Understanding the goal of Teaching and Learning

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My main objective in teaching is to teach students the skills and knowledge that they need to be successful, healthy human beings in the real world. Without teaching complex cognitive skills, students will not be able to effectively transfer the information in class to their lives. I can begin to incorporate the teaching of cognitive skills in my classroom practices by building on students' previous experiences and having the students construct knowledge that makes sense to them. I will also provide students with problem-based learning using problems as the focus for teaching content and developing skills and self-regulation. Students will learn to become strategic learners by using a variety of strategies that will be taught, modeled, and practiced in class.

One of the major problems in education is that we as teachers focus on the content so much that sometimes we forget to teach students how to learn. I truly believe that sometimes students struggle because they do not know how to be learners, study, stay organized, or even take notes. If I am able to teach these skills and teach students how to be learners, I think students would exceed our expectations. This would not only make things easier on the teachers, but it would also build the confidence of students. I would like to begin teaching students how to be strategic learners by building on prior knowledge, using a variety of strategies and teaching study strategies. A wide variety of general learning strategies exists, including concept mapping, note taking, highlighting, summarizing, and self-questioning. We know that these strategies are effective and can enhance learning, but regardless of the strategy, students' ability to use it effectively depends on their metacognition (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Students must have an awareness of and control over their cognitive process before they can begin to take ownership and control over their education.

One new way that I have begun to incorporate teaching of complex cognitive skills into my classroom is by using problem-based learning to help engage my students. I find this not only to be very appropriate in the Health room, but it also encourages students to do the learning. I believe education should teach you how to be learners and how to solve problems. In the health room, students need to learn how to find valuable information and make informed decisions. I could stand at the front of the room and read off lecture notes on the importance of not smoking, or I can present the facts and let the students work through problems, do the research, and make an informed decision on their own. These are the skills they are going to need down the road and I want them to learn how to do so now. This helps me strengthen my ability to teach because I become more of a team leader and students look at me as someone who is on their team and really wants the best for them. When students begin to trust and confide in me as a teacher or a role model, this is when I can make huge gains with my students. I think everything I do is to try to motivate them to learn how to be effective students, to master this school game, to figure out how to operate in the world. I want to let them know that they're succeeding. I want to have really clear expectations so that they know. So with my 8th grade boys, I'm really tough on them. I think that's a way that I both motivate them and show them respect because they learn that they are capable (Aguilar, 2010a). This is just one new way of teaching that will allow me to develop lessons that will help improve in the areas of concept learning, problem solving and strategic learning.

In the space below, write a brief summary/synopsis of the group's discussion this week. This can be an overview; it is not necessary to cite or attribute specific contributions.

This week our group discussed examples of how we teach complex cognitive skills. We also discussed how the different types of complex cognitive skills vary at different grade levels. We also took examples from one grade level and made them relevant in another grade level. We each shared which of the three types of complex cognitive skills we feel most confident about teaching, and which of the three you would like to become better at teaching.

In the space below, demonstrate three ways in which you enhanced the group discussion. Explain how you probed or challenged a group member's comment, offered a new/unique idea, or shared a related classroom/school experience.

This week I was able to enhance the discussion in three ways. First, I shared my unique idea of wanting to using problem-based learning in my classroom. I talked about how I am going to create lessons where I present a situation or a problem to the class and I am going to break them into small groups and have them solve the problem. For example, I will present students with the situation that they are at a party and they are being peer-pressured into smoking. Students will use the information and the refusal skills to create a skit using all of the skills and knowledge. I think these kinds of activities are very effective because students need to practice using these skills before they get into real life situation. I felt that my idea was relevant to the discussion because we were talking about new ideas that we were going to use in school and I wanted to share mine with others and how students should be able to transfer learning into their lives.

After other people shared some more ideas I asked the probing question to the group. Some of the group members had discussed that I was not sure would be easy to implement in the classroom and if students would benefit from them. My question was, "How do we know if the strategies that we are using are truly effective?" I know and understand people have different teaching styles and that is fine as long as we are both being effective, but how do we know. One person mentioned that we should give ideas a few tries and always try to make improvements if needed. Another person mentioned that by assessing students using your goals and benchmarks would be an indicator. I thought this question was relevant to the discussion because I am open to using new strategies and techniques in the classroom, but I wanted to hear how they assess student learning when using these different strategies.

