Standard 3: Improve teaching and learning through the use of educational research at the classroom and school level

At the beginning of this program, I had a superficial understanding the role research played in teaching, but mainly viewed research’s impact  as relevant to setting school policy. When reading research, I often avoided dense articles that provided raw data, as I didn’t understand what it meant or how to read it.

However, at the end of this Teacher Leadership Program, I feel I have gained both the knowledge and confidence to find educational research articles, interpret raw data included in research articles, analyze and critique researchers’ conclusions regarding research, and apply findings appropriately to my own practice.

Some work that I have produced that helped me practice these skills can be found here:

Final Article Analysis

Assignment_Exam Anxiety Data Analysis

Mergendoller Article Critique_2

I also learned a lot about Action Research and put Action Research into practice in various courses throughout the program.

In my Action Research Class, I conducted a RAP that had two main goals:

GOAL 1: Increase student appreciation for the complexity of Spanish-speaking cultures

GOAL 2: Give students the tools to compare their own culture with that of Spanish-speaking peoples, and to do so in a respectful, sensitive way.

These goals came from:

  • Feeling like I’m teaching content and skills, but what I really want to do is teach deeper, more meaningful themes of inclusion, tolerance, kindness, acceptance and understanding, social justice.
  • A very interesting line of conversation about culture and misconceptions about what it meant to be “hispanic” vs. “Spanish” that arose in a Spanish 1 class. My mind was spinning after the class about where I should go with this theme from here. The students were clearly engaged. One student asked me on her way out the door if we could continue a similar conversation the next day.
  • As Spanish 2 students finished up their cultural presentations this week, I noticed they have a fairly superficial knowledge of Spanish-speaking cultures and I’m thinking I will use them as my classes for my RAP.
  • I observed this week that I still have a lot of work to do with my students, as I had a student complain of comments made by another student in class that were generalizing all latinos in derogatory ways and making said student feel uncomfortable. I started direct and explicit lessons that will helped them first understand the many components that shape each of our own personal culture and make us so complex. I took some ideas from our Multicultural Education class.
  • I had a couple different conversations with one of our school counsellors and the ELL teacher about my RAP and got their input on strategies for raising awareness of cultural diversity in our community and deepening their cultural sensitivity. We started small group conversations with ELL students who are native Spanish speakers. As Clark and Minami (2015, p. 189) discuss, it is important that students “also engage in weekly interactions with native speakers” in order to deepen cultural understanding while negotiating language.

Specific interventions employed during the length of this project were:

  1. Explicit teaching of cultural factors that affect our lives. As was recognized by Charles and Stevens, “programs need to recognize the current, existing reality of the students, particularly with respect to diversity.” (Charles & Stevens, 2005, p.20)
  2. Integrating cultural and linguistic lessons: In order to analyze stereotypes and cultural generalizations, cultural media and text should be used to address the topics from a logical analysis perspective and not a personal analysis perspective. In this way,“students are less likely to perceive and therefore resent the unit as yet another accusation that they and their generation are bigots.” (Wilson, 2015, p. 56)
  3. Exposing students to native speakers by utilizing: Skype in the Classroom, El Café discussion hour, student generated questions for Señor Vasquez and native Spanish-speakers. To improve cultural sensitivity in conjunction with language acquisition, it is important for students to “engage in weekly interactions with native speakers” (Clark & Minami, 2015, p.189).
  4. Question Box cultural questions and topics: Gutiérrez suggests various strategies I applied to try to increase cultural knowledge and sensitivity and meet students where they are, including: creating a cultural questions box, using student research and presentations to “hear what students have to say,” (Gutiérrez, 2015, p. 274) exposing them to the spoken word, raps, and culturally responsive music, and creating journals or learning logs.

Data collection included:

  1. 2 open-ended questions regarding general cultural factors
  2. A personal letter in which students explained their understanding of their personal culture
  3. Teacher observation and tally of culturally insensitive comments or generalizing questions

I gave an assessment regarding students knowledge of personal culture and it opened up some interesting conversations around what is culture. I asked students to write questions they had about diverse cultures, Spanish-speaking cultures, questions for my husband who’s from Bolivia, or for our TA who’s from Honduras. They could also write a topic they want to learn more about. I was blown away by all the questions and topics they came up with! I have basically an entire Semester’s worth of topics and curriculum now!

