Thursday, December 18, 2014

Display: Social Media Door

Check out this bathroom door-turned-social media display!

The door reads, "What's Your Status?"  On the outside, students created "profiles" that contained their name, favorite subject, future occupation, and a drawing of a "selfie."  A whiteboard poster was used, where the teacher can write a proposed question.  Students will then "comment" on the question with post-it notes, or make their "status" using the post-it notes.  All responses relate the question that the teacher asked.  This is a great form of formative assessment, or an exit ticket!

I decided to use a blue theme with the background, border, and letters, since most social media sites contain some shade of blue.

Lesson Plan: Plural Nouns

Subject: Writing
Grade: 5th (can be adapted for other grade levels)

Integration of Learning Outcomes:
  • Students will be able to correctly use and identify plural nouns by correcting a short paragraph.
  • Students will be able to correctly use and identify plural nouns by choosing the correct option in a sentence.
  • Students will be able to identify the seven different rules for using plural nouns.
· 1.5.5.F: Use grade appropriate conventions of language when writing and editing.
o   Spell common, frequently used words correctly.
o   Use capital letters correctly.
o   Punctuate correctly.
o   Use correct grammar and sentence formation.

Anticipatory Set

Sing “Do You Want to Learn Plural Nouns?” to the tune of “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” from Frozen.  Play the video with the lyrics on the board so students can sing along.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TSN's Philosophy of Teaching and Education

Enabling students to succeed and making a positive difference in the lives of students are my two main goals as an educator. My philosophy on education will ultimately help me achieve those objectives.

As a teacher, my main purpose is to help students improve.  In order to help students succeed, several factors are needed.  It is important to engage students and make them excited to learn. My goal is to get students motivated, which could be through the incorporation of hands-on activities, educational games, interactive projects, peer interactions, technology, or eye-opening anticipatory sets. Also, including student interests or real-life situations into instruction keeps students engaged. Incorporating these ideas will give students a purpose for learning.  It is essential to make learning fun for students so they will enjoy coming to school everyday.

It is also important to aid students in becoming better critical thinkers and questioners. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire discusses the problem-posing method, which enables creativity, dialogue, and critical thinking. In the problem-posing approach, students and teachers work together and create a dialogue. Students propose questions along with teachers. The teacher does not strictly tell students the answers; rather, helps them think through the process.  Students have more freedom to think, yet still receive teacher assistance. This leads to critical thinking skills, which students need in order to succeed.  Utilizing the problem-posing method is a large part of my teaching philosophy because of the skills it develops.

Using dialogue in a classroom also consumes my philosophy of teaching.  Dialogue within a classroom leads to engagement, motivation, and critical thinking, but also helps with development. Students become increasingly dependent on each other for emotional support, validation, and information. Learning is a social behavior, as social development is the foundation for intellectual, emotional, and physical health (Johnston, 2012, p. 67).   Students need to be social because it benefits their development; thus, teachers need to establish learning environments where the main focus is on student-to-student interaction (Purnell, 2007, p. 35).  Teachers should implement discussions, think-pair-shares, and group work whenever possible.  To help create this student-centered environment, teachers should implement the pedagogical strategy of a dialogic classroom.

Teachers need to make sure that their classrooms are student-centered, or student-friendly.  Student-centered classrooms are vital. Teachers must create a safe environment where students feel comfortable, safe, respected, and heard (Cambria & Guthrie, 2010, p. 17).  Student-centered learning focuses on the needs of the students, rather than others involved in the educational process. Student-centered classrooms should include a safe environment for the students so they feel comfortable working with their peers or sharing their work. Students can learn a lot of from their peers and also build ideas off each other, making it important to incorporate discussions, peer work, and group activities into the classroom.  In addition, creating a caring, well-structured learning environment in which expectations are high, clear, and fair, will lead to more engagement (High & Andrews, 2009, p. 61).  A safe environment will open the doors for all students to participate. 

Differentiation is also a large part of my teaching philosophy because it sets up success for every student in the class.  Differentiated instruction tailors teaching to meet the needs of individual students. It is essential to provide effective strategies and methods that work for all students, which can be done through the use of differentiation.  Differentiation not only meets the needs of all learners, but also motivates students to work hard. It is key to use numerous strategies that appeal to various types of learners.  A wide variety of teaching styles will help reach all individuals.
By engaging students, using the problem-posing method, incorporating dialogue, and providing a student-centered classroom, students will be able to receive the best education. In result, students will become stronger, which is the ultimate goal of education.  All of these strategies will lead to a positive difference in the lives of students.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Teacher Interview: Morals in the Classroom

I interviewed "Mr. V." and "Mrs. K.," who are both eighth grade teachers at a middle school. Mr. V. teaches history and Mrs. K. teaches English.  We discussed moral issues in the classroom and how different teachers deal with different issues.  The interviewees names were changed to protect their identities.  This interview is from 2012.

1) What is the discipline policy at your school? In your classroom?

Mr. V:  The school regulations are stated in the agenda.  It's like a constitution.  Depending on the violation, I give them a penalty.  Overall, I'm a little more lenient in the classroom than what the agenda states.  

For example, the agenda says that chewing gum is an offense that deserves detention.  But when you think about it, it's really not that bad of a crime.  They're gonna chew gum.  Kids this age are more concerned with the social aspect than the academic.  They want to impress the opposite sex, and mint flavored gum helps that.  If you ask, most of the time the kids are chewing mint gum.  So, the first time I catch them with gum, they just throw it out.  If it's a goofball in the class chewing gum, you make it fun, like have them put it on their nose before throwing it out or something like that.  If they do it again, I give them a warning.  If it is a repeated offense, then yeah, they get detention.  I had one girl who I told everyday to stop chewing gum.  She got a lunch detention.  She learned her lesson, but it was just a minor offense. But for a first offense, I don't see it as a big deal.  Just give them a warning, depending what the offense is.

Mrs. K.:  All the school's rules are found in the agenda.  It's a foundation handbook that lists all the rules.  It's really long and strict.  Teacher's also get a teacher handbook with rules.  The handbook says how to handle a classroom.

Essay: School Organization for Middle-Level Education

Ever wonder why middle schools are becomming more popular?  This essay, originally written in November, 2012, explains why middle schools are important.

The evolution of education is truly amazing as it has become one of the most important aspects of today's society.  It is extremely important to go to the highest measures when educating students.  Also, it is imperative to find the best education methods that benefit the students, especially those at the middle grades level.  There are many different ideas, philosophies, and beliefs about the best practices for educating young adolescents.  School organization is perhaps one of the most important topics when relating to middle-level education.  Many different categories fall under school organization such as grade configuration and teaming, but the whole idea of school organization and all its subtopics are extremely important when it comes to middle-level education.