Archive for January, 2013

EDCI506 Blog week 2: Thinking About Your Teaching Philosophy

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013




Learning is a different concept for every individual.  It is up to the teacher to distinguish the different learning abilities of his/her students and caters to the classroom in order to ensure that the students are learning the core standards for the subject and grade.  In this modern society I do not want my students to get wrapped up in reading from a textbook, taking notes on a projector and taking a test then moving onto the next chapter.  Although in certain circumstances reading from the textbook and taking notes may be beneficial, but that does not mean that I do not have to incorporate a progressive teaching approach and ideas from the 21stt century skills curriculum. I believe that learning is very much about the way a student can relate the lesson to today’s world, or an outside source.  I believe that each lesson should be accompanied by an engaging activity in order to get the students thinking critically about the topic, and that the 21st century pedagogy (above picture) should be enacted in every class!

It is important to myself, as a teacher, that my students get the best learning environment.  I want to be able to identify different styles of learning and try to incorporate those into everyday class.  Whether this is reading from a textbook, creating concept maps, powerpoints, movies, podcasts, smartboard interaction or educational games.  I think it’s important to engage the student as much as possible. History and social science classrooms do not need to be as boring as they are often made out to be.  Take for example learning about the Constitution of the United States.  It would be easy for me to turn to a chapter in the course textbook, have the students read it, copy the vacbulary words and answer the questions at the end of a chapter, but are my students really learning this topic, or just memorizing the vocabulary words and only the answers to the questions in the textbook? Instead I could have the students read the textbook, and then go to the computer lab to create a concept map.  After they created their concept map we could use the smartboard to create a mini-lesson (Teacher uses Prezi in History lesson!!) reinforcing the idea of the Constitution while comparing each other’s concept maps and even introducing vocabulary through a fill in the blank smartboard program..  At the end of the lesson I could give them a post-test with SOL based questions to see if they have mastered this concept.  This seems a lot more engaging and fulfilling then reading, writing and taking a test.  This way the students are learning through a strict traditional approach of reading and lecture but also with a progressive approach of engaging in technology and researching on their own the importance of this document.

Of course with every style of learning the teacher needs to be able to make sure that learning is actually occurring and needs to measure the progress of his/her students.  In this case, I would want to give pre and post tests on the subject matter, mixed in with those questions I have formulated will also be SOL questions.  I would also want to incorporate entrance and exit tickets.  I had one teacher in college who used entrance and exit tickets and it really helped to narrow in on what we were supposed to know and take away from the class discussion.  This pre and post, entrance and exit tickets would be graded and I would be sure that the students who did not score as high to meet with them and see exactly what their issue was.  Did they not understand the subject? Did they not do the homework? I would want to make sure that the pre and post tests, especially with the SOL questions are tracked.  This way at the end of a certain period I would test them on the cumulative SOL questions they had been tested on (not the same questions but same material), and then record that progress as well.  If certain questions were missed repeatedly then I would want to review that lesson again.

Inclusion learning is steadily showing up in school systems across the country.  In Fredericksburg City alone, upwards of 15% of students in each of the core classes takes the VGLA instead of the SOL due to disabilities. It is important as a teacher that if the school system I am working at has inclusion that I pay just as much attention to those with disabilities as those without.  This may mean that I have to adapt my teaching style, maybe creating a concept map as individuals will not be wise, instead students should be put in groups, or do this activity with myself as the leader and the students giving me facts.  Worksheets may need to be scaled down for certain learning levels.  Hopefully my classroom will have an inclusion specialist in the class with me while these students are present to help me engage the students as much as possible without neglecting their needs.  Of course if an inclusion specialist is not available I would want to keep a strong contact with the special ed. Department and the child’s parents and IEP in order to learn more about the student and how they learn.  (see Special Ed Teacher discusses Inclusion)

I think that United States schools have some impact on the world.  However I’m not sure if this is in a negative or positive way.  Students are supposed to go to school.  Students learn lessons, take an exam or SOL, graduate and then continue on their way to a college or university.  In the US it is required that students go to school until graduation or they obtain the GED.  It is a social phenomenon that students attend school in order to become a better, smarter person.  This is not the case in other countries. Other countries have students stop schooling at certain ages, they take careers test in order to see if they should go to a university or a trade schools.  I think the US education system gives students more opportunity to discover what they want and who they want to be.  However, I do think the US education system is flawed in that we use a traditional approach to teaching and the stress put onto a student and teacher about the SOL or some standardized test is way too harsh.  If the US wants to make a positive impact on the world especially in this century they need to look the way society is forming and what other countries are doing that is making them rank higher in educational aspects, career outlooks and economic performance.  Perhaps a better understanding of how the future will look will provide the US Department of Education a map on how they should change the way the teachers teach and the students learn in order to prepare them for the 21st century. ( see History of Technology in Education for a look at how technology has changed education!)


Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and eduation. New York: Macmillian Publishing.

Framework for 21st century learning. (2011). Retrieved from

US Department of Education, NCES. (2005). Comparative indicators of education in the US and other G8 countires. Retrieved from

VA Department of Education. (2008). 2008 – 2009 vgla participation by subject area. Retrieved from


INDTO 501-02 Week 2: 21st Century Skills vs Core Knowledge

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

21pedagogy  OR Capturecommon

With an ever-changing society using technology devices in almost every atmosphere of life, educators are left with an overwhelming question.  The question may seem simple to other but when it boils down to the accountability of a teacher, how the students learn and how the teacher can teach the students to make sure they understand the lesson, choosing a common core knowledge instruction based method or 21st century skills instruction method becomes baffling.

The Common Core Knowledge Foundation started by a professor at the University of Virginia is very well thought of and organized.  Sequence knowledge plans for the 7th grade, including English, history, science and math are very well detailed, giving exact knowledge that students need to learn in order to move to the next grade.  This idea reminded me too much of a traditional approach to learning, as John Dewey stated in his Experience and Education book, as well as a SOL curriculum guide.  With the common core knowledge foundation there are strict common cores that teacher must teach students.  It leaves no room for outside experience, real data, or relating the lesson to something outside of the classroom.  It follows the idea of a traditionalist model that students will learn x at this given time.  There is little to no room for more emphasis on a subject, or time to be taken for students who do not understand this method of teaching.  It’s critical that a teacher can develop different ways to teach his/her students, however with this model of instruction it seems to rely on lecture, notes and a textbook to teach the lesson.  What if students cannot learn this way? What if they need to be able to see this lesson play out in History, maybe a student can’t just say the civil war happened without knowing all the details leading up to the Civil War.  The common core foundation sequence does not allow for a self-guided individual.  How will this help students prepare for the real world? Those who cannot work together, be self-directed or interact with others in a learning or workplace environment will surely lose a job to other candidates.

P21 seems like a promising instruction method.  The website offer detailed information, examples, charts and guides to how instruct lessons to ensure that the core subjects, innovative skills, technology skills and life and career skills are present in every class, in every grade.  P21 reminded me very much so of a Progressive Model of instruction.  With P21 you have real world data; the teacher is teacher through outside sources (one lesson showed that an outside expert teachers a lesson on business once a week and the students develop their own product to sell over a semester), students are actively engaged in how they learn and work as a team with peers and their teacher to learn everything they need.  Critics state that the P21 foundation does not teacher the core knowledge that is essential to being “smart”, but how can smart be measured? Is it passing grades, or is it knowledge that the student can carry with them once they graduate to use to help achieve a career? P21 focuses on using technology due to society at this given time.  If we look back to the Harrison School example, this is essentially what that school is doing.  The video showed the students engaging in learning about the subject through real world examples (throw of the softball pitch, speed of cheerleading drop, etc).  This example seems to stress the idea that technology is essential in today’s world in order to compete for a job.  I know from experience that most interviewers ask “can you work in a team”, “do you know how to operate a computer, the internet, Microsoft tools”, and sure one could google how to use these tools, but if you learn them in a classroom it is bound to carry with you all your life.  I think the P21 method would allow for more room to learn and adapt in today’s world.


Since History is my subject area, I think it’s important for students to have some type of common core knowledge, that way especially in alignment with the SOLS, students are guaranteed to learn the skills that the need in order to pass the SOL.  However some type of 21st century skills should be incorporated into the learning process. It’s especially hard to decide between a strictly 21st century learning style or a common core learning style because of the accountability on myself as a teacher.  Of course I would love for my students to be actively engaged in my classroom.  I would love for them to be able to use research tools, podcasts, video software and smartboard everyday; however I do not know if they would be learning exactly what they needed to learn.  Upon talking to other students History is one of the most boring subjects. It would be up to me to involve the students as much as possible, but I need to be aware of how students learn, and process information.  Perhaps with some lessons a lecture and notes is essential, but then a mini-lesson of the same subject can be used through some technology resource in order to reinforce the idea and present it in another way for students who cannot simple learn by taking notes.



Churches, A. (2008, August 08). 21st century pedagogy . Retrieved from Century Pedagogy

Core subjects and 21st century themes. (2011). Retrieved from

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Macmillan Publishing.

