Tuesday, April 23, 2013


3) You have now read several views about intelligence. What do you think about intelligence?
Is it one trait or many? more heavily influenced by nature or nurture? a fixed capacity or a
modifiable ability?

I think that intelligence is an extremely vague term to try to describe or define, per se. I think intelligence is the combination of multiple traits. I think it is influenced by both nature and nurture, but more heavily by nurture, in my opinion. I believe there are various pieces of research that show that intelligence is somewhat inherited; however, if you are not in an environment that supports and expands that intelligence, it can go undiscovered. For instance, I think that you are born with a certain capacity to fill, but you must actively be thinking and learning to attempt to fill this intelligence "void." We kind of see this idea with synaptic pruning - the synapses you do not use get severed. This particular concept, though, is complete around the age of adolescence. I believe that you can still expand your mind as an adult - it just may be more difficult to absorb information than as a young child. In short, I think everyone has an inherited capacity that is never fully met, but can be filled more greatly in certain environments and conditions. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Poverty and Class

This week, we read about at-risk students and how to utilize teaching methods to better cater to these students. In particular, I was assigned to class/poverty. My partner and I read 3 articles, as well as Ormrod's textbook pages about ways to assist students living in poverty. 
The first author, Jean Anyon, is a professor of social and educational policy, and the second author, R.W. Connell, is a sociologist. The third is written by Beth Lindsay Templeton. I believe all three authors of these articles/books were addressing anyone and everyone who would listen, but especially teachers and school staff. They seem to assume that these high-risk students who live in poverty are capable of being successful students with the proper support from their school and teachers. One specific example from Templeton's book states that, “Teachers who can appreciate the diversity in their students and help classmates be empathetic toward one another create environments that enhance and encourage learning by everyone, teachers and students alike.” R.W. Connell talks more about why students living in poverty do not achieve as much as other students, while the unknown author speaks about how we, as teachers, can assist these students and guide them to success.
            I agree that with the support provided by teachers and other school staff, high-risk students do have a better chance at being successful; however, I also believe that there are other influences in a child’s life. Even if you, as a teacher, do everything you can to help and support these students, they still may not be successful due to outside stimuli. I think that these authors are not saying that with support these children will always be successful, but they do present a compelling argument for providing them with the resources they need. A couple of examples from Templeton’s book excerpt were to arrange the beginning of the day so that if a student is late, they do not miss any crucial information/instruction. Another tip was to keep the students’ situations confidential, creating a trusting and safe environment for the students and parents.
            I thought these articles were different from Ormrod’s text because I felt that these were slightly more real and raw. I thought that Ormrod’s, for whatever reason, seemed more disconnected from reality. She mentioned circumstances these students might deal with and tips for teaching for success in high-risk students, but the overall tone didn’t feel that negative. I think, especially Templeton's excerpt, presented more real-life examples that made the situations of the students seem more “real” and it hit home a bit more that situations like those actually occur. 

Friday, April 12, 2013


Chapter 3
(3.1) Personal and social development can have a major influence on both individual student
learning and the learning environment as a whole. Identify a case from the CSEL guidelines*
that you would like to address in your paper. Then, examine the possible developmental
factors that could be influencing your target student(s) or classroom in the case study. Consider
all dimensions of personal and social development, including cognitive, language, social,
emotional, and moral development. *CSEL guidelines can be found under CSEL Artifact. Cases
are included at the end of the document. Choose the case that best suits your desired grade level.

Elementary Education:
You engage your third grade students in cooperative learning activities at least twice a day, changing heterogeneous group members once every four weeks. You have agreed upon routine procedures that your classroom community uses within their small groups, including the roles and responsibilities of group members. Lately you have noticed that one small group always seems to have difficulty grasping material and completing their project in an acceptable manner.  You observe this group carefully and find that Lisa seems to be the catalyst for their problems.  She gets angry with others if she does not get the job she wants and refuses to do her part in contributing to the group’s learning.  She constantly interrupts others in her group.  She does not pay attention when her group prepares for class presentations. 

Some issues in development that Lisa might be facing could be that her social development is not as developed as her peers. She might react to certain situations or comments made by her classmates in inappropriate ways because she just hasn't reached the same level of development as they have. Things like her perspective taking and information processing might not be up to par, resulting in aggressive behavior. She also might not be as cognitively developed as her peers. Her level of understanding of the assignment, etc. might not be there, so she may misunderstand and be confused, causing frustration and bad behavior. As for language development, Lisa may not have the capability to express everything that she wants to, resulting in miscommunications and frustration within her group. Lastly, Lisa's emotional and moral development  may not be at the same level as her peers. Due to this difference, Lisa may say things or act a certain way, which is not appropriate. She might realize this afterwards, though, causing Lisa to feel a sense of shame or guilt. All of these are possibilities for Lisa's misbehavior. The teacher would have to closely monitor Lisa and speak with her to figure out what the problem was. It would be a good idea to do a functional behavior assessment to try to pinpoint the triggers/causes of Lisa's behavior so you can more effectively reduce Lisa's poor behavior. 

