Educational Standard 1- Expectations

ExpectationsThe teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

The first professional standard criteria which students at Seattle Pacific University are graded and the Danielson Framework, which residency and professional teachers are evaluated upon, is “Expectations”. As a student intern in a 2nd grade class, I have come to appreciate the necessity of setting good expectations for students. When a teacher sets clear and consistent expectations for a classroom, students are positioned for success.

My internship placement is with a highly impacted 2nd grade classroom. In order to accomplish tasks, and ensure time is efficiently and effectively used, communicating clear expectations is essential. The great classroom management guru, Harry Wong (2009), insists a teacher spend most of the first week of school, and even throughout the full first month of school, reviewing expectations for procedures in the class. Expectations for ALL activities should be engrained in students, such that time does not have to continually be taken up during instruction throughout the year.  At the beginning of the year, my mentor teacher spent considerable time doing just as Wong suggests. By the time my internship began in February, most students could independently complete a variety of procedures without having to ask for assistance or instruction. Two examples of expectations set for students include reading independently and math stations. These expectations were verbally articulated to students. In the future, I would create anchor charts such as figure 1 and figure 2 to support and remind my students continually throughout the year.

Communicating expectations must continue to occur at varying points within the school year and even each day. Without expectations, students flounder and opportunity for learning is lost. Expectations must be given for behavior, assignments, procedures and activities. During my internship, I have learned expectations must also be communicated about how to play at recess and even how to cut out paper for an activity.  My students struggle with interacting with peers at recess and have benefited from conversations I have had where I set expectations for how to play with others outside of the class.

Clear classroom expectations create an environment in which all students can learn, be successful and thrive. When students know what is expected of them, they can feel safe and confidant in their abilities to preform given assignments and activities.

math stations expectations

Figure 1 (Math Stations)

reading expectations

Figure 2  (Reading on your own)


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


Educational Standard 3- Differentiation

Differentiation – The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual intellectual and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust their practice by employing strategies that advance student learning.

Using differentiation, teachers can provide a more equitable learning environment for their students. In the classroom where I am a student intern there is a wide spectrum of learners represented. A few students in my classroom are excelling above grade level, some of my students are meeting grade level benchmarks and too many are below grade level. In addition to academic differences, I also have an exceedingly large population of students who are English Language Learners (ELL). Therefore, it is essential for me, as an instructor, to include differentiation for my students in order to provide the most effective instruction possible.

One example of differentiation that occurs in my internship classroom is the use of a math word wall (Figure 1). This math word wall provides essential support and differentiation in instruction for my students who are ELL as well as students with math, reading and writing IEPs. Through the use of a math word wall, I am providing pre-instruction of essential math vocabulary words and a visual aid. Multi-sensory input such as a math word wall is a critical aspect of supporting students who are ELL. This is supported by research done by Stephen Krashen, who’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition states that those who are leaning a new language must have multiple sensory inputs to become proficient speakers (Krashen, 2009).

Other ways I incorporate differentiation in my classroom include the use of kinesthetic activities to support my students who learn best using manipulative. From the beginning of my internship it was clear most of my students learn best through discovery and they love art. By providing students an opportunity to utilize these strengths in every academic discipline, I provide differentiation for my unique classroom demographic. One such example of this is the use of Cheeze-its to find the area of a rectangle. Not only does this activity support learning related to the 2nd grade level math standards, but also is fun and engaging because it is tailored specifically for my students. Another opportunity I took to utilize differentiation was with an activity I call “Pattern Block Art”. By manipulating pattern blocks to create a piece of art, students practiced another 2nd grade math standard of combing shapes.

When implementing differentiation in a classroom, a teacher must consider the strengths and cultural knowledge of their students in order for it to be an effective instructional aid.  Using a math word wall and manipulatives have been both engaging and helpful to students during math instruction because of my student’s background knowledge and interests.

Math Word Wall(Figure 1)


Krashen, S. (2009). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition (Internet Addition). doi:http//

Educational Standard 6 – Assessment

Assessment – The teacher uses multiple data elements (both formative and summative) to plan, inform and adjust instruction and evaluate student learning.

To provide the best instruction possible, a good teacher uses data to inform their instruction.  This data can be collected at a variety of different points throughout lessons and even entire units. In our classroom, my mentor teacher and I utilize formative, summative and even student voice assessments to support the learning of our unique class demographic. By collecting data at various points throughout my lesson and unit, I can have an accurate depiction of student ability and confidence in their work.

Figure 1 and 2 are graphs I created to represent data collected from a student voice assessments (including a pre-assessment and a summative assessment) given to my students. I used data points collected from these assessments to guide and support my instruction for a unit on geometry in my 2nd grade class and the following unit. At the beginning of my geometry unit, I presented my students with the three learning targets they would be focusing on throughout the unit and asked them to assess their ability to comprehend and implement the learning targets (Figure 1). Because my 2nd graders have difficulty with writing, I presented them with a scale of smiley faces to rate themselves and quantified the scale (1-5). The data in the graph demonstrates that at the beginning of the unit, my students did not feel very comfortable with the learning targets. This information was helpful to me because I could focus more heavily on the learning targets that students felt less comfortable with. Presenting students with the learning targets at the very beginning also supported my students by priming them to consider what they would be learning ahead of time. What is important to consider in Figure 1 is the difference between student responses at the beginning of the unit and student responses at the end. It is clear students felt much more confidant in their ability to comprehend and implement all three learning targets from the unit. An interesting point related to this data is how positively it correlated with student achievement on both the pre and post assessment.

