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Reflection EDU 695 Angela Norige

I am about to enter my tenth year of teaching high school science. Before starting this program, I truly thought I had it all figured out in the classroom. I am really good with classroom management because I can build strong and meaningful relationships with my students. The content I am teaching has become like second nature to me, and I have a million different activities and labs to support the material. It wasnt until I took the classes at University of New England that I understood the importance of motivation, differentiation, and literacy in my content area. I have always been told by special education teachers that I need to differentiate, I understood the concept of different intelligences as explained by Howard Gardener, I had even been lucky enough to see him speak while I was in my undergraduate program. I believed that I did a good job differentiating for all students, and for most of them I was, but what soon became apparent to me was that I was under serving my intelligent students. Up until this point, I had always been focused on differentiating for low students, that I had no idea what I was doing for those students who already understand the material and need to move on. I learned a significant amount about independent research and the advantages it has for students who dont need a significant amount of time spent on instruction. Another place I needed to improve on is sharing the responsibility of teaching and learning with students. Often times I had such a tight grip on things in my class that I was not allowing students to assume personal responsibility for what they were learning and how they learned it. For example, I always started new units off with a lecture, about key concepts I wanted them to know, I realized there are times that there are some things they can learn, without being spoon fed the information. I had this idea in my mind that they wouldnt understand it unless I presented it to them. By the end of this school year, I was allowing my students to learn new concepts through true inquiry, by building upon pre existing knowledge, it was an amazing transformation.

Another way I have changed my instructional strategies is through the use of technology in the classroom. The amount of technology being used is increasing every day, as educators, we must stay up to date with all the newest technology to teach our students how to become fluent in this new language. Introducing technology in the classroom is important in differentiating instruction. As Tomlinson (2001) describes it, a differentiated classroom provides different avenues to acquiring content, to processing or making sense of ideas and to developing products so that each student can learn effectively (p1). The new language to children is Facebook, Twitter, texting, and Google, by being able to use these technologies in our classroom will make learning more meaningful to students, it is the avenue that will make most sense to them. As Kuglin (2009) points out, we must prepare young men and women to do new things, and with technology rapidly on the rise, we must prepare them for success in a technologically advanced world. I used several new technologies in my classroom, including asynchronous discussions in which I completed my action research on. In using technology, I saw a significant increase in assignment completion in the students. Another aspect of education that secondary content teachers tend to forget is literacy. We are all responsible for teaching students how to read in our content areas, and are currently doing a very poor job in doing so. In an article written by Shanahan and Shanahan they explain there is not necessarily a correlation between being able to read well in English, and reading well in a content specific class. This is because the content specific text often uses vocabulary and concepts that are not specific to typical oral language, and need to be applied to the text while being read. Shanahan and Shanahan suggest that by the time students reach this level in their educational career, that there is not much literacy being taught. Because of the misconception that the needed literacy skills are taught in the lower grades, one would believe that there should be less time spent with literacy instruction, and therefore, there is little to no time spent teaching the skills needed. It is also noted that in the teacher preparation courses, there is little time spent teaching secondary education teachers how to teach

literacy skills when compared to primary school teachers. It is because of this that I changed my teaching style and began to incorporate more reading in my science class. I was able to accomplish this by having students read non fiction books in class and write in journals, or create online discussions. Another way I am incorporating literacy in science is by having students read current event articles and doing various activities in class such as literacy circles, read alouds, and article summaries. Finally, self-determination theory has really helped shape me as an educator. Self determination Theory in one that studies issues related to extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Anderman and Hicks (2010) note that all humans have three basic needs; autonomy is to feel self directed, competence is to feel capable of performing tasks, and relatedness is the need to feel connected and accepted in a social network. It is believed that individuals will engage in activities to meet these needs. If the above needs are not met, it is thought to have a negative effect on motivation. A reward is seen as an extrinsic motivator, there are two types of rewards. Informational rewards provide specific information or feedback to the student about their mastery of the content. Controlling rewards are awarded at the completion of a task, or being able to perform a task in a particular way. Informational rewards are thought to increase mastery in students as controlling rewards may have negative effects on motivation. The use of extrinsic rewards may teach students to take academic shortcuts and can lead to a lack of creativity. It is suggested that intrinsic motivation can only exist when students do not feel pressured to perform and are not dependent on rewards. Students feel self determined and when they are self determined they feel they have choices and options and their actions are consistent with their self concepts. If students become dependent on rewards then they can become amotivated. Amotivated is a term that is used to describe students who have a low belief in their own abilities and do not value academic tasks. This theory has changed the way I give my students feedback, and really emphasized the importance of informational feedback on all assignments. It has also made me realize that several students view an A as a reward, and often times will do whatever it takes to earn that

reward, include take shortcuts and cheat, because of my knowledge of this, I can easily spot students with this tendency and give them more specific feedback. When I look back at my experience in this program, I realize that my personal growth as an educator cannot be measured. I have learned how to balance technology, differentiation, motivation, and literacy in the classroom. My students have and will continue to benefit as I continue to grow as an educator and a leader.

Resources: Anderman, E.M, and Hicks-Anderman, L. (2010). Classroom Motivation. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. Kuglin, J. & Olsen, E.M. (2009). Professional Development 2.0: Find out how one school district is expanding its training programs to help its teachers cross the digital divide. EDTech K-12. Retrieved from: ( Timothy Shanahan. , & Cynthia Shanahan, (2008). Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: Rethinking content area literacy. Harvard Educational Review, 78(1), 40-58. Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms (2nd ed.). York: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. New