EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies Meta-Reflection

Over the past quarter I have learned about multiple instructional strategies I can use in my future teaching career. Through the use of information processing models, social models, personal models, and direct instruction, I will have many tools in my toolkit to teach my students the best way possible. According to Adler (1982) children must acquire three different types of knowledge: organized knowledge, intellectual skills, and understanding of ideas and values. Certain instructional strategies fit with these types of knowledge better than others. I believe a good mixture of strategies can create a creative, exciting, and interesting environment for my students.

Being able to transmit information is the basis of education. Information processing models such as scientific inquiry and Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM) are good general examples of how to structure information so that students successfully understand the main concepts. Advance organizers are an excellent tool to use to set the stage for lessons and gain the student’s interest. The more compelling and relevant the information is to the student, the more interested they will be and therefore the better they will learn and remember.

Teaching social skills is another important aspect of education. Cooperative learning, group investigation, and role playing can teach important social skills including team work, collaboration, negotiation, and having respect for others. “If anything is genetically-driven from birth, it’s a social instinct. If it weren’t for each other, we wouldn’t even know who we are” (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 231). Encouraging social interaction between my students can foster positive feelings and encourage them to manage conflict in a productive way. Working together is a crucial skill that is highly valued in our society and it is important for teachers to recognize that.

Personal models that promote learner-centered activities and teach students to develop positive self-concepts can be used to enhance self-esteem and self-efficacy. Teaching our students to be lifelong learners can lead to rich and personal fulfillment. I want to be a good role model for my students and teach them to have confidence in themselves and know that they can succeed if they put forth the effort. Self-actualization is the ultimate goal in the personal models family and every child has the ability to become a successful learner and productive citizen.

Finally, direct instruction, providing practice, and giving feedback are important skills I will need as a teacher. Effective teachers spend more time explaining new material and providing timely feedback than noneffective ones (Joyce et al., 2015). Structured practice, guided practice, and independent practice are all important for students as they learn. Practice is more likely to be effective when it requires students to practice more than one skill at a time and when practice is distributed over time (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012). Timely feedback lets students know what ideas they are struggling with so that they know which areas to work on. Assigning appropriate amounts of homework that have a legitimate and useful purpose can enhance student retention of skills, ideas, and concepts. Below is a summary of the direct instruction model.

Direct Instruction Model

Direct Instruction Model

I hope to use a variety of these practices and models to promote an enriching and compelling curriculum for my students. Lifelong learning is important for us to grow as individuals. I hope my future students become lifelong learners, good people, and respectful citizens.

References:

Adler, M. (1982). The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto.

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. 2nd Ed. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

EDU 6526: Fostering Student Self-Esteem

Teachers can have a profound effect on students’ well-being, self-confidence, and self-esteem. According to Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015), “our primary influence on our students is what we model as people” (p. 310). When expectations of behavior or learning are clearly communicated, good behaviors are modeled by the teacher, and students are taught to self-monitor, self-evaluate, and self-reinforce, they can be more confident and have higher self-esteem. Social-cognitive learning theory is based on the assumption that we learn through the observation of others. Students learn by watching their parents, peers, and teachers model behavior. According to Joyce et al. (2015), schooling can have a significant impact on how successful a student is and how they grow as people. First, all students can learn how to learn if we provide them with ample opportunities and multiple types of environments. Second, “the more skills students develop and the more they widen their repertoire, the greater their ability to master an even greater range of skills and strategies” (Joyce et al., 2015, p.301). Finally, the community developed in the classroom can influence how students feel about themselves, how they interact, and how they learn (Joyce et al., 2015).

Making sure students’ physiological, safety, acceptance needs are met is crucial before a teacher can hope to foster student self-esteem. According to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see Figure 1), people are motivated by their needs and progress in to more profound needs as other basic needs are met. The first is physiological, which includes water, air, food, sleep, and other bodily needs. In the classroom, should could mean allowing students to take a restroom break when they need them, allowing students to have a snack mid-morning, or giving them a chance to stretch their legs by standing at their desk for a minute.

