Monday, November 26, 2012

Effective Instruction (BLOG 5 for 521)

This semester, I have been surprised by the literacy levels of my students. They are able to read simple text, use basic vocabulary words to define terms, and communicate using simple English. However, they are not able to communicate in academic English, dissect text and make sense of word problems, and spell terms correctly.

September 30, 2013
To support students' learning I will create a literacy rich classroom that helps them succeed. I will use a variety of effective instructional strategies such as integrating easy text in daily lessons, provide graphic organizers with vocabulary terms and definitions, incorporate more visuals to clarify terms and concepts, model my thinking by reading aloud to understand different words, and build on what students already know (break the term into meaningful parts that students know). My literacy rich classroom will involve a lot of hands on learning activities and projects, group work, class discussions, and less lecturing. By doing that I will provide opportunities for students to develop communication skills, and will ensure that students are engaged in their learning "Whoever does the most work, does the learning".

December 15, 2013
By that time, my literacy rich classroom will reflect students' achievements;  students will engage comfortably in academic conversations while using content vocabulary, they will be used to reading text and will be able to summarize and reflect on their readings orally and in writing, and they will be able to demonstrate their understanding in group projects and in-class activities.

May 30, 2014
At that point my students will become the experts; they will be the source of information when it comes to literacy, they will be able to research terms and definitions using technological resources available, and they will be able to demonstrate independent learning by choosing various ways to show their understanding. In addition, they will be capable of independent learning in concept exploration; they will do that by reading different texts and discussing it with each other, summarizing and reflecting on readings in class, and building on each others' perspectives. Furthermore, they will be the guide to new students who need extra support. This classroom environment supports students' success, motivates them to thrive, and engages them in myriad ways!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Project Tomorrow

Speak Up Report:

Incorporating social media and making use of students’ smartphones in classroom instruction benefits students and educators. The increasing support given by parents, schools, and districts to include mobile learning in classrooms is changing teacher practice as it is presents a critical challenge. Sharing the vision on how to personalize learning through mobile device use and social media is crucial for the future of education.
During my experience in clinical practice this semester I have come to know that students are incorporating social media and mobile device use in their learning already. Most of the students own a smartphone that they use to look up information to enhance their learning experience. It wasn’t surprising to me to read that students support technology use in education, based on my teaching experience this semester I find it essential for teachers to support this move as well to personalize learning for students. It did surprise me however to read that “87 percent of parents say that the effective implementation of technology within instruction is important to their child’s success (50 percent label it as extremely important)”, I was surprised because during parent conferences and meetings I saw many parents talking to their child about turning off his/her cellphone during class and discouraging them from the use of any type of mobile devices. I believe that cellphone use has to be incorporated with caution so it doesn’t turn to a distraction and take away from students’ learning. In my opinion, principal’s perspectives on cellphone policies as presented in the report are valid; network security, internet safety, and digital equity concerns are aspects that have to be considered. In my classroom, I encourage technology use through school devices while students ‘personal device use is kept to a minimal. Since some of my students don’t own a cellphone, I see that incorporating the use of students’ personal devices in learning during class as un-equitable. Also I fear that students will get distracted and search off-topic information. My hope is that schools will have the funds to provide more mobile devices to support the incorporation of social media in students’ learning; in that case students will be provided a safe and equal opportunity for success.

Speak Up Video:
In this video, 3 students are asked to present their opinion on the use of technology in the classroom. Students supported cell-phone use and shared the advantages of immediate “internet look up” during instruction; they emphasized that being able to learn in depth outside of book covers provides a greater opportunity for learning. They also said that looking information up when they are interested in it is way more effective than waiting until they get home, as they may forget or lose interest in the topic. The third student surprisingly disagreed on cellphone use; she stressed on the fact that students do get distracted while using their cellphones during class, and it would be much better if classroom had computers where students can use school provided devices to fulfill these needs.
It was very surprising to see how that last student discouraged cellphone use in the classroom, I believe her point is very valid; most students do get distracted when using their cellphones during class. The use of school devices is much more effective since schools provide a safe internet search where inappropriate websites are blocked, also the teacher can monitor students’ computers/iPads from her master device. Listening to students gave more confidence to trust their judgment and to include them in classroom decisions. Self-directed learning is the future of education; teachers have to support students’ interests and link them to the learning experience.

