4.2 Setting Instructional Outcomes

4.1 Setting Instructional Outcomes – All the instructional outcomes are clear, written in the form of student learning. Most suggest viable methods of assessment [1]. Any good lesson begins with strong instructional outcomes. When outcomes are specific, measurable, and attainable, determining a lesson’s success is made much more clear. Providing students with clear and consistent instructional outcomes sets the foundation for effective teaching [1]. Throughout my student teaching experience, I have been applying this concept by taking what I’ve learned from my research and practicing it in the classroom. My evidence for this standard will come from both my coursework and my internship.

In 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions, the author stresses the importance of setting instructional outcomes for a lesson. Below is an excerpt that shows how setting quality goals is key to excellent instruction [2].

Specifying the mathematical goals for the lesson is a critical starting point for planning and teaching a lesson. In fact, some of the teachers with whom we have worked have argued that determining the mathematical goal for the lesson should be “practice 0,” suggesting that it is the foundation on which the five practices (anticipating, monitoring, selecting, sequencing, connecting) are built. The key is to specify a goal that clearly identifies what students are to know and understand about mathematics as a result of their engagement in a particular lesson (Smith, 13).

In my own practice, I have tested many ways to discuss instructional outcomes with my students and assess their understanding of the goals I set for a lesson. Learning targets are always displayed on the board for students to reference throughout the day. At the beginning of every lesson, learning targets are read and discussed together, clarifying any questions that come up. I make an effort to return to the learning target at both the mid-way point and ending of a lesson. One method I have found to be effective is self-assessment. This allows students to be metacognitive about their learning process and is a useful way to reflect and set new goals. Below is an example of an exit ticket I gave at the end of a literacy lesson [2].

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In this lesson, students created a t-chart of what a character in a story says and does. Then, using the information they collected, students were asked to make inferences about their character of choice. The instructional outcome for the lesson, “I can make an inference about a character in a fiction story based on what they do and say” is clear and written in the form of student learning [3]. Students’ understanding of the learning target can be assessed based on their written work done in class. In this exit ticket, students were asked to consider a success and a challenge they had during the lesson, and identify a place they can go to get help.

Based on my experience, setting strong instructional outcomes is only the beginning of effective teaching. What needs to go along with that is building discussions, creating tasks, and developing methods of assessment surrounded on instructional outcomes [4]. Setting strong instructional outcomes can have a powerful effect on student learning. Student learning continues to develop through discussions and reflections on their own progress towards meeting the instructional outcomes [5]. For the future, my goal is to continue returning to the learning target throughout a lesson [6]. If I spend too much time focusing on the what of a lesson, too little time will be set aside for the why. By remembering to come back to the learning target after the lesson has begun, my students and I will be able to make more connections as to why these tasks support our learning goals.

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References

Smith, M. S., & Stein, M. K. (2015). 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

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Literacy Blog: Fluency

Fluency –The ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression [1]. “In order to understand what they read, children must be able to read fluently whether they are reading aloud or silently” (Reading Rockets, 2017). Students who do not read with fluency may need more practice with decoding, speed, and smoothness in reading. It is an essential skill that teachers must include in their literacy instruction.

In the course, Reading Interventions for Struggling Readers (EDRD 4200), we’ve discussed many strategies for teaching fluency skills to students. I worked with a group in developing a lesson plan based around these skills. Our lesson is shown below [2]:

Literacy Lesson (1)Literacy Lesson (2)

 

In this lesson, we focused on reading at a “just right” pace through modeling, repeated readings, and sharing. “The repeated reading is not aimed at improving reading speed, but in being able to engage in an oral reading that an audience will find meaningful and satisfying” (Rasinski, 2012). By practicing repeated readings with a partner, then demonstrating their reading skills in front of an audience through the share, this performance provides students with an authentic reason for repeated readings [3].

