EDU 6526 “Homework and Providing Practice”

This week in EDU 6526, we focused are attentions towards homework.  In doing so, we read chapter 7, Assigning Homework and Providing Practice, of our class text, Classroom Instruction That Works by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone.  As with each week, we are to self-assess our teaching practice for these topics.

In self-assessing myself in the area of assigning Homework and Providing Practice, I would rate myself non-applicable.  During my student teaching, I was working in a self-contained special education classroom that had an agreed upon “no homework policy”.  The exception, was that students were asked to read each night at home for 30 minutes and keep a reading log.  Next year, I will be working in as an Elementary school resource room teacher.  How should I approach and assign homework for these students?

In Classroom Instruction That Works, they suggest that the amount of homework that students receive can be calculated by giving 10 minutes X grade level (p104).  They also mention a study that questions if homework should be given to students in the 2nd grade and lower.  As a resource room teacher, I will need to communicate effectively with the classroom teachers of my students to find out their current practices with assigning homework.  The text also mentions that schools should have homework policies in place.  What is my schools policy?  I might be able to help the classroom teachers out by making sure that any homework that is assigned will be differentiated to meet my student’s needs.  I will also make sure that any homework that I give will be, as the text suggest, with the purpose to “improve speed and accuracy” of a specific skill that has already been learned (p105).

Through-out my participation in the SPU ARC program, I have been extremely interested in creating ways that will increase familial participation in students learning.  Sending work home for students to do clearly creates learning opportunities for students to share with their parents.  However, as the text suggest, I need to make sure that the only role that parents are playing in their students homework is to be supportive in asking their child to put forth their best effort (p105).  I need to make sure that I am clear that they are not meant to instruct, or tutor their child during this time.  The student will be able to do all of the work on their own.  They will just need to be supportive and make sure they are able to create the time for the child to do the work.

Another strategy that I think I will employ is to have reflective conversations with my students as to the effectiveness of the homework.  Through participation in our course discussions, I was reminded of students coming back to middle school telling a teacher that they were not prepared for the amount of homework that they were getting in High School.  A peer was making the connection of homework preparing students for College.  Additionally, the importance of providing feedback is also highlighted in the text.  When I am providing feedback for students, I could also ask them to assess the effectiveness of homework that was assigned.  Working in a resource room, I will be trying to do all I can to help students catch up to the common core standards for their grade level.  In doing so, I will have to work efficiently with the team of educators at my school.


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.

Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012) A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works. 2nd edition.  Alexandria,

VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.




EDU 6120 “Clear and Unclear Windows”

“Clear and Unclear Windows”

This week in EDU 6120, was titled Judeo-Christian Knowledge and Teaching and Learning in the East.  After listening to the podcast and doing the readings including one involving a tribute to a truly amazing teacher, I am left with a very clear window as to my obligation and duty to facilitate my students in developing a personal well-being that will help them to understand the importance of participation in their immediate community with pro-social attitudes towards their culture (Scheuerman Podcast).  Likewise, all students are still trying to develop or gain an understanding as to the nature of their being.  From podcast 1, Scheuerman discussed how the modern era of personal development has changed.  It is now more of a rarity that students have strong familial generational presence in their lives that was historically responsible for providing for a complete education for personal well being.  Today, most children will spend more time with their peer group, spoken in the lecture as the “tyranny of the peer group”.  Children begin learning from each other by watching and playing with one another from very early ages.  However, children also need to have a presence in their live that will help them to build a strong sense of identity and support in making the right choices through-out life.

As a teacher, I will strive to create a positive supportive climate that inspires participation in the classroom and encourage active socially engaging lives.  One of the ultimate goals of education is to inspire and prepare our students to participate in our Democracy.  In order to be prepared to do so, they will need to have a skill set that will enable them to be good learners but they will also need to be able to interact with one another, voice opinions, share thoughts, debate merits of one particular view point over another, and use good evidence in order to back up their beliefs or the perspective they were asked to represent.  The common core will help guide us in some of these areas.  The climate and culture will also need to be created. How can I design lesson plans that will allow my students to actively participate and socially interact with the knowledge and subject matter?  This is something that is always on my mind during lesson planning.  I would like to try and create authentic interactions for my students around the content.  I loved the examples from the lectures of rethinking assemblies for Veterans Day.  These sounded incredibly powerful and memorable for everyone involved.  I too was moved.  From Morning Stars, I love the teachers comment about discussing the classroom as an extension of the family.  I hadn’t thought of looking at the classroom as such but it would be a great way to work on establishing the social and moral etiquette that is expected in the classroom.  It also sounds like a great way to build a bond between the students and their families.  I am particularly interested in utilizing techniques that will strengthen the teacher, family, student bond.

Just as I need to create an interactive participatory classroom, I can also steer my students in the right direction outside of the classroom.  I am looking forward to communicating with family about students learning but I will also encourage them to become involved in other areas of the community if possible.  I can do this by filling the families in on the extra-curricular activities that are happening at school and in the community.  By establishing good relationships with the students and finding out their interest I could also connect different students that have similar interest to one another.  I will also seek to involve myself more in extra-curricular activities in the learning community that I become a part of.