Figure 2 demonstrates student scores on their pre-assessment and their post assessment. Just as students felt less confidant in their ability to comprehend and implement learning targets at the beginning of the unit, their actual performance on the pre-assessment positively correlated with these beliefs. By using the information collected on the pre-assessment I was able to tailor my instruction to meet the specific needs of my students, focusing on particular concepts my students showed struggle. As a result, students demonstrated (Figure 2) a much stronger understanding of the concepts taught throughout the unit and earned significantly higher scores on their post summative assessment.

Although not summarized in graphs included in this post, the use of formative assessment is also essential to instruction and was something I used regularly throughout this unit. Implementing formative assessment can be easily integrated into any lesson and is as simple as asking students to rate their understanding of a task using a thumbs up or a thumbs down. By considering student responses to instructions, a teacher can quickly reteach a topic that students might show signs of struggle with or feel less confident about, which I did often during this unit. Other forms of formative assessment which I used throughout this unit included questioning students during independent work time as well as circulating. By using a combination of these formative assessments, I was able to collect data on student ability to inform my teaching and support student achievement.

Student Reflection Self Assessment Graph

(Figure 1)

EdTPA PrePost Class Average

(Figure 2)

Educational Standard 5- Environment

Learning Environment The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

In a classroom, a teacher should endeavor to create the best learning environment possible for his or her students, modifying aspects of the classroom to support learning and providing supports in the way of schedule, and clear expectations.

While student teaching, my mentor teacher and I use a daily schedule (see Material 1.1), placing it a clear and visible location so every student can see and utilize the resource. Not only does this schedule support the learning of students, it also supports the teacher in their planning and time management. The daily schedule supports a variety of learners and is especially helpful to four students in particular who require advanced emotional preparation for transitions as well as a concrete understanding of the daily events. Utilizing the daily schedule provides an opportunity for teachers to set clear expectations for each event and reminds students of what those expectations are. According to Harry Wong, students must be introduced to expectations early on and reminded regularly of those expectations. The daily schedule has been in use daily since the first day of school and students know what is expected of them throughout the day

Utilizing a daily schedule supports student’s physical, emotional and intellectual well-being. By allowing students the opportunity to know what is happening in advanced, particularly for young students who require a significant amount of structure to feel safe and secure. Additionally, displaying clearly what the expectation is for the day helps support students who have emotional, intellectual and behavioral difficulties with transitions, of which I have several in my classroom (Lewis and Doorlag, 2003).

By using a daily schedule, my understanding of the importance of structure for students who require extra support, and even for young students has been clarified and reinforced. Without a schedule, the tenuous continuity and organization of my class would fall apart.

By introducing and following a daily schedule, teachers and students equally benefit. In each grade level, students are expected to attend to and learn many skills. Without time management, teachers would not be able to cover all standards, and students would not have the opportunity to learn the content. In addition, using the schedule as a reference at the beginning of the day primes students minds for what they are expected to learn for the day.

Some ideas I have about changing how the schedule is used would be to make the schedule larger or move its location. Not every student can see it easily, nor can the teacher see it from every angle of the class. In my classroom, I would place the daily schedule in the same location morning meetings occur. This way, the schedule is in front of every student at the most critical moment; when the schedule is reviewed in its entirety.

Secondly, I would refer to the schedule multiple times throughout the day. Currently the only time we refer to the schedule is at the beginning of the day, during morning meeting. Although I currently will refer to the schedule if a student specifically asks me what is happening next, I do not intentionally refer to the schedule in front of the whole class. Although there are specific students that would benefit from explicit references to the daily schedule due to learning needs, all students would be given more piece of mind, and it would encourage their time management skill development.


Lewis, R. B., & Doorlag, D.H. (2003). Teaching Special Students in General Education (6th ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Wong, H., & Wong, R. (2009). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.

Material 1.1

Course Reflection- EDU6942

  • Restate Standard 5 “Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being”

     As a teacher, I responsible for making my classroom a place students feel they can express themselves, convey concerns and confide in me. Creating a safe classroom environment is particularly important because it may be the only place students experience that type of atmosphere. Although there are many reasons for which student should feel safe in my classroom, one particular reason is in the event of abuse occurring in their home lives. Ultimately every student should feel safe enough to communicate to me if they are in danger.

  • Presentation of evidence with brief descriptionscreen-shot-2016-11-22-at-5-45-33-pm

Above I have included a link for and clip of the Washington State DSHS guide to understanding what child abuse is and what the responsibilities of mandated reporters are. Washington State’s DSHS guide is a comprehensive work which teachers can refer to regarding identifying signs of abuse in their students, how they can support students and what they must do in keeping with their obligation to report their suspicions or verified occurrences.

