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Effective Instruction for Middle School Students

RTWilde's Project for CEPD6101

Robert Wilde

on 30 April 2011

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Transcript of Effective Instruction for Middle School Students

are made up of .... Middle School Math
and Science Effective Instruction for Schema 1 Schema 2 Schema 3 Schema 4 Schema 5 Schema 6 Characteristics of
Middle School Students Effective Assessment of Student's Learning Process of Learning
& Changing Knowledge Teaching Strategies
& Problem Solving Motivation and Affective Factors Technology and the education Process The students of today face challenges because of the incremental trends in education. There is more information today than there was in the past. The media delivering this information has evolved and is now more complex. A more mobile society has caused changes in our student population. Teachers must be aware of these incremental trends. They need to keep up with the new information that is available and teach in such a way that their students are not overwhelmed. They need to teach and not just mention the important concepts. They cannot be content with just covering all of the material. Textbooks are no longer the media of choice for students of today. The information is available through computers, on CDs, from blogs, and podcasts. It is no longer that important for students to memorize important information; with a few thumb- strokes a student can access details on almost any subject. We need to teach how to find the information, discern its credibility, and how most effectively to use it. Our student population has diversified as our society has become more mobile. No longer does a teacher have a classroom of 25 similar students, they have a diverse group and must teach in a way that reflects their student population. By middle school students have reached the formal operations stage according to Piaget. By this age students have the ability to solve problems abstractly and deal with subjects on a hypothetical level. They can fully use the scientific method to solve a problem. During middle school the body and the mind is expanding. It is during this Period of Expansion that most students begin to think for themselves and no longer just mimic the beliefs of their parents. They will now have their own opinion. As middle school students become their own person they also began the process of moral reasoning. This is when they face social and moral dilemmas and use their own thoughts and feelings to resolve the situation. Teachers need to be aware that their students are capable of more meaningful and challenging activities and provide those opportunities to their students. As teachers we need our students to know how to support their decisions and opinions. As students begin to think for themselves they will no longer just do an assignment because they are supposed to, if possible we need to make their assignments personally relevant. We also need to be aware that our students need to be physically active and provide activities that work their bodies as well as the minds. Students of the middle school age not only can handle problems at an advanced level, they are also put into more situations that require them to “do the right thing”. At the same time they are dealing with remarkable biological and hormonal changes. They often struggle with who they are. This is explained by Erikson’s identity versus identity confusion stage of moral development. It is this stage where students have either a positive or a negative sense of their identity. Teachers need to be aware of this and make sure they use constructive discipline that will build up a student rather than tear them down. As a student’s mind and mental processes mature over time, they are able to construct their own knowledge. They are able to recognize and use what they already know and use this prior knowledge as a way to reinforce new knowledge. Knowledge is socially and culturally constructed and a teacher needs to extend the learning environment beyond the walls of the classroom. A teacher needs to look for teachable moments that reflect real issues in the lives of their students. Students come along with preconceived notions about many different things. A cow jumped over the moon, which is made of cheese. If you drill through the bottom of your house you’ll end up in China. These are all examples of some obvious ones for the younger children. But students of all ages have their own knowledge and beliefs which need to be corrected. The ultimate goal of a teacher should be to educate their students and provide them with knowledge, and the skills, required to apply what they know to solve problems in a completely unfamiliar situation. Teachers need to provide ways for their students to draw upon what they know. I think one thing that is often overlooked by the educational world is that learning can be successful or unsuccessful. And almost everyone enjoys doing things that result in success and are opposed to do things that result in failure. Many students because of circumstances beyond their control have not had the ideal “learning” experience. Teachers need to be aware of their student’s situation and provide a positive learning experience that allows for success. How is Knowledge Constructed? Stanovich (1986) determined that Knowledge Begets Knowledge. What this means is that students who are cognitively and motivationally richer get richer by building on the resources they already possess. But those students who have struggled will continue to struggle because they have fallen behind and it is very difficult at times to catch up. This is where learning becomes unsuccessful and who wants to do something that is going to result in failure. Find out what students understand, believe in, or care about and put that into your instruction. Provide the students opportunities to make sound arguments and find credible sources to support their viewpoint. They need to know that the Internet has many websites with biased viewpoints and students need to find reputable sources to support their findings. Let students know that teachers are not the only sources of knowledge but are the facilitators of learning “how” to find information. Students need to know there are many sources of information and