ECS 350

Inquiry Project: What is the Best Way to Run my Classroom?

My inquiry project is simply put: “What is the best way to run my classroom?” This will be examined in six areas, each of which will examine how I felt before preinternship and then during/after preinternship

  1. Class layout
  2. Diverse Learners & Behavioral Differences
  3. Classroom Rules
  4. Assessment
  5. Teaching
  6. Summary

I’ve touched on all of these in some of my last posts, and numbers 1 – 5 will link to four blog posts that cover how I felt before going into preinternship and how I feel after. I’ve learned how I want to run my classroom (though it’s very likely to change once internship happens). In this post I will try to summarize all I discovered through-out the semester and the preinternship I had.

Classroom environment & layout, student behaviors and abilities, teaching practices and how/what/why to assess are all linked together. When one improves, they can all improve. At the same time, when one needs improvement, it affects the quality of the others. In a small, cramped, cold, and loud environment students will have trouble paying attention, doing quality work, and being taught. This was why I chose to take a broad subject to inquire instead of a specific.

The biggest thing I’ve learned from my inquiry was to have checks & balanced in how I plan and how to do a proper seating chart. Everything I do as an educator needs to have a good reason why it is happening and a proper way to implement it.

Sources:

The importance of a good seating plan | TES New Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://newteachers.tes.co.uk/news/importance-good-seating-plan/45960

The Psychology and Pedagogy of Seating Plans. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://community.prometheanplanet.com/en/blog/b/blog/archive/2012/06/07/the-psychology-and-pedagogy-of-seating-plans.aspx#.VO5d8_nF-So

Do Seating Arrangements have an Impact on Student Learning? (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from https://k12teacherstaffdevelopment.com/tlb/do-seating-arrangements-have-an-impact-on-student-learning/

Seating Arrangements That Promote Positive Academic and Behavioural Outcomes: A Review of Empirical Research. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://www.academia.edu/706890/Seating_Arrangements_That_Promote_Positive_Academic_and_Behavioural_Outcomes_a_Review_of_Empirical_Research

Classroom Seating Charts. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://www.lessonplansinc.com/classroom_management_seating_chart.php

Seating plans in seconds & super fast behaviour management. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from https://www.classcharts.com/

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“In place of the parents” is not “the new parent”

 

“Teaching involves conflicting roles. Teachers want all children to succeed and to develop a love of learning, yet much of their time and energy goes into controlling students’ behaviour and evaluating students according to external standards. The more one tries to reach students individually, the more one may feel conflict with other aspects of schooling, such as the need to sort students by ability or the pressure to have students conform to rules and standards.” – Young, L., Levin, B., & Wallin, D. (2014). Understanding Canadian schools: An Introduction to Educational Administration (5th ed.).

 

Sadly the above paragraph is one of the main problems that both teachers and parents are struggling with. We want to give students independence and give them the skills to question the world around them, yet our arms are twisted behind our backs with (outdated) curriculum outcomes, budgeting issues, and more responsibilities than ever before. Many educators come into the field to make a difference and help their kids embrace learning… but if they want to keep their job they are required to teach to the test.

 

 

Canadians are more lucky than our American counterparts. The no child left behind policy has decimated their educational system, and they under perform when compared to the First World countries. Teachers go through years of University learning the tools on how to maximize learning for each individual student, and then we enter the classroom and get burdened with a literal mountain of work and lose sight of why we entered the field.

 

JFK’s famous line “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you an do for your country” applies here. When it comes to education, the teachers should not be receiving all these burdens from the get-go. The number one contributing factor to student performance has been parents involvement in their child’s education for decades now. Dozens of major studies have confirmed this. So really, ask not what your teacher can do for you, but what you can do for your teacher is a motto I’d personally prefer to have implanted in the minds of all students and parents.

 

Teacher’s who’ve recently graduated. What are your tips to current student-teachers who are about to enter the field?

