Monday, November 26, 2012

EDSS 521 Blog Post #5

Blog Post #5

This semester, I have been surprised by the literacy levels of my students.

Some are able to read basic English and some are able to read more advanced English. Many of my students come from household where Spanish is spoken a majority of the time and their literacy skills have not been fully developed or supported at home. In this way, they are not able to comprehend more advanced levels of English in mathematics, something that they see often in word problems. Many students are not able to retain the vocabulary that is used throughout the curriculum and I find this problem is a result of the language "barrier" created through a lack of English support at home or at school.
 
September 30, 2013

My literacy-rich classroom will implement many of the strategies and activities I have learned this semester in EDSS 521. These include collaborative activities, where I pre-select certain students for groups in order to offer the most support. This can come in the form of peer teaching, where bilingual students can offer support to Spanish speaking students who struggle to comprehend the English we use in class. 
 
They are reading and developing basic math vocabulary that will help them make it through the course. Mathematical foundations are created through minimizing complex language and grammar while focusing on conceptual understanding.

December 15, 2013

 My literacy-rich classroom continues to support and scaffold students through a variety of strategies and activities (think-pair-share, brainstorming, interactive lessons, jigsaws, manipulatives, debate, etc.). My students are engaged in conceptual learning and understanding and practice their reading and writing skills.

They are reading the textbook and other resources they are given and are asked for any questions they have regarding the language, grammar, and syntax used. They are writing mathematics using standardized notation that they have learned through vocabulary retention strategies and practice.

They are discussing new concepts in groups and are given tasks to complete that promote deeper levels of understanding. Group work is normal by this time and students are used to collaborating with their peers and interacting in an academic environment.

May 30, 2014

My literacy-rich classroom has taught students all the tools they require to research and learn independently. We have gone over how to research mathematical vocabulary using reputable sources and students regularly add vocabulary words to their toolkits. Students have also had practice comprehending the word problems we have given during the course of the school year. They are now able to recognize what the word problems are asking and what mathematics they must use to solve them.

My students are engaged in research-based learning where they collaborate to research, examine, and implement mathematical concepts.

They are capable of independent learning in the following areas: vocabulary research and retention, mathematical research and practice, and self-assessment and evaluation.

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

521 Blog Post #4

Blog Post #4: Project Tomorrow

The Project Tomorrow report Connecting in the 21st Century: Parents and Administrators Speak Up about Effective School to Home Communications involves examining the "vehicles" that parents and administrators use to communicate with one another. School to home communication is crucial from a student support standpoint because administrators and other school staff can work together with parents to best support the needs of each student. The report found that personal emails are currently the most used method of communication, followed by face to face meetings and the school portal. The report shows that ideally, however, parents would like to see the school portal be upgraded to support daily access to student grades, attendance, and overall performance. This communication would allow parents easier access to their child's academic school performance.

In Speak Up in Learning to Change, Changing to Learn, education is ranked the lowest in terms of technology use, which both surprises and frustrates me. With the abundance of technology available today, education should be highest on the technology use list, especially considering that most students are heavily tech-savvy. Technology in education is under-represented mostly because of resources but I also believe it is due to teachers and staff who are not willing to change with modern times. I already know of some teachers and administrators at my school site who always take a stance against technology and change; they would rather use older methods of instruction like lecturing rather than incorporating technology into the classroom for an interactive experience. In my teaching practice I plan to embrace technology because it is the future of education and how we use technology will determine how successful we are as a state and as a country.

Starting such a program at my school site would involve a meeting with administrators and supporting teachers to work out the details of the program including purpose, benefits, meeting times, cost, liabilities, etc. The benefits of starting a "Future Teachers" club will help students to see the value in the profession of teaching and become interested in educating others. Students will also become more interested in school subjects that they may have not been interested in before they joined the club. During meetings students will learn to work as a team to collaborate and present to other classes and school staff on what they have learned. Students will also gain community service hours through their teaching in the organization.

