Teachers play one of the most important roles of a child's life, between the required school hours; teachers are mothers, fathers, friends, and counselors. Teachers make careful decisions that may affect the long-term efforts of a child. The knowledge of the subject that I teach and the power to share that knowledge with children is a direct gift from God. The way that the children learn the knowledge will have a direct impact on their chances of achievement in the future. I want to be one of those teachers that will be remembered as one of those teachers that made an impact on a student's life. I know that I can't accomplish the support and positive feedback from students and their parents without knowing the subject material for the subject that I teach.
I currently teach 6th grade science students at Northwest Jackson Middle School in Jackson, Mississippi. This is a public school made up of approximately 807 students in grades 6-8 and 97.6% of our students receive free or reduced lunches. I teach three periods a day that include two IB science classes and one accelerated science class each day. During these classes, I teach a total of seventy-three students (40 girls and 33 boys) with an ethical make-up of 72 African American and 1 Asian student on role. Many of these students come from different backgrounds, both socially and economically. From information I gathered at the beginning of the year, it could be determined that a large percentage of these students lived with single parent families. A large portion, but not all, of my students are from the middle part of the economic scale. Nearly 83% of my students scored proficient or advance on the Mississippi Curriculum Test (MCT) during their prior school year. We follow the Jackson Public School's pacing guide to guide instructions. This year at Northwest, our administration is really pushing the English, mathematics and special education departments so we can meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) plan this year.
Description of Artifacts
I chose to teach the unit on Biome and Ecosystems (Artifact 1.1) to provide evidence that I know the subject and how to relate the subject to my students using real-world activities. I also taught this unit so children could better understand the universe and the environment. This unit was also used as a requirement for a graduate course at Belhaven University. The following components of the unit will be addressed in this entry:
a unit summary to provide detail justification for teaching this unit,
a curriculum map to show all the area I teach, the skills and knowledge my students are expected to display, and the assessment to test the progress of those skills and
a biome concept map to visual representation of the major concepts and the relationship between them, and
I have also included a handout (Artifact 1.2a) developed for my science classes for a biome in a box project and presentation that they were required to complete at the end of the unit. All students were required to pick a biome and research the ecosystems, food webs, and the virtual make-up of the selected biome. I have also included two examples of the project submitted by two of my students (Artifact 1.2b).
I believe that the only way that I can be successful at teach my students the subject is by been knowledgeable myself. I know that I must find a way to deliver my knowledge to my students in a way that is beneficial to them. To provide proof that I teach in line with the JPS pacing guide that was earlier stated I have chosen some components from my unit to present.
What specific evidence is found in your unit that documents your knowledge of content and your understanding of the structure and real world application of the discipline?
My unit summary (Artifact 1.1a) provides a comprehensive look of real-world problems use for teaching the unit on biomes. I taught it in a way that my students could better understand how biomes really work while also showing them the effects of changes in the ecosystems or food web with in that particular biome, for example, our ability to make a stand against lumber companies so that we can protect our beautiful rain forest or our ability to stop littering in an effort to save out wildlife.
The biome in a box project and presentation (Artifact 1.2) is another way to show that I have mastery over the unit that I'm teaching my students. I also explained that this project was a way to teach my students about the different issues of a biome as well as the correct to present a project in a scientific way based on scientific research. The project handout gives a detail plan about how the students were required to prepare a biome of their choice inside box and an explanation on how the presentation should be done to explain their findings. Students were also allowed but not required to develop a different type of biome also of their choice. This project was a challenging project that allowed the students to display their creativity and to display that they had mastered what I had taught them. These projects were graded, by a rubric (Artifact 2.3a) by other science teachers in my building and the best ones were put in competition against other science students in each grade level. The top three were sent to the Central Office downtown and put on display to show mastery of the objectives that I had taught them. All aspects of this unit will give my students real world skills that they will need throughout their lives.
What specific evidence is found in your unit that demonstrates your ability to organize instruction to meet learner outcomes?
My curriculum map (Artifact 1.1b) shows that I understand the science benchmarks that I am required to teach my students. It also shows that I understand the importance the real-world activities and student achievement. The first thing that I teach my students is the ability to scientific reasoning to all aspects of my science class. I cannot teach my students to questions the reason why and how events or changes occur without first showing to correct procedure needed to question science. My curriculum map is organized so my students to virtual see how one event builds off the next or how the knowledge of one concept has an impact on the next.