Student Teachers and New Teachers: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The teaching profession seems to be in the middle of a vast series of changes that are shifting the very nature of our profession. The old teaching format: Meet the curriculum, give the students content, and prepare them for university with tests and papers. The new teaching format: Meet the students needs, give them skills for independent learning, prepare them for the real world. Both have pros and cons.

Personally I enjoy the new teaching format. The problem with the new format is that we have to throw it on top of the already established method. At the end of the day, we as educators need to meet the curriculum and give students a final grade, and often times, give a final exam. This makes it difficult to meet the requirements and show the benefits of the new method. The old format also appears to be more  time and curriculum friendly towards teachers. I say appears because many of us have difficulties giving the new format the required time and dedicated it requires to really show off the punch it packs.

Every teacher has different opinions on both of these methods and we as students are having to use both at the same time. This is leading to a lot of confusion and chaos for both the students, teachers, and student-teachers in the schools and universities. I feel that if we were sent five years back in time to be taught how to teach, it would be a lot more clear what we need to do (I would still prefer the new format of teaching however). Additionally I feel that if we were sent five years into the future, we would have a much better idea on what we need to do as educators as most school systems would have finally adapted. What are your thoughts on this?

What do I want my classroom to look like?

I’ve tried making a layout on many programs available, but they’re all glitchy and after the fifth time I’ve given up on it. I ‘ve thought about what my ideal classroom would look like… and here it is.

myclassroom

Student Layouts:

  • Four large tables with six chairs around each (two chairs on 3 of the 4 sides of the table… empty side is the one closest to the teachers desk & boards)
  • Each table will have a 3×2 whiteboard that they can have access to (or whiteboard paint on the desk… meaning students can write directly on the desk)
  • Preferable that each student has access to a tablet, laptop, or smartphone… or one for each two students

Boards & Projectors

  • Instead of a smart board like most classes, I would personally prefer a 55″+ HDTV with a chromecast attached to it (assuming internet in the school isn’t the equivalent of a potato)
  • White boards beside or behind the TV/smart board
  • White screen w/ a projector in a corner… within 10 feet of the tv/board
  • Each table has a tiny whiteboard attached to their tables

Miscellanious Things

  • Some noise cancelling ear muffs…. very cheap, and very effective. Have a few pairs attached t the wall for students whom do not concentrate well with noise to use when appropriate
  • Some sofas or bean bag chairs on the corners or against the walls… some comfortable furniture that students have access to
  • a regular desk or two in the corners or storage that can be brought out
  • Smart lights: I have in my own personal room two lightbulbs that are LED. They can be changed to any colour or brightness with a remote control. They can also be turned on/off with a remote control. It seems small and pointless, but trust me they are delightful
  • I’d like an L shaped desk with my own personal laptop on it… or a school one with good specs so I can stream to the chromecast or remote access my computer.
  • A toaster, microwave, and coffee pot in a corner that students have access to…. most students do not eat breakfeast. It’s something simple that can make a big impact

The above is what I wanted before I went into my preinternship. And I still want this after my preinternship. I love the concept of group work and having multiple boards & presentation screens. Now I will talk about what my classroom looked like during my preinternship and examine where and why students with learning problems, disruptive students, unmotivated students and talkative students are placed throughout the room.

jeffsclassroom

After doing intensive amounts of research I’ve found resoures and information that explains where to place students and why. There’s even apps that trace their performance and give you recommended seating plans based on their traits.

There are some pro’s to seating plans:

  • Students were asked how they learn best: In groups reply
  • Lets them learn from each other
  • Optimal for space
  • Gives greater flexibility in teaching strategies
  • Groups in five groups of six
  • Higher ability boys learn best with lower ability girls
  • Can pair students by achievement, learning style, or outcome/content
  • “Seating plans make teachers 2x more effective and raise lower ability student achievement by 2x”

And some cons to seating plans:

  • Will take a while to learn optimal seating plan
  • “condemns the highest ability girls to sit on a table with the three lowest attaining males.”
  • Poor class management with groups can promote tardiness
  • Need to know your students well before this become truly effective

