Learning Journey

I have learned a lot about myself and my teaching philosophy this past semester. The journey to becoming a teacher has been unbelievable and I must say I was blessed with the opportunity to pre-intern at the Regina Huda School. I have learned a lot about the different culture, how the students are very motivated and engaged to receive good grades, and how well behaved those students are. Not saying that no other school was well behaved, but the classroom management that I received with the small class numbers at Regina Huda School was very helpful. Teaching Accounting and Information Processing was great as I learned how to adjust quickly to teaching a chapter from the middle of the text book in Accounting, and I made up an assignment in Information Processing that was related to a project that they were working on. I feel that I am way more confident in front of a room full of students after this experience. I also feel that lesson planning is just natural now and it is fairly simple to come up with a lesson to teach once you have a started path.

I found myself using assessment all the time while I was teaching in pre-internship. Whether it was just observing the students work by checking in, using exit slips and bell work, or making up a marking scheme for the Brochure Assignment that I had the students complete, I have found myself assessing the students’ learning daily. I think this is a great start, which will help me in my internship and future teaching career with assessing the students’ learning. If it wasn’t for ECS 410, I don’t think that I would have learned assessment anywhere else, and I am thankful that the textbook, handouts, and discussions have helped me understand the different types of assessments more thoroughly.

I am certainly excited and confident to enter internship with a bright mind and I am hoping that my experience and learning journey from pre-internship carries on through internship as well.

Homework- Does It Improve Student Achievement

http://www.districtadministration.com/article/homework-or-not-research-question

This article mentioned above has me really thinking about whether homework is effective or not and does it improve student achievement? I think that practice at home of the skills and knowledge that the students are learning in class is very beneficial and allows for the students of all ages to practice good study habits. I think that practicing study habits are very important as I was never introduced to how to study properly and it would have helped me so much when coming into university. I’m not saying that students need hours of homework but just enough (even if it is 30 minutes every night or every other night) can help them understand what they are learning and if we make it relevant then they will want to go home and do it. Lastly, I do not mind the “flipped classroom” approach but one issue that may come up is not all students have access to computers at home and may not be able to complete the lead up activities to the homework that they have to complete in class. That is why we need to get to know our students and find out if we can use this approach in our classroom or not.

Making Classroom Assessment Work – Chapter 9 and 10 February 28, 2013

Chapter 9–  We all want the best for our students and we all care for our students. Parents and teachers care about the students’ education and how they are learning in the classroom. I think that it is very important to communicate with the parents as much as possible to show that you care for their children and to show that you are doing everything you can to help them succeed in your classroom. Student-parent conferences “increases the appreciation of their son or daughter as a learner, his or her level of skill development, the breadth of the classroom and sschool curriculum, and the efforts needed on everyone’s behalf to make learning possible.” I agree with this statement as student-parent conferences get the parents involved in their child’s learning and they can observe demonstrations and respond to the demonstrations of learning. The feedback that they receive can help guide their learning and will help the students understand what they have learned and what they need to learn. Newsletters made by the students provide the parents with information about the classroom and how they are learning daily in the classroom. Self-assessments also allow the students to reflect on their work and share those reflections with their parents. I think that reflections are a great way for the students to keep up to date with their learning and if they reflect daily then they will know that they are relaying as much information about their learning that they can to their parents about their learning. I also think that demonstrations at home or at school can help the parents understand what is happening, so to make an effort to make your students share what they are learning somehow with their parents at home can make the communication that much easier for you as a teacher. If the demonstrations are happening at home, then the parents can reflect and come with questions or concerns to you before it is too late and they are waiting around for a conference. Thoughtful conversations with the parents and the students can benefit everyone’s learning as long as you put in the effort that you want to get out of it.

