsibilities. It has been pointed out to me time and time again (and I have indeed seen for myself) that teachers play a multitude of roles besides someone who simply passes on bits of information to student minds. Teachers have an ethic and legal responsibility to ensure that students are not being neglected or abused; students should feel safe and respected within their school and teachers have the job of allowing that to happen. It is important that teachers understand the fact that they will do far more than teach a particular subject. The attached document attests to the fact that I understand the legal responsibilities that I have as a a teacher to report abuse.

School Culture Study

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