they need to be careful when locating these sources. Reproductive thinking means echoing or mimicking thoughts or procedures presented by others. Productive thinking involves taking what you know and using it to understand new concepts or interpretations of situations. As a teacher we must be aware that simply having the students read the material and write definitions of the bold words does not promote or enhance a student’s ability to transfer knowledge. A teacher must look for situations and real-world problems that will allow a student to take what they know and apply it to these unknown situations. The teacher can look for teachable moments to promote extraordinary transfer of knowledge. They can also use bridging and prompting to model knowledge transfer. Rehearsal Strategic Learning Strategic Teaching Problem Solving A mental technique that closely resembles studying. Involves repeating information until it is memorized. Three distinct areas of rehearsal are maintenance, elaborative, and cumulative. Maintenance Rehearsal is more for short term memory and for small amounts of information. It uses spoken or silent rote repetition. Elaborative Rehearsal involves the association of new material to something the student already knows. Cumulative Rehearsal involves the learning of a single fact or idea and then building upon that by adding one new item at a time. By using these Rehearsal techniques in conjunction with one another the student has a good chance of moving new information from short term to long term memory. Strategic learning is using mental tricks and techniques to solve problems and enhance performance. In mathematics there is the “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” for the order of operations. Many children learn this as a way to remember to do what’s in the Parenthesis first, then Exponents, followed by Multiplication, Division, Addition and finally Subtraction. This would be domain specific because it has no meaning when learning Social Studies. A domain general strategy would involve an activity like note taking, or rewriting a concept in your own words, that would be relevant to all domains. Know the attention span of your students and adjust accordingly. Younger students may require more adjustments. If I try to lecture for more than 15 minutes to a group of middle school students I will lose them. I need to break the class period into sections and keep things moving and changing. For an hour long class I may have 15 minutes of lecture, 10 minutes of an activity, 10 minutes writing, 10 minutes of a whole group discussion, and then 10 minutes of a small group project. Keeps them hopping AND engaged!! Strategic Teaching is providing students an opportunity to become Strategic Learners The ability to conceptualize a problem allows the student to understand the situation at their level and relate to it on their own terms. This can make the problem seem more real and will help to come up with a “best” solution. As students fully conceptualize a problem they will also be more apt to see how differently that problem may be seen by others and realize that not all solutions will work for all situations. This promotes a higher level of understanding and comprehension. Connecting the problem with something a student can directly understand makes it real to them. Problem-solving is one of the more important skills we can develop in our students. It is one of the skills that prospective employers are looking for when they hire employees. Cognitive View of Learning Knowledge Construction
Changing Knowledge & Beliefs Transfer of Knowledge Evaluation Performance Based Assessment High Stakes Tests Teacher Made Tests Performance based learning allows students to show what they've learned and use new knowledge in a practical way. Formative - allows the teacher to make adjustments Summative - end of chapter tests, final grade, were goals met? Diagnostic - looks for strenths and weaknesses which allows instruction to be adjusted Placement - puts student "where they should be" for best learning opportunity CRCT - criterion referenced competency test SAT & ITBS - norm referenced test .... used in Georgia Should be less about measuring and comparing students and more about advancing a student's knowledge and understanding Moral reasoning Period of Expansion Formal Operations Incremental Trends So at the middle school level I need to be more concerned with the diagnostic and formative evaluations and less with the summative My students need to leave middle school with the knowledge and skills that will help them be successful at the next level. Too often we are caught up in the “grade”!! The reality is that a student’s “grades” don’t really count until they reach high school. Balance of “what is best for the student” with the “requirements of the state”. For my middle school students the Mastery of Skills is more important than high scores and comparison grades. ...but because of High Stakes tests in the 8th grade I need to also deal with a more summative standardized test Performance based learning and assessment is an excellent way to get my students engaged. I've used a comprehensive lesson in the past where students virtually travel to a roller coaster located on the West Coast. They map out their "virtual"journey with two required stops; one with historical significance and one with a modern significance. They choose what car to drive and have to calculate gas costs based upon MPG ratings of the vehicle and current gas prices. Involving the students in these choices increases their level of engagement and helps build motivation. Many of the skills they will use for this project will have been taught in a previous, more basic lesson. The final project will require a presentation about their "trip" including the estimated cost of the trip, a report about the significant stops they made, and a report about the roller coaster they "visited". Criterion tests are those where the results are measured against a set of standards Norm referenced tests -those where the results are measured against other students with help from technology Problems with high stakes testing.
too much emphasis placed on one test
method of scoring limits the type of test that can be used (typically multiple choice)
skills such as problem solving, presentation, collaboration are not included

