Wednesday, November 7, 2012

EDSS 521: Blog #3

21st Century Literacy Skills
Creativity occurs in my class primarily in the forms of analyzing, evaluating, and reflecting. Currently students are learning to write argumentative essays. In order to do so they must analyze claims, arguments and beliefs and evaluate those arguments based on their research and their own beliefs. I try to provide students with opportunities to reflect on what they have learned, whether in their journals, class discussion, or partner sharing. Critical thinking and problem solving occur when students are asked to complete an assignment but are given freedom in how they get to the end product. We recently held a debate in class in which students needed to think critically and use counterarguments (problem-solving). Communication and discussion generally involve the whole class. My class is situated in a computer lab, so all of the desks are stationary and they are covered in wires and computers. This environment does not allow for much group work. Instead, the students practice individual reflection or we have class discussions. Sometimes students participate in partner sharing activities.
            We teach information literacy by giving students an activity and allowing them to find information for them to complete that activity. For instance, students could use a standard or online dictionary to find the definitions of words for a vocabulary activity. Another example is when students search through information for events to write a current event write-up. We teach media literacy in the classroom. The students at our school are not assigned homework, and many of them do not have computer access at home. Because of this, all of our reading and research is done in class. Students read novels, articles, and online sources. We use technology almost everyday in our class because each student has access to an individual computer. The students use the computers to research for their research papers, to type their papers, to email, and to look up various other forms of information. Students have some assignments in which they communicate their learning through creating power points. We often provide students with graphic organizers to organize the information that they find in various forms of media.
            The majority of student work in our class is independent. The students generally receive instruction and modeling from the teacher and then proceed to work on their own. The students are given a lot of freedom in class regarding how they time their progress and how much they finish in a class period. Although it is beneficial for students to learn to work independently and be self-directed learners, it is also incredibly important for them to learn to work in diverse groups and produce a quality product. I do not think our students have enough opportunities to interact with each other on intellectual levels. I know that I need to work on encouraging the students submit work that they are proud of, but it is difficult to get them to do so when they do not see the benefit. All of our students have been sent to our school from composition schools for a second chance, but they are already so jaded by the education system that is difficult to show them that learning is a good thing.

TPE #4
When reading through TPA 4 these are the words and phrases that stand out to me:

  • reinforce state-adopted content standards
  • balanced and comprehensive curriculum
  • essential skills and strategies
  • vary instructional strategies
  • reinforce content in multiple ways
  • distinguish between conversational and acdemic language
  • model active listening
  • motivate students and encourage student effort
  • foster access and comprehension for all learners

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