Friday, March 27, 2009

Reflection #3

In this reflection I want to write about what I plan my classroom to be like. I want my classroom to be one that is conducive to learning and one that is a fun environment to learn in. History is a subject that many students find very boring and are not interested in it because of this. I think one reason why many students find history to be such a boring subject is because of the way it is taught to them in school. History classes, especially at the higher levels of education, tend to be lecture-based classes. In this type of learning environment a student is not actively engaged in the class, but instead they are just listening to their teacher speak about something they might not even be interested in. I am a history major and even I have a hard time focusing and learning in this type of environment. I had an American history course last semester at nine in the morning and many days I struggled to stay awake. It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested in the subject matter; I was actually very interested in it. The class consisted of my professor lecturing for the entire class with no interaction with any of his students. There was never a class discussion about the topics we were learning about and the only time a student and the professor engaged in dialogue was when a student asked the professor a question. I do not think I spoke to my professor once during class. The only days that were not lecture days were exam days and there were only two of these the entire semester. It was very disheartening at the end of the semester when I took my final exam that the professor still did not know my name. I did not learn very much in this class and at the end of the semester I did not feel like I had learned anything I hadn’t already learned in the American history course I took in high school. I feel like I learn history best from reading from a textbook for homework and then listening to a lecture about what I read. After taking this American history course in college it taught me that although I learn history best when it is taught to me like my history professor in college taught me, it is difficult to learn when the classroom is very redundant. It is also difficult to learn when there is no social constructivism in the class. Social interaction can be a useful tool in teaching and this is something I plan to use.
In my classroom, I plan to use different teaching techniques to help meet all the different learning needs of my students. Using different teaching techniques will also hopefully make my class more interesting and keep my students attention in class. I will assign one or two chapters of reading from the history text book for homework every week and I will spend two class days lecturing about what my students read. I will try to have one class discussion a week talking about some of the things we have read and talked about in history. Class discussions can be a useful teaching tool to promote social constructivism and can also be used to find out how deeply of an understanding students have about subjects of history. Therefore these class discussions can be used to test how much a student knows. This could be helpful for a student who might have trouble with written tests because I would be providing an alternative way for students to share their knowledge. The other two days of class would be “all-purpose” days meaning that I would use these days for whatever purpose I needed them for my class. I would use these days for different learning activities such as watching a video or doing projects. I will try to use these two days to break the monotony of class, so I am not doing the same things everyday and my students do not become bored or disinterested in my class. I would also use these days to administer exams, which I would probably give about once every two weeks. My tests would consist of multiple choice questions along one or two written essays and not be purely essay-based like the American history course I took here at Berea. I think a test that has multiple choice questions along with a couple of essays is the best way to determine how much a student has learned. My goal is to create a classroom that promotes learning but also one that a student enjoys being in and learns a lot from.

Reflection #2

I am going to begin this reflection by pointing out some flaws and complaints I see with the requirements I must meet to be a history major with secondary certification to teach in social studies. I feel that the requirements could be changed to better prepare a teacher to teach their students. My first complaint is the requirement that for a history major is that you are required to take a foreign language through the 103 level, which for many students, including myself, translates into three years of Spanish. I feel that these credits are unnecessary and would be better used as three more history courses. I feel that the credits would be used better if they were history credits because only twelve history courses are required for the major and 21 must come outside the major. I do not feel that this adequately prepares someone to teach the variety of courses that a certification in social studies allows them to teach. With this certification, a teacher is certified to teach American history, World history, European history, Government, Sociology, or a number of other courses. Even though I will be certified to teach all of these courses I would not feel comfortable teaching all of these courses. I want to teach American history, so naturally I am taking a lot of American history courses to be better prepared to teach this. Within meeting all requirements for my history courses, I am only going to be able to take one world history course, which only covers half the time period covered in world history. This would make me inadequately prepared to teach world history in high school and it is a possibility that I might have to teach this. In getting a teaching job, I might have to take a position teaching world history, or some other social science course before an opening allows me to teach American history. I feel that I would be cheating my students out of a good education if I was not familiar with the course material I was teaching and I do not feel that is right for me to be teaching my students something if I am not knowledgeable about it.
I took psychology and sociology in high school and both classes were taught by teachers who majored in other subjects, but still had their certification to teach these classes. I was really interested in learning about both these subjects, especially sociology, but because my teachers were not really qualified to teach these classes, our class time consisted of watching Hollywood movies that were supposed to relate with sociology and psychology. It was hard for me to respect these teachers when they are not knowledgeable about what they are teaching, especially when there were students in the class that knew more about the subject that the teacher was teaching. A student should not know more about a subject than a teacher who is teaching the subject to the student.
I understand that Berea is a liberal arts school and the goal is to give students a “breadth” of knowledge, rather than “depth” of knowledge. If Berea required that 1/2 of the classes come from your major to graduate instead of 1/3, a student could still have a breadth of knowledge by taking other classes outside their major. In my case I could also have a breadth of knowledge in history as well if I was allowed to take more classes in history. I could be more educated in American history, world history, European history, Asian history, and many other kinds of history. In a sense I would still have a liberal education because I would not be limiting myself to only taking certain history courses and I would have more freedom to take courses outside of my preferred area of concentration, which is American history. I do not understand how you can “major” in something even though only 1/3 of your classes can be in that area, instead of the majority of your classes coming from that area. My main point is that I feel that to be adequately prepared to teach history in high school, it is necessary that a student be allowed to take more history courses. If half of my courses could come from my major I feel that I would be more adequately prepared to teach at the high school level because I would be able to take more history courses to get a greater depth of history knowledge.
I would also like to commend you on your “balls and ramps” activity that we did. With a lot of the activities we do in class, my initial thought is “Why are we doing this? How does this relate to teaching at all?”. You always find a way to relate it back to what you are trying to teach us and I believe your approach to teaching works well because it always holds a student’s interest and makes them want to learn. This is something that seems to be one of the bigger challenges of being a teacher, being able to hold a student’s interest by teaching them in unconventional ways. This is something I hope to be able to do as a teacher, although it seems like it could become rather difficult at times. The most important things I take away from these exercises is that you must be able to relate to your students if you are going to teach them. If you can not relate to your students, it will be very difficult to teach them.

