Visible Learning

After reading an article about learning styles, it is easy to realize the significance and benefits of integrating visible learning into the classroom. We learned in an earlier educational class that the least effective way for majority of students to learn is by lecturing with only about 10% about to stay long term. Instead a much better way to teach is student is by letting them manipulate and use hands-on activities which can keep up to an 80% retention rate of the material taught. We as teachers have to take this opportunity to recognize that significance and recognize all students have different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore we must take into account our students’ individuality by preassessing our students to determine how each of them to see how they learn best. This process is one of two things we should do before designing our unit of study. The other is determine exactly what our goals are for the students to accomplish by the end of the unit and make it as specific as possible. Using this designing with the end result in mind will help keep the unit on track to focus on meeting the goals we originally have set out. This clarity is critical to making the students understand what we expect and how we deliver each lesson.

Visible learning in the classroom is best done through the use of manipulatives . Dr. Franz mentioned earlier this semester how we should allow a few minutes while the materials are distributed to let the students play with them to let them to have their moment of fun before focusing on the lesson again. I know being able to see the mathematics with their own hands is much more beneficial to actually understand the concepts being taught instead of just letting the teacher lecture away at the board about topics that don’t seem to have any connection to anything or thought to just be made up for no purpose. One example I can think of in the past where visible learning made a difference even in my own experiences as a student is when I used images of different size cubes to look at and decipher the formulas for various parts of the cube such as surface area and others. Using that preassessment about our students will see what ways we can differentiate instruction to give each student the most effective way to learn.  Ultimately we want our students to be as successful as possible so the extra work beforehand is worth it. Using that time to set up units to let students learn to their strengths is a way of being truly fair to do the absolute best they can which is what we should do instead of catering to only certain strengths.

Thoughts from Thanksgiving

While looking back now on my Thanksgiving break, it was different in years past. It was truly difficult to go home and be there while realizing I had just lost someone i care deeply about that Wednesday. The loss of my great grandmother impacted everyone roughly in my family. However, I look back and realize even during the tough times how blessed I really am. I never have had to go a day in my life where I was worried about where to sleep or when I would get my next meal. Sometimes I was not always pleased with all my friends having all the newest toys or clothes, but my parents continued working hard for my brother and I to have the clothes we need and things that were needed. The same point can be made that I had two parents who always care for me and are supportive of me even when I wanted to become a teacher and find some scholarships for college. The break also brought family into town I normally don’t see and all of them cared to know how my life was going and what I wanted to do with my future. I recognize a lot of people in life don’t have all that to claim.  But even though this past week was rough, I realize there is things to be helpful for and ways to help people. That mindset is one of the things i want to bring to my classroom even if it only helps a few.

Opening my Eyes to Privilege

I was able to attend Dr. Margaret Hagerman’s presentation on the research she compiled into her book titled “White Kids: Growing up with privilege in a racially divided America.” She did her research by spending time and interviewing the middle-schooled children, parents, and community members from different parts of one city area who were all Caucasian- American. She wanted the answers to the following questions: “how do white affluent kids learn about race, racism and inequality?” and “how does white racial socialization lead to the reproduction of racism and racial inequality?”. Her research showed similarities of what I learned in class about white parents pushing schools to get their kids into advanced placement classes even though some of their children aren’t ready for it. This leaves only so many places for seating often creating very unbalanced classrooms racially. These same parents structure their children’s lives by deciding the schools, churches, activities, neighborhoods, peer groups, and elsewhere. These actions shown by the parents show how much significant impact it has on shaping the children’s views on race, even if the parents say all the right things. Of the three neighborhoods, the first one called Sheridan was the upper class living area which produced very limited and creates many misconceptions on the children’s views including some thinking racism doesn’t exist anymore. The other two areas had some more opportunities to integrate the children’s lives with others of different races, but there were still instances where parents made choices that led to shaping their children by white racial socialization to give them mindsets that still lead to future social reproduction of these same views on racism. While wanting to be a good parent is important to do what is best for your children, it is important to be a good citizen where we can raise our children to be one who will challenge inequity and racism. This is important because sociologists know very little about how social reproduction of racial inequality are reproduced through generations. Those ideas that are passed down continue through the future careers and decisions made such as which neighborhoods to live, and with our social media access today the issues of race are quickly noticed allowing more opportunity to talk and learn by everyone. It’s not up to just a few people or just one race to bring more resolution; it requires everyone to work together.

That was represented in my own life as my parents made choices similar to ones discussed at this research presentation and helps show some perspective on the privilege I had growing up. I also loved to sit and discuss various topics of life with an old roommate of mine during sophomore year of college. He is black and was open to talking about the differences we both experienced growing up and in our daily lives. He helped me understand so much more and it started by being open to talk about life.

Gaining Perspectives

Last Wednesday, we came into class not sure what to expect as we were in the middle of working on our third project. Dr. Brocato took advantage of the class time by introducing an activity for the whole class called “I see, I think, I feel.” As a class, we came together to sit in a wide circle, and used this activity time to acknowledge problems and talk through it as a class. Our professor started it off by talking about how she saw some students seemed confused on instructions and expectations of our projects from her perspective. After she finished, it was followed with open response from many classmates using the prompt from their perspective on the issue. The activity was shown to demonstrate how it could be used in classroom settings as well.

