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Foster Active Learning Strategies 1 Running Head: ACTIVE LEARNING JROTC Active Learning JROTC Submitted by William W. Foster, Jr. Current Educational Trends EDUC501 Southwestern College May 2010 Foster Active Learning Strategies 2 Abstract This paper is a documented reflection of the active learning strategies implemented in JROTC learned during the Southwestern College course in Current Educational Trends. As a new instructor in a High School setting I had many pre-conceived notions of what teaching was about, this class has taught me many new strategies to implement every single day that can directly influence the level of motivation displayed by my students. Foster Active Learning Strategies 3 Active Learning in JROTC As a brand new instructor in a high school setting, this year has been an experience in development and learning, an opportunity for personal growth as well as the chance to influence others to want to be their best. I have utilized my education and training in attempts to influence my peers and administration, but most importantly to have a positive impact on my students. Throughout this course I have learned some tremendous tools to use in my daily quest to become the teacher I want to become, the teacher that inspires the best in every life they touch. Ciaccio (2004) states that “by helping students, you will enrich your personal life. You will leave the education profession a far better person that you were when you started your career, because personal growth is the hallmark of a successful life” (p. 168). Personal growth is what I have attained during the course of Current Educational Trends, it has sparked a passion within me to continue to grow and learn about different techniques, tools and strategies that are available to me on a daily basis. My goal over the last six weeks has been to absorb as many new strategies as I could, implement them in class and make a difference in the level of motivation of my students. Throughout this course I have learned many strategies and implemented many strategies with the common goal of increasing student motivation and readiness to learn. I have discovered that there is more to the student/teacher relationship than just lecture/learn, that by increasing my level of engagement and investing some feeling, passion and compassion, I could engender the same in the students and increase their level of achievement. My plan was and will continue to be helping students achieve their full potential through active engagement. Foster Active Learning Strategies 4 Strategies Implemented At the beginning of the course I conducted an inquiry of active learning self evaluation. One of the noticeable outcomes of the self evaluation is that I tend to give more negative feedback than positive to lower performing students. I also evaluated my student’s ability to engage in active and constructive learning utilizing the DESCA scale as provided in Inspiring Active Learning authored by Harmin and Toth (2006). The DESCA scale measures students’ level of dignity, energy, self-management, community and awareness as it applies to their overall levels displayed in class. What I discovered is that my perception of the students trended low in self-management and awareness, both of which are critical components of our JROTC philosophy. In JROTC our main focus is to develop citizens of character, our mantra is to develop the whole person and not just the student in our class. We focus on everything the students do and their success as people rather than whether they pass our tests and learn the information we are teaching. The DESCA scale also revealed that our students were on the lower end of the scale in all five areas, my goal in this course, after the self evaluation was to target all five of these areas and increase the student’s ability to engage in active learning. The first week that I started implementing some of the active learning strategies my results were surprising. I decided to use an approach that targeted all five of the measurements because I wanted to test for myself whether these strategies would actually have an impact in helping the students become successful. Following is the five day strategy I implemented: Date Targeting Adjusting Balancing Supporting 4/12/2010 Dignity Strategy 16-3 Six deep breaths Meet with Foster Active Learning Strategies 5 Question, All Write co-workers for lunch 4/12/2010 Energy Strategy 8-6 Special Walk around the open up discuss Energizing Activities Class a positive event 4/12/2010 Self-Mgmt Strategy 4-1 Truth Peaceful thoughts email other teachers Signs for ideas on simple issues 4/13/2010 Community Strategy 5-3 Ask Say no meet with co a Friend workers for lunch 4/13/2010 Awareness Action 4-3 Risk Six deep breaths open up discuss Language a positive event 4/13/2010 Dignity Strategy 5-9 Dignifying Readjust tone email other teachers Acts for ideas on simple issues Evaluate non- 4/14/2010 Energy Strategy 3-3 Quick verbal meet with co Pace cues workers for lunch 4/14/2010 Self-Mgmt Strategy 5-4 Once Discuss feelings open up discuss Principle of frustration a positive event e-mail other 4/14/2010 Community Strategy 15-5 I Start Open up to teachers You Finish co-teacher for ideas on simple issues Strategy 9-7 Brain 4/15/2010 Awareness Drain write about what meet with co just upset me workers for lunch 4/15/2010 Dignity Strategy 5-6 Class time out open up discuss Leaders a positive event 4/15/2010 Energy Strategy 3-3 Quick Manage tone email other teachers Pace for ideas on simple issues 4/16/2010 Self-Mgmt Strategy 8-3 Authority Written meet with co Statement affirmation workers for lunch 4/16/2010 Community Strategy 17-8 Boss/ Revisit Positive open up discuss Secretary feedback a positive event e-mail other 4/16/2010 Awareness Strategy 19-7 Creating six deep breaths teachers Groupings for ideas on simple issues It was amazing seeing the response to something different I did, I have often heard that if you keep doing what you are doing then you will keep getting what you are getting. So, if I want to effect a change on my students then it is up to me to change what I am doing to elicit a different response from them. This was a fun chance for me to learn some new ways of handling old situations, not coming from and educational background I was lacking in many basic strategies for shifting the feel of my class. I was shocked at the quick pace responses as well as the brain drain; they were fun, energetic and really got all the kids excited and engaged. But, Foster Active Learning Strategies 6 I think the ones that had the most impact on me were the different balancing strategies that I forced myself to use, I stopped myself in midstride and was able to refocus negative thoughts and act appropriately to keep things positive. In the second week of implementing active learning strategies I noticed quite a bit of difference in my classes. The level of energy was higher and by the end of the week the feeling of team cohesiveness seemed to improve. The strategies I chose for this week were a little narrower in focus and were all an attempt to improve