Sunday, October 21, 2012

Socio Cultural Aspect of Schooling for ELLs

      I would like to address an important aspect of ELLs, which is related to their literacy in their own language. As a first immigrant, I realize that the young students who are learning English in school, may not be necessarily literate and/or fluent in the language that is spoken in their homes. Most parents whose primary language is not English, try to restrict their children's exposure to their own language with an intention that it will help them in English acquisition at a faster pace. However, the fallacy of this  notion can't be overstated. What they don't realize is the fact that learning any language gives the children opportunity to acquire strong vocabulary and huge fund of knowledge about a different culture, both of which are a great resource in their language and social development. The vocabulary in any language can be translated in English and the knowledge that they already have helps them gain the understanding of their global environment and respect the other students' identity, who come from different cultures and background. Without strong hold in any language, these children may feel lost and incapable to express themselves. Whenever possible in my capacity, I will try my best to inform and educate the parents of ELLs about the importance of gaining literacy in their native language in English acquisition.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Classroom Management Plan

Oscar Wilde once said, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” I believe in this philosophy and aspire to establish a synergetic and democratic classroom. I think planning for classroom management is always a work in progress. Although I believe that different approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages, I closely identify with positive, non-coercive, inner discipline in the class. I think that classroom management needs to be addressed at three levels – academic, social and emotional. I will strive to create an environment that nurtures creativity, inner code of ethics, trust and deep sense of community for my students. 
A synergetic and democratic classroom can be established through engaging instruction, positive discipline and intrinsic motivation. There are several strategies that I identify with and will incorporate in my management plan.

Preventive Approach
The synergetic classroom, that I aspire, is based on the concept of creating an environment that prevents misbehavior and is conducive for learning and development.
·       Curriculum is the most important component of education. A curriculum that is based on the interests and needs of the students is one of the most effective ways to keep students engaged, challenged and hence, away from disruptive behavior. I will try my best to include my students’ choice and interests while planning my lessons. The students must have control on their learning and they should be allowed to choose what they want to learn (Kohn, 1996).
·       Change gears every 10 – 15 minutes while teaching in the class. This is the mantra given to me by many teachers I have observed. The young students tend to get bored and fade away from any given environment. To get them back to the task, they need to get moving or change activity. This again is a preventive measure to keep them interested and engaged in learning rather than being disruptive. This is one skill that I will keep practicing to become an interesting teacher.
·       Check for learning routinely and several times during the lesson. This gives the students opportunity to assess their own learning and hence, a direction to work for.
·       Preventive discipline through I – messages instead of You – messages is a great strategy in un-controlling environment (Gordon, 1989). I have seen through my experience that messages like, “I feel distracted by…..” are far more effective in laying down the expectations in a classroom than the messages like, “You are doing…..”, which immediately put the students on defensive. I will keep working to make this my habit to frame my messages with “I” instead of “You”.
·       Proactive approach to dealing with problems and behavior is necessary to keep the students motivated (Canter, 1976). I will lay high expectations and specific rules in the beginning of the class. I think it is very important to maintain a healthy and nurturing environment in the classroom. Trust the capability of students (Albert, 1996).
Supportive Approach
I believe the most effective way to motivate students is to support and praise positive behavior of students. I have learned from my cooperating teacher in clinical practice that frequently identifying and praising the positive behavior sets good example for the whole class and motivates students.
·       Collaboration with colleagues, parents and students is the key to develop thorough and differentiated instructional strategy, which caters to the students who need to be challenged as well as those who are challenged. A curriculum that has questions to be answered (Kohn, 2001) goes a long way to keep students in learning. I will make sure to develop such a curriculum that can inculcate creativity and synergy in my classroom.
·       Co-operative/group activities (Kagan et al., 1996) must be included in the lessons as much as possible. I agree with this strategy because from my experience in the classrooms, I have observed that students not only learn but also share the responsibility for their peers’ learning when they work in groups. They also respect each other more when they work cooperatively than when they work independently.
·       Collaborative measures must be taken to ensure the students that all are on the same side (Kagan et al., 1996). This calls for sharing the responsibility of maintaining intrinsic discipline between the students and the teacher. Besides, the students feel entrusted rather than hostile and do not get defensive.
·       Positive recognition (Canter, 1976) is a practice that assertive teachers follow to motivate their students. Honor the students and build respectful relationships with them (Kohn, 1996). I will strive to make personal connections with my students through meetings, discussions and activities and games in the class. I have noticed many teachers have created a positive learning atmosphere this way and their students are connected by acceptance, attention, affection and appreciation (Albert, 1996).
·       Preemptive environment where students feel safe and respected provides them intrinsic motivation. I will strive to keep my classroom environment calm and conducive for learning and democratic discussions. Assertive teachers keep a warm atmosphere that meets the needs of students as well as teachers (Canter, 1976).

