English Assessment Reflection #4
Spirals have been a major theme for me this semester. I've always love the spiral symbol, and how it represents my philosophies- I've even based my business logo on the concept. This semester I chose to focus on the Fibonacci sequence both for my Art creations, my math blog and for a teaching unit. In my research, I was also delighted to learn of the spiral teaching model. This philosophy emphasizes the iterative nature of learning, and states that instead of progressing along a subject in a linear fashion (such as with most textbooks) that teachers can revisit topics over and over again, building in complexity each time. Topics are taught over the course of the whole year, not rammed all into one unit.
"With a spiral curriculum, the belief is that not all students will be able to grasp concepts at the same time on the same level. Therefore as a teacher, you teach a topic and assume that some students are ready to learn and will pick it up and that some are not ready. However you move on and eventually that concept will come up again, for that student to learn. So where a traditional curriculum looks at a few topics for an extended period of time, the spiral curriculum gives you many topics over and over and over." (Clark, pbworks.com)
The spiral teaching philosophy is can also be called progressive inquiry, or iterative learning. No matter it's name, the most important feature of this method is that it allows for differentiation for learners- if a child is not yet ready to learn a concept, they may be ready the next time it is introduced. This allows for the individual's unique stages of development to be respected; they are not penalized for not yet being ready to learn a concept.
This teaching method works well for things like Mathematics, allowing for differentiation, review, and current topic focus. But how does this method apply to Language Arts?
Like Mathematics, Language Arts acquisition concepts can be broken down and simplified. Using a teaching model such as reading and writing workshops allows for teachers to provide mini-lessons, and then for children to do independent study focusing on what they feel they are ready to learn. Self assessment is a huge component of effective workshop formats.
"The focus of a reading curriculum [in the primary years] is usually teaching students the skills they need to independently and successfully read a text. After students are taught to read, they are asked to read to learn new things. This is an example of spiral curriculum in reading: learning to read evolving into reading to learn...The reading curriculum spirals out from simple comprehension skills to more complicated independent reading that requires the use of those skills." (Hughes, Study.com)
What strikes me about both the writers/readers workshop methods and the spiral teaching methodology is the importance of having a long term, consistent and organized plan on how and what you are teaching the students. As a circus teacher, I do not have formalized long term lesson plans for my students- I progress with them at their abilities and according to their interests. While this may also describe a differentiated learning plan, there is an important distinction. Circus, at least at the recreational level, does not have 'core standards' and curricula to which my students are measured.
My reflection has inspired me to begin to develop a rubric for our lessons. While still focused on skill progression, it would provide some recognition and reward other than the intrinsic value of learning and refining skills. Our students should receive some recognition that they have progressed in their practice. I look forward to developing a rubric and reward system (ribbons? Titles? Stickers?) once I have explored Assessment in more detail.
It has been interesting to me to start to see the formalized long term planning that comprises a full time teaching career- and I appreciate the responsibility we will have as teachers to get our learners from Point A to Point B. With long term planning, we can take into account that our students' learning capacities may not march in a straight line. Spiral learning methodology will progress more students along a curving line that will result in more of our students achieving success.
I've had an incredible experience this semester with my Science class. I've developed a full physics unit on Newton's Laws of Motion, using Circus activities to hook, demonstrate and integrate the concepts. I can't wait to teach them!! I now have an integrated 10 lesson unit plan that is fun, engaging, active, and adaptable to younger or older grades. Most importantly, I LOVE what I'm learning!!
The Science of Circus
I now have the following Physics lesson plans in my teaching arsenal:
Lesson Plan (adaptable)
Overview & Purpose
Juggling has always fascinated me.
After the challenge of learning to keep three balls in the air I wanted to do whatever I could to be a better juggler. In doing so I discovered how mathematics and physics applied to the juggling techniques I was learning. The goal of this lesson is to use juggling to illustrate some basic principles of Gravity to students, then provide a context for discussion afterwards.
BC Education Standards (Grade 6)
“What goes up must come down…”
Gravity is the force that pulls everything back down to earth. Gravity also keeps the moon going around the earth and the earth going around the sun. Luckily for jugglers (and rocket scientists), the force is always the same and predictable.
In simple terms, this means that if you drop an object, it will continue to speed up as it falls. Not only that, it will speed up at the same rate, no matter how big or heavy the object is.
Also, if you throw an object up, it will slow down at the same rate. That means it takes just as much time going up, as does to come back down to where it started.
Of course you hardly ever throw something exactly straight up. Most objects travel through the air going across as well as up and down. The curved path is a shape called a parabola. A common place to see a parabola is the path water takes flowing from a water fountain. The shape of a juggling throw is a parabola.
Draw parabola on the board.
Activity (15 mins)Break out the juggling balls or scarves. Progress and scaffold with the children at their level towards a 3 ball cascade. Remind them to think about the Gravity and other forces that are being exerted on the balls.
Questions to be answered:
What is the difference between a heavier ball and a lighter ball? Do you think they fall at the same or a different rate?
With your partner, define Gravity, and draw a parabola. Design an experiment to test your hypothesis to the above questions. Record your results and share your finding with the class.
Summation (5 mins): Review concepts presented. Facilitate a discussion about their findings.
Steps to check for student understanding
Chronicles of an Educational Adventure