Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sociocultural Aspects of Schooling for ELs

Sociocultural Aspects of Schooling for ELs
High school English learners face challenges in many aspects of their schooling. Making school a place students feel they belong and feel comfortable being themselves is a challenge that is not easy to overcome alone. This is something that many high school students face, but can be even harder for students who are learning the language that many of their peers already feel comfortable with. In order to help English learners feel that they belong, it is importnat to help them find ways to be involved on campus that can allow them to express themselves and make friends with similar interests. As a teacher, it is very beneficial to get to know these students so that they will share their interests with you and you can suggest clubs or organizations that they can get involved in to find a smaller group on campus to be a part of. When English learners have the support of their teachers, as well as their peers, they will have a greater opportunity to be successful. If students feel that they belong, they will be more motivated to attend school and will feel more comfortable. Making the classroom an inviting and accepting environment where all students are valued and have a place in the class, will also help students feel that they belong. Giving students roles in the classroom that they can focus on, can help to create this accepting and inclusive environment.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson Planning

While designing and planning lessons to implement in the classroom, I always consider how students will think about and respond to the activities and problems that I have planned. It can be difficult to predict their thoughts, but I am usually able to get an idea of the questions that they will have so that I can develop strategies to help them overcome struggles that they face when learning the new concepts. I understand the developmental stage that the adolescent brain is in, so I try to think about ways that I can help them develop meaningful connections to the content material whenever possible. I know that students learn best when different types of long-term memory are accessed through various activities in the classroom. Peer interaction and group discussions about topics can be great ways for students to repeat concepts through listening and speaking to others as well as developing access to other student’s perspectives, which is an important part of adolescent growth. This provides an interesting and engaging way for students to discuss and repeat concepts in order to make connections and learn from each other.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Classroom Management Plan

Classroom Management Plan

My classroom management plan will focus on preventive and supportive approaches, to avoid unwanted behaviors and corrective strategies to handle situations that arise. These approaches compliment the educational philosophies that I have identified most closely with, the experimentalism and essentialism educational philosophies, with an emphasis on experimentalism. Using these philosophies to establish a student-centered classroom where students are encouraged to develop their critical thinking skills while also increasing their knowledge and learning to work with others. According to the experimentalism philosophy, for each student to be successful they need to learn how to think effectively and analyze and suggest ideas for solutions to problems. By making this a part of the classroom environment, they will see how problems can be solved through a collaborative and supportive environment.

Preventive Approach           
Preventative management approaches are going to be the most important to me in order to avoid disruptive behaviors before they even start. Using a variety of ideas from existing approaches, I will use a combination that will be most effective for my classroom.
  1. Students must find value in what they learn, so the curriculum must be revised so it consists only of learnings that students find enjoyable and useful. (Glasser, 1985)I have identified with the essentialism philosophy, as I do believe that it is important to have a structure and curriculum to follow to some degree. However, it is important that I preview the curriculum that I will use and determine an appropriate order in which to present information and cut out anything that is not necessary, giving students the freedom to choose the order when appropriate. It also means I must choose homework problems wisely and make sure they are relevant to the lesson or unit, so that students see the value in the extra practice. If I assign loads of homework that I have not previewed, students will not benefit from it because their attitudes will change about the subject and class.
  2. Teachers motivate students to produce energy and excitement, which will reduce the causes of classroom misbehavior. (Charles, 2000) I plan to make lessons very interactive and interesting for students. I hope to establish a classroom environment where collaboration and interaction are important for learning, but with a strong emphasis on productive use of class time. I want to motivate my students to be excited about math and create a fun environment where students are interacting and learning math, but this will only be able to happen if students are well behaved, which will be emphasized throughout collaborative work. In the experimentalism philosophy, “the curriculum is based on student interest and a good deal of time is devoted to ‘learning by doing’ through discovery and experimentation”. (Grant and Gillette, 2006) I will do what I can to allow students to learn math by “doing” and allow them to work in groups to discover and solve interesting and complex problems that include the basics of the material that they should understand. 
  3. Success in school produces a sense of self worth and an ability to cope, which reduces the likelihood of deviant behavior. (Glasser, 1985) I will do everything that I can to provide my students with what they need to succeed. Some of it they will have to seek out themselves, such as after school or lunch tutoring to catch up or go over a concept again. This is something that I will encourage all of my students to do if they are having trouble. By providing the tools and resources needed, as well as paying attention to certain individuals or concepts that need more attention and providing extra help in class, I hope to avoid students feeling like they aren’t succeeding. By creating an environment where students feel they can succeed, they will be less likely to have behavior issues.
  4. Include students in decision-making and problem solving. (Kohn, 1996) As a way to prevent students from disagreeing with the rules and consequences set in the classroom, I will have students be a part of creating the rules, which I will call expectations, for the classroom, as well as the consequences that they will face if these are not met. By involving and including the students in the decision-making of the classroom, I hope to make them feel like they are a valuable part of the classroom processes, and therefore will be less likely to disrupt or not meet the expectations that they set. Another idea that Kohn included in his approach is to have class meetings, which is a great way to bring up issues that are going on in the classroom and find out where the students are struggling.
  5. Something that I have learned through my participation in the credential program is that the use of directorships is a good way to establish responsibility in the classroom. This is another way for students to be involved in the classroom and will give them a responsibility to focus on. Making each person feel like a valuable part of the classroom by giving them a specific role will decrease the likelihood that they will have behavior problems.
  6. Creating an environment where the teacher is working with students rather than telling or doing something to them. (Kohn, 1996) This is an important part of making students feel like they are an important part of the class and activities that are done in class. When students feel that the teacher is working with them to help them be successful, they will be less likely to disrupt the cooperative relationships that are formed between classmates and the teacher. By making sure students understand that I would like to work with them in solving problems, rather than just telling them what to do, they will be more motivated to learn and be successful, which leaves no room for behavior problems.