Chapter 10– Throughout this text book, the message that I have received the most would be to work together with your students and their parents in judgements of what is going to be evaluated and how it is going to be evaluated. “Evaluating and reporting are straightforward last steps in an assessement process that begins much earlier.” This is so true as you should be assessing your students from Day 1 whether it is having a conversation with them or giving them exit slips of what they have learned, you are assessing how they learn and what they have learned. You are also assessing your own teaching and determining if you have taught everything you can or do you have to go back and review certain things so they have learned all that they can. When evaluating you are determining the worth or the value of the evidence and we should look at all the evidence such as observations, products, and conversations. Reporting is a way for the students to speak to their parents about the learning they are doing and report on it, have conversations with their teachers about what the learning is about, and to eventually conference in student-teacher-parent conferences. I think that student-teacher-parent conferences bring everyone together and they allow for questions to arise that they all may have been wondering about. Lastly, reporting allows for organization of evidence and allows the students to gather all their evidence and show it to their parents and teachers at many times throughout the school year. After reviewing different kinds of evaluating and reporting, I really enjoyed the progress report on pg. 98 as it introduces the child, their strengths and accomplishments, further attention areas, and goals and support for learning. This allows for the teacher to say positive things along with a few weaknesses, but in the end close up with positive emphasis.

February 13, 2013- Making Classroom Assessment Work – Chapter 7 and 8

Chapter 7 – To reflect on this chapter, I looked at the “Guiding Our Own Learning Questions” and I thought about a time when I was a student and was most engaged in learning. I was most engaged in learning when I was allowed to relate the project that I was doing in Career and Work Exploration to mine and my partners own interests. Our entrepreneurship venture was a Fun Horse Show that we put on to fundraise for the local “Hike for Hospice”. We allowed for children of all ages to attend the horse show whether they had a horse or not and brought in horses for the children to ride and take part in the fun horse show and activities. It allowed for my friend and I to use our own experiences and bring them to the forefront for children that would never have the chance to take part in an activity like this before. I loved doing this project as I loved to entertain young children and I was interested in horses so that helped me love the project and be engaged and interested in the project as well. Our teacher had expectations of us and we made sure to meet the expectations that were needed for our venture such as funding, organization, liability agreements, rent, etc. We knew what kind of evidence that we needed to perform in order to meet the expectations of the Venture Project and with a little worry of how many kids were going to show up and pay, we succeeded in bringing in money and making profit. We also succeeded in allowing the children to be entertained and having fun and we also had fun as the organizers. It felt rewarding to donate the money that we made to the local fundraiser and help out in the community. Lastly, we were able to self monitor our responsibilities and our actions and we were successful in being responsible and having our venture turn into a great experience. Our teacher allowed us to use our interests and prior knowledge and experience to assess ourselves and come together with a successful venture. 

After reading this chapter it made me realize that by allowing students to use their own experiences and interests it will help them succeed in their learning, just like it did for me in my Venture Project. I learned that there are many responsibilities to start a venture and by assessing myself I learned that you need to take your time and work away at little things one step at a time and use your prior knowledge to help you succeed with your ideas.

Chapter 8-  If students are to be involved in the assessment in support of their learning, then they need to know when they have succeeded and to do this collecting their evidence of learning is key. The process of collecting and organizing evidence has four main concepts. They are:

1. Keep the process simple – which means we need to help the students understand why they are collecting their work and evidence because I know that I would want to know the meaning of this way of learning. Telling the students who is going to see it will help them understand what they need to have and how they are going to share their evidence. Also by working with the students to design a simple system will help you get to know the students and how they organize their work and will allow them to ask questions and feel controlled with what they are doing.

2. Involve Students- Having the students show proof of their learning and asking them how they have done this and are organized and monitoring their progress. Show them what evidence is essential and where they have flexibility to show what they know in a variety of ways. Allow the students to make notes of what they have done and what they have learned on entry slips or exit slips.

3. Help parents and students value the evidence – I really agree with this idea of sharing the students work with the parents through open houses or conferences with their parents to show the parents what they are learning and allowing the parents to really understand what their children are learning. Letting parents know how you are assessing their children is also beneficial and a note such as the one on page 78 is a great way to inform the parents of the feedback that you are giving the students.

