Meta-Reflection: What Have I Learned?

I came into the Survey of Instructional Strategies course with past knowledge of popular teaching strategies but I did not realize how extensive these strategies could be. This course helped me to not only understand these approaches, but to be able to implement them in my classroom. The examples that we were provided with throughout this course gave me clearer vision on the best ways to use these tools with my students, meeting the standards of “E1-Exemplify professionally informed, growth-centered practice”. In our first module, we were asked to think about how to design instruction to meet the needs of all students. In the article, “Closing Opportunity Gaps in Washington’s Public Education System”, the authors write, “All students can succeed, but they need highly effective teachers, exemplary curriculum and materials, and appropriate academic and social support” (2010). These thoughts have stayed with me throughout this class because I feel that every piece of this quote is necessary to help students succeed.

In the beginning of the class we read through “Classroom Instruction that Works” and this gave me a chance to think about some of the strategies that were new to me as I considered how I could utilize them in the future. This was also a chance for me to look at strategies that I was already using and evaluate what changes could be made that would make them more effective. An example would be this LESSON PLAN Artifact where I implemented the strategy of “Non-linguistic Representations” and “Assigning Homework and Providing Practice”. In this lesson, the strategies were productive but as I reflect on what I now know I realize that I could have used these approaches to take the students deeper into their learning. The strategies are not meant to simply convey knowledge, they are rather a means to get students to evaluate, question and discover the content material in a manner that will stick with them. Concerning Nonlinguistic Representations, Dean et al (2012) states, “Imagery is expressed as mental pictures or physical sensations, such as smell, taste, touch, kinesthetic association, and sound” (p. 63).  In the future, I plan on using this short video about TROUBLESHOOTING TECHNOLOGY that I made as a Non-linguistic Representation to introduce students to problem solving with technological materials.

As we continued through each module in this course, we were given the opportunity to role-play the strategies that we were learning about. In MY VIDEO PROJECT, I learned a great deal about Cooperative Learning and discovered new ways to implement this strategy in future Video Production classes. Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) state, “Cooperative learning is an approach to instruction that provides both the opportunity and the organization for balanced, successful, and satisfying group learning experiences” (p. 246). This is a fantastic approach that puts students in the driver’s seat rather than me with a white board. Bruner’s approach to teaching points the students to self-discovery of the content material. The author (1966) writes, “Discovery teaching involves not so much the process of leading students to discover what is ‘out there,’ but, rather, their discovering what is in their own heads” (p. 1). This is where I learned that teaching is not all up front; it is instead walking beside students and helping them discover the world around them.

I enjoyed the hands-on based approaches throughout this course because they work so well in my technology classes where students are constantly working with cameras, computers and software programs. Strategies such as Cooperative Learning, Concept Attainment, Advance Organizers and Role Playing all allow significant visual components to their implementation. An example of the Role Playing approach can be viewed in artifact 1 and 2 (see below) from a graphic design class that I taught. In this class, I had students create a personal business complete with a purpose, vision statement, and an extensive brand identity by using Office Word and Adobe Photoshop. Through the strategy of Role Playing, students were completely invested into the project because they got to play the role of a marketer in the business world.

As I reflect on my progress throughout this course, I realize that my approach to teaching has grown. I am not simply thinking about making a curriculum to meet the end goal of delivering knowledge to my students. Instead, I am delicately crafting a curriculum that utilizes an array of instructional strategies to meet the needs of a diverse room of learners. Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) bring up this example of my paradigm shift through the use of the Inductive Model by stating, “…the teacher is to continue asking students questions to facilitate their thinking, as opposed to providing praise for the ‘right’ answers” (p.160). As a result of my learning throughout this course, I will be not only a better teacher but also a better learner. I discovered that there are a multitude of instructional strategies and I need to continue to test these approaches in my classroom, evaluate the outcomes, make any necessary changes and then continue to implement.


Artifact 1:


Artifact 2:



Blog 7: Teaching Morals?

