Excursion 2&3

Excursion 2&3

A. Whenever I imagine my future classroom, I hope that it can be a comforting place for students that enables them to be at ease with their learning. Lately, it has been a common issue in many schools that classrooms are getting cramped due to the consistent growth in class sizes. Cramped rooms that lack space can interfere with students and their learning because group activities become difficult or time consuming to set up, but also encourage students to distract themselves and others in tight spaces. Much of my lessons would tie to group activities to encourage peer support and interactions so to avoid the time-consuming transition of moving people and desks, I would want to set up groups of desks before classes. Therefore, I have two ideal work environments that would allow interactive group work in one (L-shaped groups of three) and a setup for general instruction in the other (paired rows of desks). Students would be positioned in L-shapes to ensure that everyone can see each other and the front of the classroom or SmartBoard. As a social studies teacher, I would like to have the classroom decorated with the themes and numerous historical figures, images, or quotes that connect to their specific content and section of history studied. For instance, a 6th grade classroom would focus on classical civilizations like ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, India, etc. Toward the front of the room, next to the main projector and SmartBoard, I would create a classroom bulletin for the individual periods that would display important information for school activities, assignments, missed work for students that were absent, test and quiz dates, my office hours, and the classroom rules and expectations. I think that having expectations centrally placed is important for students to be reminded of appropriate behaviors and to maintain structure within their learning environment. Towards the back of the classroom, I would like to have a small group table where students can ask to sit there instead of their desks or as a place where I can work one on one with a specific group of students.

 

B. My curriculum would be reliant on a good amount of small group work which I would like to split by allowing students to choose their partners, however for some assignments I would like to place students together based on their level of understanding. I think it is important to encourage student autonomy and allow students to make decisions for themselves whether its with the group members they work with or options within their activities to better engage them. I would always reserve the right to adjust groups as needed due to behavior, however I hope that students of different levels can mix together to encourage peer learning and review of work. Since I wouldn’t work with students younger than sixth grade, I think this is a great time to encourage students to make choices but to make smart and productive choices that lead them to their academic goal. Another important aspect of student autonomy is how they develop their personal organizational skills. As students begin to gain more independence, the concept of organization is very loose to sixth graders. As a person that is very organized, I tend to micro-manage someone else that isn’t organized. For my students I would encourage and model good organization skills by incorporating organizational tasks in the timing of the lesson. For example, after homework review it gets returned to the homework section of their binders.

 

C. As I previously mentioned, I believe that as I create my curriculums, group work will be very important to the structure of the units. Group work allows students to engage with their content in creative and relatable ways if I plan them correctly. These activities can be pivotal in changing a student’s connection to their material if it can connect with them in a personal way. When planning units, I would like to have an introductory lesson or two on a new topic and have students take some notes or be given scaffolded notes for them to follow with the presentation. As the unit continues and students have a base of what they need to understand, continuing lessons will be group activities or project-based learning. To offset the typical assessments like tests or quizzes I would like to engage students in creative activities that allow them to challenge themselves with their material. However, during certain periods of studying or reviewing content, I feel like individual work can be beneficial so that I can assess where a student is in terms of understanding their material. Small assessments like these small group chats, Do Nows, or Exit tickets would be preemptive to better gauge the direction of my next activities. Regardless of how the students and their desks are organized, students will be always be able to “turn and talk” to peers and that can be an important tool to help me assess the direction of the lesson and if things need to be discussed in further detail to support understanding.

Below are the layouts of my ideal classroom.

 

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    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Stephanie,
      I really enjoyed reading your post for this Excursion. It is both thoughtful and thorough, and it allowed me to visualize both the physical and psychological components of the learning environment you intend to employ.

      I don't think I have seen anyone else in this course relate cramped classrooms with an unworkable learning environment in the way that you have when you said:

      Cramped rooms that lack space can interfere with students and their learning because group activities become difficult or time consuming to set up, but also encourage students to distract themselves and others in tight spaces. 

      It was very interesting, then, to see your learning environment arise as a response to this situation. Very interesting indeed.

      You also make an interesting connection between student autonomy (and related self regulatory skills) and the various uses of group work. I have done some research with a former middle school colleague on the use of group work in a robotics program to increase her students' ability to collaborate. You will be reading it (We, Robot) as part of your annotated bibliography. I am eager to see if you find this useful for your own interests.

      Lastly, you have done a good job discussing the balance between group and individual work. Something to consider is whether and when you think learning is a collective or individual phenomenon. What do you think?

    ED 524 Spring 2020

    ED 524 Spring 2020

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