Figure 1 - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Figure 1 – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Image Credit: J. Finkelstein via Wikimedia Commons

The second basic need is safety. Students need to feel safe and secure before they can even begin to learn. According to John Medina (2014), students who are stressed due to a troubled home life, one or both parents in legal trouble or worse, do not learn as well. Stressed bodies have higher levels of anxiety. Teachers can help students feel safe by assuring students they are important and that if they are afraid of something, they can talk about it with a teacher or counselor. Another idea from a study by Carl Rogers is to allow students to individually talk to the teacher about anything they wanted them to know – something they are worried about, something on their minds, or even something exciting they wanted to share. This can help relieve any anxiety the student might have that prevents them from learning efficiently.

The third need is love or a sense of belonging. Teachers can help students feel like they are a part of the classroom community by including them in decisions about what they would like to read or learn about. Allowing students to voice their opinions and work with others can improve their sense of belonging. Ideas include signing up for a classroom service project or having students work with a partner on classwork in a cooperative learning setting to foster more friendships. Teachers should also model empathy for others and provide opportunities for students to practice.

Self-esteem can be fostered by teachers by modeling behaviors that lead to success. The skill should be as personally relevant to the student as possible in order to increase attention. According to Carl Rogers, “when students’ feelings are responded to, when they are regarded as worthwhile human beings capable of self-direction, and when their teacher relates to them in a person-to-person manner, good things happen.” This allows them to learn about themselves and in effect, they grow as individuals and can become more successful. Another way to help a student’s self-esteem is to make sure they have the tools necessary to be successful with a moderate amount of struggle. One particular danger to help students avoid is comparing themselves to others, which can be especially toxic if they are significantly underperforming compared to other students.

When students are equipped to overcome obstacles they face, they will have a greater sense of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Being able to learn from mistakes and failures instead of obsess over them is crucial to self-esteem. Teachers should also model self-monitoring, self-evaluating, and self-rewarding. When teachers are clear about expectations and set appropriately difficult goals to achieve, students will be able to monitor their progress and correct any errors along the way with feedback from the teacher. When teachers provide a safe, caring, welcoming environment, students can have high self-esteem and be successful in school and life.

References:

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retreived February 27, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs

Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Rogers, C. “Teacher Effects Research on Student Self-Concept.”

EDU 6526: Learner-Centered Approaches

As a future teacher, it is important for me to reflect on student personalities and emotions and how they can affect my instruction. I think what initially drew me to consider being a teacher was my desire to help all students with their personal and emotional struggles. I am a very nurturing person and building trust with my students is one of my top priorities. Sometimes a teacher is one of the main people a student can trust, especially when their home life is stressful or when they have few friends or peers to turn to for help. Carl Rogers proposed that there are six priorities for affective education:

1) Establishing a climate of trust
2) A participatory mode of decision-making
3) Uncovering the excitement of discovery learning
4) Teachers acting as facilitators of learning
5) Helping teachers to grow as persons
6) Promoting an awareness that the good life is within each of us

Carl Rogers believed that students were at the center and that learning happened when students found the information relevant to their own lives. Student personalities dictate how a student perceives information or experiences. According to Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015), Carl Rogers believed that “positive human relationships enable people to grow, and therefore instruction should be based on concepts of human relations in contrast to concepts of subject matter” (p.285). In the nondirective model of teaching, the teacher plays the role of facilitator and the student is given authority to express their feelings and emotions without fear of being judged by the teacher. This builds a sense of compassion, empathy, trust, and respect between the teacher and student. I think when a student feels free to express themselves without the fear of being punished or judged, they can truly take responsibility for defining their problems and planning ways to correct and learn from them.

Related to these ideas is Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence (MI) theory. Gardner suggests there are eight intelligences everyone possesses to a differing degree: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. This short video briefly describes each intelligence and provides a few examples for how to cultivate them in the classroom.

