Standard Reflection P2

February 26, 2013

P2 – Practice differentiated instruction.

Practicing differentiated instruction is taking each individual’s students strengths and weaknesses into account and adjusting accordingly to help them learn. For example, a student who may have trouble with language acquisition, perhaps an ELL student, would have difficulty with assignments that are primarily written. A student that may be advanced and have skills above those of other students may find themselves bored and unchallenged by the  content in the class. In both of these examples, the teacher would need to intervene or plan methods to help these students learn. Instead of “teaching to the middle”, teachers try to take advantage of each student’s unique abilities.

When I am planning for a lesson, differentiating the instruction for students is an important part of the lesson. Some of the students in my class will excel at the content and some will have difficulty understanding portions of it. For each of these students, I will need to plan activities. For example, in my beginner’s class there are certain students that are proficient in the program were using and finish the assigned tasks quickly and accurately. On the other hand, some students have trouble applying the lesson to the assignment and will quickly become stumped.

collageartifact1

For the students that meet targets with ease, I need tasks for them to do to maximize the content they are learning. In this example, the student masked items in their collage with skill and precision. They had no problem understanding and applying the tools. If this student is not challenged, he will become bored and learn nothing. If I continually nitpick his current assignment, I undermine his confidence and am not really helping him excel. For these sorts of students, I assigned an extension that builds on the skills they’ve already learned within the collage, but also that challenges them to apply what they already know to something new. For this assignment, I ask students to edit themselves believably into another photo using the tools we just used in the collage.

collageartifact2

For students that fall behind, I need to allow for extra time and attention for these students to become proficient. This student is challenged by the content as wasn’t quite sure how to use the tools. He tried to meet the assignment criteria, but didn’t have a great grasp on the tools. Some of these students genuinely do not understand the content, but most of them have issues with motivation or creativity. Part of this stems from poor motivating force from my end, but some of this stems from problems that may be beyond my control. For these students, I try my best to give them multiple different ways to succeed, multiple different explanations, and as much time as I can to help them succeed.  For the collage, many of these students had trouble understanding what was expected of them and I would constantly need to refer back to the handout I gave them that listed the exact requirements. Perhaps these students are unable to comprehend the list well, but once I explain it, or show them examples, most students begin to understand and perform.

I learned a lot from this experience with the students. It was something that I did not have a lot of experience with. When I learned about differentiated instruction, the parts that were emphasized most were how teachers bring up the students who can’t succeed. From his experience, I learned that it is not only the low achieving students, but also the high ones that will need adjusted lessons to help them meet their potential. It had not occurred to me that the high achieving students would need extra attention, as well.

Differentiating instruction is an extremely effective way to plan to help students succeed no matter their level of ability.  Whether they need more help or more challenging content, students will gain more from differentiating instruction than by averaging out the objectives to meet the majority of the class’s needs.

For future lessons, I think I need to explicitly express how I plan to address students with varying abilities. For this lesson, I hadn’t planned more challenging content for higher achieving students. I asked my mentor for assistance, and he suggested the method I used above. This really helped me understand differentiated instruction a bit more, and I feel I need to be able to plan for all these inevitable student differences.

Standard Reflection H2

January 28, 2013

H2 – Honor student access to content material.

Students learn differently. There are many different ways students can be taught, and some of these are more effective for certain students than others. For example, some students learn best from listening to a lecture and following those auditory directions. Some students learn better by seeing an example and then attempting to replicate the results. Others are better at imitating the motions until they can perform it perfectly. Students learn differently and it is the teacher’s job to teach to their strengths.

This topic isn’t quite so simple for some of my classes. For example, there are students in my class that are ELL or have 504s. For these students, utilizing academic language or even properly understanding and expressing themselves becomes a challenge. Because of this, it is important that students have multiple forms of instruction to allow each student access to the content. In my class we try to utilize a number of different teaching tools to help students meet the objective and get a good grasp on the material.

Simple Animals Rubric

When teaching a lesson it is important that in our class we present a rubric with the learning objective clearly stated, we state the learning objective during the lesson, and that we show examples of these objectives in not only our rubrics, but in our demonstration. In this way, we teach to as many strengths as we can, and then give individual attention to those who need the extra assistance. Motivation aside, by teaching the lesson in multiple ways, teachers gain the benefit of being able to reach as many students as they can utilizing these different methods for the same goal.

Because students receive the objectives and content in the lesson in a number of different ways, the students are more likely to retain at least one of the methods and be able to succeed and achieve their objectives. This helps not only the majority of the student population, but also the students who need extra help due to the additional challenges they each may be facing. Unfortunately, this may not be enough and it  will also be important, in my class, to give each student individual attention so that they aren’t at all confused about how the achieve their goal or what direction to be heading in.

To improve student access to content material, I think that there may be even more methods I could use to help students grasp the concepts and objectives. I’m still researching ways to effectively integrate these different methods into my class to better my lessons and student achievement.

Standard Reflection H1

January 10, 2013

H1 – Honor student diversity and development.

The standard H1 is a challenging one to meet in  curriculum centered school systems. H1 has teacher candidates support students with learner centered strategies that focus on the individual needs and experiences of the student. This means that not all students will arrive to a class at the same level of preparedness, but each will bring their own unique strengths and weaknesses. To address this, lessons need to be aware of the differences and adjust accordingly so that every student in the class gets a relevant and appropriate growth experience. This means providing opportunities for all students with necessary steps taken to allow the expression of culture and self and also their level development relative to the challenge of the program.

stickerexamples

Examples of Student Work

A short while ago, my class was assigned a sticker project. In this project, students were directed to create the design for a sticker, print the sticker, and then weed it. The design process held some technical challenges and printing and weeding went fairly smoothly when students understood the steps involved. However, the most challenging area for most students was choosing the design for their stickers. The guidelines for the assignment limited the size of the sticker and also stipulated that their design must be original. With this in mind, students were perplexed as to what they could create that would meet the assignment criteria and, more importantly, how their sticker would represent them. It was difficult for some students to communicate their ideas, so they were encouraged to make stickers that represented themselves or things they found important. Some students went with geometric shapes, unsure of how to best represent their specific interests and cultures, but many chose designs that were influenced by who they were, and what they valued.

By allowing students the ability to express themselves and the importance of their ideas as individuals, I think more students became invested in what they were doing. It also allowed students who were not as apt at design as their counterparts to create designs that may not have been as technically impressive, but were of similar quality due the representation of their ideas or identities. This gave all students the chance to make something relevant and important with fewer difficulties regarding experience and knowledge. This was refreshing as implementing assignments seems to be very curriculum centered with each student having to achieve the same goal, but with this it seemed very much that each student were given opportunities to express themselves and also took into account where they were at developmentally.

I think students took more from this assignment than from some of the assignments with a much more rigid curriculum centered focus. It allowed them express themselves as individuals and also made it so that each student didn’t feel pressured to play keep up if they met challenges that others had already overcome.

I think that to improve on this as a teacher, I be more aware of how the students in my class face assignments. Is it something relevant to them? Will they all be able to learn from it? These are questions that I think I need to ask before working on any project. If they aren’t interested, or completely hopelessly lost, then the lesson won’t work. It is more important to teach to their strengths and identities so they can feel more apt and more connected to what they are learning.