Honoring Family Involvement in the Learning Process

H4: Honor family/community involvement in the learning process. During my internship, honoring family involvement in student learning meant responding and meeting with parents who were concerned about their student’s progress, especially as my internship ended and the academic year came to a close. I received many emails from parents, wanting to discuss options and different strategies to ensure that their student finished out the school year well, which often also meant bringing up his or her grade in the class. Although on days when I was at school late, and had grading and planning to do, it felt overwhelming to also need to maintain communication with parents of multiple students from multiple different class periods. However, parents provide the key support for students outside the classroom, and in order to be successful, they must be provided with an understanding of how their student is performing. I found it rewarding to collaborate with parents to create strategic plans to support the needs of their sons and daughters. Parent support makes a significance impact on student success and supporting parents as they support their student at home not only honors the role of parent involvement in the learning process, but also honors the potential achievement of my students—one of my key goals and responsibilities as their teacher.

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Another way I was able to support parent involvement in the success of their students, was to keep the online gradebook up to date. When a parent would email and inquire about what assignments his or her student was missing or the status of his or her student’s grade, I was able to point them directly to the gradebook, a concrete record of his or her student’s progress. Parents were very appreciative of this, as well as my religious updating of the class’ “Fusion page.” On the “Fusion page” I would post different assignments, activities, and deadlines for projects, so parents could access information about what was done in class, as well as print the actual assignments in order to support their student’s completion of class work.

Hope Reflection: E2

E2: Exemplify collaboration within the school.
This standard highlights the importance of teamwork, specifically within the teaching profession. During my internship, intentional, collaborative time was set aside after school every other Tuesday. All teachers of 10th grade English utilized this time to come together, plan and align units and lessons, share resources, make suggestions for adjustments as well as propose new ideas and inspirations. One of the teachers in our group explained to me that this opportunity to collaborate and share not only allowed teachers to fine-tune and refresh instructional strategies, activities and materials, but also to prevent stagnation and isolation.
I attended the bi-weekly meetings and was frequently given helpful resources and instructional ideas such as a Youtube video I used in my debate unit to help students understand how to use the Aristotelian appeals as a means of persuasion. Although not every teacher was able to attend each meeting, through my attendance, I realized how imperative it is that teachers have this time to collaborate, not only to share and learn from one another in order to prevent settling into a rut of comfort and predictability in instruction, but also to support one another through various highs and lows as well as to provide insights based on personal experiences—successes and failures.
Students directly benefit from this collaborative time as well, because not only are their teachers’ attitudes and outlooks positively affected, significantly improving classroom culture, but also, instruction is aligned, enhanced and refined which means students are receiving the most tailored and engaging instruction. As I begin teaching, one of my first steps will be to see what my school’s policy is for department and grade-specific meetings. If regular meetings are not in place, I would certainly be an advocate to establish bi-monthly meetings. I understand that a teacher’s time is always short, but I really do believe that such collaborative time significantly and positively benefits both instructors and students.

How to Save Time AND Engage Students

Turnitin.com has already been noted a resource worth sharing, I personally have very little experience with this learning tool and so for my resource share, so I decided to explore it further. When I was observing a friend’s high school English a few months ago, he introduced me to turnitin.com, a resource I had not heard of previously. One aspect of this resource that he raved about was a “plagiarism prevention” feature called Originality Check, which compares submitted paper against “billions of web pages, millions of student papers, and leading library databases and publications.” He loves this feature because he can view the students paper, while a list of “source matches” are listed on the side and he could control filters through which the paper is compared. He explained that this feature not only saved him hours of trying to find the sources his students were plagiarizing, but also providing opportunities for further instruction regarding the proper and ethical way to cite source material. Plagiarism can be a pretty prevalent issue in high schools. As a future high school English teacher, employing this resource in such a way, will not only saves me time but will also allow me opportunities to work with students who very well may be plagiarizing out of ignorance.

In addition to this feature, during my exploration, I learned about a feature called PeerMark—a well-organized space for collaborative online, peer editing. A teacher can customize how many papers will be issued to each student’s inbox, what questions, guidelines, and rating scales, students employ as part of their editing and responses, and comments, edits, and suggested revisions made are presented anonymously so students are able to share honest feedback. Peer editing, not only saves a teacher from spending unnecessary time editing silly mistakes, but also, and more importantly, provides a sort of mirror—students edit one paper while also reflecting on their own. Consequently, students develop critical thinking skils about the writing and editing process, and content material is reinforced. Students can then review the comments from their peers and have the opportunity to revise and refine their papers before finally submitting to the teacher. I remember peer editing playing a large in a few of my high school English classes, and those experiences in addition to teacher feedback were most influential in shaping my writing. PeerMark provides an anonymous and convenient way of blending both peer editing and technology and will undoubtedly be a feature I use frequently as an instructional tool for improving the writing of my students.

A third feature of turnitin.com is GradeMark provides teachers with five distinct ways of providing rich, meaningful and efficient feedback. Originality Check which I mentioned above, is one of those options. Another I found particularly intriguing and potentially very useful is Voice Comments. Voice Comments allows teachers to provide quick and customized audio feedback such as clarifying written feedback, providing encouragement and explaining an element more in-depth. Teachers love GradeMark for a variety of reason, however I can see employing this feature as a way to go paperless, a time-saving way of organize all student papers in one easy-to-access location, prevent “lost” papers and printer issues, to avoid issues over whether or not a paper was turned in on time. Additionally GradeMark provides a feature where teachers can create a “feedback” bank of commonly used comments and questions that can be dropped directly into a student’s paper. Also, scores, once entered, can be immediately transferred to blackboard, for example. Each of these features will be so beneficial, time-saving when I have 150 essays to grade in a matter of days. Not only will turnitin.com save me time and energy, but it will also allow me to provide more efficient and personalized feedback to students, which translates into richer instruction and deeper learning.