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Development

Please follow the link to review my PowerPoint Slideshow on measurements used in existing school districts.

 

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Implementation

Please check out my self-created engagement surveys here.

The engagement surveys I created are a 4 part survey that identify four main targets: parents, school staff, students, and community members. Each survey consists of ten rated statements from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”.

Engagement Analysis

In teaching today’s society, there are countless barriers students and educators are faced with. Among them are academic, societal, and psycho-social barriers. By focusing on these barriers and attempting to move in a progressive manner, I believe educators enhance access to education and will in turn have a lasting effect on classroom practices and student engagement.

Social Attitude:

Social attitude towards an individual with disabilities is one of the major societal barriers in education. IIP Digital of the U.S. Embassy states that “When parents, school administrators and community members believe that impairments make a child less worthy of being educated, or less able to benefit from education, it is unlikely that children with disabilities will be given equal access to education.” This barrier impacts classroom practices and student engagement in those children absorbs societies rational on disabilities, making it tough for educators to gear their mind towards individuals with disabilities in the classroom. In turn, I believe students with disabilities in the classroom feel burdened and are less likely to have a positive experience in school as his/her peers. Students with disabilities deserve the same equal rights to education as their peers. Society’s notion that students of disabilities are less deserving is unjustifiable. I strongly believe educators who have the heart and mind can slowly change society’s thoughts on individuals with disabilities. Educators can overcome this barrier through community outreach programs to “raise awareness and dispel myths about disabilities” (IIP Digital, 2013).
Educational Environment

When mainstreaming students with special needs, having the necessary materials and training to teach with is vital to their success. “While teachers do not need an advanced degree in special education, they should be trained in how to interact with children who have visual impairments, hearing impairments and other special needs” (IIP Digital, 2013). Without the necessary materials and training offered to educators, educators are limited in what they can do to help students with disabilities achieve in the classroom and in turn, students are less engaged. For students with disabilities to truly benefit and have an exceptional education experience in a mainstream classroom, teachers must teach with knowledge to each student’s disability and needs. More training and quality materials will allow for optimal learning experience these students deserve because “not only will this help schools better accommodate students with disabilities, but also send a message to the community that all students deserve such an education” (IPP Digital, 2013).

Individualized Learning/One-Size-Fits-All-Education

With society being racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse, the idea of one-size-fits-all does not apply in today’s classrooms.  Students who are neglected of individualized learning will not benefit from the optimal learning experience he/she needs to be successful and “to help students reach this potential, teachers need to individualize the learning process as much as possible” (IIP Digital, 2013).With the one-size-fits-all model, students are unable to gasp this learning method. Alfie Kohn, American author and lecturer, expresses that the one-size-fits-all education does not work and “declaring that everyone must reach the same level is naïve at best, cynical at worst, in light of wildly unequal resources” (Kohn, 2001). There is no excuse for one-size-fits-all education. According to Andy Powell, CEO of Independent Education Foundation Edge, “one-size-fits-all education system does not enable all children to thrive in their own way” (Powell, 2014). In fact, Powell further explains that “we need to move towards a system of mass customization, based on a strong common core of essential skills and knowledge, which allows young people to develop their own particular talents and aspirations. Young people will learn if they see learning as important, meaningful and worthwhile” (Powell, 2014).

Support Systems

“Parents and educators who feel overwhelmed and do not know where to go for help can create barriers through inaction” (IIP Digital, 2013). Many parents with students of disabilities and educators who teach inclusive education often feel lost at sea with the lack of support and practical help. This affects teaching practices in those teachers with minimal background and support from administrators. Although educators may be aware of the disabilities, the support and help must extend far beyond that to truly meet those needs of students with disabilities. Teacher and parents both need a strong support system to help special needs students move forward. Luckily, “many societies now have advisory groups, which typically include disabled individuals, to help school administrators and governments make smarter policy decisions by informing them of the unique needs of disabled students” (IIP Digital, 2013).