Framework for 21st century learning. (2011). Retrieved from

            History and geography: 7th grade. (n.d.). Retrieved from

(n.d.). 21st century pedagogy. [Web Graphic]. Retrieved from

(n.d.). Reading standards for literacy in history/social studies 6–12. [Print Photo].
Retrieved from Standards.pdf

            Why knowledge matters. (2013). Retrieved from


Week 1 Reflection Blog Post: The Technology Integration Matrix INDT 501-02

Friday, January 18th, 2013


I focused on watching the Social Studies examples.  One that I particularly enjoyed and thought was engaging to the students and the teacher was the example of Authentic learning in the entry level.  This example showed students using a smart board to learn more about longitude and latitude in order to strengthen their geography vocabulary.  The teacher chose a certain day for the students to work on geography, outside of their traditional world history lessons.  The teacher instructed the students where the hurricanes occurred, and then the students plotted those points onto a map on the smartboard using the hurricane’s longitude and latitude points.  All the students were engaged and were given a chance to find the information and to plot it on the smartboard.  This lesson allowed for the students to see firsthand how geography can relate to the real world rather than just reading about the terms in a textbook.

In a grade 9-12 examples for social studies, a teacher used an online world history textbook.  This was found under the collaborative learning entry level on the matrix.  In this classroom students were given their textbook and their own laptop and they were instructed to find the answer to questions on the computer by reading their textbook passages.   This slightly confused me.  I did not see how this example fell into the collaborative learning which focused on “students working with other rather than with themselves”.  In this classroom students were separated, quiet and worked only with themselves in order to answer their own set of questions that they were given.  This was not engaging at all.  The students were completely on their own and were not able to discuss or help other students.   Most of the other examples showed to class and teacher engaging in a lesson and using technology to allow everyone to be a part of the lesson.  This example shut the students off from one another and did not seem to take any information that they were given and put it into real world context.

I have seen many different types of technology with teaching.  In college, for example, we had iclickers.  These were used for pop quizzes and attendance in large classrooms.  It allowed for the students to answer the quiz questions or daily question anonymously, but allow for all the students to be present and engage in whatever activity we were learning.   I have also seen many special education teachers use smart boards to allow for their students to be involved in their lesson.  One special education teacher would do almost all of her lesson on the smartboard as a way to engage her students and to involve them In every aspect of their learning whether it was reading stories and using the markers for the smartboard to have the students highlight sounds and words, or as a way to have students practice math in front of the class.

EDCI 506-01 So you want to be a teacher blog reflection week 1

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013


Teachers and principals could likely take the data reports of teachers who bring about higher achievement with bad taste.  Teachers and principals may view these findings as inadequate to their specific school or students within their classroom. Teachers might think that higher achievement only means that standardize test scores are higher, and not taking into account the student as a whole, outside of standardize tests.  Not only is the data perhaps not showing all areas of a student – a problem on why principals may be reluctant to use the data- but it most definitely degrades the other teachers.  These teachers deemed as those who are not bringing higher achievement may believe, due to the data, that they are not good teachers, and no longer have the moral support so desperately needed in order to be a successful teacher. With these findings the Principal of the school may not want to share the results in order to keep the community of the teachers solid, rather than disrupt it with another critical report.

It also seems that man of the reluctant principals may not be willing to show the data reports because of the lack of “essential” data.  Principals and school administrators may believe that it is not the teachers who are making the students underachievers.  Instead the administrators may look to the “old notions about the causes of underachievement” (Haycock, 2000) which may place emphasis on family situation, income of the family, education of the parents and family, friends, and etc.  The reports may not include all of the pertinent data the administrators think also may affect the students learning and their goal for wanting to achieve more.   It would be better for the principal(s) to address the teachers after they have been supplied with the data report.  By letting the higher achievement teachers mentor the lower achieving teachers, in order to show them how they conduct their classroom and lesson, but to leave out the report as to not have low-esteem within the teachers.

As a high school student I was not as interested in how my teacher mattered in helping me succeed. I believed that the teachers were there to help guide me in the right direction, but that my test scores and scholastic achievement were up to me.  I knew that the teachers were there to help me, but none of them said outright “Heather, I can help you achieve this”.  It was more as if I should have known that the teachers were there to help, but I should do it myself in order to look as if I understood the subject.  I do not believe that friends knew of this, or majority of the school.  It is not made as clear today, like in the video, that teachers do matter in how students’ lives turn out.  It seems as if more influence is place on friends, and family to how the students achieves.

Upon watching the video and reading the first chapter of “Foundations of Education” and our class discussion I think it is important that teachers are knowledgeable of their subject, have a strong community of new teachers and seasoned teachers, have a relationship with the administration, care about the students and are willing to show the students their potential, and to make sure the students know that the teacher is there to help in any way possible. I believe that teacher empowerment, (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek 2011) is a great idea that will really help teachers feel comfortable in dealing with situations and feel as if they have a community to look to for help.

Hello world!

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

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