Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Online Assignment # 3 - Megan Ackerman

A student-focused learning environment should place the focus on the individual student. Throughout the school year, I constantly tweak lesson plans and the school-wide curriculum to help my students be successful in their learning. For those who need extra help, I set aside time to do one-on-one instruction or make other necessary accommodations. I feel it is important to have a solid and consistent management plan, so all students know classroom expectations. A student-focused learning environment is about using time wisely, so students can get the most out of their learning. It’s about getting to know all my students and creating fun and innovative lessons to pique their interests. It’s also about letting them have a voice in the classroom and being a part of making decisions or solving problems. Lastly, I feel the most important aspect of a student-focused learning environment is encouraging my students to use their imagination in everything they do, because “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” (Quote by Carl Sagan)

How I create a student-focused learning environment is by getting to know my students. At the beginning of every school year, I have their families fill out a survey about their child. In the classroom, the first week of school is dedicated to getting to know my students. They do a variety of art projects and writing prompts that help me get to know what their interests are. My students also fill out an evaluation form telling me what their learning goals are for the trimester and how they will achieve them. I set aside time and have a conference with them on their learning goals. It would be a challenge to create a student-focused learning environment without a consistent management plan. A teacher needs to have strong discipline skills, so her students may learn in a calm and respectful manner. I create this by having a color-coded chart. A green card means good behavior, yellow is a warning, orange is a consequence, and lastly, red is when a student fills out a red card explaining how she/he could have made better choices. The card goes home for a family member to sign and is returned to me the next day. My students also create a classroom mission statement in which they come up with the classroom rules to follow. Next year, my students will be signing a contract stating they will be responsible for their behavior. From time to time, we have classroom meetings to allow students to express their concerns or come up with ways to solve problems. Over the summer, I will be working hard implementing new ideas into my curriculum and classroom. One idea I am planning to invoke in my classroom is having my students write monthly letters to other students out of state. As for creating imagination, I enjoy putting on a play/skit for my school. At my school, each grade is responsible for hosting mass that takes place every Friday. My students will doing mass on Ascension Thursday in a couple of weeks. The gospel focuses on Jesus going back into Heaven. I have created a skit based on the gospel for all my students to act out. “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” (Albert Einstein) I feel mass should not have to be boring, it should be creative. When appropriate, I sometimes let my students come up with their own lines. They really enjoy being a part of creating a play. They will get to dress up and imagine themselves as Jesus’ apostles. We will also decorate a big bulletin board and use it as a background for our skit. After Holy Communion, my students will also put on a meditation song and present it in sign language. I feel that acting out the gospel is a great way for my students to truly understand the message of Jesus’ love for them and to love one another as Jesus loves them. It is a lot of work, however it is also very fun. The reward comes when I see my students come together as a classroom community and amaze the school with their talents and imagination.

I sustain a student-focused learning environment by constantly seeking ways to improve my teaching methods and curriculum in order to meet the needs of all my students. I take the time to get to know my students on a regular basis, such as having a conference or having lunch with a student and learning about her/his interests. Most importantly, I sustain a student-focused learning environment by putting them in the spotlight showing off all that they have accomplished.

1 comment:

Rachel Bergere said...


You are absolutely right about giving students the opportunities for creativity and imagination. This does so much to help in enhancing their higher-order thinking skills. It also provides an environment where students can explore and develop a true love of learning. That is terrific that you are incorporating some creativity and acting into mass. (I teach at a Catholic school also!) It makes the daily readings and gospel have more meaning for the students, and it gives them a greater understanding of the scriptures. You are doing what an effective educator does to create a variety of instructional strategies that benefit all types of learners. Your kinesthetic learners will probably never forget the experience and what they learned for that mass. It also teaches the students in the other grades, especially the young ones, the meaning behind the readings. (I’m sure you have also experienced your students “zoning out” during mass!)

Good luck as you wrap up this school year.

Rachel Bergere