As I went over Period 5’s baseline assessments (a letter they wrote to me explaining their personal culture)  I learned a lot about my students on multiple levels, including:

  • Writing ability in English
  • Got a really good feel for the depth or superficial nature of their understanding of culture
  • Realized A LOT of students have a very superficial understanding of what factors make up/influence our culture.
  • Students wrote questions they have about culture/topics for investigation. REALLY good ideas-I got a whole semester’s worth of curriculum from here.

I’ve decided to teach more explicitly now and then I will work to weave themes of multicultural education into my lessons for the rest of the year. However, I struggled to figure out how to balance staying in Spanish and engaging ALL students in meaningful conversation about deep-rooted cultural concepts that go below the superficial surface of food, festivals and clothing. I really like being able to discuss cultural concepts, stereotypes, etc., but I hate switching into English to do so. In a Spanish 3 or 4 class we could discuss deep concepts and discuss/debate them, but with Spanish 2 it is challenging at times.

However, to truly make a real impact and get meaningful results, I need to extend the interventions over a longer period of time. My greatest takeaways from this course are that I can intertwine meaningful and interesting cultural lessons with Spanish instruction, and that I must be intentional and explicit about teaching cultural themes, but culture and language teaching need to be taught in a delicately intertwined way, not taught in isolation as so often is the case. They are not mutually exclusive. Also, cultural sensitivity comes through explicitly teaching students first to recognize and understand their own culture in a deeper way, and then through learning about explicit and implicit practices of other diverse cultures. Strategies I have been using that I will continue to extend even after this course has ended are:

-give students space to generate cultural questions/topics they are interested in and organize projects/presentations where they have to investigate and find their own answers

-teach students explicitly about their own culture first

-role-play with scenarios: explicitly practice what cultural sensitivity sounds and looks like

-implement student dialogue journals (in Spanish)

-expose students to authentic resources that teach cultural themes and use the Spanish language to engage students in conversations about these topics

-expose students to as many native speakers as possible, through Skype-chats, guest speakers, and conversation hours with ELL students

I have also reflected upon the idea that my PLC could significantly benefit from implementing some of the structure and research that is built into the RAP. As of now, PLC meetings are loosely defined and fairly unproductive. There is usually a general goal that defines our topic of discussion, but data is never discussed nor shared. We have yet to implement common assessments across courses to compare results and best practices. Frustrations are shared but rarely are concrete techniques or strategies discussed. I would love to bring my learning from this course to my PLC and suggest we follow some of the steps to conduct an informal Research Action Project and compare results among students to explore best practices across many classrooms and teaching styles. It would also benefit us to establish clear student outcome goals and specific data collection strategies.

Sources/ Literature Referenced

Charles, J., Stevens, R. (2005). Preparing teachers to teach tolerance. Multicultural      Perspectives , 7(1), 17-25.

Clark, A., Minami, N. (2015). Communication skills, cultural sensitivity, and collaboration  in an experiential language village simulation. Foreign Language Annals, 48(2), 184-202.

Gutiérrez, R. (2015). HOLA: Hunt for Opportunities-Learn-Act. The Mathematics Teacher,  109(4), 270-277.

Howard, G. (2006). As diversity grows, so must we. Educational Leadership, March 2007, 16- 22.

Wilson, N. E. (2015). Cross-Examining Bigotry: Using Toulmin’s Argument Model and Huckin’s CDA to Interrogate Overt and Covert Racist Arguments. The CEA Forum, Winter/Spring. Retrieved from

EDU 6600 Communication and Collaboration: Models for Collaboration

Please summarize one or two of the models of collaboration you have learned about so far that you think best align with either- 1- what you would like to see in your school, 2- what you do see in your school AND 3- what are some challenges to creating this type of collaborative model in your school? What might be a good “next step?” How has your thinking changed regarding your school’s current practice for collaboration and it’s alignment to “best practice?” Due November 7th.