4. Reconsidering Evidence Collections- Portfolios are great evidence of collecting their work and they have purpose and an audience. They show progress and are a great way to show goals progressing throughout a period of time. Having students write a summary of the evidence can help the audience see what is important to the students learning and also can show their strengths and weaknesses with their work.

To conclude I think that support is highly important to help assist the students is collecting evidence to assess their own work. It allows the students to do the work and become responsible with their work instead of you nagging at them to come up with the evidence. They know their audience and it allows them to know how their audience will come to understand their learning and evidence. Lastly I want to take one thing away from this chapter, “the person who is working the hardest is learning the most.”

“The Classroom Experiment” Part 1 and 2

After watching this video, I am impressed with the different techniques that they used to improve student engagement and raise academic acheivement. One quote that really stood out through the whole video was “effort leads to success” and I think that this relates to both teachers and students. I think that the greater the effort that the teachers and the students put into their teaching and learning leads to greater success. 

The techniques that Dr. Wiliam had the teachers use in the classrooms included lollipop sticks with the students names, whiteboards to allow students to answer with their own opinions, yellow cup (not sure about the topic)/red cup (needs immediate help) /green cup (understands) technique which allowed the students to ask for help without holding their hand up for a long time.

The lollipop stick technique was hard for the students to get used to as some of the more gifted and smarter students were becoming frustrated when they wanted to answer but then when they were called upon they didn’t want to answer because they didn’t know that certain question. This activity opened up the idea that Dr. Wiliam wanted a classroom where it is alright to be wrong and by the end of the video the students understood that everyone can learn from their mistakes. The whiteboards allowed for everyone to answer and see all of the others answers. It allowed for independence and even though the students sometimes caused havoc with some of the whiteboards, the students seemed to get used to using them and allowing everyone’s opinions. Finally the cup technique kept the kids away from sitting there with their hand up and made them more focused on their work.

Finally the last technique that I was really impressed with was the secret student where they chose one student to pay attention to secretly and if they misbehaved they would get an “x” but if they showed good behaviour and if they received three “checks” then they receive a point for their class for a reward in the end. The students found it hard to behave appropriately at the start but when they were reminded of the secret student they behaved really well.

The last comment that I received from the videos was that the students learned that they need to work together and not individually and competition is not important. What was important was that they learned from their mistakes and they learned from each other because “smart is not who you are, it’s what you get.”

Chapter 5 and 6 “Making Classroom Assessment Work”

Chapter 5– In Chapter 5 we look at a process called triangulation. It consists of observing of process, conversations with students about learning, and collection of products that the students create. To observe learning it is a lot easier to do for students who like to learn by doing rather than for example writing out their products. For my subject area of Business Education, I can relate to observing in a positive way as many of our subjects allow for the students to show their learning by doing (for example keyboarding, career and work activities, and entrepreneurship activities), so we have a lot of opportunities to observe. Collecting products involves teachers collecting the students work such as projects, assignments, notebooks, and tests. I think that involving choice in the way a certain project can be done such as writing it out or showing me how its done, is an effective way to show how my students learn and how they like to represent what they know. Lastly allowing students to think about their learning can lead to conversations about what they have done and how they have represented what they have learned. Self-assessment can help the students learn more and we can find out what their strengths and weaknesses were in that project and how they think they can improve their learning in the future.

Chapter 6– In this chapter it states that “frequent self-assessment ensures the focus stays on learning”, so one question that I have is “How often should we allow the student’s to self assess their work?” . Self assessment is a great way for teachers to listen to their students understandings and use those understandings to guide their lessons. Criteria is important to students, so allowing them to be apart of co-constructing the criteria can help them feel a sense of ownership with the criteria. Receiving descriptive feedback from their teachers and others can help the students to learn more. Allowing them to see examples of what is right is another way for the student to succeed and aim for the best in their work. Lastly, having the students set goals for how they want to learn and what they want to achieve is a good way to help them receive feedback on these goals and allows them to self-assess themselves in how they are completing these goals.