Monday, November 5, 2012

521 Blog Post #3

EDSS 521 Blog Post #3

Creativity starts with thinking. Students must be thinking in order to be creative. Brainstorming, for example, is an activity that gets students thinking and promotes the creativeness and diversity of ideas. Collaboration and group work is another strategy to get students thinking and often results in students becoming more creative, sharing their ideas, and respecting the contributions of others. Students who work in groups are often more incline to share their own original work and take value when other students utilize it. It is crucial that creative ideas originating from students be exploited into something important and useful to other students in the classroom.

Critical thinking and problem solving occur when students are taught how to and required to reason effectively using inductive, deductive, etc. throughout the curriculum. Students will also be thinking critically when they use systems of thinking to analyze how many different parts of information interact to produce a whole idea.

Students who use critical thinking to make judgments and decisions will be practicing and developing their problem solving skills. Problem solving skills play a key role in a student’s abilities to solve problems using various methods and innovate and adapt strategies to meet each problem.

Communication, discussion, and collaboration exist in some classrooms more than others. Many effective teachers choose to use discussions and collaboration so that students develop a sense of clear communication. This occurs when students articulate their thoughts and ideas and listen to others in a group setting. Collaboration among students is most effective when each student is given a responsibility during the collaboration and when all students are required to demonstrate their abilities to work with others.

Information literacy is supported through the easy and efficient access of accurate information. Students who learn how to use and manage information have more understanding of the issues surrounding topics. The flow of information in class is very important for students. It is imperative to teach students how to sort through massive amounts of information common to our society.
Media literacy can be taught through media messages and activities during class. Many students may interpret media messages very differently and the teacher must be prepared to have class discussions with regards to this. Some class discussions should focus on the ethics and legal issues behind the media messages.

Students can research using various tools the classroom. In some classrooms iPads are available for students to perform research. Otherwise teachers can opt to go to the computer lab and have students work on school computers. By using computers and other research tools, students can effectively see many positions on issues and evaluate and criticize the information they find.

To teach students to work individually, teachers can ease into assigning individual assignments so that students inch their way toward gaining the ability to work alone without support. Students who complete tasks individually will learn to work alone more and be more confident in the work they produce.

Students who work in groups to complete class assignments learn how to interact academically with others. After students learn to work effectively with others, teachers can assemble diverse teams of students and students will begin to respect culture differences and learn tolerance. Open-minded responses will then begin to show within the class and valuable discussions can be had.

Instructional Strategy List

QUESTIONING STUDENTS AND JUSTIFYING CONCEPTS (Supportive)

1. Ask students how comfortable they feel about the material you just taught them, sometimes what you are teaching is review to them.

2. Get students together for a class meeting to see how students are doing and examine what questions they may have.

3. Justify all your concepts! Students will not learn nor want to learn things that don’t logically make sense to them.
 
4. Tell students to come up with a few questions (say 3 or 4) about content directly after you give your lesson.

5. Find out what misconceptions are by walking around during group activities.

6. Employ techniques and strategies that create a comfortable learning environment in which students feel comfortable asking questions. This is especially important with regards to English learners and special needs students.

7. Always tell students that there is no such thing as a “dumb question.”

8. Encourage students to justify all their own concepts by showing them how mistakes are made.

9. Listen to what students are saying and what questions they are asking. Use this information to improve/adjust your curriculum.

10. Collaborate with colleagues and fellow teachers to further explore ways to question students and promote question asking in your classroom!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sociocultural Aspects of Schooling for ELs

After reading the case study done on Miguel by Rubinstein-Avila, I have learned about the difficulties that many English learners face in today's schools. Miguel, like many English language learners, came with his family to the United States at a young age. His developing literary skills did not give him the confidence to succeed in school. It was his motivation to keep trying that caused him to succeed. Miguel is a great example of a student who has the motivation to succeed but lacks the necessary skills and support to do so.  As Rubinstein-Avila puts it, "academic applied pupils" need not be the typical Caucasian students who have recieved multiple areas of support. It is our job as teachers to teach and give students the skills necessary to succeed. Therefore, for my action, I will address the literary skills of English language learners in my class by building their confidence in the language and creating an environment that will foster literary growth. English learners, especially those foreign to the United States, should benefit from activities that build confidence and positive relationships among students.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson Planning Blog Post

The teenage brain needs constant stimulation during school to growth and develop. My lesson plans are designed to stimulate thinking among students by using two basic strategies. One strategy is to develop a personal connection with students and trigger the emotional memory lane of their brain. This allows for students to become more connected in the classroom and with me, mainly because the emotional memory lane is the strongest of all the lanes. Students will want to maintain this relationship throughout the school year and become more active in class.