This program encourages students to explore the teaching career, it motivates students to explore math and science at an early age, and provides students with an opportunity to teach math and science lessons at an elementary school. As a result, students gain public speaking and presentation skills, develop relationships with mentors and educators, and learn about the teaching career before going to college or university. At my school site, I can implement a similar program by reaching to administrators and counseling staff; adding a career class as an elective or creating a career club can help students get a valuable career experience. This program will help students make informed decisions on what career they want to pursue after graduating high school. Creating an interest in math and science will play a vital role in our community; students can explore these fields and become interested in learning more about them. This will reflect on their college education and their career choice in the future.

Monday, November 5, 2012

21st Century Skills: Creativity in my Geometry class!

Creativity is an essential component that has to be included in daily lessons. I believe students are creative by nature and it is the teacher’s obligation to make sure that they don’t grow out of originality and imagination. To encourage creativity in my classroom I always provide my students with options; it can be options on assignments or options on tool use…. etc. Problems are posed in a way that allows various types of solutions; students choose the tools to use and also a way to solve the problem. I encourage different answers and urge students to collaborate in groups to share their ideas to reach solutions. In addition, I often solve problems incorrectly and show students the answer; this urges the students to use their judgment and think critically to suggest changes to be made to my answer. In that way they show their creative approaches to reach correct answers and become the experts on the topic. Collaboration and classroom discussions are components that are found in my classroom on daily basis. I am the mediator and the guide however the students are the ones discussing, sharing, and reinventing mathematics to teach one another.

Integration is my approach to support literacy in and beyond mathematics. I always provide graphic organizers where students can add new vocabulary words; next we use this work in a descriptive paragraph that students write at the end of each lesson. In that paragraph students write what they know about the problem, how they approached it, what conclusions they found, how they are planning to continue explore it. Furthermore, students are asked to draw a visual representation of their understanding of the topic. In this teaching approach I am integrating Mathematics, English, and Art in daily lessons to offer maximum opportunities for creativity and innovation.  In various lessons I encourage students to further research the history of the concept using media tools such as computers, smart phones, and iPads when available. As an example on this strategy, students were asked to work with country flag components and illustrate their understanding of multiple geometric topics on the flag design. I instructed students to gather data on the history of the flag and the changes that happened to it overtime. Students worked in groups to gather data, demonstrate their understanding of geometry, and write a brief summary on the flag’s history. Students are further encouraged to present their work and share with their peers various interesting facts. In this lesson, History, English, Mathematics, and Art were integrated to allow and promote creativity.

Group activities and team work is crucial for students’ life long learning and success. Nonetheless, I acknowledge the importance of independent practice and it’s effect on students who prefer self-learning. To ensure all students have the opportunity to show independent work, I plan time for independent practice in all of my lesson plans. Students have the opportunity to read problems independently and start approaching it at the beginning of each class and also have time at the end of class to complete assignment after collaboration. In my opinion, this gives the students the opportunity to understand the prompt and think of ideas, additionally at the end of class they can incorporate different ideas or choose to continue working on their own idea after exploring different perspectives. Students turn in independent work for assessment; this gives me a deep understanding of their content comprehension to inform my instruction in following lessons.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sociocultural Aspects of Schooling for ELLs

An aspect that always comes to mind when thinking of ELLs is their sense of belonging due to their limited ability to communicate in the most commonly used language at their school. Language is the essence of culture, being able to share cultural elements with others through teaching a language is motivating for all students. As a plan to address that I will work on creating Language Clubs at the school, all students can join these clubs even if they don't know the language. Contests can be organized at the school to encourage students' participation. Students can research a certain language and make presentations about it's origin, different dialects, and it's cultural aspect. I believe this will put ELLs in a position where they are the source of information or the expert rather than feeling different, it will help build their confidence and help them develop a sense of belonging as they feel valued.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson Planning & Teenage Brain