Creating this lesson and discussing strategies with my peers has expanded my knowledge of fluency, its importance, and related instructional strategies [4]. Specifically, one new idea I discovered is the “share” activity. One of my peers practices this a lot in her classroom, and it involves students choosing a page from a book that they are comfortable reading, then “performing” their skills in front of the class. Afterward, other students may give compliments on what they noticed. This is something I have not seen done before and would like to try it in my classroom. I think it is a good opportunity for students to celebrate their learning and practice their oral reading skills.

There are so many ways fluency practice can become a daily routine in the classroom. This will greatly benefit students in their reading journey by teaching them essential skills that will lead to increased reading level, higher comprehension, and improved confidence about reading [5]. My goals for the future include trying out new ideas and activities (like the share) in the classroom that are based on growing fluency skills [6]. As I continue with my internship, research, and collaborate with my peers, I aim to discover even more about fluency.

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References

Fluency. (2017, February 13). http://www.readingrockets.org/helping/target/fluency

Rasinski, T. (2012). Why Reading Fluency Should be Hot! The Reading Teacher, Vol. 65, Issue 8. International Reading Association.

 

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2.1 Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques

2.1 Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques – Most of the teacher’s questions are of high quality. Adequate time is provided for students to respond [1]. Learning how to ask the right question at the right time can make a huge difference in one’s teaching. It is not enough to just ask whatever questions come to mind; instead, teachers should strategically plan and shape their questions for a specific purpose. Questioning is a valuable tool that if used thoughtfully, can make a huge impact on student learning [1]. Recently, I have been applying this concept by taking what I’ve learned from my research and practicing it in the classroom. My evidence for this standard will come from both my coursework and my internship.

In the article, The Right Question at the Right Time, the author separates “good questions” form “bad questions.” Below is an excerpt that explains the characteristics of a good question [2].

A good question is the first step toward an answer; is a problem to which there is a solution. A good question is a stimulating question which is an invitation to a closer look, a new experiment or a fresh exercise. The right question leads to where the answer can be found: to the real objects or events under study, there where the solution lies hidden. The right question asks children to show rather than to say the answer: they can go and make sure for themselves (Elstgeest, 36-37).

These ideas have really challenged me to think about questioning more carefully and plan out some strong questions to ask before teaching a lesson. I used the following list of possible questions that I was given in my science methods course (EDSC 4250) to help me do so [2].

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I decided to take this information on questioning and apply it during a science lesson in my classroom. During this lesson, students were making predictions in their science notebooks on planting fava beans in three different types of soil: sand, clay, and humus. As students were writing, I went around the room and asked some of these questions to help spark their ideas. Many students were quick to come up with a prediction but had trouble justifying and explaining their answers. I worked with one student and asked him: “What data is that claim based on? Can you put that another way? How does what you are saying relate to the investigation we did last week?” as he described his ideas to me. It was my prompting of these questions that encouraged this student to look back at his observation notes from earlier and use that data to produce a thoughtful prediction [3]. The student’s written prediction is shown below [2].

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Through my questioning, I encouraged the student to write specifically why he chose humus over the other two soil components. I wanted the student to be able to express why he thinks humus is best for plant growth and not just why sand and clay are not best. As seen in the example, the student includes both in his prediction [3].

Having had this experience, I have learned that there is great value to the skillful use of questioning. In order to ask the “good questions,” teachers should plan some out before a lesson, and be specific and purposeful with what they are asking their students [4]. Using questioning as a tool in the classroom can have an amazing effect on student learning. What teachers should aim to do through questioning is to guide their students in developing a deeper understanding of the context [5]. We should be challenging our students to think critically, make comparisons, question others, and so much more. By putting more thought into the way we ask questions, this type of learning can be achieved [5]. For the future, my goal is to continue to plan questions ahead of time [6]. Sometimes the right question will come naturally, but it’s always a good idea to have a set of questions prepared that can be used to guide students. Especially as a new teacher, I think this is a strategy that will really help me develop this skill.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” –Albert Einstein

 

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References

Elstgeest, Jos. (1985). The Right Question at the Right Time. Primary Science: Taking the Plunge. Oxford, England: Heinemann Educational, 36-46.

