learning to "blum"

A blog about my time in the education department at Luther College.

Would I Use the Daily 5?

For Language Arts Methods we have been reading The Daily 5: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (“the sisters”). Throughout the time that we have been reading this book, I have been thinking about the Daily 5 with regard to whether or not I think it would be effective. There were times in reading where I though, “Yes, this could work,” but there were also times in which I had no idea how I could implement this practice into my own classroom.

ImageRead more about the Daily 5 here.

When thinking about my own classroom and the Daily 5, I thought back to my practicum experience my freshman year. The second grade classroom I was in used Daily 5 during their language arts time. The way in which my cooperating teacher used Daily 5 in her class was always positive. The children were engaged, they always knew the expectations, and they were proud of their Daily 5 work. Seeing this has had a positive impact on my own beliefs with regard to the Daily 5, but I still struggle with how I could use it in my classroom.

Here are some of my thoughts on the Daily 5:

1. The Daily 5 is a great way to build classroom community. While introducing The Daily 5 to students, they are asked to work together to come up with “I-Charts” for each task. This allows students to think about what their jobs are as students and what the teacher’s job is. Students thus feel accountable for their work during the Daily 5. This builds not only respect but also a sense of community as students and the teacher are working toward a common goal.

2. The Daily 5 provides a new level of engagement for students. Students who participate in the Daily 5 are able to choose their task order, choose what to do within that task, and they get to be independent learners. Students thrive when they are participating in/learning about something they are interested in and the Daily 5 allows for them to target their interests. Through having a choice, students are able to direct their own learning.

3. Is the Daily 5 too time consuming? This is something I still struggle with. How in the world am I supposed to implement Daily 5 while also implementing the amount of math, social studies, science, etc. that I need to include in the day? With the emphasis on the CCSS in the educational world, I have a hard time seeing how I can devote so much time to the Daily 5. Not only do I have to fit all of these subjects in, but my students will be leaving the room at various times throughout the day. I feel as though this could be disruptive to the Daily 5 routine. I know Boushey and Moser address this in their book, but I don’t quite think they address it to the extent it needs to be. Along with this, the Daily 5 can take weeks to establish within a classroom. I would feel immense pressure to “get the ball rolling” on teaching language arts in my classroom due to what is now expected for children to learn. The Daily 5 takes more of a relaxed approach on teaching language arts, as it takes quite a bit of time to actually begin Daily 5 work.

4. The Daily 5 is able to address every learner. The different tasks in the Daily 5 (Read to Self, Work on Writing, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, and Word Work) are all equally important to language arts. Students will each come in with their own strengths and weaknesses in language arts, and I feel the Daily 5 address each of those. It can be especially helpful to ELL students through Listen to Reading and can help students who need to work on their own fluency in Read to Someone. Obviously the other tasks hold important benefits as well. The choice in the Daily 5 also allows for the learner to choose the way in which they learn best, such as using tactile learning for Word Work.

Overall, I think the Daily 5 is something I could see myself using in my own classroom if I am able to work within my time constraints and expectations as an educator. It is a great way to create a classroom community and student-centered learning environment. I also feel is a positive way to work with students individually and assess through observation. It is clear to me that teachers are able to see student growth in language arts through implementing this practice.

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iPads in the Classroom

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Over the weekend we were assigned to read about iPad use in the classroom. These readings were What the iPad Is and What It Is Not and iPads for Learning РClassroom Ideas for Learning with the iPad. These readings gave me a lot of insight as a pre-service teacher. Technology in the classroom is huge, and I will be expected to know how to utilize the apps available as well as many other aspects of iPads, SMARTboards, laptops, and other technological devices in my own classroom when I begin teaching. Even though I am a pre-service teacher, I do not feel as though I know as much about iPads and other electronics as I am already expected to. These readings helped me see ways in which I can use iPads in my classroom in beneficial ways. Here are some of my thoughts and reactions:

1. iPads can be used for various subjects. I personally experienced the new wave of having iPads in the classroom during my freshman year practicum. I was in a second grade classroom in which the students often used iPads during Daily Five and Mathematics groups. During Daily Five, some students read from iPads and some students did word work with them. It was clear to me that this was a great way for those who are tactile learners to internalize new knowledge. The math lessons were also fun and engaging for students. Who wouldn’t want to play games on an iPad AND learn at the same time?!¬†

2. iPads can spark creativity. The article titled What the iPad Is and What It Isn’t explains how iPads can be beneficial with regard to creativity. The iPad is stressed in this article as a “thinking tool.” I think this is an interesting name for the iPad. Students are able to create their own “learning map” with the apps they use, the books they upload, and the way they use iPads to present information. To me, this is a phenomenal way of personalizing education. This helps students to make their learning fit their needs and interests and makes what they are learning important to them.

