EDU 6120 Social Studies, Language Arts, and Arts- Final Rational and Integrated Lesson Plans

Equality and Civil Responsibilities as a Theme

Throughout the three lesson-plans there will be a focus on equality, as it relates to prejudice, and civil responsibilities within the community of our classroom and school.  An examination of the strong ties between the historically significant events and the connections to society and the behaviors of today will allow students to begin to understand the cause and effect nature of history.  Woven throughout these lessons will be the thread of character education and civil responsibilities. Each lesson will spin the yarn of truth, respect, responsibility, and the decisions that affect individual beliefs, freedoms, dreams, and civil rights.  There will be multiple opportunities to engage students in deeper thinking that transcends simply a lesson of the past by relating the lessons application to our classroom community and the school community as a whole.  This work attests to my proficiency in Approval Standard S3: Subject Matter and Curriculum Goals (integrated across content areas).

In the first lesson students will explore the cause and effects of inequality and prejudice.  The students will be involved in a social experiment that allows them to feel and see prejudice and inequality.  To start the lesson some students, when entering the classroom, will be given a snack (boys) while others (girls) will, upon entering the class, be given no snack. (I will in the end share the snack with the other half of the class)  This will allow students to feel just a small injustice and help to support the preceding lesson.  A deeper investigation of prejudice will ensue with the reading of a book about Martin Luther King Jr. After reading the story I will conduct a discussion that will provide opportunities for students to share their thoughts and feeling regarding prejudice, discrimination and inequality.  This discussion may prove to be very visceral for some, while others participate with empathy.    Students will have the opportunity to explore their ideas about what prejudice means to them, why people have prejudice, how prejudice may lead to discrimination and inequality; additionally we will explore ways to combat,  overcome and eradicate these issues within a community. A Readers’ Theater will provide an additional opportunity for students to participate and view a historical account about inequality and prejudice through the eyes of Frannie Lou Hamer, an African-American woman fighting for the right to vote in 1962.

In the second lesson the thread of civil responsibilities is woven throughout examinations of Martin Luther King Jr.’s., famous, “I Have a Dream Speech”.  Students will develop individual ideas of what dreams are as they relate to their responsibilities within a community.  Students will then create posters depicting their dreams for their classroom or school community.  Each student will illustrate and write their dreams and these will be displayed through the classroom.

Lastly, a connection of prejudice, inequality and civil responsibilities within a community is woven through a lesson developing the tenets of equal rights for all.   A focus on the importance of support and peaceful “protesting” will help support student’s evaluate of their own community and the rules of respect and responsibility within that community.  Students will design peaceful “protest” signs and silently march through the school in a demonstration of the strength in the community and that character values that the classroom and school holds as rules.  In this lesson students will be able to see that they have power and that together they can create an environment that is safe and supported by friends and teachers.

Each lesson is comprehensive enough to be taught individually, however, when combined the powerful message is deepened.  By asking students to apply the principles of community involvement and group reflection, an environment rich with consideration of individuals and respect for the civic begins to evolve. The powerful tools of responsible civility and equality are necessary to model and practice often throughout all lesson.  Still, these important tools when combined with historically significant events and developed through a creative curriculum will become a stable foundation.  This continued practice of civic responsibilities will become a natural reflex for the citizens of the future.

Lesson Plan 1 – Social Studies, Language Arts, and Arts

Lesson Plan 2 – Social Studies, Language Arts, and Arts

Lesson Plan 3 – Social Studies and Art

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EDU 6363 Language Arts, Social Studies, and Arts

EDU 6363 Social Studies, Language Arts and Arts

Fine Arts and Technology

Within every community there begs opportunities to implement and involve the arts.  In Seattle alone there are over 30 museums.  While each of these field trips would cost money there are group discounts and programs available for education that may require little or no monies.  School districts have funds set aside to support some additional curriculum and if married with another discipline of study a natural integration of curriculum occurs.  Even if there are no opportunities or funds to take a field trip the beauty of technology is that “virtual” field trips are a comprehensive way to support what in the past could only have been observed by leaving the school campus.

No, while I do believe the experience of seeing artwork in person is a gift it is not often the reality for many districts across the nation.  Online support then becomes a perfect opportunity for viable experience for arts education.  For example the Simthsonian, based in Washington D.C., offers virtual tours and online art education.  Artwork that students might not be able to afford to see in person they can now witness and enjoy repeatedly online.  By simply having access to a computer a whole world of arts education is open to all, no matter the socio-economic status.

