Archive for the ‘EDCI 506’ Category

EDCI 506 Issues in Education Week #3

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

The Purpose of Education

I think that the purpose of education is to help develop students into productive members of society.  My purpose relates with the Ancient Greeks purpose of education, which was “to cultivate civic responsibility and identification with city-state and to develop well-rounded persons” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 60).  I know that many people say that they want to create productive members of society, but I really do believe in that.  I think that education can help students realize the different between right and wrong, can help students want to give back to the community, and to help them realize the value of hard work.  I do not only hope for my students to become white collar workers like doctors, my wish is that they give back and participate in any way that they can for the greater good of society, and that is why we have education.

How has the Institution of Education Changed? And how has it Remained the Same?

The institution of education has gone through many different reforms and has been effected by many different groups of people.  From the preliterate societies to the current institution of education, many changes have happened but also many aspects have stayed the same.  I would say that the overall purpose of education has changed dramatically over the years.  I would say our society’s current view on the purpose of education is similar to that of the preliterate society, which included the “transmission of the group’s existing traditions, cultural patterns, and survival skills” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 57).  Different groups and people along the way have included religious commitment and knowledge about their religion as being the sole purpose of education.  Today, all public schools in the United States are supposed to be upholding the separation of church and state, meaning no religious affiliation allowed, which is a huge difference.

There are also many aspects of the educational institution that have remained the same.  For instance, the Chinese were the ones who first came up with standardized tests, and those are heavily used today around the world.  Other aspects that have remained the same are instructional methods focused on drill memorization.  Most standardized tests are multiple choice, so as long as the student answers the question correctly, which can be done by rote memorization, than they will pass.  The problem with this is that it does not lead to full comprehension or long-term learning.  I would assume most educators today say that they do not teach in a way that promotes drill memorization, however, I believe that it still happens all of the time.  The idea of a liberal education has also been sustained over time.  Liberal arts education, or education of many subjects, started with the Greeks, and has continued to be valued to the current times (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 60).

How have Educators from the Past Contributed to Teaching Today?

Many educators from the past have contributed to teaching today.  Scholars dated back to the late 1500’s have contributed to teaching today.  Comenius, a seventeenth century educational pioneer, came up with the idea that teachers should be caring people who created pleasant classrooms.  He also wanted teaching to heavily involve the senses, thought that teachers should incorporate pictures into lessons, and believed that lessons should be related to students’ practical lives (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 98).  Many of the same ideas are still valid in today’s teaching world.  Rousseau, a French theorist, believed that children developed in stages, and that curriculum should follow the interests of the child (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 102-103).  Pestalozzi, a Swiss educator, added manipulatives to the mix of teaching, and thought that learning should begin with concrete objects and move towards abstract ideas (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 104).  The list could go on and on of the different educators from the past that have contributed to teaching today, but the three previously mentioned are considered the builders of our elementary education.

Experiences Role in our Teaching and Student Learning Throughout Education History

Many educational pioneers throughout history have emphasized the role of experience in education.  John Dewey may be the most famous educator, however, many others have contributed to the idea including some people that I have already mentioned, such as Rousseau and Pestalozzi.  Dewey, though, stated that the scientific method is the “most effective process we have to solve problems” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.112).  He also thought that through interaction, children would be eager to explore their environments and to learn new things.  Dewey made it very clear that everyone has experiences, but that it is the quality of the experience that really matters (Dewey, 1938, p. 27).

Montessori took Dewey’s idea of experiencing education to a new level and created schools where children solely learn through experiences and exploration.  Montessori schools emphasize children working with materials at appropriate stages, and students taking control over their own education (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 117).  Not only do Montessori based schools follow experiential based learning, but in many public schools teachers try to incorporate experiential learning into everyday lessons.

This is a great website to look at because it is set up in a similar manner to our book.  It breaks down the history of education into different sections based on place and time, for example they have sections titled Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, etc.  This is a great place to further our class discussion and readings from the week.


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 Beginnings of My Teaching Philosophy Week 2

Friday, September 7th, 2012

My Teaching Philosophy

When thinking about my own teaching philosophy a lot of different ideas come swarming into my head.  My first thought was something along the lines of “well I know why I want to be a teacher, but I’m not fully sure of my teaching philosophy because I have never been a teacher before”.  I think I will get a more complete idea of my teaching philosophy once I take more courses and am actually a teacher, but for now these are some of the ideas that come to mind.


Goals are an aspect of a teaching philosophy that I can relate to.  I have been a student for basically my entire life up to this point and along the way have had to set and achieve many goals.  When thinking about being a teacher I have many goals already set for myself.  First and foremost, I want to create an environment that is positive, where children feel free to express their opinions and ideas.  I plan to achieve this goal by modeling how to stay optimistic, and by using inquiry based learning techniques to encourage my students to ask questions and to learn how to find answers on their own.  I am a believer in experiencing education, and I think that when kids come to their own conclusions the likelihood of them remembering what they learned increases substantially.  I will not use inquiry based learning all of the time, but I would like to set aside time during each major unit for the students to explore their personal interests in the subject within guidelines.  An article about inquiry instruction states, “Inquiry learning can significantly improve student achievement and knowledge acquisition as compared with more traditional learning” (Saunders-Stewart, Gyles, & Shore, 2012, p.15).

