Archive for November, 2012

EDCI 506 Curriculum and Instruction Week #13

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Curriculum and Instruction

What do students learn in schools?

Students learn many things at school including the many different core subjects as well as imperative skills like communication, social, and problem solving.  I am an advocate for the core curriculum subject-centered approach, which involves students studying “subject matter in an integrated fashion” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 437).  That means that students connect what they are learning in one core subject area to other core subject areas.  The basic core subjects being taught are mathematics, science, history, and English; however, today many other subjects/classes are being offered such as technology because of the demand for knowledge in that specific area.  Students also learn a great deal of social skills while attending school, which is why I am a promoter for public school, compared to home school.  Students engage in a significant amount of social learning on an everyday basis in the school setting, which leads to them replicating those behaviors and learning from them.  Such behaviors can include trying something new on the playground, or mimicking what another student does in order to be successful in the classroom.  Overall, there is a lot of learning that goes on in a school, mainly learning in relation to core academics and social skills.


How do teachers plan and deliver instruction?

The manner in how a teacher plans and delivers instruction varies depending on the teacher’s specific teaching style.  Dewey would say that the best way to plan and deliver instruction would be to know your students well enough so that you can have appropriate lessons accordingly; these lessons would always “balance subject matter with student interests and needs” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 439).  Others, however, would claim that the best way to plan and deliver instruction is to simply not plan any lessons ahead of time and to let the students direct their own instruction.  People who are advocates of this type of planning and delivering of lessons may have beliefs rooted in Montessori schools, where children have control over their own education (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Personally, I believe in a structured teaching style that still does balance students’ interests and needs, an idea similar to Dewey, but one that may be a bit more structured.  The main reason why I like structure is because I like to feel prepared and one of the main ways for me to feel prepared is to have structure and in many cases routine.

What are some models of direct instruction?

To describe direct instruction, the textbook says it best.  It “emphasizes well-developed and carefully planned lessons designed around small learning increments and clearly defined and prescribed teaching tasks” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 452).  There are many models of direct instruction, but the one that I believe to be most common involves scripted lessons.  Scripted lessons are where the teacher is essentially reading a script from a pre-prepared lesson (not made by themselves), and they are to respond to students’ responses in a very systematic manner (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Proponents of scripted lessons say that it is a way to heavily scaffold students and is an extremely explicit form of instruction, while critics say that it is hurting students’ comprehension abilities (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Other forms of direct instruction involve working in very small groups, sometimes even one-on-one, and breaking down the lesson into small units that are put into some sort of sequential order.


How do teachers help students learn thinking and problem solving skills?

Teachers help students learn to think and develop problem-solving skills in many ways.  One way in which those skills can be acquired in through cooperative learning; a technique that involves students working together in small groups to solve problems or to work on a common goal (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  These types of activities help students get engaged in the lessons, which ultimately promote their thinking abilities and their abilities to work well with others.  Other ways to help foster problem solving skills is to have students work on problem based projects.  This is where students are working in teams to solve a problem that is based around real world applications; for example, students may try to make a functional robot that serves an everyday purpose.  Another way that I think teachers can help students learn thinking and problem-solving skills is to incorporate group work with projects where students work with students from another part of the country or world.  I think that these types of projects get students excited about school and help them learn vital thinking and problem solving skills.


Brainstorm ideas of authentic assessments that you may use that are appropriate for a content area that you might teach as well as developmentally appropriate for your future students.

Many of the ideas that I have for authentic assessments for my future elementary students involve them having to actually do what ever they are learning about.  For example, when students learn how to measure objects with a ruler, I plan on having my students measuring objects around the classroom.  Another idea that involves teaching reading, is to have every student actually read to me individually at least once a week and hopefully more.  It seems like an obvious thing to state, but I think that many teachers do not listen to each of their students reading individually very often.


Here is a link to a video from the eduopia website that discusses authentic assessment.  I really liked the video because it says what authentic assessment is and the steps to take in order to make your assessments authentic as a teacher.



Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 The Changing Purposes of American Education Week # 12

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

The Changing Purposes of American Education

 Are schools remaining relevant in the 21st century?

Schools in the 21st century are forever changing, but yes, are remaining relevant.  We talked about in class how education usually tends to sway with the times, and currently we are on a science/math/technology trend that is pushing educator to make substantial gains in those specific areas.  The textbook states, “the goals of education must be relevant to the times,” which is essentially what is happening (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 429).  Our society and social forces are driving us to attempt to outperform other nations in areas like science, math, and technology, which is why that is a big focus in education today.  According to the textbook, 15-year-olds in the United States performed lower than their peers in “twenty (math) and fifteen (science) other industrialized nations” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 424).  The only way to attain the goals of becoming more proficient and essentially the best in math, science, and technology is to learn, and one of the main means for learning to take place is in the schools.  Today more than ever, more people are going to college and attending higher education programs, in order to continue learning and to achieve greater things than the people before them.