As an introverted person, I can certainly understand how personality and different intelligences can affect how one learns in the classroom. I am strong in intrapersonal intelligence and logical-mathematical intelligence, therefore I tended to work on my own and kept to myself for the most part. I also liked concrete answers and logical tasks, especially in math. But not all my students will be like me. How exactly can I take into account these differing learning styles and modify my instruction as a future elementary teacher? According to Howard Gardner (2009), “When child are young, we should encourage well roundedness. As they grow older, it becomes more important to discover and cultivate areas of strength. Livelihood and happiness are more likely to emerge under those circumstances.”

I need to understand that students have varying levels of all types of intelligences and that I may need to differentiate my instruction or homework assignments to accommodate for those differences. I believe that teaching in a variety of ways is the best solution to reaching the most students possible. That doesn’t mean I need to change up my teaching every hour of every days, but perhaps over the course of a semester I could incorporate music, exercise, nature, and personal activities into my lessons to encourage different intelligences. That way I can see what works for each student and learn to distinguish different intellectual strengths and styles on the fly (Gardner, 2009).

References:

Gardner, H. & Edwards, O. (2009). “An Interview with Howard Gardner, Father of Multiple Intelligence.”

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

McKnight, H. (2011). Multiple Intelligences [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/cf6lqfNTmaM

EDU 6526: Citizenship and Moral Education in the Classroom

Teaching students to be good, moral citizens is critical to their future as adults. Being a citizen means being a member of and supporting one’s family, classroom, community, social group, and country. Assuming children come to school with a developed idea of virtue, morals, and citizenship is dangerous. Today, more than ever, the family unit is disintegrating and other outside influences such as television and the Internet have crept into our children’s lives unchecked. As a future teacher, I hope to become a role model for good behavior and conflict resolution so my students learn how to become good citizens.

Learning how to build lessons around the idea of citizenship and creating a safe and respectful learning environment are important to the overall function of the classroom. One way to promote a respectful learning environment is to run the classroom like a democracy. At the beginning of the year, students can vote on what the classroom reward will be for good behavior over a period of time. The students will feel a sense of ownership over the reward and will work together in behaving appropriately in order to achieve the reward.

Another way to promote citizenship in the classroom is using the role playing model of teaching. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) define role playing as “students exploring human relations problems by acting out problem situations and then discussing the enactments. Together, students can explore feelings, attitudes, values, and problem-solving strategies” (p. 262). According to Joyce et.al. (2015), role playing explores how values drive behaviors and students think about how they feel and what is important to them. They also think about what is important to others and can develop empathy and compassion for others, while learning strategies for resolving conflict (Joyce et.al., 2015). Other benefits of role playing include improved listening skills, negotiating skills, reasonability. It is important for students to develop these skills in order for them to become good citizens in the classroom and life in general. See Figure 1 for an outline of the role playing model.

Figure 1 - Role Playing Model

Figure 1 – Role Playing Model

Citizenship can also be promoted in the classroom through the exploration of historical or contemporary problems using nonlinguistic representations, such as generating mental pictures and creating illustrations or drawings (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012). For example, when discussing Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the teacher could have the students imagine how Sacagawea might have felt when she initially came into contact with Lewis and Clark. Was she scared, angry, or interested? To further this thinking, students might be asked to think about whether they know anyone with Native American heritage or family. Considering how one’s actions impact others is critical to developing empathy and in turn good citizenship. When students are good citizens of the classroom, there are fewer interruptions and conflicts are resolved quicker and with less escalation. The classroom functions more smoothly in general, leading to increased concentration and learning.

There are many websites that include ideas for how to promote good citizenship and morals in the classroom. One idea in particular from this list that I like is a community service project such as picking up litter. My classroom could go out into the neighborhood surrounding the school and pick up litter. This would promote taking care of our natural resources and treating the environment with respect. I plan on incorporating many of these ideas into my future classroom in order to provide a positive, safe learning environment for my students.

