Monday, October 22, 2012

Social/Cultural Action for EDSS 555

This is a very small issue in comparison to many others, but I realized that many high school English learners in my classes struggle with the cultural issue of understanding cliches or sayings that life-long English speakers have heard their whole lives. Sayings like "playing devils advocate" or  "let the cat out of the bag" have no meaning to some English learners and are flat out confusing. One way to help this situation in my class would be to avoid using these cliches altogether. However, I think it would be beneficial to use the sayings and then ask the class to explain what that saying means. This way, when English learners hear certain phrases outside of school they will be able to understand the meaning.

EDSS 521 Blog Post #2

How does your overall lesson designing and planning incorporate knowledge of the teenage brain?
Repetition of information is incredibly important for the teenage brain. I try to provide opportunities for students to repeat and practice certain skills multiple times so that the skill/information will stick will enter into long term memory as opposed to short term. I use group work so that students learn to effectively communicate with peers in an academic environment, but also use individual work for students to make the work personal. I also give students choices during activities so that they can take ownership of their work and feel like they have a say in their education.

How is your overall planning for learning designed to access memory lanes and use what you know about how adolescents learn?
I try to provide opportunities for students to relate learning to their own experiences. To do this, students often journal about personal topics that somehow relate to what we are learning in class. For example, we just finished our memoir unit in which we read the novel Night by Elie Wiesel. Two main themes in the novel are Wiesel's loss of faith and questioning God and Wiesel's changing relationship with his father. Most of the students have been through incredibly difficult and trying situations in their lives, so we have had class discussions regarding why Wiesel is questioning God and how it is possible to lose faith. They have also responded to journal prompts regarding their own opinions of Wiesel's changing relationship with his father and have been able to call upon their own memories of relationships with family members.

How are students engaged in the learning?
Students are engaged in the learning because I try to provide activities that are different from the work they are used to doing. Students can share their opinions on topics without fear that they will be in trouble. In addition, I try to take students' interests into account when planning lessons. For example, I have many artistic students in my classes, so I created a lesson that gave them the opportunity to draw. Just recently, the class participated in a debate where students were encouraged to share their opinions and they were allowed to get up and move around the class to different areas of the room as their opinions changed.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Classroom Magagement Plan