Learning about how the brain works and how it controls our actions is fascinating. Adolescents go through a lot of brain development during school years, as teachers we have to plan our lessons to help shape their teenage brain. Creating enriching environments that foster critical thinking is very important, in addition a teacher should teach to multiple intelligence to reach every student. Repetition is a key factor to help the brain grow, "When a neuron receives a message repeatedly, the connection is strengthened". To help release good brain chemicals a teacher can motivate the students through various ways such as humor, kindness, giving students choices, and positive interaction with peers helps boost these good chemicals. To help students retain information, as a teacher I try to access their active working memory and their long term memory. Developing strategies to access these lanes of the brain is very important; a teacher can accomplish that through designing graphic organizers, encouraging peer collaboration, summarizing, repeating, and most importantly trying to make emotional connections with concepts. Emotional memory is "The most powerful memory. If it takes over, you lose logic". Playing music in the class is a teaching strategy that helps access emotional memory; moreover teacher enthusiasm and knowledge of students and their interests are very important.In my lesson plan I try to incorporate this knowledge and implement teaching strategies that support my students' growth and development. Engaging students in conversations and meaningful debates about concepts is a goal of mine when designing a Math lesson. Making connections with our surroundings through Mathematics is essential to access my students' brains and motivate them to learn. Repeating concepts, summarizing, using gestures, and creating a positive atmosphere through humor and kindness are my key factors when designing a lesson.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Management Plan

Classroom Management Plan
I believe all students are capable of learning and effective teachers can reach to any student. As a teacher I am working on improving my teaching strategies and management approaches regularly to create a harmonious classroom environment. My educational philosophies that most represent me are Essentialism and Reconstructionism. These philosophies will reflect on my classroom management strategies. I identified with various discipline approaches of classroom management; cooperative discipline, inner discipline, synergetic discipline, and positive classroom. I believe through implementing these approaches in my classroom misbehaviors will diminish and students will enjoy class and further cooperate to reach success.

Preventive Approach
Preventive management approaches set students up for success, as they are implemented to avoid misbehaviors and encourage better behaviors. My preventive strategies come from the cooperative and inner discipline approaches.
1-      Catch them being good (Albert, 1989-1996). Giving students complements and showing appreciation when they are doing something good is a great way to set them up for achievement. As a teacher I keep an open eye for good behaviors, I commend them for doing a good thing and show that I noticed their action. I believe through implementing these strategies, students will show more good behaviors and therefore I am leaving less room for misbehaviors.
2-      Teach them to ask for attention (e.g. "Notice Me, Please" cards) (Albert, 1989-1996). This strategy is very helpful as it steers students to ask for help without being a distraction or an interruption. Using “notice me cards” or “help flags” students will be able to get the attention they need without disrupting the flow of the lesson.
3-      Develop rules to guide the class (Coloroso, 1994). Developing basic rules that guide the students towards meeting expectations and making better decisions is essential. Students can also share their input and develop class rules themselves to create the classroom environment they want and expect.
4-      Hold class discussions on the rules, their implications, and their consequences (Coloroso, 1994). I believe this goes hand in hand with “Class meetings to address class activities and behaviors” (Kohn 1996) .Regular classroom meetings and discussions are crucial to maintain an ongoing flow of the lessons. Coming up with new rules or adjusting previous rules to fit current needs is very important. Reminding students of class rules and asking them on which rules they think works or doesn’t work is a very good approach. I believe this reflects my Reconstructive educational philosophy.
5-      Include students in decision-making & problem solving (Kohn, 1996). This reflects my previous point as to students developing their classroom rules as well as the teacher. Coming up with rules that fit everyone is vital for preventing misbehaviors and promoting ownership of the learning process.
6-      Creating spaces in the classroom where our students can feel comfortable (Jackson, 2010). Appreciating students’ different strength and skills and respecting their background and culture is very important, doing that will help students develop a sense of belonging to the class. Creating a classroom community where all students feel valued is a great approach to prevent any behavioral issues.

