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1. Structure of Learning Environment & Learning Experiences: How is learning environment and learning experiences structured to promote a "Culture of Thinking"
* All students worked with are in the top 10% of their school. Though 60% of the students are ESL Spanish speaking. Therefore Spanish, English and Latin are utilized in instruction, to meet the children where they are. Student background knowledge, language, social-emotional level, self- control, and double exceptional is not a reason for any exclusion in the class.
Feedback for Growth
THIS IS NOT A CLASSROOM FOR THINKING
"A major factor in the growth of higher order thinking capabilities is a student centered classroom. It supports the open expression of ideas, provides active modeling of thinking processes, developes thinking skills, and motivates students to learn." (Croule 1997) (p.43)
My "classroom setting" is a conference table style where the idea of "Socratic Seminar" is embraced, no matter what room or building instruction is happening in; thereby creating a community of learners.
My 5th graders working with my Bilingual 1st graders using technology & tactical learning to solve math problems. They are using an ipad math app in both english and spanish. Peer tutoring and modeling and student leadership at it's best.
My students use problem solving skills to complete STEM tasks after researching design ideas. Students design a container using given materials to ensure the safety of an egg, dropped from a two story height.
"inclusive in its general and specific abilities to embrace general knowledge, comprehension, thinking, and problem solving;"
"multilevel, including liguistic-verbal, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal abilities that influence one's approaches to problem solving" (Crowl et al, 1997; Kauchak & Eggen, 1998; Kirby & Kuykendall, 1991;) (King ,p. 16)
" a situation in which the individual wants to do something but does not know the course of action needed to get what he or she wants" (Crowl et al., 1997, p. 160)
"a series of successive decisions, each of which depends on the outcomes of those that precede it" (Crowl et al., 1997, p. 189)
"Creativity involves selecting the relevant aspects of a problem and putting pieces together into a coherent system that integrates the new information with what a person already knows" (Sternberg & Davidson, 1995; Crowl et al., 1997) (King p. 14)
My 3rd grade Palmer students working on the FIRST LEGO competition build, this year's theme was Think Tank and they built a moving brian with representations of all parts. Creativity at its finest, turning LEGO's into something to present to their peers and "judges" show what they had learned. Assessment without the stigma of grades and failure, using a student's personal strengths.
Student Population of Educator
* Students are pulled out for "TAG" in grades 3, 4 and 5, with approximately 8 children in each group.
* Students are serviced at Pulaski Elementary, an inner city, bilingual school, on Mondays & Tuesdays for an hour at each grade level. Students are serviced at Elbert-Palmer, an inner city school, on Thursdays and Fridays. With the educator pushing into K, 1, 2 at Pualski and "talent spotting" on Wednesdays.
* I also conducts school-wide PLC's in best practices as well as team teaching, when necessary, as a resource for classroom teachers to learn differentiation practices for high ability learners.
"Ask questions of all students equally, calling on non volunteers as well as volunteers" (Kauchak & Eggen, 1998) (King p. 56).
"To stimulate curiosity or demand problem solving, ask questions about paradoxes, dilemmas, and novel problems and approaches" (Crowl et al., 1997; Kauchak & Eggen, 1998) (King p. 56).
These are the reasons for the use of the socratic seminar model in my classroom.
"Providing wait time after a question because students differ in the rate at which they respond" (Crowl et al., 1997; Kauchak & Eggen, 1998) (King p. 56).
I refer to this as "hang time" in my room and everyone has a different one. It is a basketball concept that my students relate to.
2. Self-assessment and Reflection Practice for a Culture of Thinking
" giving students support at the beginning of a lesson and then gradually turning over responsibility to the students to operate on their own" (Slavin, 1995) (King p. 46)
In my classroom students use "productive struggling", the concept that if it is easy and the answer just "comes to them", they already knew that information and are not "learning" new ideas and concepts but just regurgitating information and skills.
Feedback & Motivation are Connected
"making mistakes is okay, in fact it is an important part of learning" (Crowl et al., 1997) (King p.44)
In my classroom student get individual, immediate, directed feedback that they can reflect on and apply for growth. Since grades and assessments are not given in my classes there is no negative to the failure. There is only an opportunity to try again or learn the skill in a different way. The goal is learning and positive growth not punitive damage.
M3 "Chain Gang" Activity -5th grade - Algebra
Student took 10 minutes to work as a team of two to create a paper chain as long as possible. They then measured it, counted the chains, made charts with all the group's data, converted the data into an x/y graph and then finally answered discussion questions to analyze their findings.
Critial Thinking Skills and the Lesson
"goal-directed, reflective, and reasonable thinking, as in evaluating the evidence for an argument for which all the revelevant information may not be available" (Cotton, 1997; Crowl et al., 1997; Facione, 1998; Lewis & Smith, 1993; Patrick, 1986) (King p.17)
" analysis, inference, interpretation, explanation, and self-regulation; requires inquisitive, systematic, analytical, judicious, truth-seekin, open-minded, and confident dispositions toward critical-thinking processes" (Facione, 1997) (King p. 17)
The activity allowed for critical thinking skills throughout as they were given the directions at the beginning and each group reasoned the best way to make as many chains in the shortest time. As they measured they discussed how one group had a different number of chains but the same length in inches, verses another group that had the same length but a different number of chains. They had a very detailed discussion with each other and analyzed why they thought these results occurred. Finally, they were able to independently pull from their prior knowledge a ways to compare the data using charts and graphs to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts.
* Feedback was given as open ended questions as they worked through the lesson by myself.
* At the end of the lesson their was a peer discussion and self- assessing rubric for the students to complete.
Goals for Promoting a Culture of Thinking
*This and every math activity is completed with a follow-up journal entry with the student giving anexplanation of what occurred during the activity.
* To discussion questions answered, but not limited to: Why did you complete this lesson, what was the learning that occurred? What was involved? What did you notice? What did you have to know to participate fully? What were you thinking as you completed it? What was difficult in the lesson and how did you overcome that?
*Implement the 6 thinking hats based on DeBono's work as a model for student self- assessment so that all learning is using critical thinking.
*I plan on using the colored hats as a visual to the process.