EDU 6526 Learning Objectives and Feedback

We got right down to it for the first week in EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies.  The focus for this week was learning objectives and feedback.  For this class we are working with the text Classroom Instruction That Works, by Dean, Hubble & Stone.  There is also a workbook that accompanies this text.

According to Dean et al., there are four key elements to setting objectives. The learning objectives should find the sweet spot, not too restrictive to prohibit learning and not too broad so as to lack a clear focus.  The learning objectives should be communicated to parents and students. I really like the idea of doing this to increase parental involvement.  All learning objectives should build or make connections to previous and future learning objectives.  Finally, as teachers we should involve students in the process of setting these learning objectives (p5).  Students involved in creating learning goals will by nature be more invested and engaged in the learning.  I think this is a great idea and the text mentions using the K-W-L strategy.

After using the self-assessment tool provided by the instructor, there are a few areas that do jump to mind.  The first challenge that is difficult to overcome is designing learning targets that reach all of my learners at their level.  The self-contained special education classroom that I was student teaching in had learners with a very wide range of abilities.  Some students were reading at the 6th grade level and others were at the 1st grade level.  I really had to break my language down into simple words to accomplish this.  Another area that I could continue to improve on is getting the students to process the learning target in their own minds.  Several of my classmates suggested that it would be helpful to have the students personalize the learning target.  I think I could do this by asking the question, How does what we are learning connect to the learning target?  Who can verbalize this for me? Another suggestion from a classmate was having students write down the learning target.  I will also use this strategy in the future.

Dean et al., provide four recommendations for providing feedback.  In brief, let students know what is right and where they need to be headed, give timely feedback, make it criterion referenced, and engaging (p11).  What I have learned in the SPU ARC program and through my experiences working with special education students, is that feedback also needs to be very positive and praising of effort.  That is how I strive to provide feedback.  I like the texts ideas of utilizing peers to create engagement through feedback because students learn well from each other and also because it allows the teacher to circulate more and reach more students.  I also like the example they include of modeling this behavior.  During my student teaching, I reallyenjoyed using writing prompts or questions that students could work on in their journals.  There were times where I tried the think-pair-share strategy and this also worked well.  By providing the students with time to think or write, I was able to circle the room and assess what the different learners in the room were thinking and their ability to communicate this through writing and/or verbalization.

The self-assessment tool for providing feedback left me thinking that it is extremely important to provide the students with learning activities that allow them to work with the lesson material.  In social studies this can be a bit more challenging than a subject like mathematics.  A classmate of mine suggested providing examples for students to be able to self-assess and also be aware of the expectations for their work.  For the students that I was working with I found this to be extremely beneficial to their learning.

As a teacher endorsed in special education, I have the advantage of utilizing students IEP’s to make sure I am providing each student with lesson material that is at the appropriate level, engaging, and facilitating growth towards their individual goals.  I am currently in the process of searching for my first teaching job and I look forward to establishing positive learning environment for all students with a focus towards their goals.


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.

ISTE Standard 3

ISTE Standard 3
How can my interactions with students and their parents/guardians be digitally innovative to facilitate student growth and parental involvement in education?

In doing research for this question I came across this site called Schoology.  According to Schoology, they offer software that allows teachers to streamline all of their task into one program.  Teachers can post content, lessons, quizzes and test, assign homework, run chat rooms, track data, and also run a professional learning community with colleagues, all from within this software.  A selling point is that this will integrate a lot of our task and allow us more time to teach. Parental/guardian involvement could also be increased by assigning students content related topics to discuss at home and allowing students and families’ access to what is going on in class.

In our weekly vialogues meeting, our instructor introduced us to Cellly.  Celly would be a great tool to increase parental involvement.  I like the thought of using Celly because it provides access to anyone who has any type of cell phone.  Messages could be sent out informing parents about how the class day went, what type of topics were covered, or ideas to continue the learning at home with conversation starters. Messages about homework to be done or test that need to be studied for could also be included.  My intention with using Celly, wouldn’t be to create helicopter parents/guardians, but to provide families with options for increasing dialogue around school content, resulting in increased levels of interest and learning.

From our readings for the ISTE 3 standard, we learned from the Kennedy article that it will be essential that teachers become competent using internet based learning systems.  The article discusses on-line learning and blended type of learning environments as becoming more of the norm in the future.  If this is the case, educators will need to be prepared to adapt.  As an educator I will remain open and embrace the opportunity to learn new technologies as they become available.  I will have to be able to teach myself how to use the multitude of tools that can enhance learning. Smart boards are becoming common features in classrooms. My classmate Katie Young, is interested in learning how to use Smart boards effectively.  I too need to increase my knowledge base around using smart boards in ways that increase student engagement.

References and Links

Kennedy, K. (2011). Cross-reference of online teaching standards and the development of quality            teachers for 21st century learning environments. Distance Learning, 7(2), 21-28.


ISTE Standard 2 Reflection

For the ISTE 2 standard, I developed this question: Utilizing technology, how can I create formative and summative assessments that facilitate student growth and excitement that enriches the classroom experience?