My school has slowly been working to establish a more collaborative work environment. The staff does share a common vision of teaching and learning. Our principal is clear that at the heart of everything we do, we need to keep what is good for kids in mind. I think that overall our school culture would be described as a positive, collegial one where staff genuinely enjoy each other and even spend time together outside of the school day.

However, the laissez faire attitude that exists within the school has created an environment that disregards collaboration as a critical component to both professional development and improving student achievement. Currently, collaboration efforts are often mandated from “above,” either at the district level or from admin. There is little teacher buy in with current attempts to enforce participation in PLCs, attempts to create interdisciplinary teams, and classroom learning walks. I believe this comes from a lack of leader vision and shared staff vision and goals. My principal mentioned during my interview with him that he and the admin team have set a goal to be more direct with staff and they have primarily been focused on building relationships in the past and have sometimes avoided hard conversations and in my opinion, strong leadership on the need and importance of collaboration.

According to Zapeda, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are “a group of individuals who share a similar vision of educational values and beliefs. As a result of this shared vision, a community of learners can work toward common goals that enhance professional and personal development.” (p.83) We are currently using some sad form of PLCs at my school, and most are formed according to department or content area. Different PLCs are functioning at various levels of efficiency. A few are actively collecting and analyzing data to reflect on practice and collaborate to improve together. However, for the most part, including my own PLC, teachers work together in loosely organized and ill-defined groups that may informally share strategies and activities, but rarely, if ever, analyze data in order to improve practice and deepen our practice. For the most part, PLCs are seen as a top-down initiative with little buy-in; another hoop to jump through.

A type of learning that could include PLCs but also encompasses other types of learning is Collaborative Teacher Development. This type of professional development is not truly being implemented at my school right now, but it is a style of PD that I believe in as it encompasses teacher voice, choice and thus teacher buy-in, which I consider to be fundamental aspects of successful professional development experiences. Collaborative Teacher Development is any learning that teachers do collaboratively with others and can be structured tightly, with protocols, or in an informal way, depending on the needs of the teachers and the model being used. It can include teacher study groups and book studies. The idea behind these types of professional development is that teachers are at the center of choosing the topics of study and growth, and teachers are recognized as valuable resources to contribute to the development and growth of the whole. Teachers identify, investigate, implement, and reflect upon areas of growth that are meaningful and applicable to their practice and students, and dialogue and collaborate with other staff who share similar values and visions in order to improve their practice and school.

As I’ve learned about various models of professional learning, including the few mentioned here, I can’t help but reflect on both the positive direction we’ve been moving in, but also the great areas for growth that still exist. I believe at my school there is a belief that we are “good enough” as we are now. Teachers are bogged down with other responsibilities and thus it will take decisive vision and leadership to prioritize teacher professional development and lead us down the path of collaboration and teacher empowerment. Next steps would be for our administrators to:

  1. Make teacher professional development a priority and communicate this vision and goal to teachers, or even better, develop it WITH teachers.
  2. Create time and space to discuss values and vision. Link this to professional development.
  3. Create opportunities for teachers to choose their area for development and method for growth, whether it be in a PLC, a book study group, a coaching opportunity, attending a training or workshop and then sharing learning with staff as an in-house expert, learning walks, etc.
  4. Get creative and create time for teachers to collaborate and work together (more than our one hour Wednesday LEAP, which is irregular and often taken up with other responsibilities/commitments).
  5. Follow through-administrators need to commit to emphasizing and dedicating time and resources to the same focus for a few years in order to truly change school culture. In the three years I’ve been at my school, passing attempts at PLCs/data teams, book studies, learning walks, and interdisciplinary teams have been attempted. None have had much development or follow through however.
  6. Intentionally work to empower teachers: Give teachers more voice. What development do they need? How can they share their learning, in a meaningful way, with all staff? How can more than just Team Leaders take a leadership role? Send out leadership surveys asking teachers in what areas they feel like they could lead or share expertise. What types of areas would they like to collaborate with others? Then admin needs to work to set up these opportunities for staff to both lead and participate. Respond to teachers concerns. Let them know you listen to and value their opinion. Keep shared vision and non-negotiable values at the center.