(3.22) Check out tables 3.1 (p. 75), 3.2 (p. 83) and 3.3 (p. 91) with particular attention to the age
ranges you are interested in teaching. Identify your personal favorite ways that an educator can
promote a child’s sense of self, perspective taking, and moral reasoning skills.

For sense of self, I would like to "provide sufficient scaffolding to make success possible." For perspective taking, since I am a huge reading advocate, would like to "ask questions about thoughts, feelings, and motives during storybook readings; encourage students to share and compare diverse perspectives and inferences." This is a great way to make your activities cross-curricular, as well. You could read a science book, but tie these developmental ideas in, too. For moral reasoning skills, when student misbehave I would like to "give reasons that such behaviors are not acceptable, focusing on the harm and distress they have cause others." I think if you can guide a child to be sympathetic or even empathetic, they will have a greater sense of others and develop much better social skills.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Personal and Social Development - Song Discussion

"Timekeeper" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Time Keeper
I can't believe how long it's been
Time Keeper
I wish I could start over again
I'm too young
To be feeling this way
Yeah I'm wasted as I lie awake
There goes another day

Woah, Time keeper
Please wont you slow it down tonight
Time keeper
The day days are rolling by
Time keeper
Tell me I'm gonna be, alright

Time Keeper
I thought I'd have it right by now
Time Keeper
Everythings still spinning out
I'm undone

Breaking out of the cage
But before the beast can get away
There goes another day

Woah, Time keeper
Please wont you slow it down tonight
Time Keeper
The days are rolling by
Time Keeper
Tell me I'm gonna be, alright


So choke the dawn and damn the daylight
Time is just an invisible line
Time Keeper
I'm hoping you hear me, tonight

Oh Time Keeper
Please wont you slow it down tonight
Time Keeper
The days are rolling by
Time Keeper
Tell me I'm gonna be, alright

p.73 - Erikson's Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development:
"Generativity vs. Stagnation"

The idea behind Erikson's generativity vs. stagnation is that, as adults, people must decide how (or if) they will contribute to society. Generativity would result from doing something that made someone feel like they had made a difference and had value in their lives. Stagnation would result from someone who had not done anything productive in society and felt a sense of discontentment in their lack of productivity. 

This particular song seems to represent a sense of stagnation, as seen in the highlighted lyrics. The stanza that reads, "I'm too young to be feeling this way, yeah I'm wasted as I lie awake. There goes another day" presents this fairly straightforwardly. It seems fair to say that this person feels that their life is not full of purpose (wasted). 

I might apply this knowledge of the theory in the classroom by making sure to incorporate all of my students in planned activities, as well as differentiating instruction. I don't want any of my students to feel left out and think that their life isn't as purposeful as another student's. I also don't want them to feel like they aren't good enough if they cannot complete the same work as another student, which is where differentiation would come into play. Overall, I want to make all of my students feel that they have a purpose in my class, and they are valued as a member. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cognitive and Language Development

Chapter 2
(2.1) One of the most cited theories of human development is that of Swiss biologist Jean Piaget. After reading about Piaget’s basic assumptions (p. 27-32) look with particular attention at the stage of child development you would like to teach. The other most cited theory of human development belongs to Russian developmentalist Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development leads us to expect greater diversity among our same-aged students than Piaget. Given these two influential theorists’ ideas on cognitive development, how might you accommodate students who are not yet working at the level of their peers? (2) Theories in educational psychology promote the idea that language plays a critical role in cognitive development. Examine Table 2.2 (p. 51), paying particular attention to the age range that you are interested in teaching. Consider how you might incorporate or adapt the strategies presented for use with your own students.

Piaget's Basic Assumptions (via Jeanne Ormrod, Educational Psychology: Development of Learners, 2011)
  • Children are active and motivated learners
  • Children construct rather than absorb knowledge
  • Children learn through a combination of assimilation and accommodation
  • Interaction with one's physical and social environments are essential for cognitive development 
  • The process of equilibration promotes progression toward increasingly complex thought 
  • In part as a result of maturational changes in the brain, children think in qualitatively different ways at different ages
    • Sensorimotor
    • Preoperational Egocentrism
    • Concrete Operational
    • Formal Operational
I think to assume that a child cannot reach a higher level of development is selling them short; however, I also think that there is a level to the amount of challenge that they can handle before becoming discouraged. Therefore, given these two theorists ideas about cognitive development, I would accommodate students who are not working at the same level in various ways. I would provide differentiated instruction by utilizing centers in my class. While other students might be working on a certain activity, I would have a group working with me on various topics. This would provide the scaffolding and Zone of Proximal Development made famous by Vygotsky. 

