Course Reflection: EDU 6150

4. Content Knowledge – The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning.

4.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy – Teacher’s plans and practice reflect familiarity with a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches in the discipline.

Program standard 4.1 clearly summarizes the basic function of teaching. It is essential for teachers to have good lesson plans that include a variety of teaching practices such as varied instructional methods and activities, multiple ways for students to practice new information, opportunities for formal and informal assessments, and student reflection. According to Marzano (2007), using formative assessments to check for understanding and provide feedback to the student are essential for learning new information correctly. Figure 1 gives examples of informal assessments that can be used to inform instruction and modify lesson plans as necessary for maximum student learning.

Figure 1 - Informal Assessments (Koetje, 2016)

Figure 1 – Informal Assessments (Koetje, 2016)

One of the projects for EDU 6150 General Inquiry, Teaching and Assessment Methods was a complete lesson plan. I drafted a 4th grade geometry lesson where I incorporated informal assessments, various activities, practice opportunities, and ways for students to reflect on their own learning (see Figure 2). My plan includes an informal assessment with students answering questions as I circulate the room. I also asked for students to indicate their level of understanding the new material by using 1-3 fingers at a few points after my initial presentation.

Figure 2 - 4th Grade Geometry Lesson Plan

Figure 2 – 4th Grade Geometry Lesson Plan

After receiving feedback, I’ve realized that my plan does not include any informal assessments during my initial direct instruction, which is where many students may misunderstand key ideas and concepts. Also, my first draft lesson plan tries to cover too much information, which means I need to “chunk” the material into smaller parts to enhance learning. According to Marzano (2007), our working memory can only hold so many pieces of new information and I need to be able to break information down into manageable chunks for my students.

In summary, I learned to apply my knowledge from the content from this course by creating my own lesson plan. Knowing effective pedagogical practices will enable me to make better lesson plans for my future elementary classroom. Figure 3 shows an excellent summary of reflective questions to ask myself as a future teacher to ensure I am using a variety of pedagogical approaches. I intend to review the information I learned from this course in the future in order to incorporate as many of these great ideas as I can so that my lesson plans are effective, promote student engagement and understanding, and create a positive classroom environment where all students are supported.

Figure 3 - Reflection Questions (Marzano, 2007)

Figure 3 – Reflection Questions (Marzano, 2007)

References:

Koetje, Kirsten. (2016). EDU 6150: General Inquiry, Teaching, and Assessment Methods, Week 4: Reviewing Modules 1-3 and Standards Paper [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/webapps/login/.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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Special Education

Special education has always been foreign to me. I remember being separated from the kids who needed special education in elementary school. The special needs kids rarely interacted with kids in the general education classrooms. However, in the 1990’s, full-inclusion became the norm in public schools. There are so many factors, including individual, environmental, and social, to consider when discussing whether a special needs student should be included in the regular classroom and for how much of the school day. The individual education plan (IEP) team for that student should be well aware of the student’s strengths and weaknesses and what would be ideal to help the student grow, learn, and become as independent as possible.

In the end, what is best for the special needs student is what should be most important. This includes not only how well we can boost their intellectual performance, but also their social and emotional health. Being separated from other students can be detrimental to their social development. According to Noddings (2006), “Building relations of care and trust in the classroom is part of an ongoing critical lesson in human relations” (p. 103). This should include special needs children. It is also important for kids in the general education classrooms to be exposed to a variety of individuals so that they can learn how to accept and learn from others who are different.

However, the special education system is not without its own controversy and abuse. Some students will attempt to abuse the system by avoiding classwork or homework and claiming their disability as a cop-out. Unfortunately, parents of special needs children are also not without blame. According to Evans (2008), “Some parents confuse making life easier with making life better for their children. Too often, parents feel that protecting their child from the rigors of academic demands is in his or her best interest” (p. 330). It can be difficult for IEP teams, teachers, and counselors to argue with the parents of special needs students.

A special needs student should be given every accommodation necessary in order to have equal access to an activity. I intend to work to the best of my abilities to accommodate any special needs children placed in my future elementary classroom.

References:

Evans, Dennis. (2008). Taking Sides: Clashing Views of Controversial Issues in Teaching and Educational Practice. 3rd Ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Noddings, Nel. (2006). Critical Lessons: What Our Schools Should Teach. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.