  • Justification of how the evidence connects to emerging competence on the topic

Washington State provides a comprehensive guide to understanding child abuse and how to report such events. Without proper knowledge about child abuse or tools to help assess whether a situation is abusive or not, new educators can feel lost or unsure of what to do. Reading and referencing this tool, teaches can become more competent as well as confidant about how to support their students in these particular circumstances. The better a teacher understand what child abuse is and how to identify it, the more quickly they will be able to identify abuse in their students. As helpful as this tool is for new teachers, this guide is not only for new educators. Veteran teachers must also regularly remind themselves what to look for and how to respond in such circumstances.

  • What experience did your mentor have for reporting child abuse, youth violence, and neglect (be sure to omit details in the description, such as names)?

My mentor this past quarter had several experiences working with students who had difficult home lives. She stated she felt confident in her ability to identify conversations as well as physical signs when children in her class were experiencing trouble at home. As a part of pre-kindergarten interviews, this particular teacher had participated in interviewing a family with a male student. During the interview, it was discovered the student lived in a van with his parents. At night, the parents would leave the child alone while they worked, and when they were home during the day the child would sleep or play. Two weeks before this male student was scheduled begin kindergarten, he had not been toilet trained. The teacher and principle then filed a report with DSHS in order for the child and family to receive appropriate support. Although this example of neglect is likely different than many teachers will encounter, as the parents had volunteered this information, educators can benefit from considering how to respond if faced with this predicament.

  • What is the protocol and process for reporting suspected child abuse at your school or district?

According to the school website, Edmonds School District employees are mandated to report any type of suspected child abuse to a school authority. This is significantly different than the national expectation for teachers to report any suspicions or confirmations directly to DSHS, filling out all the information themselves. Understandably, there is value in sharing information with administration, however, teachers should also be responsible for filling out the DSHS report, not only to insure the report is filed within 48 hours of the alleged child abuse but also so any details accounted to the teacher are accurately and thoroughly conveyed.

After discussing this significant difference with my mentor, it was conveyed to me how this school district approach is utilized. On any given day a student may come into class at the beginning of school and the teacher could suspect child abuse. At the beginning of the day, the teacher likely does not have adequate time, ability or privacy to discuss, in detail, with the student they believe has been harmed. Therefore, the teachers use a tag-team approach. If an educator suspects issues at home, they will ask office administration to come talk with the child in question and investigate further. The office then files the report. However, if a student tells their teacher directly they are being abused, the teacher will meet with the principle and they will file the report conjointly.

  • What are a few ways you create a classroom where students “trust the teacher with sensitive information” (Internship Performance Criteria, description of distinguished from 5.1)?

Two specific ways educators can create a classroom where students feel free to confide in the teacher sensitive information can be found within the Internship Performance Criteria for Seattle Pacific University resident teachers.  First and foremost, a teacher should endeavor to develop a safe and positive learning environment. Not only will students thrive academically in such an environment, children will also be more likely to share information that may make them feel embarrassed, scared or worried. Without a safe learning environment, children are likely to remain silent and teachers might easily miss gleaning this important information. Secondly, an educator must work to build a bridge between parents and the school community. By creating a warm and inclusive community, communication tends to be more open, between parents, students and the teacher. When this environment exists, child abuse is less likely to go unseen and undiscovered.

  • Implications for student learning

When students feel safe in their classroom environment, leaning happens! Students should not only feel safe from physical abuse from others, but also from emotional or verbal abuse. If such abuse is occurring in the class, students will shut down verbally and emotionally, resulting in an emotional state which is not conducive to learning.

  • Propose specific changes or next steps to increase effectiveness in the area under examination

Although teachers are mandated reporters, I propose information on who to recognized child abuse is not addressed regularly enough. Without reminders and regular refresher courses, it is easy for teachers to forget helpful tools that may help them catch “red flags” of child abuse sooner and more accurately. By providing regular exercised in identifying child abuse and practicing asking important questions, teachers can feel more competent and confidant in their role as mandated reporters.

EDU 6132 – Learners In Context

Reflection 1

Immediately following my undergraduate education, I began working at Seattle Children’s Hospital in the field of pediatric mental health. As a behavioral specialist and educator, it was important for me to have a strong understanding of child development, particularly as it pertains to emotion regulation. While it may not seem immediately obvious that child development would be associated with emotion regulation, in fact it is! When children are young they are still learning about how their brains and bodies work as well as the way that peers respond or react to situations. By understanding child development, children can be coached to use appropriate coping skills to regulate their emotions as well as respond to others.

Due to the fast array of experiences I was a part of at the hospital, I have come to realize that while there are guiding principles to child development, everyone is entirely different in their development process. Some children take longer to learn and apply what they have learned, and may even be hindered by biological, social and psychological barriers. On the other hand, a child’s environment, genetics and psychological development may in fact enhance their learning abilities (Pressley and McCormick, 2007). Therefore, teachers as well as parents would be wise to approach a child with age appropriate activities, while understanding that adjustments will very likely need to be made in order to best provide for each individual child.

