Friday, February 25, 2011

Practicum plan

One of my learning goals is to get to know my students earlier in the semester. Since I transferred to North Marion this semester, I wanted to start off the semester by getting to know the students as soon as possible. I gave out a survey asking students how they think they learn best. The survey contained a list of ways to learn, such as, by reading, hearing, discussing, doing hands-on activities, working in groups, etc. I did this so it would be easier for me to plan lessons that truly appeal to my new students' learning styles.

I found that my students not only said they prefer group work (according to the survey), but also work more efficiently in groups (based on my observations).

I haven't made too many changes to my practicum plan except for having to move certain lessons to a later date due to snow days and 2-hr delays. I have not removed or added anything to the plan. I would say for the most part, I'm right on track with the dates I put on each assignment. The only things I wish I had more time to complete while I'm at North Marion are my learning goals. I am trying, at this point, to incorporate my learning goals into the assignments that must be covered at my PDS.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Characteristics 4 and 7 of the Novice Teacher

4.The novice teacher should be a facilitator of learning for all students.

This characteristic pinpoints the importance of teaching in a way that is tailored to all learners. Every classroom is full of diverse learners with differing capabilities, previous educational experiences, and cultural backgrounds. It is imperative for the novice teacher to know his or her students in order to best meet their needs as learners.

In Sped360, I created a Classroom Strategy Toolkit that lists a set of 10 strategies for differentiating instruction. Within this toolkit, I listed the following strategies: jigsaw,think-pair-share, stations, activity choice boards, flexible grouping, R.A.F.T., among others. Next to each strategy and its description, I listed a rationale for its use, guidelines, and classroom examples for how I would or have used these strategies in a science classroom.

For example, under activity choice boards I wrote:
Description - Students use a bulletin board or sign-up sheet to sign up for the activity they wish to complete. This allows students to have some control over what type of activity they can complete.

Rationale - If the students are choosing the activity that most interests them then they are more likely to be actively engaged in the assignment and are motivated to complete the task.

Guidelines -
1. The teacher posts a list of activities for the students to complete. The students must complete one or more of the assignments based on the teacher’s guidelines.
2. Students choose the necessary number of activities that they would like to complete. They can do this by placing a post-it note with their name one it under a category.
3. The students complete the assignments of their choosing.

Examples -
1.Ecology: biomes
Students are given a choice as to how they would like learn about the different biomes found on earth. For example, they could complete a web quest, do a research paper,create a documentary, or give a presentation on the biome of their choice.

2.Physics: potential and kinetic energy
Students can choose how they would like to learn about the difference and relationship between potential and kinetic energy. For example, they could choose between researching and creating a Venn diagram, conducting a student-designed experiment, or by creating a model that represents kinetic and potential energy.

This toolkit demonstrates the "learning for all" characteristic by showing how differentiated instruction can be used through these 10 strategies and their real, applicable examples.

7. The novice teacher should effectively integrate content and pedagogy.

This characteristic demonstrates the importance of knowing both content and pedagogy in order to teach a particular content well. Knowing the content is not enough. You must know the content and know how to best teach that content, which in my case is science.

I planned and taught a roller coaster physics lesson to my 8th graders. In this lesson, I had students work in mixed-ability groups (unless they requested to work alone) and they had to build, present, and explain how their roller coasters related to Newton's laws of motion and the relationship between kinetic and potential energy. For this project I focused on three things: collaboration, critical thinking skills, and presentation, which are essential to my students in the real world. Students had to collaborate with others to design their roller coaster. They had to think critically to incorporate physics into their design. They also had to effectively communicate how their roller coasters related to Newtons laws and the transformation of energy from potential to kinetic during their presentation.

This project really had my students engaged. My students were learning the content by creating something of their own. They were using what they knew about physics to design a structure that was interesting and relevant to them. This lesson applies to characteristic number 7, because I knew the content well enough to be able to design an activity that would be challenging, yet comprehensible and engaging for my students.