Within my internship at Hays Consolidated Independent School Districts’ Dahlstrom Middle School, I have had the opportunity to observe and learn. Throughout this experience I have watched teachers work with their students and have had the chance to notice how literacy is being implemented in today’s classrooms. I have observed a 7th grade art class, 8th grade math class, and 6th grade art class. From these observations, I have witnessed clear examples of utilizing literacy in the classroom and have comprised ways in which literacy can be better utilized.

At Dahlstrom Middle School, students are encouraged to expand upon and use their literacy skills constantly. In art class, they are assigned to draw cursive names, utilizing their cursive English skills and in math class they are required to write about the purpose of proportionality. Students are expected to be able to read and write and to be able to communicate within these means in order to learn and grow. During advisory period every Monday, students must silently read for a set period of time, further encouraging students to keep books on them and to read them during class and within free time. From this activity, I have noticed that many Dahlstrom students have fostered a love of reading and will partake in the act whenever possible. Students are also engaged in class discussions often, allowing them to hear from other students and to share their own thoughts and ideas with their peers. During class discussions, students learn from each other as they practice their talking and listening skills. Communication skills are an important part of the Dahlstrom Middle School curriculum.

Recently, Dahlstrom Middle School has adopted a new set of graphic organizers to help students arrange their thoughts and retain information. Every content area within the school must use a unit organizer that visually shows the purpose of a lesson and how it relates to prior knowledge and key ideas. These unit organizers include graphs and images in which students write information pertaining to the lesson. Paired with the unit organizers are FRAME routines that also arrange information in a graphical way. Similar to the unit organizers, the FRAME routines include blank graphics from which the students must fill in with information in order to create a logical organization of information. Because all of the content areas at Dahlstrom have adopted this form of visual learning, literacy will be enhanced among the students and utilized in the same way amongst all classes.

While Dahlstrom is making an effort to improve literacy amongst its students, I have ideas in mind that may help even further. I have noticed a lack of outside resources used within the classes such as audio and visual sources. Examples or demonstrations from videos, the Internet, or other sources could be utilized within the classrooms to increase interest in the subject and broaden students’ pool of knowledge. I have also noticed a lack of research done within the classes as the library and computer labs remain underutilized. It has been explained that these resources are difficult to utilize during class time because of approval requirements, but if these requirements were made easier to achieve, the students could benefit from conducting their own research and directing their own learning. Even if computers were not easily accessible, students could research from texts within and outside of the classroom. Any chance for students to learn from an outside source will help broaden his views and expand his mind.

Overall, it seems that Dahlstrom Middle School is successfully integrating literacy amongst its curriculum. Students are required to read and write within their classrooms and are given the opportunities to speak and listen to each other’s points of views. Students are engaged in a wide variety of activities and benefit from different teaching styles. Instructional frameworks are used alongside graphic organizers, and vocabulary and comprehension is emphasized. I am thankful to have this opportunity to witness literacy being successfully integrated within a middle school in such a way that benefits students and improves the effectiveness of instruction.

Today ended the second day of my internship at Hays Consolidated Independent School District’s Dahlstrom Middle School with my mentor teacher, Ms. Bandy.

So far, I have been thoroughly enjoying my experience and feel that middle school could be the place for me. The students are lively, entertaining, and rambunctious, but can be controlled with proper classroom procedure. They all seem to enjoy my mentor teacher, which gives me enthusiasm as I hope to be a beloved teacher some day.

Everything seems to be just about what I was expecting. Some students remain working the entire period, while some need constant reminders to stay on task. Others will completely refuse to work. The lunch period is short and the teachers are required to eat quickly in order to return to class on time. The school requires that all teachers teach a core subject during second period, so twice now I have seen my mentor teacher struggle to teach math to her art students. There are definitely restrictions and challenges in the schools, but seeing the positive impact that Ms. Bandy is having on her students is inspiring.

One thing I was not expecting is the level of quality coming from Ms. Bandy’s students. From the work I’ve seen in class and hanging in the hallways, her students seem to be surpassing what I thought was typical of a middle school artist. I am pleased by what I have been seeing and know that I can now raise my expectations if I am to teach middle school. Ms. Bandy’s students are also very knowledge about specific art terms such as gradation, value, depth, shade, and tone.

In Ms. Bandy’s classroom, she has posted the rules about noise level. Whenever she is talking, such as during lecture, taking attendance, or giving announcements, students should not be talking at all. When students are working, however, and Ms. Bandy is not talking, students are allowed to talk quietly. Ms. Bandy also has a few “Drive Your Own Device” signs posted. When I asked her about the signs, she explained that students are allowed to use their electronic devices in class, but for educational or music purposes only. They may use them to play music through headphones or to look for reference images and inspiration on line to help them create art.

I have been challenging myself to learn Ms. Bandy’s students’ names and feel that I should know them all soon. I have been paying attention during roll-call and whenever students are called to the front to try and catch their names. I have also been occasionally asking for students’ names or overhearing their friends using their names. I’ve also been trying to find individualities to match the names, such as Griffin is extremely friendly and talkative, Ana is shy and emotional, Emma is stylish and popular, and Shauna is quiet and seems sad all the time.

So far, I am enjoying my experience and look forward to getting to know each of the students. I am excited to watch their progress and to help them along the way. I also feel very comfortable and it seems like I am being well-received by the students. There was a substitute teacher today, so I mainly led the class and students treated me as they would any other teacher. I was even asked how to turn in choir money, to sign hall passes, and when report cards would be coming out. So far, I have felt completely prepared for this experience and believe that I am on the right trail.

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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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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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.


I applied for college last night after finishing up two essays…I’m going to Texas State! Hopefully, at least.

I’ll be attending Texas State University in San Marcos next fall to study Studio Art and earn a teacher’s degree.

My whole life I wanted to be an English teacher, but this past year or two of writing essay after essay non-stop kind of beat the love out of me. :\ But I love art just as much, so it’s all good. 😀

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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After carefully monitoring her grades throughout the semester and struggling to put full effort into each of her projects and all of her completed homework, an overachieving student destined for the Ivy Leagues finds herself facing a major obstacle. Although she had studied the night before, the multiple-choice test resting upon her desk that glared back at her now seemed to mock her, eating away any focus she could create. Racing thoughts of college, parents, teachers, counselors…too many thoughts cluttered her mind with each passing minute being pounded into her ear by the ticking of the clock against the wall behind her. She could not fail this test, she could not get a B, she could not upset her parents, and she could not give up her chance at a potential college. So many factors depended on whether or not she shaded a circle marked “A,” “B,” “C,” or “D.” Willing to sacrifice just a bit of integrity in order to save her future life plans, she glances to the tattered piece of paper in her pocket and mindlessly fills in the bubbles as if reading an instruction manual.

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