Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Field Blog 1 AP Chemistry

Over the past three weeks I have observing classes at West Geauga High School. Over the course of these blogs, I will depict the themes and summarize what they mean and how I came about these conclusions. It is also important to state that the themes I found between the classes were very different due to a few reasons given through these blogs. This first blog post will summarize all of the themes that I found while observing an AP chemistry class.

The first thing to note is the size of this class. The class has 4 students in it. This really sets a tone for the type of interaction between the teacher and the students. This interaction will lead into the first theme that I discovered.  This theme is that the teacher was very hands off with the students. Since this was an AP class and there were four of them, it was very easy for the teacher to let the kids go discover the material on their own. This also works because in chemistry, there is a lot of abstract concepts, from designing a lab from inquiry, or finding a tangent line between two different topics to connect them. This reminds me of my time in AP chemistry because there is a certain struggle when you don't know how to design or carry out a lab, and you have to be able to struggle through this in order to learn.

The second theme that is found within the AP chemistry is not as easy to find as the teacher letting the students discover things on their own, and this theme is the use of both the banking style and problem solving style of education. The banking style of education is a pedagogy expressed by Paulo Freire where the students are only responsible for storing information given by the teacher and the teacher is only responsible for giving information to be memorized. Now, you may think that this contradicts the first theme that I have listed, and well, you would be right. However, this is combined with the problem solving method of education. This is also mentioned by Paulo Freire, and states that the teacher has to make the students critically think about what is going on in the real world. This is then incorporated into the learning material. The AP chemistry class utilizes this by using the banking method to give the information needed to have students start to explore. I do believe that this is the best way to teach a class. Give them the materials they need to succeed, and then turn them loose to explore the material introduced.

Clinical Teaching Reflection

I performed a clinical teaching exercise with  Ross Martin, and Grace DeMarco for my education class. This is where we take over the class for a day and teach the class and lead discussion based on certain topics. The topic discussed in class was how to reform the inner city schools because, as of right now, the schools are failing and we are destroying the chances for students in these areas. Another topic discussed was the funding for schools and how there was a clear discrepancy between what is acceptable funding, and what is going on now.

The hardest part of this presentation was trying to lead them down the path I wanted them to take, without taking away their personal beliefs. To do this, we focused on national problems and issues that any person can relate to. This went along with the in class readings, but allowed for the students to keep their own personal bias when they thought about their own experiences.

I feel like we did a fairly good job when it came to sending messages to the students. I feel like we did a good job taking in a lot of options and picking out what was the best thing to do to tell the class the facts of the situations. It was hard to start a conversation, but that is part of leading a discussion like that, you have to be able to get students to want to talk about the issue. If they talk because they have to, there is a chance that you may receive  answers the students think you want to hear. I feel like the national scale discussion also let the students see how the problem effected them and not just a small portion of them.

I don't think that I was up to the standards that I hold myself too, because I held back a lot of personal input to help the students think about the questions we were asking. I feel that I started to become more confident and less introverted when I talked about the poverty trap, but I feel that I could have done a better job of conveying a message to the students.

This experience was good in that it  let me experience what it was like to lead that type of experience. It also really helped that I had two people that I could trust working with me. The hardest part was easily making the connection with the students at the start, but after that was made, I feel like it was a good presentation and discussion on inner city schools.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Annotative Bibliography

Source 1

This is a quote from Albert Einstein that says "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." This is the backbone of my essay and will be the tangent line that is stressed throughout the whole essay. It will be enforced by the other sources and experiences that I also share in this essay. 

Source 2 

This is a research summary of all the findings done by a research project in 2002. This Article will be used to convince the audience that parents and family have to be involved in the education of a student. This will be done by incorporating the classroom life of the student to the home life of the student, and the teacher has to be able and willing to communicate to parents about the student. 

Source 3

This article goes over the pros and cons of a standardized test on the student body. This is important because it is the gateway to talking about the effects of testing and banking styles of education. This will allow me to bring class material into the essay as well as incorporate the personal experiences of testing. This is going to be another major point in my essay because this will debate the banking style and problem solving methods of education.

Source 4

This article is about what the achievement gap is, and how it effects the student body of inner city schools. This is going to be the topic where I talk about the role of the teacher being even more important in these disadvantaged communities because they have to be active parts of the students life just like suburban school teachers. I will also use this to talk about the "poverty trap" and the effects of an income gap on schools and communities. 

Final Field Trip Observations

This time we ventured to Shaker Heights Middle School. This observation was quite different from the other ones that I have done because the classrooms that we were supposed to observe were not able to allow me to observe because of standardizing testing that was going on at that time. So instead of talking about beliefs about a pedagogy like my usual rants consist of, I will tackle the idea of standardized testing and how it effects a child's goals.

It is no secret that the standardized tests are a way of measuring the goals of a student, teacher, and school. Now, I have a different take on standardizing tests because I do see a lot o food in them as well as the bad. As far as the bad ideas go, the tests do favor the schools that are richer and are able to support a curriculum that influences a student to critically think and not to memorize. This is a major problem for the inner city schools because they cannot keep up with suburban schools. This is a problem with how the test is made, and there are ways to design the test so that this doesn't happen. For example, the test can focus on critical thinking skills, and schools could then teach that fundamental concept to students.

