Reflecting on Teaching

2. Instruction – The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.

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.

The second standard of the Internship Performance Criteria emphasizes the importance of using research-based instructional strategies to meet the needs of all students. Reflecting on teaching is one critical component of this standard. It is important for teachers to constantly reflect on how lessons went and what could have been done differently or more efficiently to better meet the needs of the students. As I continue through my internship, it is important for me to reflect on my lessons and whether students were engaged, how well they understood the lesson, and steps I need to take for the next lesson.

I created several math lessons to begin teaching a unit about equivalent fractions. These lessons were based on research I had learned in my Elementary Math Methods class. Empson & Levi (2011) suggest letting students explore the concepts on their own first before being directly given methods or algorithms of solving problems. The theory is that students will learn better if they come to understand the concept through real world problems and classroom discussions. According to Empson & Levi (2011), effective teaching practices include “Posing problems to children without first presenting a strategy for solving the problems; choosing problems that allow children to craft a solution on their own; and facilitating group discussions of children’s strategies” (p. 10).

I started my first lesson by giving students an open-ended question with little instruction on how to solve the problem. Below is a portion of my lesson plan (Figure 1).

Figure 1 – Open-Ended Math Lesson Task

At the end of the lesson I had students complete an exit ticket. The sample exit ticket below (Figure 2) shows that this student thinks they understand the concept since they indicated a 5 for understanding the learning target, however, their answers to questions 1 and 2 did not support their high self-assessment score.

Figure 2 – Sample Math Lesson 1 Exit Ticket

As I proceeded to teach the second lesson, I used a similar format of giving students a problem to solve and allowing them to solve in whatever way made sense to them. Below is an exit ticket from my second lesson (Figures 3a & 3b) showing that this student really needs help and doesn’t understand the learning target.

Figure 3a – Sample Math Lesson 2 Exit Ticket

Figure 3b – Sample Math Lesson 2 Exit Ticket

Many students struggled with the exit ticket questions and the average “understanding the LT rating” for lesson 2 was 2.9. While I was teaching these lessons, I realized that my students were not ready to be given open-ended questions without prior instruction on how to solve them. I saw students struggling with the question and not knowing what to do or how to get started. I thought about my teaching after both lessons and determined that I could no longer apply the research and theories discussed in my Elementary Math Methods class. Without this type of reflective thinking, I would not have thought about what to do differently for the next lesson so that more students are able to meet the desired instructional outcomes.

I have learned that reflecting on teaching is important for effective lesson planning and instruction. As a result, I modified my third lesson to include direct instruction and modeling first before giving students a problem to solve. I have also learned that theories or instructional ideas may not make sense to use with certain students or groups of students. Perhaps if students had been taught earlier in the year to expect to try to solve problems in their own ways first, they might have performed better during my lessons. This constant reflection will help me meet my students in their zone of proximal development and provide them with instruction better geared toward their abilities. I am confident that my students will greatly benefit from what I have learned. I will use the remainder of my internship to continue reflecting on my teaching and making sure I am meeting the needs of as many students as possible.

Reference:

Empson, S. B. & Levi L. (2011). Extending Children’s Mathematics: Fractions and Decimals. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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EDU 6989 Observation Reflection

As part of my field experience class at Seattle Pacific University, I observed several teachers at B. F. Day Elementary School over the past two months to gain a better understanding of the curriculum, culture, and the daily life of teachers there.

Demographics

B. F. Day is located in the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. It is the oldest continually operating school in the city. The “building is a designated historic landmark having undergone state-of-the-art renovation in 1991” (About B. F. Day Elementary, 2016). It is a relatively small elementary school with approximately 330 students and 21 teachers. According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI, 2016), for the 2014-2015 school year, about 58% of students are Caucasian, 12% are Asian American, 10% are Hispanic, 8% are African American, and 12% are two or more races, making the student population moderately diverse. Approximately one-third of students quality for free or reduced-price meals, 16% are transitional bilingual, and 13% qualify for special education (OSPI, 2016).

Curriculum and Teaching Styles

B. F. Day uses the “mini middle school” system where the 4th and 5th graders have several teachers throughout the course of the day. This program is meant to help prepare them for the transition to middle school. I mostly observed the 4th and 5th grade literacy, science, and math teachers, but I also observed the physical education teacher and the art teacher. After my observations of the “mini middle school,” I am not convinced it has a positive effect on students. Instruction time is lost with as many as three transitions a day, not including transitions for recess and lunch. The students also have four or five different teachers who all have different personalities and ways of managing their classrooms. Expectations are different almost every hour depending on which teacher the students are with at that time. Additional observations in future years would help determine the effectiveness of the “mini middle school” program.

The curriculum included math, science, and literacy/social studies as the core subjects, with art and physical education on alternating days. In the math classroom, not once did I see learning targets shown anywhere, essential questions being asked, or instruction occurring. This may be an unfair assessment, given the fact that my observing was very sporadic and I generally spent the majority of the time with the science and literacy teachers. However, I frequently observed the math teacher handing out worksheets rather than actually teaching. Most of the students expressed boredom with math and were frustrated that they were forced to do so many repetitive worksheets they felt would be irrelevant in their futures.