While I do see the potential benefits in open-group discussion through this activity, I feel it has many potential pitfalls that can quickly ruin it as well. When it comes to teacher-student issues, I feel it best to privately discuss anything that is bothering the instructor with a student or two individually. If it was brought up in group, it creates possibilities of the student(s) feeling attacked and lashing out during the activity or quit giving effort in class anymore. This also can be trying on the teacher or professor not to feel attacked by their responses and retaliate. Another potential outcome is that some other students may recognize the person described in the issue such as someone who always shows up late to class may be seen as disrespectful and not caring to the professor. However students may know who that is and use it as fuel to bully the student then or later in the future. The same outcomes can happen if students bring up issues they have with others or going on in their own personal lives.

So in regards to this potential activity, it does allow  a good opportunity to gain many different perspectives on various issues from different viewpoints. It does require a student group being comfortable to talk so it would be later in a semester or year. And finally, it must be handled and facilitated with extreme care by the professor/ teacher to make the activity a success and useful learning experience for all.  The students and teacher must also have developed a mutual trust of each other to improve the quality of this activity by being honest.

Thoughts from November 5th

First focusing on my classroom experiences of late, i was working with students in my classroom when i noticed one student was struggling through a concept. He became so overwhelmed with the concept that I had him slow down and talk it out with his logic behind each step. I think that showed how as teachers we can rush through a topic hoping our students will grasp the fine details of the topic. We must take time to actually go into depth to let our students fully understand how the concept works.

Then looking at college classroom experiences from last week, we had a guest speaker who came in and immediately started having a full Spanish conversation with our professor. They spent the majority of class doing this which really hit personally with me on relating to students who are ESL students. I never before then had been in a classroom where English was not the dominant language. It was easy to see then how frustrating and discouraging it would be to be in those students’ shoes. I could only catch a word or phrase I knew every so often which made it difficult to stay motivated to pay attention. There must be some way of accommodating to meet our students’ needs including in understanding instruction which is what pushed me to look to technology for this. I downloaded Google Translate which is free but has a feature which allows conversation of different languages in real time. The purpose also behind that demonstration was the point of how important a name is. While my name is easy to say, my girlfriend has a unique name that is constantly messed up. It frustrates her and her family because it happens a lot including when she walked last year with a bachelor’s degree in college. Thus it must be an area we stress to work with our students and have them work with us on making sure we correctly pronounce their names because that is such an important aspect of who they actually are.

Reflecting on Social Justice

The idea of social justice was one that before this class I did not understand very thoroughly. What I know now about social justice that I did not know at the start of the semester is that I actually ponder it daily whether it’s looking at events happening in news, while I am helping in classrooms, or even having conversations with people around me in daily life. As i have noticed more of my attention on it, I have become more aware of possible microaggressions that have been exhibited unnoticed in the past and am trying to be a proponent of change in that manner. As educators I recognize we have to take that first step of developing caring professional relationships with our students to show we care to help enhance our students’ willingness for them to strive for success in our classroom and outside of it. Diversity is more than just race, and we should embrace that as teachers to create teachable moments and promote learning respect for others even with a difference of opinions. We can also look to have our classroom more inclusive by showing images of notable people from all walks of life on the wall as role models, rearranging students to know all their classmates, and creating a safe environment to be proud of yourself. That also has to be done on our end even with the books we use to teach since only a few companies with very biased views print them. Finally we must recognize each of our students as individuals with needs to be able to accommodate and properly scaffolding teaching to set all of my students with true equity for success.

Reflecting on Classroom Management Project

Recently my class had to complete a video project on Weinstein’s work on formal intervention plans and the five components that make it up. While all five aspects are important for classrooms and also have applications to the work environment for adults, we focused our project on creating a physical setting that supports academic and social goals. It took some work to thoroughly research it and then figure out how to compile the video together, we did finally get it finished and put onto YouTube before the deadline.

Now after having some time to look back over the video project my partner and I completed, I never quite took into consideration just how much the classroom environment can impact the students’ learning. While we have discussed in class before the way we could decorate the classroom with a diverse range of images of successful people in the content area that is being taught. This allows students of all backgrounds to have someone to relate and look up to as a role model, while also help push the students to strive to be more successful inside and outside the classroom (while we as teachers must recognize everyone has different terms of success).We also took a look at something as simple as the temperature of a classroom and how the most optimal temperature for peak performance sits around 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Another thing we discussed was how seating arrangements can look and why we should swap the arrangements every so often based on different activities. While looking at seating arrangements, we also came across the idea of numbering your desks and having students pull numbers from a bucket to let students sit around new people and start new conversations around new people.

The bigger takeaway for me with the project though was looking at the physical components in the classroom. For us that mainly meant looking at what the students sit in during class. Majority of us are probably used to sitting in the old style desks but the research we found challenged us to start looking at different things i students can use to sharpen focus which can have a trickle-down effect on performance. Yoga balls as seats is good for improving back posture and fine motor skills while sitting on it during classes and also lets the students move around a little in class with all the energy they have. Depending on the classroom environment you have to work with, there are also bouncy bands which can be strapped to desks or desk chairs to allow people to move their leg a little whether to help allow movement or even to reduce stress before a big test. Personally both of these would have helped me pay even better attention in class and do better. In the same way, pedal desks, wobble chairs, and standing desks also can improve students’ physical health while also making them focus more on the topics learned in class. While all of these are excellent things that would be great to further investigate, it can potentially be expensive depending on the school’s budget for you. An alternative to this is to look at writing for grants to try to get money to make these changes if you feel they will benefit your class.