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Transcript of Multi-Genre Project
One Teacher's Jorney to Global Enlightenment Eat, Pray, Love
One Teacher's journey to Global Enlightenment one teacher's journey
to global enlightenment by Rachel Johns Be the change you want to see in the world.
- Mohatma Gandhi The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20
An Excerpt from my Undergraduate Teaching Portfolio Created in 1999 "For the past twenty years, my life has revolved around teaching. As an child, I saw my parents and other relatives involved in education. They taught me the ways of the world as I would one day grow to know them. I began my formal schooling as an enthusiastic three year old. Since then I have continued to grow and develop through the influence of may devoted educators. Learning has always been a positive and rewarding experience in my life. I feel quite comfortable entering the field of education. To me, teaching is a passion that everyone has to some extent, but only a select group of very special and dedicated individuals can devote their lives to teaching children, the future of our country." "The sheer power of learning is unfathomable to most. It is something that I get to see in the children's shining faces each and everyday. A school can either make or break a child. I believe that all children have a right to a good education, which our public schools should provide. Schools should offer a variety of cultural, social, and academic learning experiences for all children. A school should be a comfortable environment in which students feel at home with their teachers and fellow classmates. Our schools should make that first step in having students develop an understanding and respect for education. Above all, we must instill in their minds that all students can achieve greatness." My Journey Begins... Coming from a family of educators, the last thing they wanted for their child was the job of an educator. My mom always told me how difficult it was and that it was not all fun and games. So I began my college career as a marine biology major, and then it was just biology and later speech pathology. I knew if I did not pursue my dream of being an educator, I would look back and realize what a mistake I had made. I did not want this to be my "Road Not Taken." My Philosophy on Education Revisited in 2010 According to Cartesian Rationality, "Reflection rests on the assumption that self-awareness can generate valid knowledge." (Fendler, 2003) I believe that this is true for educators but the difficulty lies in how to be objective in our search for knowedge. I have embraced the idea of a critical friends group (Hole and McEntree, 1999) and hope to bring this idea to my leadership team. I feel that it has been a great startegy to help me reflect on my practice and help others reflect on theirs. Knowing your learning style is half the battle.
An excerpt from my personal journal on July 10, 2010, "I feel that I have developed as a learner throughout my now decades of education. As a secondary student, although I was social I did not associate this with my learning style. This may account for the teaching style of the times or it may be based on the fact that as students our teachers never took the time to help us understand how we learn best. I was always a terrible test-taker and I can think of so many different methods I tried when trying to study. These methods ranged from flashcards, highlighting of important ideas in the text, to some more unconventional strategies such as recording the biology chapters onto a cassette tape and listening to the information while I slept. Through all of this trial and error, I never did find the method that worked best for me which is how I ended up in a major based on essay writing and explanation rather than memorization and test-taking. I guess this was the way, at that point, that I was able to cope with my lack of understanding of how I learn best." According to Jensen (2005) "students choose relevant, meaningful learning." Students need to be engaged in the subject matter and find it relevant to their lives. Without this relevance it simply becomes a "Why do I have to learn this?" activity. Unmotivated students cannot wrap their minds around why this kind of learning will be helpful to them in the future. According to both the principles of the IB Programme and Bob Fecho's work in his classroom, authentic assessment is necessary for real learning to occur. When students can see why the learning is important and how it will benefit them, they can understand that their best effort is needed and are more willing to put in the time necessary to do a good job. Authentic assessment allows students to respond to their learning in a way that makes sense to them and is focused on their achievement. In Mel Levine's (2007) article, "The Essential
Cognitive Backpack" he questions whether students are prepared for college and other real-world experiences when they graduate from high school. Employers are looking for students who are well-rounded problem-solvers and creative thinkers. They must exhibit traits of leaders and colloborators. I help to instill these ideas in my students through the use of the IB Learner profile, a list of traits that global citizens should possess. These skills seem to be far more important in the global marketplace that is emerging. I feel that by implementing the IB Programme into my teaching, the IBO Mission Statement along with my school's Mission Statement has become part of who I am as an educator.
The vision of Westland Middle School is to develop students who are prepared for high
school and are independent, responsible and productive global citizens.
The mission of Westland Middle School, in conjunction with the aims and objectives
of the International Baccalaureate Organization, is to engage all students in a
challenging educational program in an environment where all students are supported
academically, socially and emotionally.
Eat Who am I as a Learner? Pray Who am I as a Teacher? Love How am I developing
as a Teacher Researcher? "Tis' better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else's perfectly."
— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia)
"That’s the thing about a human life-there’s no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any variables had been changed."
— Elizabeth Gilbert
"Some days are meant to be counted, others are meant to be weighed."
— Elizabeth Gilbert Do I have everything that I need? As a child, I loved to learn. I was "good at school" and came home with mostly excellents all through elementary school. Except for handwriting, that was my weakness.
I taught myself to read at the age of 4 and even to this day, you'll be hard pressed to find me without a book in my hand.