EDU 6600 Communication and Collaboration: Reflection on Theories of Adult Learning

Adults and children learn in similar ways, but with marketed differences that need to be noted when planning and facilitating adult professional development. Both children and adults learn best when presented with creative opportunities, choice, structure, are given ownership of their learning, are motivated to learn, and are given opportunities to self-reflect on learning.

However, children often need more structure than adults, and adults thrive with self-directed learning and when learning is directly and immediately applicable to their life. Also, adult learning often, if not usually, involves collaborating with colleagues. Adults are more intrinsically motivated and self-directed, having learned sufficient skills to allow them to problem solve, cope with frustration, manage their time and prioritize tasks, and search for additional resources when necessary,  while children are still learning essential educational skills needed to become independent. However it is essential that adult professional development be in context and directly applicable to the learner’s daily work. It is also very important to have follow up on professional development, either through PLCs, further trainings, learning coaches, etc., as much adult learning is informal and incidental, and practitioners benefit from the reflective process, either individually or collaboratively.

According to Zepeda’s Adult Learning Theory, “adult learning should be built on ownership, appropriateness, structure, collaboration, internalization, reflection, and motivation.” (p.47) I agree that all these factors play integral roles in adult learning, however I believe that ownership and motivation, two qualities that are closely intertwined, are some of the most powerful but also the most frequently overlooked and under appreciated by politicians passing educational policy, and even by many district and school administrators.

Teacher leaders and administrators should be a facilitator of information and learning, not necessarily the source. This means their ideal role is listening to teachers or staff regarding what kind of training or resources they need, then going out and finding those resources, coming back to staff or teachers and continuing the cycle.

According to Zepeda, collaborative evaluation processes give teachers a sense of ownership in the learning and evaluation process, produce learning through participation in the evaluation process, enforce skills in self-reflection and skills in program evaluation, and improve communication among staff at different levels throughout the school. The benefits of engaging staff and stakeholders in the evaluative process of a staff development program seem to be many, yet this requires cultivating trust amongst staff and administrators.

Some new strategies for involving teachers in professional learning discussion and program evaluations that have been suggested in our group discussions  are:

  • listening sessions
  • sticky note brainstorms and then a follow up discussion
  • giving credit to others who have helped or have been a part of projects, teams, or initiatives, instead of taking the credit for ourselves

I have learned from my own professional development journey, and from watching those journeys of colleagues, that as teachers are used to being autonomous educational experts, it is essential that they own their own professional evolution. This means teachers will change at their own pace, when they are ready, and when they have compelling enough evidence to motivate them to invest the substantial amount of energy that is required to change pedagogy or practice. The old saying “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force him to drink” is appropriate here. If governments or districts or administrators try to force teachers to change without first getting teachers’ buy in, change will not take hold, and the culture of the school will be compromised in the process. We see this happen with regularity, whether talking about No Child Left Behind, state standardized testing, professional evaluation systems, data teams or PCCs/PLCs, or adoption of new curriculums. As Hilty states “given a reinforcing school culture and a self-confident principal willing to experiment and to share some power, the raw potential for teachers to become a serious force in local school policy would appear to be enormous.” (p.87) Unless teachers are entrusted with the power to lead within the school and have their voices heard in the decision making process, whether those voices are in agreement or dissension, unless you empower teachers, it is hard to get teacher buy in and thus motivation.

Hilty, E. B. (2011). Teacher leadership: The “new” foundations of teacher education: A reader. New York: P. Lang.
Zepeda, S. J. (2008). Professional development: What works. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Pre-Assessment: EDU 6600 Communication and Collaboration

My current experiences with professional learning practices thus far have been generally positive, but individualized more than collaborative. 

