Friday, May 1, 2009

Online Assignment #3 - Rachel Bland

When I think of a student-focused learning environment I directly think about the individual students' themselves. I think about who they are, what their academic levels are, what academic goals they have, where they live, what languages they speak at school and or home, their gender and their personalities. A student-focused learning environment means differentiating the district's adopted curriculum and using a variety of teaching strategies to meet the students where they are. This could entail changing the numbers in a math problem for a student or sub-group of students to make it either more or less challenging. It could also mean preparing for a homework assignment during school, such as providing example of different scales (when learning about measurement) if students do not have access to them outside of school.

I create a student-focused classroom by knowing my students and about their lives. I get to know my students by doing three important things: first I send out a survey to families. The survey asks families for information about their child. It asks about any allegeris, medications, diet restrictions, siblings, bed time, favorite subject, sports played, favorite activity etc. Secondly, I give students a simple survey. It asks them about their favorite food, favorite book, what they want to learn about, what they want to be when they grow up, how they like to help others etc. I carefully read both survey's and make notes about important information. All of these documents are stored in the classroom student files. Thirdly, I constantly talk with studnets both individually and within daily classroom meetings. We discuss learning strategies, problem solving skills and what they enjoy learning about. All of this information helps me to lesson plan and then modify the lessons to meet students where they are academically. I am also able to set the classroom up for students to use to their advantage. That is, if students problem solve by using math manipulatives I make sure they are out in an area where student's can easily access them.

I sustain a student-focused learning environment by continually learning about the studnet's I teach. I talk with students about their learning experiences, ask questions about problem solving techniques and evaluate daily data about whether objectives were met. All of this information helps me to tailor the district adopted curriculum and my teaching strategies to fit the needs of the students. As students' learning abilities grow and change throughout the school year, I make the choice to learn from them in order to teach to the students and not teach to the curriculum.


Juli Rangel said...

Hi Rebecca!

First to post! Impressive! I enjoyed reading your post tonight. It is clear that you know your students very well and use a variety of strategies to learn about each child so you can address their individual learning needs. You sound like an excellent teacher and one who truly cares about your students. I would enjoy observing your student-focused learning environment in person. Thanks so much for sharing! Juli

Natalie Bowers said...

Hi Rebecca,
I really enjoyed your post; it is obvious that you strive to create a student focused classroom. As I think about this topic, and as I read the posts of our classmates, I'm struck at the impact room environment has on student learning. It seems to me, at least in my school, we're always talking about environment and culture, but too often classrooms still don't feel "student friendly"- and I think this is significant when it comes to student learning. Your students are lucky to have a teacher who understands this!

Kate said...

Hi Rebecca!
Thanks for your post. I enjoyed reading it and definitely feel connected to your ideas of a student-focused learning environment. I use student and parent surveys at the beginning of the year and also find them very helpful in getting to know students as individuals and gaining insights into their learning styles. I'd like to make more of a conscious effort to revisit those surveys throughout the year, possibly with parents and students to reflect back on the beginning of the year. It might be a great way for students to track their progress.
How wonderful that you have daily classroom meetings! I'm interested the format that you use...formal or informal?
It is so important to gather feedback from students and use it to inform your future teaching.

I think you are doing a great job!