Saturday, February 21, 2015

Go Noodle!!

Today I want to share with you this really great website that someone told me about.  It is called GoNoodle and you can find more information about them by clicking HERE.  This is a free website that has interactive games, activities, exercises and so much more.  You can use these activities on the SMARTboard in your classroom!  Definitely check them out!!

Learn more by watching the video below!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Reflections on our Direct Instruction Lesson Plan

Direct Instruction Lesson Plan Reflection

  • Did the video, word cloud, and pictures activate the students’ prior knowledge and capture their attention?
    • Yes it did.  The students were able to look at the video, word cloud, and pictures and tell us what they already knew about these images and words.  The students were enthusiastic to share what they already knew.
  • Was a Prezi presentation the best way to present the material?
    • I think the Prezi presentation was a great choice to present the material.  The Prezi was more visual than a normal PowerPoint presentation and it was great that we were able to get the image of New York as the “home base” for the Prezi. 
  • Were students able to follow along and become engaged with the Prezi?
    • I think that students were able to follow along and be engaged with the Prezi.  Students participated in the Stop and Ponder sections to share what information they learned through the presentation.  Students were also able to record information on their graphic organizer.  One thing that I would change in the future is to stop and help students to learn when to record the information, or provide more clues on the slides—such as stars or bold print—for information that should be recorded on the graphic organizer.
  • Were the videos and pictures in the Prezi sufficient for student learning and understanding?
    • Yes.  The videos were straight forward and helped to expand upon what we were teaching in the lesson.  It was a great tool to use for those visual and auditory learners.  I think that all of the students enjoyed the videos.
Guided Practice
  • Did the vortex, picture, and video activity allow the students to practice what they just learned?
    • Yes.  The students loved the vortex activity and it was great because we were able to have all of the students come up to the SMARTboard at least once.  Due to the time, we were unable to do the summary at the end of the vortex and reiterate the important facts from the vortex activity.  The pictures were also good to sum up student learning.  In the future, I do not think that I would use the video again.  Since the video is primarily of the New York City area, I do not think all students were able to make a connection with the video.   
  • Was the student praise and/or consequence provided lacking, too much, or sufficient enough to contribute to student confidence and learning?
    • I think that student praise was sufficient throughout the lesson.  I do not recall us using any consequence.  When a student provided an incorrect or off-topic answer, we gave corrective feedback and then asked if anyone else had an idea to share.  We allowed students to share which I think was beneficial to their learning.  We also had students chorally answer questions which is a great way to allow even shy students to participate. 

  • Did student groups asking other student groups allow the teacher to assess who really understood the content and who did not?
    • Yes I think it did.  The students were very excited about this activity and were actively engaged.  Students created thoughtful and unique questions to test their peers.  Since students worked in groups for this activity, it was difficult to tell which individuals did not fully grasp the content.  However, on a group basis it was clear that the majority of students understood and grasped the content of the lesson. 
Independent Practice
  • Was the socrative quiz fun for the students, as well as provide practice for them?
    • Due to time constraints, we were unable to use the Socrative quiz.
·         Did the socrative quiz allow the teacher to summatively assess the student?
    • Due to time constraints, we were unable to use the Socrative quiz.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Effective Questioning - What is it?

So what is effective questioning?

Effective questioning is linked to learning objectives and the challenge of the question increases as the lesson progresses.  Use both closed questions to check students understanding and knowledge as well as open questions to promote students to think and have more than one possible answer.  

Check out this video about effective questioning!