Corrective Approach
                 Correcting a misbehavior is the most necessary and perhaps the most difficult skill to master. The way students treat their teacher depends largely upon how the teacher manages the class, disciplines them and deals with disrupting behavior and unpleasing events.
·       Confronting skills are necessary to master. The focus should be on the behavior rather than students (Albert, 1996). I can’t agree more to the idea that teachers should always address the unacceptable behavior while stay positive towards the student so that he/she can focus on correcting rather than feeling hostile.
·       The misbehavior that can disrupt teaching and learning must be addressed immediately, firmly and compassionately. However, I believe that identifying and dealing with the cause of misbehavior is equally important. I would incorporate the practice of asking questions like, “What can we do to help you fix this problem?”
·       I have seen from my experiences in different classrooms as well as my own life that the issues are much effectively resolved after the anger has calmed down. If a student is engaged in disruptive behavior during the class, the teacher should end the disruption quickly and get back to the lesson (Kagan et al., 1996). Wait out the anger and respond to the situation calmly (Albert, 1996).
·       The teacher and students should agree upon and decide the reasonable consequences for dealing with misbehaviors in the long term. For example, a class can device a progressive sequence of punishments like a warning for first time, a written apology the second time, pulling out of class one on one talk with the teacher, and so on. In this way the students are more likely to make better choice in future and correct their behavior before the punishment gets to the next level.
·       Support structure is necessary to re-establish expectations and identify the replacement behavior (Kagan et al., 1996). This is important in order to maintain discipline in the classroom for long term. I will definitely adopt this strategy in case of a repeated disruptive behavior, since it is evident that the student needs to be reminded of specific replacement behavior that is expected of him/her.

I believe a synergetic classroom promotes creativity and creates healthy atmosphere for learning. When students are academically challenged, feel safe and respected and share responsibility, they will more likely be motivated to keep away from disruptive behavior. I believe, with this management plan, I will be able to create a democratic classroom, where students can choose what to learn and be responsible for their learning.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Teaching For Adolescent Minds

The knowledge of adolescent brain development goes a log way in helping teachers in making decisions about classroom management and teaching strategies. As a middle school teacher, I know it can be very challenging to engage a class full of students in the subjects like math and science. Since the adolescent minds can’t analyze things from different perspectives yet, it becomes the teacher’s responsibility to give them a purpose, a way to connect what they earn in school with their real lives. That’s why I plan for an engaging anticipatory activity at the beginning of a lesson.
I always think about ways to tap into their long-term memories. When I plan a lesson, I try to incorporate various ways to repeat the content, like, have the students listen to a lecture or instruction, let them work on an activity, have them write the content they just learned, engage them in a discussion or have them say it in some way and show a visual or use projector so that they can see it. In this way, they are using different senses to access the same information and it gets engraved in their minds.
Adolescence is when they brains synapses start specializing, cutting off the ones that are weak and developing the strong one more. This is when environment an detaching can step up to nurture the development. I would always keep my expectations high for my students, so that they are always being challenged to put in their best effort, and hence, contributing to their brain development in a meaningful way. This also happens to be the age when the limbic system encourages the individual to take more risks and enjoy it. So, I would certainly use this time to serve more and newer challenges for my students.   

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lesson Plan on Math Vocabulary

The highlighted sections show the information about ELL, SDAIE strategies and Assessment at (i + 1) level.

1. TITLE OF THE LESSON: Introduction to Graphing
Math/Science       8th Grade
3A. STUDENT INFORMATION: English Language Learners
Daisy is the only student identified as English Language Learner at Intermediate cluster level.

        1.) Readiness Level: Daisy is ready for this activity. She may need repeated instruction and extra time writing.

        2.) Learning Profile: Visual, & Kinesthetic learning preferences, Daisy needs to see written directions and tends to miss the oral instructions.
        3.) Interest: Daisy works well in small groups for various activities in the class. She also likes fine arts and PE.

3B. STUDENT INFORMATION: Students w/ Special Needs
There are 6 Students with special needs – 
        1.) Readiness Level: All of these 6 students are at different levels but are ready for this activity. Tim, Sam and Jake are at the grade level in math and only need extra time for writing. Kyle and John are two grades below in math but are ready for introduction to graphs. Their academic coaches always stand by to help them.
        2.) Learning Profile: All except Connor are visual and kinesthetic preferences. Sometimes, Connor needs to be given and repeated instructions orally.

        3.) Interest: Most of them like to socialize and participate in group-activities. Only Connor likes to work alone or one on one with his teacher/academic coach.

     A. Enduring Understanding:
Students need to understand the basic components of graphing system. Their ability to understand the graphs and identify the variables and relationship between them helps the students to interpret the data and graphs they come across in their day-to-day lives. With this knowledge, they are better equipped with skills to derive useful information from graphs and make informed decisions in life.