In this week’s module we discussed the role that virtues and values play in the classroom. As teachers, it is our role not only to lead young people to knowledge but to also teach them how to be a citizen of the greater society. In our discussion, a lot of great ideas and concepts were discussed. My point of view is that we as teachers need to be examples of moral character for our students. However, one of my colleagues brought up the fact that he does not feel comfortable in that role and would rather see those expectations stay inside family walls. I see both sides of this point of view. In the article, “Can Virtue Be Taught?”, Kirk proposes, “It would be vain for us to pretend that schools and colleges somehow could make amends for all the neglect of character resulting from the inadequacies of the American family” (p. 1). It is true that teachers cannot replace the lessons that children learn on a daily basis from their families. However, I think that teachers can try to partner with families to best support the students. For example, I know that I can better utilize parent-teacher conferences compared to past experiences. In my first year of teaching, I used this time to usually discuss behavioral issues in hopes that parents would then work with me in these problems. However, this could have also been a time to get to know parents and see what they are teaching their child. I could encourage them in their efforts to raise their child because parenting is hard and I’m sure it is nice to hear some positive feedback. Even though parents are hopefully teaching their children to be people of character, it is still something that we teach in the classroom whether we mean to or not. Since students are taking note of our actions, I think that it is an opportunity to be an example of moral character and maybe even make a lesson of it.

I enjoyed the following quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel that Prof Williams shared with us, “It is not better textbooks we most need to improve education but text-people. A teacher’s life is the book that students read with more care than anything on paper, and will far more significantly shape their lives.” Teachers are constantly watched not only by students, but by the surrounding community. We are leaders because of the profession that we chose and I believe that is an important authority that should not be wasted.


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.


Discovering Similarities and Differences In Cinematography

Classroom Context:

As previously stated in my first implementation of an instructional strategy, the school that I have taught at is a private Christian school. Since I teach elective classes, they allow me to create my own curriculum by basing it around the school’s vision and goals. I have implemented the strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences in my junior high technology class and my review of this strategy can be viewed here:

This class is filled with 7th and 8th grade students and the majority of the class is boys with an exception of a few girls. The goal of this junior high elective is for students to see a range of creative technologies such as the Office suite, graphic design, and videography. The objective is that students learn an overview of specific tools and programs that they can then dig deeper in through high school classes, which they will have the opportunity to take in the future. The students are coming into class with an understanding of technological devices but almost every student has no experience with the editing programs. Some students have used aspects of the Office suite but it is amazing to see how basic their understanding of these everyday programs are. The class is highly energetic and it is important to hold their attention so that they don’t miss any important information that they will need when stepping into class projects.

In this unit, I am introducing the art form of cinematography and begin by teaching students the basics of what makes a well-framed shot. I am implementing the strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences by showing the students a range of different example clips. I will continue to allow time after each clips for students to point out the similarities and differences that they are seeing in these clips. Note that some of these examples will be beautiful shots, while others will be proof of what not to do.

Learning Goal Specification:

EALR 2. Visual Arts: The student uses the artistic processes of creating, performing/presenting, and responding to demonstrate thinking skills in visual arts.

GLE 2.3.1 Applies a responding process to visual arts.

Supportive Description:

This class has already learned about Office Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Adobe Photoshop. The students have been given many opportunities to express their unique perspectives by applying their growing knowledge and skills of these programs. Since the art of cinematography is quite different compared to the tangible programs that they have previously learned, this will be a concept that they will need to grasp that they can then put into practice. The strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences is an excellent approach in this situation because it will help students better understand this new concept of being a good cinematographer. Dean et al (2012) states, “These strategies help move students from existing knowledge to new knowledge, concrete to abstract, and separate to connected ideas” (p. 119). Students will not only learn the main components of cinematography, but also how to create a good shot.

Outcomes Predicted:

The strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences was actually applied in the context described above and did indeed have positive effects. I had the students watch a various amount of clips that not only showed styles of cinematography but also shots that were poorly executed. I utilized the white board and had students tell me what shots were similar and which ones were different. We then branched out from these similarities and differences and discussed the attributes that these clips did or did not have in common. Students discussed a variety of components such as close up dialogue shots that were framed well compared to scenes that had a tilted camera to create the effect of unease.

The students were also able to pick out the shots that were examples of what not to do. I was actually surprised by how easily students were able to recognize these and I think it is because students are very exposed to professionally made movies and television and naturally expect a certain look. I found that they could see that something was wrong, but could not fully express why because we had yet to introduce all of the proper academic language for cinematography. This provided an opportunity for me to guide the students through a series of questions that helped them discover the specific aspects of these poorly framed shots that had a negative effect on the end product. Students were then able to move into their first video assignment with an understanding of what to do and what not to do. In conclusion, the strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences was an impactful approach in this junior high technology class because it gave students a context for the newly introduced skill of cinematography.