In stark contrast, the literacy teacher had learning targets for the week posted on the board, as well as references to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Reading. I graded a few worksheets and papers for her during one of my observations using the rubrics provided by the CCSS. She also used rubrics for the end of unit projects students completed and scored them on a scale of 0-4. It appeared that she used this information to improve her instruction for the rest of the unit and for future years. She also often had students turn and talk to their neighbor about answers to questions and other topics. This teaching technique seemed to work well at gaining student interest. Students were also interested in the social justice unit in their literacy class. Many liked the fact that they could choose a book from a list of books provided related to a social justice topic.

The science teacher often used PowerPoint presentations to give direct instruction, which usually included a learning target. No standards were referenced. Students seemed interested in science, especially when doing experiments such as the erosion and deposition of soil. It is unclear to me how he evaluated student progress and achievement. In general, if an experiment did not go well or the students appeared to be confused, he would simply revisit the experiment the next day to correct any errors or misconceptions. He often used sentence starters as a way to get the students to start writing a summary about a topic such as erosion and deposition. I assume he graded these summaries and took that information into account when working with particular students, but again it was hard for me to make a fair judgment based on the short amount of time I spent observing.

Child Abuse Prevention

Child abuse prevention and reporting is a critical aspect of being a teacher, counselor, principal, or other professional school employee. As part of Seattle Public Schools, B. F. Day follows Board Policy 3421 adopted in April 2012 by the district with regard to reporting child abuse:

All professional school personnel who have reasonable cause to believe that a child has experienced abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall report such incident to law enforcement or the Children’s Protective Services Staff at the first opportunity and in no case longer than forty-eight (48) hours after the finding of possible abuse or neglect.

I am sure these guidelines are reiterated at the beginning of every school year with training occurring every three years after initial employment.

Culture

Rules and expectations are posted in the hallways and in classrooms and are reinforced by faculty and staff daily. B. F. Day is in the first year of implementing the social and emotional literacy program called RULER, which stands for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulating emotions. They also utilize a school wide curriculum called Second Step to teach social skills. I saw posters about these programs in the hallway and in classrooms, but never observed them being referenced by teachers. I often observed students misbehaving in the hallways, in classrooms, and on the playground. Students are expected to transition between classrooms quietly and in line order, however many times students were talking and continually out of line and had to be corrected.

I generally observed good behavior in classrooms, however the math teacher struggled to maintain order in her room. On my first day of observing, I walked into a chaotic classroom where the teacher was doing very little to control her students. The math teacher asked me to help two girls with their math worksheets in the hall outside the room. The girls continued talking and were off-task the majority of the time I tried to help them. Once one of them tore up the math worksheet right in front of me and refused to do it. There seemed to be no consequences for their actions. Needless to say, the math teacher had no idea how to gain student interest in math and failed to keep students in line. She is taking a position at a different elementary school next year.

The other classrooms I observed were much better behaved. The literacy teacher indicated that she set behavior expectations at the beginning of the school year and students seemed to respect her more than the math teacher. As part of her behavior plan, she set up a classroom meeting one afternoon a week for her 5th grade classes. Every student had to compliment at least one person for something and all students were given the chance to discuss important topics such as playground issues, school or community events, and their personal lives as they felt like sharing. Students took this classroom meeting seriously and really enjoyed discussing topics.

The science teacher also set up classroom meetings for the 4th grade classes, which they appeared to enjoy. For general classroom management he used a computer/cell phone app called ClassDojo. This app allows the teacher to quickly award or take away points for each student based on their behavior. Students can gain points by being on-task, participating, and helping others. Points can be taken away for off-task behavior, talking out in class, or other distracting behaviors. At the end of the week if all students had at least 15 points, the teacher would allow them to play on the playground for the last 15 minutes of class. I think this was a great motivational technique for maintaining student engagement and behavior.

As for the faculty frustration, it was clear that the literacy teacher did not appreciate the lack of control the math teacher had over her students. During lunch I would often sit in the teachers’ rooms while they worked on their lessons for that afternoon or answered emails. Sometimes the other 4th and 5th grade teachers, with the exception of the math teacher, would join us and talk about how their day was going. Often I heard lamenting about how they wished the day or week was over and that it was summer break. Other times they felt energized about how well a lesson went that morning or how a certain student was successful at something. They seemed ever hopeful that things would get better, which was encouraging.

In summary, the school culture seemed to be one of rowdy and sometimes disengaged students, as well as frustration among the 4th and 5th grade faculty, mostly in relation to the math teacher and particular students egregiously misbehaving. It is unclear whether the students I observed were as disengaged in prior years or whether their rowdiness was a result of a poor math teacher.

As for my overall experience, I enjoyed getting to know the teachers at B. F. Day Elementary School. They welcomed me, a complete stranger, in their classrooms and allowed me to assist with experiments, grade student work, supervise the playground, inventory science kits, and perform many other tasks. B. F. Day has a handful of dedicated teachers and I am hopeful that next year’s math teacher will be an immediate improvement for the 4th and 5th graders. I hope to have a chance to revisit the school in the future. Having this chance to observe a local school gave me a better understanding of how classroom management can impact the learning environment. Building positive relationships with students and other faculty, clearly communicating expectations and enforcing them, as well as creating a compelling curriculum can make teaching incredibly rewarding.

References

About – B. F. Day Elementary. (n. d.). Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://dayes.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=2199&pageId=35328

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/summary.aspx?groupLevel=District&schoolId=1120&reportLevel=School&year=2014-15&yrs=2014-15

Seattle Public Schools Board Policy No. 3421. April 4, 2012. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.dayes.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/Migration/Departments/HR/3421.pdf

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.

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: 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: 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