Another goal that I have for myself is to have high expectations for all of my students.  I am aware that a teacher’s subconscious opinion of a child’s abilities affects their academic performance.  Children understand those subtle hints and behaviors that a teacher engages, which ultimately sends a message to a child and says either “I know you can do this”, or “I know you won’t understand this”.  Children usually perform in a way that is expected of them; so if a teacher has low expectations the student will probably perform poorly (Hamachek, 1995).  I want to try and free myself of negative expectations of certain students that were placed in my head by other people.  I think preconceived expectations for specific students, especially bad expectations, makes it nearly impossible for the student to prove that they are something other than what a teacher initially thought.  I want to have high expectations for all of my students and I want them to all know that I believe in them and think that they can be successful.  This specific goal is going to be a challenge for me throughout my teaching career, but I will consciously work at it every day.  One way to help me achieve this goal could be to keep a positive journal, in which I write positive things about all of my students.

Another one of my goals includes being the best teacher that I can possibly be.  In saying that, I know that being the best teacher one can be requires a lot of work and I am ready to put in the effort.  I plan on always staying up to date on current research in education so that I may better serve my students.  Our textbook mentions staff development, and how continuing education is a requirement for most, but I think people should want to seek out new information in order to make their teaching the most effective (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  I plan to collaborate with my colleagues to improve my performance, just as the teachers did in the video we watched this week (Teaching as a Profession: Collaboration with Colleagues).  In that particular video, I loved how the different collaboration teams came together and shared what they talked about in a large group setting, that is something I would love to do in my future teacher career (Teaching as a Profession: Collaboration with Colleagues).  I also plan to seek resources in areas that I struggle in the most.  Another goal includes wanting to meet all of my students’ individual needs by accommodating lessons and assessments to be on their level.  Differentiating between students is very important to me, and is something that I think all teachers should be able to do, and do well in order to be successful.  A list of my goals could be endless, however these are a few of the really important ones.

Interests in New Techniques

I have a lot of interests in new teaching techniques, one particular interest is in whole brain teaching or power teaching.  This type of teaching involves a lot of responding from students; it is a very interactive way of teaching and reminds me of John Dewey’s progressive theory of education.  In whole brain teaching, the teacher might make a statement that the students have heard many times before and know to respond in a certain way.  For example, if the teacher says “class”, then the students know to respond by saying “yes” in a way that mimics the teacher’s way of saying “class”.  Another technique involved in whole brain teaching is for the teacher to say “hands and eyes,” the students will repeat the statement while placing their hands together and intently looking at the teacher.  This “hands and eyes” saying helps teachers make really important points to their students, all students are listening and looking and, therefore, are more likely to be paying close attention to what the teacher is saying.  This form of teaching keeps students engaged for a long period of time because they are always reacting to the teacher’s actions.  I personally really like it because of how interactive it is, and how useful it can be for all ages.

Here is the link to a video describing the basics of whole brain teaching… it is really fascinating!

How My Teaching Facilitates Student Learning

In relation to my goals and interests in new techniques comes my view on how my teaching will facilitate student learning.  I believe that through the different teaching techniques I mentioned, such as inquiry based learning and whole brain teaching, students will be engaged in the subject matter and interact with it, which will ultimately facilitate learning.  I hope to be a teacher who always makes learning fun and interesting and who will instill the desire and eagerness to learn in all students.  I also am a firm believer in students teaching other students; if someone knows a topic well enough to teach someone else the information, than they fully grasped the concepts and learned what they needed to know.  I know that I will not fully reach every student in the way that I hope to, but I hope to I reach all of them in some way.

My Conception of How Learning Occurs

I think that learning occurs in many different ways for every person.  We are all individuals with unique needs that need to be met in order for learning to take place.  I think the process of how it occurs is most interesting though, and it is all because of how the brain is set up and how it works.  When someone receives new information they have the option to take it in or discard it; many pieces of information come into our brains every second of everyday, but our sensory registrar determines what is important and what is not (Bjorklund, 2012).  Once we have decided that this new information is worth attending to, then we address it in our working memory where we process the information and make it relevant.  Next comes the storage of the new information and the decision where to put it in their brain.  If nothing is done with the information than it will be lost, however if different cognitive operations are preformed than the information will move along to the long-term memory (Bjorklund, 2012).  If the information fits along with preexisting information than they can assimilate the information into existing schemas (framework that helps organize information in the brain).  If the information is completely new and does not fit with any already known information than the brain has to accommodate, meaning reorganizing the schemas to make this new information fit in (Bkorklund, 2012).  This conception of how learning occurs combines the information processing theory and Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.  In knowing this information, as a teacher I think I will really try and make every hook or attention grabber in my lesson very interesting in order to spike their interest in hopes of the information getting to my student’s long-term memory.

