O1 – Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes. To me, O1 means that as I plan classroom activities and assessments, I will consider the learning targets and unit outcomes given to me.
As I plan instruction and classroom activities for my students, I have the learning targets for the unit in front of me as my guide. Below is an example of a unit from Biology.
For my last unit in Biology, which is Ecology, instruction and classroom activities are centered around making a portfolio. The final portfolio will be assessed for their unit grade. An example of one assignment in the portfolio is to make a diagram/poster of a food web. The learning target for this activity is as follows:
The Student Will describe how energy flows and matter cycles in living systems and relate that to the roles that organisms play in those systems.
The lesson began by a discussion about what is a producer and a consumer. Then we talked about the different types of consumers. I then gave instructions for their activity and the students went to work. Below is one of the posters a student made for this part of their portfolio.
I have learned that it is helpful to use my learning targets as a guide as I plan my curriculum. This insures that the students will do classroom activities that are focused on the learning guidelines given to me by my school. For the future, I will continue to search out kinesthetic and varied activities to increase student learning.
P2 – Practice differentiated instruction. To me, P2 means that when planning instruction for a class, I will take into consideration the specific students in that class. I want to consider the differing levels of English and how students learn.
In the following lesson, there were several ways I differentiated the lesson specifically for my students who have begun learning English in this last year. For Biology I sometimes begin with a Bell Activity, reviewing the content from the previous class. Below are the questions for the Bell Activity reviewing gas exchange in the lungs.
For my students who struggle more with speaking English, I encouraged them to use the sentence frames below the Bell Question. These sentence frames act as scaffolding to help students in answering the question by giving them some of the words needed to answer the question.
Next, we moved on in the lesson to new material, which was tracing the path of blood as it flows through the heart. First, I had my students take turns reading the path blood takes as it flows through the heart. As they did this, they looked at a diagram of a heart in their books with arrows indicating blood flow. Next, I had them watch a video of a heart pumping blood, while listening to narration of the path of blood flow through the heart. The last activity of this lesson was kinesthetic, specifically targeting my English language learners. I made a big heart on the floor of my classroom out of masking tape. I asked my students to walk through it and while walking, they needed to say where they were, and if they were oxygenated blood or deoxygenated blood. I asked my stronger students to go first so the others could hear someone else walking through it, before they walked through it. Below is the heart I made on the classroom floor.
I learned that there are many ways to differentiate a lesson. I need to keep in mind my students as I make lesson plans in order to best meet their needs. In the future, I hope to gain more ideas for how to make learning kinesthetic and active.
In chapter 8 of our textbook Content-Area Writing: Every Teacher’s Guide, it explains why having a writing workshop during class time is beneficial. First, they will be writing in class so the teacher can see where students need assistance and guide them properly. Also, students can choose specific topics that interest them in the content area, so they will hopefully be more motivated in the assignment.
I think a writing workshop would work well in Biology. Our textbook gives a great example of using a writing workshop to write lab reports (p. 197). Earlier this year, I assigned my Biology students a persuasive essay when we studied Genetics and Heredity. The students could choose to write about the Human Genome Project or DNA manipulation in living organisms. They needed to choose one side of the debate on whether their topic was advantageous to society or more dangerous to society.
This would have been a great assignment for a writing workshop. I would have begun the workshop by modeling how I would write an essay. I would choose a topic and a side of the debate. I would write this out and project it on the classroom screen so they could see it. I would also hand out the assignment to them so they would have it in written form. I wouldn’t need to show them the whole essay, but point out that they need an introductory paragraph, three or so supporting paragraphs making their argument, and a concluding paragraph. I would then show them how I want them to cite their sources. After modeling this, I would have them choose a topic, pick a side, and use what information there is in their textbooks to begin writing information for their essay. I would circulate and see if they have questions and where they are going with the essay.
I think writing workshops can be used in many content areas, even getting the opinion of students on topics like bullying or cheating. A teacher can model an essay and then let the students get started and circulate around the students to see how they are doing. Writing workshops are a great tool for writing in the classroom.
Daniels, Zemelman & Steneke, Content-Area Writing: Every Teacher’s Guide, 2007 Edition.
P3 – Practice standards-based assessment. To me, P3 means that I make varied assessments for the standards that are given to me by my school for the classes that I teach.
Below are the learning targets for one of my units in Life Science. For the 3rd,4th, and 5th learning targets, I decided to assess my students on these by having them make a poster of the digestive system and then they presented and explained it to a group of their classmates. I had a rubric to grade the poster and presentation.
For the rest of the standards, I will assess the students’ knowledge from a written assessment. I like using varied assessments for standards because it gives my diverse students various ways to show me their knowledge.
A couple of weeks ago, I observed a colleague of mine who was teaching a 7th grade literature and writing class. They were practicing their version of Shakespeare’s “A Mid-Summers Night’s Dream”. The standards the teacher is assessing for this project are:
Learning Objectives for two classes
1) The student will study a Shakespearean Drama in depth including analysis of language.
2) The student will perform the drama in the appropriate setting.
1) The student will plan, write, edit, and revise a script.
2) The student will collaborate with peers to complete the revision process.
The teacher divided “A Mid-Summers Nights Dream” between all students in the class. They needed to re-write their assigned section of the book in their own words, in play form. Next, one of the students collated all of the students’ work into one script. They auditioned for parts, made props, and performed it for the school outside.
What I learned from this observation is that this teacher had a creative way and goal for his students to read, discuss, and then write Shakespeare in their own words. Then, the students memorized lines and performed it for others. I don’t know how I could apply this to science, but it has got me thinking about how I could do something like this.
H5 – Honor student potential roles in the greater society. For me, H5 means that I will encourage students as they serve others inside and outside the school community, and help them think of projects that we as a community group can be involved.
I am one of the teachers that help to guide and sponsor the Roots and Shoots after school activity which seeks to serve the Sarajevo community. One of our projects this year has been to donate clothing and hygiene products to the Sarajevo Daily Youth Center. This center provides shelter for homeless children or those who need a place to go during the day. Below is an article for the school newsletter that a student wrote. This student is the main contact from our school to the center. He calls and arranges our visits.
I have learned to take a secondary role in the activities we do and to encourage student ownership and accomplishment as I want the initiative to come from the students. It is my hope that the students will continue this giving of their time to serve others in their future.
If I lead a community service group again, I will have the students investigate what other schools do for projects to get more ideas of what our group could do for the next school year.
for projects to help get more ideas for projects we could do.