When I started in this district 3 years ago, it was my first experience with PLCs. My current knowledge of PLCs is limited, although I know that the general cycle of group inquiry begins with a collective question or goal, data collection and tracking, reflection as a group on that data, decisions made together to react to what the data tells us (sharing of best practices, trying new strategies to see who has the better results, etc.), collecting data again and continuing this cycle. I have worked in a PLC ever since joining my current school, but I have never felt like we follow this cycle as we set common goals and discuss how we are addressing these goals, but we have never compared data nor reacted to data to adjust our teaching, which I feel are actually the critical steps. There actually seems to be a true aversion to data collection with my colleagues, and I have felt jeered at recently when attempting to suggest we use data collection to improve our practice. 

Due to diverse attitudes towards data collection and collaboration in my PLC, I have chosen a more individualized and personal route of professional learning, pursuing workshops and trainings multiple times a year, organizing trainings to share with colleagues, pursuing my Masters in Teacher Leadership and working to apply this learning directly to my classroom, and pursuing my National Board Certification, which is an inherently reflective process. 

I became a teacher to help level the playing field, close the gap, play my role in making the world a more just place. However, I have not always felt like I am directly achieving this. I am curious to see how professional learning can be pursued through a social justice lens in this class this Quarter, as is mentioned in the article Building Hope, Giving Affirmation by Stephanie Hirsh and Shirley M. Hord. I do feel like social justice issues have been raised by our administration, and this year, we were encouraged to work in our PLCs to design units of work that would be accessible to low income students and our African American and Latino students. Unfortunately, we were given little time and no guidance/resources for how to do this, and so teachers more focused on designing collaborative units of work more than units designed to support specific populations of students within the school. 


Survey of Instructional Strategies MetaReflection

This course, Survey of Instructional Strategies, was essentially an overview of a variety of strategies that teachers apply in the classroom, with in-depth looks being given to a few choice strategies such as collaborative grouping, direct instruction, nonlinguistic representation, note taking strategies and advance schemas. We focused on two main texts for this course, Classroom Instruction that Works by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler & Stone and Visible Learning for Teachers by John Hattie, but also learned from independent research articles.

At the beginning of this course I already had an awareness of a variety of strategies, and had used or attempted to use most of the strategies focused on in this course. The main learning I thus took away from this course was a deeper appreciation for more meaningful application of strategies. Reading John Hattie’s book Visible Learning gave me a deeper insight into the need for intentionality, specific learning targets, and creating a reflective classroom with students at the center. As Hattie says “ ‘Everything works’: if the criterion of success is ‘enhancing achievement’ , then 95 per cent of all effect sizes in education are positive…because virtually everything works.” (p. 2) We must then ask ourselves as educators if the strategies we are employing are effective enough to be worth our time and worth our students’ time. Are we making as significant an impact as we can? Could we be teaching a specific topic in a more effective way, with a more impactful strategy? From this class I learned to ask this question, and then how to look for an answer.

This course has helped reinforce the importance of utilizing specific learning targets and collaborative practices amongst my colleagues. I have made some direct changes in my practice due to this. I have been refocusing on using Learning Goals in class. Although I was using them to some degree last year, I did not carry this practice through to this year, due to my changing methodology. However, over the course of this class, I have practiced writing down the learning target for myself each day, and it has helped re-focus my lesson planning. This has been especially beneficial at a time of the year that often feels hectic and rushed. Also, I’ve been referring to the Learning Goals in class with students.

Another learning for me has been around the idea of “multiple intelligences.” On page 91 Hattie critiques the ideas as classifying students in one category or another, which I found interesting, as I have also read another article making a similar criticism. Angelina E. Castagno makes a similar criticism in her article “Multicultural Education and the Protection of Whiteness.” She also argues that categorizing students by learning styles of intelligences should not be used and merely acts as an excuse to limit students. Despite the criticism, I would still use this as a guide to design choice activities and diversify choice, but not to prescribe what students should or must complete.

