Monthly Archives: July 2015

EDRD 6530 Posts

Blog #5 – Write to Learn

For teachers that have available class time, a writing workshop approach would work well to help students succeed and get the most out of a public writing project. For a physical education teacher, however, there is simply not enough time available for this type of a workshop. Luckily, there are many other writing to learn strategies that would work well for a physical education environment.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, one of the most effective and simplest writing to learn strategies that physical education teachers can use is called “exit slips” (see blog #3 below). Another effective, more in-depth writing to learn strategy that would work well in a physical education setting is called “reflective write.” This is where the teacher has the students reflect on a learning topic or activity immediately after they have completed the topic or activity. It helps install learning more fully in students’ minds, places it in a larger context and asks them to value it more deeply (Daniels, Steineke and Zemelman, 2007).

An example of this in physical education is a lesson about heart rate. After the lesson, the students can write down in their physical education journals the key things they learned about hear rates, including what their resting hear rate is, what their target hear rate is and what exercises increases their heart rate. Writing down this information makes the students more aware of what they are learning, gives the students ownership of this new knowledge and reinforces what they learned through repetition.

Reference: Daniels, H, Steineke, N and Zemelman, S. Content-Area Writing (2007).

 

Blog #4 – Reading Lesson Plan

Title:  Fit For Life, Lesson #1

Standard:   GLE 1.1.1 Demonstrates fundamental motor skills and complex motor skills that contribute to movement proficiency.

GLE 1.3.1 Understands the components of health-related fitness.

Central Focus (CF):  Students learn the health benefits of exercising.

Learning Target (LT):   I will complete 10 fitness stations and I will learn two reasons why it’s important to exercise.

Students read learning target written on the white board.

Instruction (e.g. inquiry, preview, review, etc.):  The teacher starts the class with a pre-reading activity of showing a brief video of fit people performing various fun activities. The teacher shows a second brief video of obese people barely able to walk up stairs or play tag. The teacher does not discuss these videos, but let’s the visual images speak for themselves.

The teacher hands out a short article on the health benefits of exercise for the students to read. The teacher gives the students several minutes to read the article. The teacher reviews the main points of the article with the students. The teacher then asks three questions about the article to three different students (and tells the students it’s OK to “phone a friend”). The teacher then asks the students if they have any other questions or comments about the article.

Students view the two brief videos. Students read article. Three students answer questions about the article. Students ask questions or make comments about the article.

Informal Assessment:  The teacher has the students discuss with a partner two things they learned from the article and what the main point of the video was. Teacher walks among the students and checks for understanding.

Students pair share two things they learned from the article and what the main point of the video was.

Practice Activity or Support:  The teacher has the students line up in their squads and go through their normal warm-up routine.

Before class begins, the teacher has set up 10 fitness stations marked with a sign with the title of the exercise and a brief description of the exercise attached to a cone:
1. Yoga stretch.
2. Yoga ball.
3. Leg squats.
4. Push-ups (on knees if needed).
5. Line running.
6. Planks.
7. Pull ups (bar with partner if needed).
8. Burpees.
9. Leg-raises.
10. Jump rope.

The teacher describes how the students will be divided into 10 groups and each group will start out on one of the 10 fitness stations. The teacher tells the students they all need to read the sign posted on the cone to know what exercise they will be doing at that station. The teacher will blow the whistle when it’s time to switch stations. Students rotate stations clockwise. Once students are at the next station the teacher will blow the whistle for the students to begin the exercise at their station.

The teacher then briefly demonstrates the exercises at each station. The teacher asks if there are any questions and reminds the students to read the signs for the description of the exercises.

The teacher then divides the students into 10 groups and assigns each group to one of the 10 fitness stations. The teacher begins the activity by blowing the whistle.
Students line-up in squads and do their warm-up routine.

Students divide into 10 groups and each group lines up by one of the 10 fitness stations. Students read information posted on the cone at each station. Students then perform exercise posted on the cone at each station. Students rotate to next station when the teacher blows the whistle. Students complete all 10 stations.

Informal Assessment:  The teacher walks among the students to ensure students are reading the descriptions of the exercises and performing the exercises properly, providing tips and suggestions as needed.

Students continue to perform fitness station exercises.

Practice Activity or Support:  The teacher gathers the students in a group and has them do a brief cool down routine. The teacher reviews the key points of the article with the students. Students perform cool down routine.

Closure Assessment of Student Voice:  The teacher hands out a small note card and a pencil to each student and reads the learning target on the white board. The teacher instructs each student to write their name and at least two benefits of exercising down on the note card and turn it in before leaving.

