Standard 10: Understands effective use of research-based instructional practices

This course, EDU 6526 – 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.

We analyzed and learned how to apply a variety of strategies including:

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.

I was challenged to collaborate with a colleague in a Collaborative Inquiry Project  (Collaborative Inquirey Presentation1) where we analyzed the impact of a strategy in our classrooms.

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.


Reinforcing Student Effort and Providing Recognition Feedback

Another takeaway I had was that learning objectives need to be 1) appropriately specific and require one to understand the specific standards, benchmarks and supporting knowledge students are required to learn 2) clearly communicated both orally and visually to both students and parents/guardians 3) connected to previous and future learning.

Effective feedback is one of the most powerful mediums of growth for students and must 1) address both what is correct and elaborate on what students need to do next 2) be provided in time to meet students’ needs 3) be criterion referenced (I assume this means referencing specific standards/benchmarks 4) engage students in the feedback process.

Finally, Hattie discusses the impact of learning objectives an students’ dispositions in the classroom and these impacts on motivation. When thinking about student motivation and effort, Hattie suggests that creating challenging learning tasks that are at students’ developmental level can help create intrinsic motivation in the learning process. I found it very interesting Hattie’s suggestion that “we need to already know about 90 per cent of what we are aiming to master in order to enjoy and make the most of the challenge. In reading this target is somewhat higher.” (Hattie, p. 57) I find that connecting key learning objectives to students’ real lives, helping them see the practical relevance and application in their day to day lives and connectedness to their interests also helps build intrinsic motivation. For example, in one study conducted on motivating student effort, “findings indicated that students were more motivated to learn science when they had more opportunities in relating science with real world issues. Therefore, science educators should emphasize more on the connectedness of science at school to real life for motivating students to learn science.” (Cetin-Dindar)

As I read about setting learning objectives, providing timely formative feedback, planning for visible learning and helping to motivate student effort, I reflected on my own practice and the Organic World Language model that I’ve implemented this year. It has been a significant pedagogical shift for me, but one that has allowed me to more effectively address all four areas mentioned above. In this model “through unique questioning and scaffolding techniques, the language-acquisition process is wrapped around the students’ lives. When the class content comes from the students, they own the language, because it is developed in real-life, real-interest situations and it is applicable to their lives in their native languages.” (Zilmer, p.1) This model is based on student-to-student and student-to-teacher dialogue that has allowed me to give in the moment feedback to students about what they are doing right and what they can correct to continue to work towards standard. Using this model, students are also much more aware of national benchmarks and what to do to reach those benchmarks than ever before. I now see students more intrinsically motivated than every before because they not only finally see what they have to do and are given the time to practice, but also experience “bite-sized” successes in the classroom everyday that make them feel that they can and will be successful with continued effort, risk-taking and mistake making.

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.

Castagno, A. E. (2013). Multicultural Education and the Protection of Whiteness. American Journal of Education,120(1), 101-128. doi:10.1086/673121

Cetin-Dindar, Ayla (2016). Student motivation in constructivist learning environment. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 12 (2), 233-247.

Dean, C. B., Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., & Stone, B. (2014). Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies forIncreasing Student Achievement. Second Edition.

Hattie, J. (2010). Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement ;. London: Routledge.

Learning the organic way. Language Magazine, Febrary 2015. Retrieved from http://www.languagemagazine.com/online/Feb15/

Zilmer, Caleb (2014). Authentic texts, no isolated grammar? How? The Language Educator, April 2014.  Retrieved from http://www.owlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/TLE_Apr13_OLA_031813_v2.pdf

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.

 

 

 

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

http://www.youvisit.com/travel

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.

Accomplished Teaching: Initial Reflection

Over these next two years there are many things I am looking forward to improving in my professional practice. However, a few of my current priorities are:

  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.