Standard Reflection- O2

December 17, 2012

O2. – Offer appropriate challenge in the content area.

Poster Examples

Student Poster Examples

Offering students appropriate challenges while they’re learning the content is, in itself, challenging. Pushing them to learn more and perform better is one of the goals, but pushing them into areas that they can’t comprehend and to the point of frustration and despair is not one of those goals. In a recent lesson, students in my class were challenged to create professional looking posters using photographs, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Illustrator. Not only were they pushed to accomplish such a great task, but they were also challenged to produce these fine posters while working in a group. Both of these provided unique opportunities for learning and also appropriate levels of difficulty that helped them grow in many areas.

The students in my class first worked on making their own posters after having taken many photos in a group. Some students took to designing posters better than others, but most everyone had the tools they needed to create their own poster after group demonstrations and individual assistance. After they had all learned the basics and done a poster of their own, they split into groups and had to design and print a group poster. I think this was a new experience for many of the groups, as large school projects are usually a solo endeavor, but when they leave school for broader horizons, they will find collaboration a big part of the larger picture. Students took away different things from this assignment depending upon the success they had within their groups. Some groups had groups that clashed and some were much more cooperative. We asked them after this experience to write a reflection on their experience with guided questions.  These responses reflected the difficulties they had as individuals, but as well as groups. This fell directly in line with our expectations and did not seem too challenging for the students to gain understanding of the tools, concepts, and working within a group. Each group’s poster was usually greatly improved by collaboration compared to the individual posters. By making them practice it first, but then pooling their knowledge, they surmounted the challenges they had individually, learned more, and created something greater.

Student A Reflection

Student B Reflection

Some ways to improve this assignment would be to maybe give a breakdown of group responsibility to better measure the effort by individuals within the group. As far as I know, each group member worked fairly diligently, though some had to be reminded to stay on task in groups with their friends. This is also a troubling issue in that students work better with like minded peers, but also stray off task due to their close relationship. It may be good to mix students together to prevent this, but they may be less apt to share and improve on each other’s knowledge. The objectives in this assignments met standards, appropriately challenged the students, and helped them learn about the content and also working in a group with room for improvement.

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EDU 4200 taught us, my peers and I, to think about strategies for diverse learners. As standard H1 states, ” Honor student diversity and development. Teacher-candidates plan and/or adapt learner centered curricula that engage students in a variety of culturally responsive, developmentally, and age appropriate strategies.” EDU 2400 was important in addressing these issues and how we as teachers should think about how to best help our students in a number of ways. This lesson plan was one of many activities, and perhaps one of the ones we had the most trouble with. The purpose of this class and the lesson plan were to learn ways that we could better assist and teacher our students, especially students who may be on the margins, and without an easy grasp on the opportunities that their peers may have. When crafting this lesson plan, including this response to how we would better help these learners was an important issue, but also a very challenging one. This lesson plan made me think about these students that need these considerations and how best to accomplish them, and this lesson plan helped me understand that.

As a great teacher once told me, “Most of the things in lesson plans are what great teachers do intrinsically.” This statement really resonates with me.  Unfortunately, I am not a great teacher yet, but am striving to achieve it. Some parts of this lesson plan were very confusing to me. When we talk about students in the context of diverse learners or marginalized populations, we are not usually talking about individuals and all the special intrinsic baggage that comes with them. In this way, it is hard for me to connect some of the content I was learning about in the class and the lesson plan as it related to my person experiences. When I have a relationship with some of these students, it becomes more difficult to differentiate between these general observations about marginalized students, and becomes more pertinent that I treat each individual student differently. I hope this doesn’t make me less of a teacher, as I try to assist each student in a way that seems as if it would help them the most. I think this reflects somewhat the idea of differentiated instruction. Not only will I be teaching the whole class new ideas and content that will help them as they venture off into the world, but I’ll be adjusting as necessary to help each student, and then even again to help them with challenges individually. This idea makes sense to me more than some of the other things we discussed, but I think that this is somewhat due to the experiences I’ve had during my internship. Students will not fit within these homogeneous groups we talk about, but I understand more the importance to be aware of strategies that may help students experiencing problems described by some of these aforementioned groups. In the future, with more time, I hope to understand these issues better to aid my growth as a good teacher.

This lesson plan has made think a lot about how I will need to help my students learn. It has made me aware of some of the challenges I face and must learn more about. I wish that there were more time for EDU 4200, as I feel that there is more to be discussed, not only about the content, but also our experiences as we learn and teach.