Archive for February, 2011

The way that teachers interact with their students has an enormous effect on the success of the students in school and in life.  Students who feel that their education is their own and has the educational environment change to fit their needs develop positive self-images, where negative self-images may have existed before.  Teachers have the responsibility to help change a student’s perception of self-worth through their own perceptions of assessment.

Every human being (with some exceptions) base what they do in life on the feedback that they receive from others.  The reaction that an individual receives from their behavior or from the work that they do causes what the individual will do next.  Will they continue with their behaviors or with the work that they do or will they pursue something else because of the bad reaction that they received.  It is not easy for an individual to continue living in a certain way or with a project they’ve started when they are receiving from their environment only negative feedback.  For teachers, this applies directly to assessment and how individuals are treated in the classroom.  Usually, whatever work a student produces in a classroom is not assessed for its value, but rather for the deficiencies of the work.  The focus of assessment of student tests and papers is always what the student did wrong and what they need to change.  This conceptual mindset of teachers and students for assessment always disregards the time and thought students put into their work.  Students who perform well and need no assistance with their assignments are reinforced by their higher grade.  Lower performing students who need assistance are given no encouragement to continue working toward higher performance.  This conceptual mindset, therefore, of lower achieving and higher achieving students is self-promoting and continuous.  Teachers need another assessment perception that seeks to encourage the development of individuals with challenges that raise their ability level and solidifies their self-esteem and perception of self-worth as an active participator in the learning community.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 8 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

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                Transformative Multicultural Education is a way of life as much as it is a style of teaching.  It is a perspective, a plan, a motivation, and a life style. It requires the teacher to embrace the perspectives of others in their pursuit of reaching the diverse individuals in their classroom.  In order for them to bring as many individuals into the learning community as possible, the teacher must be culturally competent and must continually pursue an understanding of different facets of different cultures.  This competency should lead to a perspective that doesn’t elevate one perspective over another in the classroom so that many voices can be heard and taken seriously.

            Teachers who practice Transformative Multicultural Education use instructional techniques like differentiated instruction where different individuals are assessed on the basis of what their level of ability is and how much they understand. This is important to a multicultural mindset because it doesn’t assume that every student comes from the same background or from the same resources.  Teachers who practice multiculturalism must make the determination about the ability level of each student so they can construct an appropriate education curriculum centered on the needs of her students.  Multicultural teachers must also differentiate the curriculum so that it addresses and explores the perspectives of non-western peoples.  American education often focuses on the experience of western peoples, but often does not explore the experience of African Americans, Native Americans, East Asians, South Americans, etc.  The voice of the minority must be heard and understood in the context of the multicultural perspective.  These multicultural perspectives must lead to the motivation in students to change the world to eradicate injustice.  The multicultural perspective seeks to give students the opportunity to see the world as it is in contrast to biased perspectives which don’t take in the experience of every individual.

 Banks, J. A., & McGee Banks, C. A. (Eds.). (2007). Multicultural Education: Issues and

Perspectives.  Seattle, WA: Wiley                                                                         

Okun, M. (2011).  EDU 6133: Diversity in America.  Lecture 7 full text

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Citizenship is the fundamental goal of education.  It is the inherent responsibility of schools to prepare students for being active and beneficial members of society.  Each subject is geared toward equipping students with the abilities and understandings that will help them be successful in the future.  Educated, understanding citizens are the members of society that make decisions that lead the nation in wise directions with well-thought out actions and perspectives.  It is important that every school focuses on their responsibility to create better citizens.  Every school’s educational beliefs should be founded on the practices that best accomplish this goal.

In the subject of History, citizenship is promoted through the exploration of moral and societal values.  Every chapter in history contains lessons relating to the experiences of people today.  It is important that every individual studies these lessons so that society doesn’t repeat mistakes that other societies have made in the past.  Because today’s society prides itself on its pluralism, it is difficult to come up with one set of social values that everyone can agree on.  With the variance in background and belief systems in today’s society, it is difficult to elevate one perspective as being the understanding of morality as it is applied to all of humanity.  There is much confusion over what is moral and virtuous in today’s society.  Teachers must, therefore, build the moral values they teach to their students on the nation’s laws, because the majority of society has agreed on these principles, restrictions, and punishments.  For ethical gray areas, where society has not established precedent or agreed on laws, the teacher is limited to discussing their perspective and opinion with the class, allowing the students to make their own determination.  Excluding the morality that has been established by society by law, it is best for history teachers to teach their students the facts surrounding every moral dilemma so that they can make their own conclusions.  In this way, the teacher will be aiding the student to build their own understanding of morality and virtue, which will lead them in their decision making for the rest of their lives.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 6 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

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It is important for schools to create productive learning communities where students of every kind feel welcome and included.  This is accomplished through the attitude and language of the faculty, who should agree on the kind of multicultural approach they want to pursue for the sake of the community and the school.  Acceptance of different cultures and perspectives will spread to the students who see multiculturalism lived out by their teachers and the school’s faculty.

The biggest threat to the establishment of a successful multicultural learning environment is prejudice.  Prejudice is the actions and attitude surrounding the individuals who notice the differences between people but don’t appreciate them.  It is naturally constructed at an early age where the individual comes up against differences in other human beings that they don’t understand and can’t explain.  The natural response for most human beings is to separate themselves from those differences usually by degrading the individuals who are different from them.  The resulting attitude is one where every individual is somehow less superior to the first individual, whose attitude and characteristics should be seen by everyone else as normal.   Bullying is often the result of this kind of attitude and perspective.

