Hope Reflection–H3

H3-Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning. This standard suggests that it is my responsibility to honor and participate in the many different types of learning events and activities offered in my school community. Believing this, I participated in many different after-school events to support and participate the interests and passions of my students. One particularly memorable event I attended toward the end of my internship was BHS’s 9th Annual “Spoken Word Night.”

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This evening is celebrated each year as an opportunity for students to express, explore and share what cannot be seen on paper— a performance of word-based poetry. More than twenty students showcased their own work and the meaningful works of other poets. The evening was organized and orchestrated by a student who explained that this event was so close to her heart because it was an occasion for her to experience her peers in new way, an opportunity for her and her schoolmates to peel off some of the layers that otherwise insulate them from one another. She remarked that there is something remarkably beautiful and intimate about seeing students share pieces of their soul, pieces that would otherwise be imperceptible or concealed in daily hurried hallway greetings or lunch-time chats. And this is what it means to honor the classroom and school community as an occasion to learn not only academically, but also in every other way—to learn more about who we are as human beings and how we fit into the greater human story. As I began my Master’s program to become a teacher, a professor shared a quote from the longtime Harvard University professor and distinguished twentieth-century educational psychologist, Jerome Bruner: “We need a surer sense of what to teach to whom and how to go about teaching it in such a way that it will make those taught more effective, less alienated, and better human beings” (Bruner, 1996, p. 118). This quote has become the foundation for my personal philosophy and as I begin my teaching career, I will be actively involved and supportive of student events such as “Spoken Word Night” in order to encourage all aspects of student interest, growth, and development.

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Computer-based Learning and Student-centric Technologies

Our reading this week focused on why schools do not utilize computers when computers could so easily enrich the learning experience of every student. Over the 20-30 years, schools have spent upwards of $60 billon in equipping classrooms with computers and yet, “despite these investments, students report using the computers sparsely in their classrooms” (p. 81). Christensen suggests that computers should be utilized as more of a primary instructional mechanism to ensure that learning is customized to students’ varying types of intelligences while allowing the teacher to give more focused attention to each student (p. 73). As a pre-service teacher, it is important to understand and utilize the powerful software and hardware that is available in order to “transform prevailing instructional practices” (p.82). While high school students do use computers more often than elementary students, high schoolers are limited to word-processing programs and the internet for research, hardly experiencing computers as an instructional tool. We are cramming computers into classroom, but not allowing computers to modernize our traditional instructional practices. According to Christensen, we as teachers need to use computers to transform our teaching, to increase student-centered learning and project-based practices, to migrate to a student-centric classroom by allowing students to learn in ways that correspond with how their brains are wired (p. 83). Many existing pedagogies and instructional practices must be replaced by computers, not sustained by computers. Through employing the use of computer-based learning in a more disruptive mode, schools may realize the transformations of classrooms and student achievement.

I did not learn anything new while using the Kindle Reader this week, although I have switched to hitting the arrows on my keyboard to progress the pages rather than clicking the mouse on the forward arrow. This is much more convenient and I don’t have to look up from my reading, move my mouse, select the arrow and then re-orient myself on the next page—just a very small, but helpful way of navigating the text.
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A Few Problems with Standardization

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For some students struggling to master a particular concept, the presentation of material in a new way can make all the difference. Because every student’s brain is uniquely wired, students have different intelligences and do not learn in the same way. In light of this information, chapter one of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns discusses why schools and teachers do not completely customize learning (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011). The current architecture of schools is founded on standardization, a shift from the one-room schoolhouse, and “inspired by the efficient factory system that had emerged in industrial America” (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011, p. 35). The students arranged into grades could learn the same material in the same way, and at the same pace, allowing teachers to focus solely on one group of students and set content. This model, however, cannot currently “handle the differences in the way individual brains are wired for learning” (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011, p. 35). While standardization was previously seen as a virtuous method, Christensen, Johnson and Horn unabashedly state that schools are in desperate need of a new system, “because students have different types of intelligence, learning styles, varying paces, and starting points, all students have special needs”…and are “differently abled” Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011, p.34).

The authors go on to suggest that computer-based learning is a valuable stepping stone toward student-centric learning which will allow students to learn according to their intelligence type, and at their own pace through customized content and sequence (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011, p. 38). Through implementing new technologies through incremental changes, this chapter suggests there is hope that schools will move further and further away from standardization and more toward student-centric learning.

I had never used eReader before, but definitely prefer to read anything of length from a book rather than a computer. I was frustrated initially after having read about 30 pages because I could not figure out how many pages I had left to read in the chapter. After some exploration, I did discover that if I clicked on the following chapter I could see what page it started on and then gage how many pages I had left to read—just a silly little thing, but helpful to know! Highlighting and making notes was extremely simple. When going back to write my reflection, upon completing the reading, it was very useful to see the list of highlights I had made and then to select a highlighted passage and be transported directly to the corresponding page.

Source:
Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.

Inclusive Education and Differentiated Instruction

EDSP-Literature Review
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A Reflection on What This Paper Means to Me

After reading the articles for this assignment, what impacted me most was an expanded definition of inclusion; a definition that focuses on resisting “the many ways students experience marginalization and exclusion in schools” (Broderick, Mehta-Parekh & Reid, p.195). Homogeneity exists neither in “mainstream” nor in segregated special-education classrooms. In my reading, I discovered specific ways of creating a positive and collaborative learning environment, as well as practical examples of what differentiating instruction looks like in general education classrooms. A teacher must employ strategies that make each individual feel included and differentiated instructional practices to cater to the heterogeneous group.

In my literature review paper, I discuss the importance of creating an inclusive classroom environment and provide strategies and specific examples of what that might look like in a general education classroom. Additionally I discuss what differentiated instruction is and how it can be implemented to ensure that all students have access to the content and processes of daily learning. This topic is extremely important and relevant to me, because as a future teacher, I want and need to do everything possible to ensure that all students, including students with special needs or disabilities are able to succeed socially and academically in my classroom. I also explore what it looks like to implement differentiation of instruction and content in order to attend to the unique learning needs and preferences of students.

If a student feels isolated or does not have the necessary support or access to learning materials, they will not succeed. My hope is that my students will not only succeed, but they will thrive and that is why the strategies and perspectives in this paper will positively impact my future teaching practices.

Reference:
Alicia Broderick, Heeral Mehta-Parekh & D. Kim Reid (2005): Differentiating Instruction for Disabled Students in Inclusive Classrooms, Theory into Practice, 44:3, pp.194-202. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3496998 Accessed through JSTOR on May 1, 2013