Standard 3

Demonstrates knowledge of the diverse ways in which students develop and learn by providing learning opportunities that support students’ intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development.

Artifacts: 

Agree/Disagree activity

Jigsaw activity for Supreme Court in school

Literature Circle activity for Malala

Rationale: 

As a teacher, I pride myself on my ability to understand and appreciate all of my students as learners and people. My students come from all different walks of life and are at vastly different stages of their intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development. I must take my students’ strengths and weaknesses into account when providing learning opportunities for them. Three of my activities during my student teaching demonstrate my commitment to supporting all of my students’ learning: my “jigsaw” activity on the First Amendment in schools, my agree/disagree activity on the morality of the First and Second Amendment, and my literature circle assignment on a chapter of I Am Malala.

My first lesson, from my unit on American Government, appraised the application of the First Amendment in the United States today. This lesson plan demonstrates my understanding of Standard Three, since it scaffolds the learning of slow-processing students, while allowing my stronger, more socially developed students to express their differing opinions quickly. Weaker students have the opportunity to form their own opinions at a slower pace, while silently listening to their more advanced peers argue with one another. Also, many of my quieter, less socially developed students chose to remain silent during the debate, yet still had the opportunity to express their own opinion in writing at the end of the class. For this lesson, I posted the following controversial statements onto our projector: “Every viewpoint should be equally respected. If someone says something hurtful to you, that person should not be allowed to say that again. The First Amendment is flawed, since it allows the Westboro Baptist Church to protest soldiers’ funerals. People have the right to not be in the news or on the Internet if they want privacy.” I direct the students to congregate around posters that indicate whether they agree with, disagree with, or are unsure of the statement. Student volunteers then share with the rest of the class their justifications for their belief. At the end of the lesson, the students choose one of the four statements and explain in writing why they agree or disagree with it in a short paragraph.

My jigsaw classroom on Supreme Court decisions involving the First and Amendment in school effectively supported my students’ social and intellectual development. The jigsaw classroom is a cooperative learning technique that divides lessons into smaller components; students are assigned to learn and become “experts” of these smaller segments, and eventually present what they learned to their jigsaw group. In this specific case, my students learned about certain Supreme Court cases involving the First Amendment in school that they then shared with the rest of their group. Students lacking the confidence or inclination to contribute to regular classroom procedures are obligated to become integral parts of their group, since without mastery of their assigned topic, their group members would be unable to compete the given assignment. This actively forces students to efficiently work together and value their peers’ contributions to a common goal. This activity enabled my weaker students, often lagging behind their classmates in both comprehension and work completion, to participate in a learning activity that boosted confidence in learning capabilities and established them as valued members of a learning community.

My literature circle activity on chapters twenty one- twenty three of I Am Malala  further demonstrates my understanding of Standard Three, since it provides learning opportunities for students of all different ability levels. In literature circles, students are assigned specific tasks related to a given reading to complete on their own prior to meeting with their circle. Students can either summarize their section, lead and take notes on the discussion, define challenging words, illustrate a scene from the book, connect an event from the book to real-life, or connect an event from the book to the rest of the story.   Just like the jigsaw classroom, students depend on their peers’ completion and understanding of the assignment; instead of grading individual work, I focus on each circle’s complete assignment. “Word Wizards”, responsible for defining challenging words, can confidently teach their peers the meaning of these words as the resident expert on the vocabulary of this section. Moreover, since the tasks of connecting the material to the students’ lives and to the rest of the book are far more challenging than simply summarizing the chapter or taking notes on the discussion, I can provide a more challenging learning experience for my stronger students.

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