If you want to know more about where to find information about seating plans you can find them at the bottom of this post. I’ll also include some pre-made seating plans that research shows will work (but each classroom and student is different so you will have to throw some personal touches dependant on your layout, your students, and how you teach).

premadeseats

Sources:

The importance of a good seating plan | TES New Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://newteachers.tes.co.uk/news/importance-good-seating-plan/45960

The Psychology and Pedagogy of Seating Plans. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://community.prometheanplanet.com/en/blog/b/blog/archive/2012/06/07/the-psychology-and-pedagogy-of-seating-plans.aspx#.VO5d8_nF-So

Do Seating Arrangements have an Impact on Student Learning? (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from https://k12teacherstaffdevelopment.com/tlb/do-seating-arrangements-have-an-impact-on-student-learning/

Seating Arrangements That Promote Positive Academic and Behavioural Outcomes: A Review of Empirical Research. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://www.academia.edu/706890/Seating_Arrangements_That_Promote_Positive_Academic_and_Behavioural_Outcomes_a_Review_of_Empirical_Research

Classroom Seating Charts. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://www.lessonplansinc.com/classroom_management_seating_chart.php

Seating plans in seconds & super fast behaviour management. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from https://www.classcharts.com/

Use this —–>     https://www.classcharts.com/     <—–  Use this

Response: Teachers, enough with these social media ‘lessons’

While doing my daily reading, I read Teaching the Teacher’s new post of the day: “Teachers, enough with these social media ‘lessons.'”

Every few months a photo like this surfaces In my social media stream feeds telling me to like, retweet a message to ‘teach’ children a lesson about social media.

2015/01/img_1342.png

In world where millions of pieces of new content are being uploaded every second, creators are resorting to desperate and more shocking things to break through the clutter in search of that elusive like, share or retweet.

And it’s not just kids.

Companies, celebrities, politicians, sports teams and, dare I say it, teachers find themselves wanting to harness the power of this vast global network.

Could there be a better way to teach responsible use of the Internet than publicly shaming students in as wider a forum as possible?

I understand the motivation behind the lesson, to protect kids from posting something stupid that could ruin their lives if it goes viral.

However I’m not convinced this approach actually leaves students with an enduring understanding of responsible and ethical online behaviour.

Fear of ridicule may be great for short-term compliance but in the long term it does little promote sound and ethical decision making over the long term. It actually gives credence to the number one tool in bully’s arsenal, a public audience.

And that audience doesn’t need to be big. The reality is that most students aren’t going to experience Star Wars kid level of viral cyberbullying. However if a student has more than one friend on snapchat, they have the the power to hurt and humiliate someone else through a share.

The focus purely on students as creators of content ignores that most of the time the kids are consumers and distributors of content which is where the problem really lies.

Taking part in a meme without really thinking about the context.

Sharing and viewing images designed to humiliate without thinking about the consent or feelings of the subject.

Retweeting articles without reading them.

I was dismayed at the number of teachers who were happy to capture and share their students doing the Harlem Shake. Yet the kids dancing who had no idea that Harlem was a place let alone what the people living there thought of the global phenomenon.

Or how quickly the cause of motor neurone disease was forgotten in the race to upload, share and nominate others in the ice bucket challenge.

The Internet is participatory.

Whether it’s a 13 year old request for a like for a like or a multinational company getting you to share, they are asking for that moment of connection. They believe their idea is important enough for you to stand by it to give it more credence.

The audience for the share could be 1 or 1 billion. It is the power of that audience kids need to appreciate and use appropriately.

What we share is more important than what we create.

The best way I believe I can response to this article is by breaking it down and then posting a conclusion.

Companies, celebrities, politicians, sports teams and, dare I say it, teachers find themselves wanting to harness the power of this vast global network.

