Internship Post #3 – Learning Targets

#4 Content Knowledge: 4.2 Setting Instructional Outcomes. All the instructional outcomes are clear, written in the form of student learning. Most suggest viable methods of assessment. This means that at the beginning of each class the students will all know what the key learning goals are for each lesson. This also means that there will be a viable way for the teacher to assess which students have completed the learning goals for each lesson. It’s also important that the students be able to self-assess if they have completed the learning goals for each lesson. This will help the students more clearly understand what they are learning and it will give them ownership of their own learning.

In my physical education class, I found that the best way to accomplish this was to write a daily learning target on the class white board that was concise, written in student friendly language and was measurable. For example, the following is a learning target from one of my student teaching lessons in the Ultimate Frisbee unit:

  • I can demonstrate to my partner the correct grip and form for a backhand throw.
  • I will throw a Frisbee 10+ times with a partner.

target

The students did not have any problems understanding this learning target and it was very measurable. At the end of the class, I asked all the student to self-assess if they completed the learning target with a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down.”  At the close of the lesson, asking students to reflect on or share their learning is critical. This lets you know if the students are really ready to move on from this target, or if some need reteaching or other learning opportunities (Templeton, 2014).

One step that I will take to improve my student’s understanding of the daily learning target is to have them discuss the learning target with their neighbor or in small groups after I introduce the learning target at the beginning of each class. This will help improve their understanding of the daily learning target, which will give them a greater chance of successfully completing the learning target.

Reference

Templeton, K. (2014, May). The Dos and Don’ts of Learning Targets. Retrieved from http://www.iwalkthrough.org/learning-targets/.

Internship Post #2 – Engaging Students

#2 Instruction: 2.1 Using questioning and discussion techniques. Most of the teacher’s questions are of high quality and adequate time is provided for students to respond. This means that the teacher asks questions that are directly related to the learning segment. These questions should be planned and designed to actually help the students understand the topic and reinforce what the students will be learning in a particular lesson. The teacher also needs to allow enough time for the students to answer the questions in a meaningful manner and, more importantly, to make sure all the students understand the answer and can apply it to the learning segment. The teacher may have to call on multiple students to answer the questions and may also have to scaffold the student’s answers.

During my student teaching, I taught a unit on Ultimate Frisbee which included a lesson for a Frisbee game called Frisbee Four Score. After I introduced the game and reviewed the rules, I asked four different students four specific, focused questions about the game. These questions were designed to elicit student understanding of the game and also allowed me to determine if there was any confusion with the key rules to the game.

In previous lessons, I had asked the students more general, basic questions about the learning segment. These general questions were helpful, but I found the more specific, focused questions to be much more effective in helping the students with their learning and understanding of the lesson topic or skill. When used effectively, questioning techniques can be one of the most flexible and adaptive tools in a teacher’s arsenal (Marzano, 2007).

student-questions-4-rev 

In my future lesson planning, I will continue to use questioning techniques in my learning segments. One change I will make, however, is to include more specific, focused questions about the learning topic or skill in my lessons.

Reference

Marzano, Robert J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching, Alexandria, Virginia: ACSD.

Internship Post #1 – Non-Instruction Procedures

#5 Learning Environment: 5.3 Managing Classroom Procedures through Performance of Non-instructional Duties. Efficient systems for performing non-instructional duties are in place, resulting in minimal loss of instructional time. This means that non-instructional classroom procedures such as taking attendance or grading should minimally interfere with classroom instruction time.

In a secondary school physical education setting, there is already lost instructional time due to changing in the locker rooms. This makes it even more imperative for the teacher to have efficient classroom procedures in place for the rest of the class time. Having a set routine in place like student squad lines at the start of each class is an ideal way to minimize loss of instruction time.

From the first day of school, the teacher will instruct the students to start the beginning of each class in pre-arranged squad lines. The teacher has the students line-up in alphabetical order in rows of five or six students, which will help the teacher efficiently and quickly take attendance. The teacher will consistently communicate to the students that they need to begin their warm up routine while the teacher takes attendance for time efficiency. Roll taking is not the responsibility of the students, so do not take up class time with the process (Wong, 2009, p. 133). After the first week, the teacher could even come into the gym a few minutes late and the students all know that they should already be in their squad lines doing the warm-ups.

To ensure the students are doing the correct warm-ups, the teacher will spend time at the beginning of the year reviewing the proper form and technique for the warm-up exercises. In addition, the teacher will post an easily-visible sign with the warm-ups listed in proper order for a visual reference for the students to double check they are doing all the warm-up exercises and in the proper order.

IMG_0533

This procedure gives the students shared control of certain aspects of their learning. It also helps maximize the efficiency of the student’s class time and helps ensure a positive, well-managed class environment. My next step is to continue researching and talking to current teachers about effective ways to minimize non-instruction time procedures.