The final enhancement I made for the discussion this week was challenged Mike's idea on using a variety of ways to teach one problem. He shared some examples of how students had solved proportions. He talked about how when he creates a problem, he tries to create ones that have different ways to be solved so that my different types of learners can have opportunities to be successful instead of just showing problems that have one way of being solved. I do not necessarily disagree with him, but I challenged him in the fact that a lot of times if you teach students several different ways to solve problems, sometimes they can get confused and it makes the problem much harder to solve. My idea was that he teach one solid way for the students to do it that would work every time. Once the students master this, he could then go back and show them how to check their work or solve it in another way. That way if students wanted to try a new way they could, or they could just continue doing it the way that they had been. I thought this was valuable to the group's discussion because a lot of time we over load students and I thought this was an idea to help prevent overload from occurring.

Session 7: Complex Cognition

Final Project

Summative Paper

Part 1: See "Final Project" link on Teachscape site

Part 2: Response

In 3-5 pages, write a final summative paper that reflects thinking across all the course content, your own teaching, and how you will use the research and reflections to change your teaching practice. Use specific examples from course readings, video classroom examples, expert commentary, and the Collaborative Discussion and Application assignments.

Your response should include three components:

A reflection upon your course experience and the ideas, activities, and concepts you learned. Think in terms of the development of your knowledge of teaching and learning strategies; how your new knowledge will benefit your students; and how this knowledge will change, or has already changed, your work in the classroom.

A synthesis of the ideas and/or concepts you learned from this course that will help you in your teaching situation. Support these ideas with specific examples from course activities, such as the Required Reading, the video examples, the Collaboration activities, and the Application assignments.

An action plan that describes specific actions you will take to continue to improve your use of these strategies in the classroom, and also how you might encourage your colleagues to adopt the use of these strategies more broadly in a coherent, school-wide approach to teaching and learning.

Please follow this organizational format:

I. Introduction: Tell us a little bit about who you are as a teacher:

Your teaching experience

Your teaching assignment

The demographics of your school/community that impact your teaching

"This is where I am as a teacher, and this is where I want to be." Look at this as being a "thesis statement"; it is an organizational foundation for what you are going to tell us. It helps to develop a "point" to what you have to say.

III. Review the seven topic areas covered in this course; they include, in the order presented:

Development and Learning

Behavioral Theories and Social Cognitive Theory

Cognition

Constructivism

Diversity

Motivation

Complex Cognition

Your paper should be a reflective summation that indicates your thinking and practices on each of these seven topics. Reflect and synthesize: Discuss how they impact your teaching, how you apply them, how you modify them to fit your circumstances, etc.

Action plan: Integrate into your paper specific actions you will take to continue to improve in the use of the strategies presented in the course. Consider how you might encourage your colleagues to adopt the use of these strategies in a coherent, school-wide approach to teaching and learning.

Supportive references: For each topic area you cover, you should be able to make/use at least one in-text (parenthetical) reference to the respective course materials to support your ideas.

Reference page: This paper also requires a reference page, conforming to

APA guidelines.

Please be aware of the weight of this assignment (70 points).

Grading considerations:

10 points Organized, logical, and structured presentation

10 points Includes all required components

15 points Writer defines, explains, or summarizes concepts in depth

15 points Evidence of critical thinking:

Paper demonstrates application, synthesis, or reflection of

concepts

15 points Research base:

Paper includes multiple supportive references that add credibility

5 points Conforms to writing standards:

Appropriate language, format, and mechanics of writing;

Includes a reference page (APA format)

My teaching experience has been short, but full of challenges and differences. I started out completing my student teaching in a district that would be considered one of the most desirable districts in the county. A majority of the students came from middle to upper-class households and had wonderful support at home. After student teaching I was hired at Flint Carman-Ainsworth as a physical education and health teacher. This school district borders Flint public schools and would be considered an inner city school. The majority of our student population is made up of lower class households and little to no support coming from home. There is a tremendous difference in the two districts that I have taught in, but I am glad that I am in the district I am today. The students can definitely be very difficult at times, but on the other hand I truly believe I can make a significant change in the lives of my students and be a positive role model that they may not have at home. Students come to school because they can stay warm. They can have food and people that care about them. The most challenging part is because a lot of our students do not have good role models at home, they do not know how to get along with others in a civil manner and they do not know how to deal with their problems. This gives us an opportunity to touch the lives of students every day and make a difference not only just in our schools, but also the future of our community. My students do have the capacity and ability to learn and that motivates me to become more inspired and more attentive with my teaching.