In addition to funding, the challenge of time often becomes an obstacle for comprehensive arts education.  Virtual educational art programs offer a compromise for integration of arts into classroom curriculum with no additional time burden.  With fewer and fewer specialized art teachers, the regular classroom teacher is forced to seek out alternative options for exposing students to fine arts. Some of these virtual programs are user friendly and support the average classroom teacher who is looking to incorporate the arts but might not be as knowledgeable as an art specialist.  Teachers are nothing if they are not resourceful and the following websites are some great places to start looking for local  and virtual resources to support and supplement arts education.

Seattle Art Museum- SAM

Website Seattle Area Museums

Smithsonian

EDU 6363 Language Arts, Social Studies, and Arts

I Can Teach

Arts Education is a dying a slow budgetary death.  Cutting specialized arts programs seem the first step to tightening the budgetary belt.  It is a sad thing to see go and so it seem to fall on the shoulders of the classroom teacher to begin to incorporate arts education in to the classroom.  After reading about different ways to involve arts into multi-disciplinary lessons, for social studies, literature, science, etc., I see the value in creating an arts program that is joined with other disciplines not taught separately.  Although, this blending of curriculum is not as singularly focused as going to a specialized art class, it does offer a comprehensive look into arts education, can support depth of understanding, and continue to meet the curricular standards.

I saw this reflected in a curriculum for teaching science through photography.  Students were given a camera, science journal and the opportunity to take black and white photos in the vein of Ansel Adams.  Students not only studied the scientific components of the plants and environments they were photographing but they learned about the art of photography.  The lesson began with the important artistic rules for artful photography and supported artistic ingenuity and creativity of the personal choices.  Students were able to connect science to art through the camera, careful connection of scientific knowledge, and reflection in their journals.  The students displayed their black and white photos in a gallery along with scientific drawing and journal entries to reflect both their knowledge acquisition of science and art. This combination of science and art became a program that the teacher continued to develop and still teaches.  Incorporating arts in any classroom is possible.  The challenge is to create a program that supports all academic standards and blends curriculum with a unified finesse. This is reflected through the following quote from arts education champion Elliot Eisner as he comments on the significance of making and re-creating art education in any venue.

The arts inform as well as stimulate, they challenge as well as satisfy. Their location is not limited to galleries, concert halls and theatres. Their home can be found wherever humans chose to have attentive and vita intercourse with life itself. This is, perhaps, the largest lesson that the arts in education can teach, the lesson that life itself can be led as a work of art. In so doing the maker himself or herself is remade. The remaking, this re-creation is at the heart of the process of education. (Eisner 1998: 56)

EDU 6363 Language Arts, Social Studies, and Arts

Search for Meaning- EDU 6363             

The need to incorporate character education in curriculum is essential for supporting not only community in the classroom but communities outside the classroom and within the world.  By supporting and developing a strong community of students that not only practice the vital skills necessary for cooperation with in a community but advocate for thoughtful, respectful, reasonable, and civil rights for all individuals. I define character education as providing supportive guidance for cooperative learning within communities by learning, practicing, and modeling and growth through trial and failure and for the fostering of civil regard toward one another.  I am not all together sure that all parents, teachers, administrators etc. would be on board with my definition or my idea of how it would work.  In fact I see a huge challenge in our society for any failure at all being an acceptable form of learning.  I read a fascinating article in The Atlantic called, How to Land Your Kid in Therapy by, Lori Gottlieb, that chronicles the despair our children are facing today in a society where everyone is a winner or more simply put  how the cult of self-esteem is ruining our kids.  Written from the mother’s point of view, which is essentially our role when the student is at school by virtue of ‘Guardian Ad Litem’, the expectation is to not only educate students academically but socially as well.  One story the author reflects on is whether or not to tell her young son that a friend had died of cancer. In the end she does and although he asked a lot of questions, “he did not faint from the truth.” Instead, “my trusting him to handle the news probably made him more trusting of me, and ultimately more emotionally secure.”  (Gottlieb, 2011, p. 67)   Emotional intelligence is a key component for character education.