References:

Davies, L. (2002). 20 Ideas for Teaching Citizenship to Children. Retrieved from http://www.kellybear.com/TeacherArticles/TeacherTip27.html.

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. 2nd Ed. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

EDU 6526: Constructivism and Cooperative Learning

When I started this teaching program, I thought I would be the teacher that lectured and simply told my students the information while they took notes and repeated it back. I suppose this is because that’s all I knew from my childhood: teachers spoon-feeding the information to us so we could pass a test and never use the information again. Now, I believe that a more constructivist approach can lead to improved learning, and even more so when done in a cooperative learning setting.

Constructivism is defined as a theory of learning asserting that knowledge is not passively received, but actively received; and cognition functions to organize the experiential world. It is important to understand that when a student is given authority in the classroom to come up with their own ideas, hypothesis, and categories for information, they will learn and remember better than if the teacher had simply given them all the answers in the beginning.

One way to incorporate this constructivist approach is to use group learning as a tool to promote social abilities and skills. Students today need to possess not only intellectual skills, but also social skills in order to work efficiently and effectively with others (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012). Allowing students to follow their own curiosities while in a group setting can be an exciting thing. Cooperative learning has many benefits including increased academic engagement, higher self-esteem, better attitudes about school and peers, and an increased desire to work with others (Dean et. al., 2012).

I don’t have fond memories of my group projects and cooperative learning when I was in school. I was always the one that did the majority of the work while the other students in my group took the credit just the same. I realize now that my teachers may not have implemented the group projects in the best way possible. The following elements are essential to a successful cooperative learning environment (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 – Elements of the Cooperative Learning Model

Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) describe the classroom as a miniature democracy where students works together to inquire and solve problems and become more effective as a group. Constructivism in this case involves students being presented with a problem and they think about possible solutions while the teacher plays the role of counselor, consultant, and friendly critic (Joyce et. al., 2015). “Inquiry is stimulated by confrontation with a problem, and knowledge results from the inquiry. The social process enhances inquiry and is itself studied and improved. The heart of group investigation lies in its concept of inquiring groups” (Joyce, et. al., 2015, p.250). Figure 2 describes the phases of the group investigation model.

Figure 2

Figure 2 – Group Investigation Model

In my future classroom, I hope I can follow these ideas and suggestions in order to create an environment conducive to students constructing their own knowledge and in turn improving their academic success through positive social interactions with peers.

References:

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. 2nd Ed. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

EDU 6526: Practical Uses of Advance Organizers

Advance organizers are an excellent tool for preparing students to learn new information. According to Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone (2012) “advance organizers are stories, pictures, and other introductory materials that set the stage for learning“ (p.51). Most agree that people learn better if new information is organized in some logical way before diving straight into the material. Starting with the big concepts or ideas first can help frame the lesson for the student so they are not overwhelmed by all the details in the beginning. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) describe these two processes as progressive differentiation and integrative reconciliation. General ideas are presented first, gradually becoming more detailed and specific. Toward the end of the lesson, students integrate the new information with what was previously learned. “Advance organizers strengthen cognitive structures and enhance retention of new information” (Joyce et. al., 2015, p. 204).

Advance Organizer Model

Advance Organizer Model

There are four types of advance organizers according to Dean et. al. (2012): expository, narrative, skimming, and graphic. As I was reading about these different types of advance organizers, I noticed that I typically use the skimming advance organizer before reading without even thinking about it. I like to have a basic idea of what the chapter will be about and what I’m about to learn. Looking at the headings and subheadings and glancing at the graphics or visual examples helps me frame the information so that I can more easily learn it and fit it in with what I already know. I could see myself instructing my future students to briefly skim over a chapter about photosynthesis so they have a general idea about it before reading the entire chapter.

Narrative advance organizers are also a great tool to use to relate the information to everyday life. For example, students may not immediately see how calculating averages is important, but if you relate it to baseball, suddenly the students may be interested. Batting average is a mathematical calculation that indicates how often a batter hits the baseball and gets on base. Over time students will realize that a batting average over .300 is considered very good. That means that the batter gets on base 30% of the time. Telling a story about a practical example ahead of the lesson can grab the student’s interest and show them how to relate the information to real life situations.