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2.3 Reflecting on Teaching

2.3 Reflecting on Teaching – Teacher makes an accurate assessment of a lesson’s effectiveness and the extent to which it achieved its instructional outcomes and can cite general references to support the judgment [1]. The best way to improve a lesson plan is to use feedback to revise it [1]. My evidence for this post is a writing about reading lesson I have written and revised for my EDU 3200 course [2].

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I have learned from this the importance of being specific in writing lesson plans [4]. Additionally, having a clear assessment of student voice at the end of the lesson (exit ticket) is a good way to check if students are meeting the learning target [4]. Using this standard in creating and revising my lesson plans will not only benefit me but will ultimately support my students in their learning [5]. Being more specific with the lesson objectives and assessment will help students make better connections than before [5].After receiving my first submission of this lesson, I received some helpful feedback from both my professor and peers. In the feedback, I was told three main things: 1) Be more specific in the connections I am making with the text. 2) Be more specific with assessment at the end and refer to the learning target. 3) Include a word work activity. I took this feedback and added to my lesson as necessary. I included my word work activity in the beginning of the plan, added some specific connections to make to the text as I’m reading, and changed my end of lesson assessment. Here I revisited the learning target to create an exit ticket as an assessment of student voice. By taking the feedback I received and using it to revise my lesson I am practicing using this standard in my work [3].

I have also seen this standard be put into place during my internship. Sharing ideas with other teachers and emphasizing community is something that both my mentor teacher and I value. Along with weekly PLC meetings, my mentor teacher meets with her neighboring teacher every day to discuss planning, lessons, and ideas. In these meetings, they will often review how certain lessons went the previous year(s), then discuss ways to revise and adjust in order to make them more effective [2]. This is a great way for them (and myself) to reflect on their teaching and analyze what’s working and what needs to be changed. By actively participating in these meetings, I learning how I can apply this standard in the future [3]. Moving forward, I plan to seek out opportunities to plan and review with fellow teachers, receive feedback regularly, and use that feedback to create better lessons [6]. This is a skill I plan to continue to develop and improve on throughout the remainder of my internship and in my career as a teacher.

 

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5. Learning Environment

5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being [1]. The classroom should be a safe and welcoming place for every student who enters it. Teachers have a responsibility to create an environment that is conducive to student flourishing. When doing so, we must consider the whole student and make decisions that support their physical, emotional, and intellectual development [1]. Throughout my experience as a student at SPU, I have learned new information that will help me apply this standard to both the classroom where I am currently student teaching, and to my own classroom in the future. I have found evidence of this standard used in both my classroom and my research.

In order to create a positive classroom environment, it is helpful for everyone to have guidelines they can follow. Below are our classroom rules we created together [2].

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Rule #7 (Not Pictured) Do your personal best.

The rules are posted in a visible place and we recite them as a class every morning. This helps everyone remember what exactly is expected of them when they come to class each day. In our classroom, we take the rules very seriously, because we know that we created them to help us learn. These rules also serve as a general outline of what we want our classroom environment to look like. They are in line with standard 5 in many ways. One of our rules is to be safe, which concerns students’ physical well-being. Another is to be nice and help others, which concerns students’ emotional well-being. Finally, one of our rules is to stay focused and work quietly, which concerns their intellectual well-being.

By following our classroom rules everyday, teachers and students are working hard to create a classroom environment that lives up to the standard [3]. As Harry Wong writes in The First Days of School, “To have a safe and effective learning environment, first establish firm rules that students are expected to follow” (143). It is encouraging to see what I’ve learned from my research being practiced every day in the classroom. From both examples, I’ve learned just how important it is to establish a good set of rules and apply them [4]. I believe that if we did not have these rules to guide us from the start, it would be a different classroom. For room 203, they serve as a daily reminder that we are here to learn, to grow, and to help and care for each other. They bring us together as a community of learners and motivate us to work together in creating a positive learning environment [4].