Supportive Approach
            The supportive approach to classroom management is also going to be an important aspect of my overall plan. It is important for me to allow students to feel comfortable in my classroom and feel their ideas and needs are accepted and will help them toward success. In order to do this, I must support the positive behaviors that I see and encourage students to behave in appropriate ways.
  1. Educators and students can work cooperatively to create positive community for teaching and learning. (Albert, 1996) Part of this approach was to “notice appropriate behavior”. By creating this positive community where good behavior is noticed just as much, even more, than bad behavior will encourage students to act in ways that attract positive attention.
  2. Developing caring, supportive classrooms where students fully participate in solving problems, including behavior problems. (Kohn, 1996) The experimentalism philosophy focuses on students and the need for them to be problem solvers and critical thinkers. By modeling and encouraging students to use positive ways to solve problems they have in the classroom, I will support students in their efforts to solve their own problems before creating larger problems. Encouraging and supporting this positive behavior of identifying and working toward a solution to a problem will help classroom behavior problems minimal.
  3. Demonstrate how to clarify problems, determine ownership, and deal with the problems. (Gordon, 1989) Support students by helping them to identify the problems they are experiencing in the classroom. Part of this approach was to place responsibility for different types of problems on different people and then figure out how to proceed. Deciding whether the student, teacher, or administrator should address the problem helps students to make sure they are taking responsibility for problems that they need to handle on their own. Supporting this behavior by recognizing when a student has made a positive change in their behavior, will encourage students to handle their own small behavior problems before the teacher needs to get involved.
  4. The focus on meeting students’ basic needs as the key element in teaching and discipline. (Glasser, 1985) Paying attention to student’s basic needs will help them to feel that they are important and have support in the classroom. Glasser describes the basic needs as “survival, belonging, power, fun and freedom”. If these needs are not being met, students will be more likely to act out and cause behavior problems in the classroom. Part of meeting these needs is recognizing when students are engaging in positive behavior so that they feel they are doing well, are a part of the class, and it will help them to have more fun. By correlating positive behavior with more freedom and power for the students in the classroom, this will help their basic needs be met if they cooperate with the need for a positive class environment with little behavior problems.
  5. Start where your students are. (Jackson, 2010) This is the idea of using currencies as motivation for students. Currencies can be many things and differ between people. Discovering students’ currencies and nursing those instead of the ones you think they should be worried about, will show that you support their positive behaviors in the classroom. For example, if students are not motivated by getting good grades, and are more worried about how their friends perceive them, then it will be better to focus on students challenging and pushing each other to perform. This will still allow them to be successful, but changing the focus to something they care more about, will help to support the desired behavior.