As a new teacher, I am learning more and more every day. I learn more about how communicate with students, administrators, parents, and community members. I learn teaching strategies that are effective for middle school students. I learn how manage my classroom and set students up for success. I learn how to motivate and give praise for accomplishments. These are all things that I am improving on every single day. Even in my second year I have come so far, but I know I have still have a lot to learn. I would like to be known for running an awesome class that students want to be a part of, teachers want to observe, and administrators want other teachers to be like me. I am always looking for ways to improve no matter what the skill is, and teaching is no exception. I want to know at the end of the day that I have given my best effort and that the students are excited about learning something new every day.

I know that I will always need to learn as a teacher and I am trying to reach the place where I know what strategies work and what methods are more successful than others based on the seven different topics that I have learned about from this course. Throughout this course we have discussed topics of development and learning, behavioral and social cognitive theories, cognition, constructivism, diversity, motivation and complex cognition. After reviewing and discussing these topics during this course, I have developed some new ideas of how to incorporate each idea into different areas of my teaching in order to be more effective in the classroom.

The first topic area that we focused on came in two parts and they were the development and learning stages of students and the views of Piaget and Vygotsky. After reviewing and discussing these views, I found that I agreed with Piaget about how children develop through multiple stages beginning with the sensorimotor stage all the way up to the Formal Operational stage, which is where students think analytically and logically. I have found that I focus more on the earlier stages of Piaget that deal with concrete learners. When looking at my school's curriculum I find that a lot of it is geared toward formal operational thinking. A majority of my students are concrete learners and so I think sometimes this may be difficult for them. However, research shows that they are still concrete operational learners (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Vygotsky believed that students learn from each other in a more social environment. I would say that I definitely agree with this and utilize strategies all of the time where students are teaching students. Not only can they learn the material, but they are learning personal social skills. "Working in a group is crucial to student learning because they can sometime learn more from each other than they can from me" (Aguilar, 2010a).

The second topic that I learned about in this course was behavioral and social cognitive theories. Behaviorism and social cognitive theory are similar in several ways. They both agree that experience is an important cause of learning, they both include concepts of reinforcement and punishment in their explanations of learning, and they both agree that feedback is important in promoting learning. However, the two theories differ in three important ways. First they define learning differently, and second, social cognitive theory emphasizes the role of beliefs, self-perceptions, and expectations in learning. Third, social cognitive theory suggests that the environment, personal factors, and behaviors are interdependent (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). I one-hundred percent believe in the idea of behaviorism and I try to use all of the time in my classroom in order to create a positive classroom environment and to maintain desired student behavior. After completing the reading there are several things that come to mind that I do in my own classroom; I use classical conditioning to create an emotionally safe environment for students, I build on previous knowledge to encourage behaviors that can be reinforced, I praise students for genuine accomplishments, and I use appropriate reinforcements schedules to maintain student efforts. I feel these are all essential to running a classroom that is conducive to learning. Looking at the social cognitive theory, the most important new idea I took away from this session was that I should try and teach to levels that are just above students that I can drag them up to their next level instead of teaching below them (Yonemura, 2010a). This idea is one that I want to do a better job at and I will work on this idea by designing lessons that push students to their next level instead of keeping them complacent.