The education of most students is a process that occurs over a period of years and is NOT a switch that gets flipped at some point during that time. Most standardized assessments, such as the Georgia CRCT, do not take that into account when evaluating the performance of a student or a school system. Not all tests can be provided by an “outside of the classroom” source. Each class should be evaluated from the very beginning and the teacher should shape the instruction and assessments based upon the “characteristics of their students”. Our school system has purchased text books which come with the Examview testing software suite. Teachers can use this software to create tests from banks of questions that directly relate to the chapters of the text books. The Examview software also interfaces with the eInstruction student response system for providing the teachers with a system that allows an "on-the-fly" formative assessment. Some schools in our system use the STAR reading and STAR math diagnostic tests from Renassaince Learning. This provides data to the teachers who can adjust the book levels and math levels of their students to provide maximum opportunity for improvement. Computer based instruction Blogs, Podcasts, and Wikis Provides "real" audience for students which results in students taking more care and pride in their publications and creations. The classroom podcast promotes learning in two ways; the first is the actual audio recordings that are compiled which can be accessed by students using their home PC. These recordings will provide the students who download and listen to them a reinforcement of the lessons taught throughout the week. The 2nd way that learning is promoted is the fact that many students start to pay attention during class listening for “moments” worthy of the classroom podcast. This heightened awareness makes students more attentive and the lessons taught by the teacher are more easily retained. A Podcast is a student created audio file saved as an mp3 file that is distributed through the Internet using RSS (really simple syndication). How? The teacher prepares a recording station somewhere in the classroom. At the station is a computer with Audacity (free audio editor) installed on it, a microphone, and a script logbook.

