Creating High Expectations in the Classroom TeachNow Module 4 Unit 3 Activity 2

Creating High Expectations in the Classroom TeachNow Module 4 Unit 3 Activity 2

When expectations are high, students are more driven and more likely to not just succeed but surpass expectations. Here are a couple of videos with instructional methods that I analyzed to determine whether the teaching styles were successful in achieving these higher standards.

Mrs. Migdol’s Roller Coaster Physics Project Analysis

Academic and Behavioral Expectations for Mrs. Migdol’s Class

In the Roller Coaster Physics video, I felt that the teacher managed to have high expectations in academics and behavior. For the projects’ purposes, the students were expected to not only memorize the concept and rules of friction. But they then had to apply that knowledge to draft and create something as group. This is critical thinking at its finest. Since the students have to apply the knowledge they learned.

In addition, she had cross-curricular elements like using math to keep track of expenses. This utilizes math, and it makes the assignment into more of a  simulation of a real roller coaster building enterprise. The students are practicing real world math word problems and internalizing the skills for how to solve or reduce real world financial problems (Edutopia, 2013). I mean talk about getting your students ready for adulthood.

The behavioral expectations weren’t as clear. But the teacher had set high expectations in this arena as well. The students were expected to:

    1. Collaborate effectively and non-confrontationally with group members
    2. Stay on-task
    3. Ask/Use constructive criticism from their peers as well a give it during the chiming section of the class.

These are behaviors adults struggle with in their jobs. So, it’s wonderful that the teacher is striving for her students to fulfill these expectations.

Norms and Procedures Used to Facilitate High Academic and Behavioral Expectations for the Mrs. Migdol’s Class

Of course, the teacher used various norms and procedures to help create these high academic and behavioral expectations. Some I observed were:

  • The students were divided into groups and given group roles.
    • This helps reduce role conflict in groups as well as give each member a feeling of value within the group (New Tech, 2018). This leads groups to achieving higher cooperation and collaboration standards.
    • By modeling to the student an appropriate procedure for setting up a group, she is also giving a procedure for setting up groups in the future that will lead to group success.
  • The students were instructed at the beginning of the week to “chime” or discuss any difficulties they had had with the project during the previous week. This procedure was invaluable because:
    • It helped set collaboration as a norm in the classroom. Students are expected to collaborate and help others succeed.
    • These are student led discussions giving students more confidence and feelings of importance in their own voices. This is an important norm to create in the classroom.
    • They are working with each other to brainstorm and test lots of solution and help other groups avoid pitfalls in future endeavors. This is critical thinking, collaboration, and experimentation at its finest.
    • They are learning how to react positively to mistakes and take constructive criticism of their designs.
  • For her projects, she always gives the students limited materials.
    • As a result, the students internalize the norm that using excess materials is wasteful and not necessary.
    • Because she does this for every part project (it’s part of her procedure), the students are not only more careful with their materials, but they also feel challenged more, so it’s setting that higher academic standard.

Overall, Mrs. Migdol does an excellent job of setting up high academic and behavioral expectations using the norms and procedures in her classroom.

Whole Brain Teaching Analysis

Academic and Behavioral Standards for Whole Brain Teaching

I feel that whole brain teaching sets very high behavioral standards. The highest out of the three videos, but it also sets the lowest academic standards. Behaviorally, it’s a bit of a dream. The students are actively participating using their whole bodies. They are expected not just to listen but model and mimic others enthusiastically and instantly. I also like how the word “teach” has them collaborating with a partner to check their understanding. Overall, the student behavioral standards are exceptionally high with the whole class being expected to participate as a unit.

The problem, in my opinion, lies in the academic expectations. While enthusiasm and participation are key to learning, they are not the only component of learning.Even the “teach” command which has partners and even groups collaborating appearing to stimulate creative thinking, is far too close to modeling for my taste. I worry that students aren’t being asked critical assessment questions, and they are instead mimicking what the teacher is doing- repeating blindly.

Of course repetition is important, but so is understanding and furthermore the ability to have insight and articulate that insight into a topic. I personally don’t feel that the Whole Brain Teaching communicated this as a standard on their site or in the video.  I did like that they incorporated movement to help more kinesthetic learners though.

