Managing a Classroom, Building a Community

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When structuring one’s classroom, one should strive to create a community. A community is a place for students to feel cared for, supported, and encouraged. It’s a place where each student is valued and respected as an important individual and a place where each person learns to appreciate the differences of others. Students who learn within positive classroom communities think as a collective group and constantly work together to achieve common goals. In this effective environment, students come together as a group, a team, and even a family. Community means understanding and creates an atmosphere in which students can work, live, and learn together.

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Zoomology

Zoomology is a game of wildlife recognition that I created that educates others in zoology through the use of zoomed-in photos and close-ups of animals, such as magnified images of their eyes, feathers, scales, or fur. Through this entertaining, yet educational game, children, students, and people of all ages can test their knowledge of wildlife identification and in the process learn something new. This game not only allows people to enjoy learning more about nature, but also creates a bond between animals and people. People are generally much less afraid and are usually more attracted to the familiar, drawing toward that which they know. When one is able to identify the species of animals that live in his environment, he is more likely to enjoy the environment and wish to preserve it. He has a much closer bond with the nature and life around him and will treasure it more than one who does not know the animals by name. Zoomology is a game that treasures the ability to identify animals in an attempt to bring to attention the threat of losing endangered species, to help those threatened species regain their numbers, and overall, educate the public about zoology and increase their knowledge of wildlife.

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Adobe Photoshop: An Educational Tool

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Imagine a technology that would allow you to convert a traditional piece of artwork into a digital piece of art, create and compile compositions and sketches easily, and even add an “undo” button to the world of art. When teaching art to children, this technology would allow one to give their students increased freedom, flexibility, creativity, and security, ensuring that they feel challenged, privileged, and safe within the classroom. With this sense of pride and self-efficacy, students are more likely to succeed as they overcome challenges and feel accomplished with their art.

Adobe Photoshop is an innovative technology that can be utilized in the art room to broaden the opportunities students have. Adobe Photoshop, commonly shortened to just “Photoshop”, is a graphics editing program developed and published by Adobe Systems. First released in 1989, there have been several new editions, with Creative Suite 6, or CS6, being the final version released on August 30, 2012. With each new upgrade comes new features and new possibilities as Adobe continues to improve each year.

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My Teaching Philosophy

Students are individuals. Although they are grouped together within classes, I strongly believe that it is our responsibility, as teachers, to address them individually and customize our teaching to best aid them. We must not only consider students’ varying strengths and weaknesses, but also vary our instruction in order to target each difference. I believe that teachers have the greatest success with students’ achievement when they teach with diverse learning styles and recognize each student as a single person capable of learning.

I firmly believe that every student has their own strengths and weaknesses and that each individual excels in their own way. I believe that teachers should recognize these strengths and enable students to develop their weaknesses. Popular in education, Howard Gardner also recognized this potential within each individual and wrote about his theory of multiple intelligences context (Gardner, 1983, p9). I support this theory with the belief that everyone possesses all of the intelligences but excels in one or more in particular. I believe that teachers can use this knowledge to help their students excel. By identifying the areas in which students shine, teachers can help them conquer their weaknesses.

Another theorist who recognized the individualism of students is Robert Gagne. Gagne discerned that students tend to learn more effectively through a certain style of teaching. He introduced conditions of learning and proposed that students not only excel in different ways, but also learn in different ways. “It is probably the case that some learners can benefit from less complete instruction, i.e., certain events may be omitted from the stimulus materials without seriously affecting the effectiveness of the instruction,” he theorized, addressing the fact that teaching can be personalized and tailored to each individual (Wager, p8). This supports my premise that teachers will be most effective when they seek to teach students personal and individualized methods that allow every student to find success in their own way.

When we see students as individuals, we must also not forget that learning takes place in a social environment. “One is a unique individual, who still must grow up in a social context-an individual of feelings and striving, who must rely on others to furnish the tasks and to judge one’s achievements,” states Gardner, recognizing that although students are individuals, they must still be related in a social context (Gardner, 1983, p254). Students are collected into classes and classes are paired with teachers. This allows students to communicate with peers and mentors and interact in social activities. I believe that it is through collaborative help that students are best able to learn and grow. Collaboration with others allows them to witness ideas and viewpoints separate from their own and create new understanding. This belief is supported by Lev Vygotsky’s social development theory in which he describes the zone of proximal development. “The zone of proximal development defines those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation, functions that will mature tomorrow but are currently in an embryonic state” (Vygotsky, 1978, p86). Students are learning in the zone of proximal development when under guidance, in collaboration, or in groups and are able to function at higher levels within this zone. Vygotsky noticed that what children could only do in collaborative efforts at one age, they could do at a later age independently (Vygotsky, 1978, p87), demonstrating that through social guidance, such as the aid of an effective teacher, students inherit and develop skills that they will use later in life.

Teachers are instilled in classrooms to help and guide their students. Through this interactive relationship, teachers are able to create learning experiences in which students are able to succeed. I believe that each student possesses the ability to achieve. By identifying the individual strengths of our students and adjusting our teaching techniques to encompass a variety of learning styles, we can affect all of our students and help them each flourish. We must simply recognize students as individuals and understand that they each have their own intelligence and learning style that will develop when given guidance.


References

  • Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books.
  • Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Wager, W.  (1978). Using Gagnés Events of Instruction as a Guide for Producing Stimulus Material. Journal of Instructional Development, Vol. 2, pp. 8. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30220542

Classroom Terror or Electronic Godsend?

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A minute electrical device could save a life in the case of an emergency, create persistent distractions that causes a student’s grades to drop, interrupt classes with an array of annoying sounds, violate personal privacy, help keep track of time and events, and even act as a tool to cheat in school, and everyone has one in his pocket. A necessity in most people’s lives, the cellular phone contributes to modern society adding to the list of valuable tools available. Yet school boards disagree with each other on policies to regulate cell phone use in school; some argue that students should be trusted with the freedom to possess cellular devices, while others state that the devices should never reside on school grounds. With so many teens possessing a cell phone, schools should create a fair policy to deal with the popular technology.

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