Finally, my one of my more important reflection was one I have already begun to put into action. After my readings, I could not shake the idea that in my World Language Department we could be serving students much better than we currently are. Hattie describes how “being clear about outcomes (success criteria) of the lesson or series o lessons” and deciding on how to best measure outcomes in a integral part of evaluating the impact of teaching on students (Know thy impact!). (p. 97) I kept reflecting on how our District Standards for World Language are general, non-specific and immeasurable. I thus have contacted my two colleagues and we have scheduled to begin a conversation about setting common expectations and course outcomes and agreeing on a common way to measure these outcomes. Although this is a basic first step, it is fundamental and most necessary for moving forward, and I am excited to see what comes from this collaboration. Finally, once we have a common foundation we all agree to, it will be easier to collaborate on effective strategies to employ in the classroom.

Overall, this course has helped to reinforce the impacts effective teaching can have on students. It has reminded me that we must look to our students to decide what the impact of our teaching really is, and to judge if a strategy is effective or not. It is no longer good enough to judge success merely by looking for any and all growth in students. More so, we must make sure that the strategies being employed are having the greatest impact possible on all students.




Accomplished Teaching: End of Course Reflection

The main learning I will take from this course is the importance of being a reflective practitioner, both individually and in a group setting, but also the challenges associated with this practice. I appreciated the explicit and simplistic nature of the text we read

York-Barr, J., Sommers, W. A., Ghere, G. S., & Montie, J. (2006). Reflective Practice to Improve Schools (second ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

I also realized along the way that there are many areas of accomplished teaching that I am already practicing in my classroom. These include:

  • Criterion 2: Demonstrating effective teaching practices: Reflecting on my practice regularly on an individual basis and adjusting my instruction and practice based on this reflection.
  • Criterion 3: Recognizing individual student learning needs and developing strategies to address those needs: I am using national standards to assess students’ baseline proficiency level and then design engaging, interactive experiences based on the Organic World Language (OWL) model. I also am constantly using formative assessment in class daily and adapting immediately, in the moment to give corrective feedback and adapt the lesson’s trajectory to better address students’ needs.
  • Criterion 4: Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum: Teaching to National Standards (ACTFL) and assessing students based on proficiency. This year implementing the OWL methodology has given me a more intentional focus and better understanding of my students than ever before. I also have access to a much wider variety of authentic resources in Spanish than ever before.
  • Using the Charlotte Danielson Framework to guide my reflection as an educator.

At the beginning of the Quarter, my goals for this program were:

  1. Standard 02: Analyze learning to promote student growth-Collaborating with peers to improve my selection, organization and use of data to improve student learning.
  2. Working to push students in their critical thinking skills and creative skills. For this I would like to learn from colleagues on questioning strategies and specific methodologies used to push students to the next level, while maintaining a student-centered environment.
  3. Building not only a student-centered environment, but one where students are responsible for and initiate learning. 
  4. Standard 11: Utilize formative and summative assessment in a standards based environment-Improving the quality and consistency of my use of sound formative assessments in my classroom.

Over the last 10 weeks, I have begun to touch on:

Goal #1- In accomplished teaching we practiced how to reflect in small groups and implemented a variety of protocols to aid the reflection process. We wrote a lesson plan for this and then filmed the lesson. With a partner we then reflected on the lesson, using a protocol to assist us. A few of the protocols I appreciated and would like to use in the future in my professional practice are




Utilizing this protocol helps keep all involved focused, as unbiased as possible, and allows us to work with a meaningful structure to our reflective session.

Goal #3- I conducted my final research paper on Formative Assessment and the use of student self-reflective practices.

Heading forward, as I focus on becoming a teacher-leader, I will focus on leading by example and continuing to share the new learning I gather in this program with colleagues. This may mean suggesting we use a new protocol in PLC meetings for example, or utilizing my new skills to help my PLC analyze student work and proceed afterwards to use the results of this reflection to improve instruction.

I would also like to look further into the work by Matthew Poehner on advanced linguistics and language acquisition. His research has direct implications for the reflective activities I design for my students, as well as the performance assessments I design and implement.

Lantolf, J.P., & Poehner, M.E. (2011). Dynamic assessment in the classroom: Vygotskian praxis for second language development. Language Teaching Research, 15(1), 11-33.

