Sunday, October 21, 2012

Socio-cultural Aspects of Schooling for English Learners

Through the credential program readings and my own experiences within my school site and when I was in High School I believe that one of the biggest sociopolitical/cultural issues that English Learners face is isolation and stigmatization from other students. This is often exemplified by their placement into "remedial" English programs and the treatment they receive from native English speaking students and teachers. This is socially unjust not only because it is unfair and they do not deserve it, but on top of that, separating the English learners from the English speakers hinders vocabulary growth and positive social interaction. Part of how I plan to address this within my classroom is by striving to provide a welcoming and safe environment in which all students of any background can  learn and grow.  The other way is by differentiation by "Universal Design" in which I will differentiate my lesson plans for English learners with out singling them out or giving them a different assignment. What I will do is provide supports within the lesson plans to help them (an all students for that matter) to be able to successfully complete the product. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson Planning Blog Post #2 (Quickwrite)

Up until this point my own lesson designing did not include much reasoning from how the brain works aside from using multiple learning methods (audio, visual, etc...). However, knowing what I know now, I will be incorporating many different methods of good brain functionality within my lesson plans. I love using graphic organizers and will continue to do so. One idea that I really like is the use of the "Social Brain" which is one of the main areas in which teenagers think. I will use this by doing more think, pair, shares and group product creation within my lesson plans.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Classroom Management Plan

