Feeling Equipped For the Future

Harmon_Literature Review

My artifact for my blog submission is my literature review of ADD and ADHD. I chose this topic because I noticed that this condition has seemed to become more and more prevalent in society over the years. When I was in high school, I remember my mother continuously exclaiming how she didn’t remember growing up with anyone she knew having ADD and ADHD. I think that educators now have a better concept of what this condition is and what instructional approaches they can use to support student learning. I am a fairly new teacher and have only been working in education for a few years. I have had students with IEP’s and 504 plans and most of them were diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. I previously taught at a private school and they did not have any special education training for general education teachers. I found myself at many times feeling like I was simply maintaining these students’ behaviors rather than helping them grow. I tried many approaches, but often got overwhelmed by the students with ADD and ADHD.

The information that I gained from my literature review of ADD and ADHD was truly enlightening. The research helped me understand how this condition affects many important executive functions that students would naturally use in the educational setting. This helped me better understand the challenges that these students face and how I can help them still thrive. The research gave me practical ways to better support students with ADD and ADHD alongside instructional practices that I could implement in my classroom. All in all, I was embarrassed that I didn’t find the time a year ago to research this topic because it would have been immensely helpful in the challenges that I was facing as a new teacher. This research will make me a better teacher because I now feel equipped to help students with ADD and ADHD learn and grow. It gave me a perspective from the students’ point of view, and I’ve learned that that is always a good place to start in the teaching arena.

Module 6 Reflection: How Do Students Learn Best?

Throughout this module, we studied some learner-centered approaches. In our discussion we talked about how to make sure that we as teachers are taking the time in building relationships with our students to know how they learn best. Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) describe the humanist movement by stating, “Rather than focus solely on students’ mastery of academic content, humanism advocates that schools educate ‘the whole child,’ the affective, physical, and cognitive lives of students” (p. 307). I believe that this was an important concept to be introduced to education because students are all different and learn in unique ways. Before this movement in education, the system catered to a specific type of learner while ignoring the needs of others. This is why approaches such as multiple intelligence strategies can be important tools in the classroom.

In our small group discussion, we talked about how it is almost impossible to cater to every student, every single day in a class of 30. However, that does not mean that we should give up applying multiple intelligences altogether. Instead, we can have opportunities for students to engage in multiple intelligences activities such as giving them a project with multiple paths to completing it. For example, in my video production classes when we learn about the history of cinematography, students could have the option of writing a research paper, making a video, creating a Powerpoint and giving a presentation to the class, etc. This would give students the opportunity to learn the content material in the context that best fits how they process knowledge. Gardner (1993) explains his two assumptions about learning today by stating, “The first is that not all people have the same interests and abilities; not all of us learn in the same way. The second assumption is one that hurts: it is the assumption that nowadays no one person can learn everything there is to learn (p. 3). It is true that we cannot learn everything there is to learn, but we can give students the tools they need to grow, learn and succeed in society.


Module 5 Blog: Engaging learners through the world around them

Throughout this week’s module, we discussed Cooperative Learning and Constructivism. I have found Cooperative Learning to be an approach that applies quite well in my video production classes. Although this strategy holds merit all on it’s own, the reason that I first started using was out of necessity. We had limited materials in our computer lab, which means that students had to work in groups to complete projects. However, the challenge when working with technology is that it is difficult to divide tasks when there is one computer to split between three students. I found that assigning students with different tasks and roles helped them stay on task, and have an individual goal to focus on as well as the overall group goal. Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) referred to Performance Indicator 10 by stating, “Collaborate with peers, experts and others to contribute to a content-related base by using technology to compile, synthesize, produce, and disseminate information, models and other creative works” (p. 273). These action words are the goals of collaborative learning and I see how students can proceed in these actions with technology to further their learning.

John Dewey’s article, “My Pedagogic Creed” presented a very interesting viewpoint as he articulated his beliefs of the roles of education. One quote that stuck with me is, “I believe that the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child’s powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself” (Dewey, 1897, p. 2). I agree with these thoughts because students learn best when they are able to apply their newfound knowledge to the world around them. We discussed this concept in our small group this week and found that society does of course influence knowledge. If this is true, how can we as teachers use the trends of society to make knowledge more impactful in our students’ lives?


