STRAND 1: SUBJECT MATTER KNOWLEDGE-BASE IN GENERAL AND LIBERAL EDUCATION

An understanding and appreciation of general and liberal arts including English, literature, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, natural or physical sciences, and the arts, and the ability to:

a.  Synthesize, analyze, reflect upon, and write with clarity and structure about ideas, information, and data from a general and liberal education, and the relationships between the various disciplines;

In a 9th grade math class I incorporated reading and writing into the curriculum.  I did this through having students read an article on the practical applications of geometry and then write about how it applied to their lives through other subjects or aspects of life.

b.  Understand and appreciate free inquiry in English, literature, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, natural or physical sciences, and the arts;

In an algebra II I conducted inquiry-based conversations with several students in a class to assess their level of knowledge prior to teaching.  Each student was given the prompt of describing what he or she knew about equations and graphs.  I used what I learned to frame the lessons I taught later on similar subjects.

c.  Understand global and international perspectives of the disciplines;

Based on my research in the international practicum in education I wrote a unit attempting to imitate some of what I had learned from the French system.  I integrated material from previous units and classes as well as gave previews of math still to come. This helped students to see how what they were learning fit with everything else.

d.  Understand the tenets of a free, democratic, and pluralistic society;

Students have rights in the classroom, and it is important to me that they are aware of that.  I try to run my classroom as a democracy and frequently would ask students to vote for the activity they preferred.  Also if they thought something I had done was unfair I gave them an opportunity to explain their side and we would work out a compromise if appropriate.

e. Understand and respect varying points of view and the influence of one’s own and others’ ethics and values;

I have found myself in classrooms very unlike those I experienced growing up during my time in the school.  When this happens and it causes a conflict in understanding I find it to be very helpful to sit down with the students and discuss how our background affect the way we learn and understand.  I ask them to educate me so that I can better help to educate them.

f.   Understand and respect the role, rights, and value of the individual in a free democratic society;

In a geometry classroom when students were resistant to one of the project that I had planned I took time from class to allow them to voice their reason for complaint and brainstorm other more acceptable projects.  The class voted to choose which option they would prefer and I adjusted my syllabus accordingly.

g.  Understand technology and its use for gathering, processing, evaluating, analyzing, and communicating ideas and information;

While working in an algebra II class we used CBR’s and calculators to gather, analyze, and fit an equation to data that students had collected that was a hyperbola.  This use of technology gave students another hold on what they were learning without embedding the learning process into the technology.

h.  Understand the similarities and differences within our culture that support the importance of common good and responsible citizenship within our American society;

Taking time to notice the differences within a classroom community and improve the classroom experience.  In a special education class I was in we took a day to share our personal cultures and backgrounds.  This was not only interesting, but it also established trust and community.

i.   Understand the constitutions and histories of the United States and Michigan;

The constitution and history of the state we live in is important to understand.  In geometry while studying an axiomatic system we looked at the similarities and differences between how it functioned and how our constitution functions.

j.   Understand and respect individual differences, including the differences identified within the State Board of Education (SBE) Universal Education Vision and Principles; and

For one geometry class, rather than having students copy definitions out of the book as was customary I had them create their own definitions in language that was comfortable for them.  Different students were encouraged to have different definitions based on what made the most sense to them as an individual.

k.   Demonstrate the abilities and skills necessary for effective communication in speech, writing, and multimedia using content, form, voice, and style appropriate to the audience and purpose (e.g., to reflect, persuade, inform, analyze, entertain, inspire).

Communicating an idea clearly in incredibly important.  In an algebra II class I worked in I adopted the practice of asking students to summarize what I had said after I finished.  It they were unable I knew that I needed to be clearer and I could try again.  Occasionally I would ask students to come to the front and offer their explanations when I thought they might help others.