Lesson Planning for Success

Posted by on Aug 10, 2013 in Thoughts on Education | 0 comments

An instructor asked us why lesson planning was important in keeping up with classroom management. There was a time when I wasn’t so sure all that extra preparation was worth it. But with education and experience I have to say I have changed my mind completely. Lesson planning is a vital component in classroom management as it provides several tools for effective administration of the class. Perhaps the strongest argument for careful lesson planning is that it allows the teachers to successfully teach across a variety of student levels and learning styles. Lesson plans also allow for smoother, deliberate transitions, an area in which classroom management often fails.  A smart conclusion and introduction to the next, related lesson helps the student build on the knowledge as they gain it. As Vince Welsh eloquently states, “The lesson plan is the blueprint and sets up the foundation for educators to reach students with different learning styles.” (Welsh, 2010, para. 1) A properly planned lesson will include direct instruction and activities that fall under indirect instruction. It will incorporate activities that both offer something for each of the learning styles where students are strong – auditory, kinetic and visual – as well as helping students to develop skills in those learning areas where they weak. Knowledge of the upcoming student requirements and abilities combined with careful planning will also allow a teacher to include methods to meet the needs of any disabilities including physical disabilities such as deafness, and development disabilities such as reading disabilities. Carefully planned and executed lesson plans provide an opportunity for the teacher to keep transitions smooth and efficient. Gaps created by rough transitions between activities are a major opportunity for disorder and misbehavior. (Burden, 2013, p. 197) According to Burdon, this is when most behavior management issues occur for several reasons. Students have a difficult time finishing their task and are not ready to move on. Many teachers do not plan adequately for these transitions and therefore they get out of control. Students may also bottle up reactions to other students or distractions that get uncapped during transitions. As a result, teachers need to build transition management into their plans. The plan should also include a smooth transition at the end – a conclusion that helps the student wind down mentally (and perhaps, physically) from the activity and to begin to assimilate what they have learned. The conclusion might also provide a sneak peak or transition to the next lesson. There are many components to the lesson plan and that many reasons to implement it for successful classroom management. At this point in my education at Liberty, I cannot imagine attempting to wing it. I remember when I was in school. Some of my teacher’s idea of classroom management were real simple. Come in, sit down, shut up and work on the assignment that was on the board. It involved reading a chapter in the book and and answer the quiz questions at the end on a separate piece of paper to be turned in. There was no issues with transitions – we simply did not have any. Guess how much I learned in those classes?     References Burden, P. (2013). Classroom management: creating a successful K-12 learning community (5th ed.). Hobokin, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Welsh, V. (2010). Lesson planning: how to design an effective curriculum. Retrieved from...