Learning Styles

After studying about learning styles through Module 1 of our Learners In Context class, I have been building up an awareness of how my students learn differently. This information has not only proved to by useful but also necessary. My question that I am wrestling with is how can I as a teacher include a variety of learning styles in my lessons, activities, projects, and assessments?  Would it be logically sound for students to have different projects to choose from where they all have the same curricular goals but different processes of getting there? If this was the case would it be students picking the best way that they learn or would it be students picking what they thought would be the easiest to execute?

I saw an example for this approach of differentiated learning flexibility through classroom projects/formative assessments from a teacher at a conference I went to. The teacher had an end goal that she wanted students to reach but many different ways that they could choose to reach that goal. The following are the choices that the students had to create: a picture board, a skit, a map/flow chart, a paper, a poem, and a presentation. The students could then utilize not only their skill sets but also interact with the subject matter through their individual learning styles. I love this idea, but it creates a number of challenges. How would the teacher award grades to the six different projects? How would the teacher adequately show the students the expectations for each of these projects? These questions should not silence this wonderful idea of incorporating differentiated learning, but should instead refine the implementation of it.

As I work towards finding tangible ways to include the variety of learning styles that exist in my classroom, I have also worked to be mindfully aware of these styles. I think that teachers who are practicing an awareness of learning styles will inevitably impact student’s learning in a deeper and enduring way. With that said, I hope that this is a skill that begins to be an automatic unconscious action of thought.

Troubleshooting and The Marshmallow Challenge

We have had a large amount of technical problems in both of my technology classes. We have had student’s accounts mysteriously deleted, user names being deactivated and passwords somehow being altered. Since this is how the school year started, I decided that we needed to have a unit dedicated solely to troubleshooting. I first taught students how to “think outside of the box” by describing the process of problem solving. Many students are honestly used to not having to think for themselves because whenever they do not get something they just raise their hand for the teacher. Teachers are of course an important resource and support for students, however I believe that this relationship should enable students rather than creating a crutch for them to lean on. With that said, after teaching students how to problem solve, I gave them a list of common computer problems and asked them to start troubleshooting. The students started to think for themselves as a gut reaction rather than asking me to solve the problem for them.

In the middle of this unit, I had the students do “The Marshmallow Challenge” that I learned from Chad Donohue’s class at SPU. I wanted the students to recognize that they use problem-solving skills in their everyday lives, in and outside of the classroom. In this challenge students were given 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 marshmallow and 18 minutes. In these 18 minutes, students got in groups to create the highest tower with the marshmallow at the top. Students learned to create a plan, test the plan and the re-evaluate their approach if it failed. They also learned that there is more than one way to find a solution to a problem. The students are now able to practice their growing troubleshooting skills in our technology class and I am very pleased with their progress.

Take a look at my Junior High Technology class taking on The Marshmallow Challenge:

The Marshmallow Challenge

                I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in “The Marshmallow Challenge” because it forced us to think, try, and learn. First off, this exercise is a hands-on approach to learning. It forces students to get out of their comfortable seats and actually engage in the lesson. It shows students that they can think for themselves. I have seen so many classroom scenarios where the students do not learn to work through problem solving because they know that the teacher will eventually give them the answer. It is important for students to learn how to evaluate a problem, come up with a solution, try it out, and conclude with reexamining the process. The Marshmallow Challenge gives students the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

                I think that an important part of this lesson that I want to incorporate in my classroom would be to have students assess and reflect on their experience. What worked? What did not work? What changes would you make to your “Marshmallow Plan” for better results? This challenge also shows students that there is not simply one answer. In education, students fall into a bad textbook habit of rushing through assignments in search of the right answers to complete the assignment as quick as possible. However, this does not teach students how to think critically, ask good questions, and learn that real life is not black and white. The Marshmallow Challenge gives students experience in working with the “grey areas” of problem solving.

The Marshmallow Challenge also gives teachers the opportunity to learn about their students through a “fish bowl” perspective. While students are working through the task, teachers get to watch student interactions with each other. As students communicate with each other, the teacher can see the leaders, the followers, the peacemakers, the class clowns, and the perfectionists. The teachers collect valuable information for future lessons such as who works well together in group projects or what types of learners exist in the classroom. The Marshmallow Challenge has many valuable learning benefits, for both students and teachers alike. To view the experience, go to http://www.schooltube.com/video/28377108f5641f5f5d91/Marshmallow-Challenge-ARC-2.