Classroom Management Plan
*Added management strategies are bolded
I identify with components of multiple different educational philosophies, but the educational philosophy that I most closely identify with is experimentalism. Experimentalism is student centered and focuses on problem solving, discussions, and projects. Experimentalism is natural and flexible and encourages students to analyze and criticize information. In order to foster a desire for knowledge amongst students and an encouraging learning environment, teachers must be flexible and encourage their students in thinking critically and analytically. My classroom management plan is a compilation of the following strategies: “Beyond Discipline,” “Discipline with Dignity,” “Inner Discipline,” “Noncoercive Discipline,” and “Positive Classroom Discipline.” These discipline strategies will enable my students to learn from their mistakes and participate in a positive learning environment.
Preventive Approach
I believe that the preventative approach is the most important of the three classroom management approaches because it sets the standards for what is expected of the students. If a teacher provides a positive classroom environment and teaches students to take responsibility for their actions, the class will be less likely to need disciplinary action in the future.
1. Develop rules to guide the class (Coloroso 1994). I believe that setting reasonable expectations at the beginning of the year will provide a solid foundation for the rest of the year. If students know what is expected of them (academically and behaviorally), they will not be able to use the common excuse “Oh, I didn’t know.” I think it is important for me to be prepared with my own expectations and rules, but it is even more important for me to be open to my students’ ideas for class rules and expectations. My students will have a say in the rules that guide the class. This concept leads into my next point that students need to be included in decision making.
2. Include students in decision-making (Kohn 1996). I believe that it is incredibly beneficial for students to create and make arguments for their own rules. If they think it should be okay to chew gum in class, then they need to come up with a convincing argument for why it is okay. This will teach them problem-solve and think critically– both important components of experimentalism.
3. Structure classroom to discourage misbehavior (Jones 1970’s). This approach seems simple, but I have seen classrooms where it is not implemented. My classroom will be set up to encourage energetic and participatory behavior. One way I will do this is by letting students choose their seats on the first day. Giving them the freedom to choose where they sit and with whom will immediately make them feel more comfortable. If students’ learning is consistently impaired by whom they choose to sit near, I will assign them a new seat. Another way that I plan to implement this strategy is by focusing on group activities and discussions so that students are active participants instead of a passive audience.
4. Provide a warm and supportive classroom environment. (Glasser 1985). If my students feel like they are supported by their peers and I, they will be less likely to act out. I plan to create a classroom that students feel that they are a part of. In order for students to feel this way, they need to take part in the planning and running of the class. They will learn what does and doesn’t work –a key aspect of experimentalism. I also want students to feel safe in my classroom, so my class will have high expectations for respect.
5. Hold students responsible for their own actions (Curwin and Allen Mendler 1983). Responsibility is necessary for every other preventative strategy. The students must learn to be responsible for their actions and even their own learning. Because I align with the experimentalist philosophy, I believe that students learn best in a flexible and open environment. In order to have this kind of environment, however, the students need to recognize the importance of responsibility. As the teacher, it is my duty to hold them accountable. 
6. Chairs are around tables to facilitate interaction and there are comfortable areas for working (Kohn 1996). The students will be more likely to participate in class activities and discussions if their desks are positioned in ways that facilitate participation. Students will be more likely to stay on task if the are comfortable, rather than constantly be looking for distractions.
Supportive Approach
The supportive approach contains the strategies that will help me to nurture, improve, and enforce the strategies mentioned in the preventative approach. My supportive approach focuses on the teacher supporting the students and also the students supporting their peers. Experimentalism is natural and flexible, and that is exactly the kind of environment that I want my students to learn in.
1. Hold class meetings to address class activities and behaviors (Kohn 1996). This strategy allows students to problem solve and think critically- both components of experimentalism. I want my students to interact with their classmates to come up with ideas and solutions. I believe that holding regular class meetings will foster a sense of security and trust between my students and I. This sense of security will transfer into the classroom during academic activities as well and lead students to participate more in class.
2. Establish a correlation between effort and achievement (Glasser 1985). This concept is incredibly important. Students need to recognize that the amount of effort they put into something directly affects the outcome. A non-abstract way to implement this strategy in my classroom is to have the students actually keep track of their effort and achievement. Students could have charts in their binders to score their effort and grade of each assignment. I believe that students will see an incredible correlation between these two categories, and it is my goal to encourage them to change their habits.
3. Provide efficient help to individual students (Jones 1970’s). Jones’ strategy sounds great in theory, but it is nearly impossible to give efficient help to 50 individual students each class period. Although it may be impossible to enforce this policy exactly, I believe that it is important to carry this goal into the classroom. If I am always striving to provide efficient help to my students, I will no doubt be more helpful than if I don’t even try. I also chose this strategy as part of my plan because it is important to connect with students individually as opposed to always on a whole-class basis.
