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CTM 2-2

Page history last edited by Konrad Glogowski 11 years, 3 months ago

Innovative Approaches = Effective Management

 

Thematic Learning

 

Definition

Thematic instruction is the organization of a curriculum around "themes." Thematic instruction integrates basic disciplines like reading, writing, math, and science with the exploration of a broad subject such as communities, rain forests, river basins, the use of energy, etc.

 

Basic Elements

Thematic instruction is based on the idea that people acquire knowledge best when learning in the context of a coherent "whole," and when they can connect what they're learning to the real world. Thematic instruction seeks to put the teaching of cognitive skills such as reading, mathematics, science, and writing, in the context of a real-world subject that is both specific enough to be practical and broad enough to allow creative exploration.

 

Thematic instruction usually occurs within an entire grade level of students. Teachers in the various disciplines in that particular grade work together as a team to design curriculum, instruction methods, and assessment around a pre-selected theme.

 

Typical steps include:

Choosing a theme - Themes often involve a large, integrated system (such as a city or an ecosystem) or a broad concept (such as democracy or weather). Instructors often strive to connect the theme to the students' everyday lives. In some cases, students participate in choosing the theme or themes.

 

Designing the integrated curriculum - The teachers involved must organize the learning objectives of their core curriculum (both process skills and content knowledge) around the theme. In the study of a river basin, for instance, math might involve calculating water flow and volume; social studies could look at the nature of river communities; science might study phenomena like weather and floods; and literature could study books and novels that focus on rivers, such as the works of Mark Twain. The initial design requires considerable work on the part of teachers. Again, sometimes students help design the curriculum.

 

Designing the instruction - This usually involves making changes to the class schedule, combining hours normally devoted to specific topics, organizing field trips, teaching in teams, bringing in outside experts, and so on.

 

Encouraging presentation and celebration - Since thematic instruction is often project-oriented, it frequently involves students giving collective presentations to the rest of the school or the community. Plus, students commonly create extensive visual displays.

Thematic instruction can be a powerful tool for reintegrating the curriculum and eliminating the isolated, reductionist nature of teaching that is centered around disciplines rather than experience. It requires a lot of hard, initial design

work plus a substantial restructuring of teacher relationships and class schedules.

 

Assignment 1: Generating Themes

Recommended Reading: (Online only)

Theme Pages: thematic units and lesson plans, resource pages, book activities, books, and professional resources organized by theme.

The Teachers' Corner: additional thematic units and lesson plans.

BBC Online: excellent thematic units and connections to other online resources.

Can Teach: an excellent guide not just to thematic units but also to skill-building for students.

 

Components of Cooperative Learning

 

Cooperative learning is most successful when the following elements are in place:

 

  1. Distribution of leadership
  2. Creation of heterogeneous groups
  3. Promotion of positive interdependence and individual accountability
  4. Development of positive social skills
  5. Empowerment of the group to work together

     

Distribution of Leadership:

All students can be leaders. They can also surprise you with their ability to rise to the occasion.

 

Creation of Heterogeneous Groups:

You can either randomly place students in groups counting off by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s and putting all of the "1s" together, the "2s" in another group, and so on. Another way to do it is to review the learning styles and create groups that reflect different kinds of learning.

 

Positive Interdependence and Individual Accountability:

Students need to depend upon each other and work cooperatively. They need to know their roles, what they are expected to achieve, how to value their piece of the puzzle, and how to demonstrate that it benefits the group. In this way, materials are shared, group members create one group product, group members are given common tasks, and roles are rotated amongst the members.

 

Social Skills:

Discussion, observation, and understanding is key. From time to time, the atmosphere in the class must be such that time is set aside to examine what is going on, how people feel, what could be the best way of going about conducting the business of learning.

Empowering The Group:

The teacher is not there to "rescue" students from problems or settle arguments. The teacher suggests solutions and promotes social skills by having the group itself come to a fair conclusion.

  

Cooperative learning depends upon several variables:

 

  1.  The teacher's sense that the class can take this on.

  2. Just enough structure and just enough freedom. Keep it simple in the beginning.

  3. Make certain that everyone knows what is going on.

  4. Make certain that methods are clear - how the group will work.

  5. Make certain that each individual is engaged.

  6. Make certain that groups do not exceed 5 people.

  7. Arrange the room so that the environment works well with a group.

  8. Students need to know there is a reward and celebration for working together, rather than sorting themselves as winners and losers.

