Some ways that I am already engaging my students is by having them explore real world applicable problems with technology. In one lesson I did students used the Desmos graphing app to explore three real cell phone plans and decided which one they think will be best for them when their parents kick them off of their plan. Also every class I have my students work in groups. This engages them substantially more than if I lectured to them the majority of the period. In my class students discuss with each other how to make their own meaning of the mathematics. I also act like a "normal human" in front of my students instead of an all knowing educator. If I don't know the answer to a problem, I tell my students. Also before I share a strategy for solving a complex problem I tell my students that I struggle with these types of problems and this strategy is what helps make them easier for me. This engages students because most of them are so afraid of being wrong or looking incompetent in front of their peers that they do not even try. After I show them that I'm not perfect either they are much more likely to become engaged in the lesson and try things for themselves. From Walpert-Gawron's article Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement I could commit to implementing working with technology more. The curriculum I am currently using allows for some technology based activities, but most of them do not use technology in meaningful ways. I would like to use technology to teach students how to program algorithms. Programming is engaging because a program is something that students create and they get immediate feedback on if they did it correctly or not. I could also implement getting students out of their seats. Having students do rotation or stations activities would get the up and moving around the room to help engage them. I also can commit to implementing student choice into my lessons. I especially think this would be helpful when giving students projects. If students can choose which type of project they would like to do they will be much more eager to do it.
I think that Instagram is an excellent tool to engage students and help them learn the content. The Instagram activity described in the article Instagram ELE Challenge! by Pilar Munday can help students learn Spanish and show them them different ways that technology can be used. This challenge helps prepare students for a global society because it teaches them how to use technology and a method for communicating in a global society. This activity also helps students learn another language which is crucial for preparing students for a global society. furthermore is shows students how to use that new language in a practical way. In most language classes I took we did not learn how to use the language in ways that native speakers did, like communicating on social media. These teachers inspire innovation and collaboration by first sharing this activity by writing this article; then by providing a link to a feedback form where they encourage other teachers to share their adaptations and ideas. I think teachers should collaborate like this more to help and inspire each other to be more innovative.
Instagram Scavenger Hunt
I think that Caitlin Tucker's idea to have students use Instagram to document their experience on a field trip is a innovative way to engage students. In her article Instagram Scavenger Hunt she describes how students were given a list of items that she wanted to take pictures of. The students would take pictures while on the trip and explain each item in the picture's description. If I were going to use this activity I would have to make some adaptations because we do not take field trips. I could have students complete a similar activity where they have to take pictures of geometric figures and then describe the properties of those figures. This would help them to apply what they are learning in our geometry unit to real life. I think I would give students time in class to take pictures around school and then offer extra credit for students who took pictures outside of school. Then then they could pick their favorite picture and do a presentation on that shape and its properties. I could also use it as an ongoing project throughout the year where students take pictures of any math that they see outside of our class. This will show students how math is all around us in a fun and engaging way.
3 Ways Colleges Use Instagram
In his article, 3 Ways Colleges Use Instagram, Ryan Lytle explains ways that colleges use Instagram to connect with their students. I think that these techniques can be used for high schools and other schools as well. People like Instagram because pictures can be very a very powerful tool in telling a story and evoking emotion. Other schools can take pictures of events and post them to Instagram like colleges do. This will help schools involve the community in their events, which is important for schools. This will also increase school spirit among students and staff. Instagram can also be used to keep alumni involved in all of their schools after graduation. I agree with the article that it is easier to keep alumni involved when they see a picture related to their former school everyday. Schools can benefit from keeping alumni involved in their school by having them come speak to students about their accomplishments after they graduated.
My seven survival skills consist of Wagner's and some skills that he missed.
After reading about the different schools that Wagner describes in this chapter, I feel like working at the Met would be an exciting and rewarding experience. At this school they "promote and create personalized education programs that are unique for each student" (p. 230). Instead of having students conform to the factory-like conventional schools, the school is based upon student's individual interests and needs. I think it would be wonderful to have the opportunity to develop relationships with students and use what I have learned about them to help them create a personalized learning plan. I think that students learn best when they are able to choose what they learn based on their interests. I do not think that schools should just teach kids the basics and have students wait until college to find what they really love learning about. I would also like to work here because I feel that every student loves to learn, just not every student loves to learn what the state standards say they should learn. I think it would be a very exciting and interesting challenge to take what a student loves to learn about and create an environment where they can not only learn about that topic but also where they can develop the skills necessary to be successful in today's workforce. Furthermore the Met's Learning Goals align very closely with my teaching philosophy. Their five learning goals are communication, empirical reasoning, personal qualities, quantitative reasoning, and social reasoning. I also like that this school seems to be a very tight knit community. They start the day off with a pick-me-up where the whole school meets and then students break off into their advisory groups. At both of these sessions students are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas in respectful ways. I think that if students feel that their opinions matter then they will care more about their school and education. I believe everyday at this school would be exciting, challenging, and inspirational.
In this chapter Wagner discusses how students in the technology era learn differently from how they did in the past so it is necessary to teach them differently too. He describes how outside of school adolescents are multitasking and always connected, receive instant gratification, learn through multimedia and connection to others, learn through discovery, and learn by creating. Then they come to school and are sometimes just lectured at and instructed to do problems out of a textbook. I agree with Wagner that since there is this substantial disconnect, students are bound to be unmotivated in traditional classes. One huge aspect of how students learn is using technology; thus we need to be using technology in our classrooms, and not just as a fun extension to the text every once in awhile. We should let students discover their learning about be creative by using technology on a daily basis in the classroom. I also think this is important because in the majority of careers they will have to use technology constantly. I also think that student learn more by discovering the concepts rather than being told them through a lecture or textbook. In my Integrated Math class students investigate concepts with group members. They have a much higher depth of knowledge than I had when I learned these concepts when I was in high school because they build their own understanding of them. One of the only concerns I have about the way Wagner suggests that we motive students is that this type of creative and discovery learning takes much more time than lecturing to students. In a education system based on teaching the standards and preparing students for standardized test, using technology to encourage student to learn the way they want to may be unrealistic. It seems to be a double edge sword; we teach to the test and kids are not motivate to learn, we give students the freedom to learn the way they want and we may not cover all the material on the standardized tests. However, I do think that it is possible to find a happy medium and incorporate elements of this style of learning and teaching into the current curriculum.