I have also provided a concept map (Artifact 1.1c) to be use to show that I understand how to organize the structure and the importance of biomes in my science lesson. At the beginning of the unit, students will research the different types of biomes and identify way in which each biome is related and how they are not related. It is amazing to see how quick the students realize the concepts of a biome or an ecosystem and how things they love doing has a direct impact on the food chain, ecosystem, and biome. They really become interested in learning about the different way they can save our biomes.
What specific evidence from your unit demonstrates your use a variety of appropriate and diverse teaching strategies to promote student engagement and learning (including understanding/transfer)?
The unit lesson plans (Artifact 1.1) for biomes and ecosystems are used to show how I use a variety of instructional methods to help my students gain understanding of the objectives. My unit lesson plans include details of instructional interventions as well as enrichment activities. As an intervention technique, I group students together in the computer lab and I let them research the components of a biomes and the what if questions that they may have. This is a great way that I help my students that may need just an extra PUSH to get started. Also have enrichment activities for my students. These activities are use to challenges students that I believe have mastered the objective faster than the others. Providing differentiated instruction is a key component if I want to prove that all students have mastered the set objectives. It is impossible for students to explain why a biome can exist, as required in this unit, if they don't have the understanding of ecosystems and food webs. My main goal of teaching is to ensure that I have given every student the tools need to mastery each objective and to be live long learners.
Teaching my students to develop a project to model what they have learned about biomes demonstrates knowledge of content. I helped all my students understand the concepts that I teach them and how to find what is needed to complete the project on their own. This is the most important goal I set for when I began to teach my classes about the ecosystems and biomes. I wanted my students to learn about biome, but I also wanted them to learn and develop key concepts about the important information on their own. In order to accomplish this, I handed out guidelines. These guidelines explained the information that I used to teach my students how to accurately research information about biomes. Students were arranged into groups and assigned to find and research some common problems with in a biome. Using examples that I provided, students had the key ideals needed to complete their projects on their own. I have included two examples (Artifact 1.2b) of the biome project from two of my students. These projects provides proof that my skills and knowledge as their teacher because it shows that the students understood the lesson that I taught. The students did a wonderful job of explaining the positive and negative effects that an ecosystem has on a biome based on accurate researched information. It proves that my students gained a true understanding of ecosystems and biomes.
I have done a lot of learning and growing over the last couple of years. No amount of preparation can actually prepare a teacher for the challenges that they will face in the actual classroom. I have learned that all students learn differently and in order to effectively teach them, I will need to cater to their learning styles and interests. One of the most important things I have learned over the years is the importance of planning. It is impossible to have manageable classes without properly planning. Activities should be planned so that they are appealing and so that they help lead students toward the mastery of the objectives. I have also learned that students need to be challenged. I can honestly have say that this is the first year I have challenged all my students, and I feel like my students really pushed themselves to perform better because of these challenges.
In respect to planning and delivering instruction I have also understand that I have also have room for improvements. One of things I need to improve is the ability to complete and log my lesson plans. I know that I to take my time and demonstrate my ability to organize my lesson plans so that they are not thrown together and really makes of my thoughts. I know that they are excellent lessons, but I need them to make since on paper. Proper planning will help reduce stress and allows me to come to work to just teach and not worry about what I am suppose to be doing. I also plan to implement more engaging activities that will future promote student engagement. Some of my plans are very structured and are molded to the needs of the certain students while others are lacking that structure. I need to have more consistency in my lessons so that students are able to perform well throughout the school year.
As a teacher, I understand that knowledge is any important characteristic that all people share. Deuteronomy 4:6 it says, "Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." As a teacher, I know that I must observe my students very carefully to ensure that my knowledge is evidence in their understanding. Students may not always verbalize their needs so it is up to me to recognize and address the issue with proper planning. Too many teachers simply go through the movements in the classrooms, but they leave the planning out of that movement. Those students who are in that classroom are the ones who are really taking the punishment. Teaching for understanding and taking the time to plan and deliver quality instruction is very difficult but leads far better results. The way we plan for instructional time is very essential. Taking the time to plan effectively so that we may teach for understanding is the way we can build a great nation with wise and understanding people.