That’s what we want right?  More emotionally secure students through a process of habitual personal discovery in a safe environment that incorporates character education.  The value of allowing for failure ceases the constant accommodation and praise for every single student, no matter what the effort, but rather supports and recognizes appropriately earned accomplishments.  Woven tightly within any academic and social classroom structure should be character education.  The Nord and Haynes lecture provides distinction between education and socialization, training and indoctrination. Indoctrination or socialization is, “…when we teach (or socialize) them to accept doctrines, or a point of view, uncritically.” This can be observed in young children when adults provide rules, i.e. you must share with your sister, and children learn to accept this behavior without question.  “We educate them, by contrast, when we provide them with a measure of critical distance on their subjects, enabling them to think in an informed and reflective way about alternatives.” (p. 4).  Especially, in the primary level we see evidence of indoctrination and socialization, but just as vital, if not more, is the need to provide disciplined modeling and repetitive behavior that allows for reflective character building opportunities to be discovered.  What are we teaching children if everyone get a medal just for showing up?  We need to teach students that strong character will serve them well in this world not that their character doesn’t matter!

One way this could be introduced across curriculum is by determining characteristics that matter to you and your school/classroom.   For example pick an important words or slogan to put throughout the school and classroom i.e.; Perseverance, Tolerance, Responsibility, Respect, Determination, and Work Hard, Be Nice, or There Are No Shortcuts.  As a class make an “T” chart of what these look like and sound like i.e., Tolerance looks like everyone working together, looks cooperative and respectful, Tolerance sound like each person in a group having a chance to share their ideas even if they are different and contrarily each person listening to one another’s idea.  Then, repetitively, ask the students to share how they have used tolerance and provide an example (they can refer to the “T” chart).  This repetition allows students the opportunity to practice important character experience and verbally define each characteristic.

Lastly, I have to, once again, share an article, What if the Secret to Success is Failure?  The focus throughout is on character education and emotional intelligence.  The following is what happened when two educators were searching to define the “science of good character.”

Seligman and Peterson consulted works from Aristotle to Confucius, from the Upanishads to the Torah, from the Boy Scout Handbook to profiles of Pokémon characters, and they settled on 24 character strengths common to all cultures and eras. The list included some we think of as traditional noble traits, like bravery, citizenship, fairness, wisdom and integrity; others that veer into the emotional realm, like love, humor, zest and appreciation of beauty; and still others that are more concerned with day-to-day human interactions: social intelligence (the ability to recognize interpersonal dynamics and adapt quickly to different social situations), kindness, self-regulation, gratitude. (Tough, 2011)

I think somehow all these characteristics hold value; our job is to share and impart the value, the action, and importance with our students.

EDU 6363- Language Arts, Social Studies & Arts

All Things Considered

Themes…are they good?  Are they thorough? Do they make connections for students in a real way?  Are students compelled by the curriculum of a large theme within smaller contextual units?  Does it get tedious?  These are some of the questions discussed during our lecture, and some that still linger about the use of instructional themes in a classroom. Instructional themes seem to naturally supply very real interdisciplinary connections.

Good themes can help generate deeper connections to real life examples. But what is a “good” theme?  Two characteristics for a good theme as explained with reference to A. Ellis, et. al. are ideas that, “transcend time and space” and ideas that “deepen the level of learning by promoting moral well-being, literacy, and problem solving.” Development of higher order thinking and deeper thought processing are outcomes that teachers should be observing and supporting for students throughout a thematic study. In order to select a theme that is “good” it should meet a criterion that has relevance and connections to the academic and social growth of the students and have the added component of real world application.  Instructional themes seem to offer a way to weave a compelling curriculum throughout the day, over a longer period of time.  For example a thematic unit on “Human Rights” as seen through the eyes of a slave could afford opportunities to make multiple interdisciplinary connections as well as real life connections.  Students could study poetry, read novels, study the history of slavery, sing songs about freedom, search for the mathematical connections of slave trade, write poetry, journal or make a film about slavery, examine the implications of slavery on the world we live in today, etc. Although this is a very powerful and sometimes uncomfortable subject to teach, it is imperative that students learn the way to ponder the relevance to life in the world today and make personal connection so as to develop social responsibility.

Until I am applying the strategies of theme in a real classroom my understanding of the smaller details will have to wait.  However, I do see the value in the organic connections that can be made by using broader themes to relate different disciplines to one another.  Curriculum becomes naturally more compelling when teachers and students develop, reach, and peruse higher order thinking and questioning.