As a future educator, this knowledge of how to incorporate standard 5 into the classroom will benefit both me and my students, because we are all learners [5]. I hope to expand my research further on this topic through communicating with my professors, mentors, and students on how they would define a positive learning environment [6]. By reaching out to others and collecting their opinions, I can hopefully gain insights to new ways I can use this standard in my teaching.

“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” -Alfie Kohn

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Room 203

References:

Wong, H. K. & Wong R. T. (2009). The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc.­

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H5

H5-Honor student potential for roles in the greater society [1]. A big part of a teacher’s role is providing support and encouragement for their students. No matter what grade level or content area, teacher candidates should be there to cheer their students on and get them excited about their futures [1]. This includes introducing them to colleges and careers, and inspiring every student to set high goals for themselves [1]. For the course EDU 2300, Diversity & the Classroom, I was required to interview someone who is different from most. This could mean this person has special needs, comes from a unique background, speaks multiple languages, etc. I chose to interview my friend Skyler (ALL REAL NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED). We discussed her epilepsy and her experiences with school, people, and life. I then was asked to write a paper on this experience, and that paper can be found here: My Brain is Different, and it’s Awesome [2].

I see this experience connecting with the HOPE standard of H5 because even though Skyer thinks and develops differently than most, she is still moving forward in her education and is currently attending community college [3]. This relates to the main idea of my paper, which is that all students can learn:

I have gained many new insights through having this discussion with Skyler, but the single most important thing I am going to take away from it is the idea that all students can learn…Skyler is living proof of this, because even though she has struggled academically, she’s been able to find ways that her differences make her special, and because of her passion for art, she has made the choice to continue her education and go to College. When I asked her about her goals for the future, she responded that she hopes to be working as a graphic artist, designing webistes/t-shirts/etc. for a company…Skyler’s disabilities do not get in the way of her dedication, and I am amazed every day at how much she has grown. (My Brain is Different, and it’s Awesome. p. 5)

Interviewing Skyler and reflecting on this experience has reminded me of the important role that teachers play in the daily lives of their students [4]. As a teacher, I plan on seeing the strengths and talents in every student, and encouraging them to see where these strengths can take them [5]. In the future, I hope to continue to see the potential in others, and to honor this standard in my classroom every day [6].

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H1

H1-Honor Student Diversity and Development [1]. No matter where I teach, I know that I am going to have a classroom filled with students who are different from each other. Diversity is all around us, even if it may not seem like it at first glance. This is because diversity goes so much deeper than skin color alone [1]. One must consider age, gender, religion, language and so much more when thinking about the ways in which we are different. This applies to teacher candidates in a special way, because they must recognize these differences in their students and send the message that they deserve to be celebrated [1]. For my EDU 2300 course, Diversity & the Classroom, I was asked to create something that showcases what diversity means to me. I chose to create a “Diversity Quilt”, where each square represents a different aspect of diversity [2].

"Diversity Quilt"

“Diversity Quilt”

Connecting this project to the HOPE standard, I believe that in order to honor student diversity and development, teacher candidates must view diversity as a quilt, and consider all the pieces that it is made up of, not just one [3]. Working on this project has not only been a way for me to reflect on my experience in this course, but has helped me expand my personal definition of diversity [4]. As a future educator, I can encourage my students that their differences should be valued, because they are what make a person unique [5]. I plan on getting to know every unique student of mine so I can better appeal to his or her specific needs in the classroom [5]. This is a topic that is of great interest to me, and in the future I plan on developing my knowledge by doing more research, reading books and articles, and even taking more classes [6].

References:

Banks, J., & Banks, C. (2013). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (8th ed., p. 107, 338). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Diversity Acrostic Poem. (n.d.). Retrieved December 5, 2014, from http://garrison-michigan.army.mil/EEO/diversity.htm

Lewis, R., & Doorlag, D. (2011). Teaching Students with Special Needs in General Education Classrooms (8th ed., p. 66, 70, 76). Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Pearson.

*All references cited were used in the Diversity Quilt project only

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