Should pedagogy change?

Personally, I do think that in certain areas pedagogy needs to change in order for schools to be preparing students to live and work successfully in the 21st century.  I think that much of what goes on in the classrooms today is rote memorization and just basic understandings of complex topics; education tends to brush the surface level, but what we need is to get to the core.  In the next chapter of the textbook, 21st century skills is a topic for discussion, which brings in a lot of pedagogical ideas that will help prepare our students for the 21st century.  The three overarching skill sets are learning and innovative skills, information and technology skills, and life and career skills (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Learning and innovative skills, for example, involves being creative and having critical thinking and problem solving skills; our teachers need to use teaching strategies that allow for students to develop these skills (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  A pedagogical way to incorporate those skills is to have a lot of problem-based learning, where students are given a problem, maybe even one that is applicable to real life, and they are to solve it in cooperative learning groups.  This way students are learning to work with others, to develop critical thinking skills, and problem solving strategies (Trilling & Fadel, 2009). Lessons and pedagogy do need to change in order to be current with societal goals and expectations.


What are your thoughts about allowing students to take control of the content and helping them to make meaning and create knowledge from it in multiple forms, styles, and media?

Like Dewey, I think it is very important for students to make meaning from knowledge and to connect it to what they already know.  I also believe in some structure within the educational system in order to guide students’ learning experience; coinciding with that idea, the teacher must have some control in order to try and make experiences meaningful and set up in a way that will help develop future experiences (Dewey, 1938).  I think if we allow students to take total control of the content, than we are essentially promoting a Montessori based educational idea.  Although I am very intrigued by the idea, I think that if I were a student in elementary, middle, or high school that I would have just played and who knows what I would have learned.  I do, however, think it is very important for students to be able to experience knowledge in multiple forms and styles.  It is important for students to be exposed to a variety of educational forms, including media and technology, to figure out what type of learner that they are and what strategies work best for them.  One of my goals as a teacher is to create students who are self-regulated, and a way to help foster that is to expose students to many different forms of knowledge.


How can schools engage students in meaningful projects that focus on creativity and apply the content students are learning?

I believe that there are many ways in which students can engage in meaningful projects that combine and apply creativity and content.  As mentioned, I think it is a good idea to incorporate a lot of project-based learning into the classroom in order to students to be engaged in a problem based in the real world while focusing on solving the problem in a creative and new manner.  Another extremely interesting way to engage students in meaningful projects that involve creativity and content is to have an ongoing assignment with students from another part of the country or world.  Students will be more excited to complete the assignment because it will be an experience totally new to them.  We are living in a technology world, so students may use technology to communicate; they will have to be creative in thinking about ways to share ideas and to communicate with one another.  An example of this would be to have pen pals in another state, this way students are learning writing skills, particularly how to write a letter, and are creating topics to discuss with their friend from another place. This is a great website created by a Denver Art Museum that has lesson plan ideas that are supposed to spark creativity in students.  When you go to the website and search under lesson plans, it allows you to choose your grade level, type of lesson, what type of skill you want your students to learn, etc.  The lessons appear to be very diverse and include a variety of different cultures, which is one reason why I liked this website so much.




Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). 21st century skills: Learning for life in our time. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

EDCI 506 Equal Education Opportunity Week 11

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Equal Education Opportunity

How is curriculum and instruction in a class for gifted students different from that in other classes? How might you teach a student who is gifted and talented in your inclusive classroom?


Curriculum and instruction in a class for gifted students is very different from that of other classes because of the accommodations and modifications that need to be made in order to meet each student’s individual needs.  Giftedness can be thought of as “cognitive (intellectual) superiority (not necessarily of genus caliber), creativity, and motivation in combination and of sufficient magnitude to set children apart from the vast majority of their age peers and make it possible for them to contribute something of particular value to society” (Hallahan, Kaufman, & Pullen, 2012, p. 431).  Within the term giftedness is a multitude of abilities such as precocity (remarkable early development), insight into relevant and irrelevant information, genius, creativity of novel ideas, and talent or special abilities (Hallahan, Kaufman, & Pullen, 2012).  Because students with all of these abilities can be considered gifted, it is a difficult challenge on the teacher on how to provide appropriate lessons for all.

