Monday, November 26, 2012

EDSS 521 Blog #5

This semester, I have been surprised by the literacy levels of my students. They are able to fill out worksheets and search for specific information in their text book. They are not able to write anything more than  few sentences. They can read, but many students in my class need a huge amount of work at writing in order to be a proficient writer. They don't want to read and they don't want to write. It is impossible for me to allow them any opportunities for independent learning, because they are simply not interested.


Sept. 30, 2013

My literacy rich classroom is filled with books relevant to my subject area. My students have an abundance of resources to read and are hungry for new information.

My students are engaged in reading additional texts and debating with their peers their views on history. They are constantly questioning what is written in books. They haven't yet begun to look at their sources and decide what to trust and what to be skeptical with.
They are reading primary source documents as well as scholarly sources. Any book I have in my classroom is open to them to read, and they take full advantage of it.


December 15, 2013

My literacy rich classroom is filled with hungry learners. My students are trading books with each other and are constantly questioning the texts. We have debates regularly on some of the popular scholarly texts, and we are able to find bias and conflicts in these texts.

My students are engaged in debates with their fellow students. I am just a facilitator and a I am not needed to lead their learning. I think of myself more of a guide in their learning than their all-knowing teacher. My students are starting to question sources such as wikipedia, a source that just a year ago they would have believed as law. We discuss its merits, but also its faults.

They are reading primary source documents and scholarly source documents. We have textbooks in our room to help summarize some events, but they are not the focus of our learning.

They are writing argument papers and book reviews on the scholarly sources they read. They are starting to write down their own analyses of primary source texts, but they still need time to develop this skill.

They are discussing whether or not their texts are valid or full of bias. They are also discussing the main themes in history. Right now it is the end of the first semester and my students have read the Treat of Versailles. They are in the process of discussing if Germany was treated unfairly, and if they really lost World War I, or simply were tricked into an armistice.


May 30, 2014

My literacy rich classroom now has access to tablets with almost endless amounts of books to read. My students are continuously reading up on topics I present to them, and they are coming up with their own thoughts.

My students are engaged in discussion and debates with their peers and with me. We are exploring history on a continuous level, and we aren't only about the facts. I am able to discuss with them the main ideas, and I am able to facilitate their learning but not take control of it. They are free to learn what they want.

They are capable of independent learning, and this is evident in their ability to choose a book and take off with it. I have given them a list of suggested readings that I feel would cover the main ideas they need to know, but they are not required to follow this list. My class is free to start up their own debates on topics, and I have created an online class forum in which they can carry their academic conversations online at home. I moderate these forums and provide some minor feedback to keep them moving along, but nothing more. My class is almost completely independent, because we are free from the burdens of a standardized test. My class wants to learn, and wants to be in school.

It's fun to dream sometimes isn't it...

Monday, November 12, 2012

EDSS 521 Blog #4 - Project Tomorrow

The report I looked at was regarding the use of smart phones. From 2006 to 2011 parents of school aged children have seen a 3x increase in smartphones. From this time period, teachers have used smart phones 2x more. And 87% of parents say effective implementation of smart phones in education is important to their child's success. These figures did not surprise me, because it seems everyone has a smart phone now. I am just not as optimistic in their usage in the classroom, because kids can get off task too easily and we can't possibly enforce all students staying on task.