Pressley, M., & McCormick, C. B. (2007). Child and Adolescent Development for Educators. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Reflection 2

Learning and cognition for humans develops over time, beginning the day of birth. Humans begin with curiosity and progress into deeper understandings of the world around them. Babies begin their life searching, exploring, discovering and mimicking (Medina, 2014). Although the idea of nature vs nurture has been a long standing theory used to explain the development of children, it has been debunked and replaced with a more psychosocial, environmental perspective that allows for children to be impacted in a variety of ways, both positively and negatively (Pressley and McCormick, 2007).

These psychological theories of development, including those of Piaget, have a variety of implications for teachers and their instructional strategies (Pressley and McCormick, 2007). Teachers cannot make assumptions about their student’s cognitive abilities, for example. Not all students will be sufficiently supported with the same instruction. Therefore, scaffolding must be incorporated into instruction in order to support an equitable classroom environment. Chunking information is also helpful. Pressley and McCormick (2007) suggest a thorough analysis of complex tasks in order to catch such tasks and break them into more manageable chunks. By chunking, students are able to better navigate units and learn content more deeply.

Although this is not an exhaustive list of the numerous ways in which children develop as learners, it is an excellent place to begin to reflect on how learning capabilities grow as the brain develops.

Medina, J. (2014). Brain rules. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Pressley, M., & McCormick, C. B. (2007). Child and Adolescent Development for Educators. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

EDU 6989 Course Reflection

Educational Standard 8- Professional Practice

Increasing drop-out rates have plagued the American school system for many years. While there are a variety of issues which seem to contribute to the mounting rate of drop-outs, it appears the dominate culprit is student engagement within the school and classroom setting. One may assume the issue of dropping out of school predominantly effects those who do not academically excel, however, studies have shown those who are gifted also contribute to the percentage of students who leave high school without receiving their diploma. Teachers have a responsibility to acknowledge and remedy this issue at every academic level and should not accept student drop-outs, regardless of a student’s ability. In response, educators should tailor their classroom environment to meet the needs of their most at risk pupils.

Students drop out of school for a variety of reasons, both academic and social. Research findings suggest “poor attendance, school failure, dislike of school, drug and alcohol use/abuse, learning disabilities, pregnancy, and family conflict” as well as less supportive school environments, lack of teacher assistance, lack of engagement and peer pressure are often the reasons why students, of any academic ability, leave school (Fan & Wolters, 2014, Landis & Reschly,2013). Children who drop out of school are at a higher risk of reduced earnings and higher risk of need for government assistance, to name a few (Landis & Reschly, 2013).

In order to properly assess and remedy the issue of drop-outs among students, teachers must first examine why kids leave and what they can do to make them stay. Many factors are associated with academic resiliency. Whether students believe they are able to complete a higher degree is among the factors that predicts whether or not a student will complete high school (Fan & Wolters, 2014). Fan and Walters (2014) discuss the idea of “Expectancy-Value Model”. This model refers to what the student believes their academic ability is in comparison to their interest in learning. These two internal thoughts play a significant part in how a student will perform at a task, thereby influencing their achievement overall. Students who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to engage in coursework and feel confidant of their abilities (Fan & Wolters, 2014). Motivation is one of the most important indicators of whether or not a student will drop out (Fan & Wolters, 2014). In fact, the act of dropping out is initiated well before the student actually leaves school for good (Fan & Wolters, 2014, Landis & Reschly,2013).

Ensuring learners are engaged in the classroom environment is perhaps the single most effective way to insure lower drop out rates, therefore student engagement should be of the highest importance to teachers (Landis& Reschly, 2013). While there are internal factors, such as self-perception and determination in students, teachers can do their best to create an environment where students of all ability can connect and engage in academic activities. These efforts must start early and educators must be vigilant to not overlook any student, regardless of their seemingly apparent abilities. Educators should be creative in the ways they engage students, remembering to use tools and strategies that are effective as well as remembering that engagement can be cultivated in a variety of ways, including: cognitive, behavioral, academic and affective. The most significant type of engagement for gifted students is behavioral. Meaning in order to keep exceptional students in school, they must actually be engaged in more extracurricular activities. Activities that get them involved outside of the academics, not necessary exclusively within the classroom (Landis & Reschly,2013).

Likely this is a different approach than many teachers would normally take to engage their gifted students in school and academia. Many educators likely assume the biggest problem is actually boredom. While boredom does play a role in whether or not gifted students complete their degree, teachers must consider whether or not the student was placed in the appropriate class to begin with (Landis & Reschly, 2013). Regardless of when a student shows gifted abilities they should have access and resources (Landis & Reschly, 2013). By providing the appropriate resources at every grade level, educators can ensure they are providing ways for gifted students to remain engaged throughout their academic career (Landis & Reschly, 2013).