Corrective Approach
            The corrective approach to classroom management is also important because no environment can be perfect for every student and there are other factors contributing to student misbehavior. Aspects of the corrective approach will help me in having a system for recognizing and handling inappropriate behavior.
  1. Redirect students who are misbehaving. Indicate politely what you want from a student. (Mendler, 1983) Acknowledging students who are misbehaving and letting them know how you would like them to be doing is a great and easy way to correct behavior problems. If these problems are noticed and addressed at the time of the incident, students will be more likely to change the behavior on the spot. The earlier a problem can be noticed and a student confronted with a polite prompt in the right direction, the faster the problem will be handled.
  2. Correcting misbehavior that does occur by dealing with its cause. (Charles, 2000) I tend to believe that students do not just act out and misbehave for no reason. By asking students who are misbehaving to share the cause, will help me to understand why they are acting the way they are. If the reason is something that I can fix in my own classroom to accommodate their needs, I will be happy to make the environment better for this student so that they will not cause further problems. If it is something bigger than I can change in my classroom, I will note what the student is going through and refer them to others if it is necessary and they are willing to talk further about it. By showing students that I care about them and what is causing them to misbehave in class, will help both of us achieve the goal of positive behavior in the classroom.
  3. Need concrete suggestions, instead of abstract when dealing with violence and other major problems. (Mendler, 1983) When students are misbehaving in the classroom and causing problems in classroom focus, I believe it is necessary to give them solid suggestions about how to fix their problem, rather than just telling them that I am not happy with their behavior. Mendler talks about this specifically with violent behaviors and major problems, however I think that this can also be effective when dealing with any behavior problems that arise. If I am able to help students come to a solution by suggesting specific options for correction of their behavior, it will be easier to fix the problem that is occurring.
  4. Explain why rules are needed, provide an escape mechanism for students who are upset and want to talk about what happened. (Canter, 1976) Part of the essentialism philosophy is that there is a curriculum that I do believe needs to be addressed and covered throughout the year. In order to accomplish this, I need to make sure that we are moving at a pace that allows us to cover material, but in a fun and interesting way. This leaves little room for behavior problems, so if I am able to communicate this to my students and give them substantial reasons why I have to have consequences for disruptive and negative behavior, will help them to understand why there are rules that need to be followed. If a student misbehaves and I need to remind them of this fact, this will help them to correct their behavior because they will know why they have been asked to stop it. Also, by providing a way for students to discuss what happened outside of class, students would be able to voice their opinion about what happened and we can have this discussion about why we need rules and how we will fix the behavior for the future.
  5. Give signals developed in class to signal inappropriate behavior. (Albert, 1996) Establishing non-verbal cues to address students who are misbehaving in class, will help to not distract the whole class when one student is acting out. By signaling this behavior subtly, students will not feel encouraged by the attention they receive for misbehaving and the rest of the class will not be affected.   

            It is important to have a plan for handling situations of student misbehavior in the classroom, as it can be disruptive to the student, teacher, and entire class. In order for all students to be successful, it is important to me to have a solid plan in which all three categories of approaches are included, so that student’s are involved in the process of creating rules, following them and giving me feedback as to why the rules were broken. By using a variety of approaches and combining them into a unique blend for my classroom, I hope it will compliment my personality and teaching style, creating a positive learning environment with little interruption due to misb

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SDAIE Lesson Design Assessment

This assessment is an informal summative assessment that is a check for understanding after a lesson on SSS and SAS. After learning these triangle congruence properties and practicing in groups, pairs and individually, this will check to see who is understanding and who is making mistakes and where. This problem has a nice image and the directions are simple and clear, for all students. For students learning English, if I feel that they need it, I can provide them with the two column table that is common for these types of proofs, or I can scaffold the problem by adding some of the steps of the proof. Many will be able to complete the proof without the steps after practicing many in small groups and with a partner. By having them talk through many problems before this and developing a way to set it up in a two column format while working with others, students should have the necessary tools to complete the proof.