Practices in Pedagogy

"To Teach is to Learn Twice Over"

Archive for the tag “EDU 4530”

“A Lesson from the Best”

Yesterday, my professor showed my EDU 4520 class an example of great teaching. 2004 Teacher of the Year: Philip Beadle, dazzles in the categories of assessment, classroom management, personal intuition, creativity in Education, and inspirational leading.

Here below is the link to Mr. Beadle’s lesson:

I am truly in amazement when I view this video. The impressive manner in which Beadle controls his classroom astounds me. The way in which a single word from his mouth immediately silences the classroom baffles me. By far the most beautiful aspect to this video is how Beadle combines a hard-nosed, disciplinary demeanor with a humble passion and love for his students.

Always fearful of falling too much into one pole or the other, I consistently attempt to remain a neutral, calm demeanor while attempting to lead. I am constantly afraid to be too harsh, too docile, to inept, too critical, or too gracious. But the wonderful example set by Beadle allows me to see that one can be strict and mature, yet still gain the students’ appreciation.

I am wholeheartedly excited to see what aspects of Beadle’s lesson I can one day include in my own classroom. I consider learning from his example an incredibly valuable and insightful experience, and I cannot wait to see what may come of it!


The “Think-Pair-Share” Approach to Assessment

Why is it important to use oral language to check for understanding? What is your impression of the “Think-Pair-Share” approach? How might you use “Think-Pair-Share” in your own teaching?

The legacy of oral language is incredibly significant. Not only is our modern form of literature, music, and storytelling mostly due to the oral tradition, but the universality of verbal communication is unparalleled. The ability to speak out loud and communicate directly with another person serves as a bridge between cultural, racial, social, and economical gaps. Anybody can talk, anybody can communicate through an oral medium; therefore, the magnitude of such interaction is unbelievable. With this in mind, how can one not acknowledge the importance of using oral language to check for understanding in the classroom?

By assessing students in such a manner, teachers are effectively able to engage a universal audience. Students who have difficulty reading can express their understanding comfortably and confidently. Students who perceive the world in a way no standardized test can grasp can finally showcase their abilities. Students who are outgoing will enjoy participating in classroom assessment. Even shy, timid students will be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and positively open up. Any style of learner, a child from any culture, a student from any particular background- all of these can be understood in the oral form.

Not only is oral assessment universal, it also allows for a great deal of accountability in the classroom. Fisher and Frey both focus on this specific aspect in Checking for Understanding. Their thorough discussion of “Accountable Talk” is both interesting and educational. Especially as the authors suggest the idea of pairing students for assessment conversations. This concept not only provides an opportunity for students to talk and become engaged in the subject, but also trains them to be accountable with their own personal work.

The “Think-Pair-Share” approach is a wonderful model for collaborative learning. Students can first learn through personal reflection, then critically examine their conclusions with a partner, finally culminating in a prepared classroom discussion. With three varying aspects of assessment, the “Think-Pair-Share” model maximizes the possibility of learning. Students are encouraged to engage the subject on a personal and public manner, allowing for accountability in personal work, critical-thinking, and reflective application. Hopefully, I can someday incorporate the “Think-Pair-Share” approach into my own classroom. I can set aside time in each lesson for students to partner up and actively explore the material for that day. I will constantly push my students to ask deeper, more probing questions- thereby allowing for more discussion, more reflection, and more learning. I think students will enjoy the aspect of class (or partner) interaction, and more importantly I will enjoy the active, formative assessment taking place.

The Value of Assessment

Why check for understanding? Why is it important to check for understanding during instruction? What are some useful strategies for checking for understanding? How frequently should teachers check for understanding during a typical lesson or school day?

A teacher may produce an amazing lesson. The instruction may be perfect, the preparation: consistent, even the students seem to be interested in what is being taught. The teacher assumes by the smiles on the students’ faces and their nodding heads, he has actually taught them something. The hours of research, the painstaking effort put into forming an insightful lecture, and the creative manner by which the classroom activities were applied, all seem to encourage a feeling of success. However, this fleeting feeling is soon crushed by the onslaught of poor performance on the next exam. How is this possible? How does a well-developed lesson lead to dismal performance? The answer is simple: assessment.

By checking for understanding, learning is consistently reinforced. A teacher can create an interesting lesson with engaging material; yet, students may not comprehend. A teacher may fill the room with logical reasoning, but some students may not function in a ‘logical’ manner. There is a large gap between student and teacher. This is especially evident in the relationship between what a student wants to learn and what a teacher wants to teach. The entirety of education is an attempt to bridge this gap and develop a passion for learning. By constantly assessing students, teachers provide opportunities for engagement. Fisher and Frey suggest that by, “using assessment regularly, teachers are enabled to determine what students know, what they need to know, and what type of instructional interventions are helpful”. Through assessment, a dialogue is opened between teacher and student. Both are allowed to ask questions, both are allowed to answer questions, and most importantly both contribute to the discussion. Within such an open conversation, growth can be found.

Unfortunately, an open conversation is not always effective in education. “The background knowledge students bring into the classroom influences how they understand the material you share and the lessons or learning opportunities you provide”. Therefore, we as teachers must understand that new, different approaches to assessment will always be a necessity. If a classroom reflects a desire to learn mechanically or systematically, a teacher must design forms of assessment that follow suit. For instance, small quizzes would be a wonderful idea for this class. At the end of each lesson, students will be asked to think critically, mathematically about the material and answer a set of questions developed to gauge understanding. If a classroom tends to be more artistic, a reflective project asking students to draw a picture of what they learned that day would be incredibly effective.  Students would then be able to form understanding because of the use of images the visual medium. If a classroom seems more set on moving and kinetically approaching material, then a teacher should create a physical game in which understanding can be assessed. For example, in a lesson about gravity, students could be grouped together and compete against one another in order to build small-scale models of bridges able to stand up even against the pull of gravity. All of these are forms of formative assessment, or assessment which gauges student learning through engaging, insightful means.

Through the process of assessment, teachers can better understand their students, students can better understand their teachers’ goals, and all may better understand the material.

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