Other issues involved with the completion of high school is a gifted student’s ability to develop career aspirations (Landis). When students do not know what is possible to do with their skills once graduated from high school, they are less likely to be engaged in the classroom environment, be it through homework or class discussion (Landis & Reschly, 2013). One way of insuring proper engagement is through appropriate placement in classroom environments that allow them to explore and exercise their abilities (Landis & Reschly, 2013). With appropriate placement, gifted students are able to be cognitively engaged (Landis & Reschly, 2013). Teachers must be conscious about how placement and opportunities are provided to gifted students. Occasions should be provided with intention and design. For example, students should have the chance to participate in advance classes from the elementary level (Landis & Reschly, 2013). Additionally, schools should recognize a larger group of “gifted” learners. By simply providing programming for students who test at “gifted” levels, educators miss a chance to educate a more diverse population of students who may have giftings that are overlooked (Landis & Reschly, 2013).

Gifted learners also benefit from a tailored environment. Promoting questioning in a classroom environment is one way to accomplish this. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to structure questions, teachers can provide a thought-provoking, safe environment where students can self-promote further learning (Shaunessy, 2000). When students are able to develop questions on their own, information is likely to feel more pertinent to their lives.

Another group of students that must be considered is those of low achievement. Studies show that students of average or low abilities who believe they are strong in English and Math skills are less likely to drop out of school, and those who do not think they are strong in English and Math are more likely to drop out of school (Fan & Wolters, 2014). Learners who do not believe they are strong in English and Math are also more likely to believe they are unable to preform at other high level academics. These believes hinder any motivation to stay in school (Fan & Wolters, 2014).

For students who have disabilities, information should be presented in chunks. By breaking larger concepts into smaller, more manageable bits, students have an opportunity to learn concepts more deeply (Bisland, 2004). Information should also be presented in such a way that it builds on previously learned information and knowledge, beginning with content that is more easily grasped and progressing toward more challenging substance (Koetje, 2015). When learners are able to access information in manageable and obtainable ways, it is more likely they will feel both engaged and successful, motivating them to continue their education.

A final grouping of students yet to be discussed in this paper includes students who are both gifted and learning disabled. These students also contribute to the number of those who drop out before completing schooling. In order to engage learners who are academically disabled and gifted, an educator must be vigilant to recognize both the learning disability and the gifts. Teachers should consider allowing students who are gifted in some areas the opportunity to use supports to accomplish tasks which they may be hindered by in other ways. For example, a student who has a difficult time with hand-writing, but has a talent for essays or stories, is allowed to use a computer to type.  Such supports also promote independence in learning for those who struggle (Shaunessy,2000). Finally, students who fall into the gifted/learning disabled group should be supported through counseling throughout school, ensuring they have adequate support throughout their education (Shaunessy,2000).

By using research based information, as well as the psycho-social issue of motivation and engagement, teachers can develop an environment that supports students staying enrolled in school, regardless of academic ability. Teachers must focus on creating a meaningful environment for their students, where learners can feel engaged and called to higher levels of achievement (Landis & Reschly, 2013). Simply giving students busy work in the classroom will not keep them engaged, and may frustrate students, leading to the seemingly ever present issue of drop-outs. (Landis & Reschly, 2013).






Bisland, A. (2004). Using Learning-Strategies Instruction With Students Who Are Gifted and Learning Disabled. GIFTED CHILD TODAY, 27(3), 52-58. doi: 2004.pdf

Fan, W., & Wolters, C. A. (2014). School motivation and high school dropout: The mediating role of educational expectation. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 22-39. Retrieved May 21, 2016, from

Koetje, K. (2015). Methods for Supporting Exceptional Learners [Web log post]. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from

Landis, R. N., & Reschly, A. L. (2013). Reexamining Gifted Underachievement and Dropout Through the Lens of Student Engagement. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 36(2), 220-249. Retrieved May 21, 2016, from

Shaunessy, E. (2000). Techniques Questioning in the Gifted Classroom? Gifted Child Today, 23(5), 14-21. doi:

Educational Standard 2- Instruction (Course Reflection)

Throughout my studies in EDU 6150- General Inquiry I have developed as a teacher in my instructional ability. Prior to this class, there were a variety of elements of instruction with which I was unfamiliar. I did not have a clear picture of how teaching strategies could best be implemented to serve students. While I am still learning how to expertly tailor instruction, I now have a variety of instructional tools with which to support my students.

One of the most helpful instructional practices reviewed this quarter is based on the idea that students learn best when new content builds on previous knowledge (Donovan, Bransford & Pellegrino, 1999). This form of instruction allows for deeper understanding as well solidification of information in a student’s mind (Donovan, Bransford & Pellegrino, 1999). Another research-based instructional practice essential to effective instruction is the use of chunking. By chunking information, or breaking content into smaller more manageable parts, larger, denser pieces of information are learned more effectively (Marzano, 2007). Additionally, chunking supports learning for students at every academic level (Koetje, 2015). Finally, and perhaps the most integral part to effective instruction, we discussed the concept of an “Essential Question”. By beginning with an essential question in mind, the learning unit as well as each individual lesson plan can be enhanced to create a lasting impact on students. Using essential questions as an instructional strategy allows student to see the real life application of what they are learning (Wiggens & McTighe, 2005).

