EDU 6526, “Generating and Testing Hypothesis”

For week 7 in EDU 6526, we read Chapter 9, Generating and Testing Hypothesis, in Classrooom Instruction That Works, by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone.  We also used the companion book a Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works, by Pitler & Stone, to self-assess our current performance in creating opportunities for our students that require them to generate and test hypothesis.

In self-assessing my-self in this area of instruction, I would have to give myself a very low score.  Unfortunately, I was not able to provide my learners with opportunities to generate and test hypothesis during my student teaching in World Geography. I am disappointed that I was unable to provide the opportunity for my students to work more with their own thoughts on the content material.  Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, state that I could do this in the classroom through “system analysis, problem solving, experimental inquiry, and investigation” (p138).

For one of my lessons on green energy, I first introduced some of the more standard green energies.  We made list of the pros and cons for each one and then, as a class, the students chose one that we should install at our school.  In the process, we worked as a class to put together a loose letter we would send to the principal to pitch our idea.  The students were doing some good thinking with the material, but that was the end of the lesson.  I could have, as the text suggest, facilitated the students in doing more in depth research as to their choice by having them, “try your solution, either in reality or through simulation” (p140).  There are some schools in the area that already have solar panels, we could have contacted them.  There might also be schools that might have other sources in action, we could have performed more of an investigation to find out what some other schools are already doing.  This would have taken more time, but it would have created a great chance for the students to do research, and potentially make connections with students at other schools, in essence breaking down walls.

A classmate of mine also commented on how effective these strategies would be in teaching about consequences for behavior.  In the self-contained room that I was a part of last year, the students had a course that dealt with social skills.  If I were teaching a class on social skills, there is some great material to use with the students to have them create dialogue around different challenging situations they may have encountered, experience, or are concerned about.

As a special education instructor, I will be trying to facilitate my students in utilizing their strengths in order to reach their educational goals.  However, I would also like to impart skills that will enable them to be able to navigate the complexities of the modern world.   As Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone write, “What we ultimately want students to be able to do is find issues that are important to them, gather as much information as possible from a wide variety of resources that represent various viewpoints and motivations, and test- to the best of their abilities-the viability of these claims in order to inform their own decisions” (p149).   I hope to be able to create these higher level thinking opportunities by building relationships, utilizing strengths, and providing the proper amount of scaffolding to enhance my students’ abilities to be critical thinkers.


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 “Key Idea Identification”

“Key Idea Identification”

For week 5, I enjoyed the writing of Martin Luther (1483-1546) in “Letter in Behalf of Christian Schools”.  I found the following to quote to be very powerful:  “But the highest welfare, safety, and power of a city consists in able, learned, wise, upright, cultivated citizens, who can secure, preserve, and utilize every treasure and advantage”.   Martin Luther follows this with some very strong words directed towards leaders and their role in ensuring that education is a major priority.  Education is always been a major topic among the larger political elections that I have been around for.  However, it always seems to take a back seat to the economy.  As was mentioned in the lecture, everyone always will have an opinion on Education regardless of their experience working within the field.  Unfortunately, frequently these opinions will gain a voice in media outlets.

I also really enjoyed reading portions of the The Great Didactic (1633-38, sel.) by Johann Comenius.  I found his views in relation to nature to be very interesting as well as the positive environment that should be created: “4. Education should be carried out not with beating, severity and any kind of coercion, but easily, pleasantly, and, so to speak, by its own momentum”.  I particularly like the words selected for the end, own momentum.  I think that if we are able to create a climate that is pleasant and enjoyable for our students the desire for students intrinsic growth to occur is more likely.   I am also very interested in working with struggling readers.  I found the ninth postulate to be advice that is similar that I am encountering with some of the current suggestions for teaching reading.  “1. That the pupils have only such books which are fitting for their grade.  2. That these books be of such a kind that they can be called funnels of wisdom, virtue, and piety.”

Lastly, I am still developing my philosophy of education.  I found the readings by Arthur Ellis to be very interesting.  Ellis breaks down the educational philosophies into traditional and contemporary.  In reading about these different philosophies, there were aspects of each that were appealing to me.  I like to try and look on the bright side of things.  It was mentioned in this reading, that our philosophies on life might be similar to those that we will apply towards education.  I think looking on the bright side, will help me to keep an open mind, collaborate with all of my colleagues, reflect, and incorporate strategies into my instructional practice for the benefit of my students.


“Letter in Behalf of Christian Schools” by Martin Luther (1483-1546)

The Great Didactic (1633-38, sel.) by Johann Comenius,

Philosophical Perspectives by Arthur Ellis

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 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.