My Thoughts On My Guided Inquiry Lesson

Reflection on Guided Inquiry Lesson

Introduction Engage/Exploratory
•              Was the introduction and assessment of prior knowledge using a “think-pair-share” effective enough to engage students and motivate them to solve the problem?
Due to time constraints and because the inquiry lesson began immediately following the direct instruction lesson, we did not use the “think-pair-share” to assess prior knowledge.
•              Was using the fictional character Dr. Merriweather an effective and engaging strategy to introduce students to the problem?
Yes!  The students seemed to enjoy being presented with the problem by Dr. Merriweather and were all listening intently to the task.
•              Was using a tellagami an engaging approach to involve students in inquiry?
Yes I think it was.  It was more interesting for the students than one of us teacher candidates just giving them instruction.  I think the tellagami got them more engaged in the task.
Development - Explore and Explain
•              Was using one image and a ThinkLink the best way to model the process students would need to undergo for this lesson?
Although we had to do a quick model due to time constraints, the students did seem understand what they were supposed to do once they were able to start the webquest.
•              Were the images and ThingLink selected to model the process to students engaging and informative?
Yes.  The images and ThinkLink selected showed the students what was expected of them and how they could use the ThingLink to find information.
Monitoring Inquiry - Expand
•              Did I provide enough evidence for students to make conclusions?
I do not think that initial image was enough for students to make a question from.  Most, if not all, students did not even write a question down which eludes me to believe that either my instructions were not clear enough, or students were unable to make a question based on one abstract image alone.  Students were able to make conclusions based upon the artifacts given to them and the information they found on the ThinkLinks.
•              Were the pictures of artifacts I provided enough for students to make a hypothesis?
This question is hard for me to answer.  One group immediately concluded the craft of a colonist before even researching their artifacts and made their hypothesis off their conclusion.  However, other groups were able to make adequate hypotheses based on the artifact images and initial image provided to them. 
•              Did I create an activity in which students could engage with technology and one another?
Yes.  I observed students working together in groups to discuss the artifacts and what they were finding.  The ThinkLinks provided an easy and accessible way for the students to use the internet to find information about their artifact.
•              Were the artifacts students given clear enough for students to understand what their objective was?
Yes.  The way the artifacts were presented to the students they were able to find information about each artifact because the images of the artifacts were the exact images used in the ThingLinks.
•              Was enough information provided to students to allow them to finish the task?
Most, if not all students, skipped the initial part of the inquiry process which was to ask a question based upon their initial image.  I am not sure if the reason for this was due to the short amount of time I had to model the process due to our lack of time, or if the students were unable to formulate a question based upon one abstract image on the front of their team folder without seeing the pictures of the artifacts as well.
•              Was twenty minutes enough time to complete the task?
Twenty minutes was definitely not enough time to complete the task.  Initially, I had planned for the students to rotate among station to see the different ThingLinks.  However, there was not enough time to allow the students transition time.  So I instead accessed the three different ThingLinks of the computer where each group was sitting.  This way they could see all three ThingLinks and gather all of the information without having to rotate.  In the future, I would allot more time for this portion of the lesson, make the lesson encompass more than one class period, or put the information about all three artifacts on one ThingLink for the students to access only one ThinkLink to obtain their information.
•              Did I provide enough images and information from the pictures and website links for students to grasp the “big ideas?
I believe that I did.  Even though we were short on time, all of the groups were able to make conclusions about their artifacts based on the “big ideas” we were learning about.
•              Did the rubric help me to evaluate the student’s inquiry process?
If we had enough time for students to complete the task as intended, I believe that the rubrics would have helped me to evaluate students on the inquiry process.  However, given that we were short on time, many students were unable to finish the task or were rushing to complete it. 
•              Was using an oral presentation of students finding the best way to allow students to present their conclusions?
Yes.  This gave students an opportunity to orally present their findings to the class.  Everyone was supposed to follow a set of presentation guidelines—such as facing the audience, speaking loudly, having everyone in the group participate—however, due to the time constraint, we were not able to go over the presentation guidelines or activate prior knowledge about presenting with the students.
Independent Practice - Elaborate
•              Was using a letter the best way for students to translate the information they learned and the conclusions they came to?
I think using the letter format was the best way for students to translate the information that they learned.  This allowed them to create a letter based on their artifacts and present their conclusions in a way that make them think how to write their conclusions in letter form.
•              Did the rubrics criteria help me evaluate the student’s ability to write in a clear and concise manner to share information and conclusions?
Yes the rubrics did.  This was a task that many students completed at home or during regular class time because we ran out of time during fieldwork.  The rubrics helped me to subjectively evaluate each student’s letter.
•              Was the choice of a letter activity engaging to students?
The letter activity was engaging to students most students.  Even though students were not able to complete this activity during fieldwork time, many students completed the letter at home or in regular class time and returned the letter at the next fieldwork session. 
•              Was ten minutes enough time for students to complete the task?
Even though the students did not have enough time to begin the letter task during fieldwork, I do not think that ten minutes would have been enough time for the students to complete the letter activity. 
Overall, I think the students were actively engaged in this lesson.  They were excited to work together as a team of detectives and worked hard at completing the task.  I wish that there was enough time for me to completely model the process for the students.  In the future, I think I would break this lesson into a two day activity.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Direct Instruction, Inquiry, and Cooperative Learning Lessons

After watching many videos and reading many articles about Direct Instruction, Guided Inquiry, and Cooperative Learning I feel I finally have a grasp on these different types of lessons.  

In Direct Instruction, the teacher is presenting information to the students.  This is a fast paced lesson that requires the teacher to stop and check for understanding when progressing through the lesson.  It is important to provide praise to students and encourage all students to be engaged and involved in the lesson.  Students can give choral responses, or agree or disagree with another classmates answer.  There also must be several opportunities for students to demonstrate what they have learned through guided practice activities.  Although Direct Instruction is a teacher centered lesson, it is imperative that students are engaged, involved, and participating in the lesson.