The next two topics that were covered in this course were cognition and constructivism. When focusing on cognition we are really looking at a person's cognitive load; or how much they can take in. Cognitive load is the amount of mental activity that is imposed on the working memory (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Constructivism is a theory of learning suggesting that learners create their own knowledge of the topics they study rather than receiving that knowledge as transmitted to them by some other source, such as another person or something they read (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). After reviewing my practices, there are several different things that I currently do to help manage the cognitive overload of my students, but there are also some areas in which I could help students make connections and build on prior knowledge. Students need to be able to make those connections and if they can't they will not learn and be able to retain the information. I am a strong believer in constructivism as well because if the student does not take it upon themselves to learn the material, it will be very difficult for the teacher. The teacher should be there as a facilitator and guiding students in the right direction. If the student gets off path or need to be challenged the teacher can do that. I believe I have a good grasp on constructivism and how it is supposed to look in a classroom. There are a ton of benefits to teaching constructively and that is why I try to do so in my class. "The basic premise of constructivism is really simple and that is that we don't absorb information. We don't soak it up like a sponge. But instead, we take in bits and pieces of information and we pull them together in a way that makes some sense or at least some sense to us." (Ormrod, 2010b). I know that if I give a lecture only about ten percent of my class is going to be able to follow along and understand what I am saying. So the key is finding ways of teaching the lecture, but letting them explore and find the answers or research themselves. I have learned that student discovery is more beneficial to the student. From the reading for cognition I came away with the idea that as I continue to teach, I need to make sure that I am teaching in such a way that my students are learning best and not the way I learned best. I know early on in my career and even today I tend to teach in a way where I learn best and I need to be more aware of this (Yonemura, 2010b). I have taken the approach of creating lessons that play to the strengths of my students and not my own teaching style.

The next area of content that was covered in this course was diversity. Diversity is something that every teacher will experience in some form or fashion during their career. Diversity is not just different races, it is also different cultures, different backgrounds, different economic and social statuses of students as well. I have tried several different methods to meet the diverse needs of my students. After completing the reading and watching the videos, I believe the most important thing I can do to help students learn is to build connections using prior knowledge and real life applications, and building relationships between my students. When children feel that they are secure, wanted and part of a group, they seem to grow (Kauchak, 2010a). The second method that I have learned to use is to create a learning environment that is productive and that I can maintain some predictable routines (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Based on the information I obtained through our group discussion, the required reading, and expert commentary I believe these will be two effective methods I can incorporate into my classroom to meet the diverse needs of my students. I work hard to make sure I meet the needs of all of my students. Being a health teacher I know the importance of making a connection to the students' everyday life. If they cannot apply the concepts learned in my class to their life, than essentially what they are learning has no value. My role as a teacher is to try and take things from the outside world and make the content related to school for academic learning (Aguilar, 2010a). Since students grow up in different areas, one student might be able to relate to an example where another does not. This is an on-going challenge that I face at my school.

The area of content that I worked on during this course was motivation. Goal setting is plays a huge role in motivating our students. I have always been a goal setter in everything I do in life, but I find it very important in the classroom as well. Goal setting is a topic and a state requirement that I teach as a part of Health education. I find if you can set goals that are specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and timely you will have success, which increases motivation. Meeting goals that are close at hand can help increase self-efficacy than goals that are distant ones and this is the idea I take into my classroom when I help set goals with my students. An outcome that an individual hopes to achieve is the definition of a goal (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Not only do I have goals for my students, but I have them set goals that they can apply to their lives in regards to their personal health. For a goal to work students need to be guided in setting goals and the students and myself must be committed to the goals (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). I walk them through the process of goal setting and teach them the differences between long-term and short-term goals. My students set long-term goals, but then set short-term goals to reach their overall goal. These little successes will help motivate them to achieving their overall goal. I have the students write a journal each week to keep me posted on how they are coming on their goals. I will look over these each week and talk to students or give them tips on ways to get closer to their goal. My students know that I take an interest in their goals and that in turn motivates them to accomplish their goals. When I can help a student write a goal and get them to feel personally involved in the goal, they feel more interested and they are more willing to put forth the effort to accomplish that goals (Lawson, 2010).