Poehner, M. E. (2012). The Zone of Proximal Development and the genesis of self-assessment. Modern Language Journal96(4), 610-622.

OWL and Incorporating Technology

Unfortunately I was unable to go to the SPU Tech Camp, because I had an Organic World Language training that I attended in Tacoma to support my current practice.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 9.11.32 PM

As I attended this workshop Friday and Saturday, I was continuously reminded of the many ways I can and should utilize technology in my classroom. However, the most useful discussion was one regarding literacy and technology. The practitioners at the OWL training represented a wide range of school districts, all with a wide range of technological resources. However, we all agreed on the important of using the web to access authentic resources in the TL (target language). Many sources were shared, but one that stood out to me as having special potential was one regarding accessing level-specific Spanish-language text. Finding authentic Spanish-language text at a students developmental level is very challenging, especially at the beginning levels, like Spanish 1 and 2. Two sources that I am interested in exploring more are:


-Google Search: I learned that by using the Advanced Search option, you can filter results based on reading level! This is a HUGE breakthrough for me, because this will (hopefully) open up a very powerful and effective way to search for more appropriate, at level, authentic reading materials for my Spanish 1 and 2 students, in the target language.

For my Accomplished Teaching class I’ve decided to write my final paper on Criterion 4: Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum.

This criteria is meaningful to me now, as I am implementing a new teaching model and learning to integrate more technology into my practice. The word intentional jumps out at me, as lately I have been starting to feel discombobulated by all the new changes I’m trying to implement. Especially with technology I find myself asking, “What is my intent here?” “What goal do I want to achieve by introducing this new technology to my practice or to my students?” I want to take the time in the next coming week to sit and reflect on all the newness that has surrounded me this last Quarter, and re-focus my efforts to intentionally and meaningfully direct my students and design creative learning opportunities for them that push them to meet National and District Standards.

Research, 5 Star Research and Knowledge Construction

This week we focused on Research procedures and teaching research to students.Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 8.17.17 PMThe LWSD encourages use of the 5 Star Research Model. I appreciate the methodical and straight-forward approach that is this process. It makes sense to present to students in this format. However, I can foresee that to teach to students one would have to teach one step at a time, for example teach just planning, then just gathering, then organizing, etc. This would take up a lot of class time.

In my research this week I looked into the use of Google Cardboard in the classroom. My colleague first mentioned this new idea to me a couple weeks ago, and he is going to try to propose that we get a pilot program running at our school, now that myself and a few other teachers are on board and would be willing and exciting to see it’s potential in the classroom. I’m very excited by the idea that students may be able to take virtual field trips to Latin America and Spanish destinations. The applications for this technology in my classroom are endless.

My favorite source I found through my research this week was

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 11.54.17 AM

Even without Google Cardboard, students can take virtual tours around the world. The only technical glitch I’ll need to work out and explore is whether or not students are able to access this website on their District laptops.

However, I must admit that at this moment, I am feeling quite overwhelmed with the prospect of teaching research to my students in an all-Spanish environment. I have heard it said that each year find one or two really meaningful things you are going to change to improve your practice and focus on those things, so as to implement them effectively and to not overstrain yourself and your time. However this year, I have completely changed my teaching model AND I am trying to be more reflective AND I’m video taping lessons for the first time AND I’m implementing OneNote Notebooks AND I’m trying to incorporate other ISTE Standards and implement other new technology. It is a lot and realistically I reaching a point where I am unsure how much “new” I will be able to handle this semester.

On a positive note thought, I do feel energized and excited this year because I am really being pushed and challenged to be better and to improve my practice for student benefit.

On a different note, this last week I spent 3 days introducing OneNote to my students. It took a lot of time and was hectic. I set up activities ahead of time and gave students a brief, all-class introduction to OneNote and then set them to work on a list of tasks which required them to explore OneNote and complete different activities, some individually, some in pairs. It was a bit chaotic. In the future, to improve this activity, I will put students in groups of 3 and organize the room so that they are physically sitting in these groups and work together to answer each others’ questions and work through tasks.