EDU 6120 “Search for meaning”

“Search for meaning”

For this week’s response to EDU 6120, the writing prompt is “search for meaning”.  There were numerous parts of the lectures and the readings that created meaningful reactions for me.  I enjoyed the portion of the lecture that made a distinction between persuasive and coercive power that a teacher has at their disposal.  Persuasive power is more challenging to implement but will be much more beneficial to the development of our students own self identities.  There is also this line from the second podcast “Compelling curriculum is the most compelling classroom management plan” (podcast 2).  As a teacher, I will strive to create learning experiences around the curriculum that are meaningful for my students.  If there is no meaning and participation for the students, the instruction will function, or be conducive to enabling a coercive power environment.

From the “The Ethical Basis and Aim of Instruction” by Johann F. Herbart, I really enjoyed this part,“18. The constant presence of the idea of perfection easily introduces a false feature into moral education in the strict sense. The pupil may get an erroneous impression as to the relative importance of the lessons, practice, and performance demanded, and so be betrayed into the belief of being essentially perfect when these demands are satisfied” (Herbart).  Throughout my internship, I have found students desire to be right a disappointment.  This seemed to be a main driving force behind their participation in class.  I tried to openly discuss the importance of being wrong and how we don’t know everything, that’s why we are here.  I also tried to maximize the amount of open ended question’s and activities in class.  In the search for meaning with my students, I hope to continue to develop a meaning in the classroom that will be a safe place for all students to be involved in the learning activities and a desire to discover new things.

From the Arthur Ellis reading Educational Challenges, I would like to discuss the following, “The one inescapable fact that the teacher must face is that he or she will teach values. Whether this is done formally in the sense of offering actual instruction in values, or whether students merely “catch” values through observation of the teacher’s day-to-day behavior, the teacher will teach values.”  There are numerous values that I would like to appropriately model for my students, calm, perseverance, compassion, to name a few.  In order to best model this behavior, I will need to prepare for the days instruction so I can be calm and responsive to my students needs with a meaningful disposition.


Readings for the week

Emile, or a Treatise on Education (1773, sel.) by Jean Jacques Rosseau

“The Ethical Basis and Aim of Instruction” by Johann F. Herbart

Educational Challenges by Arthur Ellis



EDU 6120 Learning Illustrated

“Learning Illustrated”

For the fourth week in EDU 6120, we are asked to write on the following prompt learning illustrated.  This week’s learning covered some of the major thinkers of the Roman era and included readings by the historic figures Plutarch, and Quintillion.  We also had a reading, Educational Reform, by Arthur Ellis.  After completing the readings and listening to the online podcast, the terms classroom management, building relationships, and school climate were brought to mind.

From the Plutarch reading, The Education of Children, I enjoyed reading about his thoughts on the treatment of children.  Plutarch suggest that we should encourage children in a positive manner, yet this encouragement should be based on reality of their skills.  He also mentions that it is best to lift a student up when they are down and make sure to bring them down or utilize this time to correct them if they are too high.  Interacting with students in this manner will assist us in trying to create the Plutarch ideal of a student that might be able to be a “master of his passions”.  I want to make sure my interactions with students are overwhelmingly positive in nature.  I want to do this by building up their skills and enabling them to have success in the classroom by providing instruction that is at their current level.  I would like to celebrate success with them as well but also let them know that there is more to accomplish.  I also really like the thoughts of remaining balanced to the high’s and low’s that we all face, not just in the classroom, but in life.

From the The Institutes of Oratory (sel.), by Quintilion, I also found some of his comments related well in regards to classroom management and building relationships.  Quintilion suggest that teachers should have a “parental attitude towards pupils” and the majority of our talk should be “discourse on what is good and honorable” (Book II).  This also aligns well with my desire to be focused on what students strengths are and building them up accordingly.  Finding out my students’ strengths, and interest, and utilizing these in instruction will allow me create the positive environment that students will enjoy being a part of and put forth good effort.  The relationship will also be firm yet caring with high expectations.

The Arthur Ellis reading, Educational Reform, highlights the importance of creating learning environments that have good order and control of discipline problems.  The overall school climate can be a gauge in the level of success of the students.  Establishing rules and procedures with the students and being consistent with enforcing these rules will be at the forefront of my interactions with students.  When presented with challenging disruptive behavior, I will need to be able to quickly deal with this behavior in a positive manner.  I can do this by making sure that I am commenting on the good behaviors of students, yet, I must ensure that I am also making corrections that will allow my students to know that I am doing so based on the high expectations that I have for them.  I will make sure to build strong connections with students that are struggling and encourage and support them by sharing my belief in their abilities.


The Education of Children” by Plutarch (46-120 AD)

The Institutes of Oratory (sel.), byQuintilion (35-95 AD)

Educational Reform, by Arthur Ellis

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.

Water and Plastic

I recently observed in a social studies 6th grade classroom.   The lesson that I observed reminded me of the HOPE standard H3 – Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning.  To me, this standard means establishing a community of learning that continues to operate outside the classroom walls and school boundaries.  There was a clear learning target posted in the classroom, and discussed in class.  The learning target was posted in the form of a purpose statement and was as follows: I will be able to increase my knowledge about the environmental crisis around water, in order to become a more aware global citizen.   For this particular week of instruction, the middle school was coordinating their bell schedule with a close by High school in order to come together around the theme of WATER.