Some of the suggested strategies from Ormrod were to read age-appropriate storybooks, give corrective feedback when students seem to misunderstand something, work on listening skills, ask follow-up questions, and have students write narratives about recent events. I think incorporating all of these would be doable. You would have to carve time out of your day for an interactive read-aloud. As for listening skills, you would have to include good listening skills in your classroom rules and then enforce consequences, etc. for not listening when the students are supposed to. I would prefer to take a more constructivist approach to asking follow-up questions because you not only want to check for understanding, but you also want to expand their thinking and guide them towards higher level cognition (via Vygotsky's theory). You could have students write narratives about anything, so a recent event would be good reflection for them. My mentor teacher is going to take her students on a "bug walk" during their unit about insects, so after they do that, she could have them write about their experience.

This website is helpful in giving some basic tips for differentiating instruction:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Social Cognitive Theory

Chapter 10
Which of the learning activities/skills can you think of that lend themselves to learning through modeling?
I think that there are a handful of skills that lend themselves to learning through modeling. I think that students definitely learn good problem solving skills and critical thinking habits through modeling. A teacher/parent/other student might demonstrate their thinking out loud or visually show their steps they worked through to come to the answer or conclusion that they did. For instance, in reading, a teacher is intentional about saying what they think in an interactive read aloud so the students know how to think more critically about a book. This is very important for comprehension, as well. The students may need to think about: well why did this character act the way she did? What made her do that? What would you do in that situation? These also lend themselves to making predictions and inferences. Communication and collaboration are also skills that can be developed through modeling. A student might learn a particular method of communication at his home, which may not always be acceptable in a school or professional setting. A teacher or other figure might model a more acceptable or "proper" way of communicating with good grammar, tone, manners, etc. For example, instead of a student getting mad at another student for making a particular comment, this student could verbalize his frustration in a more effective way in order to convey his/her emotions rather than pitching a fit. 
How might self-efficacy and self-regulation contribute to the intervention plans you use in your case study?
For my intervention plans, I would have taken Lisa aside and spoken with her privately, as well as possibly changing out the group members she was working with. There is a possibility that part of her frustration could stem from her not getting the job she wanted because she thinks she cannot do the other jobs. If this were the case, I would either let her select the job she wanted, first, to build her self-efficacy and slowly have her try other jobs once her self-efficacy was there, or I would give her verbal feedback everyday to support and encourage her with a potential reward afterwards. For example, if she took the job given to her one day and completed the job well and without fuss, she could select which job she wanted the next time. As for self-regulation, this plays a large role in Lisa's behavior. I believe that if you could increase self-regulation, then her behavior as a whole would improve because she would have more control over her actions after certain events. If she didn't get the job she wanted, she would have to self-regulate (maybe sit for one minute in a chill-out area) and come back ready to tackle the task of another job instead. For her interrupting, she would also have to self-regulate and make it more of a habit to wait until someone is finished talking before she barges into the conversation. 
The teacher I am placed with currently told us that she will not baby them when it comes to assignments and behavior. If they miss an assignment because they were playing around instead of doing their work, sorry, they'd have to take a zero. Or if a student was messing around with a shoe during a carpet time, sorry, no shoe for you. I think that this can add to students' self-regulatory skills because many times, they do not want to repeat the "punishment" they were given, which will develop their regulation strategies for the future. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Chapter 9
How would you define successful mastery of your lesson objectives from a behavioral view of learning?
I think I would define successful mastery of lesson objectives from a behavioral view of learning by observing how the student responded to certain stimuli. One of the main assumptions of behaviorism is that "learning involves forming associations among stimuli and responses," as well as, "learning involves a behavior change" (Ormrod). I believe that if you used a classroom management system to frequently monitor students' understanding (i.e. fist five), you could continue to utilize this to see how they behaved regarding certain topics. If all of the students immediately held up all five fingers signaling full understanding, you could assume that they had mastered that topic. If the students were hesitant to put up their hands or only used 1 or 2 fingers, you could assume that they had not quite mastered the topic. This is just a behavior you can utilize during a lesson. Then, obviously, you could measure their mastery on whether or not they could accurately answer a question about it - even if they THINK they've mastered it doesn't necessarily mean they have. They should be able to produce their knowledge and SHOW you that they've learned the material, as well. 

Consider your CSEL intervention case study.  Are there tools from a behaviorist view for either encouraging productive behaviors or discouraging undesirable behaviors that you could apply to the case?  What are they?

Elementary Education Case Study
You engage your third grade students in cooperative learning activities at least twice a day, changing heterogeneous group members once every four weeks. You have agreed upon routine procedures that your classroom community uses within their small groups, including the roles and responsibilities of group members. Lately you have noticed that one small group always seems to have difficulty grasping material and completing their project in an acceptable manner.  You observe this group carefully and find that Lisa seems to be the catalyst for their problems.  She gets angry with others if she does not get the job she wants and refuses to do her part in contributing to the group’s learning.  She constantly interrupts others in her group.  She does not pay attention when her group prepares for class presentations. 