Technology

Implementing technology use in the classroom plays a big role in changing the education environment. However, technology is expensive and many schools prefer to teach the traditional way because of the resistance to change, lack of professional development, lack of innovation and access. Karehka Ramey of The Guardian explains that refusing to use technology tools in the classroom “will leave many schools backwards” in a time where our society is growing technologically (Ramey, 2014).  Many teachers who refuse to change old tactics set students of the 21st century back in time. Rather than receive training to implement technology, teachers who are resilient to the change will teach traditionally straight from the curricula, subject by subject, lowering students engagement level in the classroom. Students of the 21st century need to feel stimulated and engaged in the materials learned and technology can help with that. As Ramey states, “technology provides easy access to academic information, ability to learn easily which results from the use of visual learning in the classroom which is facilitated by technological tools like the smart white boards, and the ability to learn from anywhere” (Ramey, 2014).

Achievement Gap

The achievement gap is arguably the most talked about issue in regards to education barriers.The issue of achievement gap is especially concerning to teachers with non-affluent and/or black and Hispanic students because of the troubling performance gaps. Through the rising demands of NCLB, teachers recognize the urgency to close the achievement gaps among affluent and non-affluent students. The achievement gap is impacting diverse classrooms. Mary E. Walsh of The Whole Child and Executive Director of City Connects explain that “until we address poverty, the achievement gap will persist” (Walsh, 2013). Walsh further explains “to provide opportunity of upward mobility, teachers must instill best teaching practices to ensure success whether that means coordinating with families and community agencies, working with school counselors, and customizing to the needs of each student”. Because the achievement gap exists, teaching practices have enhanced and teachers are now finding that holding each student to high expectations can also help close the gap. When teachers hold students to high expectations, students will feel valued and not underestimated.

Resources:

Kohn, A. (2001, June 10). One-Size-Fits-All Education Doesn’t Work. Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/onesize.htm

Overcoming Barriers to Equal Education. (2013, August 28). Retrieved from http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/pamphlet/2013/08/20130823281583.html?CP.rss=true#axzz34kzMA6jc

Powell, A. (n.d.). We Need An Education System That Excites Children. Retrieved from http://www.teachingtimes.com/articles/revolution-education-system.htm

Ramey, K. (n.d.). Barriers to the Effective Use of Technology in Education. Retrieved from http://www.useoftechnology.com/barriers-effective-technology-education/

Walsh, M. (2013, June 10). Support All Students to Close the Achievement Gap. Retrieved from http://www.wholechildeducation.org/blog/support-all-students-to-close-the-achievement-gap

Engagement Plan

Characteristics of school and community:

Northern Lights Montessori School is nestled in the heart of downtown Redmond and Redmond Town center. It is an independent school that runs year-round with roughly 100 students that attend ranging from pre-school to 2nd grade. Many families with students who attend are Redmond natives and work for top software companies around the area such as Microsoft and Schakra Inc. Our classrooms provide ample space for students to work, explore and learn. Our school has many parent volunteers who enjoy spending their time in their child’s classroom, connecting with the staff as well as fund materials for after-school activities. The schools as well as the community are tightly connected in improving the learning as well as lifestyle for the students of Northern Lights.

Rationale for resource selection:

We are a school that provide and make sure all students are nurtured and receive top notch education. Parents are always pleasantly surprised of the quality education their child receives. Northern Lights make a great effort to enforce a sense of community, family, and school involvement to increase engagement. Since these students come from well off families, the primary focus and desires from these families is to make certain their child is exposed to recreational, yet educational sites that help to further enhance the private school lifestyle and learning development of their child through exposure of critical landmarks of the community and working alongside to ensure commitment of engagement with the community at large.

Resources:

School website

http://norlightsmontessori.org/

Our school website provides information for parents regarding any updates in the school or classroom happenings.

Kids Quest Museum

http://www.kidsquestmuseum.org/

Northern Lights and Kids Quest in Bellevue are partnered up to provide science education for students every year around May. Students are given opportunity to explore and play with water wheels, air and velocity with handmade airplanes and much more.

Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center

http://www.pps.org/great_public_spaces/one?public_place_id=75

Many school events such as talent shows and graduation ceremony are held at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse. Being that this public structure is old and historic, it gives students a chance to learn more about their city and the history of the building. Old Redmond Schoolhouse provides a sense of “place”. The community of Redmond has a strong attachment to the building as it provides not only history, but utilized by organizations for meetings, family socials, business luncheons, potlucks, reunion and social gatherings.