Students write their name and at least two benefits of exercising on a note card and turn it in to the teacher.

edTPA Training Prompts

4. Supporting Science Development through Language
a. Language function: What verb appears in your learning target that represents the language function?
Complete and learn.

b. Language demand: What learning activities or products will student write, speak, or do to represent the language demand and an opportunity to practice the language function?
The students will watch a video, read an article, pair share, read fitness station descriptions, and write an exit slip.

c. Additional language demand: How will students practice content vocabulary words shown in the learning targets?
The students will read an article and pair share what they learned from the article.

d. What learning activities enable students to practice using symbols or abstract representations of information (syntax), if these are part of the lesson?
The students will write an exit slip.

e. How is discussion (discourse) structured in activities?
Students ask the teacher questions about the article and the lesson activity. Students pair share about the article.

f. What other writing or speaking activities enable students to practice vocabulary and the verb shown in the learning target?
Asking the teacher questions about the article and the video. Informal discussion during fitness stations.

 

Blog #3 – Is there a writing crisis in this country?

I do not believe there is a writing crisis in this country. This country’s media would have everyone believe otherwise, but as is typically the case with the national media these days a so-called writing crisis is being blown out of proportion. Are many students struggling with writing? Of course. That has always been the case. Is it a crisis? No. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP) there has not been a drop off in student’s writing skills in recent years. Since it began evaluating writing in 1975, the NEAP’s score trend has been essentially flat (Daniels, Steineke and Zemelman, 2007).

Do students need to improve their writing skills? Always. One way to improve student’s writing is to use what authors Daniels, Steineke and Zemelman call Writing to Learn strategies. These strategies are short, spontaneous, informal, personal, unedited and ungraded. They simply get students to write. One of the most effective and simplest Writing to Learn strategies that physical education teachers can use is called “exit slips.” This is where at the end of class teachers have their students write down a response about something specific they learned in class that day. Exit slips give the students an opportunity to provide feedback about the class as well as practice their writing skills in a real-world situation. They might not even be aware that they are actually practicing writing, as well as writing to learn.

Reference: Daniels, H, Steineke, N and Zemelman, S. Content-Area Writing (2007).

 

Blog #2 – How do secondary students struggle with content area reading?

There are many reasons that some secondary students struggle with content area reading. One major reason is that the students have a hard time creating a mental image of the words they are reading. It’s just information to them and if it’s not information that they care about, they will not be able to form any images of it in their mind. First and foremost, they aren’t accustomed to turning the words they read into mental pictures (Daniels and Zemelman, 2014). To be a good reader, however, it’s vital that the students learn how to create mental images of what they are reading.

In our class reading, the authors list six key strategies for helping struggling readers. Two of those strategies stood out to me as being effective ways to help struggling readers in physical education, my content area. The first strategy is create supportive relationships. Show you care about the students and their reading. The students might be surprised if a physical education teacher takes an interest in their reading and it can help them realize how important reading really is in life. The second strategy is provide books and materials in various formats. Video clips, magazine articles, newspaper articles, and short excerpts from sports books are all great formats that might help stimulate a student’s interest in reading. Compared to the more traditional reading formats, these types of formats will make it easier for students to create mental images of what they are reading.

Reference: Daniels, H and Zemelman, S. Subjects Matter, Exceeding Standards Through Powerful Content-Area Reading (2014).

 

Blog #1 – What’s the problem with American textbooks?

The main problem with many American textbooks is that they are difficult to read. Textbooks are not designed to tell a story or even make the information sound interesting to students. Textbooks are designed to inventory huge amounts of information that can be looked up when needed (Daniels and Zemelman, 2014).

Too often, it seems like teachers base too much of their daily curriculum around a textbook. Teachers need to form their curriculum around a wide variety of resources, reading material and learning activities to ensure that their students are engaged in their own learning. There is plenty of good information in textbooks, the issue is that there is too much information and it’s written in text that is not kid-friendly. Not only do the students have a hard time understanding textbook information because of the way that it’s written, but they also experience information overload with the huge amounts of text that they are often required to read in textbooks.

One of the best ways to overcome this problem is to only use a textbook as needed as a reference book. We focus in on smaller sections of text, taking time to highlight and flesh out the most important concepts (Daniels and Zemelman, 2014).

As a future physical education teacher, luckily textbooks will not be a part of my curriculum. I plan to use a wide variety of “real-world” reading materials, including magazine articles, newspaper articles, excerpts from books, and other sources. I also plan to spend more time on less topics to avoid information overload and help increase student retention of the information.

Reference: Daniels, H and Zemelman, S. Subjects Matter, Exceeding Standards Through Powerful Content-Area Reading (2014).