The students are instructed to look for moments within the day that are worthy of making the classroom podcast. The student will then choose a partner and they will write a script detailing the concept, explanation, or revelation. At the end of the day the teacher will have assigned students (rotational basis) record the script(s) onto the computer. At the end of the week the teacher will edit together all the scripts that were generated throughout the week into a final podcast. It will be uploaded to the system’s website and distributed throughout the Internet using RSS. Study Island and Education City are a couple of the online tutorial programs used in our district. The computer-assisted programs are professionally developed and contain diagnostic, pre-tests and lessons that correlate with Georgia's state standards. My son uses the You Tube video sharing website and I'm amazed at the wide array of things he can learn from watching "how to" videos.He's learned to solve Rubiks Cubes, program his HP calculator, play a particular song on the piano, do magic tricks, use the Gimp picture editor software, and many, many more tasks and activities. Many systems block You Tube from their system network; wouldn't it be great to find a You Tube like website that provided purely educational videos? Internet resources Students need to understand that just because they "found it on the Internet" doesn't make it true. We need to show them how to evaluate and verify the credibility of the sources they find. Many educators do not like Wikipedia because of its open editing concept which makes it difficult to evaluate the credibility of the information. This is a valid point, but the reality is that most students will use Wikipedia. Instead of "banning" our students from using it, we should educate our students about Wikipedia so they will know "how to" use it properly and with a greater knowledge of what it is. Digital Divide Can occur between school systems Can be present because of instruction Is found in student’s lives outside of the school system Two identical students with two completely different teachers. One teacher is comfortable with technology and uses it on a regular basis while the other teacher is “afraid” of technology. There will be a digital divide between those students. Two identical students from two completely different places. One goes home to an empty apartment with an old TV, no computer, no technology to speak of. The other comes home to a house with multiple computers and iPads and smart phones and to parents who use technology on a regular basis. There will be a digital divide between those students. Two identical students attend schools with completely different available technology. One system is at the forefront of technology integration and the other system’s philosophy is that technology is a passing fad and will go away. There will be a digital divide between those students. As a teacher I need to make sure that the digital divide will not affect my students learning. When working with computers and technology at school I need to “know my students” and give them appropriate instruction that matches their levels of competency. When my son was in the first grade I remember how excited he was that they were going to use the computer lab. That afternoon I asked him how it was and in a very disappointed way he said, “All we did was mouse practice!” Being the son of two instructional technology specialists he’d been using a mouse since he was about 2 years old. The teacher needs to recognize this and provide the more advanced students with activities that will challenge them as well. There are many great resources for teachers and students to use when they have access to the Internet. UnitedStreaming provides video clips many which come with lesson plans and viweing guides. They cover just about any subject you can think of. NetTrekker is an educational search engine that skips over the fluff and gets right to the subject at hand. Student need to know … ….how to research on the Internet
.…how to verify sources
.…Internet Safety
Motivation Students Self-Perceptions Performance & Mastery Goals Positive Learning Environment Lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Four areas of motivation are Behavioral, Humanistic, Cognitive, and Social Cognitive. “I’m just not good at math” or “I don’t like social studies” or I hate to read” are all things heard in the middle schools of today. These self-perceptions are barriers that teachers must overcome to be successful at advancing the knowledge and understanding of their students. It is essential to provide struggling learners with the opportunity to succeed and then build upon that success. Through diagnostic tools and evaluations a teacher must understand what their students are capable of and then gear their lessons and instruction accordingly. Self-concept, self-worth, and self-perception are what we think of ourselves and our abilities. Self-esteem is more “How I feel about myself”. Both at times need to be overcome at times for effective instruction to take place. We as teachers can contribute in a positive way to a student changing their self-perception. We can choose to ignore negative events, downplay failures, and provide an opportunity to have success in a subject they “are not good at”. Gender and cultural stereotypes are eliminated I believe there needs to be a better balance of female to male teachers in our schools. Since this won't happen immediately, I try to encourage the female teachers I work with to build on the needs, drives, goals, and personal interests of middle school boys.

Take a standard mapping activity that was given out by a teacher to create a map of the school grounds or of the students’ own neighborhood. I would add that they can map their favorite sports complex. They still have to follow the same guidelines which include a compass rose, a legend, a scale, etc. For some boys this turns a "lame" project into one they can get in to! Challenge students’ minds in meaningful ways.

One of the strategies I like to use it to have the English/Language Arts teacher work with the Georgia History teacher on a joint project. In the past we had the students re-write Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in their own words. We took the speech and broke it down into 16 “chunks” and assigned each one to a pair of students. They had to discuss what was being said in their “chunk” and re-write it. Then in a whole group activity all 16 “re-writes” were displayed via a Smart Board and a class discussion was used to make the final edits. The finished speech was then videotaped as students took turns at the podium re-enacting the famous speech. The mastery student is okay with making mistakes as long as they learn from them. The performance goal student is embarrassed by mistakes and makes excuses for them. Those students with mastery goals would get a 99 out of 100 and then “see me” about the one they missed “wanting an explanation” as to why they missed it! The students with performance goals would be happy with the “A” and let everyone know about it. The mastery goal oriented student diligently takes notes while the performance goal student asks, “Will this be on the test?” The mastery student is okay with making mistakes as long as they learn from them. The performance goal student is embarrassed by mistakes and makes excuses for them. The mastery student working within a group will help those “not getting it” and try to help them fully understand the problem. The student with performance goals will often “take over” in a group project because they want everything done the right way. With middle school grades not really counting in the big picture of a student's education, we need to encourage mastery goals for our students.

Somehow get out of the "Is this for a grade?" mentality.
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