Reflection #1

In this reflection I will say why I want to become a teacher and my plans on what I want to accomplish as a teacher. I first became seriously interested in becoming a teacher my junior year of high school after taking an advanced placement United States history course. I found that I was very interested in the subject and that I would love to teach what I had learned to others at the high school level. By the end of junior year, I was pretty confident that teaching a United States history course in high school would be my dream job.
My biggest teaching role model came to me my senior year of high school. I took an advanced placement biology course my senior year of high school with a teacher named Coach Roberts. Coach Roberts was also my cross country coach, so we were together a lot and he became very much like a father figure to me. Coach Roberts taught me a lot about Biology, but the most important lessons he taught me were not school related. I have never seen a teacher that cared more about his students than Coach Roberts. He is the teacher that got on my case about applying to Berea. The first day I came back from Christmas break during my senior year of high school, he asked me if I had applied to Berea yet, and I had not. He immediately got on Berea’s webpage and printed out an application and told me that I needed to fill it out. He knew my family background and knew that I did not have enough money to pay for college, so he really stressed that I apply to Berea. We also had many talks about what I should expect in college and things I could do to prepare myself for college. He valued all students though, and he did not just offer help to those who wanted to achieve a higher education. His goals as a teacher were to make sure every student he had became a productive member of the United States. He often went above and beyond the effort of other teachers in helping out his students.
His approach to teaching, where he not only taught his students about the subject matter, but also taught them lessons that would help them throughout life, is the approach to teaching I want to take. I have had a lot of teachers who were really intelligent, but could not teach well. I have also had teachers that could teach well, but did not care about their student’s personal lives. I want to be an excellent teacher that not only does a great job in teaching my subject matter, but I also want to make sure I do the most I can to help my students to be the best person they can be after graduating high school. I think that teaching students the subject matter is important, but if you fail to prepare your students for life after high school, you have failed your students. I plan to use different approaches to teaching my students so that they can learn the subject matter with the learning style that is best for them.
I also plan to help my students with problems they may have, outside of the classroom as much as I can. If a student is having a problem at home I want them to know that they can talk to me and I will do whatever I can to help them. I plan to help all my students in obtaining a higher education as well. I will be more than willing to write recommendation letters for my students or offer them college advice. One reason I want to be a teacher is because I want to be able to help students. There were many teachers in my time through school that helped me to get where I am today and I want to be able to return the favor to future students.
I enjoyed the first day of class when we did the activity where we put all the things that students learn from teachers on the board. I liked the activity because subject areas, such as mathematics, reading, and science, only made up a small portion of the things listed on the board. The majority of things were skills that would help the student to be a better person and are all skills that students must learn. These skills included things like discipline, social skills, and teamwork. I thought it was important that we stressed in class that as a teacher it is your responsibility to teach not only the content of your subject area, but also to teach them the skills they need to be successful human beings. In my opinion this is one of the most important things to learn as a teacher and is what separates good teachers from great teachers.

Integrated Curriculum

Caption: In this picture Caitlyn, Morgan, and I are discussing integrated curriculum's.


