Sunday, April 5, 2009

Online Assignment #2 - Juli Rangel

Wow! I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of available resources to improve student learning. Completing Step 3 in my Professional Growth Plan no longer feels intimidating. Now, I just need to schedule the time to continue sorting through the many “finds” I have set aside and for all the additional resources you all are contributing. I hope you find the resources below helpful.


A terrific website I found is titled, “TeachersFirst is a rich collection of lessons, units, and web resources designed to save teachers time by delivering just what they need in a practical, user-friendly, and ad-free format.” It is loaded with great technology integration ideas. If you click on “units,” you’ll find some of the site’s most popular lessons and instructional units. The tab, “subjects/grade level,” gives you an A-Z menu for lessons and resources sorted for Elementary, Middle and High School classes. Among the subject areas listed here, there is a “Special Education” tab, which may be of interest to a couple of our cohort members. When I clicked on “Social Studies/Elementary,” I found TimeRime. allows you to view, create, and share interactive timelines. I look forward to exploring this site further!


The “Apple Learning Interchange” is another great resource for technology integration. Once you complete the free membership process, you have can collaborate online with others around the world as well as access tech lessons sorted by topic or specific technology. When browsing through the elementary topics of Language Arts, Math/Science and Social Studies, I was pleased to find several ideas that included lesson plans and student examples.

3) Understanding by Design – Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe

This book was mentioned at our last class meeting when the “Rubric For The Six Facets of Understanding” was referenced. I was pleased to find it on my principal’s bookshelf! The authors state, “This book is intended for educators interested in enhancing student understanding and in designing more effective curriculums and assessments to promote understanding.” Our school is currently involved in the process of using the state standards to create curriculum maps, and we recently attended a professional development day learning about teaching, “enduring understandings,” which involved the practice of “backward design.” As I browsed through Understanding by Design, it is clear that our recent workshop relied on the work of Wiggins and McTighe. Honestly, I think this is a book I will have to read more than once in order to process it deeply. It’s easy to see that the work of Wiggins and McTighe provide amazing guidance to improve student learning and to make that learning powerful and in-depth.

4) Results Now – How We Can Achieve Unprecedented Improvements In Teaching And Learning - By Mike Schmoker

I spent quite a bit of time browsing through this book and found it to be very interesting. I look forward to reading it thoroughly this summer. It clearly argues how instruction itself has the largest influence on achievement, and sadly provides research on how much of instruction, as a whole, across the country is ineffective. His first four chapters focus on WHY our schools are not working to their potential. He’s asking us to take a good, hard look at our current school system. But there’s hope! Schmoker feels that any school can achieve, and it’s obvious that he and Wiggins and McTighe are on the same page by starting with powerful curriculum design. But what stood out as I perused the book was Schmoker’s argument for the need of swift and regular opportunities for teachers to meet, so they can collaborate and create worthwhile lessons. He believes when teachers are brought out of “isolation” and given opportunities to work and plan together, amazing results can happen.


Darren Hunter said...

Hi Juli,
The book you are reading sounds great! I am also reading a book which addresses the continuum of ineffective teaching and lack of potential in our schools. This book argues for school wide changes and pushes for serious reform. The book is called "Creating Highly Motivating Classrooms for all Students: A Schoolwide Approach to Powerful Teaching with Diverse Learners." Our principal gave a copy to every teacher this year. This has been a great resource for me. The book also advocates for more time to collaborate and meet with other teachers. I feel like I go weeks without seeing more than two other teachers in my building, let alone have any time to work with them. Great post!

rebeccabland said...

Hi Juli,

Well done my dear! Thank you for finding such useable resources. I checked out and was throughly impressed by the vast amount of lesson plans offered. One lesson plan they cited was a Speak Out Bullitin Board. Where students have the chance to speak out about current school or cultural topics. They are video taped and then the video and can play for other students to watch and possibly prompt further discussions. I am very excited to use this lesson to teach about technology and public speaking. Students would learn how to use a video camera and how to convertwhat was recorded onto a television. Also, many of my students are ELL and hearing themselves speak will be a great way to increase their fluency.

Thank you for your research!

Megan Ackerman said...


During my teacher certification program, I was required to get the book, Understanding by Design, for a class. I have only read parts of it and after reading your response, I am going to revisit the book to further enhance my assessments in the classroom. My school is also in the process of revamping our curriculum maps. I was invited to go to a curriculum mapping workshop, but it conflicts with classes for my pro-cert. I agree the book is very useful and in-depth about promoting student learning and understanding. Thanks for the recommendation!