EDU 6526 Summarizing and Note Taking

For week 4 of EDU 6526, we focused on chapter 6, Summarizing and Note Taking, of Classroom Instruction that Works.  Frequently, these are skills that teachers expect their students to be able to do.  Research has shown that students need to be taught explicitly, to ensure that students are able to pull out the important information that is contained within text and lessons.  Utilizing the companion text, A Handook for Classroom Instruction That Works, assisted me in self-assessing my teaching practice in these areas.

The process of self-assessment in this area of instruction helped me to identify this as an area that I need to improve upon.  I would score my-self 3 out of 5 for the note taking section.  Through-out my student teaching, I was very good at providing my learners with teacher-prepared notes and modeling for students how to use these effectively.  However, I generally found that I needed to be more explicit in explaining my expectations for note taking and the purpose behind notes. I always tried to incorporate questions in my lesson planning that would, if not in a student’s memory, require them to go back through their notes and try and find the answer.  At first, students looked at me with blank faces when I asked them to do this.  I had to model doing this for them, but after a little while, it became more routine and entertaining with students trying to find the answers in their notes.  This allowed me to access students’ prior learning, highlight important facts, link previous material to current, and stress the importance of writing legibly with proper titles to assist students in finding important information.

In reflecting on my teaching practice in summarizing, I would rate myself a 2 out of 5.  I would often start out each lesson by asking a student to summarize the previous days learning or remind the class of what we have been working on.  I also liked to provide an activity at the end of a learning segment that would allow students to summarize their learning.  However, I never explicitly taught my students how to do this.  I could be more effective in my teaching by utilizing the six different styles of summary frames: “narrative, topic-restriction-illustration, definition, argumentation, problem-solution, and conversation” (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, p83).  I also like the texts idea of creating posters around these different themes to serve as reminders for students.  It would be nice to be able to re-use these summarizing techniques without having to reteach them each time.  I think these frames could also be modified to fit the particular group of students that I find myself working with next year.

A classmate of mine also highlighted the use of reciprocal teaching to allow students to work on summarizing.  Utilizing the reciprocal teaching strategy asks students to work together to summarize, question, clarify, and make predictions (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, p88).  I particularly like this strategy because it can be done through cooperative learning groups.  By creating lessons focused on summarizing skills, making classroom posters for the different styles, and repeatedly having my students work on these skills, my learners will improve in their abilities to summarize important information in their classes, and sift through the immense amount of knowledge available through our technology World.

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 6526 Nonlinguistic Representations

This week in EDU 6526, we studied chapter 3 Cues, Questions, and Advanced Organizers, and chapter 4 Nonlinguistic Representations, from Classroom Instruction That Works by Dean, Hubble, Pitler & Stone.  In addition there were also some helpful videos that went along with the readings.  For this blog post, I will focus on self-assessing myself in my use of Nonlinguistic Representations.

I am fortunate to have been able to student teach at a school that realizes the effectiveness of ELL strategies for all learners.  We had a few professional development days in which we were able to analyze the frequency that we used some of these techniques.  This had been an ongoing professional development and was referred to as High Leverage Teaching Moves for Language Acquisition.  These High Leverage Moves were listed on a chart as: pictorial input chart, comparative input chart, color coding, A/B partnerships, vocabulary, chants, visual aids, and cues/signals.  Part of this process for the teachers at this school was to keep this chart in a visible place, and track the amount of times that they were able to include these teaching strategies.  I also found this to be helpful during my student teaching.

In self-assessing my use of nonlinguistic representations, I would put myself as a 2.5 out of 5. A lot of my classroom lesson plans involved having students draw pictures to help illustrate concepts such as the greenhouse effect.  I also had students draw cotton maps to draw the potential path their clothes might have taken from seed to shirt.  I had students draw garbage maps to track how our waste is handled.  I was also intentional about trying to find an image to go with vocabulary words.  In utilizing A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works, by Pitler and Stone.  There are several areas that I could improve my instruction in Nonlinguistic representation.   Kinesthetic movement is a suggested practice to utilize.  I would love to try and use movement more in the classroom.  I was able to observe a teacher that had placed an A, B, C, and D on the different walls of his classroom.  He was able to use this for learning activities by giving blind pre-assessments.  Students would then switch papers and go to the area that represents the different letter for each different question as they were read aloud.  It was a great way to get students moving, take all the pressure off from being right, and it was a memorable activity to see how the rest of the class was thinking.