I excelled at spelling and became the runner-up spelling bee champion of my school. I loved school! In middle school, things started to change. Learning had always come so easily that it was surprising that everything was not so simple anymore. Math became my nemesis. I didn't get it, plain and simple and after awhile I probably stopped trying to get it because math just wasn't my thing.
I was probably okay with that since I still excelled in English without much effort. And so, English became "my thing" and math didn't matter as much anymore. Lots of people don't get math, right? By the time I entered high school, school was okay but the social aspects of the day seemed much more important than the classes.
I was still a diligent student but probably more of what Fcho would have called complacent than anything else. I always did my assignments on time. I answered questions correctly when called on. All in all I was a "good student" who nobody could have said a bad thing about.
But I wasn't really learning. I was reading, completing, and regurgitating for the most part. And my school on Long Island was supposed to be top notch?
I didn't know that I wasn't really learning until I got to college. I came into my undergraduate program at The University of Rhode Island without study skills, and without much knowledge of good test-taking.
With so many general education classes and minimal face to face time with students and professors, I did miserably. Most of my subjects offered the multiple choice test as the primary method of assessment and this was not my strong point. My grades refelcted this. It wasn't until I entered the field of
education that the big picture started to
come into focus. This was the first time I had heard about Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles. My first thought was, "It's about time." I chose to use Eat, Pray, Love as my theme
because I feel that my grandmother was a
huge influence in my life. The most important message that she instilled within me is, if you don't like something, fix it. I felt that this was so powerful coming from someone who grew up fighting for equal rights for all kinds of people, not just herself. Through her inspiration, I decided to embrace an opportunity to complete a service based trip to Zambia where I would be learning about the culture, teaching local students, and colloborating with teachers about how students learn best in another country compared to our country. My grandmother was the foundation for this love of learning and experiencing other cultures and customs. I feel that my journey to Zambia and back made me the internationally-minded teacher that I strive to be each day. Dulles Airport
June 2007 My 8th grade student, Ellie
and I I believe that student assessment must be authentic. I believe that all students must be engaged in what they are learning about. I believe that all teachers should reflect on their practice both individually and collaboratively. I believe that teaching the whole student is important when working with learners who are just forming an identity. I believe that it is important to keep
in mind where your students are coming from. I believe that all students can learn when equipped with a metacognitive approach. According to Blumenreich and Falk (2005) good teaching is all about knowing who your students are, their learning styles, interests, strengths, and areas that need improvement. In order to make this happen, we need to understand that our students, "have been shaped by prior knowledge, experiences, and cultural perspectives" (pg. 2). For me, knowing who my students are and forming relationships with them has made all the difference. Did you know??? What do I stand for? Who am I as an IB Learner? I am a risk-taker. I am enrolled in a Master's Program while working full-time and raising a baby. I am a communicator. The way I learn
best is by colloborating with others. I
love the structure of higher level education
courses because there is so much great
discussion about our practice. I am an inquirer. I love to ask
questions and find out how things work. I am always looking for new ways to teach so I ask questions of my students and myself. Did you Know??? I am knowledgeable. I love
to read anything that I can
get my hands on. If I don't know something, I usually know where to get that information. I am caring. I try to help out my classmates. It is great when I am achieving my goals in class but it is even better when I know my classmates are succeeding too. I am a sponsor to Agnes. I am reflective. I am always interested in receiving feedback from my professors and peers. I enjoy looking at ideas in a new way. I am principled. It is important to me that I do not cut corners on assignments. I always try to do my best work but I will let you know if I didn't do an assignment. I will not copy off of others just to get ahead. We did it! I am open-minded. I am always open to other learners perspectives because I know that they may have come from a different walk of life than I did. I try to accept others ideas as valid even if I know that this hasn't been the case in my experience. I think this is one of the msot important traits to have in such a diverse nation. I am balanced. I try to make sure that my studies do not interfere with the other aspects of my life such as family, friends, work, and Pilates/exercise. I know this is important to keep me healthy and sane. I am a thinker. I like solving problems although I do best when I am working colloboratively. I don't give up on my ideas, I try to find a way to make them work. It was really hard to communicate since we didn't speak the same language, but we made it work.
