Saturday, October 25, 2008

The chapter reading provided alot of information this time around, most in the form of Self control, self-efficacy and self regulation. Each of these feed off each other and all are influenced by a variety of factors. Our parents and peers probably have the most effect on us growing up, encouraging words and family involvement in our everyday lives increase our chances of having a higher self efficacy and in turn increases the likelihood of having higher self regulating skills and self control. My own story mirrors this pretty well, and unfortunately so does my two younger brothers. i had the benefit of having my parents together and involved until late into my teens. Whereas my brothers both had to deal with the divorce and subsequent lack of involvement after and it is quite obvious what the consequence was for them. Low self control, self regulatory systems and low self efficacy. Sad really, but we must overcome what is laid for us. Easy for me to say i know but I'm hopeful for them.
Again the journals are giving me a good place to put all this down for later reference, but honestly i think this one is a bit overboard with everything else we have due this week.
In the discussion this week I thought Jen came up with some great ideas for class and implementing a devils advocate approach to help students reinforce their opinions. i think if you make them defend their position, you solidify it or you break it down, either way they leave with a better understanding of what you are teaching and they are better for the experience.

My school for the week
Would you want to teach in this particular school district?
Yes I think so, I love the area, it's maybe my favorite place on earth, the School system is great and even won some awards last year for excellence.

What makes this school district stand out from others that you found on the Internet?
The area cannot be topped, I've always loved it and if you are happy where you are as well as with what you are doing that's what matters.

  • Are there specific features that this school district has to offer that you hadn't thought of before? What are they? If not, what would you like?

  • I like that the day starts and ends early for middle school 7:40 to 2:35.

  • Would you ever consider applying for a job at this school district? Why or why not?
  • Yes, the pay is outstanding for a teachers salary. Gonna have to check on the cost of living out there.
  • Based on what we've learned so far in this class, how does this school district measure up?
  • Seems to do well, won an award last year for excellence in meeting the requirements set by No Child left behind which is great considering all the money to implement it was left behind.

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Information Processing

    When I think of using specific techniques to teach kids in middle school my immediate reaction is to ask what kind of kids are we talking about? What are their interests? Where do they come from? So much of the answer is determined by these question I hesitate to leave anything off the table, I think you have to connect every task or topic to their immediate surroundings. If they can see the effects of what you are teaching on their own lives it almost guarantees they will remember it and hence be able to put it into long term memory.
    Combined with that Storytelling and the use of mnemonic aids are also great ways to improve the recall of students of history.

    The main points I can immediately recall from the chapter involve the memory process, Information is stored short term into the sensory, it is then either stored when attached to another stimulus or it is disposed of... if processed it moves to short term memory where it is either attached to another stimuli and eventually moved to long term memory or is eventually lost.

    In my own life I can honestly say I'm a sucker for a great story, if a teacher could ever tell a great story and keep my interest I not only enjoyed it but I also retained the information. I also remember teachers who used mnemonic devices to spur recall, I still remember some of those and use them regularly. I would never be able to remember musical scales without them.

    Again this blog is giving me a great place to take notes and store the information we are learning, it will be even more useful in the future when I am actually looking back and trying to find ideas for class.

    My edu blog, well he's a little done right now. It's apparently the end of the unit exam time and this is what the did this week.
    • 1,560 short answer test questions which included a lot of detailed math problems
    • 585 pages of lab reports (130 reports which had on the average 4.5 pages)
    This is not to mention it's parent/teacher conference week for him. Good lord, the title for this week was : Definitely not an 8-5 job. Guess not

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Conditioning applied to the hormonally challenged