There are a variety of ways I hope to implement what I have learned from this class in my own lesson planning. First of all, I will develop lessons based on an essential question I create based on state and national standards. While it may be easier to select a lesson and configure it in such a way that it aligns with a standard, students will miss out on deeper learning. Additionally, I will plan my units and lessons in such a way that information can be chunked. Pre-planning will allow me the opportunity to insure I have adequate time to teach information thoroughly and with enough time for students to understand difficult concepts. Finally, I will ensure I connect new information to the knowledge base my students already have, drawing on their interests as well as what has been taught in my classroom throughout the year (see Figure 2).

gen inquiry bportfolio media

(Figure 2)


Donovan, M. S., Bransford, J. D., & Pellegrino, J. W. (Eds.). (1999). How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice. Washington DC: National Academy Press. doi:

Koetje, K. (2015). Presenting New Information [Podcast]. Seattle: Seattle Pacific University.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wiggens, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD. doi: by Design Chapter 1.pdf

EDU 6989- Field Experience Reflections


  • Curriculum adoption, knowledge vs. student centered curriculum (April 15, 2016)

 When considering curriculum, school boards must consider the population they intend on reaching. There are many circumstances which must be considered in order to provide the best education to students, even on the macro level of curriculum adoption. Experts find themselves disagreeing with one another about the best way to serve and equip students of the next generation.

Two important issues school boards must consider is the adoption of national standards and the use of technology in the classroom. While experts appear divided on these two issues, districts must make decisions that will result in student centered education. There are many points to be raised about both topics.

For example, perhaps students should have more access to technology as they travel through school. Once they graduate these very same students must be able to utilize the technology many jobs have come to rely on. However, perhaps schools miss the boat when they only create environments that support learning through technology. There is interpersonal knowledge that can only be developed by working with one another face to face. This knowledge includes such things as learning how to respond to conflict or even having empathy for others. When it comes to national standards adoption, school boards that choose local standards may hinder students who consider jobs outside of their home state after graduation. However, when national standards are used, students may miss out on noteworthy information that national standards to not necessarily highlight.

Regardless of decisions made, all students must be equipped with an education that ushers them into the adult world leaving them competitive in the job market as well as competent and able to succeed. By finding a balance, school boards can make thoughtful decisions about these two important classroom issues.

  • Character, Moral and Religious Education (May 1, 2016)

Religion in some form or another is inescapable within the context of a classroom. Whether the subject is history, science or art, religion plays some part in the evolution of school subjects. Teachers must find and strike a balance between properly portraying religions and maintaining a non-bias stance. While this is not impossible, it is difficult. Many teachers have well formed ideas of certain religions and it is difficult to not portray bias.

Outside of specific subjects, morality and the issue of character education can also be tied to religious affiliation. While you do not have to be religious to be a good person, much of the time it is easiest to refer to Biblical reasoning for such things as treating others well, being honest and trying your best. It is important to remember any one of your students may not be affiliated with a religion or may even feel as though they are viewed as a bad person because of their lack of affiliation.

Regardless of the potential correlation between morality and religion, I believe it is important to encourage character education within the classroom. This does not mean it must be taught from a Biblical perspective. Such phrases as “Do unto others as you would have done to yourself” are widely accepted and respected no matter what background one may come from. There are a variety of Character Education curriculum available that are not tied to religious values. We as teachers are obligated to help develop upstanding and contributing members of society. Our nation relies on it. If teachers neglect this aspect of education in the public school system, future generations will suffer the cost in every avenue of life.

  • Learning and Emotional Disorders (May 8, 2016)

 Discussing and addressing learning and emotional disorders within the context of the classroom has, for many years, been a source of frustration, contention and confusion on the part of both the parent and the educator. Amidst these charged feelings, over the last few decades there has been a strong push to mainstream students with both learning and emotional disorders. As a teacher with extensive background in mental health, this topic is of particular interest to me.

It has been my experience that more often than not it is the parent who has the strongest feelings toward the idea of special education for their children. In Taking Sides: Teaching and Educational Practices, argument author’s Kauffman, McGee and Brigham recognizes the struggle parents have, suggesting people no longer see special education as “fair or equitable”. In fact, Kauffman, McGee and Brigham, suggests parents may be on to something, stating the education system has lost sight of what accommodations for students actually should be. Instead of allowing students “off the hook” in order to accommodate their needs, we should be providing accommodations that actually help them meet the standard, not change the standard itself.

Accommodations cannot and should not be a “one size fits all”, just as everyone is different from one another, metal and physical disabilities manifest themselves in different ways. Accommodations should be provided. Schools should work to provide fair and equitable education no matter what the child’s abilities. However, educators must be careful not to limit a child’s ability to develop independence by providing an academic crutch. Certainly, the job of creating and implementing accommodations may be seen as more difficult with this sort of mentality, however, the education system would do students a disservice with anything less.