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Differentiating Instruction

Posted by on Aug 6, 2013 in Thoughts on Education | 0 comments

I am currently studying classroom management at the moment and reading Classroom Management: Creating a Successful K-12 Learning Community by Paul Burden. (Burden, 2013) I have a lot of thoughts about this book, some good, some, well, not so good. Overall I think Paul does a good job laying out what, in my opinion, should be obvious. He includes a ton of strategies that might prove useful, but for the most part, many of the strategies are based on common sense. Burden considers the cognitive work of Howard Gardner and other cognitive psychologists when offering suggestions for the selection of instruction. Personally, I think it makes an interesting statement about our education system that some of these “ideas” and development work are fairly recent in coming and have to be taught. There have been great teachers over time that understand all of this at an intuitive level and most of the parents of the world could and would tell you these things. It really makes me wonder a couple of things. First, what were we teaching before? And, you have to wonder do any of these folks have children? If they do, are they the ones raising them? These are Burden’s suggestions: Expect students to be different. This one really gets me! Did we, as parents or educators, ever think they weren’t. Anyone with more than one child knows how different each child is, even when wrung from the same genetic material. How did we come to a point where we have to teach our teachers that each student is a different person with different needs, fears, backgrounds, worldviews, likes, dislikes, learning styles? At what point in American society were they all the same? Spend the time and effort to look for potential. What were we looking for before? Realize that student needs are not only in deficit areas. Development of potential is a need too.  Isn’t that the point of school – to develop a student’s potential? That should be the common core, the mission of education. Be familiar with past records of achievement. Why? Be aware of previous experiences that have shaped a student’s way of thinking. I think this has the potential to cause trouble.  Does it really matter what happened in the past? Perhaps if we just want to continue to feel sorry for a child or to continue to pass on a bad record or a label, expecting the child to keep living up to his/her past. What matters is right now. What are they feeling now and how can we help them move beyond that?Most good horse trainers that get nightmare problem horses don’t want to hear or guess about the possibilities that the horse acts badly because of abuse and bad handling. They see the problem as it is now and they address that behavior. The past means nothing, it’s done. Frankly, I’ve seen far worse behavior issues from the kids whose parent’s just can’t say “no.” Challenge students with varied assignments and note the results I just don’t know what to say about this one. If you aren’t already doing this, your students probably think you are the worst teacher ever. And they are probably right. Use a variety of way of grading and evaluating. Again? Since we know, intuitively, that we have students with diverse learning styles, should it not go without saying that not everyone tests well using the same methods? SOL tests are a perfect example of this. Some kids test wonderfully. Others, well they have to work really, really hard because they don’t memorize well and test well in this...

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Finding the positive in our students…

Posted by on Jul 31, 2013 in Thoughts on Education | 0 comments

What are the keys for dealing with a diverse classroom and its range of abilities? I have a fundamental issue with this question. First, it suggests that instead of discovering and understanding our students and their differences, we should instead figure out how to “deal” with them. Sounds a bit harsh, if not intolerant. The second part of my frustration over this question stems from the fact that “we” just now seem to be realizing that the student body is diverse.  I’ll give you that the ethnic diversity has increased dramatically since, say the 1950’s, but even then the classrooms were diverse. Did we really assume that at some point in time, each and every child learned the same things at exactly the same rate? The mere suggestion that this is a relatively new phenomenon is an indicator of what has been a large part of the problem with public school all along. While God made us in “His” image, “He” certainly didn’t make us all the same! We are all different, we think different, learn different, have different cultural, economic and ethnic backgrounds and different worldviews, which give us a filtered lens through which we perceive what’s going on. All of these differences combine to make us who we are – our own unique gifts to the world. So, now we are finally waking up and realizing that we have stuffed 28 (or more) very individual young people who are all attempting to figure out who they are in the scheme of things into a small room in a completely contrived, artificial environment. And then, underpaid, overworked and under-appreciated teachers are instructed to “deal with it” and given the “keys” to do so in the form of well researched textbooks. In his book Classroom management: Creating a successful k-12 learning community, Burden provides a wealth of strategies for teachers to use in their classrooms in managing the diversities of their students. (Burden, 2013, Chapter 8) In reading through the text, regardless of the “diversity” being discussed whether its sexual orientation, non-english speaking students, socio-economic status or any of the myriad other “differences” you could focus on, one theme stands out – find a way to make the children feel wanted, appreciated and worthy. Kids just want acceptance. So the “key” as it were, simply appears to be to provide a supportive, caring environment. We need text books, conferences, doctoral thesis’ and studies to “see” this? Isn’t this something that just about any mother on the planet could tell us? I recently led a week long adventure day camp, the first one for our new business. We set it up late in the game and had a small group of five ranging in age from 5 to 15. This was a very diverse group. Three girls, two boys. One girl, Lisa, was pushy, whiney, bossy and just really not very pleasant and difficult for the other children to get along with, let alone like. She was, I also observed, quite outside her normal comfort zone. At first I found her irritating and struggled with how to handle her attitude. By the second day, I had to force myself to be complimentary; urging her on, offering encouragement and finding positive things to say to her. Her transformation was amazing. She was scared in this new environment and really just wanted to know she was okay there. She wanted acceptance and when she received it, she was a different kid. In a Literacy Links article, Lisa Smith, an experienced ESL teacher, offers tips for working with diverse learners who are learning English...

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