As a part of my student teaching, I taught a unit on discovering justice in our country. The unit focused on 4 terms: liberty, freedom, equality, and justice. This lesson sample is focused around equality and is taught through a reading of the book The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss. In the book, the star-bellied Sneetches and the plain-bellied Sneetches are segregated and have to work through realizing that they are all the same and should be treated equally. I conducted a simulation of this process in our classroom while we read and discussed the book. This simulation involved putting stars on some students desks and not others and discussing how the students felt about having/not having a star. We then followed along with the book, changing who had stars and continued discussing how we felt about the simulation. After reading, students were asked to reflect on the activity through a writing and illustrating prompt. The goal of the lesson was for students to learn the connections between equality and justice, the overall theme of the unit, and for students to express their understanding of equality through writing and illustrating using examples from the reading of The Sneetches.
When beginning the lesson, I communicated high standards and expectations for my students. The objectives were posted on the board and I carefully explained, through the connection portion of the minilesson, what we were doing and how it related to the current learning. I articulated, “we are going to start making a definition of equality through reading and discussing the book The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss.” Students were able to tap into their prior knowledge of equality that we went over the previous day and look to our Equality prior knowledge display that we had generated.
These communicated high standards and expectations continue to be evident when carrying out the lesson, as well. We focused on content of the story, while also discussing the personal meaning behind the content. I was able to communicate the feelings more sincerely in students through the interactive star giving and taking. I used a variety of teaching techniques in this one lesson: read aloud, interactive explaining, group conversation/discussion, and student self-reflection. The interactive explaining and group conversation was often sparked by teaching driven questioning to stimulate thinking and encourage all students to respond. For my students who have recently tested out of the ELL program, I was also careful during group conversation to use modeled spoken language rather than to correct the student’s spoken language
The students were assigned a reflective assessment that required them to respond to the question “What did you learn about equality in The Sneetches? Use an example from the book to explain.” This assessment furthered student knowledge, as it required them to both think about an example from the story and to link that to their feelings on equality and to extend their pre-assessment definition of equality. In the student self-reflection, I provided varied opportunities for students to achieve competence, as they were able to express themselves both through writing and through illustration. These assessments and student participation in the activity were evaluated with appropriate and high standards and expectations. Through a rubric, I was able to compare pre-assessment and the post-assessment of students’ definitions of equality and then translate their skills into a record.
This lesson supports best practice as it delivered effective instruction. My students understood what the lesson was aimed at, and how to work towards demonstrating their knowledge. My expectations and standards were evident in the lesson plan and evident in practice to my students. Teaching the meaning of equality through an interactive activity allowed for my students to come to their own feelings surrounding equality and define the term using their own words. Students were conversing with each other, learning about each other and with each other, as I strive for in my philosophy of teaching and learning.
Standard B - Delivers Effective Instruction
1. Communicates high standards and expectations when beginning the lesson.
a) Makes learning objectives clear to students.
b) Communicates clearly in writing and speaking.
c) Uses engaging ways to begin a new unit of study or lesson.
d) Builds on students’ prior knowledge and experience.
2. Communicates high standards and expectations when
carrying out the lesson.
a) Uses a balanced approach to teaching skills and concepts of elementary reading and writing.
b) Employs a variety of content-based and content-oriented teaching techniques from more teacher-directed strategies such as direct instruction, practice, and Socratic dialogue, to less teacher-directed approaches such as discussion, problem solving, cooperative learning, and research projects (among others).
c) Demonstrates an adequate knowledge of and approach to the academic content of lessons. (See license-specific questions in Guidelines, pp. 13-44)
d) Employs a variety of reading and writing strategies for addressing learning objectives.
e) Uses questioning to stimulate thinking and encourages all students to respond.
f) Uses instructional technology appropriately.
g) Employs appropriate sheltered English or subject matter strategies for English learners.
3. Communicates high standards and expectations when extending and completing the lesson.
a) Assigns homework or practice that furthers student learning and checks it.
b) Provides regular and frequent feedback to students on their progress.
c) Provides many and varied opportunities for students to achieve competence.
4. Communicates high standards and expectations when evaluating student learning.
a) Accurately measures student achievement of, and progress toward, the learning objectives with a variety of formal and informal assessments, and uses results to plan further instruction.Translates evaluations of student work into records that accurately convey the level of student achievement to students, parents or guardians, and school personnel.
a) objectives posted on board each day. Students take turns reading the objectives aloud at the beginning of the day.
b) at the beginning of and during lessons, gives students step-by-step directions and often have important information related to the lesson written clearly for students to reference- spelling and vocabulary words, poems etc.
c) gives students the opportunity to explore their prior knowledge of subjects before beginning new units. We note this collective prior knowledge through a variety of activities (KWL chart for example)
d) KWL charts are posted on the wall for the units we are currently studying; students can add to the “learned” section throughout the unit.
a) when teaching a lesson on visualizing, chose the book The Straight Lined Wonder which allowed for students to easily draw the pictures they were visualizing.
b) Lesson on justice and Abraham Lincoln, students were directly asked about facts about Abraham Lincoln that they took from the reading, then were given the opportunity to free-write about how Abraham Lincoln worked for justice and how they might work for justice themselves.
c) See attached form
d) poetry lesson: students were given the opportunity to write about the meaning of the poem, illustrate the poem, create a new title for the poem, or talk to a teacher about what they thought the poem meant.
e) worked through “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” student responses through a series of questions including “well, what words are in your brain right now?” or “what are you picturing right now?”
f) students use RazzKids to practice reading and responding to questions both during “to-do” time and at home for homework.
g) aware of strategies for teaching English language learners. For example, using modeled spoken language rather than correcting the student’s spoken language.
a) students were given vocabulary homework each Monday after the week’s vocabulary lesson. Students were asked to write a sentence for each vocabulary word and passed them in on Wednesday. Thursday, we edited a selection of sentences together for word meaning, sentence structure, spelling, etc. Students received their papers back Thursday afternoon.
b) student work is corrected in a timely manner and handed back. Students who need extra help are called up to my desk to go over their work with me.
c) poetry lesson: students were given the opportunity to write about the meaning of the poem, illustrate the poem, create a new title for the poem, or talk to a teacher about what they thought the poem meant.
a) gave pre-assessments, informal conferencing during units using rubrics, summative assessment (or, post-assessment), and offered further learning for those in need.b) put student scores and achievement notes into grade book throughout the term. These were put into an easily read spreadsheet for parent conferences.