energy, community and awareness, to make the students feel more in control of their education and to help them feel increased levels of knowledge, following is a list of the strategies I implemented: Strategy 27-3 Promoting Kindness to promote positive peer relationships Strategy 12-3 Make a Prediction to motivate student interest in a topic and to exercise students’ ability to think ahead Strategy 5-3 Ask a Fiend to have students get their questions answered efficiently and to nurture a classroom feeling of mutual support Strategy 4-6 Confidence Builders to provide reassurance for students who are anxious about learning. Strategy 29-3 Healthy Response to Misbehavior to maintain personal balance when facing misbehaving students. Strategy 26-1 Common Sense Comments to encourage students to make full use of their common sense. Strategy 24-1 Concept-Generalization Focus to bring learning’s up to the level of concepts and generalizations. Strategy 20-11 Caring Attention Without Praise to support and encourage students without making them dependent on others’ approval. Strategy 19-9 Brainstorming to ask students to exercise creative thinking skills in a content area. Strategy 11-2 Choral Work to get students to memorize material effortlessly and heighten class energy. Foster Active Learning Strategies 7 Strategy 6-1 Do Now to engage students productively as soon as they enter the room. Strategy 5-4 Once Principle to teach students both to listen and to live self- responsibly Strategy 17-2 Mini-task to engage students in review tasks likely to be personally satisfying. Strategy 17-17 Task Group, Share Group to maintain high involvement during group work. Strategy 12-4 Challenge Opener to motivate student interest in a reading or presentation. I believe this week was impactful, when the written assignments were turned in on Friday with a focus on what they learned for the week, most of the responses were centered on team work and what it means to be a part of a team. This is vital for JRTOC, a feeling of team cohesiveness is imperative for developing citizens of character because people need to feel connected and to feel as if they can make a difference in the lives of others. If the students don’t understand what it means to be a part of a team then they will not understand why they need to put forth any effort in changing lives of those around them. The third week of implementing active learned strategies was even narrower in scope than any of the other weeks; I chose to focus on self-management. Following is the five day plan I implemented: DATE TARGETING ADJUSTING BALANCING SUPPORTING Self Strategy 26-3 Asked other 4/26/2010 Management Self Readjust tone teachers Management about their Goals balancing Self Strategy 26-1 Walk around the open up and 4/26/2010 Management Common class discuss Foster Active Learning Strategies 8 Sense Comments a positive event Self Strategy 28-4 4/26/2010 Management Whole say no email other ROTC Self Lesson teachers for ideas Self joined discussion 4/27/2010 Management Strategy 27-1 readjust tone board for ROTC Validations teachers Self Strategy 27-6 meet with 4/27/2010 Management Sensible six deep breaths coworkers Risk Taking for lunch Self Strategy 28-4 peaceful joined counselors 4/27/2010 Management Whole thoughts for break discussed Self Lesson kids Self evaluate non actively engaged 4/28/2010 Management Strategy 28-2 verbal’s in ROTC discussion Personalized Challenges board Self open op to co- discussed simple 4/28/2010 Management Strategy 28-3 teacher ideas with other Gratitude Journal teachers Self Strategy 28-4 Meet with 4/28/2010 Management Whole writing about coworkers Self Lesson disappointment for lunch Self Strategy 28-1 discussed 4/29/2010 Management Strength readjust tone positives Building Challenges with co-worker Self Strategy 26-4 actively engaged 4/29/2010 Management Rights six deep breaths in ROTC discussion Responsibilities Rewards board Self Strategy 28-4 evaluate non discussed simple 4/29/2010 Management Whole verbal’s ideas with other Self Lesson teachers Self Strategy 28-5 written discussed positive 4/30/2010 Management Choose affirmation impact with other Be, Review teachers Self Strategy 28-6 meet with 4/30/2010 Management Goodness six deep breaths coworkers Log for lunch Self Strategy 28-4 actively engaged 4/30/2010 Management Whole say no in ROTC discussion Self Lesson board Foster Active Learning Strategies 9 One of the things I have discovered during the course of this session is that most of the conflict that occurs between me and the students surrounds the students not meeting expectations, not only in my class but in their other classes as well. With the end of the school year coming up, I have taken my normal steps to review each student’s grades in their other classes to see how well they are on track to complete the year with great grades. I have set up the peer mentoring/tutoring program and have gotten some great feedback and feel like we are making a very positive impact, but grades are slipping as the end of the year approaches and kids are losing drive. Self Management is about being responsible for meeting expectations, controlling impulses, finishing tasks, thinking though problems, possibilities and consequences and looking ahead. Right now these things are very important because if the kids don’t understand the impact that failing one class will have on next year then they will be in for quite a shock next year. I want to help alleviate some of the conflict they encounter all day by not being prepared, not meeting expectations and not managing their time effectively. I really felt this will help with their self-confidence so every single strategy I implemented this week was focused on self management. In all, during the course of Current Educational Trends I have learned many tools and techniques to help my students become active learners, to engage them in ways that will help them grow and develop into the people they truly want to become. In a self evaluation utilizing the DESCA scale at the end of this course I can see that in a few short weeks I have made a difference, the students have all gone up at least a level but more importantly I feel as if my classically low achievers have become more engaged, more responsible for their own learning and interested in becoming high achievers. Foster Active Learning Strategies 10 What a great thing to be a part of, now I know that I can make a difference I will continue to utilize the active learning strategies I have learned. I can only imagine what a difference I will make next year when I have the opportunity to use these strategies on a continuous basis. I am looking forward to it. Maybe that is part of why this class is so important, making a difference to the students comes with making a difference in my own life and being passionate about teaching. Foster Active Learning Strategies 11 References Ciaccio, J. (2004) Totally Positive Teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD Harmin, M., Toth, M. (2006) Inspiring Active Learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD
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