Evans, D.L. (2008). Taking sides: teaching and educational practices. (3rd ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Strategies In Effective Teaching – Reflections

How is questioning a teaching strategy? 

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to know “why”. “Why does it rain so much here?”, “Why do I have to go to sleep at 8pm?”, “Why do frogs look like fish when they are first born?”. There is a specific time in my life that I can remember an adult specifically asking me, “Why do you ask so many questions?”. At the time, I was hurt and embarrassed by their question. My assumption was, in fact, I did ask too many questions. While I was not raised in the era when it was socially appropriate for children to not only be seen, but also heard, my relatives were old enough to remember that cultural mindset. The idea of questioning as a teaching strategy, or inductive reasoning, completely supports the curiosity children innately have. The desire to ask questions continuously and without limit. There are many ways to cultivate this curiosity. Susan Chaffer promotes giving children original sources to read. By using original sources, children are able to explore the text themselves and formulate ideas based on what they have read, all while teachers are simply guiding study by asking questions. When a child reads someone else’s interpretation of an original text, the student is robbed of the opportunity to create their own ideas on the content of the text.

Not only does questioning promote the responsibly of each individual child of their education, it also allows for deeper understanding of a subject. The Biological Science Curriculum endeavors to promote this through multiple steps of inquiry and investigation promoted by both teachers and students through questioning. Knowledge layers on one another in this format and students are able to gain a better understanding of what they are learning about. The Picture Word Inductive model is another example of a mode of questioning for a teacher. By simply showing students a picture and asking them what they see, children are able to develop their own thoughts and theories about what the picture depicts. This is an opportunity for students to grow their vocabulary and sight word abilities. The combination of skills practiced while using the Picture Word Inductive model promotes oral and written literacy.

What is the relationship of concepts to facts? 

I like to think of the difference between concepts and facts in order to understand their relationship. A fact is something stated, a piece of information that can be used in conjunction with other facts in order to create something larger. A concept is an idea made up of many different facts. Facts can be fed to students in a rote memorization fashion, where as concepts must be learned through experience with the information. When a student has a good understanding of the concept and can articulately explain themselves, a teacher can be certain the student understands a topic. If a student is able to regurgitate a fact, or even a string of facts related a topic, it is less clear a student understands the whole idea being taught.

I enjoyed reading excerpts from Bruner on the elements of discovery. Bruner suggests in order for concepts to be properly obtained, and the only way to know if students will appropriately use the concepts is through discovery learning. If a teacher promotes the use of metacognitive activities, students are more likely to have a more holistic and well developed understanding of concepts. Students will understand how ideas they already know fit together to form new concepts, as well as connect those newly obtained with ones learned in the past.

How do advance organizers relate to the use of instructional media?

As I understand them, and in the most general sense, the use of advanced organizers in a classroom setting helps to convey information through lectures and readings, allowing teachers the opportunity to present large amounts of information in a productive manner to their students. Teachers can thereby scaffold information, conveying the important concepts first to students then adding more information as they move through the topic. This is called progressive differentiation.

Bases on these definitions, one can consider the relationship of advanced organizers and the use of instructional media. For example, when a teacher shows a movie (a common use of media in the classroom) the teacher will not be able to communicate all the intricacies of a topic through the movie, but instead will be able to set a tone for their classroom. If I were teaching a module on Manifest Destiny and showed a film about Lewis and Clark, students would learn about a significant part of western expansion. In this way, I would be able to set students thinking in a specific direction.  Engaging the students through a film with a broad topic allows a teacher to utilize media to create an umbrella of information. Following the media, teachers can then introduce ideas that are related to it.

Alternatively, media can function as an advanced organizer on its own. If a teacher chooses their media correctly, students can be presented a topic then allowed to explore the media to learn more. For example, in a module about biology, a teacher could share a link with students that allows them to explore cells and the different parts that make up a human or plant cell.

What is meant by “knowledge is socially constructed”? 

What a fascinating question to ask ourselves as teachers: Is knowledge socially constructed? Before beginning my studies as a master’s degree candidate, I would have answered no. Yet the more I understand and learn about the history of education my mind has changed about the purpose and functionality of education. When great educators and forefathers of educational principles, such as John Dewey, resoundingly state knowledge is socially constructed, one must pause to reflect on the sentiment.

In Dewey’s work, “My Pedagogical Creed”, we discover how knowledge may be socially constructed. For example, he states “I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.” As a reader and teacher I interpret this to mean what is taught should be immediately applicable to a student’s life. We also learn in models of teaching, such as Cooperative Learning, students should bring their own problems or ideas to the classroom, then by using group investigation, solve their problem. Through this type of learning, students are more likely to remember and implement skills correctly because the skills have relevance in their own lives. Additionally, cooperative style learning promotes the ambitions of individual students to continue learning on their own.