3. iPads can help students to learn about the technology in our world. Technology is now an important aspect of the curriculum in many schools. All of the schools I have observed in throughout the past couple of years have had some kind of technology course whether it be strictly computers or working with a wider range of technology. I think this is important as our world is becoming more and more technology-based everyday. Students will need to know how to use various items like iPads in order to succeed in the future. Thus, having iPads in the classroom can provide a basic knowledge that will allow students to learn more about technology.

4. Taking a step back from some of the positives, these readings allowed me to consider some of the more negative aspects of iPads. I had thought about the differences between iPads and laptops, but not quite to the extent that the readings mentioned. iPads do not have Microsoft Office or Adobe, it is somewhat difficult to have multiple people using one iPad, and it has limited storage (for now). What struck me the most was the idea that multiple person use is difficult. Thinking back on my experience in the second grade classroom, I realized it was hard for the students to share the device. At the time there was only one iPad per classroom, and students often had a hard time using it in groups because they couldn’t all see the screen and it was hard to have several people using one app at once as well. For me, this would be frustrating in a classroom because classroom community is important to me and I think this would test the community that has been built within a classroom if some students struggle with sharing.

Though there are both good and not so good things that come with using iPads in the classroom, I do believe much can be gained from learning more about them and integrating them into schools. There are clearly academic benefits and real-life applications that can come from their use. I can’t wait to get out into a classroom and work more with these devices when I have the chance!

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Visual Learning in Today’s Classroom vs. 10 Years Ago

Each individual has their own preferred way of learning. What comes to my mind when thinking about learning types is Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. These include: visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, naturalistic, and existential. When I think about what type of learner I am, I often see myself as being a visual learner. I think this is a prominent type of learning in today’s society because of various reasons such as technology, diversity, and more focus on the student. It is because of these reasons that I believe it is important for students to work toward becoming visual learners. Thus, I believe visual language is more important than it was 10 years ago.

Technology is becoming more and more advanced, and is one reason for visual language being more important than it was 10 years ago. Students are being asked to work with SMARTboards, iPads, computers and laptops, and many other forms of technology. The aspects of technology are quite visual and students will need to understand the visual language necessary to use these items to their full potential.

Higher diversity within schools is also a reason that visual language is more important today than 10 years ago. There are many English Language Learners in schools today who benefit from the use of visual language. Visual language is also extremely helpful for students with disabilities. Visual language is a way for students to communicate with each other in new ways. This is especially important for students who can’t always communicate in the “traditional” way. Along with this, these students can truly benefit from visual language within the technological realm.

Finally, I also believe visual language is important for the bigger emphasis on student-directed learning that is found in today’s educational society. Students who are in pre-school and kindergarten don’t always know how to read and write yet, but with visual language they are able to communicate through reading and writing and be much more independent. This is also helpful to students, as it gives them confidence with regard to their language arts skills. As mentioned before this is also connected to diversity as it allows for grouping options that mixes abilities, so that students can learn from each other.

Overall, these are three main reasons that I think visual language is more important today than it was 10 years ago. Though it is not necessarily more important than other types of language, the different ways in which it can be used today truly can make a difference in students’ lives.

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Primary Language Arts Connections

The chapter “Common Understandings” found in The Primary Program: Growing and Learning in the Heartland has given me much more insight as to what is important to understand about the language and development of all learners within the realm of language arts. In working toward becoming an educator, I found myself making many connections with this article that will be important for me to consider as an elementary school teacher. These connections are as follows:

1. Text to Self: The article discusses the importance of language in the early childhood years (birth to age 8). It is stated that this period is the most important for the development of literacy. As someone who is working toward an Early Childhood endorsement I have learned that much development takes place during this period. Not only are many physical changes taking place, but children are being more exposed to the world around them. As they age, they are seeing and hearing more words as well as watching and understanding more interactions that take place around them. As a teacher, I have to understand that I will need to help students develop aspects of language such as reading, writing, and spelling altogether rather than individually. They are related, and helping students to understand them must take place in a way that allows students to make connections between them.

2. Text to Self: The article also highlights several strategies that I have heard about and worked on implementing. In my Introduction to Reading course (EDUC 320), I learned about Read Alouds, Talk Alouds, and Think Alouds. One of the activities we did involved creating our own Read, Talk, and Think Alouds. For each of mine I focused on context clues and read a passage from Henry P. Baloney. This is a book about an Alien who is late to school and uses a different “language.” The clues that are given in the text, illustrations, and glossary allowed me to show how I used context clues and why they are important. Thus, I am familiar with these strategies. This caused me to wonder about the strategies listed that I had not heard of, however. I would be interested in working on my own implementation of some of these strategies to see which ones I feel I enjoy or do not enjoy.