Yes. The tools from a behaviorist view for encouraging productive behaviors are to give immediate praise for a good behavior, let the students know of something enjoyable they might receive if good behavior continues, use rewards like stickers (especially that are a subject of interest to the student - cars, etc.), have students complete certain procedures based on behavior (i.e. who gets to line up first), and make class jobs only available to students who have shown good behavior (Ormrod). The tools for discouraging undesirable behaviors are scolding, losing privileges  doing a behavior over again until they do it correctly, time-out, and ISS, etc.  

I think it is also important to take into consideration practices like cueing because if you can get to the root of this issue Lisa is having, you may be able to develop cues between teacher and student to change behavior. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cognitive Processes

Chapter 8

Consider a lesson plan you might use. Which metacognitive skills/abilities are involved as students gain facility/knowledge in this domain?

In teaching about emotions and feelings, you could start out by reading a children's book, in which the characters are going through a struggle with emotions (maybe a scenario of bullying, etc.). You could ask questions for metacognition such as, "What would you have done in that situation? Do you think that what he/she did was the right thing to do? Why/Why not? I wonder if his/her feelings were hurt, what do you think? Why do you think the bully was acting that way?" etc.  You could then have them break off and complete a short writing assignment to reflect on whether they had ever had their feelings hurt by somebody, or something along those lines. During this activity, the students would be talking about thinking processes, and you would be providing opportunities for students to experiment with their memories. These are important because the age-typical characteristics for K-2, according to the book, are:

  • Awareness of thought in oneself and others, but limited ability to reflect on the specific nature of one's own thought processes
  • Considerable overestimation of what has been learned and how much can be remembered in the future
  • Belief that learning is a relatively passive activity
  • Belief that the absolute truth about any topic is "out there" somewhere, waiting to be discovered
(Excerpt from Educational Psychology: Developing Learners 7th edition by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod)

Think of an activity or lesson component that explicitly teaches one or more metacognitive and one or more problem solving skills. 

The two skills that I have in mind are note-taking (metacognitive) and heuristics (problem-solving). For example, if I presented them with information about the Boston Tea Party, they would take notes to remember certain material. For successful notes, they would have to think about what was most important to write down. Then, with the information I had given them, they could break off into small groups or pairs and use their notes to address the situation surrounding the Boston Tea Party in their own way. Would they have acted similarly to the colonists? Would they have poured all the tea into the harbor? Why or why not? If they thought they would have acted differently, what would they have done in the colonists' shoes? Explain. After they had some time to reflect on this and jot down their own ideas, we would regroup as a whole class and discuss everyone's ideas to get an idea of what the students had come up with.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Chapter 7
Describe a constructivist lesson you would teach. 
One lesson you could teach in a constructivist way would be a lesson on density. You would have various liquids like molasses, karo syrup, water, and oil and first, ask the students to predict on their own what would happen when they were all poured into the same glass. This would show you their existing schemas. Then, they'd actually complete this task and break any misconceptions that they might've had previously. At this point, you would stop and discuss findings as a group. You could then take it further by asking them to hypothesize about if they dropped various items into the concoction to see where they ended up floating or sinking. Then, they'd complete the task. I believe that this authentic, inquiry-based, hands-on learning really contributes to the students constructing schemas.

Which of these learning activities/skills lend themselves to student’s individual or group construction?
I think that many of the activities of constructivism tend to be useful in both individual and group construction. Some of the suggestions that the book mentions are: providing opportunities for firsthand observation and experimentation, presenting experts' perspectives, emphasizing conceptual understanding, encouraging classroom dialogue, assigning authentic activities, and creating a community of learners. I think for individual construction, in particular, presenting expert perspectives and providing authentic activities are very important because these seem like they would be the most conducive to breaking previous misconceptions and providing engaging and realistic material for the students to construct schemas from. Regarding the lesson above, you would be providing opportunities for firsthand observation and experimentation, encouraging classroom dialogue, creating a community of learners, and assigning an authentic activity. All of these lend themselves to both individual and group construction because each student makes their own hypotheses, but they also work and discuss as a group during the activity. 
Below is an example of a constructivist approach being used in a classroom:

How might you structure learning activities that lead students to discover these skills/these principles?
I think good planning is what is needed for students to discover these skills. I think it is the teacher's responsibility to facilitate these through their lessons by providing the experiences mentioned in the question above (authentic activities, etc.). Providing necessary time and materials are also key to this discovery. I believe that if you stick with an inquiry-based approach to learning, much of the students' experiences will be somewhat constructivist because they will be doing their own thinking and creating  schemas out of these experiences.