But this is the entire point of social media: Accessing information from others, and sharing yours with the entire userbase (and by extension the world). I agree with the goal of something such as twitter as being able to harness the power of a large collective group. But I also believe that in order for something to be powerful, one must have the mindset of “what can I contribute” instead of “what can I gain.” When one has this mindset and gives enough effort and time, the benefits flow naturally.

I understand the motivation behind the lesson, to protect kids from posting something stupid that could ruin their lives if it goes viral.

However I’m not convinced this approach actually leaves students with an enduring understanding of responsible and ethical online behaviour.

Fear of ridicule may be great for short-term compliance but in the long term it does little promote sound and ethical decision making over the long term. It actually gives credence to the number one tool in bully’s arsenal, a public audience.

Agreed. I was actually a victim of me doing something “Stupid” (others words, not mine. I stand by my actions). I was in the middle of a personal/social experiment on Reddit. Reddit is a large…. forum? Where tens of millions of people post articles, pictures, memes, advice, and so forth. It’s the largest of its kind, and has as much impact as something such as 4chan. The website has one major flaw (asides from its search bar). The flaw is that it becomes a hivemind. One educated person will post an opinion, and the people whom read it will follow it without looking at the evidence themselves or critically. This reflects the real world (with social media and news… trust your sources people!). For example, the site hates comcast, capitalism, and supports Edward Snowden. Back onto the point.

My social experiment was to show what people will believe for terms of entertainment. I started to make up stories and summarize them into memes to show what people will believe. I was planning on showing these results to the entire site once I collected enough examples, but was found out in my fourth or so exposition. The entire hivemind of reddit then decided to do a ‘witch-hunt’ on me. People literally spent hours going through my post history to ‘downvote’ everything (it’s the opposite of a like on facebook). Some even found my real world identity and contacted my friends and family with threats. Which is the point I’m trying to make with these paragraphs: I took extreme precautions to make sure nothing linked to my real world identity, and they found it anyways. One must be extremely careful of what they post, and where.

The focus purely on students as creators of content ignores that most of the time the kids are consumers and distributors of content which is where the problem really lies.

Taking part in a meme without really thinking about the context.

Sharing and viewing images designed to humiliate without thinking about the consent or feelings of the subject.

Retweeting articles without reading them.

Exactly the point I was making above. People will follow something blindly; on and off internet. How many people support John A. Macdonald, or Canada as a whole? I personally believe Canada to be one of the most racist places on Earth and John A to have an extreme dark side to him.

The audience for the share could be 1 or 1 billion. It is the power of that audience kids need to appreciate and use appropriately.

Precisely. Respect the power of the most used tool in the world; the internet and its users. This is a lesson students need to learn. It’s unlikely that a post they made when they were 13 on facebook holding a beer will harm them, but they need to understand that stuff like that shouldn’t be uploaded to begin with (and subsequently, their overall actions could take a little modifying. Mine have

What’s it Like Being White?

I was doing my regular browning of the web and came upon the question “What is it Like Being White?” I scrolled through the answers and eventually found one that I can relate with. I feel it accurately personifies how many white people feel about the subject. Just some food for thought.

“There’s a lack of identity associated with it. I don’t think of myself as white any more than I think of myself as blue-eyed. It’s a feature, not part of who I am. There’s no real struggle to empathize with, no real connection to other white people based just on being white. At least not that I’ve experienced, so it’s just a non-thing.

A checkbox on a form and nothing else.

Hell, it’s less of an identity thing than hairstyle, at least for me.

As for day-to-day life, it’s honestly hard to consider, since I’ve never not been white.

I guess I’m not worried about going 10 over the speed limit, since I’m no more likely to be pulled over than anyone else. Is that a concern for minority drivers? I honestly don’t know.”

Alorha

How to get hired and stay hired. A drama in four parts.

How to get hired and stay hired. A drama in four parts..

I gave this a read in my spare time. It took fifteen minutes and it provides some extreme examples to take note of. During the internship and pre-internship phase (or rather, a student teachers’ university career) most of these are just something that will take an extra five minutes when one goes into the school.