4. Ensure students that it is okay to make mistakes (Coloroso 1994). This strategy is one that needs to be employed in all classrooms. Student need to know that mistakes are natural and are even beneficial learning experiences. I want my students to be willing to participate and challenge themselves, but in order to do so they need to push away the fear of making mistakes. I believe that students will be less likely to act out in negative ways if they know that they are in an atmosphere that supports their efforts regardless of mistakes they may make.
5. Indicate politely what you want from students (Curwin and Alan Mendler 1983). This seems to be a “no-brainer,” but I so often hear quite the opposite. If I expect courtesy and respect from my students I need to model those attributes for them. Respect is a two-way street, and if I don’t respect my students they will not respect me. Giving direct polite instructions or suggestions will foster students’ trust and encourage them to treat others the way that they are treated by the teacher.
6. Understand your students’ currencies (Jackson 2010). I need to understand what my students value in order to know how to interact with them and what to expect from them. I also need to be able to assess my own “currencies” to understand how to best adjust my currencies to fit my students. Students need to have a way to make things rights, so I need to give them that opportunity.
Corrective Approach
The corrective approach is the approach that I will need to take to address student behavior issues. My corrective approach is composed of strategies that align with my philosophy of experimentalism. They are focused on cooperation, respect, and problem solving.
1. Use privacy and eye contact when possible (Curwin and Allen Mendler 1983). As with many of the strategies that I selected, this strategy is also based on respect. It doesn’t do any good to publically humiliate a student, so I plan on using privacy for corrective action whenever possible. I do, however, realize that privacy is not always possible, so I will do my best to correct the behavior in the quietest way possible. I believe that eye contact is necessary and beneficial because it shows students that you are focused on them. Corrective action can be as simple as making eye contact with a disruptive student from across the room. I want my students to look me in the eye when they talk to me, so I must do the same for them.
2. Cooperatively work towards solutions as a class (Kohn 1996). This kind of corrective action can be applied to situations involving the entire class. For instance, if a class has trouble efficiently forming groups I can discuss ideas with my class for how to better approach group situations. If they have a say in the solution, they will be more willing to participate when it matters.
3. The teacher should concentrate immediately on the behavior and consequences (Coloroso 1994). I agree and disagree with this strategy depending on the context. I think that students need to know when they have acted in a way that is inappropriate, so as I teacher I would tell a student that I did not appreciate their behavior. However, I would talk to the student apart from the rest of the class in detail. If I were to focus all of my attention solely on one student in the middle of class, the rest of the class would suffer.
4. Ask students to evaluate work they have done and improve it (Glasser 1985). Self evaluation is so important. This can be applied to evaluating actual classwork/homework or to evaluating behavior. I think that having students evaluate how they behaved and come up with a plan for how to improve behavior in the future will immensely help with behavior issues. It also fits with my philosophy of experimentalism because students will learn to problem solve.
5. Let anger pass and defer discussion until a later time (Curwin and Allen Mendler 1983). This point seems to contradict point number three, but I believe that both strategies can exist simultaneously. A teacher should never yell at a student. I understand that there will be plenty of instances in which I am frustrated of angry, but it is my job to make students feel safe, not afraid. If I am angry at a student I know to pause and wait until I can speak to him/her rationally and calmly. I could loose my credibility with students in an instant if I blew up. 
My management plan essentially is focused on mutual respect, student input, problem solving, and critical thinking. All of these components align with my philosophy of experimentalism. Overall, I believe that students should feel safe and comfortable in my classroom and that I should be an advocate for them. I also believe that they should advocate for themselves in class meetings and discussions in order to play an equal part in the classroom management procedures. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SDAIE Assessment

CA Content Standards

Reading Fluency and Systematic Vocabulary Development:

Cluster 4- Recognize Words with Multiple Meanings:
EA Recognize that some words have multiple meanings and apply this knowledge to understanding texts.
A Recognize that some words have multiple meanings and apply this knowledge consistently in reading literature and texts in content areas

Cluster 6- Use a Dictionary:
EA Use a standard dictionary to determine the meaning of unknown words.
A Use a standard dictionary to determine the meaning of unknown words


Formative – The teacher will observe students working on their graphic organizers and help students as needed. Student will notify teacher when the graphic organizer is complete and can then help other students or work on make-up work.

The teacher will move around the class to observe students using standard dictionaries and online dictionaries. Teacher will ensure that students are using the dictionaries properly and that they are able to identify words, multiple definitions, and parts of speech.

Summative – Students will turn in completed “Vocabulary Sketches” graphic organizers that will be graded by the teacher based on completeness and detail. Students will earn 3 points per word: 1 point for the definition, 1 point for the part of speech, and 1 point for the picture. Next class the students will play Pictionary with the vocab words to assess understanding.

ELD students will be assessed on the same criteria based on the same scale as ELA students because ELs are all being assessed at the Early Advanced to Advanced levels.