Standard 10: Understands Effective Use of Research-based Instructional Practices

Throughout the Teacher Leadership program, and EDU6526 Instructional Strategies in particular, I have developed a deeper understanding of the importance of choosing which instructional strategies to use when, depending on the learning targets, the classroom context, my students, the curriculum, and the point in the lesson. I have come to understand that it is vital to have a wide range of instructional strategies in my “tool belt,” so that I can adjust my teaching in a way that best fits the situation and my learners. I should be using a variety of strategies daily in my class to keep students’ interest and produce the highest level of engagement and learning possible.

Before this program, I had a handful of strategies I relied on, including think-pair-share, graphic organizers, peer feedback, direct instruction, and self-assessment. I had a narrow view of what strategies I could feasibly use effectively in a small group of 2-5 students. I also felt limited by my curriculum because it is heavily scripted. While my students do benefit from routine, their engagement increased when I used some of the strategies I learned from my colleagues and from my research in this class. Some strategies, like cooperative learning, I had already been using, but lacked structure. I learned that, according to Klingner and Vaughn (1999), “each role [must have] clearly defined tasks during the cooperative learning activity to ensure individual accountability and positive interdependence” (p. 742). I was pushed to tighten up the strategies I was already using and explore by using strategies I had never tried before.

One of my favorite instructional strategies I learned about and will continue to use regularly was using nonlinguistic representations. According to Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone (2012), using graphic organizers, physical models, mental pictures, illustrations, and kinesthetic activity helps students process, understand, and remember information. Below are two examples of materials I created to teach retell, using kinesthetic activity and visual cues.

Students learned key vocabulary by activating prior knowledge, using kinesthetic activity, creating pictures to show learning, and organizing information in a graphic organizer, as seen above.

I learned about these instructional strategies within the context of different parts of a lesson. In this course, I had a chance to delve deeper into the structure of a lesson by planning, teaching, reflecting on, and sharing lessons with my colleagues. Lessons that highlight different research-based instructional strategies include Nonlinguistic Represenations Lesson PlanCooperative Learning Lesson Plan, and Advance organizer Lesson plan. John Hattie (2012), in his book Visible Learning for Teachers, asks teachers to “know thy impact” and urges teachers to “attend to how the students are thinking” (p.43) by knowing what motivates them, their confidence, and self-efficacy tendencies. Knowing about my learners has helped me choose strategies thoughtfully to best fit the needs of my students. In the beginning of the lesson, I implemented advance organizers to spark my students’ background knowledge. I actually taught learning targets and assessed to check if my students understood the learning targets. In order to communicate expectations clearly, I have learned to develop and share success criteria with students. When my students are aware of what they are supposed to be learning, where they are, and what they need to do to get there, instruction and learning becomes purposeful and focused. During the lesson, to find out if my students were on the right track to reaching the target, I focused on formatively assessing and giving feedback to my students. This quarter, I provided opportunities for my students to assess themselves and peers, using templates because Hattie (2012) suggests that, “learners must be taught know how to plan and monitor their learning, how to set their own learning goals, and how to correct errors” (p. 108).

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The image above is an example of one form I created to support students as they learned how to give meaningful peer feedback. Students reported that this was very helpful in keeping them focused and knowing what to listen for from their partner. Chan, Konrad, Gonzalez, Peters, and Ressa (2014) recommend “involving students in the assessment process” by setting their “own academic expectations, track[ing] their learning, provid[ing] feedback to their peers, and self-assess[ing] their own performance” (p. 100). Another way to facilitate student self-assessment and reflection is a goal accounting template (Goal Accounting Template). I will continue to use this strategy in my teaching practice.

Along with enhancing my personal instructional strategy skills, I also improved my teacher leadership skills by facilitating a collaborative inquiry with two colleagues. I led my teammates in identifying a common problem, researching strategies to address the problem, tracking data, and reflecting on our impact. This process was empowering. My teammates were appreciative of the ideas I brought forward and the clear direction that my guiding questions led our discussions in. Providing a safe space to discuss our strengths and weaknesses as instructors also helped build trusting and supportive relationships between my teammates and I.

As a result of my new learning, I will continue to implement the collaborative inquiry process with my colleagues through data teams. I will continue to share strategies I’ve researched with my colleagues and use them in our classrooms to impact student learning. This time, I worked with just my team of three Safety Net teachers. In the future, I plan to challenge myself by teaching other Safety Net teachers in the district some helpful instructional strategies at our monthly learning community meetings. I will continue to monitor my impact by thoughtfully planning instruction that always includes an activation of prior knowledge, a clear learning target, engaging activities, formative assessment, and closure. I will continue to strive to teach in a way that reaches all of my students. I will encourage my students to take control of and invest in their own learning by being transparent about success criteria, learning goals, and allowing for individual choice.

References

Burnett, P.C., & Mandel, V. (2010). Praise and Feedback in the Primary Classroom: Teachers’ and Students’ Perspectives. Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 10, 145-154.

Chan, P.E., Konrad, M., Gonzalez, V., Peters, M.T., & Ressa, V.A. (2014). The Critical Role of Feedback in Formative Instructional Practices. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(2), 96-104.

Chappuis, J. (2012). “How Am I Doing?” Feedback for Learning, 70(1), 36-41.

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works, 2nd Edition. Denver: McRel.

Hattie, John (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hess, K.K, Kroog, H., & Ruiz-Primo, M.A. (2016). The 2 Es: Implement effective and efficient approaches to formal formative assessment that will save time and boost student learning. Educational Leadership, 22-25.

Kaefer, T., Neuman, S.B., & Pinkham, A. (2014). Building Background Knowledge. The Reading Teacher, 68(2), 145-148.

Klingner, J.K., Vaughn, S. (1999). Promoting Reading Comprehension, Content, Learning, and English Acquisition Through Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR). The Reading Teacher, 52(7), 738-747.

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