Today, students benefit in the workforce from skills gained in the classroom which promote cooperation and collaboration. These skills are greatly enhanced when the acquisition of knowledge is done through classroom activities that promote interdependence. Therefore, we can take the phrase “knowledge is socially constructed” to mean students develop deeper understanding of concepts when they are learning and solving problems together.

How is citizenship promoted in your classroom situation? 

As R.Kirk wrote in his work, “The Wise Man Knows”, American children need to practice being good citizens, not simply hear about what it means to be a good citizen in their classrooms. Kirk also warns while it may be possible to tech virtue in the classroom, this education must be informal. By facilitating naturally occurring discussions about morality and citizenship among students, an educator will have more success teaching students morals and citizenship than if he or she directly approached such topics.

There are a variety of ways to promote morality in the everyday classroom. One of my favorite examples is to read a book, with clear moral and civic undertones, as a class. By introducing such materials, teachers can provide a moral education without overtly telling their students his or her intention. In this way, teachers allow students to bring up issues of virtue, or lack there of, in the literature, independently. Discussions about the characters, and their decisions, can then be mapped onto the lives of the students in the class. Thereby connecting citizenship and morality to the students without any formal intention.

Another creative way to address morality with students is through the use of role playing. The method of role playing as an instructional tool allows for present circumstances to dictate the content of discussion and opportunity for learning. Often student initiated, role playing provides the opportunity for teachers to facilitate students as they work through issues that arise in the classroom or in their communities. By allowing students to provide material for such activities, the teacher can be confidant most children will be engaged and have an opportunity to consider and discuss relevant issues that lead to practicing morality, as Kirk encourages.

How practical are multiple intelligence activities?

For many years I have been a proponent of recognizing multiple intelligences in instruction. I myself learned at a young age I learn best in a non-traditional manner. After spending several years teaching in a setting with an incredibly diverse population of students, I have become more certain the recognition of a variety of intelligences of and learning styles is beneficial for both students and teachers.

Teaching to a variety of learning styles is not necessarily the most intuitive or easily accomplished. According to Howard Gardener, “it is better to teach in two ways than one”. As teachers we are not restricted to teaching materials in one specific way or another. One way I have learned to accommodate multiple intelligences is by varying teaching styles on a daily basis. By teaching science through interactive methods one day then orally or auditory another day, students with different intelligences will have an opportunity to learn in through their strongest intelligence. Another way teachers may accomplish teaching to multiple intelligences is to simply allow students to explore a topic independently in whichever way they choose, then return to share with the class what they have discovered.

At the beginning, educators may find teaching to multiple intelligences unnatural, however with small changes and adaptations to current teaching styles, accommodating individual students is possible. Actively promoting a variety of learning styles will not only engage more students, but also likely improve overall classroom performance.

How can a teacher foster student self-esteem?

 As a future educator it is important to consider both the academic and emotional effect one has on their students. Historically, the classroom and public education has become the cornerstone of civic and moral development of future generations. In addition to these important responsibilities, teachers must recognize how they influence the development of student self-esteem.

Students become what teachers model for them. From Maslow we learn there are a variety of personalities that demonstrate varying levels of self-concept. Maslow describes a “gourmet omnivore” as someone who engages the environment. This activity fosters self-actualizing characteristics which results in a strong self-esteem. Therefore, we can surmise teachers who model engagement around their students will help promote self esteem development in their students. By being teachers who engage with our fellow teachers in a respectful and congenial way, interacting with the school community and the community at large, and by utilizing the resources at hand, we will promote self-actualizing characteristics in our students.

Another way teachers may help encourage strong self-esteem development is by empowering their students to take control of their own education. In the article by Carl Rodgers, “Teacher Effects Research on Student Self-Concept”, he shares a vignette of a teacher who includes struggling students in the development of their own appropriate and engaging curriculum. In this vignette, it appears by simply empowering the students to create a curriculum they enjoy and feel attached to, the student’s achievement measurably improved. This is not a singular example. Any teacher can choose to support their students in taking ownership of their education.

From these two simple examples, I can surmise, teachers can easily and effectively influence the development of positive self-esteem in their students.

Course Meta-Reflection

Throughout this course we have discussed a variety of teaching principles and how they can be effectively implemented in a classroom setting. While investigating these principles, we have also spent time addressing such questions as: is it feasible or practical to teach to multiple intelligences, what is the relationship of concepts to facts, how can one promote citizenship in their classrooms, and so on.

Many of the principles learned throughout this course were entirely new for me, such as Non-Directive Teaching and Inquiry Training. However, a few of the models I was familiar with, but gained a deeper understanding about, such as Role Playing, Memorization and Group Investigation. Finally, some principles, while I had not had and formal education about, were models I was already using in my teaching strategies.

Either way, throughout this class, I have come to realize deeper purpose behind my teaching strategies. By having an understanding of the outcome of particular teaching models, I can better and more effectively serve my students.  For example, I have learned how effective the Inductive Teaching model can be by meeting my students where they are at developmentally, teaching to students’ innate ability to search out answers to questions. I have also learned to trust that unstructured group discussions can be beneficial and allow them to happen more frequently in my classroom through Role Playing.