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  • Standard 3

    2010 - 10.24

    A.  In my teaching throughout my field placements, I have worked to align my instruction with important Michigan educational standards like the Michigan Curriculum Framework.  This framework in particular, and the related Grade Level Content Expectations, were especially important to the design of my lessons and units, guiding my instruction by informing me as to the expectations I should have for my students and the content knowledge that is expected in different subjects and at different age levels.

    B.  I definitely believe in creating “learning environments that promote critical and higher order thinking skills, foster the acquisition of deep knowledge, and provide connections beyond the classroom […]”  In my teaching, I constantly strive to build lessons and units which require students to think deliberately and critically about subject matter, forcing them to internalize and apply their knowledge.  In my Showcase Unit Plan, taught during my Professional Internship, I strove to require students to think deeply and critically about the books they read.  Though there was ample focus on basic plot, as there was an apparent need for instruction regarding basic reading comprehension, students also spend significant time with high order thinking, for instance tracking character changes over time and identifying the driving problem or idea behind their books.  These tasks challenged the students in important ways, and each learner worked hard and was able to articulate their understandings throughout the unit as a result.

    C.  I believe that it is incredibly important to foster independence in even young learners, allowing students to “safely and responsibly” solve problems and learn independently.  In my Maymester unit plan, my fifth grade students were able to design and “publish” a magazine which reflected their own understandings and learning about community and about magazine writing.  The students found examples of magazines and drafted their own rubric (as a class) with which to evaluate their work.  Students defined for themselves what their magazines would need to have, and also created their own plan for accomplishing those goals.  Finally, students asked and answered their own questions about community throughout the unit.  Though there was teacher guidance, to be sure, the unit was truly based on student inquiry, investigation, and creation.

    Please click here to read more about the planning and teaching of this unit.

    D.  It is absolutely paramount that student learning transfer from subject to subject and year to year.  As such, I try to “design instruction so that students are engaged in actively integrating and transferring knowledge across the curriculum.”  One way in which I strive to accomplish this is by beginning each lesson with a discussion of the learning that occurred in the previous lesson or lessons.  I constantly remind students of what they have accomplished before, and force them to make connections between what they have already learned and what they are currently working on.  I also guide students to make connections across subject areas, facilitating discussion regarding how their learning in the various subject interacts and works together.

    E.  It is also incredibly important that students engage in activities which allow them to make connections between the classroom and the world at large.  As a student, it is easy to wonder at times how a particular lesson will really help one in the “real world.”  The question “when will I ever use this?” is actually a very important one; and is something that should be readily addressed in the elementary classroom.  In my Professional Internship, one of the primary subjects in which this question was a primary focus was science.  In order for students to understand the otherwise somewhat abstract concepts with which they were presented, we often discussed, investigated, and wrote about how those concepts work in the world outside of the classroom.  Students were encouraged to think about science in terms of real-life applications, and were therefore better able to relate to and apply what they were learning.  For example, when talking about friction, students conducted experiments, read stories, and discussed personal examples of how they experience friction in their lives, taking an abstract subject and making it real through connections to the world outside of the classroom.

    F.  Each student is unique.  As such, it is crucial to “evaluate, adapt, and modify instructional strategies, technologies, and other educational resources to enhance the learning of each student.”  In my own teaching, I try to accomplish this by incorporating as many different types of teaching and learning into my lessons as possible.  I strive to provide my students with as many opportunities as possible to demonstrate their learning in diverse ways, using pictures, writing, oral discussions, hands-on activities, and other resources to encourage learning.  For example, in my Showcase Unit Plan, students met with me in small groups to discuss reading strategies and assignments according to the students’ needs.  Learners also completed tasks that required diverse applications of knowledge (drawing, writing, speech) in a manner which allowed for students to work with their own strengths while also addressing areas for growth.  My instruction was different for different students and groups of students, as I focused on different strategies with different learners, depending on need.  The books that students read were also different, again depending on reading level, and the needs of each learner.  In short, I evaluated student needs, modified and varied instruction in order to enhance student learning.  I strive to do this throughout my instruction.

    In the fall semester 2009, I also completed an individual assessment case which would have been important in guiding my literacy instruction for this student and the entire group of students in my Kindergarten field placement classroom, had I continued teaching there (beyond the field placement).  To read more about this assessment case, in which I gave an individual learner several tasks to evaluate her understanding of language and literacy, please click here.

    G.  I always try to be as creative as possible in my teaching, working to utilize strategies that are research based and built around the needs of the learners in my classroom.  In my professional internship, I embraced this notion in my Action Research.  Noticing that my students struggled to focus in the afternoon hours, I did some research and found that there is a noted connection between student activity and focus.  I decided to track the impact of periodic active breaks and student focus in my classroom, and found that there was indeed a positive correlation.  I found creative ways to incorporate movement into natural breaks in my afternoon instruction, and found the students really enjoyed and benefited from them.

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