This week in review 7/6/14

This week in EDU 6120 focused on studying the Greeks and the notion of Paideia.  We had a reading from Arthur Ellis that pointed out the distinction between education and schooling and also writings by Plato and Aristotle. After reading the essay Schooling and Education, by Arthur Ellis, there is further proof of the importance of collaborating and working with all individuals involved in a student’s life in order to promote an education that will extend beyond the duration of the short school year.  Education begins the instant we are born and continues through-out our lives.  The major purpose of school is to promote citizenship (podcast 1).  We need basic skills in order to be good citizens as well as numerous other skills that can’t be measured by a test.  What is meaningful?  This question was posed by Professor Scheuerman at the beginning of the first lecture and served as a guide for this week’s learning.  To answer this question, we looked towards the system the Greeks had in place and some of their best thinkers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.  The Greeks lived their lives in very segregated fashion of a class system that only allowed those of the higher echelon to participate in this process of the “public square”.  We are fortunate to be living in a time period when every child is granted a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).  As a special education teacher, I find myself entering a field that is relatively new and very much still evolving.  Special education teachers are able to set educational goals that can be specific to math, reading, and writing.  However, there can also be goals that will lead students in the direction of becoming meaningful participants in society, or the “public square”.

How will I as an educator try and operationalize teaching students’ skills that will promote citizenship?  I will serve as a model for my students by making sure that I am fully participating in the community that I am involved in.  I will also work very hard to establish classroom rules and procedures, with my students, which will promote a positive supportive learning environment for all.  This type of learning environment will foster growth towards students’ educational goals and even more importantly growth and understanding towards the 5 pillars of responsibilities that we all need to strive for in society: Service, Honesty, Civility, Kindness, Participation, and Commitment (lecture notes week 2).  The classroom is a microcosm of our society where students area able to work on developing these skills.  I will be on the look-out for students that are portraying these qualities and praise students accordingly and in the moment.  I can also write goals in students IEP’s that will promote good citizenship with the long range goal of promoting citizenship in society.


8th Grade Science Observation

I recently observed in an 8th grade general education science classroom.  The teacher was having the students do a lab that was geared towards authentic learning.  The lab fit in well with the HOPE standard H5 – Honor student potential for roles in the greater society.  To me, this HOPE standard means incorporating activities that will widen students’ perspectives. In addition I would like the students’ to feel like they will be able to play a meaningful part in society.

For this lab students, students began the class with a brief discussion about water resources and water needs for people on our planet.  The students’ were then told that they would be doing a desalination lab, figuring out how to remove salt from water.  Desalination, is a process that real scientist are working on perfecting.   Through questioning that probed students’ prior knowledge, the teacher facilitated the students’ thinking on how to approach the lab.  This line of questioning was a great way to allow students to access their prior knowledge.  The replies that came out were; evaporation, condensation, the water cycle, that salt doesn’t evaporate, and lots of “Oh yeah’s”.

The supplies for the lab were as follows: salt water inside a large cylinder, a burner, a Styrofoam cup, tinfoil, ice-cubes, and a filter.  The students were in groups of four.  I found it enjoyable to watch the students collaborate on different ideas for the experiment.  Some groups were much better at this than others.  Some people got right to it and started crafting objects out of their supplies, other groups held lengthy discussions and shared their ideas and then began building.  Watching the students interacting over a real world issue was great.  The students were highly engaged.

I don’t know what subject or grade level that I will be fortunate enough to be able to teach.  Wherever I end up, I hope to be able to create engaging activities that encourage dialogue and excitement amongst the students.  The picture below is an image of the Ashekelon desalination plant, one of the worlds largest.

desalination   Accessed 3/15/14

Soccer Practice

H5 – Honor student potential for roles in the greater society. To me, this standard means supporting students in having activity filled lives represented through involvement in extracurricular activities.  I recently went to a girls’ soccer practice at my school.  Soccer is a wonderful team sport that requires and builds good communication skills, cooperation, and camaraderie amongst the players.  Participation in any school sports team is a great way to enlarge the community in which one lives.

soccer pictureSoccer also requires lots of physical exercise to play.  One of our books for this quarter is Brain Rules, by John Medina. There is a whole chapter dedicated to explaining the benefits of exercising. Medina (2008), suggest that students that are active, will also benefit in the classroom (p 28).  Our modern day world allows us to lead very sedentary lives.  The typical school day also requires that students spend a large portion of their days sitting at desk.  This, combined with poor diet, can lead to obesity and other health problems that are increasing in frequency.  It was great to see the students engaged in good positive physical exercise.  During this practice, the girls on this team did several running activities, played 3 v 1, 4 v 2, and also did drills to improve their trapping skills.  The team sweatshirts had also just arrived and snacks were provided for the players.  The sweatshirts created a great sense of unity and pride for the girls and coaches.  I will encourage all students I teach to become involved in extracurricular activities as the opportunities arise. I might also become involved in coaching someday.    

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