EDU 6526 “Identifying Similarities and Differences”

For this week in EDU 6526, we read chapter 8, Identifying Similarities and Differences, of our text, Classroom Instruction That Works, by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone.  For this blog post I will be self- assessing my teaching performance in this area using, A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works, by Pitler and Stone.

In reflecting on my time student teaching, I would give myself a 2 out of 5.  This is an area that I would like to improve on.  One way that I used similarities and differences was in introducing students to the five themes of World Geography.  I made a power point slide that first defined the word theme for the students, and then prompted the students to identify some themes for the Seattle Seahawks.  With the Seahawks winning the super bowl this was a great way to get their attention, build excitement, and also activate their prior knowledge.  The students did a great job of identifying some of the themes for the Seahawks and then we moved on to the five themes of World Geography.  In initially studying the five themes of World Geography, we applied them first to the state of Washington and specifically the Seattle region to promote familiarity with the topic.

There were also lessons I taught were I could have done a much better job of having students identify similarities and differences.  For example, I taught a lesson on renewable and non-renewable energy sources. For this lesson, I introduced the major industries and then we made pro’s and con’s list for each one.  I could have also led the students in making a Venn diagram or a Comparison matrix as the Handbook suggest (Pitler & Stone, p247-248). This would have been a great way to get the students interacting further with the content, and tie it all together. Through participation in our classroom discussion, a classmate suggested using metaphors to compare our emotional states, specifically with anger.  This sounds like a great idea and I will have to do something similar next year.

According to our text, “many people consider these strategies to be the core of learning” (p119). The text also mentions the importance of variety among the different strategies, “comparing, classifying, creating metaphors, and creating analogies” (p121-2). I need to create activities that will focus on the latter two strategies.  There were times when I provided the students with analogies or metaphors but I didn’t have the students work to create their own.  An example of this came during a lesson on the greenhouse effect.  I had the students think about the schools double pain windows and then described my single pain windows at home and the heat exchange that occurred.  This is similar to the greenhouse effect and adding gasses is similar to adding layers of glass that will limit the exchange of atmospheric gasses.  However, I need to provide the students with increased opportunities to think on their own.


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 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.

Teacher Observation- Math Resource Room

The teacher that I observed during this lesson utilized excellent questioning skills that were intentionally designed to facilitate student engagement.  The questions provided the teacher with a running assessment that could be utilized to plan the next level of instruction.  It is for these reasons that I have listed this observation under the HOPE standard P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction.    

Opener and Closer. I observed in a Math resource room that consisted of 11 students.  For the first 5-10 minutes, students worked independently on worksheets related to their unique IEP goals.  If students finished a worksheet, they would take it to the teacher for assessment.  This allowed the teacher to work with each student independently in attaining their IEP goals, and simultaneously assess their progress.  I thought this was a great way to get the students to immediately engage in the content.  After this, the lesson started.  The lesson goal was in a visible location in student friendly language.  This particular lesson involved using word clues to assist in solving story problems that involved fractions. For the closer, students were asked to complete a problem from the worksheet independently as an exit ticket.

Questioning.  Questioning was used effectively throughout the lesson. Problems were asked to be read individually and then repeated orally by two different students.  Questioning focused on the students thought process and techniques students used to solve problems.  One student that arrived at the right solution, was asked to share the steps that they used in solving the problem, on the overhead, so the whole class could see.  Probing questions were asked as to why certain steps were taken.  When students struggled, the questions focused on trying to assist students in accessing previous knowledge.  When the teacher modeled solving problems, questions were asked of the students as to what the next step should be, or why an action was performed. Girls and boys were called on equally and there was a clear expectation for hands to be raised.  Questioning was done frequently to ensure students comprehension and assist the teacher in formative assessment.

Classroom Management.  I was impressed with this teacher’s classroom management.  The expectations were clearly known; start work right away, raise hands to contribute, have planners and materials, 0-5 possible voice levels. One consequence was that students were marked tardy for not getting to work at the bell.  Teacher’s choice was also a consequence.  Teacher’s choice meant that the students would have to stay an additional 7 minutes after the bell rang.  The evidence provided, is the sheet that the students’ would complete to ensure they processed why their particular behavior created a problem.


Marzano (2007) says that “consequences should be both positive and negative.” (p.131).   Teachers choice creates this duality.  The students owed the teacher a certain amount of extra time, the negative, and spent this time filling out a worksheet that enables them to process their mistakes and learn from them, the positive. 

Proximity, was used on several occasions to quiet students and get students attention.  The teacher’s voice tone was firm and would rise but still remain calm to keep control.  A timer was also used in the class with the time for each activity clearly stated such as, getting 1 minute to read the problem and 3 minutes to solve the problem.  I thought this was beneficial for both students and the teacher in controlling the pace of the lesson.

Instructional strategies.  There was purposeful repetition in reading the story problems built into the lesson.  The students were given time to read the problem silently, and then two people were called on to read the problem out loud.  The thinking behind this was that you can’t solve a problem if you can’t read it.  Reading didn’t come easy for most of these students so this seemed appropriate.  Questioning was used extensively to ensure engagement and activate students thought process. One of the questions would ask students to identify key words in the story problem which tied into the learning goal.  The students were working on worksheets.  It would be interesting to have students create their own fractional story problems to increase engagement.  However, this might be too time consuming.   I thought the use of the timer was great and teacher’s choice was an excellent consequence that required students to process and internalize consequences of their behavior.

Use of technology.  The emphasis on this lesson was solving story problems from a worksheet.  The standard technological features of the classroom were used in this lesson.

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

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.