Monday, November 5, 2012

EDSS 521 Blog Post #3

Creativity in my classroom only occurs when we have the occasional class project. The students seem to respond to this and like it, but other than that they are in a routine. Students however are allowed to critical think when we go over primary source documents, and exhibit problem solving when in groups. In these group projects, my students are allowed to discuss their ideas with their peers, collaborate to complete their assignment, and communicate freely. Overall, this is a strong aspect of our classroom and the California standards allow for this to occur. Students are given a certain schedule to complete tasks, and are constantly given updates on how much time has passed. I constantly show my students how to find the information In their text book, instead of just telling them the information they need to find. I find this is a much better way to teach my students about information literacy, because sometimes they find information that is not relevant to the question, and they are guided as to why it is not relevant. For the most part, my students are not taught media literacy. There will be a project where they will have to find information on their own from internet sources, at which time we will teach them what is a reliable source. For technology in my classroom we use a smart board and a projector. There aren’t many other options that we can use. To help my students become independent learners, they are given free time to work and are monitored so they don’t get off track. But the responsibility for their own time lies mostly on their own shoulders. For group activities, students are given jobs needed to fulfill an assignment. Students in these jobs are responsible for their task, but also for the completion of the project. This keeps them focused in groups, and allows them to still interact with the group and manage their own role.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Classroom Management Essay

The main classroom management approach I believe in is an assertive discipline approach, modified to incorporate some cooperative discipline techniques. My teaching philosophy is essentialism, so I believe that these two methods most closely resemble what I want my classroom to be like. The knowledge my students will learn in my class is essential, and they will learn that discipline is also something that comes from breaking the rules. I also believe that every student has the right to feel comfortable and safe in my room, which is why I also believe in cooperative discipline. In order to create a more harmonious atmosphere in my classroom, I want to include my students in my classroom decisions. They will come up with the classroom rules and help out with its enforcement, with my guidance (Kohn,1996). I believe that all students want to succeed and learn, and it is my duty to make sure they have the opportunity to do so.
One the first day of school I will make sure to establish the main unbreakable rules in my classroom, and I will call upon the class to come up with some of the other rules. I feel that when students are allowed to participate in the creation of their classroom, they are also more likely to participate in its management as well. Peer-pressure will be on method I use to make sure the rules aren’t being broken. There will be some consequences laid out for violation of these rules in a very structured way, for both my rules and my students’ rules (Canter, 1976). I want to be known as fair, but also that repeat bad behavior will be dealt with. For the most part I have noticed that just simply being in the area is enough to prevent most bad behavior in the classroom, so I will make sure to circulate throughout my classroom.
For my class to become like a family, I will have to take part in many of the activities. I will have to connect to my students, and share with them when they share with me. One thing I will do to accomplish this is what many teachers already do, I will allow my students to eat lunch with me and talk about things whenever they want. This can occur during times when it won’t disrupt instruction and before or after class. I want to remain approachable, and someone my students can come to when in need. My class will have many different type of activities in order to allow all my students to achieve success, and I will not accept failure or lack of effort. It is through this relationship I build with my students that I can discuss things of greater significance, like current events that can affect their life. By being there for my students, I believe they will feel safe to do their best in my classroom.
Since my rules will be laid out clearly, and my students will have their own input in their rules, the consequences will be pretty direct and consistent. The first violation of these rules will result in a verbal warning, and the next violation will result in an after class meeting. I want my class to be very personable, so they will know what they did wrong and exactly what I will say. The third violation will result in losing break privileges, the fourth will result in a call home and a conference with parents, and finally a fifth will result in detention or Saturday school. It will not be acceptable in my classroom to turn things in late, unless they have an excuse. Something I have observed is that when given a chance to turn things in late for half credit, kids will gladly turn it in late. If students continually turn things in late, then I will make sure they know I expect more. In order to make sure my students will complete the homework on time, I will allow them to write comments about the assignment, and get rid of assignments they believe are busy work.
In all the instances of my classroom management, I try to remain open and fair to my students (Mendler, 1983). If you present them with an assignment, or put them in a situation they deem unfair, then they will not give it their best.  If they think the class is fair and they feel safe and comfortable, then they are at the most optimal situation to learn. My philosophy played a big part in this decision because I feel traditional techniques can be used, if they are modified slightly to fit the classroom. My students will learn from a body of information that is important, but there is no reason why it can’t be fun. There is much room for improvement in my classroom management plan, and I’m sure many things will change once they are implement and reflected upon, but I feel that this is a good start. This management outline reflects my personality very closely, which is why I feel I can implement it into my classroom, and it should seem almost natural.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sociocultural Aspects of Schooling for ELs