For this lesson, the teacher was focusing on the issue of plastic water bottles and their effect on the environment.  The teacher used excellent questioning throughout the entirety of this lesson that culminated with a highly engaging and educationally rich snowball activity.  The lesson started out by asking the students to look at an image of two women with black liquid oozing out of their mouths.  The students were asked to think about what the advertisement was trying to project, first by themselves, then write it down, then sharing through their A-B partners, and then having volunteers to share with the class.  This activity really got the students thinking and it was interesting to hear all of the different responses.

water bottle

The next activity was the snowball activity.  The students were given a questionnaire with 10 questions that focused around water and bottled water.  For each question, the students could choose from one of four options A-D.  The students were told not to put their names on the paper.  Next, commenced the snowball activity.  The teacher had a goal up on his smart board and the students tried to score on him, and then they just threw the balls all over at each other.  The students then grabbed a snowball and un-crumpled it and put their names on the paper.  The teacher then went over each question.  This was the part that I thought became very powerful for creating student engagement and learning.  The teacher had a giant letter A-D posted on each one of the four walls in the room.  The students were then asked to move to the letter that was chosen for the question on their piece of paper.  This created a great visual, created anonymity in all responses, and also surprised the students as to the answers.  For several of the questions there were only a few of the students, and in one case one, standing by the correct letter.  The students were asked to put a start by the correct answer.

This lesson fit in great with the learning theme Water week that had been taking place.  As a result of lessons like this and other activities that were taking place in other classes, students have come together to try and get the vending machines removed from the school that have plastic bottles in them. This lesson created buzz and dialogue around the issue of plastic water bottles that carried well beyond the walls and boundaries of the school property.

Image from website below:


EDU: 6132 Module 5 Reflection

What are a few of the characteristics of Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory that are applicable to classroom learning?
Think back on previous classes you have taken. What assignment was modeled after sociocultural learning, i.e. done in a group or with a partner? Include a
screenshot of the final assignment, if it’s available, with your reflection. Make a few connections between this assignment and Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory.

* Note. Once more, your reflection need not be more than 200 words, but you may opt to write more

H3 – Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning.  To me, this standard means creating an environment within the classroom in which learning is the clear visible purpose, guiding all interactions within the classroom. I find this HOPE standard very applicable to Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory.  Vygotsky believed strongly, in the influences our environment creates on learning.  As such, we will need to create an environment that has rich interactions based around the desired content.  Pressley and McCormick (2007), state “excellent instruction involves social interactions between an apprentice student and a more expert adult” (p. 158).  The more feedback that we are able to provide, the more opportunity our students will have to learn.  All learners are unique and will be operating at different stages.  Our one-on-one interactions will be limited due to the numbers of students in the classroom.  To counter this problem, teachers can rely on peer tutoring to help provide more apprenticeship style interactions that Vygotsky speaks of.

The suggestion was made during this week’s lecture that a poster about peer tutoring could be made for the classroom.  As suggested, the poster could include the following; effective questions, suggestions, hints, scaffold, and no freebies.  I would want to create this poster with student involvement and potentially include suggestions students’ voice that fit into the previous categories.  It is crucial to teach students how to do this.  The point must be made clear to students that it is o.k. not to know everything! We must make students feel like this is normal and expected for all students.  Learning from each other should also be a part of the classroom environment.  Medina (2008), suggest that in the early elementary years students have a natural tendency to work towards establishing hierarchies.  I would discuss this with my students, and let them know that we will not be establishing any hierarchies in here based on knowledge.  I also like peer tutoring because it creates peer interactions.  Students are craving to interact with one another and it is great if we create times for these interaction to occur while discussing our content.

This past summer, in a Behavior Management class, we did an assignment that involved writing up a functional behavior assessment (FBA), followed by a behavioral intervention plan (BIP).  For this project, a classmate had created a scenario about a student that they had encountered.  In order for us to complete the FBA and BIP, we had to work closely with each other to find out as much as we could about each other’s hypothetical student.  It was great practice in collaboration and it also makes me think of scaffolding in the form of peer tutoring.  The student that we were working with, through our questioning, was providing us with the behavioral characteristics of the hypothetical student.  Without proper questioning, the assignment wouldn’t turn out that well.  In other words, they were giving us just the right amount of information that would be needed for us to complete the FBA and BIP on our own.  In completing this assignment, rich content specific interactions were created in our classroom.   I have included the final page of my FBA for viewing.

module 5 fba


Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.


Pressley, M. & McCormick, C. B. (2007). Child and adolescent development for educators. New

York, NY: Guilford Press.


vision for success

I envision learning effective teaching skills through SPU’s ARC program, and utilizing them in practice through my internship when applicable.  I will do this by putting forth my best effort academically to take full advantage of the learning opportunities presented.  I will use the HOPE principles for my goals in working towards competency.  During my internship, I will seek out opportunities to incorporate the skills I am learning in the classroom, to be of better service to my students.

My work ethic, dedication, compassion, and strong desire to see students learn will enable me to be a successful teacher.  I will strive to create a classroom that is inclusive, supportive, and embraces the learning potential of every student.  In doing so, I will create a community of learners in which we will all be able to reach our full potential.