  • Powerpoint Example: This is the Powerpoint presentation that I used to first introduce students to the concept of cinematography. It starts with some key terms and then ends at the segment where I showed cinematography examples for students to identify similarities and differences.
  • Strategy 2 Sample Lesson: View this sample lesson plan from my cinematography unit to see how I planned to implement the strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences in this context.


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?


Strategy 2: Identifying Similarities and Differences

Identifying Similarities and Differences is a teaching strategy that uses the concepts of comparing and contrasting knowledge so that students can better understand the subject matter. The specific strategies inside this category are comparing, classifying, creating metaphors and creating analogies (Dean et al, 2012). Comparing is when students differentiate subjects based on their similarities and differences. Classifying is when students divide the subject matter into categories based on their similarities. Creating metaphors is when students can find patterns among the subject matter and relate them to similar patterns that they are aware of. Creating analogies is when students pair together concepts to better understand the components of the knowledge (Dean et al, 2012).  The main recommendations for implementing the strategy of Indentifying Similarities and Differences is to first show students how to correctly use this approach, then allow time for them to practice while also guiding them through the process with cues and questions (Dean et al, 2012).

Key Research Findings:

  • With curriculum that is constantly changing and growing, this is a flexible approach that allows students to make connections with what they are learning in the classroom to the world around them (Dean et al, 2012).
  • This approach can be useful in teaching students with learning disabilities because it helps them categorize the world around them (Tarver, 1986).
  • Teachers can utilize technological resources that allow students to visually identify similarities and differences through computer software programs (Pitler et al, 2007).


  1. Guide students through this approach by first modeling what you would like students to do. Do this with different examples until students feel confident to utilize the strategy themselves.
  2. Provide students with visual organizers such as Venn diagrams or charts so that they can see the relationships that the information creates.
  3. Allow students to identify similarities and differences in collaborative small groups while giving them corrective feedback.
  4. When possible, ask students to summarize information so that they can draw conclusions from this strategy’s outcomes.
  5. Use student directed tasks and teacher directed tasks so that students can practice both elements of this approach.
  6. Use this strategy when introducing concepts that may be foreign to students and allow them to apply a creative process to it. An example from Video Production classes that I have taught is applying this strategy when teaching students the difference between good and bad cinematography.

Additional Resources:

  • For descriptions of teacher directed and student directed tasks, go to
  • The process of Identifying Similarities and Differences can be a visual process where students divide their thoughts through the medium of a chart or diagram. To download blank templates that can be utilized in classrooms, go to
  • This strategy gives room for students to contemplate key knowledge while also applying their unique views and creativity. An example of this can be seen in my graphic design students’ work where they were asked to pick an everyday word or phrase, which contains different components and then making a visual representation of it (see examples below).

House Fly:

House Fly

Horse Fly:

Horse Fly

Couch Potato:

Couch Potato



Reflection: Using advance organizers with media driven classes

The concept of “Advance Organizers” is a new approach for me. After this week’s module, I see how this could easily apply in future classrooms. Since this was an instructional strategy that I had not previously heard of, it was helpful for it to be described in detail from our readings. Ausubel (1978) states, “Advance organizers help the learner recognize that elements of new learning materials can be meaningfully learned by relating them to specifically relevant aspects of existing cognitive structure” (p. 1). I can easily see how organizing new knowledge into categories for students could help them better understand the material.

Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) proposed that advance organizers could also be “visual information” (p. 395). In our small group discussion this week, I talked about how visual advanced organizers could be very helpful in my media driven classes that I have taught in the past. Photography, graphic design and video production all have visual components that are crucial in the instruction concerning the tools and skills utilized in this field. Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) also stated, “Students must understand the purpose of the advance organizer. One this is understood, it is most effectively used if students are reminded to connect their new learning to it” (p. 396). This was an important factor for me in my consideration for implementing this strategy. I cannot just give students a visual map to follow, but rather need to teach them how to use the visuals for guidance in their learning.