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. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Learning and Cognitive Processes

Chapter 6
What are the essential skills and/or learning outcomes you want your students to know and be able to do that relate to cognitive learning? 
I am somewhat confused by this question, so I will do my best to answer it. I would love for my students to have adequate short and long term memory. By using different strategies of meaningful learning, the students would be able to use elaboration, organization, and visual imagery to create mental concepts and enhance their existing knowledge. I also want to develop good critical thinking skills. I think that if they can think critically about a topic, then they must first understand the foundation, upon which they can build to analyze whatever it may be that they are discussing. 
How might your knowledge of the memory processes guide your instructional decisions?
I would definitely explain to my students different strategies of remembering things. I still remember learning ROY G BIV in my kindergarten class. KINDERGARTEN. I think that if I can find ways to make the information more meaningful then the students would be able to understand it better. A memory process plus application would equal a greater understanding. What use is remembering PEMDAS (parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction) if you can't apply it to a math problem. My teaching will be directly affected by my knowledge of memory processes because I obviously want them to remember all of what I teach them (ambitious, I know). By using these processes, I would have a higher chance of achieving this. 

I know personally, I was able to remember things especially well with songs. We used this particular song to remember the preamble during 3rd grade. After we had all memorized it, we talked in depth about what it meant and translated it into layman's terms. 

Also, the first grade teacher that I had the privilege of observing last year used this song almost every day for her first graders to learn all of the states in the U.S. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Teaching and Learning

My personal definitions for teaching and learning are:

Teaching – involves supplying information to a person to facilitate learning

I think in the instance of a classroom, teaching would involve the teacher providing materials and experiences that resonate with the students. These acts of teaching would then produce learning when done appropriately and well. There are many methods and many different ways to teach, as well as being intentional and unintentional. 

Learning – involves the assimilation and accommodation of knowledge, which can later be reproduced and applied

I think learning must be measured in application of material. Too many students simply memorize and regurgitate information for tests and classes because as soon as they have completed the required assignments or tests, they do not revisit this information. I think to produce adequate learning, a teacher must make information interesting and relatable. To be truly learned, information will be able to be revisited and explained by the learners. I think a lot of great learning is done unintentionally, but out of pure curiosity and interest. 

Also, relating to teaching and learning, I have seen a couple of videos about a teacher named Steven Levy. He is honestly pretty inspiring and innovative when it comes to his teaching methods. I was unable to find a link to any videos showing his teaching practices, but I did find a website explaining a little bit about what he does in his classroom. I also found another website with a short bio and a list of his videos and books that he has written. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Achievement and Scoring

Questions to Consider: Turn to p. 559 in Ormrod’s text. Now, imagine that you are meeting with Ingrid’s grandmother today to explain her scores on the recent standardized achievement test pictured at the bottom of p. 559.  What will you tell her about Ingrid’s performance? her strengths? her weaknesses?
If grandmother asks you what she could be doing at home to help strengthen Ingrid’s skills, what will you suggest?

I would start off by explaining that she did well in some areas, but not as well in other areas. I would then take her through each score and explain where she had fallen, what that meant, and what my plan of action would be, as her teacher, to help her improve. Obviously her strengths are in reading comprehension, science, social studies, and math concepts. She is doing average/below average in speling and math computation. I would also be sure to address whether I thought these scores were an accurate representation of how she was doing in the class. She may have just had a poor test day through some of the sections, etc. Various occurrences could have arisen to affect her scores. 

As for what she could do to help her at home, I would provide certain individualized activities and worksheets that they could work on together to give her some extra practice. 

This week really reinforced how important testing/scoring can be in the classroom. Even if you don't give formal, summative assessments, you must keep track of your students achievements and progress throughout the year. If they are affected by RTI, you may even have to do these every week. 

We also watched this video below, which was definitely an interesting take on the education system. I think that parts of it are good points, but I don't really think it gave any great solutions...more of an intellectual complaint. 

I also found a couple of outside resources about testing that bring up some good points: (this one was especially interesting to me, since it is from a psychological standpoint)

Then, thanks to a fellow student, this Scholastic link was brought to my attention, which provides some great tips on how to help your students prepare for these mandated tests. There are a few articles available to skim over for information.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Assessment and Evaluation

Think of a lesson plan from your licensure area. Knowing that assessment is an integral part of teaching, explain at least four informal and formal assessments that you will use in your lesson plan to provide you with feedback and involve the students in assessing their own learning.
Considering a 1st grade lesson I just developed for a science education class, 
I could definitely use:
  • pencil-paper formal assessments
  • performance assessments
  • short quizzes/tickets out the door - formative checks during lessons
  • other alternative assessments
During this lesson, I begin by reading a book about the butterfly life cycle (i.e. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, etc.). I then discuss with the students what they know about butterflies, whether they know what a life cycle is, etc. I then introduce these concepts. After that, the students are responsible for filling out a worksheet with each stage of the butterfly's life cycle (paper-pencil assessment) and gluing various shapes of pasta onto each stage that corresponds with what the butterfly would look like in that stage of its life (performance assessment). After they finished that, I could do a ticket out the door before a bathroom break or a quick review discussion (formative check). Then, I could move into another related lesson going into a writing prompt such as: Now, create an advertisement for a butterfly you create. Take us through its life cycle and tell us why your butterfly is better than others (alt. assessment). 

Consider norm referenced assessment and criterion referenced assessment. Are there advantages to both? Are their disadvantages?

I think there are advantages to both. You do want to see that the students are meeting a normal level of development; however, I feel like you also want to use the standard of their work as well. I think the disadvantages are that norm referenced assessment isn't always going to be the best for certain students. If you have an inclusive classroom, you will have to make adaptations, etc. for your class and norm referenced assessment may not always be the best option to assess them. Also, if the students are doing well on one assessment and not on the other, it would produce unreliable results and might mean the validity of one of the assessments is not good. 

Ticket out the Door

Pros and Cons of Standardization

I think standardization has multiple pros and cons.

  • Able to keep a certain level of normality in which students can be tested against
    • Universal screening, the first tier in RTI, is a method that would require some kind of standardized testing in order to see which students were below average and needed intervention
  • Able to give the teacher a standard in order to see who can apply the material
    • I think worksheets are a form of standardization - there ARE other ways of assessing application, though
  • Teachers might teach to the test rather than incorporating real-world experiences and inquiry activities 
  • Not enough student exploration
  • Memorization rather than absorption and application of the information
I think standardization vs. performance assessment is a big issue these days in schools. I think the research tells us to use more inquiry-based, "hands-on, minds-on" learning and evaluate through portfolios and other alternative assessments. However, I think that the school systems still rely heavily on standardized tests for placements, achievement tests, etc. I, personally, lean more towards performance assessments, yet I do think that standardization has its place in the classroom, even if it is not to the extent of that of the school systems.