Norms and Procedures Used to Facilitate High Academic and Behavioral

Expectations for Whole Brain Teaching

Out of all the videos observed. The norms and procedures were pretty prominent and impressive in whole brain teaching. They included:

  • Using the procedure of transition words and gestures before beginning a new activity.
    • This is great because the teacher is communicating that the class is ready to enter learning mode. And that they should participate enthusiastically setting the norm for enthusiastic participation which is so important in learning.
    • It also energizes a class which might feel sleepy. This heads off potential behavioral problems by creating a more energetic mood in the class and supporting high behavioral standards(TEDx Talks, 2015).
  • When moving to a page or completing a task, the video shows the students repeating the procedure verbally.
    • This is helpful for auditory and kinesthetic learners facilitating higher academic expectations(TEDx Talks, 2015).
    • This is a check for student listening which supports the behavioral standard that students should be listening and modeling the teacher.
    • But it doesn’t check for comprehension of the instruction, so it isn’t fully supporting high academic expectations.
  • The teacher makes an effort to use gestures when going over vocabulary
    • This procedure of using gestures when describing vocabulary really helps kinesthetic learners. Plus the movement should create more neural connections a topic facilitating better recall which is turn supports high academic standards (TEDx Talks, 2015).
  • The students teach other students using gestures and words about the concept the teacher just explained.
    • I love the idea of setting up repeated collaboration of pairs and groups in working. This sets up high academic and behavioral expectations.
    • However, I didn’t see any pairs generating additional insights into the material. I feel that some concepts are better articulated in words and too much movement might become unnecessary or a distraction when talking about more abstract concepts.

Overall, I feel that this style of teaching is very useful for introducing topics. But I think it should be used in combination with another style to account for the lower academic expectations present.

3rd Grade Chinese Math Class

Academic and Behavioral Expectations for a 3rd Grade Math

Class

This was the most interesting of the videos. As a Westerner I expected to have trouble finding positive points in the video, but the video in combination with the post I read lead me to some interesting conclusions. The academic expectations for this method of teacher-centered teaching  are actually quite high.

The Chinese government has a very high-achieving curriculum for subjects such as math and science. In fact, math even at elementary school has specialized math teachers that have been trained in teaching mathematics (Chen, 2011). This comes across with the enthusiasm and ease with which the 3rd grade teacher teaches her students.

It’s extremely impressive to see her effortlessly move through the problem. In addition, the article indicated that the math teachers introduce a wide array of difficulties of math problems, and they use appropriate, advanced math language even with elementary schoolers. This enthusiasm and knowledge provides the Chinese elementary students with a great model for learning math. The frequent testing also helps assess the levels of the students.

The disadvantage of this teacher-centered strategy is fairly apparent though. Student behavioral expectations are fairly low. The teacher allows students to kind of shout out potential next steps, but students don’t regularly contribute to the class. Instead, a lecture based method is used. So, the behavioral expectations are pretty much listen to the teacher and write down notes (Coollog, 2012). There doesn’t appear to be any incentive to participate or try your best. This could potentially lead students to be afraid of more challenging or difficult problems because all of the feedback they will be receiving is from their test scores- not effort based.

Norms and Procedures Used to Facilitate High Academic and Behavioral  Expectations for a 3rd Grade Chinese Math Classroom 

  • The procedure for learning math concepts is for the teacher to introduce an array of problems increasing in difficulty in a lecture class. Guided questions and activities are not usually used (Chen, 2011) (Coollog, 2012). 
    • By showing an array of problems, the students are given increasingly more difficult tasks in a controlled manner which supports the high academic expectations
    • However, the behavioral expectations are pretty low since learners are simply expected to observe not to participate enthusiastically or teach each other.
    • It might also impact the students’ critical thinking about math since they are given less chances for critical thinking during activities.
  • The math teacher is expected to only teach math and be specially trained in teaching math.
    • This is great because somebody enthusiastic and knowledgeable about math is teaching the subject. Because the teacher is modeling how excited she is, her students will likely model that behavior. This support higher behavioral expectations.
      • For clarification, some teachers at the elementary level might feel intimidated by math, and their distaste for it might be apparent and lead to the students modeling that same distaste for math in the future.
  • The students are expected to complete assessments every two to three weeks. This is due to the rigorous math curriculum passed by Chinese government.
    • This is okay for supporting high academic expectations. It’s great that assessment is occurring regularly because regular assessment by the teacher and students will lead to identifying gaps in the classes knowledge so the teacher can address it.
    • However, standardized assessment might lead to a less growth like mind-set since the feedback to students is mostly ranking and score based not effort based. So, the frequent testing both enhances and inhibits high academic expectations (Trevor Regan, 2014).
  • The norm of the classroom is to use mathematic language even when answering a test (Chen, 2011).
    •  This is fantastic because language is key when learning higher level math concepts. They are really supporting the students in achieving high academic expectations.