Another strategy in my lesson plans is consistency and routine; I include and practice consistency and several routines with all material and with every lesson. Students' brains are repeatedly stimulated with the same material and concepts during each lesson, adding to their automatic memory lane. In addition, the routine of classroom management is in place so that students know both what to expect from me and what I expect from them each class and some anxiety is taken away from their brains.

Management Plan (Revised)

I have revised my Classroom Management Plan and added two supportive strategies based on the readings by Kohn and Towbin.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SDAIE Assessment

The following is an assessment I used with my whole class, but was designed for English learners. It is designed at the (i + 1) level, targetting the Early Advanced level of Cluster 7 which says, "Respond to messages by asking questions, challenging statements, or offering examples that affirm the message."

My cooperating teacher and I went up and down the rows in the classroom and called on each student to do the following:

We would read a statement involving a geometric question, logic, or solution from Unit 3 and any previous unit. The student being called on would have one of the following options:
  1. Challenging the logic of the solution if we read a statement
  2. Give an example if we presented logic
  3. Answering the question if we asked a question
  4. Asking a question if they did not know the information to complete the previous steps
We used this assessment to monitor the progress of student understanding.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SDAIE Strategy

I have observed my CT implement various SDAIE strategies. One such strategy is the continuous use of graphic organizers, realia, and visual clues in the classroom. My CT gives his lessons via PowerPoint and students use their iPads to take notes and look up material on the Internet. The PowerPoint is filled with graphic organizers: diagrams, drawings, charts, and pictures. Students can either copy down the organizers to their notes by hand or use their iPads to download them off of the school's website. The students who do not speak English well are the main beneficiaries of these graphic organizers, though it should be noted that they are helpful to all students in the classroom. From what I can tell the strategy has been successful, many students seem to benefit from drawing the diagrams and synchronizing their knowledge using the graphic organizers.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Student Literacy Habit Survey

I created a digital survey to give to my students using Google Forms. The link to the survey can be found here and the link to the results can be found here. My students were told to take the survey as part of their participation. Since we have iPads for each student in our classroom, I decided to opt for a digital survey instead of a handwritten one so that both the students and I would enjoy a level of convienence.

Here is the embedded survey:


Reflection: The data gathered from this survey was quite interesting to me. I see that many students are exposed to Spanish or other languages at home and many are required to speak a language other than English in public settings. Also, many students have struggled in their English classes and almost all of the students who struggled felt uncomfortable in at least some of their classes just based on how they speak English. I plan to continue analyzing the data throughout the semester and keep an eye on the students who I feel need the most help.

Injustice at School


Not only were there not enough books for students, but the current books are in terrible condition and most look like rags. This injustice promotes an idea to students that books can be abused and misused and that the school cannot even fund enough books for all students.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Name


My name is Richard James Hunsperger. There are three names within my name and each has its own purpose. My first name, Richard, was chosen by my mother and refers to her father’s first name. Her father died while my mother was pregnant with me and she felt it incredibly meaningful to name me after him. And so my first name was given to me in memory of my late grandfather. After he died, however, my mother’s mother (my grandmother) decided to remarry a man whose first name was James, though he liked to be called Jim. When I was born my parents decided to name my middle name after my grandfather James. And so my middle name refers to my mother’s stepfather (my grandfather). My last name comes from my father and from his father. The name itself can actually be traced to Europe quite awhile back. It was, however, an adopted last name for my grandfather as he was adopted in Germany when he was a teenager. There was a recession in Germany at the time and my grandfather’s parents gave him to an orphanage simply because they could not afford to feed and take care of him. My grandfather still holds a lot of anger for this. And so my last name originated from my grandfather, who was adopted and had a son many years later. As it turns out, I am the last person in my family with the opportunity to carry on this last name. The reason for this is that my father was the only boy in the family and I am his only son. Therefore, the name may die with me if I am unable or unwilling to have a son.