     B. Essential Questions:
How are graphical concepts and language used in our day-to-day lives?
How can we use and interpret graphical data representations to solve real life problems?

     C. Reason for Instructional Strategies and Student Activities: Lesson will introduce the coordinate graphing system to the students. It will also incorporate all three major learning preferences to address different learning needs.

Grade 8 Standard 1:
Students understand that the slope (m) of a line is a constant rate of change, so that if the input or x-coordinate changes by an amount A, the output or y-coordinate changes by the amount m·A

Standard 5-EA (Listening and Speaking)

Participate in and initiate more extended social conversations with peers and adults on unfamiliar topics by asking and answering questions and restating and soliciting information.
     A. Cognitive
After reviewing the basic components of graphs on the white board, the students will draw and label all the graph components using the key terms like quadrants, x-axis, y-axis, perpendicular, number line, origin and coordinates on the graphic organizer.

     B. Affective
After completing this activity, the students will have a basic understanding of how a coordinate graphing system is arranged, and be able to identify its parts using the correct mathematical terminology

     C. Language Development
After completing this lesson, the students will learn correct mathematical terminology related to coordinate graphing system and be able to identify and use these terms in appropriate context.

     A. Diagnostic/Entry Level
I will ask the students specific questions about number line, horizontal and perpendicular lines.

     B. Formative-Progress Monitoring
The students will participate in discussion with their partner. I will monitor the discussions to check that Daisy is participating by asking and answering questions to learn about the words/terms she doesn’t know. I will ask her question to make sure that she can restate the information.

     C. Summative
The students will draw and label different graph components and write their definitions on activity sheet.
1.)   Content/Based on Readiness, Learning Profile or Interest
Content of the assignment is aligned with Daisy’s readiness. It includes simple terminology explained with visual and working with a partner.
2.)   Process/Based on Readiness, Learning Profile or Interest
This is a small lesson including lot of visual aid, drawing activity and some writing. The instructions on the worksheet are simple and small and will be read aloud in the class to make the task simpler for Daisy.

3.)   Product/Based on Readiness, Learning Profile or
A drawing of simple graph and labeling its components are tangible products which are based on Daisy’s readiness, interest and learning profile.

1.)     Content/Based on Readiness, Learning Profile or Interest
Content of the assignment is aligned with the readiness and interests of all six students. It includes working with a partner and simple terminology explained with visual. Connor can choose to work alone or with his coach.

2.)     Process/Based on Readiness, Learning Profile or Interest
This is a small lesson including lot of visual aid, drawing activity and some writing. The instructions on the worksheet are simple and small. It is based on the readiness of all students.

3.)     Product/Based on Readiness, Learning Profile or Interest
A drawing of simple graph and labeling its components are tangible products which are based on readiness and learning profiles of all students.


       A. Anticipatory Set/Into
I will ask the students to review/recall number line, horizontal and perpendicular lines. I will walk around the room while they think-pair-share for a quick check that all of them understand these terms. After 2 min. I will ask the students to raise their hands and show me with 1 finger if the understand what the terms are and a zero if they are not sure. I will review these if more than 4 students are not sure.  
       B. Instruction/Through
  I will explain the components of coordinate graphing system one at a time one at a time and show the definition on the projector simultaneously.           
       C. Guided Practice/Through
 I will project all components of graph on the board and call on a pair of students, one at a time to come on board – one of them will label the correct component and the other will explain what it is. I will guide them at any step they are struggling.
       D. Independent Practice/Through
  I will walk around the room, monitoring the students’ work and check on Daisy and Connor if they need extra help with instructions or content.                      
       E. Closure
I will display all the definitions on the projector while the students finish their Graphic organizer.
       F. Beyond
I will show a couple of graphs from newspaper or article and ask the students to relate them to the basic coordinate graphing system, identify all the components they learned today and interpret the graph using these terms. I will encourage them to interpret any graph they come across in their lives in these terms.

A. Anticipatory Set/Into
The students will review number line, horizontal and perpendicular lines through think-pair-share.        
       B. Instruction/Through
The students will look at the board and take notes on definition sin their own words.           
       C. Guided Practice/Through
 The students will come to the white board and work in pair to identify and label a component of graph and explain what it is.  
       D. Independent Practice/Through
 Each student will work quietly and independently on the graphic organizer/activity sheet to identify, label and define the components of graphing system.      
       E. Closure
 The students will finish their activity sheets taking help from the display of definitions on the board.
       F. Beyond
The students will familiarize with the basic coordinate graphing system and whenever they see a graph, they should be able to identify all the components they learned today and interpret the graph using these terms.
Graphic Organizers and vocabulary list used in this lesson are attached as separate files.