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.