Prejudice, unfortunately, is something that can’t necessarily be entirely overcome in a school system.  Every individual has the potential of creating bias against other individuals.  With a natural inclination towards dealing with differences this way, often students create biases in social circles, even if prejudice is discouraged by the teacher in the classroom.  Teachers can fight against prejudice by actively pursuing multiculturalism through lessons and activities that are geared towards exploring the understanding of diverse individuals.  Teachers should work into their curriculum material addressing the perspectives of different ethnic and ideological groups, women, and individuals with disabilities.  Students given the opportunity to understand different perspectives will have a better foundation for adopting an attitude of acceptance.

Banks, J. A., & McGee Banks, C. A. (Eds.). (2007). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives.  Seattle, WA: Wiley

Okun, M. (2011).  EDU 6133: Diversity in America.  Lecture 6 full text

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John Dewey and others have written about the social aspect of knowledge construction. Contrary to the educational precepts of others, understanding is not developed in a vacuum.  Individuals construct their understanding from the analysis of new information and from reflection on their experience and the experience of others.  A smart instructional model capitalizes on using social situations to solidify knowledge and understanding.

Individuals don’t simply take in information to form understanding of material.  Often individuals must grapple with a subject before the components of that subject are solidified.  Students who are expected to remember and understand material usually aren’t prepared for assessment after listening to the teacher’s lecture.  Students must often analyze the information for themes and concepts and then must construct study guides and flash cards from the information given in class.  Understanding is more easily solidified into long term retention if the subject is consistent with a person’s experience or with the experience of a close friend or family.  Then the information, especially in the subject of history, becomes meaningful and is stored because of its application to real life.  If students are asked to grapple with questions that historical situations create, then individuals retain the facts of the case sooner because the information was used to construct an answer to the question.  If students are asked to analyze questions in the context of a small group setting, then the answer to questions posed by historical situations and philosophies will be constructed not only from personal experiences and understanding but also from the experience and understanding of others.

The cooperation model of classroom instruction suggests that teachers use small group work in their instruction as often as possible.  By allowing their students to work with their peers to analyze and process information, the teacher is capitalizing on the social aspect of information understanding and construction.  The process of working through information to find meaning and importance is enhanced by the social interaction that adds to a productive learning atmosphere.  Peers similarly motivated to understand and to process encourages individuals to do their best and to be the most successful.  Understanding different perspectives and being encouraged by the motivation of others adds to the initiative of the individual and creates a healthy learning atmosphere.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 5 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Polluck, J. E. (2001).  Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based

Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement.  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision

and Curriculum Development.

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It is important for teachers to practice different forms of differentiation depending on their grade level and subject.  Differentiation is the practice of varying instruction, placement, and assessment according to the needs of the student.  The theory behind Differentiation is the perception and belief that students will achieve more if their teachers teach to reach students where they are in their learning development.  Having different expectations of different students at different levels allows students not in the majority to advance and progress in their education where non-differentiation programs will not.

For a high school history or social studies teacher, this means varying the subjects taught in class, the pace of instruction, the levels of expectations and assessments, and providing students multiple opportunities for improvement.  Teachers teaching history should try to identify early on who the under-achieving and over-achieving students are in their classroom.  The teacher must provide assistance materials to the under-achieving students so that they can stay at pace with the other students in class.  For tests, the teacher might construct a separate test with separate questions to allow students to prove development of ability and understanding to the teacher.  Open ended essay responses are also appropriate to the subject of history, for which under-achieving students might be given a different rubric for assessment.  Open ended essay questions also allow the student to convey to the teacher their personal perspective and opinions, which the teacher should encourage as much as possible.  For over-achieving students, teachers should prepare extra credit assignments where further research and understanding can be pursued.  Extra credit projects allow for over-achievers to express their understanding and ability for their teacher and peers.  Finally, students of different abilities should be mixed in groups for class activities so that students can help each other in their development and ability.  Understanding of different perspectives and abilities should be pursued in the larger educational environment of the classroom.

Banks, J. A., & McGee Banks, C. A. (Eds.). (2007). Multicultural Education: Issues and

Perspectives.  Seattle, WA: Wiley

Okun, M. (2011).  EDU 6133: Diversity in America.

Read Full Post »

Essential to effective practices of teaching history is the use of Advance Organizers.  With the large amount of unfamiliar information to be processed in a history class setting, it is important that the teacher prepare their students for the processing and placement of dates, events, and people.   Advance Organizers lay the foundation for effective learning, allowing the students to construct a place in their memory to understand and to store information learned in their history class.

Advance Organizers are intellectual frameworks that teachers construct to help their students catalog new information.  By defining different categories of meaning or significance, the teacher informs their students what information and concepts will be most important for the students to focus on in a history lecture, film, etc.  If students are given the larger picture of what they are going to be learning first, students have the ability to hang new pieces of information on their intellectual coat hangers (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2009).  By structuring their teaching so that their students can look for patterns and concepts, teachers give their students a better opportunity to understand, process, and retain more information under larger categories and concepts of understanding.

In the subject of history, this means structuring lectures about different periods of history into foreseeable patterns and subjects.  For example, history teachers talking about European history can catalog different periods of history around the most significant person, idea, or events during that time period.  This means that the teacher would probably have a section of their lectures devoted to the people who took part in the events that took place during the time of the Renaissance, which would be the largest advance organizer for the information that comes next.  Under the category of Renaissance, the lectures then could be divided into different focuses of understanding information about the Renaissance period, like sections devoted to political powers and changes, social and economic status and changes, art and music of the period, etc.  By focusing their students’ attention on these specific aspects of the Renaissance, the teacher is providing for the students an intellectual framework for the students to catalog the information that they learned in class.  By repeating this process with different parts of history, the teacher is giving their students the opportunity to better retain information learned in class for processing, for understanding, and for future retrieval.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 4 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

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