January 31, 2013 – Chapter 3 and 4 “Making Classroom Assessment Work”

Chapter 3 – “Beginning with the End in mind” is simple for many of us to think about the destination that we want to get to, but the planning to get there may be harder than we think when looking in terms of asking “What do I want my students to learn?”. Learning about multiple intelligences and different learning styles in my previous classes allows me to understand that there may be a time that there are many different levels of expertise in the classroom and we have to meet the needs of all our students in order for them to be successful. Creating learning descriptions for a class can help both the students and the parents learn the outcomes that need to be met through the curriculum. I think this would be very helpful in the classroom to show to the students what needs to be accomplished and it can help them see the destination in mind. When looking at Business Education topics I think that by putting some of the outcomes into our own language that everyone can understand will help the students see what we are learning and where we are going with the certain topics and units. Also it will help them relate the outcomes to their everday lives, especially in courses such as Personal Finance or Career and Work Exploration, and use the outcomes to help them become successful in the world outside of school. Finally by showing the students what success looks like, for example the chart on page 30 showing what is expected and what success looks like, can help the students understand what they need to do in the class to succeed and how they will be evaluated and what they should be able to do at the end of the class.

Chapter 4 – I think that it is very important for the teachers to know what success looks like to make sure that their students are meeting success in the proper way. We need to take the outcomes that are given to us and make them meet the needs of our students. Whether the work is different from one student to another, they can all reach success with the outcomes, there may just be different pathways to that destination. The last thing that we as teachers want to do is limit the abilities of our students and we want them to show their ability in the best possible way. When I am teaching I want to share with my students as many examples as I can of what I want to see in the end and to help them answer the question of “What will it looked like when I’ve learned it?”. Collecting student samples can help us teachers illustrate what the students can do, and it helps the students understand what is important. By understanding what is important, the students can then give themselves specific, descriptive feedback. Samples give the students a chance to compare and see what they are missing, but we need to be aware when it is appropriate and when it is not appropriate to use samples.  I learned that even though you can collect samples to show to your students by yourself over time, there is a huge benefit to collaborating with colleagues for samples of work done, giving you a broad range of work done by different students. Lastly, I believe that different types of samples from a variety of students can help us provide better quality feedback, helps others understand learning, and helps develop criteria for different kinds of evidence of learning with students.

Chapter 1, 2 and 11 “Making Classroom Assessment Work”

Chapter 1- From this chapter I would say that self assessment is highly useful for both the student and the teacher as they “confirm, consolidate, and integrate new knowledge”. As the students self-assess they realize how they learn and what they need to do to monitor their learning, and they also learn how to give themselves descriptive feedback. Positive feedback to forward the students learning is also important and by allowing the students to self-assess and give themselves feedback they are receiving a bigger amount of constructive and useful tips that will help them in their future learning. I think that in order for the students to assess each other we need to set criteria on what they are assessing to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Chapter 2- From this chapter I realized that I learn best by receiving feedback from my teachers and using the feedback to improve my learning. Descriptive feedback is highly important as students can take the feedback and improve their learning. They find out what is working and what is not and then they can learn how to plan their next steps with their work. One thing that disturbs me is when teachers or professors give you a grade and no feedback of what I could do to improve my grade or what I did well in the assignment. I would not want my students to get an assignment back with no feedback as I would want them to do whatever they can to improve their learning.

Chapter 11- From this chapter I learned that learning is always happening and learning from others allows for us to collaborate our ideas about assessment and share what works best and what needs improvement. By collaborating with others in your subject area you can learn how students want to be assessed and see what is happening in their classroom. Honestly I don’t know if I would refer this chapter to anyone as I didn’t see it relating to anything that I learned about in Chapter 1 and 2, but I do understand that it is important to keep learning and to collaborate with others to do so.