Supportive Approach
Supportive management approaches are very important to maintain a positive classroom environment. I have come to understand that supporting good behaviors through showing my appreciation and commending students for their actions is key.
1-      Classrooms with a sense of community are more likely to develop caring and responsible students (Kohn 1996). Through regular classroom meetings students can develop a sense of community where they feel responsible for their own learning. I will work on implementing this strategy by having classroom meetings weekly to discuss with students current problems and promote good behaviors.
2-      Establish classroom discipline upon a basis of dignity and hope (Mendler, 1983). Giving students hope that they can succeed even if they are experiencing struggles is very important. Supporting them and directing them towards facing these problems is very important, realizing that ignoring their struggles will lead to misbehaviors, and pushing them towards the right path while respecting them and acknowledging their effort is essential.
3-      Class meetings to address class activities and behaviors (Kohn 1996). Maintaining regular class meetings is very important. I plan on being consistent with these meeting to support and promote good behaviors.
4-      Give students opportunity to solve their problems. Ask them how they plan to do so (Coloroso, 1994). Allowing students to make their own decisions through evaluating their problems is very important. I can be the guide that direct them towards a good decision by asking them questions, yet is they come up with the decision themselves that would be best. Respecting them and giving them the time and opportunity to solve their problems will help them beyond academics.
5-      Teacher must immediately begin to emphasize a developing sense of family in the class (Charles, 2000). Developing a sense of family allows students to get a sense of belonging to the class. I can do so by having conversations with them regularly, getting to know them beyond academics, and gaining their trust.

Corrective Approach
When misbehavior occurs, a teacher is responsible for correcting it while maintaining good energy in the classroom. Corrective strategies that I identified with strongly demonstrate cooperative discipline and synergetic discipline. I believe the following approaches reflect my Essentialist philosophy as I do emphasize classroom rules and consequences, yet they also reflect my belief of Reconstructionism because I strongly identify in joint decisions between teacher and students.
1-      If a rule is broken, the teacher should concentrate immediately on the behavior and consequences (Coloroso, 1994). This also reflects reasonable consequences when teacher and student jointly agree on a set of reasonable logical consequences (Coloroso, 1994). Being consistent is the major component when correcting a behavior. Reminding students of the consequences and allowing them to correct the behavior is an essential step when misbehavior occurs. When students further misbehave, I follow the consequences and class rules that we all agree on.
2-      Give written notice (Albert, 1989-1996). Written notices are very important because it doesn’t suddenly put the student on the spot. It allows the student to notice his/her misbehavior and correct it accordingly. It is a great strategy and I will certainly implement it in my classroom.
3-      When misbehavior does occur teachers identify and deal with the cause, keeping an attitude of gentle helpfulness (Charles, 2000). Keeping a calm tone when correcting a student is vital, it is a focus of mine that I don’t disrupt the trust I have with that student. Explaining to the student that I am helping them is very important for student cooperation.
4-      Do the unexpected (Albert, 1989-1996). When misbehavior is a general theme where the entire class is being off task, turning off the light or playing a musical sound is a good approach to get their attention again.
5-      Target-Stop-Do (Albert, 1989-1996). This strategy is good when a student is consistently being disruptive. I call the student’s name and ask him to stop the current behavior and focus on the task given. This is in my opinion a good but risky approach because over using it will cause it to lose its power.