In this chapter Wagner describes his experiences with teacher education. In his experience he did not receive adequate feedback from his master teacher and then after he got hire his principal. He said that one of the main reasons that he feels that he did not get the feedback that he wanted was that there is not a consensus in the education community about what a 'good' lesson looks like. He also commented that he felt isolated and and not challenged at one of the schools he worked at. One of the main ways that Wagner thinks that teacher preparation could be improved by is requiring teachers to create portfolios that must be updated and submitted periodically. I think this would be a much better ways to display a teacher's competency than completing standardized tests and TPAs. I agree with Wagner that a portfolio is a great way for teacher candidates and new teachers to "demonstrate their ability to plan, teach, and analyze the effectiveness of their lessons" (p. 149). In regards to Wagner feeling isolated at one of the schools that he worked at, I have had the opposite experience at my clinical practice site. I am part of a very supportive and collaborative PLC where everyone is willing to help each other and work together. In this program we are encourage to observe other teachers as much as possible. I think this is an important way to get ideas of things to do and not do in our classrooms. As a new teacher, it would be ideal if the school I worked at gave me time to observe other teachers, even at other schools. If I were to create my own program I would keep the model we have in this program where we teach the entire year instead of just the second semester. I have definitely learned the most by being in the classroom and experimenting. Also if I were to create a my own program I would have multiple classes offered each semester and candidates could pick which class interests them the most (more like how college usually is). That way they can take the classes that they feel will benefit them the most and are the most real world applicable.
In this chapter Wagner gives examples of current standardized tests and points out their flaws. One major flaw is that the current standardized tests do not test critical thinking skills or other twenty first century skills. He asserts that these test only tell if a student can memorize and regurgitate facts on command. What Wagner describes is similar to my own experiences with taking standardized tests. I remember taking the tests every year and trying my best because my teachers and parents said that it was important for me to score well. In elementary school my teachers would even give us candy to try and motivate us to do well. The tests seemed to be much more important to the teachers than the students. When I got to high school I remember wondering why I should take the test seriously if it didn't count towards my grade and colleges didn't look at the scores. It was just another test I had too take, but it didn't benefit me in any way. I feel that if it is a test worth taking students should feel it is important in some way. I also agree that the majority of the test questions required only a very low level of depth of knowledge. I would relate it to doing a long pointless worksheet all day long. I think that standardized tests should require students to use technology and have more questions that require explanations or justifications. I see the purpose of standardized tests, but I think that they need to be testing to see if we are teaching our students the skills that are necessary to be successful in society today.
In his article How to Get a Job at Google Thomas Friedman describes some of the qualities that he looks for when hiring Google employees. He first states that he is not looking for a candidate to have good GPA or even a college degree for that matter. Some of the qualities that he looks for are general cognitive ability, emergent leadership skills, humility, ownership, and least importantly expertise. Friedman and Google as a whole have realized that "talent can come in so many different forms"; so no longer are they just looking for new-hires who have a 4.0 GPA from a prestigious college because they have found that these attributes are not always indicators that someone will preform well in their company. This highlights a problems with schools; because schools base a students competence on grades and test scores that is what they spend most of the time preparing students for. One of the main focuses of school should be to prepare students to be successful in their careers. Thus schools must shift their focus from grades and standardized testing to fostering creativity and collaboration skills. I am currently teaching a class where students work in groups everyday and use critical thinking and problems solving to explore concepts rather than me lecturing to them. I think this is a good start to preparing my students for a job at Google, but one area that I need to improve upon is giving them the opportunity to be creative and think out of the box. I would like to give my students more open ended problems or projects so that they can be creative and explore something that they are interested in in their own way. I believe that this is one of the best ways for students to learn and retaining information and it would help them develop the types of skills Google is looking for.
In Grant Wiggins's article A Veteran Teacher Turned Coach Shadows 2 Student for 2 Days- a Sobering Lesson Learned he describes the unstimulating yet stressful schooldays of the students at his school. He also shares ways in which he would change his classroom based on his findings. He feels students spend too much time sitting (which is exhausting), students passively listen most of the day, and students feel like a nuisance. I feel that my school site is a bit similar to this because some of the classes I have walked into students are seated in rows listening to the teacher the whole day. In my particular class students are seated at tables of four so they can more easily collaborate during group work time. I lecture for about a third of the class or less and the rest of the time students are working with their groups on the investigation or other tasks. However, during this group work my students usually stay seated, like in the classes Wiggins attended. Last week I tried a new activity with my students where they had to rotate to different tables with their group members. This is the most my students have been engaged in awhile. At first some of them complained that they had to get up and move, but once they completed the first rotation they were excited to get up and move to the next station. After the success of this activity I am planning on incorporating some type of mandatory movement into my two hour block periods. I agree with Wiggins that students need to be more actively engaged in their learning. I think that students need guidance from the teacher but they also need the time to practice how to solve problems on their own. I also agree that students should be encouraged to ask questions all of the time. I especially liked Wiggins idea to have students write on the board all of the questions that they have at the beginning of class. Then as a class have students decide which ones need to be addressed first. The focus of education should be making sure that students have a deep understanding of the concepts rather than touching briefly on each standard.