I also like graphic advance organizers because I’m a visual learner. I like using charts to organize information or ideas. A specific chart I’ve heard a lot about is a KWL chart. This seems especially useful for teaching younger students as a way to prepare them to learn new material. They state what they already know and access prior knowledge. This helps bring their existing long term memory into their working memory so that it is readily accessed. This way they can retrieve it more efficiently and link it to the new information. Then they state what they want to know or what questions they have about the new material. The teacher can incorporate what the students are interested in in order to make the instruction more enjoyable for the student. In turn they will be more motivated to learn. Finally the students write down what they actually learned by reorganizing what they used to know with what they recently learned.

KWL Chart

KWL Chart

As David Ausubel (1978) stated, “Of all the possible conditions of learning that affect cognitive structure, it is self-evident that none can be more significant [than] organization of the material.” I plan to incorporate the use of advance organizers in my future classrooms so that my students have a better idea of what each lesson will be about and to help maximize their learning.

References:

Ausubel, D., et. al. (1978). “Instructional Materials,” from Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View. New York, 1978.

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. 2nd Ed. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

EDU 6526: Concepts, Memorization, Mnemonics

Teaching concepts is central to any instructional setting at any age. How exactly does a student learn? And what is the best way to teach concepts and facts? These are surprisingly complex questions that I’m still trying to figure out answers to. Every student learns differently. Some work well alone and others work well together. Some are good at rote memorization and others need more of a visual link to help them remember things.

For my future upper elementary classroom, I believe in teaching basic concepts or ideas that will help the student learn to learn. According to Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015), “Awareness of how to learn and how to improve learning results in a sense of mastery and control over one’s future.” I feel like elementary school is a critical age for students to learn how best to learn. I like the idea of students analyzing concepts on their own first and coming to their own conclusions and instead of the teacher providing all the answers. If students are only memorizing information, they are not actually learning it or understanding how to transfer the knowledge to other subjects or real life situations. According to Bruner (1966), if children only use the information they memorized in that particular situation, they aren’t very likely to transfer that knowledge to other parts of their lives.

Joyce et al. (2015) explain how to use the concept attainment model in order to teach students how to categorize information or data and form conclusions. For example, I feel it is important that students learn about the natural habitat that surrounds them. Using the concept attainment model, I could provide data on the environment of the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest. Then I could have the students compare and contrast different attributes such as average number of sunny days in a year, average inches of rainfall, number of species, and how many population centers are in the area and how large they are. From there, I would have the students draw their own conclusions about ways we can better maintain a good balance between using and replenishing the Earth’s resources. After the lesson I would have the students think about how they came to those conclusions and if there were other things they might consider besides the data points I gave them.

That isn’t to say that memorization isn’t important to learn as well. Mnemonics can be very helpful when trying to memorize facts. One example I immediately thought about was “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” to signify the order of mathematical operations in an equation. It of course stands for parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and finally subtraction. Even years after first learning it, I still remember it and use it from time to time. Another good mnemonic example is to remember how many days are in each month by counting the months on your knuckles.

Another example of ways to help children remember facts is to use link words and pictures to help students associate two ideas so that one triggers the other. See the image below as an example.

Substitute link words and graphics to introduce students to names of European countries.

Substitute link words and graphics to introduce students to names of European countries.

Teaching students to apply the memory model themselves is critical to their success on their own (Joyce et al., 2015). Bruner (1996) said, “All one can do for a learner en route to her forming a view of her own is to aid and abet her on her own voyage.” I hope to teach my students these valuable thinking and memory strategies so they will be successful throughout their lives and always learning.

References:

Bruner, Jerome S. The Culture of Education. 1996.

Bruner, Jerome S. Some Elements of Discovery. 1961.

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Mnemonic. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 23, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mnemonic