In my two classes I co-teach, there are only two ELL students and a few more that have passed the CELDT test and are done. For the student I have in mind, I will try to get him more involved with his peers, because he is very shy and does not like to socialize. I feel this is because he has scored lowest on his speaking section and he is a bit embarrassed of his speaking abilities, but as I have observed my other students don't tease him or shun him because of this. He would fit in just fine, and by allowing my class to work in groups more, he will be able to learn this himself and become more social while in my classroom. This will provide him more chances to speak with native English speakers and perhaps improve on his speaking abilities through simple social interaction.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson Planning Blog Post #2

How does your overall lesson designing and planning incorporate knowledge of the teenage brain?

My lessons are designed in a way that show my directions in a very detailed way so that my students can follow them. The brains of adolescents do not follow directions that well and need a bit of guidance. Their synapses are growing and can become weaker or stronger based upon their usage, so I must as their teacher create connections and keep creating them. This can be achieved by repeating the information in many different ways, and encouraging all different kinds of learners.

How does your overall planning for learning, designed to access memory lanes and use what you know about how adolescents learn?

My lessons try to teach using different techniques so that they can be accessed by different kinds of memory lanes. There is the basic more traditional way of teaching that can access semantic memory, and then I also like to implement things such as discussion or debate which also accesses their emotional memory. Once I access these two kinds of memory lanes, then they own the knowledge and aren't just repeating things they learned in their short-term memory.

How are students engaged in the learning?

As a history teacher, I am lucky that I have many different strategies of instruction at my disposal. I can give students group projects, reflections, simulations, or other active hands-on activities to help with their learning. When they become a part of their own learning, they will be engaged learners. I can also give them a choice in how they want to learn, which makes their learning experience much more personal.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Accurate (i + 1) Assessment for English learners

For my SDAIE lesson plan I incorporated a quick lecture along with group work. It was about the French Revolution, and the question I would be asking the class to discuss would be "What do you think was the main cause of the French Revolution?" My assessments were informal, but they would be used to test if my ELL students met the Listening & Speaking Cluster 7 standard: Respond to messages by asking questions, challenging statements, or offering examples that affirm the message. My assessment is a formative informal assessment, and I would do it through observing the ELL students during group work.

 I would consider an approaching standards level if they were able to take part in the group discussion.

 I would consider a level of meeting standards if they were able to offer their opinion and provide some defense of it.

 I would consider a level of exceeding standards if they were able to offer their opinion, provide adequate defense for it, and question the opinions of their group mates.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Successful SDAIE Strategy

A successful SDAIE strategy I have observed was used when students were expected to take notes during a lecture. My CT was at the front of the room giving a standard style lecture with a power point slideshow, but the information he expected them to know, and write in their notes, was underlined in a different color. The additional information was in basic white, so this allowed the students to distinguish what was the main information and what was just fluff. It helps the EL students in the room identify what is the most important information, which my CT backs up by repeating the information, asking the class to repeat the important information, and presenting the information with pictures and graphics. This makes a lecture that would otherwise be difficult for an EL to follow, something they could achieve success by simply following what they are asked to do. His expectations are very clearly laid out for them to follow.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

School Site Injustice

There are so many students assigned to our classroom, that this back row is filled with students. They face away from the front of the class and the board. We have to make sure they are on task, because it is easy for them to lose concentration some times.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Name

My name is Woodrow. I have been called Woodie my whole life. I am named after my grandfather on my mother's side. I only ever had the chance to meet Grandpa Woodrow when I was little, so I don't really know too much about him. He was a loving man however, and I am proud to bear his name. My experience with name has been one filled with much negativity, but over the years I have embraced it as different and unique. Imagine if you will, being named Woodie in middle-school. It was as bad as you are probably thinking. Not only was my name different, but my name also meant something middle-schoolers thought was funny. Over the years I learned to smile and laugh along with people who had a problem with my name, and they quickly stopped making fun of me. Maybe when I was younger I would have liked a different name, but as for today, I wouldn't change it for any other name.