    It seems there are limitless ways according to the book to condition students and children to behave and act like human beings. Positive reinforcement, Negative reinforcement, Various types of punishment, and Extinction. Also a few techniques that go hand in hand with these and help ensure the effects are long standing and permanent, such as Spontaneous Recovery, Generalization Discrimination and Shaping.
    For me Most of these weren't used, it seems to me Positive and negative reinforcement, and outright punishment were more likely to be used than any of the rest. Extinction certainly never occurred I guess because I was able to push my parents buttons so well, and something that rational was nearly always out of reach. I feel like sports really kept me going and my love for it and the rules about eligibility kept me in my shoes most of the time. This would basically mean the school used negative reinforcement to keep me in line. My positive reinforcement came from parents, teachers and coaches who encouraged me by pointing out the positive things I was able to accomplish through hard work.
    I'm using this blog to basically keep track of the things we are covering, since we don't have an actually classroom this helps me "take notes" in an easy way so I can review later on in the semester.
    My Edu blog is slacking this week so I read back over some of the things he has put up in the past. Fact is I got part of the headline for this blog from his site. He refers to the middle school kids in his class as "Hormonally Challenged" which I think is very apt and telling.

    It was interesting this week in the blogs to see the examples of conditioning people came up with. Because my own conditioning was rather limited in scope, and some of the concepts are confusing, it was great to read the examples and be able to put them in context because I feel like the text was rather lacking in examples this week.

    I think I showed how PR and NR were used in my own life already so I'll say this about my own classroom. I plan to coach, hopefully baseball and football. In the event that these things don't happen I hope to have a good relationship with the coaches and other extra-curricular activity coaches/teachers, so that instead of referring to the principal or sending kids to detention, which I feel rarely works, at least it didn't for me. I'll refer behavioral problems or academic problems to these coaches. Most kids have at least one thing they love "outside" of school, For me there was nothing more motivating than having a coach come to me and say we need to talk about your grades. Or for them come to me and say Mr. ****** said you were acting up, we'll make sure you don't have the energy for that tomorrow. I also plan to encourage and reward good behavior and effort, not just grades. Many kids don't get the support they need to reach their full potential, I know it is Utopian to think I can reach every child, but I can hope to help them believe in themselves and encourage them to put in the time and effort, which breeds my my own modus operandi "Personal Responsibility". If I can't teach anything else, this will be the major life lesson I hope to pass on.

    Sunday, October 5, 2008

    Chapter 7: Special needs

    In reading this week we covered alot of material regarding behavioral disorders, mental retardation and learning disabilities. We learned about IEP's, the good and bad regarding ability grouping and other ways to mainstream children who otherwise would be left out into our classrooms. My own experience with mainstreaming is rather weak. I may not get to say it for a while so here it goes: Back in my day ........ we didn't do alot of mainstreaming I remember a few students who I saw only during P.E or lunch who had such problems as we have discussed. I cannot say for certain but I can never remember a time when I actually had one of them in a "real" class.

    This week in my educational blog " a view from the middle" he had some interesting observations about teenagers and non-verbal communication. How quickly they are willing to turn on one another, and how funny it all is. He made a great statement in that "if you can't laugh in this job you have no business being here." I thought it was quite apt as my oldest mouthed off the other day, something she rarely does and after sending her off to her room my wife looked at me and said" she's gonna make a FINE teenager."

    Alot of good stuff on the boards this week, most seemed in lockstep but a few jumped out. Our group project was great and I learned quite a bit in researching material for it. I hate to use my own as an example but a couple of things that didn't make the final post really are going to stay with me and help out I think. This site had some great info about using technology for dealing with children with emotional and behavioral disorders.

    Ability grouping I feel like has it's place in teaching, but as i have said many times and I'm sure I'll say again, it depends on the kids as a whole and individually. I leave nothing off of the table, I've always been a proponent of try anything, a view that could have lead to trouble in my younger, less mature, days, but didn't. It's a fine line between segregation and ability grouping and kids know, they know what you are doing when you group them. They may have LD's or Disorders or even Retardation but one thing they almost always are is perceptive of their place within their peer group. You just need to be careful when doing this type of teaching so as to not alienate children who may and probably do have a skewed view of their place in life. As far as modifying the idea, well I would say it depends on the kids again but that's a cop out. I would say use it but be aware of the way you mix the children. I would be more apt to use it in class rather than grouping in a separate class, and use an offshoot of scaffolding to do it rather than grouping all kids with problems together.