Overall, this method of instruction shows that setting high curriculum standards, showing an array of problems of different levels of difficulty, and having passionate teachers leads to higher academic standards being achieved. However, the student-centered learning method has the capability of setting higher level behavioral standards than this teacher-centered one. And furthermore, I suspect the “weaker” on standardized tests a student scores the less beneficial this method is since it isn’t as flexible as the other methods. Plus, it doesn’t involve as many instances of using differentiated strategies to help those learners.

Setting High Academic Standards in My Second Grade Classroom

In April, I will start teaching a 2nd grade class in Japan. I’m very excited for the opportunity; and with how important setting high academic and behavioral standards is, I want to make sure the strategies I use are appropriate, innovative, and difficult yet achievable for my students. My goal is for my students to excel behaviorally and academically with a hunger to take on harder and harder challenges.

Here are the following procedures and norms I would like to establish in my class to promote high behavioral and academic standards based on the videos and additional research and experiences.

First, I would like to mesh together the Chinese math teacher’s strategies and whole brain teacher’s strategies to create an effective introduction. Both teachers were extremely enthusiastic in their method which I think is so important, and together they can be meshed into a great “I do it.” introduction.

The whole brain teacher uses gestures and attention getters to grab students attention. I would like to start my classes off with something like a “Super Scholars Read!” cue while doing the appropriate gestures. It’s fun, energetic, and it sets excellent behavioral standards for focusing on my instructions and participating enthusiastically.

Then, I would introduce the concept I am teaching clearly first by myself just like the teacher in the Chinese 3rd grade math class. What I’d like to steal from her, is she scales her problems making sure all of the students are practicing even difficult and challenging problems.

After finishing the “I do it.” and “We do it.” sections of the topic. I would like to move into a group project (like the one shown in the roller coaster video) that really pushes the students to their limits. This gives the students time to practice their abilities to communicate and cooperate with others reinforcing high behavioral standards such as taking criticism and effectively working.

And in addition, these project based learning activities set high academic standards. The whole point is to design a project that promotes critical thinking, searching and finding information, and integrating cross-disciplinary knowledge to garner a deeper understanding of the concept we’re studying.

By moving to a more project based approach in the “You all do it” and “You do it.” stages, both high behavioral and academic standards are reinforced at the same time. In addition, project based learning gives me more chances to get my students focused on the growth mind-set instead of its counterpart the fixed mindset since I can regularly praise group efforts during the course of the project.

Finally, both the Chinese school system and the project based learning teacher incorporated regular assessments of student progress. This supports high academic standards, but I would like to incorporate more of the project based learning teacher’s approach since she has the students “chime in” at the beginning of each week.

Once again, this “chiming in” provides the opportunity for students to gain confidence in their own voices and for the teacher to give praise based on effort thereby promoting a growth-mindset which is the kind of learner I want to have in my classroom. I want my second graders to have a great time learning and feel confident in their ability to solve newer and more difficult problems.

References

Chen, C. (2011, June 13). 3rd grade Chinese—math class.avi. Retrieved March 19, 2018 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7LseF6Db5g

Coollog. (2012, May 25). Inside of Chinese high schools- An exclusive interview (Uncut). Retrieved March 19, 2018 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdcJeshbB-4&feature=youtu.be 

Edutopia. (2013, March 20). Reinventing a public high school with problem-based learning. Retrieved March 19, 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlg-nsGi7V0&feature=youtu.be

Migdol, D. (2012). Roller coaster physics: STEM in action. Teaching Channel. Retrieved March 19, 2018 from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/teaching-stem-strategies

New Tech (Producer). (February 23, 2018). The building blocks of project-based learning. Deeper Learning Series. Retrieved February 23, 2018 from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/pbl-building-blocks-ntn

roxishayne. (2011, May 31). Whole brain teaching Richwood high – The basics. Retrieved March 13, 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iXTtR7lfWU&feature=youtu.be

TEDx Talks. (2015, April 22)The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning through Movement | Michael Kuczala | TEDxAshburn. Retrieved February 13, 2018 fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41gtxgDfY4s

The Converstation. (2014, March 25). Explainer: What makes Chinese maths lessons so good?. Retrieved March 19, 2018 from http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-makes-chinese-maths-lessons-so-good-24380

Trevor Regan. (2014, January 30). Carol Dweck- A study on praise and mindsets. Retrieved March 19, 2018 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWv1VdDeoRY

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