Katie Sullivan Final Exam 1. I was glad for the opportunity to design and implement a lesson plan within the context of this class. Prior to this point, I had not yet had the opportunity to even design lesson plans, and so, although I was a bit apprehensive at first, the experience was good to have, and is something that I feel that I learned from. After examining the work students did during the lesson, in the form of completed dittos, I saw that for the most part, they were able to handle the questions fairly well, and probably everyone would have been able to complete it had they been given more time, which in a traditional fifty minute or longer class period, they would have been able to do, or even if they had been given it as a homework assignment to bring in the next day. It did not seem to be anything too difficult or overly demanding, and I think it adequately assessed their grasp on the material, and their ability to use the internet to do guided research. There were some things that I think went really well, including the use of the power point and the whiteboard to lecture and present information. Power point allowed for relevant pictures to be presented, and for the information to come across in a very concise and clear manner. It is a tool that when I teach, I will continue to use. I think had we had more time, and if it had been a more traditional classroom experience, we would have required the students to take notes from the power point, to truly get a grasp on the material. Having the white board in addition to the power point screen, allowed a couple of my fellow “teachers” to illustrate points which would have been difficult to illustrate on the power point, and arose very organically, which was neat to see happening, and I think is something that each teacher needs to be able to do. There were also some things that I didn’t think went as well. First, with the ditto completion, I think it might have been a better idea had the research portion been guided a bit more, by giving the students a list of websites to go to in finding their answers. Several went to Wikipedia, which isn’t exactly an authoritative source, and in my own classroom, I’ll make sure that students know it’s not an acceptable research tool. I also thought that perhaps we attempted to cover too much information in too short a period of time. I think that a subject as broad as World War I, it would probably be better to focus on it over a period of days, rather than try to give a complete overview in twenty minutes. That said, I think we did a good job of really boiling down all the major highlights, and giving a good introduction to the War. I have a couple professional goals as the result of this teaching experience. The first would be to be more engaging as a teacher. I know that I always enjoyed my history classes in school, and I think the reason I did so was because all of the teachers I had were very discussion oriented, constantly talking and engaging students to think outside of the box and really think critically. One of my fellow teachers was able to do that pretty well during this practice experience, and it’s something that I know I would need to work on, in order to have, but something that I definitely want. Another goal that I would have would be to better be able to assess students’ grasp of the material. I think that the majority of students, whether they’re understanding what’s being presented or not, tend to have a very blank expression on their face, so it’s hard to know whether they’re comprehending. At a few points we did stop to ask questions, and I think that is something that needs to be continually done, but in a positive way to encourage engagement, rather than in an effort to catch a student off-guard and put them on the spot. During the lesson, I felt that students were very respectful and were focused on learning, rather than simply on the technology (the computer in front of them). To be honest, I’m not sure if this could translate into a high school classroom. Even well meaning students, when placed in front of a computer, probably will get distracted, but in this experience, I think it helped that we were all peers and were respectful of one another. I felt as though the technology was a seamless part of the lesson, the power point was used to present information, the white board use came organically, the student’s use of the computer was a part of their research, and even the video at the end offered a good, concise wrap-up of the War. The technology contributed to the lesson in many ways. As I said before, the power point presented the outline of information in a clear, concise way, with helpful graphics, that was expanded upon during the lecture. The computer was used by the students to research answers for their dittos, and the video was a good method of wrap-up, and I feel as though all of these elements were clearly obvious to the students. There was nothing that was used that they seemed unsure or confused about. I’m not sure if the technology was helpful for a particular student, but it seemed to be something that was helpful to all who were there. Obviously, in a classroom setting, the teacher will have an understanding of the students who may need extra assistance, and then the technology can be altered to assist them specially. I think that the lecture part of the lesson could have been done without technology, although it would have been more difficult, and would have required the students to really have a focused attention, and to be audio rather than visual learners. However, the research portion of the class would have been even more difficult, and I suppose with available books, it could have been done. The video portion would have been impossible without the technology to present it. Overall, I think all the students actively participated and benefited from the technology, especially during the research portion of the class. 2. The first would be the use of a program such as Microsoft Word, for him to write on, rather than having him write by hand. Dittos could be given to him over the computer to fill out rather than by hand. Also, during lecture times, instead of having him strain to see the power point, he could have it given to him on an individual computer. It could be magnified for him to see it more clearly and easily. Finally, during lecture times when note-taking is needed, he could use a program such as inspiration for quick and easy notes, rather than having to use paper and pen, or the notes could even be printed out for him. 3. My ideal learning environment would be an 11th or 12th grade AP US History class. I would like to have no more than 20 students in the class, because smaller class sizes allows for more individualized attention, and greater possibility for good discussions during the class time. In terms of technology, ideally it would be nice for each student to have access to their own laptop in order to take notes during class lecture times, and to be able to quickly and easily do research online, or to view resources available only over the internet. The availability of a personal computer allows for tons of hands-on experiences, student-directed research, and projects such as power points. As a teacher, I would also like a projector and large projector screen, as well as a white board. These would be used during lecture times, but could also be used in a constructivist manner for student presentations of materials and projects, similar to the ways in which we were able to use it during this class.
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