EDU 6526 Week 2

For the second week in EDU 6526 we studied chapter 2, Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition, and chapter 3, Cooperative Learning, in Classroom Instruction That Works by Dean, Hubble, & Stone.  For the purposes of this blog, I will be self-assessing my teaching in these areas, and make plans for improvement based on the research that is provided in our text.

In self assessing myself on how I do in providing feedback that reinforces effort and recognition, I would rate myself a 3 on a scale of 1-5.  Previous classes at SPU stressed the importance of providing feedback that reinforces students’ effort in a very positive manner.  During my student teaching, I would always try and provide feedback to students that was constructive and simultaneously positive in praising their effort in what they had already accomplished.  Through participating in our class blackboard discussions, a classmate suggested the idea of a teacher being vigilant in looking for that good behavior and praising them in the moment.  By being well prepared to teach lessons, I will be able to be vigilant and focused on catching my students being good.  I could improve in this area by utilizing some of the suggestions in Classroom Instruction That Works.  One of these strategies is to use an effort rubric to go along with assignments (p26-28).  After students finish an assignment they could self-assess their effort.  In utilizing an effort rubric, as the text suggest, I could also create a graph that could depict the effort that students self-assessed on an assignment, or test, along with the resulting grades that were achieved.  This would be helpful to show the students a visual correlation between overall effort and achievement.  Additionally, the text mentions making sure that our praise is thoughtful, limited and individualized to the student (p31).  In making lesson activities that allow for differentiation, students will be able to be operating at the edge of their present level of performance (PLOP).  This will also assist me in being able to provide feedback that is personalized, constructive, and growth oriented.

In self assessing my-self on cooperative learning, on a scale of 1-5, I would have to give myself a 2.  In the middle school special education self-contained classroom that I was student teaching in, cooperative learning groups were not always encouraged.  There were often students that were on no contact contracts with one another.  I did utilize the think-pair-share strategy and a jigsaw activity.  Reflecting on these activities, it was very clear that I needed to spend more time establishing the expectations for the group work.  The text mentions some great ideas about being very explicit in defining roles for each member in the group to ensure that everyone is equally involved.  In my own classroom, I would like to spend time discussing with students the importance of cooperative learning and getting along with one another as well as the expectations for the different activities and roles for each group member.  For this week we also watched videos that described great ways to utilize jigsaw strategies, the silent card shuffle, and numbered heads together.  I really enjoyed watching these videos.  In special education, instruction often is occurring in very small groups.  However, I will still try and get creative, and adapt these different activities for my learners.  Special Education is very goal oriented towards academic goals.  As I am learning in EDU 6120, the goal of education is also to promote citizenship.  Cooperative learning is a great way for students to build social and communication skills that will be necessary to be good active participants in our democracy.

Dean, C. B., Hubble, E. R., Pitler, H. and Stone, B.  (20012). Classroom Instruction That Works.

2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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