An additional type of Nonlinguistic activity that is mentioned in the handbook is utilizing manipulatives in classroom activities.  I would like to do a better of job of creating more hands on experiences for my learners in the future.  For a lesson on culture, I cooked a special family waffle recipe with the sixth grade students.  The level of engagement in this hands on learning activity was awesome.  Afterwards, I was left wondering how I could create similar activities for different areas of instruction.  As I continue to grow as a teacher, I plan on incorporating more nonlinguistic activities into my lesson planning.  Students really enjoy them and they are proven to be effective.  There is a strong correlation between enjoyment and learning.

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 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 4

The question that I generated for ISTE Standard Four was:  How can I ensure that the sources I use for discussing political current events in my classroom are providing the whole story, not just representing opinions.  This question relates to the ISTE Standard 4 #1 Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.  I want to be sure that I remain impartial when I am discussing important current events with my students.  One way to make sure that I am doing this is to make a point of noting the source of where information is coming from.  Politicians are usually also talking about important issues.  In order to remain neutral, I will plan on consulting the website looks into the claims made by politicians representing the major political parties to make sure they are accurate.  This sight will also be beneficial for meeting the common core standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

Another part of the ISTE standard 4 is part #3 Promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information.  The Ribble and Miller article, from our assigned readings, covered this standard well.  This article spoke to the importance of teaching students to act appropriately when they are interacting with others on the web.  Working in a middle school environment, there are multiple times each day that I try and guide students to treat each other, and themselves, with respect.  Often times inappropriate comments or mean behavior will eventually result in students’ recognizing their faults, and apologizing to one another.  The problem with the web, is it is very hard to take back inappropriate comments or behavior.   There can also be a permanent record created of this inappropriate behavior.  For this reason, as the article points out, we must not only teach are students to act appropriately in school, but teach the importance of appropriate behavior on-line. To help my students with being respectful digital citizens, I have created this digital poster through glogster.

A classmate of mine, Katie Y., shared a link from Edutopia that addresses teaching digital citizenship.  This particular link discusses doing so in a contained, controlled setting that provides the teacher and students a chance to interact virtually through the software program created by Schoology.  If we as teachers are going to be able to teach digital citizenship, we must do so while operating within the digital environment.  I look forward to trying to create engaging safe digital learning networks for my students.

Links and Reference

Ribble, M., & Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137-145.

Math Observation, 8th grade

I recently observed in a math 8th grade resource room.  The lesson reminded me of the Hope principle O1. – Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes.  Taking this principle into consideration will enable me to provide my students with instruction that is geared towards learning goals that use the appropriate standards as a guide.  Another key word in this HOPE principal is the word organized.  This teacher had placed rulers and the worksheet that were necessary to complete the in class lesson on each students desk prior to the students arriving.  This allowed the teacher to maximize the time spent on student learning.  The lesson for the day was working on the state Grade Level Standards listed below:


8.2.F Demonstrate the Pythagorean Theorem and its converse and apply them to solve problems.

8.2.G Apply the Pythagorean Theorem to determine the distance between two points on the coordinate plane.

The teacher had put together an activity that would require students to find the distance between two locations on an x-y coordinate grid.  The locations were places that the students would be interested in going to which increased the engagement level.  This was not the first time the students had been working on the Pythagorean Theorem.  The in class activity was also an appropriate challenge for the students.  In order for the students to find the different lengths or sides to the triangles, they had to first create right triangles that would enable them to apply the Pythagorean Theorem.  The teacher modeled how to find the first side for the students, at the same time, the student was very active in checking on each students work to make sure they were participating fully and understanding the steps.  This involved moving around the room and checking in with each student.  After modeling the first step, the teacher asked students to then find the length of another side to the triangle.  The teacher was checking in with her students as they were working, and assisting or providing the necessary scaffolding that some students required.  The teacher then asked for a student volunteer to model how they solved the problem on the overhead.  There were several hands that went up.  The teacher did an eeny-meeny-miny-moe type of game to choose the student. This made for a fun atmosphere.


I found watching this teacher to be a very worthwhile.  The students were well behaved, engaged, and putting forth a great effort.  The teacher was prepared for the students, and created an activity that seemed challenging, aligned to standards, and also fun.  I was invited to stop by anytime, I will have to do so.


