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Best Strategies and Resources

June 17, 2011

By now, you have been interning for three months. How would you finish this sentence? The best strategies and resources I currently use in my classroom … Reflect on the implications of your response. (adapted from York-Barr et al., p. 95)

The best strategies and resources I currently use in my classroom are my students, their families, my Professional Learning Community (PLC), and the state and district learning goals.  All of these resources guide my teaching practices.  For example, my lessons are crafted based on my students and their academic needs.  My lessons and teaching practices are also developed with feedback from the students, their parents, and my PLC.  By incorporating state and district learning standards, I ensure that my students are being taught what is required of me to teach as well as what they should be learning.  The best strategies and resources do not come for a textbook or curriculum guide.  Best strategies are based upon the current learning community and what works for them.  The resources I have found to be the most valuable are the learners within my community, their families, my PLC, and myself.

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Math Curriculum Modifications

June 17, 2011

Under what circumstances do you think it is appropriate to modify the curriculum and materials? Have you had to do this? Share some examples and reflect on the effectiveness of these modifications. (adapted from Richard-Amato & Snow, 2005, p. 224)

Teachers should be able to modify curriculum and materials whenever it is necessary to meet the academic needs of their current learning community.  Curriculum cannot meet all learners needs nor does it always meet state and district academic learning goals.  Effective teachers modify curriculum based on their students, accommodating their academic needs the best way possible.

Within my current learning community, math is taught without a curriculum.  All lessons are based upon the students learning needs and Washington State Mathematics Performance Expectations.  For each group, a timeline is in place describing what concept needs to be reviewed or taught each day.  Based on pre and post assessments, the timeline is adjusted to allow for us to revisit a concept or move forward at a quicker pace.  Students who have difficulty with a concept receive pull-out instruction until they have mastered the information that needs to be learned.

All students within my learning community are at or above standard for their grade level in math.  They are confident mathematicians.  Lessons are taught in small groups, based on their academic level.  By modifying the curriculum, we are able to meet all learners needs, as well as making math a fun, less intimidating process.  Within all learning communities, effective teachers modify curriculum and materials to meet their learners needs.

My Final PPA Reflection

June 17, 2011

For my final PPA, the lesson I presented, Sudden Illness On the Trail, was part of our class Oregon Trail journey.  The Smith family (one of our wagon families) suddenly, over night, developed Cholera.  Our wagon train was denied entrance into Fort Laramie because of the illness and therefore, our wagon train (the class) had to decide how our community needed to handle the critical incident.  This social studies lesson, integrated history, reading, and communication EALRs.  The multiage learning community (2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades) researched Cholera, presented facts about Cholera, wrote a reflection about their trail characters’ reaction to the illness, and as a community, came to a conclusion about how the wagon train should handle the issue.

Throughout the lesson, students needed to work cooperatively within their wagon train (each table of four students).   At the beginning of the lesson, I walked the class through our behavior standards (show respect, make good decisions, solve problems) and what those look like when working with our trail families.  I randomly called on students using their trail family name and seat number to share their response.  During the lesson, two tables did have challenges working cooperatively on the lesson.   I frequently visited with them to informally assess their progress with the current task and their effectiveness in working as a community.  As needed, I redirected them back to the task and reminded them of their role within their cooperative family.

The lesson began at 9:20AM.  At 10:30AM students left for their specialist hour.  When they returned at 11:30AM, we completed the lesson.  Students wrote their reflections and shared their family statements about what we should do as a community and about the Smith family illness. 

I am enjoying my lessons about the Oregon Trail and my students are too.  Having all learners assume the role of a pioneer character, and being a part of a wagon train, has made the teaching and learning experiences more meaningful to all of us.  Teaching a social studies unit is challenging in a multiage community.  However, by making each lesson cooperative in nature, all students can experience the lesson at their academic level.  For example, within the lesson each table needed to research and write facts about Cholera.  The Cholera information was assigned to and read by students who could read the information fluently to their partner.  Then, together they identified eight to ten facts about Cholera.

Overall, I felt my lesson went well, and my students met their learning objectives (based on the assessment of their fact sheets, character reflections, and their wagons response at our wagon train meeting).  However, it still feels uncomfortable to be formally evaluated by both your mentor teacher and internship supervisor.  The areas that I can continue to develop as a teacher is “wait time” (I count in my head) and checking for task instruction comprehension within the cooperative environment.  Instead of telling students again and again what my expectations are, I can tell them once and then use my students to communicate the information again, checking for understanding as they do so. 

I look forward to receiving feedback about my lesson.

Math Adoption Committee

June 17, 2011

During my internship, I had the opportunity to be a part of the elementary math curriculum review and adoption process within our school district.  The district is looking to replace their current math curriculum, Investigations in Numbers, Data, and Space.  The two curriculums being considered were Houghton Mifflin Math Expressions and Macmillan McGraw-Hill Math Connects.  The teams reviewing the materials were looking within each curriculum for mathematically rich content, materials that build student confidence when solving problems, and lessons that connect various math applications as well as integrate other subject areas.  On paper, the process looked straight forward, taking input from all individuals.  However, half way through the process, it became clear that the adoption process was not going to be a straight forward decision. 

The group of twenty-eight educators were divided into grade levels, kindergarten through fifth grade.  Each grade level combed through the curriculum materials from both companies and determined which curriculum best supported the Washington State Math Performance Expectations for the grade level they represented.  After the review process, each grade level presented their curriculum recommendation followed by a somewhat heated discussion about best practices and which curriculum would best meet the needs of all learners.  At the end of the day-long session, the Assistant Superintendent joined the meeting to review the final recommendations and get a thoughtful understanding of each viewpoint.  Due to the varying viewpoints, a clear recommendation was not reached and upon further review, a decision would be made.

Unfortunately, due to current budget issues, the purchase of new curriculum is put on hold within our school district.  The final recommendation from the committee was to adopt Math Connects.  I was able to use some of the Math Connects resources within my learning community.  I used the curriculum to teach elapsed time and determining the lowest common multiple for fractions.  The curriculum adoption process was a very informative process to be a part of.  I enjoyed working with other educators from our various elementary schools as well as learning about different math curriculums.  Once I do have a permanent teaching position, I look forward to serving on curriculum adoption committees. 

Math Connects

http://www.mhschool.com/math/2003/student/

Math Expressions

http://www.eduplace.com/math/mthexp/

Mid-Term PPA and Lesson Plan Rationale

May 26, 2011

My mid-term PPA was five, fifteen minute reading lessons.  During each lesson, I provided direct instruction to groups of four to six students.

PPA Mid-Term Group 1    PPA Mid-Term Group 2     PPA Mid-Term Group 3     PPA Mid-Term Group 4    

PPA Mid-Term Group 5

The Foundations of Education

May 26, 2011

Approval Standard L4: Knowledge of learners and their development in social contexts. Contextual community centered (All students are prepared to be responsible citizens for an environmentally sustainable, globally interconnected, and diverse society.):   This work attests to my proficiency in relating the subjects of morality, in this case academic honesty and responsibility, with skills based education.  Authors such as Socrates, John Dewey, and Thomas Jefferson are cited.   My synthesis of their ideas with my own demonstrates my ability to apply these educational theories with concrete examples of educational practice.

EDU 6120 Final paper Question 1 and 3

Professional Development Plan

May 24, 2011

 The following Professional Development Plan is based on the Washington State Professional Teaching Certificate. The professional certificate requires successful demonstration of three standards (effective teaching, professional development, and professional contributions) and 12 criteria, pursuant to WAC 180-78A-540, related to these standards.

J.Simonson.PDP