I believe that a cooperative approach allows students to develop a sense of belonging to the classroom and have ownership of their learning process. Including students in decision making reflects my Reconstructionist educational philosophy. Giving the students the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas is essential for the harmonious classroom environment that I am striving for. Listening is a big element of my teaching strategy; appreciating students’ input and respecting their decisions is my focus as a teacher. I believe the discipline strategies I listed will steer me towards achieving my educational goals.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Accurate (i + 1) Assessment for English learners

Maggie is an ELL level 2 (Early Intermediate). The assessment is i+1 "Intermediate level"

Intermediate ELD Level, Comprehension and Organization and Delivery of Oral Communication
Participate in social conversations with peers and adults on familiar topics by asking and answering questions and soliciting information.
Writing: 1ES: Recognize elements of characterization in a piece of writing and apply the same techniques when writing.
(Cognitive/ Affective/ Language)

A. Diagnostic/ Entry Level
During the first 5 minutes of the class, students will be asked questions about the topic to assess their level of understanding and their previous knowledge.
B. Formative/ Progress Monitoring
Teacher will monitor students’ discussions and encourage all students to participate and share their ideas.
C. Summative
Students will write the definitions on the graphic organizer, illustrate their understanding with drawings, and turn it in at the end of class.

Assessment Rubric for ELD
Definition of term

ELD Standard:
Uses basic vocabulary to describe the term
Uses some formal vocabulary words introduced in class
Writes correct definition with few spelling or grammatical errors.
Writes correct definitions with no spelling or grammatical

Visual representation
Draws a visual representation of few terms without labeling
Draws visual representation of all terms labeling some
Draws visual representation of all terms labeling all with few errors.
Draws visual representation of all terms labeling all coreectly.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SDAIE Strategy

SDAIE strategies are very important in everyday lessons. My Cooperative Teacher uses graphic organizers for each new topic he teaches. He gives students graphic organizers at the beginning of the lesson so that when he introduces a new word they can write it down for reference. He explains the new term and gives a definition, students write the definition down in their own words to help them remember what the word means. My CT models for them by writing a definition on a similar graphic organizer and displays it using a projector. There is also a column in the graphic organizer where they draw a visual representation of the term. If possible, he also tries to break the word down to meaningful parts and explains what each part means. For example "EQUILATERAL Triangles" he breaks it down to "EQUI" which means equal since these type of triangles have equal sides and "LATERAL" which means side. Students copy the term using correct spelling, write a definition and draw a visual representation. I believe this strategy helps students remember what the term means and learn how to correctly spell it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I created this survey using Google forms. This quick and easy assessment helped me get to know students' literacy habits, strengths, and struggles. It helped me modify my teaching strategies to be able to reach all of them. I was happy to see that most of the students were okay with giving an oral presentation to the class even if they answered that they're not very good with English. Students are willing to learn and progress if given the opportunity. Encouraging them to participate in discussions and collaborate with each other will certainly improve their literacy. I believe that these students when challenged they can reach their full potential.


These pictures of injustice represent some of the challenges students face in schools today. While technology is rapidly advancing, students can't even access up to date technological tools. Students use this "computer lab" to work on assignments. These computers are very old and most of them don't even work.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Name

Noha is my name. It was chosen by my mom's friend. My mom told me that she had picked a name for me before I was born, "Lobna" was the name she picked. She wanted to name me after a popular Egyptian actor, however my dad didn't like the name "because it has no meaning he said". Therefore, I had no name when I was born, till later that day when my mom's friend came and suggested "Noha". My mom loved the name and my dad was convinced after he found out that the Arabic word Noha means "the mind".

My name is always misunderstood and mispronounced as Noah. Although Noah is a masculine name and Noha is only used as feminine, they are pronounced differently, and written differenlty, people still confuse them.
A couple of years ago I applied for a job online and was called for an interview. When I arrived at the company for the interview, I sat next to a lady, also waiting to be called in for an interview. Across the room there was a gentleman sitting also waiting to be called in. The interviewer walked to the room looking at the gentleman and said "Noah?", the gentleman said "No". Then I had to shout "Yes, this is me". Althouh it wasn't me, my name is Noha not Noah!

But still..If I could choose any name it would defininelty be Noha!! Because it's me. I love the meaning behnd it. I just hope people can say it right. :)