King County Library System & summer program

http://www.kcls.org

This is a great place for kids and families to connect. The summer program features many hands-on activities for kids to be stimulated and engaged throughout summer.

Redmond Fire Station

http://redmondfireandrescue.org/

Northern Lights often invite firefighters to come into our classrooms to educate the students on fire safety towards the beginning of the year.

RYPAC- A Center for Teens

http://redmond.gov/cms/one.aspx?objectId=4187

The Redmond Youth Partnership Advisory Committee (RYPAC) is a program for teens within the Redmond community. This program offers opportunity for youth to develop leadership abilities as well as deliver humanitarian projects within the community.

Boys & Girls club

http://positiveplace.org/Pages/Home.aspx

Redmond is fortunate to have this recognized program in their community. Boys and Girls Club of King County helps students succeed academically, build good character and citizenship in young community members, as well as encourage healthy lifestyle.

YMCA works

https://www.ywcaworks.org/Page.aspx?pid=441

YMCA works, located conveniently in Redmond offers low-income families transitional housing and other services for families in need. Our school supports YMCA works and often times parents of students support by donating goods to help the community. Twice a year, we take a field trip to this site to drop off goods and reconnect with members of the community. This gives us a good opportunity to teach Northern Lights kids the value and purpose of giving back.

Friends of Youth Center

http://www.friendsofyouth.org/

Friends of Youth is also another program that Northern Lights as well as the community support. This program assists youths and teens from homelessness as well as assisting young people the right path to choose once after high school.

Analysis & Reflection

Throughout this course, I’ve learned a tremendous amount on student engagement and assessment tools that measure the engagement of schools and community. Although I currently co-teach at a private Montessori school, having this knowledge is still beneficial and can heighten future learning opportunities that I can take with me. My 1st grade classroom is operated much like a public school classroom which make these new teaching practices applicable and relevant.

Creating my own engagement plan that target a wide population was very interesting and a fun experience. Doing so, I got a taste of what it’s like to be on the other end of the education word and felt the stress level of the administration. It is no simple task to create an engagement survey and the steps that follow the engagement survey are not simple either. This course definitely opened my curiosity about engagement tools and assessments.

The most important teaching practice I took from this course is student engagement and how to best achieve that. Since I currently co-teach in a 1st grade classroom, it’s important for my co-teacher and I to plan and figure out the best way to heighten student engagement. Co-teaching has had many benefits to students’ learning. Students are receiving the same information taught by two teachers simultaneously. I refer to this as “one brain two bodies.” Students will also be divided into two groups and the lesson will be taught simultaneously. This helps with management and the teachers are responsible for a smaller body of students versus the entire class. When I divide the class into two, I find that the students are more engaged as they are less distracted by other students. Since there’s a smaller body of students when I divide, students will zone in on the lesson and become more engaged. Often times, I will pull selected students who require the individualized learning experience and my co-teacher will teach the rest of the class. By planning and structuring the class this way, I can easily keep students who require individualized learning engaged in the learning process and be less distracted by their peers.

Collaborative learning between students has a lasting effect on learning and student engagement. Melinda Dooly, author of Telecollaborative Language Learning, explains that with collaborative learning, “students are actively exchanging, debating and negotiating ideas to increase students’ interest and learning” (Dooly, 2008). I have seen the exchange between my students each time they are put in collaborative groups. My 1st grade students understand the importance of working together towards a common goal and it’s nice to see them respond to this request.

Keeping lessons rigorous and actively promoting student engagement are teaching practices that increase buy-in. When a child is actively engaged in a lesson, he/she will better retain the information and enjoy learning. These teaching practices should be reinforced and the important role they play in students’ education.

A future goal I have for myself is to continually develop and learn from new teaching practices to enhance student engagement. I plan on attending professional development courses on best educational practices.

Another future goal I have for myself is to rigorously use the new teaching practices learned and select the teaching practices I feel are necessary to share among my colleagues and school.

Resource:

Constructing Knowledge Together (21-45). Extract from Telecollaborative Language        Learning. A guidebook to moderating intercultural collaboration online. M. Dooly (ed.). (2008) Bern: Peter Lang.