In this project we were asked to discuss an integrated curriculum with our group members. Each person in the group had a different role in this discussion. Morgan was supposed to talk about and tell us why she believed that an integrated curriculum was a good thing. Caitlyn's role was to disagree with everything Morgan said, this was so that Morgan could make her argument stronger against someone who did not support an integrated curriculum. My role in the group was to ask questions about what Morgan was saying. This prompted her to go more in depth about an integrated curriculum and helped her to explain it better.

Reflection: This activity gave me and my group a greater understanding of an integrated curriculum as we were able to work together and ask questions about it so we could go deeper into the topic. This activity was very helpful because we were able to work together and by doing this we were able to share our ideas on an integrated curriculum and then discuss them so that everyone in the group understood it better. I enjoy these group projects and find them very helpful because you can compare ideas and then have a discussion about these ideas to determine what you believe to be true.


This activity was connected to goal number seven which states, "As people who are committed to thinking together with others in the search for truth, wisdom and beauty". The activity and goal number seven were related because in the activity we had to work with other groupmembers to find the knowledge of what we believed to be true for an integrated curriculum. Without the other people in the group and the discussion we had on an integrated curriculum, no one in the group would have had as deep of an understanding of an integrated curriculum as we had after being in the group together. We really worked together as a team in this activity to try to find a greater knowledge on integrated curriculum in schools and I do not believe the activity would have been nearly as successful if we did an activity on integrated curriculum by ourselves.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Culture Cards

Caption: In this picture I am presenting my culture card.
In this picture I am presenting my culture card. The culture card was the first assignment that we had to do for the class and the assignment was done so that others in the classroom would learn our name and would learn at least three things about us. The criteria for this assignment included having at least three three-dimensional objects and putting things on our culture card that represented us. My culture card did not really have a lot of things on it, but it had two things that are very important to me. The first one being the picture of my girlfriend and I. We have been dating since the beginning of my Senior year of high school and she is the person that means the most to me. The Frisbee on my culture card is another important thing to me. I play Ultimate Frisbee for the college and it is something that I really enjoy being involved with, because it is something fun for me to do that gets my mind off the stresses of college.
I enjoyed doing this project because it allowed me to express to others in the classroom things that I enjoy and things that make me unique. It also allowed me to get to know the names and interests that other students in the classroom had. I enjoyed learning new things about the people in the classroom and I enjoyed learning all the things that make people unique. I really enjoyed this project because it allowed me to get to know my fellow students and it showed how diverse our classroom was.
This activity is related to goal number two which states "As people who value difference in human interactions, ideas and nature; who understand that identity is shaped by diversity, experiences, and environment; and who recognize that we must all work together to build a more just society". This activity is related to diversity because with the culture cards, each student was allowed to express themselves and this helped to show how diverse our classroom is. Seeing and recognizing the differences in each of the individuals in the classroom can allow each person to look at things from a different perspective, which can help everyone to see things more clearly.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Balls and Ramps

Caption: This is a picture of Caitlyn and I working on our balls and ramps activity.
For this project we were asked to construct a ramp that would meet certain criteria when a ball was rolled down it. The ramp had to include a six inch decline, a four inch incline, and was supposed to stop rolling 6 feet after it last touched the ramp (My group had a little trouble with the last one). In this picture Caitlyn and I are trying to figure out a way to slow down the ball enough to make it roll only six feet. We were having a difficult time finding a way to slow it down enought to make it roll only six feet and were unable to do it partly because of the incline of the floor. The majority of our time working on the ramp was spent trying to figure out how to make it stop. Caityln and I were the only people in our group, so we were constantly bouncing ideas off of each other on how to best construct the ramp.
I enjoyed this teaching activity. It showed me the importance of allowing students to try to solve problems on their own instead of telling them what they should do and think. In this activity we had to think for ourselves on how to best construct a ramp instead of having someone think for us and tell us how to do it. I think one important aspect of this activity is that a value should be placed on thinking for yourself. There are many activities out there that teach you things and that try to tell you what you think, but this activity was different because it actually required that you think for yourself. I really enjoyed this activity and as a teacher I must make sure that I incorporate activities that require my students to think for themselves.
This activity definetely relates to inquiry. In this activity we were trying to figure out how the ball and ramps worked with each other. We determined that the faster a ball was traveling the more friction we had to use against it to make it stop. We also determined that the higher we dropped the ball from the faster it would go. These were two things we discovered while working on this project. We definetely gained knowledge from this activity by thinking for ourselves. This is related to inquiry, because inquiry is the search for knowledge.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Personal Goals

My personal goals are...