The one thing I do know is that I have grown as a teacher during the last decade. Teaching is definitely one of the hardest jobs you can commit to because the reality of the profession is that you are never done learning. I think this idea is actually what I like best about teaching but it is not one of this things that anyone tells you before you become a teacher. Excerpt from my reflective journal
May 31, 2010 Who am I as an IB Teacher? I am an inquirer. I strive to teach my students through higher order questioning rather than providing them with copious notes on a given topic. I employ my students with the skills to ask their own questions of myself, of their classmates, and of the world around them. I use methods like socratic seminars, literature circles, and peer conferences to engage my students in asking questions. In addition, I utilize a student centered unit question for every unit that I teach throughout the year. Some examples are "What are our rights?" or "How do I know if something needs fixing?" Developing students who do not accept information at face value as an important skill in my classroom. Did you know??? I am a risk-taker. I try new teaching methods in my classroom. I allow my students to take the reins on some assignments so I am a facilitator rather than the all-knowing leader. I let my students have an opinion on what we should learn and why. I think that by giving students these options, you increase the motivation in your classroom. I am caring. I try to be get to know my students which enables me to be compassionate when it comes to their problems. I also encourage my students to have compassion for others. In the classroom, I teach my students how to perform community service projects and encourage them to do so throughout the school year. I encouraged and supported Ellie, a student from my school, in her desire to visit Zambia with LearnServe International. I am knowledgeable. I make sure to understand my domain so that I am able to prepare my students and create engaging activities for them. If I don't know the answer to a question, I can usually find an answer or equip my students with the knowledge of how to find an answer. I show knowledge of my subject area through writing MYP Unit Planners. I taught a lesson on writing to high school students at David Kaunda Technical School in Lusaka. I am open-minded. I allow students to voice their opinions on controversial topics. We talk about issues that we have with others opinions and think about the many viewpoints in a discussion or debate. In the classroom, I especially like using a courtroom trial to understand how there can be multiple perspectives for one event. Students in Monze performing a traditional dance. I am a thinker. I ask my students to be thinkers too. My students engage in problem-based learning on a quarterly basis. For example, I ask my 6th grade students to research an environmental issue and find a way that we can help at our school site. I am balanced. In my classroom my students know that I am not a person who loses her cool in front of the class. Because of the balance of activities I participate in, I can stay at the top of my game in the classroom. We all need some time to enjoy ourselves. A bike like this took a lot of brain
power to build. I am principled. Through character building and team
building activities, I try to allow students to create their rules to live by. By knowing who you are as a person, it is easier to stand up to bullies, peer pressure, and prejudice. In the classroom my students create a mission statement to be clear about the goals we have while in the class setting. I am a communicator. I use varied modes of communication in the classroom such as video, audio, written, speech, visual, and blogs. I ask students to be able to communicate for a variety of reasons such as to inform, to persuade, and to tell a story. All of these forms of communication have value in our society. I am reflective. After each unit has been completed, I like to take some time to see how it went. I ask my students, counterparts, and department head for input. I then consider what aspects of the unit I will revise for the next school year. How'd it go? I am still working through the role of teacher researcher in my mind. I have already been engaged in a teacher research project in which I searched for an answer to the question, "Does the Middle Years Programme's Mission Statement encourage students to serve their community?" My answers to this question only served to bring forth more questions. I did not feel fulfilled even though I had put in so much time and effort into this project. I did however find value in learning that many of my students would like to participate in a community service but weren't sure how to go about it. This idea got me thinking about my practice in the classroom. The year that followed my research also brought about new teaching endeavors such as creating a few mini-lessons on how students can engage in community service at any age. We discussed what community service was and what kinds of service students would be interested in performing. I asked my students to provide some information on a non-profit organization and bring it in to share with the class. I then compiled some of the student's choices and presented them to the group. We decided on one to focus on and developed individual or group projects that would help address this goal. This was a worthwhile addition to my teaching that came about from teacher research. Teacher Research in the Future As I am looking to be engaged in teacher research as I continue with the ASTL Program, I will be looking for ways to better inform students of their progress. When my student surveys were tallied and reflected on, the one disturbing notion for me was that my stduents did not feel that were getting enough timely feedback. As an English teacher, this has always been something I have struggled with but so have other teachers in my same situation. 125 papers and minimal time within the work day to get tasks accomplished. I think this is the first time I really thought about this being a problem that I might be able to fix. Finding A Researchable Question I utlimately came up with a goal. "I would like to improve the way I give meaningful feedback to students." (created during class #4 on June 15th 2010) Next came my researchable question. After multiple attempts the question I ultimately would like to answer is "How can I provide my students with timely and meaningful feedback?" The Problem I am excited to explore this idea and find new and improved ways to offer feedback to my students. Research study after research study shows the importance of giving students feedback but no one seems to have the answer of how to do this in a classroom with only one teacher and many students. At this point, I know that I cannot change the responsibilities that I have at home or the amount of time I have to work in the school day. I will focus this research on how to give better feedback in less time and how to equip students with the skills to give each other valuable feedback. So, how do I see myself as a Reseacher? I am growing and learning but I have
a clear goal in mind and I am excited to be
a part of an intellectual community of educators. Eat, Pray, Love;
One teacher's journey to global enlightenment I went to Zambia to help people but I think the people that I met while I was there ending up helping me way more than I helped them. I do feel that my experience teaching in a country where the students are worrying about disease, hunger, and poverty has enlightened me in a way that no coursework could have done. I feel that because of this experience I have become a better teacher, a better learner, and a better person. This is why I call my three short weeks in Zambia, a journey to global enlightenment. Ellie and I worked hard to build a bike that would change an HIV caregiver's way of life. Chikumbuso in Lusaka, Zambia