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Standard L: Knowledge of Learners and their Development in Social Contexts

Evidence of teacher candidate practices reflects planning, instruction and communication that is:

L1.   Learner centered. All students engage in a variety of culturally responsive, developmentally, and age appropriate strategies.

L2.   Classroom/school centered. Student learning is connected to communities within the classroom and the school, including knowledge and skills for working with others.

L3.   Family/neighborhood centered. Student learning is informed by collaboration with families and neighborhoods.

L4.   Contextual community centered. All students are prepared to be responsible citizens for an environmentally sustainable, globally interconnected, and diverse society.

My understanding of Standard L:  Teacher practice must provide experiences that are learner, classroom, family, and community centered.  These best practices prepare students for life within and beyond their classroom and school community.

Meta-reflection for Standard L

L1: Learner-centered knowledgeAnswer how you differentiate instruction to best meet the needs of diverse learners.

In my current learning community, instruction is differentiated based upon students’ academic needs.  Students are regularly assessed to confirm placement in a variety of instructional groups.  For example in math, together with our partner multi-age classroom, six academic skill levels of math groups are taught.  Teaching takes place in small group, direct instruction based on their needs assessment.  All second, third, and fourth graders are taught lessons based upon the state grade level standard and performance expectations.  Again, students are assessed regularly to confirm their placement in groups.  Along with thirty minutes of daily, direct instruction, students also do work with math computation for thirty minutes as well as their technology based MAP (Measures of Academic Progress).  MAP is a computer-based testing system that not only measures a student’s progress in reading, language arts and mathematics, but identifies a student’s strengths and helps address areas of weakness. (NWEA, 2011)  In a multi-age classroom environment, this approach is necessary to meet all varying academic needs as well as developmental and cultural differences.   My current community is a full inclusion learning environment.  With academic differentiation, all students are able to remain with their peer group while receiving instruction that is above or below their grade age.

Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) – Computer Based Adaptive Assessments

http://www.nwea.org/products-services/computer-based-adaptive-assessments

Attached is an example of the daily word problems for groups D (3rd grade math), E (4th grade math), and F (4th grade math).  Students select their word problems (based on their assessed academic level) as they come to class for the day.   The word problems focus on what was studied the previous day.  We go over the word problems during the first part of direct instruction.  If students are having a difficulty understanding the information, we will go over it again, using a different approach.  If students do understand the information, we will move on to our next topic.  For students that are having difficulty with the concept beyond what their group is experiencing, they will receive pull-out, direct instruction until they can master the concept.

Group D Word Problems May 2 – 6      Group E Word Problems May 2 – 6      Group F Word Problems May 2 – 6

Attached is another example of differentiated lesson plans for math groups E and F.  Both groups are comprised of 4th graders, however, they are academically at different levels of understanding of the 4th grade performance expectations.  Again, instruction is differentiated based on assessed academic understanding.

Group E Fractions and Decimal Review Lesson Plan

Group F Metric Review & Conversions

L2: Classroom/school centered knowledgeTell how your instruction fosters social wellbeing through cooperative learning and other group activities.

In order to effectively team students and minimize teacher bias, students sit in tabled groups of four.  This helps with classroom management as it focuses on students solving their own problems as well as encourages them to use each other as resources.  Since our classroom is a multi-age learning environment, students have regular interaction with students within the school community who are not of their age or grade.  Students meeting standards and being allowed to move at their own pace is the determiner of both hetero and homogenous groups.  For example, currently we are studying westward movement and specifically, The Oregon Trail.  Our classroom is one wagon train and each table of four students is a wagon family.  Families work together to solve problems and make decisions along the trail.  They also work with other families within our wagon train.  This social studies unit allows all students to work together, irregardless of academic standing and grade level.  It fosters social wellbeing because all students are working together, cooperatively, to make decisions that impact their family and our wagon train.  

The attached lesson plan demonstrates how students will work together to understand and solve the critical incident of Cholera sickening one of the families in our wagon train (the Smith family).  The students will research and reflect about this issue as a family (table of four) and as a class (our wagon train).  At the conclusion of the lesson, the wagon train will make a decision of how to handle this incident.

Oregon Trail Families     Oregon Trail-Cholera Incident Lesson Plan     Oregon Trail-Cholera Incident Lesson Plan Rationale     Cholera Information

L3: Family/neighborhood centered knowledgeTell how you utilize family and community resources, mentors, etc. to facilitate learning.

I begin each day standing outside the classroom door, greeting students as they arrive and talking with parents who walk their children to the classroom.  I have found this time to be a great opportunity to connect with each student as they walk through the door and to connect with their parents as they are leaving for the day.  As I have become more of an established and trusted resource in our learning community, parents are increasingly coming to me with questions and comments regarding their children.  I am better equipped to facilitate student learning when I have open communication with their parents.  It builds their confidence in me, as a teacher and as someone who cares about their child’s learning.  I also update parents via email about weekly activities and assignments.  Included is an example of a typical email exchange about one of my students, Anthony, with his mom, Kim, who was leaving for vacation.  The use of email allowed Anthony to continue to be an active member of the class despite his absence and will ease his transition back when he returns, always a sensitive time in the life of a 4th grader (and days prior to the state Measurements of Student Progress (MSP)).

Email example

Poggi email    Anthony Study-Vocab Guide    Anthony Word Problems

L4: Contextual community centeredAnswer how you relate lessons to community needs and resources in order to teach environmental stewardship and an appreciation for cultural diversity.

 In order to build and foster a sense of community within Breidablik Elementary, I impress upon my students the responsibility we have to the communities of which we are a part.  We need to be positive, responsible, and caring, not only with our words but with our actions too.  In our community, inside our school, we rely upon each other to support a safe, learning centered, respectful environment.  Our students practice the 4 R’s (Responsibility, Respect, Relationships, Rights).  By following the 4 R’s, as a community, we are able to respect our differences, build relationships, be responsible, knowing our rights as community members.  Students are celebrated for knowing and following the 4 R’s.  When a child needs extra support following the community standards, they spend time with the school counselor talking about the 4 R’s and how they can make better choices that reflect the 4 R’s.  We respect our environment and know that our positive behavior can make a difference in our environment.  For example, as part of a salmon study, we picked up trash at a park.  At the same park, we also released salmon fry that we grew within our school community.  We studied our impact on our water systems and how some of our actions, such as littering, not picking up animal waste, dumping toxic chemicals into our soil, impacts our water system and can therefore, harm the wildlife that resides in our communities.

4 R’s — What Are They?

http://www.nkschools.org/1590206375414140/blank/browse.asp?a=383&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&c=64012&1590Nav=|&NodeID=1704

The 4 R’s Matrix

http://www.nkschools.org/1590206375414140/lib/1590206375414140/4_Rs_Matrix.pdf

Resources

NWEA. (2011). Coronado Students Given a MAP to Future Academic Success. Retrieved April 17, 2011, from Northwest Evaluation Association: http://coronado.patch.com/articles/students-given-a-map-to-future-academic-success

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