In a Guided Inquiry lesson, students are given a problem or question that they must work through to determine the answer.  In Guided Inquiry, students are taking information that they learned through Direct Instruction and deepening that knowledge, or students may be given a task that they have to solve.  One video that I viewed showed students learning about the phases of the moon.  They were posed a question by the teacher and then they worked in groups to answer the question.  Guided Inquiry lessons typically follow a 5 E method in which students engage, explore, explain, elaborate,and evaluate.  Guided Inquiry lessons are student centered and the teacher circulates to monitor student progress.

Cooperative Learning is also student centered.  However, in Cooperative Learning it is important to focus on how students are working together in groups and with one another.  Students are still deepening their understanding and learning, however, cooperative learning focuses on how well students interact with each other.  A  major aspect of Cooperative Learning is group processing.  Check out the video below to learn more about group processing and why it is essential to Cooperative Learning!


My Thoughts on Prior MSMC Teacher Candidates Direct Instruction Lesson

I was given the opportunity to watch a video of direct instruction lesson that was done by some previous MSMC teacher candidates for the social studies fieldwork experience.  I thought that they did an excellent job.  A few things that stood out immediately were that everyone was actively involved in presenting the lesson and there were smooth transitions to each part of the lesson.  I also really liked how they got all of the kids involved in agreeing and disagreeing with a student's response to a question.  It is a great way to get the whole class engaged.  Their lesson was also fast past and presented the information in a clear manner with multiple opportunities to check for understanding.  I also really liked the way they helped students fill in information in their graphic organizers along the way.  That is something that in retrospect I wish we had done.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

So Excited about Fieldwork!

We are starting fieldwork soon and I am so excited!  We will be teaching a grouping of third, forth, and fifth graders from a local school.  We were able to choose groups to work with for these lessons and I think that I am in a great group.  We are all hard workers and excited about this opportunity to really test our teaching skills.  Our group will be going first and we are going to be teaching about the Hudson River Valley during colonial times, specifically, when the Hudson Valley was owned by the Dutch and called New Netherland.

We will be teaching a direct instruction lesson, a guided-inquiry lesson, and a cooperative learning lesson.  We have lots of great activities planned and have come up with great ideas to engage the students in the learning process!  

Stay tuned for a reflection about our lessons!

Types of Cooperative Learning

There are so many varieties of cooperative learning that can be used in our classroom!  I had no idea that there were so many options.  Some of these strategies can yield team building, classroom building, communication, mastery and concept development, and many more valuable characteristics in your classroom.  Think-pair-share and Jigsaw are two strategies that I really like.  In think-pair-share students think to themselves about a topic first, then turn to a partner and discuss, then they share with the whole class.  This is a quick and useful strategy to help students work together and improve their meta-cognitive skills as they think about their own thinking and discuss their thoughts with a partner, come to a conclusions, and finally share their answer.  Another activity is Jigsaw.  In Jigsaw each member of a team becomes an expert on one topic the members from other teams who are becoming experts on the same topic.  These students meet together to determine information and become knowledgeable of the topic, then return to their original group to teach the members of their group everything they have learned. 

Check out this video to learn more about Jigsaw!

Check out this video to learn more about Think-Pair-Share

Cooperative Learning - Why Should We Use It?

What is cooperative learning and why should we use it in our classrooms?

Well, cooperative learning is a method of teaching in which students work together in small groups to complete academic tasks.  What is so important with cooperative learning is that the students must be aware that each individual's  participation in the group activity effects the grade of the whole group.  This helps to ensure that all students will be active participants.  Cooperative learning has many student benefits.

Check out this video to learn more about cooperative learning!

Clearing Up My Confusion about Guided Inquiry Lessons

Before taking this class, I had not been required to write a guided inquiry lesson plan.  I had thought that I had a good understanding of the concept, however, I found out that I needed to learn more.  It was a difficult process, but a successful one that I am glad I had to do.  In "The Many Faces of Inductive Teaching and Learning" Prince and Felder (2007) discuss various types of inductive teaching that are available to educators as well as how they engage students in attaining a deeper understanding of learning.  A few varieties of inductive teacher are inquiry-based or guided inquiry, discovery learning, and problem-based learning - just to name a few.  

Inquiry-based learning can help improve a student's academic achievement, deepen his or her thinking, and enhance problem-solving skills (Prince & Felder, 2007)

Check out these videos to learn more about inquiry-based learning and why it is so important that we use it in our classrooms!  I know that I will absolutely use inquiry-based learning in my future classroom!


Prince, M, & Felder, R. (2007) The many faces of inductive teaching and learning. Journal of College Science Teaching.  Retrieved from