Brandon Maze
EDSS 511
October 12th, 2012
Classroom Management Plan
The main methodologies of my classroom management plan will be derived from the Essentialist and Social Reconstructionist pedagogical philosophies and my personal belief in the importance of respect. While I do not believe that any one classroom management style is superior to any other, I will endeavor to make a classroom that is respectful and supportive to all students.  After researching the many different classroom management theories, I found that my classroom management plan is derived from elements within Discipline with Dignity, Assertive, Non-coercive and Discipline with Self-Control. I will strive to work with my students in a manner that not only prevents behavioral issues but also teaches and promote respect and cooperativeness. These management methods are highly influenced by my pedagogical philosophies, Social Reconstructionism and Essentialism, because they promote the creation of a learning community in which the students are responsible for developing and maintaining a positive, respectful environment.
Preventative Management
Preventative management actions are methods in which the teacher uses the classroom and curriculum to suppress misbehavior before it starts.  
1. My first preventative approach was pioneered by Lee and Marlene Canter in the late 1970s and is described in their book,” Assertive Discipline: A Take-Charge Approach for Today’s Educator 1976.” In order to prevent misbehavior, I will have my classroom rules clearly displayed and will go over them in detail on the first day of school. These rules will be the main backbone of my expectations for the students and I will uphold and enforce them consistently. I relate this strategy with Essentialism because these rules will concern the essential rights and responsibilities of students within my classroom.
2. Not only will these class rules be displayed and upheld but I will also have discussions with my students regarding the rules and expectations, the purpose and the consequences of breaking them (Coloroso, 1994), an idea from Discipline with Self-Control. I believe it is important to go further than merely posting the rules, which is a vital first step but not enough in my opinion. By discussing the rules, I can ensure that all students understand them fully and that they know what they will be responsible for if they choose to break one. To go along with my Social Reconstructionist pedagogy, if at any time my students feel as though the rules need to be adjusted or improved upon to suit their needs or the needs of the classroom, I will be open to a debate. By allowing the students to be a part of the decision making process (Kohn, 1996), they can have a feeling of ownership of the rules of the classroom and I believe that will prevent misbehavior.
3. Another preventative approach I will practice is to provide a supportive and safe environment in which the students can learn and grow intellectually. This idea comes from the strategies laid out by Non-Coercive Discipline (Glasser, 1985). He argues that insuring a warm and supportive environment for students prevents power struggles from being formed. All conflict resolution will be student lead and will stress responsibility as opposed to obedience. In my opinion, this management approach goes hand in hand with Social Reconstructionism and will provide a model environment for students to practice how to operate in mainstream society.
4. Part of my preventative management piece is derived from Robyn Jackson’s Start Where Your Students Are. The approach involves knowing what currencies, or elements, I as a teacher value in my classroom, quiet, focused students, good grades, these are all examples of what Jackson refers to as currencies. Jackson suggests trying to understand what the students value as currency and designing the classroom to include that (Jackson 2010). While I will not be throwing grades or other traditional things out of the classroom, I will be striving to find out what my students value and use it within the curriculum or at the very least, I will use it to be able to differentiate with individual students.
5. Respect has always been an important idea in my life and I believe that it is the probably one of the single most important things that a person should share with others. This idea will be implemented within my classroom not only in student to student and student to teacher interactions but also in teacher lead interactions with students and staff (Curwin 1983). I feel as though treating students like adults and giving them respect will help to prevent misbehavior in my class as much, if not more than the other strategies I have outlined thus far. This idea is explored by the management method known as Discipline with Dignity, which argues that any punitive or corrective measures that embarrass or demean the students are counter intuitive. 
Supportive Management
Supportive management actions are strategies in which the teacher communicates with students, support and encourages positive behavior and provides differentiation.
1. My first supportive management strategy is to provide recognition and positive feedback as often as possible an element of the Assertive Discipline model (Canter 1976). I believe that it is of vital importance to give students recognition for not only positive behavior but also for a job well done. Positive feedback and recognition provide support by encouragement and promote positive behavior in a simple way, everyone appreciates being told that they are doing a good job. I also believe in the power of using a student’s name for positive (and corrective) reinforcement. My On Site Liaison once told us a story about a student who was having a very hard time in one of her classes. After talking to her about it, my OSL learned that the student was not seeking help from her teacher because he had not bothered to learn her name. I believe names are very important, by using them a teacher is not only saying, “I know you,” but also that “I see you.”
2. In their book, “Discipline through Dignity and Hope for Challenging Youth,” Curwin and Mendler discuss the importance of giving students who may prove difficult to manage for some teachers hope. They argue that challenging students often misbehave or are willful against the teacher are often acting out of frustration with past academic failures. I believe that providing hope to all students is the most important, often most demanding, aspect of supportive management. I will set high, but attainable, standards for every individual student in my class and be sure to let them know that I believe they can achieve them. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” Hope is at very core of the Social Reconstructionism, the goal of the pedagogy is to educate students to be able to improve the society they live in.
3. Another strategy from the Assertive Discipline model that I will use as a supportive method is to send positive reports home to parents via emails or phone calls when a student does well in class. I believe that the parents of challenging students are often well aware, from past teachers and administrators that their child misbehaves. I feel as though it is important to send positive feedback home to parents not only because it theoretically makes the student feel successful and valued, but it also develops trust and would hopefully promote active participation and communication with my student’s parents. Furthermore, if after sending positive feedback home, the student misbehaves in the future, it will be clear that I, as their teacher am not merely nitpicking or overreacting with the student.   
4. One strategy that I believe I have been doing for years and will continue to develop is the use of body language to communicate issues regarding discipline. While this idea is not from one of my main classroom management disciplines, Fredric Jones did quite a bit of research and development of body language during the 1970s as part of his Positive Classroom Discipline. One of the advantages of using non-verbal communication is that, if done correctly, it can be supportive of positive behavior, set limits and discourage misbehavior without taking time away from instruction.
Corrective Management
Corrective management actions are strategies that involve the addressing and counseling student behavior. Mastering these techniques is most likely an endeavor that takes years of practice.
1. The corrective strategy that seems to make the most sense to me is from Discipline with Dignity. This discipline is centered on treating students with respect and commanding it in return without allowing the student to become embarrassed. If a student is talking or being disruptive, the teacher should not draw the entire class’s attention to it but only involve the disruptive student and themselves in the exchange (Curwin 1983.) I believe the first course of action should be a quiet reminder or warning to the student. If that does not work and things escalate, it may be necessary to ask the student to excuse themself from the discussion or activity until such time as they feel ready to rejoin.  This approach is neither humiliating nor diminutive and shares the responsibility with the student in question.
2. Another discipline technique I will use is asking a student who is disrupting the class or being disrespect what is wrong (Glasser, 1985.) By stating that it looks like they have a problem and asking them how you can help them solve it will not only allow me to address the disruption but will also encourage the student to share what might be really bothering them, which might prevent future misbehavior or uncover a much more important issue. The approach appeals to my inner Social Reconstructionist because it is guiding the students to take responsibility for their action while allowing the teacher an opportunity to discover any underlying issues that may be causing the misbehavior in the first place and help the student to find a solution to correct their attitude.
3. It is often best to delay discussions regarding misbehavior and consequences to a later time, such as after class, so that both parties have a change to calm down and let any hard feelings fade (Glasser, 1985.) This idea can be applied to many different disciplinary methods and actions. When students choose to be disruptive it can elicit strong feeling of frustration and annoyance so it is logical to assume that even the most practiced and wizened of teachers may grow angry with a student, who may be angry him or herself.  Furthermore, given the limited time frame most classes operate under and my own desire to never embarrass or disrespect a student willingly, it is only logical that a conversation that may take more than a few minute take place after the rest of the class is over and the remaining students have dispersed.
4. The Discipline with Self-Control approach of allowing the student to participate in the creation of a reasonable consequence (Coloroso, 1994) to an act of misbehavior is also something that I will use in my classroom. Giving the students options, even during an instance of bad behavior is always a good idea in my opinion. I must stress that the consequences will not be retributory in nature because I believe that punitive actions often only serve to strengthen a problem and that a “battle of wills” between a student and a teacher can only affect a classroom in a negative way. Another way to look at this strategy is discussed by Alfie Kohn in What to Look for in a Classroom, 1996.In this article, Kohn argues that the best corrective actions are not the typical “doing to” actions but a “working with” strategy (Kohn, 1996). This not only focuses on the student helping him or herself, but also on building a community that is based on learning and positive values.
I believe that creating a classroom were the students are expected to respect others and are respected by the teacher and the other students in turn will hinder the development of misbehavior and will help to limit disruptions with little need for more than a reminder here and there. Furthermore, by insuring a supportive environment where the students are encouraged to be involved in some of the decision making will not only nurture success but will also help my students to achieve the goals I set for them and teach them how to live in and improve a society that is full of different peoples and opinions.   As a social reconstructionist,  I believe that idea that the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow will be fostered valiantly by this management plan.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Accurate (i + 1) Assessment for English learners

I have a total of four English learners in my class and they are all CELDT 4s, ergo, my CT and I teach at the "advanced" level for ELD Standards.

ELD Standard:
Write persuasive and expository compositions that include a clear thesis, describe organized points of support and address counter arguments. 

Assessment-Diagnostic/Entry Level: Academic (T.A.X.E.S.) Paragraph  

After completing the graphic organizer and the group discussion the students are asked to write an academic paragraph and are told to follow the T.A.X.E.S. model, which is tagging statement, assertion (Thesis), example, explanation (points of support) and significance. This is a diagnostic assessment because I have having them write it as a way to assess how well they understand the requirements of writing an academic paragraph. I will use the results of this assessment to see what level of further instruction is required.