If I were to have a student who is gifted and talented in my classroom I would strive to make sure that lessons are at their appropriate level, while keeping the overall information the same.  It is very important to not just assume that because a gifted student understands that he/she does not need and want appropriate leveled tasks and assignments.  Teachers need to not use gifted students as a way to help other struggling students; they have a mind of their own and are essentially still students who need guidance and support from their teacher.  Hopefully, I would never tell my gifted student to go to the library to do extra reading because they already know the information.  I want to challenge my gifted students at an appropriate level and will do so by providing the same information, but maybe making their tasks a bit more challenging so that they have to use their creative and innovative brain.  Another one of my textbooks states, “highly talented young people suffer boredom and negative peer pressure in heterogeneous classrooms.  Students of all ages and grade levels are entitled to challenging and appropriate instruction if they are to develop their talents fully” (Hallahan, Kaufman, & Pullen, 2012, p. 442).


Collect resources that will help you teach effectively in your inclusive classroom. For example, include a list of resources that you found to differentiate instruction or manage a classroom environment.


– My textbook from my special education class has a lot of good information in it pertaining to what gifted and talented means, how as a teacher to serve these students, and what early intervention can do for a student.  This book is called Exceptional Learners An Introduction to Special Education and is written by Hallahan, Kauffman, and Pullen some of whom are professors at UVA.  The textbook covers a wide range of disabilities and different educational considerations for each.

– This is a great website for teachers and parents who work with students who have disabilities.  The website reviews all disabilities and other things such as the IDEA law and educational forms like IEPs.  Under each disability is a handout of information and within most are tips for teachers.

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners is a book written by Carol Tomlinson, and is about differentiated instruction in the classroom and its importance.  This book covers topics from what is differentiated instruction to instructional strategies that help to differentiate between students.  There is a free version of the book online at



How can professional collaboration enhance education in an inclusive classroom?

Professional collaboration can enhance education in an inclusive classroom immensely.  Through working and discussing techniques with other teachers, you may be in a way providing different intervention techniques without even knowing it.  Response to Intervention is a current technique that requires students to stay in the general education classroom while teachers provide researched based interventions in order to try and help the student overcome whatever problems they may be having in the classroom before they are recommended for special education services (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  If teachers collaborate, than they most likely will be using intervention techniques that maybe other teachers have used that have been successful, therefore, helping the overall well-being of the student.  Collaboration can also make sure that students with suspected disabilities are getting a consistent education across classrooms.  For example, if a student switches classrooms for math and science and is with another teacher, teacher one should share the techniques that work for the student with teacher two, in order to help the student improve all around in their educational career.  Collaboration is very important when it comes to a student’s success, especially if they have or are suspected of having a disability.


What steps should you take to help prepare you to teach students with disabilities?

There are many steps that a teacher can take to help prepare them to teach students with disabilities.  One major way teachers can be proactive is to look up what research has to say about different teaching techniques and strategies that work well for certain types of disabilities.  This in a way is similar to Response to Intervention, which, as mentioned, is to use researched based interventions in order to help students make gains before they are referred to special education (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  That is an easy and free way to prepare your self for working with students with disabilities.  Another step that you can take is to collaborate with the special educator in your building and get advice and strategies from them on how to better serve students with disabilities.  Another step could be to co-teach with the special educator in order to be able to address all students in an appropriate manner.  One last way to help prepare to work with students with disabilities is to receive training, this training is usually provided by your school, which may be expensive so not all teachers will have this option.  That is why it is also important to be proactive and to seek out resources yourself, rather than just waiting for people to provide them to you.  Overall, there are many steps that a teacher can take to help prepare themselves to teach students with disabilities.


Hallahan, D.P., Kauffman, J.M., & Pullen, P.C. (2012). Exceptional learners an introduction to special education (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.).      Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 Social Class, Race, and School Achievement Week #10

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Social Class, Race, and Student Achievement

Social class can be thought of as a mere ranking system of people based on four variables.  Our textbook states these four social class variables are occupation, education, income, and housing value (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Because of those four variables, people are ranked and ordered into upper class, upper middle class, lower middle class, upper lower class, and lower lower class, which is our societies way of determining a persons worth, in my opinion.  Social class correlates strongly with school success, which is why as a teacher it is important to put aside any preconceived notions about a student’s social class when teaching.  Evidence suggests relationships between social class and academic success in many different areas including mathematics and reading.  Our textbook reads, “nine-year-olds whose parents had at least some college had average scores not far below those for thirteen-year-olds who parents had not completed high school” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 340).  Because of the strong relationship between social class and academic success, I as a teacher want to strive to only see children and not how much money their parents make.