3. Text to Self: The first quotation in this chapter really struck me. As mentioned in my previous post, I love to read. The fact that this article explains reading and writing are among the most powerful achievements in life made me smile. However, I realize that not all children have had the luxuries that I have had as a learner. It is important to note that this quote lists the responsibility of writing and reading as one to be shared between teachers, administrators, families, and communities. I am a firm believer of working together with students, their families, other teachers and administrators, and the community to help children achieve their full potential. This was a large part of my learning from my Diverse and Exceptional Learner course (EDUC 221). I found working together with those who are important to the child will help them to achieve in a way that is much more positive. A new aspect I can attach to this connection is that it is crucial not to blame one another when a child is struggling. It can be easy for the child to blame a teacher, parents to blame teachers, or even teachers to blame administrators or other teachers for a difficult time. However, when achievement and success are a shared responsibility those involved will be less likely to blame each other and more likely to come together to help the student.

4. Text to Text and Text to Self: I am all about getting to know my students as individuals. No one student is the same. Each student has their own way that they learn the best. They have different interests and come from different backgrounds. It is because of this that I could connect to the points made about assessment in language arts. The quote from Morrow about it being “apparent that one measure cannot be the main source for evaluating a child’s progress” resonated with me because of my feelings on individual learners. It highlights the fact that both informal and formal assessment are necessary. This made me think about a book we read in EDUC 221 that included various case studies about students. Students strengths and weaknesses can be overlooked if only one type of assessment is used. Different assessments are also needed in order to make sure they way in which I am teaching will be helpful to each student. With assessment, I will be able to create lessons that address each young learner. I also frequently overlook the importance of allowing children to monitor their own progress, so this was a great point for me to understand about assessment.

5. Text to Self: Finally, I really enjoyed the section on the Conditions of Learning. I could connect these ideas to the various theories we looked at in Educational Psychology as well as my learning in my Home, School, and Community class. These look at the value of working together with families and communities as well as allowing children to work toward facilitating their own learning. I learned a lot about child-centered classrooms and how learning cannot always be teacher-directed. Flexible grouping, allowing for discussion and conversation, centers, and the various other examples listed under each condition all allow for a shared responsibility of learning. I believe that these conditions of learning can be a strong foundation for me as I work toward developing my own lessons.

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Education in the Year 2020

As I was reading the article “21 Things That Will Be Obsolete by 2020,” I found it difficult to envision the classroom Shelly Blake-Plock describes. It seems so different from the classrooms today that contain desks, computers, textbooks, homework, etc. I believe that Blake-Plock has both a modern and original standpoint that can help future educators to visualize what a future classroom could be like.

I found many of the points in this article to be ones that I could easily welcome into my own future classroom. One of the items listed that I found particularly interesting was the idea of grade organization. At Luther, differentiation is stressed in each education class and is found to be a must for future educators. I can see the benefits that can come from this, as students have various learning styles and interests. I believe this could allow teachers to get to know their students better, and in turn, address individual student needs. Along with this concept of differentiated learning groups, I enjoyed Blake-Plocks feelings toward desks. There are many different types of learners, and not all of those learners are able to learn simply by sitting in a traditional seating arrangement. Having different areas and seating that allow students to interact with one another and be comfortable seems like an obvious transition that should happen in today’s classroom. I also could relate to the part about professional development. Schools today are already beginning Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and creating other ways to continue professional growth. To me, this is important as an educator because of the constant change that takes place in the educational world. Another belief I have as a future educator is that parent-teacher relations are of the utmost importance. The relationship between a child’s teacher and his or her parent is one that will foster critical development both inside and outside of the classroom. Thus, I feel Blake-Plock’s understanding of tech integrated schools as ways to build upon parent-teacher relationships is one that is valid and necessary. Finally, language arts labs are an important part of this article. Having fun when at school allows students to love learning, and changing up the traditional classroom in a way that makes it interesting and exciting is a way that can help students love to learn.

Though there are many good ideas in the article, there are a couple of points Blake-Plock brings up that I struggle with. One of the points that is brought up in this article is that of digital books. Don’t get me wrong, I find items such as eReaders, Kindles, and Nooks to be nifty and tech-savvy. However, being the “bookworm” that I am, there is nothing quite like holding a book and turning its pages. I also feel as though Blake-Plock’s feelings about lockers is a little disappointing. Lockers, cubbies, and other spaces for students are places in which students take ownership about and learn organizational skills. If shared, these spaces can even help students to work together, share, and compromise.

Overall, this article addressed many educational aspects that have been staples for a long time. Thinking about the future of education is important. One can learn a lot simply from opening their mind to the new possibilities for both students, teachers, and schools.

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