Evidence of Student Learning

I think that there is many ways a student can show you that they have learned something, however I think the most common way to prove it is through assessments.  I plan on assessing my students frequently in order to have evidence that they are learning.  On a daily basis I plan on doing informal assessments, whether I listen to the students while they are sharing what they know to their classmates, or have them write answers on a personal white board and hold it up.  I always plan on doing informal assessments every day to keep track of my students and their progress.  I also will do many formal assessments as well.  At the beginning of every unit I would like to give a pretest so that I know each student’s starting point.  If at the posttest they show improvement than I know that the student learned something.


Bjorklund, D.F. (2012). Children’s thinking cognitive development and individual differences. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Hamachek, D. (1995). Expectations Revisited: Implications for Teachers and Counselors and Questions for Self-Assessment. Journal Of Humanistic Education And Development, 34(2), 65-74.

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

Saunders-Stewart, K.S., Gyles, P.D.T., & Shore, B.M. (2012). Student outcomes in inquiry instruction: a literature-derived inventory. Journal of Advanced Academics, 23 (1), 5-31. Retrieved from

Teaching as a Profession: Collaboration with Colleagues (Video file). Retrieved from

EDCI 506 So You Want to be a Teacher? Week 1

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Teachers Matter

Teachers do in fact matter.  How well teachers know their subject matter, how much time they put into planning their lessons, and how often they seek help when they know they need it matters and makes a difference in student achievement.  It mattered for me in high school when I took Advanced Placement Statistics; I passed the class, but did not fully comprehend or grasp any of the main concepts and that was because my teacher did not know the subject matter.  In college, I took the same course and passed with flying colors, all because of the teacher.  Kati Haycock wrote an article titled Good Teaching Matters: How Well-Qualified Teachers Can Close the Gap, and in that article she mentions how if schools focus more on low standards, low-level curriculum, under-educated teachers, and poor results that schools can close the achievement gap between students from all different backgrounds (Haycock, 1998).  The article goes on to mention that research supports that teachers are the most significant factor in student achievement, and I agree (Haycock, 1998).     

Current evidence supports that some teachers bring about higher student achievement than others; this evidence may anger certain teachers for a couple of different reasons, and understandably so.  Most teachers state that the reason they are teaching is because they want to “help children grow and learn” (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek, 2011, p. 3). One reason why some teachers might be angered about evidence on differential achievement of teachers is because they may feel as if they are failing at their job, and failing their students because they are not helping them learn to the extent that they should be.  Another reason for anger could be that the teachers are frustrated with their lack of preparedness for teaching to all kinds of students.  According to the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers are expected to make sure all students are performing at a satisfactory level, which may be difficult for the teachers and students alike to accomplish because of their cultural and background differences (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek, 2011).  Certain teachers may have more homogeneous classrooms than others, which may make their job a bit easier and their student achievement higher.  Teachers with more heterogeneous classrooms may have a tougher time with student achievement and may be angered with the evidence that they are not as successful because comparatively, they are in the more challenging situation.  A third reason for anger may be because of merit-pay programs that have been set up by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.  If teachers are being told that they are not performing very well and, therefore, are not going to get a raise like the other high achieving teachers, anger may arise (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek, 2011).  If I were an underperforming teacher, I know that I would be more sad than anything because I would feel as if I were failing the students.

The reasons previously mentioned might also be why some teacher educators want to find flaws in the evidence that teachers play a huge role in producing student achievement.  Personally, I would predict that the not as successful teachers would be the ones seeking flaws in the evidence because either they do not want to admit their flaws, or because the circumstances have made it difficult for them to produce high achieving students.

In addition to certain teachers wanting to find flaws in the evidence on differential achievement of teachers, so might principals.  Principals may be reluctant to use the data and evidence as a basis for improvement because either they do not want to admit that they hired unsuccessful teachers, or maybe that they do not in fact believe their teachers to be unsuccessful.  Teachers who have all of the proper qualifications and who can demonstrate competency on subject knowledge still may have problems in the classroom. According to Margaret Spellings report of teacher quality, states still do not have qualified teachers in every classroom, and that minimum scores for certification are low (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek, 2011, p. 23).  Principals may be reluctant to use the data because they do not want their schools’ to have a bad reputation.  Instead, what they should be doing is using the data to help improve their teachers and help provide them with resources to increase their performance.   Principals should review the data and find specific areas where teachers need help and then implement resources to help the teacher become the best that they can be.  Haycock claims, if all students have the same quality teachers the achievement gap would close by about half (Haycock, 1998).

In my future teaching career, I would hope that if I were a teacher with poor student achievement that my school would support me and help me improve my performance as a teacher.  My expectation would be that my administration and colleagues would be there for me to lean on and help guide me in the right direction.  Whether they recommended a training course or were a personal mentor, I would wish that they would be there for support and guidance.

A video posted below shows of team teachers really mentoring one another and providing feedback to help improve their strategies and overall performance in the classroom.

Links:  (The link to the article Good Teaching Matters: How Well-Qualified Teachers Can Close the Gap by Kati Haycock)  (Here is a link to a video titled Team Teaching: How to Improve Each Other’s Game, that discusses team teaching and how it can provide much needed support and feedback from colleagues).


Haycock, K. (Summer 1998). Good teaching matters how well-qualified teachers can close the gap. The Education Trust 3(2). retrieved from


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