ISTE Standard One Reflection

The question that I generated for this standard was: How can I utilize technology to help my self-contained special education students’ work towards meeting their writing IEP goals?  A challenge that I see in teaching special education is figuring out how to simultaneously meet each students’ unique needs.  Often times students with special education needs struggle with hand writing legibly and spelling.  These struggles can be minimized by using technology that allows for spell checking and typing. One such tool that is great for helping struggling students’ is called Co:writer.  Co:writer is a software system that is designed specifically for students with special needs.  The way it works is students begin typing and the system predicts what the student might be trying to type.  This is done by providing them with options to choose from.  All of my students struggle with spelling and they could all benefit from this.  Often times the writing process stops all together as they ponder spelling. I found out about Co:writer through an article by Koppenhaver and Wollack.  Koppenhaver and Wollack have designed a writing program for students with special needs that utilizes e-pals and blogging to increase the writing efficacy of their students. Barbetta and Unzueta found that computer graphic organizers enhance students with special needs ability and enjoyment of writing persuasive pieces.

From our assigned reading by Sadik, I have learned about the great educational tool of digital storytelling. I found this quote to be particularly applicable “Barrett (2006) found that digital storytelling facilitates the convergence of four student-centered learning strategies: student engagement, reflection for deep learning, project-based learning, and the effective integration of technology into instruction” (p 490).

By participating in our class google community, l learned from Courtney Swanson about a site called Penzu in the classroom. Penzu allows Teachers’ to provide students’ with real time feedback and also potentially increase parental involvement.  Parents and students could look online to check out the students’ work that is stored in the cloud and view the comments I am making in response to their writing.

Utilizing different technological software programs and communication systems will allow for all students to advance in the writing process regardless of the differences in their IEP goals. The question for me turns towards finding resources to acquire access in order to utilize these technological tools and means of communication.  It would be great to have computers for every child but at my current school we are very far from this. However, the rush by the students to use the computers that we do have is very apparent.  Being able to utilize the computers in ways that can harness that excitement and assist students in learning would be an extremely valuable direction towards meeting educational goals and increasing technological competency.

References and Links

Barbetta, Patricia M. Unzueta, Caridad H.;  The Effects of Computer Graphic Organizers on the Persuasive Writing of Hispanic Middle School Students with Specific Learning Disabilities.  Journal of Special Education Technology, v27 n3 p15-30 2012. 16 pp.

Koppenhaver, David A. Wollak, Barbara A.; Developing Technology-Supported, Evidence-Based Writing Instruction for Adolescents with Significant Writing Disabilities. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits, v7 n1 p1-23 Sum 2011. 23 pp.

Sadik, A.(2008). Digital storytelling: A meaningful technology integrated approach for engaged student learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 56, 487–506

Edu 6918 Reflection

O1, Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes. As a special education teacher creating curriculum for the classroom, I will be guided by the common core standards, and each student’s unique learning goals.  In order to best be of service to my students’ and plan curriculum that will meet these needs, it will be essential that I know them as individuals and create effective relationships. In EDU 6918, one of our writing modules focused on the importance of establishing effective relationships.  I find this particularly applicable for special education and I have included my response from a discussion post prompt “What will you do to establish and maintain effective relationships with students?” In my response to this prompt, I demonstrate an awareness of the importance of establishing relationships image_for_standard_01with my students, and their families, to best meet their needs.  I also highlight the importance of valuing each student’s unique attributes and interest. Creating a climate of acceptability and encouragement, will allow students’ the opportunity to grow and meet their learning goals.   In creating this evidence, I learned that it will be important for me to work hard to build strong relationships in the classroom by developing emotional objectivity.  Marzano (2007), refers to emotional objectivity as a quality of a teacher that is able to maintain a mental equilibrium while ensuring classroom norms and expectations are followed. My effectiveness as a special education teacher, will be judged based on how my students progress towards meeting their stated educational goal’s found within their IEP’s.  I will also be involved in crafting appropriate goals for my students.  The ability to establish effective relationships with my students and their families, will enable me to develop specific learning goals that will be high, yet achievable, with the common core in mind. I can continue to learn more about ways to effectively communicate with, and involve families in the education of their children. To build effective relationships with students of all backgrounds, I will have to be culturally aware of each student, their family, and embrace the opportunity to learn about cultural traditions and norms that will be different than my own.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.