EDRD 5529 Teaching Reading Strategies

Reflection 4- Assessments/Tests

 

I have been procrastinating, I admit, about writing this last reflection.  Finding many household chores, lists of to-do’s, and yard work sounding better than sitting writing a reflection.  This is not usual for me.  Then I began to really think about why?  I started questioning why this reflection so difficult for me to complete while the others flowed so easily.  Is it that I have nothing to write about? No there is plenty, maybe too much that I still have questions about. Is it that I am not interested in the subject? No, in fact I find this subject and this class fascinating and engaging. Is it that I am shirking my responsibilities? No, well maybe a bit but not intentionally, I really have been racking my brains trying to come up with something to reflect on that is still unprocessed for me.  Then what?

Then a funny thing happened.  Today, I went to visit the class I will be student –teaching in this spring and I was asked to give the DRA assessment to few students.  That’s it, I thought, I will write about assessments. I realized I am left with many questions unanswered in regards to assessments.  Which one is best? Which one is the right one?  What are teachers meant to do with all that assessed information? Does every school in the district, state, country use the same tests?  What do I do with a new student if they arrived with/without assessments?  What if I have never seen an assessment before?  Do I get to choose which assessments are right for me? Which assessments are right for my students?  Should I teach solely for the student to perform well on the assessment? How accurate are assessments, really, anyway? Ugh!  I was really overwhelmed.   In class we had reviewed so many assessments: DRA, DIBELS,  Running Records, Phonemic Awareness assessment, phonics inventory, phonological awareness screening tests, counting phonemes, CORE phoneme deletion test, Z-test, CLOZE tests,  and simple timed reading tests;  I felt I was even unsure, looking back over all of these tests, which was which.

I felt panicky.  Then I realized the panic I was feeling was, most likely, normal.  This was new for me.  I took some time to review the student reading and the questions I would be asking them.  I then watched a “live” assessment and then moved to my appointed assessment spot feeling confident that I would be able to do this.  I sat down in a quiet room with a 3rd grade student, one-on-one, and realized that she was more nervous than me.  In fact, what I understood in that moment was that it was not so much my responsibility to get caught up in the assessment results, but instead to focus on the culmination of skills that the student had to access so she could successfully complete the assessment.  Each assessment is, in fact, a bit different and therefore will produce different results.  Just as each student is different…there is no norm.  What I appreciated was  these assessments are not a final judgments but another way to better serve the students individual needs.  These tests should be an opportunity, not only to evaluate student’s academic strengths, but their academic opportunities. Assessments evaluate student progress but should also be a tool for reflection so the teacher can more carefully evaluate gaps in his/her own teaching.  It is my charge to see this too, as an opportunity to evaluate my personal challenges for teaching.

What this means for me is to have a clear understanding of what each assessment is looking for.  By carefully, and methodically, taking time to review what is being assessed so that I am confident that I have taught students the skills and they have practiced them before the assessment.  This is not as small statement.  This will required continued education for me and countless hours for my first few years of teaching with continued planning and adjusting for each new school year.  I found myriad of supplemental websites explaining what tests are looking for and each assessment will no doubt have its own explanation.  One I found that was really helpful was called SEDL.org and they explain each reading assessment technique, what it “looks” and “sounds like”, and a link  that correspond with each assessment.

It has been a while since I have taken a test like the DRA, but since we were given the opportunity to explore what it was like to take these assessments during this class, I felt that I had a better connection with the students I was testing today.  Student and teachers will be forever be involved in this dance of taking and performing assessments but I think the bigger test for teachers is to remember what it is like.  There is anxiety, fears, and pressures that goes hand-in-hand with testing and assessment.  It is important to create an environment where learning AND testing are supported and executed with as little tension for all students.  Although, we have a responsibility to administer these tests and evaluate the outcomes I feel there is a bigger implied and often overlooked challenge: teachers must see past the tests scores to understand and appreciate each student’s individuality and different learning ability and style.  My goal is to approach each day with new vim, vigor, and a clean slate for all students.

References:

Lectures on Assessment. (2011) Fall Quarter.  Seattle Pacific University. EDRD-5529 Teaching Reading Strategies. Dr. Scott Beers.

SEDL:Advanced Research, Improving Education- Reading Resources. (2011). Reading Assessment Techniques. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from http://www.sedl.org/reading/framework/assessment.html

EDU 6362 Teaching Scientific Strategies

Final Lesson Plan

This lesson explores sinking and floating as it relates to density. Student will compare reactions and behaviors of hot and cold water as each is introduced to room-temperature water.  Upon completion of this lesson students will have an incomplete understanding of density.  Students will, however, be able to operationally compare behaviors of sinking and floating in water.

FOSS PART 2: Hot and Cold Water- Sinking and Floating

Science Lesson full template