Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reflecting on a Multicultural Moment

As we continue to develop our classroom management skills, we often spend time discussing our "Multicultural Moment" scenarios where we are challenged to view situations from different points of view, preparing us to be in a classroom where I will likely be surrounded by 15-20 opinions other than my own on a daily basis.

While experiencing my very first National FFA convention, we had a "hands-on" Multicultural Moment activity to complete.  Our goal was to be observant of others around us throughout the course of the week.  We were to observe the interactions, both positive and negative, that we witnessed throughout the week.

Simply just having this task in the back of my mind I believe made me more aware of what was going on around me.  I caught myself listening to conversations happening next to me, watching others as they struggled to make their way through the crowd of a thousand FFA members, noting they way they treated one another.

One of my favorite experiences I had while making my observations actually involved one of the students I was traveling with from my cooperating center (no worries though, he made me proud!)  As we began making our way toward the exit of the convention center after spending the day at the career fair and Expo center, the students I had with me were obviously tired and moving a little slow. Another group of FFA boys from another state, however, came charging through the lobby, buzzing right past our group, knocking some items from one of our girl's hands.  Well, being the gentleman that our boy was, his response was, "Excuse me, you owe her an apology.  She is a lady and you are rude."  There was no opposition from this other young man, as he gave her an apology and went on his way.  Our student picked up his friend's items and assisted her in carrying them the rest of the way to the bus.

Now, being in a teacher's position, I reminded my student that the other young man was likely just really excited to get where he was going because, I mean c'mon, he's at the National FFA Convention!  But even still, it was encouraging to see my students standing up for one another, taking care of each other, and being living proof that chivalry is not yet dead.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's All in the Question: A Problem-Solving Lesson

In our most recent lab session, we were challenged to develop and deliver a managerial lesson plan.  This type of lesson is a great example of Problem-Based Learning; providing the students with a question, or having students to determine or formulate a question, and then allowing the class to direct their own learning by discovering a solution, or multiple solutions, to the problem.

For this lab, I developed a lesson on energy consumption that I plan to use in my Environmental Science class while student teaching in the spring.  During the lesson, students were given the problem of energy consumption that is not sustainable in countries around the world.  The lesson then led the students to determine their own energy consumption and finally develop an energy conservation action plan.

I was really excited to deliver this lesson to the lab and I feel as though this has been my favorite lesson to date.  As a learner, I appreciate lessons that appeal to the affective domain of learning according to Bloom's Taxonomy; meaning I love lessons that allow me to involve my emotions and personal opinions!  As I was preparing this lesson, I found my self really getting fired up about the ridiculous amount of energy being used and wasted in the affluent nations around the world so I was very excited to deliver the lesson.

I believe that of all of our lab sessions, I have enjoyed this one the most.  But as with every lesson, good or bad, I do know that there is always room for improvement.  I think before I deliver this lesson again, I will revamp my questioning, making sure to really hit those questions that promote higher level thinking.  I think I may also revisit the amount of time that I am using the powerpoint to guide instruction.  I found my self running out of time before we even got to the meat of the lesson, developing our energy action plans.  I will need to be sure that there is plenty of time to complete that task for the next time.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Weekly Reflection: Inquiry-Based Learning Is...

One of the most unique and rewarding experiences we will encounter as student teachers and eventually in our own classes is having the opportunity to see our students take charge of their own learning through Inquiry-Based Instruction.

By using Inquiry in our instruction, we allow our students to explore materials, concepts, and their own creativity through thought-provoking questioning and critical thinking.

The thought the learning is directed by the student, the burden falls upon the teacher to prepare a lesson of a different caliber than before.  Our questions shift from "Yes or No" to "Why or How".  Instead of presenting material, we present a question and let our students work through it to find the answer, thus directing their own learning.

Our challenge as teachers is to continue to transform our classrooms to shift from a teacher-centered setting to a student-centered environment, finding the perfect balance of each along the way.  Check out this video that does a great job of illustrating what Inquiry-Based Instruction is and is not.