Goal 2: Demonstrate knowledge of how students learn and is able to effectively apply that knowledge within a variety of educational roles.

Every student is diverse in their learning, background knowledge, life experience, strengths, and weaknesses. Each student has a variety of skills. What one student is good at might be extremely difficult for another student. Every student has something to bring to the class. Every student has a desire and need to feel successful, regardless of their ability. Every student has the ability to do great things, and as educators, it is our responsibility to provide those opportunities for every student to utilize and discover their strengths and weaknesses. We need to provide a safe, positive, and flexible environment that encourages students with many diverse backgrounds to grow and expand their knowledge.

Learning is a process of changing thoughts and making new connections with previous knowledge. Students construct their own understanding through experience, culture, beliefs, and through interactions with others. Students can build a better understanding of a particular topic if they can connect it to something that they learned previously. We need to research the various learning and teaching theories and incorporate the best practices into our classroom through a variety of pedagogy. We need to get to know our students in order to determine which strategies would best benefit them. In order to benefit each student we cannot be afraid to be flexible and change how we do things.

Students need to feel that what they are learning is important. They need to be given the opportunity to determine and see how what they are learning connects to them and the real world. As educators, we can provide a variety of learning opportunities that would help students think about their own thinking. They need to be given the ability to problem solve and set goals. They need to be given the opportunity to take ownership of their learning. We need to provide an environment of high, realistic expectations where the students are able to think, reason, communicate, reflect, and feel confident about their learning.

Artifact 1

This artifact is a paper about reading in the math classroom. This paper discusses how reading can be a reason why many students struggle with math. It provides a variety of pedagogy methods that can be incorporated in the classroom to better help students learn how to read math. I chose to write this paper because I wanted to help students learn the language of math and I wanted to research some best practices. Some of the ideas in the paper include relating new concepts to previous knowledge, breaking material into manageable parts, and collaborative groups. These strategies provided can be linked to learning theory and how students learn.

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Artifact 2

This artifact is a collection of five different lesson plans that I compiled for EDFN 745. These are lesson plans that I have used in some of my 8th grade and 9th grade classrooms. Each lesson plan displays different models for learning. The models that are displayed are the inductive model, concept attainment model, integrative model, problem-based model, and the lecture-discussion model. No one model works all the time. One model might work one time and then not the other. There are many factors that contribute to the failure and success of a learning model. A couple of those factors include the topic being covered along with the students being taught. It is important to understand the different learning models to best try to accommodate the different learning styles of the students. This artifact shows an understanding of the different models that can be used in the math classroom.

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Artifact 3

This artifact is a project that the eighth grade math teachers have the students complete during the chapter that deals with rates, ratios, and proportions. We started this project three years ago in order to connect proportions to something the students could do. We came up with the project when students were talking about fat-heads. Fat-heads are life size posters of anything or anyone you want. We thought that students would enjoy making their own fat-heads. This project allows students to connect what they are learning in math to a real life scenario and gives them the opportunity to work in groups. This collaborative learning project allows the students to problem solve together and figure out how they are going to produce this life size poster.

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Artifact 4

This artifact was a presentation that I was asked to present to the school board about how I was using technology. The initiative was to try to get more iPads in the students’ hands. This presentation explains the flipped classroom and shows how the classroom environment changed from a teacher-centered environment to a student-centered environment. This method of teaching focuses on collaborative learning and helping students to take ownership of their learning. This presentation also includes pictures of what my classroom looks like on a daily basis and a short video of how students feel about this method of teaching. As an eighth grade math department, we wanted to provide the students with a more collaborative learning environment, so this was a method we wanted to try. This is not the only method that we, but as this artifact shows, students can benefit from this nontraditional method of instruction.

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Artifact 5

This artifact is an action research project that I completed for EPSY 740. This project investigates whether background music improves concentration and focus. I chose to do this research because I wanted to research if background music adds to the learning environment or diminishes the learning environment. It can be a challenge to keep students focused on a specific task and I just wanted to research if music would help provide a positive learning environment in which students could excel in. Providing a positive and focused environment is important for student learning. If students are comfortable in their environment and can stay focused, then learning can occur. This project showed that background music did play a small role in student concentration and motivation.

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Artifact 6

This artifact is a demonstration of three different methods I use to teach 8th grade students how to solve multi-step equations. I realize that students have different learning styles and different background knowledge. Some students are quite linear and they can follow along very well with step-by-step instructions. For those learners, I demonstrated how I use direct instruction accompanied with an outline of each step. There are also students that learn by doing and need a more hands-on approach. I demonstrated how I used cups and chips to help the students with equations. There are other students that like stories and can remember things when related to a story about them. I also demonstrated how I used storytelling as another method. This artifact shows how I am flexible and always trying to figure out new methods to help students with a variety of learning styles.

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