Standard 4 Pedagogy: Engages students in learning experiences that are meaningful, stimulating, and empirically proven to promote intellectual growth.
One thing I know for sure is that learning never ceases. I continue to grow as an educator through the insight of my colleagues, the wisdom of my students, the knowledge of experts, and the reflection of my own teaching. As my professional development expands, my repertoire of instructional strategies increase. As I add new strategies to my tool kit, I have learned that there is not one teaching style or instructional strategy that fits the mold for each student. I know that I need to consistently adapt challenging curriculum that is based on the diverse needs of each student. With such a variation of academic and social skills in one classroom it is important that all diverse needs and interests are met to improve student learning. Rather than giving students more work at the same level, I want all students to be engaged in high-level thinking. Students may have the same task but varied responses should be accepted based on students’ needs. Students should also have a range of strategies to choose from that help them develop or deepen skills taught using the curriculum. Since students’ learning styles vary it is important that I provide many ways to access the curriculum. For example, students may respond to the learning in writing, a presentation, art, sharing in groups/partners, activity stations, acting it out, using models, paper and pencil, whiteboards, interviews, ect. I have learned that the strategies teachers use need to be determined by assessment of students’ learning styles, interests, needs and academic levels.
I continue to value the importance of accessing prior knowledge, providing background knowledge, and connecting new learning to experiences students may have had. In my classroom, students share prior knowledge that might help them with the new learning objective. Adding to their schema helps students make connections to new learning. Students also have many opportunities to share and model academic skills with their partners so they are getting multiple opportunities to practice and receive support. For example, students participate in think-share-pair activities in which each student has his/her own time to think and write down a response. Then each student shares with his/her partner. They then decide as a pair what they will share with the class. Students are improving their learning because they have to explain the learning to someone else and problem solve to agree on a mutual response. If a student doesn’t understand the learning they have an opportunity for someone else to explain. This is a chance for them to hear the learning presented in a different way and gives them an opportunity to feel successful. I also explicitly teach expectations and provide opportunities for students to share and work together. This way all students feel a part of a safe learning environment and know that their contributions are valued. Students are more willing to share their ideas and learn from each other.
In order to implement strategies that meet the diverse needs of all students, I have learned to adapt the existing curriculum to meet the needs of all students. For example, students are paired together by their fluency levels and read passages that are at their level. Every student has the opportunity to enhance his/her learning because they are working on developing fluency with a passage that is at their instructional level. Students are more engaged in the fluency practice because they are responsible for tracking their partners reading and graphing their own progress. Through my course work, I have learned the value of setting clear objectives and providing feedback. Marzano states that students should be provided with information regarding their progress toward the target (Marzano, 2007, p. 12). Reinforcing effort and providing recognition are important so students can see a direct relationship between how hard they work and how much they learn (Marzano, 2007, p. 14). The graph has helped students build confidence because they can see the growth they are making each day.
The course, Survey of Instructional Strategies, allowed me to reflect on my own teaching style and use of Direct Instruction. I think Direct Instruction allows me to provide clear direction for instruction and expectations for meeting the learning target. Direct Instruction guides students through the learning process. It helps them make connections between the learning activities and how they apply to what they are expected to learn. Students are able to see explicit modeling of the learning and have guided practice with support prior to demonstrating the learning target during independent practice. Although there is the misconception that direct instruction is teacher-directed with little student input, I have recognized the value of using Direct Instruction as a foundation to support other instructional strategies such as cooperative learning. In my classroom, I want to ensure students consistently accept responsibility for their behavior individually and as group members and are able to take a leadership role in collaborative work. Students are working on assessing their own behavior and contributions as individuals and as group members. I am working on increasing opportunities for students to work with learning partners. Students are expected to complete self- and partner assessments to assess their contribution throughout each activity. Students also have the opportunity to think/pair/share often throughout lessons. Students are asked to use content vocabulary and explain their thinking. It is my goal that all students will understand the value of collaborative work and demonstrate the skills needed to take a leadership role.
Dean, Hubble, Pitler, & Stone (2012) state, “An underlying purpose of cooperative learning is to make each group member a stronger individual in his her own right” (p.35). Cooperative learning provides a structure for students to learn from one another. It allows each student to engage and participate in the learning. Students are not only engaged in learning the content but are developing social skills and positive relationships with their peers. Cooperative learning techniques help students develop social skills, promote student self-esteem and help to provide positive race relations. The five components of cooperative learning include “positive interdependence, face-to-face interaction, individual accountability, social skills development, and group processing opportunities” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 246). My students created group expectations connected to the five elements of cooperative learning so they were accountable for expectations they agreed would lead to a positive learning environment. I used these expectations to create individual and group assessments so all members were held accountable.
The course, Survey of Instructional Strategies, has opened my eyes to a world of instructional strategies that can be adapted and modified to meet the needs of my students. I know that the knowledge I gain is the most powerful when I am able to put it into practice and then reflect on its effectiveness. My goal is to continue to use assessment to learn about my students’ needs and interests. This will determine the decisions I make about instructional strategies that will positively impact students’ learning.
Courtney Swanson’s Video Lesson Write-up This artifact includes my lesson plan and the youtube link to my video lesson that focuses on the instructional strategy: non-linguistic representations.
Implementation of Strategies This artifact demonstrates my ability to apply the strategies in my classroom.
Dean, C., Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd ed.). Denver: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.
Dell’Olio, J. & Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching: Connection Student Learning With Standards. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc..
Marzano, R. (2007). Art and Science of Teaching. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.