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.

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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.