I think that a huge factor that plays into academic success is teachers perceptions about how well students are going to perform based on many different factors including social class, race, and past performance.  When students turn out to be what is expected of them, that is known as the self-fulfilling prophecy.  As a future teacher, I will try my best to have high expectations for all of my students despite social class, race, gender, or any other personal bias that I may have, in hopes of them all being successful in life.  I personally am from a middle class family where both of my parents did not go to college, and so I have hope for all students that their family’s social class should not define who they turn out to be.

Race is another factor that correlates strongly with academic success and in many cases social class.  For example, “African American students have the lowest SES scores (as reflected by higher percentages in poverty).  They also have the lowest math and reading scores” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.343).  Whereas, whites have the highest SES and the highest reading scores and second highest math scores (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Because race is such a huge factor in school success, I think it is very important to develop a climate of respect in a classroom.  Race ties very closely into cultural beliefs; classrooms need a sense of respect in order to function and maintain a learning environment.  The movie Freedom Writers was about a classroom full of students with many different racial backgrounds; until they respected one another, no substantial learning took place because the focus was on the racial differences (DeVito, Shamberg, & Sher, 2007).  I want to help set up a climate in my classroom like Mrs. Gruwell did; I want my students to not feel judged by me or by others based on their race.  I was all of my students to know that I believe they are worth something, and can succeed in life if they want to.

When reading the chapter, I found it very interesting that in certain cultures it is cool to be unsuccessful in school.  The book states that, “high achievers who work hard are often labeled as ‘brainiacs’ and accused of ‘acting white’” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 360).  This supports the fact that students are very influenced by their peers, which are usually members of the same race.  Teachers need to find a way to make learning the “cool” thing to do, maybe by creating fun projects that can be applicable to real world settings or getting ideas from students as to what sorts of assignments they would like to complete.  Overall, race is just one factor in a person’s success, and should not define what they can and cannot accomplish in life.  The book says it right, “For educators, the challenge is to improve the performance of all low-status students, from whatever ethnic group” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.348).

When talking about social class, race, and their effects on academic achievement, people tend to have differing viewpoints as to whether outcomes are genetically based or environmentally; personally, I believe in the synthesizer’s or interactionist view.  When examining a person’s intelligence, some people believe that it is all from their genetics, while others believe it is all from their environment and what they are exposed to (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  I believe that intelligence is partially based on genetics and partially based on environmental factors.  People can be genetically predisposed to have certain traits, but unless their environment brings out those traits than no one will ever know they had them.  For example, a child who has the genetic ability to hear pitch and intonation extremely well and would be a great musician, never is exposed to musical instruments, and therefore, never turns out to be the famous musician that they could have been.  Granted, that is an example of a hypothetical extreme case, however, it could be true for someone in the world.  Overall, I believe that intelligence and academic performance is related to part genetics and part environmental factors, which is why I think teachers should not judge students based on their race or social class.

In what ways does student culture shape perceptions and behaviors?


Student culture shapes perceptions and behaviors in many ways.  As previously mentioned, students sometimes do not try in school because if they succeed they are ridiculed and told that they are “acting white” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  This is an example of how students culture shapes their perceptions and behaviors; these minority students are perceiving academic success to be a trait associated with the white race, therefore, their behavior is being effected and they are not trying in order to avoid seeming white.  Another example of how student culture shapes perceptions and behaviors is from the teacher’s viewpoint.  If a teacher views a particular ethnicity or culture in a negative light, than students will tend to have negative perceptions of the teacher and their race and act in a way that is expected of them.  Because a student may be from a minority race, the teacher may have negative views about that student, which will in turn affect the student’s perceptions about the teacher (especially if they are white) and will affect their behaviors, making them less motivated to do well in school because their teacher does not believe in them, essentially creating the self-fulfilling prophecy.  This example of a teacher’s perception affecting student perceptions and behaviors was clearly identified in Freedom Writers; some of the students made comments to Mrs. Gruwell like, “we are supposed to respect you because you are white” (DeVito et al., 2007).  The students said that they do not respect teachers because of their race; rather some hate the teacher because of their race.  Eva, one of the main characters, stated that white people are the ones who caused everything bad to happen in her life and that they can do whatever they want like put her father into jail, and that is why she hates all white people (DeVito et al., 2007).  This view of Eva’s shows that her perception of white people is very negative, which is ultimately affecting her behaviors in school, she is not doing her work and is not being respectful to white teachers.

Here is the clip about race in Freedom Writers.  I think that it explains how a students culture can shape their perceptions and behaviors.



DeVito, D., Shamberg, M., & Sher, S. (Producers), & Lagravenese, R. (Director). (2007). Freedom Writers [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.