     

How Cooperative Learning Works

 

  1. Groups of 4-5 students are created.
  2. The teacher describes each role (below), and either the teacher or the group assigns a responsibility/role to each member of the group:
    1. Instruction Reader - Reads the written instructions out loud to his/her group.
    2. Time-Keeper - Periodically, tells the group how much time is left for the activity.
    3. Scribe - Takes notes and writes down each person's response.
    4. Includer - Actively encourages each person to share his/her ideas in the discussion.
    5. Reporter - Organizes the presentation and in many cases shares the group consensus.
  3. Each group is given a current event, for example.
  4. The group decides how it will provide a response to the current event by demonstrating: a) what the event is (crime in the neighborhood, new school being built, etc.); b) why they think it may be occurring; c) what the current plan is for dealing with the problem; d) advantages and disadvantages of that plan and why; and e) what they would do, and why it is better than another plan.
  5. Each student in the group is given the task of exploring all of the issues above (a-e). Those responses are shared within their group. The Includer makes sure each person's voice is heard and encourages every member of the group to participate. The Recorder writes down all of their responses.
  6. Each group reaches a consensus on the response to present to the other groups.
  7. The group decides how the information will be presented.
  8. The group makes a presentation. The Reporter might present the consensus, or set it up so that several people in the group present.
  9. The group conducts an evaluation of performance.

 

Rules of Conduct

  1. Teacher must not "judge" the group or berate individual members.
  2. All positions are respected, whether or not the rest of the class agrees.
  3. No one may force anyone else to agree with their answer.
  4. No negative comments about oneself or others are allowed.
  5. Teacher praises with description, rather than evaluation. In other words, spend your time focusing on what good things students did, such as giving specific examples of their courtesy and support. Avoid statements such as "You did a good job" or "Your group was better than the first group."

     

Assignment 2: Cooperative Learning Groups

Assignment 3: Your Classroom Management Plan

 

Outcome Based Learning

Definition

In Outcome-Based Learning, all school programs and instructional efforts are designed to have produced specific, lasting results in students by the time they leave school.

 

Basic Elements

The principles followed by Outcome-Based Learning practitioners include:

 

  1. Clarity of focus around significant outcomes, which are defined by each school.
  2. Expansion of available time and resources so that all students can succeed.
  3. Consistent, high expectations of 100% success.
  4. Explicit relationships between the learning experience and the outcomes.

 

Under Outcome-Based Learning, curriculum design includes these steps:


  • Discern future conditions
  • Derive exit outcomes
  • Develop performance indicators
  • Design learning experiences
  • Determine instructional strategies
  • Deliver instruction
  • Document results
  • Determine advancement

     

Character-based Education

This curriculum method revolves around developing "good character" in students by practicing and teaching moral values and decision making.

 

Basic Elements

Character-based Education assumes that schools don't just have the responsibility to help students get "smart;" they also have the responsibility to help them cultivate basic moral values to guide their behavior throughout life.

Character-based Education teaches students to understand, commit to, and act on shared ethical values. In other words, "know the good, desire the good, and do the good." Typical core values include: respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, caring, and community participation.

 

Schools committed to Character-based Education tend to:


  • Emphasize how adults model values in the classroom as well as in their everyday interactions.
  • Help students clarify their values and build personal bonds and responsibilities to one another.
  • Use the traditional curriculum as a vehicle for teaching values and examining moral questions.
  • Encourage moral reflection through debate, journals, and discussion.
  • Encourage values in action through service and other community involvement strategies.
  • Support teacher development and dialogue among educators on moral dimensions of their job.

 

The influence of Character Education is evident in the outcomes of many school districts emphasizing qualities such as "contributor to the community," and "ethical global citizen."

 

Assignment 4: Reflecting Upon Instructional Theories

 

With Innovative Teaching: Go Slowly

The best teaching involves attitude:  clarity, kindness, high expectations.  Attitude is far more important than any new technique or innovative teaching method.  You must care about your subject and have compassion for your students.   Although we have seen results from innovation, please go slowly, otherwise you will be confused and confusing. 

 

Be Aware of Pitfalls

There is no "magic" approach to curriculum, pedagogy, and management.  When we come to think about this way of approaching curriculum in practice, a number of possible problems do arise. The first is a problem for those who want some greater degree of uniformity in what is taught. This approach to the theory of curriculum - because it places meaning-making and thinking at its core and treats learners as subjects rather than objects - can lead to very different means being employed in classrooms and a high degree of variety in content. As Stenhouse comments, the process model is essentially a critical model, not a marking model.

 

The major weakness and, indeed, strength of the process model is that it rests upon the quality of teachers. If they are not up to much, then there is no safety net in the form of prescribed curriculum materials. The approach is dependent upon the cultivation of wisdom and meaning-making in the classroom. If the teacher is not up to this, then there will be severe limitations on what can happen educationally.

 

There have been some attempts to overcome this problem by developing materials and curriculum packages that focus more closely on the "process of discovery" or "problem-solving", for example in science. But there is a danger in this approach. Processes become reduced to sets of skills (for example, how to light a bunsen burner). When students are able to demonstrate certain skills, they are deemed to have completed the process. The actions have become the ends; the processes have become the product. Whether or not students are able to apply the skills to make sense of the world around them is somehow overlooked.

 

 

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