Against common sense: Teaching and learning towards social justice – Kumishiro K.K. – Chapters 1, 2 & 3

This textbook reemphasized a lot of the important aspects of ECS 300 for me.  The first couple chapters discuss teachers and students and the perspectives that they bring into the classroom.  Teaching to every student’s needs can be a lot of extra work.  However, avoiding these differences between students and teaching to the class as a whole can be oppressive to certain students.  It is important for myself that I do not teach with blinders on, forging ahead “doing the best I can”; I need to be aware of what my students need and how what I say and do is being perceived.

The third chapter of this text begins to discuss how to teach through uncertainty.  To me this is synonymous with cognitive dissonance.  My class has been examining this process in ECSI 351 and I see a lot of validity in this method, especially in the sciences.  Students very often can hold two conflicting views, one that works in the science class and another that they use outside the class.  By teaching through uncertainty students can make these connections and begin to resolve these conflicting views.  I think that it is important to remember that some of the deeper levels of learning happen when we are uncomfortable and must resolve this.  My goal is to promote this method of learning and make sure my students are comfortable being uncomfortable.

Teach Like a Champion – Lemov

Last week for ECS 350 we were given the first 28 pages of Lemov’s text to read.  Within these first few pages there were a lot of techniques and practices that both reaffirmed what I have been learning and also provided me with practices I hope to implement when I begin teaching.

One issue it seems with the curriculum at times, the old curriculum anyway, was that there was too much content.  Some of the suggestions that Lemov makes addresses this problem that teachers may have.  Lemov suggests that simply establishing an efficient procedure for handing out course materials could save you 20 minutes a day, that’s 20 extra minutes to cover content.  Another suggestion, something I am also learning in my assessment class, is to plan with the end in mind.  By evaluating the outcomes and indicators in the process in which you want to teach them and then choosing activities that best addresses these outcomes helps to plan lessons in a meaningful way.

Planning in this way allows you to plan for mastery as opposed to planning for content alone.  It is important that students are able to make a connection to material in a way that is meaningful to them.  By carefully designing lessons and classroom practices I can give my students the best chance to succeed that I can.


Concept Maps: Models, Strategies, and Methods for Effective Teaching – H.R. Lang & D. N. Evans

In all my courses this semester I have been learning about different assessment techniques.  One method I found could be very useful to myself, especially as a Biology major, and that is the use of concept maps.  Concept maps are a great way to get students organizing terms in a way that makes sense to them.  By doing an exercise like this the teacher is able to see how student understanding is progressing and what topics are unclear.

This is a concept map that I made to show what I took away from last weeks reading.  It was a very theory heavy reading however made a lot of important distinctions between the different needs my students will have and how I need to recognize these differences in order to accommodate them.

Instruction: A Models Approach – Chapters 1,2 & 3

For ECS 350 we were given the text book Instruction: A Models Approach by Estes et al.  This text lays the basis for everything from laying out a lesson to approaches to reach your students better.  The first three chapters sets out how to best structure my class and what the needs of my students are going to be.  The text then begins to discuss how to best begin structuring lessons to meet my student needs, the objectives required, and to do this at one of the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.

One large thing I took away, which reconfirmed what I have been learning, is the importance of putting the curriculum within a context my students can understand.  This made me think of Corey Ziegler today in my one class when he came in to share about some of the action projects he has done over the years in his biology classes.  At one school he was at he developed a tree planting and paper recycling program with his class.  They developed this program throughout the year and the students were responsible for researching things such as soil testing/ research, tree analysis, plant chemistry etc.; all topics in the science curriculum.

Picture by: outside2

What was difference with this class was that the curriculum was placed in a context they could understand; they could see how the curriculum related to them.   I think this was a perfect example of melding the objectives with the students needs, all things stressed by Estes et al.

Mr.Ziegler was also required to do something else that the text discusses and that was to chunk concepts together.  He said it was hard work, and “at the end I was tired”, but that the students had a more meaningful experience as a result.  Most people would say there is no way that you could teach a class this way and cover all the content in the curriculum.  Mr.Ziegler actually showed by grouping concepts together and putting in a little extra work it could be done.  He said he covered somewhere around 80% of the curriculum objectives in 70% of the time it would normally take.

It was nice to hear about theory in an actual practical setting and this has allowed me to gain some confidence that I may be able to do something of this magnitude when my time comes.  Science education is shifting it seems and I am excited to be a part of that process; to be able to apply some of the theory I am reading in Estes et al. in a practical setting.