Laurie Maiman’s Student Teaching Blog

March 13, 2010

UDL Learning Tool – Wiggleworks

Filed under: Uncategorized — lmaiman @ 7:12 pm

One UDL tool I wish I could use in my placement is Wiggleworks. (too bad it costs over $2,000 !!! Not quite in my price range as of yet.)Wiggleworks is an interactive technology program that combines level books and instructional materials with technology to develop reading, writing, and language skills. The program focuses on scaffolding instruction and advancing students toward reading independently and fluently. I’m currently in a second grade placement with a reading specialist. I have a group of seven students that are struggling with basic phonics skills that I teach in a small-group direct instruction environment in the back of the classroom for the last half hour of our 2 hour reading session each day. One component of Wiggleworks that would really meet the needs of this small group is the magnet board that works on phonics skills. The magnet board component is an activity that allows students to manipulate letters and sounds to form words. The teacher can pre-record directions that the student can listen to over and over again when clarification is needed and the student can save their work to return to or show their teacher later. I have created similar activities to the magnet board component of Wiggleworks including dry-erase boards and sorting word cards, but Wiggleworks would greatly cut down on the amount of materials I would need to create. Instead of creating sets of MANY word cards for each lesson and compiling long lists of words to write on the dry-erase boards, students could be provided with the magnet board on Wiggleworks that directly corresponds with the book they read in an earlier component.

March 6, 2010

Interview Question

Filed under: Uncategorized — lmaiman @ 4:56 pm

This is a question that I created with my mentor teacher after reflecting on how my last week of lessons went.

Question: Think of a lesson you have taught in the past week or two. Tell me about one specific thing you observed during that lesson that drove your next instruction.

January 27, 2010

How will the influences of your culture impact your decisions/practices as a classroom teacher?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lmaiman @ 10:13 pm

Before attending last week’s seminar, I knew that culture held a deeper meaning than simply the ‘Four Fs’ (food, festivals, fashion, and fun), but was never quite sure how I was going to delve much deeper than that in my future classroom. We were told at seminar that our first observed lesson was going to have to incorporate culturally responsive teaching and I watched as numerous faces in the classroom began to wash with panic. I thought to myself “I have this in the bag!” and sat back to relax because I had already decided that my first observed lesson was going to be “multicultural.” (I was so proud of myself for ‘thinking ahead’ and trying to squeeze my lesson into a standard that would fit in my portfolio.) I then looked at the blackboard and saw information on the three levels of culture. I then decided that I might have to think a little bit harder about how to make my lesson culturally responsive because it really wasn’t encompassing more than just the Four Fs. I had the good fortune of taking seven years of Spanish classes and still remain fairly fluent in Spanish. I view this as part of my own cultural impact on how I will choose to teach my future students. I decided that incorporating my Spanish schooling into my observed lesson would be an easy way out to make my lesson multicultural. I plan to teach a reading comprehension/vocabulary lesson on the story “Big Bushy Mustache” by Gary Soto and will teach my class about Cinco de Mayo (a prevalent event in the story) and will also teach them about all the Spanish words in the story.

After seminar this week I discovered that I need to let the influences of my own culture impact my decisions/practices as a classroom teacher. Every teacher comes to school with preconceived notions about EVERY population of students whether they admit to it or not. An effective teacher asks questions and digs deeper to find out how each of their students’ background will affect their time spent in the classroom. I grew up in a two-parent, middle-class, white, Jewish household. I am also not ashamed to admit that the majority of my friends growing up were from the exact same socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and religious background as I. Instead of letting my background color my opinions of my students, I will embrace learning new aspects of cultures every single day. Before beginning my education at Towson, I always viewed culture as mainly racial/ethnic, and never really thought about culture can be aspects of a child’s life such as where they live, the type of family they live in, and even where they go for leisure activities.

I plan to let culture impact every single one of my decisions in my classroom. I will try as hard as I can to remain in contact will all of my students’ families by email, blogging, surveys, and conferences so I can see the bigger picture of what each of my children go home to every night. I’ve already allowed culture to impact many of my decisions in my student teaching placement. For example, after experimenting with different topics of materials, I discovered that the majority of my students are more interested in non-fiction reading material that they can apply to their home lives. When I decided to teach a unit on fire stations, firefighters, and fire safety in response to their interest in non-fiction, I elicited much more discussion in my students and allowed them to draw connections to family members and community figures that they all know.

Young children are naturally tolerant of cultures different from their own as long as they are exposed to them regularly. I plan to incorporate the cultural background of each of my students, AND my own cultural background into my daily teaching. When I first began student teaching I was definitely all for incorporating the culture of my students into daily lessons, but was wary of bringing my own background to the table. I am lucky to be placed with a mentor who supports me wholeheartedly, and encouraged me to teach my classes about where I come from. I had the opportunity to teach a lesson on Hanukkah, and the Jewish customs of the holiday. Although this lesson really only included the “Four Fs”, it was still educational as a cultural lesson to my students because they had never been exposed to my culture at ALL previously. I believe that as an introductory lesson to my background faith it was highly successful and my students will have a better tolerance and understanding of future Jewish individuals they come in contact with.

Overall, every individual has a specific cultural impact on the people around them that is not exactly the same as anyone else. Cultural background is like a snowflake, no two people are exactly alike. If I allow my students to be open with each other in discussion about where they come from, I will always be a culturally responsive teacher.

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