Reference:

Wong, K. and Wong, R. (2009), The First Days of School. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications

EDU 6160 Entry

Using Assessment to Provide Feedback to Students

The focus of my reflection is on program standard 6.4: using assessment to provide feedback to students. This standard also states that teacher feedback to students is timely and of consistent high quality. The goal of this standard is to have planned, proven assessment methods that helps the teacher give growth-minded, meaningful feedback to the students. The teacher feedback should be a frequent part of the teacher’s lesson and it should be given to the student in a positive manner shortly after the student assessment to maximize student learning potential.

One feedback approach that is proven to be effective with students is called a “positive sandwich.” This is where a teacher gives a student something to work on, but keeps the student’s confidence level high by telling them a positive about what they are doing before and then after the feedback. Physical education teachers should give this type of feedback frequently when they are teaching kids how to perform a basic skill like dribbling a basketball or throwing a Frisbee. Frequent informal assessments throughout a physical education lesson are an important way to provide timely feedback to students, so they can work on the skill immediately. The longer the time between student work and feedback, the less effective it will be (Nolen and Taylor, 2008, p. 91).

Session 3
(Power Point slide from EDU 6160 session 3 presentation.)

It’s important for physical education teachers to consider a growth mindset when providing feedback to students. Research has shown that ego involvement feedback is rarely effective and in many cases even detrimental. Teachers need to give feedback that helps a student move forward and lets them know that their ability is not fixed.

It’s also important for physical education teachers to make sure they are doing these assessments for all the students, especially for the non-athletic students. There will be many students that will have a difficult time with some of the fitness skills being taught. It’s extremely important to ensure these students do not get discouraged and understand that it’s the effort that is the key and that growth is possible.

My next step is to continue researching and talking to current teachers about effective, growth-minded assessment and teaching techniques for physical education fitness activities.

References

Bobbitt-Nolen, S and Taylor, C. (2008), Classroom Assessments. Upper Saddle River, N.J.:
Pearson Education.

EDU 6942 Reflection

Fostering an Inclusive Learning Environment

The focus of my reflection is on category five of the IPC Learning Environment, specifically on fostering an inclusive learning environment. This means teachers should strive to create a family-like atmosphere in their classroom that is conducive to learning and where all students are included and valued members.

A key way for teachers to establish this type of a classroom environment is simply by listening to their students. In the frequently chaotic physical education learning environment, it will be difficult at times for teachers to be able to listen to their students all the time. It is extremely important, however, for teachers to have good verbal and non-verbal listening skills with their students as often as possible. Too often, teachers don’t take the time to really listen to what the student is saying and the student will pick up on that and think the teacher does not care about them or think they are important. When teachers make concerted efforts to know their students as individuals, they are communicating to the students that they value their interests, cultures and life experiences (Bucalos and Lingo, 2005).

Fostering a positive teacher-student relationship is another key way for teachers to establish an inclusive, family-like classroom atmosphere. The below table (Bucalos and Lingo, 2005) lists many ways to do this.

Capture

Of the items listed in the above table, I will especially strive to work on the following three items with my students:

• Allow time during class for students to showcase their interests and talents.
• Make it a point to talk with students before and after class about their interests outside of school.
• Choose 3-5 different students per class each day to talk with informally. There will probably not be enough time to do this with that many students every day. A better goal would be 2-3 students per class per day.

Reference

Bucalos, A. and Lingo, A. (2005), What Kind of Managers do Adolescents Really Need?
Managing Adolescent Behavior.

EDU 6130 Learning Environment

Managing Classroom Procedures

The focus of my reflection is on category five of the IPC Learning Environment, specifically on the components of managing classroom procedures. The goal of these components is for teachers to establish an organized, structured classroom environment that encourages students to take responsibility for many aspects of their own learning.

In my Classroom Management class we learned the importance of procedures to establish an organized, structured classroom environment. Effective teachers implement a systematic approach toward classroom management with procedures at the beginning of the school year (Wong, 2009, p. 167).

In a physical education setting, the most important time to manage classroom procedures is at the beginning of the school year. It is essential to establish these non-instructional procedures immediately, so the students know the exact routines to ensure maximum class time efficiency. In my observations at Pine Lake Middle School, the entire first week was dedicated to class procedures, including:

  • Expectations, guidelines and safety rules. The teacher reviews these thoroughly with the students and has them bring home a form to review with their parents, sign and turn back in.
  • Locker room. This includes uniform policy, behavior rules and locker room in and out times so the students know they are responsible for the times they enter and leave the locker room.
  • Squad lines. The students line up in the same spot every day to ensure there is enough spacing between students for correct and safe warm-ups. The teacher also sets up the squad lines in alphabetical order to maximize roll taking efficiency.
  • Warm-ups. The students all know they have to start the warm-ups at a set time. The teacher could come a few minutes late and the students are already in their squad lines doing warm ups.

Squad line

All of these procedures give the students shared control of certain aspects of their learning. This helps maximize the efficiency of the frequent transitions in a physical education setting and helps ensure a positive, well-managed class environment.

My next step is to continue researching and talking to current teachers about effective classroom management techniques for physical education fitness activities.

References

Wong, K. and Wong, R. (2009), The First Days of School. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong
Publications.

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).