In doing research for this question, I came across the Khan Academy and was immediately intrigued.  In serving students’ in special education, I will have to be open to all teaching tools that have the potential to increase student learning.  The Khan Academy is a free resource that teachers and students can use that provides students with videos to watch and matching assessments to take.  The classroom experience is flipped for students and teachers.  The lessons are viewed at home and during time in class, students’ are assisted in trying to utilize the lesson material to solve problems.  There is the potential to alter the dynamics in a classroom to increase peer to peer and teacher student interactions.  There will be challenges with students finding time and resources necessary to take advantage of Khan Academy but it also has the additional benefit of increasing family involvement.  The Khan Academy videos and assessments could be utilized for specific students or the whole classroom.

From my classmate Michael Warren, I have also been introduced to a great link that contains suggestions for utilizing different technologies that will benefit the different learning strengths that students’ possess.  The site is focused around Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and provides technological tools that are a good match for the different multiple intelligences.  A challenge faced in special education is trying to design lesson material with students’ strengths in mind.  This article will facilitate in the process.

From our course reading materials, I enjoyed reading about the possibility of creating virtual laboratories for conducting science experiments in the NMC Horizon Report.  The report touts the potential of providing students with greater access to costly equipment that most schools might not be able to afford (p 32).  This could potentially lead to an enriched classroom experience for both students and teachers. As a teacher, if the opportunity arose, I could choose to purchase computer equipment that could serve multiple benefits across subject matters instead of just a science specific piece of equipment that only served one function.

In designing lessons, a question that I will ask myself is: Am I taking full advantage of all the technological resources at my disposal to increase student learning and growth?  In order for me to be able to answer this question accurately, I will need to stay up to date myself on the potential tools available.  This class has increased my knowledge of how I can increase students learning opportunity through technology.  I’m sure it will continue to do so.

Links and Reference

Johnson, L.,(2013). The NMC Horizon Report: 2013 K12 Edition.

New Media Consortium, 1-44.


Basketball practice


I recently attended the first girls and boys basketball practice.  There was a very large turn out and everyone is allowed and encouraged to play. I have chosen the HOPE standard- H4 – Honor family/community involvement in the learning process  The evidence for this post comes from a conversation I had with the head coach.

basketball info

This evidence demonstrates how athletics can benefit the physical health of the students but also involve the greater community in the learning process.  Parents/family members of these children will be aware of the consequences of poor academic performance and will be encouraged to become involved.  The coach is stressing the importance of academics and using athletics as an incentive to ensure the students achieve academic success. After school programs at my school provide students with numerous opportunities to strengthen the bonds within their community.  Participation is a great way to become a well-rounded individual.  It is also a time when doing well in school will be encouraged and required in order to participate.  This is done in a supportive fashion.  If ones’ grades are low, they will receive the help they need in order to get them to a more acceptable level. One suggestion for making this process run smoothly is to make sure that the students know the academic expectations that they are required to maintain in order to be involved.  This could be done at the beginning of the year.  Parents could be told and this would also ensure their participation in the academic areas in a proactive fashion. The implications for student learning are great.  By being involved in an after school program, they have the opportunity to create a tighter community group that will support them and encourage them to do well academically.

Open House Reflection

H4 – Honor family/community involvement in the learning process.  This standard speaks to the importance of communicating with the family/community as to the crucial role that they can have in participating in students’ learning.  For this entry, I will focus specifically on family involvement.  I recently participated in my school’s open house.  The open house was an excellent opportunity to meet the parents/caretakers, let them know what their children will be working on in our classroom, and introduce ourselves if we hadn’t already met. The evidence provided below comes from the syllabus that my mentor teacher provided for the event.    evidence for open house night

This evidence speaks to the important role that the parents/family will play in our students’ education and the process of communicating this to the parents.  The students spend time in each class recording some of the more important activities that they are working on in their planners.  The direction is for the family to be actively involved with the students in their learning. I learned a great deal from attending this event.  It was great to have the opportunity to interact with some of the parents, let them know that I will be doing my student teaching this year, and to begin the process of making connections.  Gargiulo and Kilgo (2011), stress the importance of the family in the educational process when they say “the best type of relationship that can develop between families and professionals is one in which families are viewed as full-fledged partners” (p 78).  They are speaking in particular of early childhood education.  However, I think this partnership is equally important to maintain as students progress through schools.  Students’ learning will be improved when their families take an active role in their education.  Education can become a focus in all aspects of the students’ lives, in addition to the time they spend at school.  As I progress through my internship, I will try and take every opportunity to dialogue with the parents/family about how their student is performing in class but also how the whole family is doing in general.  I hope to establish an effective relationship/partnership that can make everyone feel comfortable and provide a solid safe base that will enable the students to meet their goals.  In the near future, I will be attending an IEP meeting for a student that my mentor teacher oversees.  I will continue to take advantage of opportunities that arise to make family connections.

Gargiulo, Richard, and Kilgo, Jennifer 3rd edition (2011). An Introduction To Young Children with Special Needs Birth Through Age 8. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.