The final area of content for this course was complex cognition. Without teaching complex cognitive skills, students will not be able to effectively transfer the information in class to their lives. I plan on teaching of cognitive skills in my classroom by building on students' previous experiences and having the students construct knowledge that makes sense to them. I will also provide students with problem-based learning using problems as the focus for teaching content and developing skills and self-regulation. Students will learn to become strategic learners by using a variety of strategies that will be taught, modeled, and practiced in class. I believe that sometimes students struggle because they do not know how to be learners, study, stay organized, or even take notes. If I am able to teach these skills and teach students how to be learners, I think students would exceed our expectations. This would not only make things easier on the teachers, but it would also build the confidence of students. I would like to begin teaching students how to be strategic learners by building on prior knowledge, using a variety of strategies and teaching study strategies. A wide variety of general learning strategies exists, including concept mapping, note taking, highlighting, summarizing, and self-questioning. We know that these strategies are effective and can enhance learning, but regardless of the strategy, students' ability to use it effectively depends on their metacognition (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Students must have an awareness of and control over their cognitive process before they can begin to take ownership and control over their education.

Throughout this course we have discussed topics of development and learning, behavioral and social cognitive theories, cognition, constructivism, diversity, motivation and complex cognition. After reviewing and discussing these topics during this course, I have developed some new ideas of how to incorporate each idea into different areas of my teaching in order to be more effective in the classroom. Using these new ideas I believe I will be able to accomplish a lot more as a teacher and a role model. I believe student learning with increase significantly and that I have the skills, knowledge, and the resources to be the very best that I can be. This course has covered very good content and has brought up a lot of good conversation and discussion within our group. I hope to continue growing and collaborating with other teachers in order to have a better understanding of teaching and learning!

Sources:

Aguilar, E. (2010). Cooperative Learning [Video]. San Francisco, CA: Teachscape. Retrieved from http://www.teachscape.com

Aguilar, E. (2010). Teaching Diverse Students [Video]. San Francisco, CA: Teachscape. Retrieved from http://www.teachscape.com

Eggen, P. & Kauchak, D. (2010). Educational psychology: Windows on classrooms Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Kauchak, D. (2010). Constructivism [Video]. San Francisco, CA: Teachscape. Retrieved from http://www.teachscape.com

Kauchak, D. (2010). Teaching Diverse Students [Video]. San Francisco, CA: Teachscape. Retrieved from http://www.teachscape.com

Lawson, R. (2010). Building a Teacher-Student Relationship [Video]. San Francisco, CA: Teachscape. Retrieved from http://www.teachscape.com

Ormrod, J. (2010). Constructivism [Video]. San Francisco, CA: Teachscape. Retrieved from http://www.teachscape.com

Yonemura, K. (2010). Cooperative Learning [Video]. San Francisco, CA: Teachscape. Retrieved from http://www.teachscape.com

Yonemura, K. (2010) Constructing Conceptual Understanding [Video]. San Francisco, CA: Teachscape. Retrieved from http://www.teachscape.com

Session 7: Assignment Evaluation

Collaborative Discussion: Response

Criteria

Possible Points

Points Earned

Content of Response

Includes three of the following:

Description of how the topic area impacts your classroom experience or may impact it in the future

A probing question that extends the topic area and original thinking about the topic

A new and/or unique idea that extends the topic area and original thinking about the topic

A challenging view that might not conform to the majority opinion, with an explanation of ideas that support this view

10

Integration of Course Content

Includes connections between the Collaborative Discussion assignment and two of the following:

Required Readings

Strategies in Action videos

Expert Commentary videos

Content covered in previous sessions

10

Standard Writing Conventions

Appropriate academic language, complete and correct sentences, and less than three mechanical errors

4

Timeliness

Assignment submitted on time

(If not, MAT late penalty becomes 10% per day)

1

TOTAL

25

CDR Comments:

Final Project

Criteria

Possible Points

Points Earned

Organization is logical and is structured for ease of reading

Assignment is very organized.

10

Contains required components

Includes all required components.

10

Demonstrates understanding of course concepts, ideas, skills, and/or theoretical foundations

Assignment demonstrates in-depth understanding of the content and research base.

15

Application and integration of research base into main ideas of the assignment

Assignment clearly makes connections between the research base and participant's own practice. Shows in-depth knowledge of and reflection about the relationship between the two.

15

Evidence of critical thinking about teaching practices and/or assignment topic

Assignment shows in-depth analysis of course materials. Participant always makes explicit connections to own practice and the ways in which new knowledge from this course is impacting own practice.

15

Adheres to standard writing conventions

Appropriate academic language, complete and correct sentences, and less than three mechanical errors.

5

TOTAL

70

Final Project Comments:

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