The good that comes from the test is that it does allow for a distinguished difference in ability of students. For this allow me to expand my idea of standardized tests to the ACT and SAT too. These tests are used to give a students common knowledge base on core subjects. These test scores are analyzed by the colleges and organizations that students are applying to. Without these tests, I don't see a way to give that information to colleges, with the exception of mandatory essays that most colleges already require.

So the tests are bad in a way and good in a way.I do not have a problem with them as much as I have a problem with the system that they stem from. We should find a different type of tests for our students to take to level out the playing field for all kids, and that is the real challenge. Thank you once again for reading and feel free to research this to come up with your own ideas.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What Do I believe?

This will the last post that is not on an observation that I recorded. This post is a summery of all my posts so far, and there are some things that stick out above all the words that are spoken. These things will be discussed and conclusions will be drawn from them so you can see what my beliefs are and so I can figure out what my beliefs are.

The first thought that seems to be prominent in my blog posts is this need for a strong foundation before a child can start learning. This can be drawn to the need to connect with the students and parents from a teachers prospective. I believe that students will learn more effectively when the parents are involved in the education and the student feels comfortable with what they are doing. This strong support from home and the teacher forms a foundation that the student can rely on for both questions and answers.

The second thought is that the students will learn when the students want to learn. Students, I feel, only do as much as we ask them to do because they don't have to go above and beyond that standard. If they do then a teacher can praise them on their good work and set a new standard, but the student chooses when to perform that way. Branching off of my first thought, the student will grow out of this foundation that is set. The student will have many ideas and creative impulses, but I feel that they will show those talents when the student is comfortable enough in their learning environment. I have someone very close to me that fits this description perfectly. He is one of the smartest people you will ever meet, but he always fails his classes in high school. Why is this? After talking to him, he says that school is a waste of time for him, and in a way I can see why this is true because the school system does nothing to benefit his learning style or needs. When this person wants to graduate, he will graduate and then can go on to do anything he wants to do, because he has the insight to do so. This subject of independence leads into my next thought, the need for open mindedness

This is the last thought that I can find that sticks out in my blogs. No matter what you do, I feel like the need for the student to become  independent in what he or she thinks. I feel that this is arguably the most important subject for me because I feel that the students will need to become independent thinkers before they can develop the ability to critically think about any topic. I feel that this cannot be achieved through a lecture, but rather a hands on activity that focuses on real world problems or problems that do not have a true solution. These problems can range from ways to solve a problem at home, or all the way around the world to try to think of why countries are scared of the middle east. Problems like these have no true answer to them, but only suggestions, and the development of suggestions can help a student form their own thoughts that reflect their beliefs. However it is important to teach them what kind of thoughts are tolerable. Students need to have a tolerance in their head for a multitude of things that range from sexuality to something as small as sharing.

So there it is, a collection of the beliefs that have formed throughout the year, and how they relate to the subject of education. They are very opinionated and personal, but that is what a belief is. There are no wrong beliefs but there are those that are accepted and rejected. Just remember to stay independent in your thoughts because you are the person who knows what you believe best.

Cleveland Heights high school Observations

Cleveland Heights is a public high school in the greater Cleveland area. I went in with the question, "how does the teacher involve the students in their learning?" This question guided my observations and also my interpretations.

My observations were in a chemistry class room and the first thing I noticed was teachers positioning in the classroom. Her desk was in the back of the class opposite of the whiteboard and projector. This seemed odd to me because the teacher had to keep walking back and fourth in order to teach her lesson. The teacher also did a fair amount of group work. Taking a look at her lesson plan for the next couple days, it all was various group activities. The kids were quite active and loud in their learning and some never stopped talking until the teacher asked them a question.

When it came to interpretations, my thoughts were that the teacher had her desk at the back to keep an eye on the class, and for group work, maybe the kids learn better in groups because the kids who understand can help the kids who do not understand. As for the kids who were being loud and did not stop talking, I figured that they were not that excited about learning and the teacher was trying to get them to at least mention the topic and that is why she called on them.

There was only one thought that I had dismissed and it was that the students who did not stop talking were disrespectful kids. I thought this at first, but there are many factors that go into a classroom dynamic, and maybe they are the best students in another class. I do not know them so I gave them the benefit of the doubt about this. Everything else about the class and school didn't warren these types of thoughts, so I am getting better at not judging people when I first see them which is a problem of mine.

What it takes to become a good teacher

Teaching is commonly viewed as an instrument that passes on knowledge to students, and then students will be tested on the information. Once the test is passed, then the students will most likely forget part of their learning and go on to the next subject to take the next test. It is up to the teacher to build bridges, which means to connect things that happen in the outside world to the students learning. These can be as simple as showing a student who has problems at home stories about other kids who have those problems, or something on a worldwide topic like learning about the middle east while we were at war with terrorists. However, there are different ways of approaching teaching so that the teacher does not lecture the students and the students do not regurgitate information.

The teaching style described above is called the "banking method" because the teacher stores knowledge only to ask on it later. This method is common among a multitude of teachers at all levels, but that doesn't make a teacher a "good teacher" to all kids. To be a good teacher, the teacher has to be able to make learning enjoyable for the students and has to make all students feel like they are part of the learning. This can be done by having them critically think about the problems that are brought up by the teacher or having them do group projects to come up with a solution, but not all kids would like that either. It is up to the teacher to find a way for each student to be able to learn effectively. This is what makes a teacher good, the ability to have each student learn in the best way for them. Albert Einstein once said "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." This follows the same policies discussed above, and if Einstein thinks this will helps education, there probably is some truth behind it.