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School Experience Reflection Journal I

Kayla Stone
Dr. Karla Henderson
EDUC 250 Educational Psychology

Chapter 2- Learning, Cognition, and Memory

Response: During my second day at East Central High School I worked with Mrs.
Berrys English Composition class. Mrs. Berry explained to me ahead of time that the English
Composition was open to all grades of students, so within the class there existed varying degrees
of skill in the areas of writing ability and grammar competency. One student in particular, a
junior named Jessica was assigned to work with me during in-class study time. Jessica was
having extreme difficulty in the area of remembering the rules of proper comma placement. In
order to help Jessica assimilate comma rules into her long-term memory I printed her off some
comma-rule worksheets to help her get accustomed to what correct comma placement looks like.
Mrs. Berry informed me that Jessica is a visual learner, so I felt that it would be in her best
interest to let her first complete these work sheets to the best of her ability, and then go through
each sentence with her one at a time so that she could visualize and process the corrections being
made, thereby incorporating the corrections into her long-term memory. Upon reviewing the
work of a few other juniors, I began to realize that they too were experiencing similar difficulties
in identifying proper comma placement in sentences. I proposed that each of the students work
on similar worksheets to what I had found for Jessica, and perhaps the next day instead of simply
reading the comma rules aloud before the students begin working, I could compose a powerpoint presentation for in-class review. I theorized that if all of the students could have the

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opportunity to learn the information in two new platforms from what they were accustomed to, it
would better increase the chance that proper comma placement could be incorporated into their
long term memory.
Reflection: By the end of the week the students essays had greatly improved in grammar
and sentence structure. Mrs. Berry and I created a short quiz to assess the students individual
progress in determining proper comma placement before they handed in the final copies of their
essays. Every student in the class scored a nearly perfect score on the quiz, and this past week
Mrs. Berry e-mailed me some of her students papers to review. Jessicas in particular, was
completely free of grammatical error. I was extremely impressed with Mrs. Berrys willingness
to incorporate separate learning strategies in her classroom when she realized that her strategy of
oral instruction was not proving to be effective for several of her students. It was great to be able
to collaborate with an experienced teacher to devise a teaching strategy that would more
effectively reach out to struggling students. Overall, I am thankful that I had this experience
because the majority of the students that I helped better implement comma placement were
juniors and college-bound seniors who previously all throughout high school did not receive the
grammatical help that they needed. It was a great feeling knowing that my simple
implementations of memory strategy and review could help a group of students become more
college-proficient in their writing.
Chapter 3 Learning in Context
Response: On my third day at East Central High School I spent time in Mrs. Berrys
Creative Writing class. The assignment prompt for the week focused upon practicing writing
dialogue, which naturally comes easier to some more so than others. Some students experienced

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excessive difficulty with the format of dialoguing, and the greater majority of the class was
disinterested in writing dialogue to begin with because the East Central FFA was hosting a
petting zoo featuring only two hallways away. The students were very disgruntled because it was
nearing the last period of the day, and they had not yet had an opportunity to go see the animals
for a few minutes towards the end of their classes. Mrs. Berry and I felt that in order to reinforce
the students to complete their dialoguing assignment we could make a sort of deal with the
students where if each of them completed half of their dialogue assignment, and had it reviewed
by either Mrs. Berry or myself before the last fifteen minutes of class, the entire class would be
allowed to spend that extra time in the petting zoo. Sure enough, by the end of the class each
student had completed at least half of the dialoguing assignment at above-average quality, and
we were able to take them to the petting zoo as promised. The type of reinforcement that Mrs.
Berry and I decided to use can be classified as positive reinforcement, because we offered a
positive reward in exchange for a desirable behavior. In our case, we offered the reward of
attending the petting zoo to the students who could complete their work properly within the
designated time frame.
Later the same day, I spent time with Mrs. Andersons sophomore English class.
Recently, Mrs. Anderson explained to me that she had been having a severe problem with
behavior and work completion in this particular class, and the day that I was with her it was no
different. Most recently, she had been having an extremely hard time with having her students
finalize their group projects focused upon the Canterbury Tales. Each student group was in
charge of incorporating one tale into a PowerPoint presentation to be shared with the rest of the
class, but some students were instead using their computer lab time to talk or find ways to play
games. Mrs. Anderson confided in me that she had tried everything from sending students to the

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office for punishment, to assignment them detention sentences for being so rowdy and
disrespectful, but nothing was working. I suggested that perhaps should could try implementing a
negative reinforcement as opposed to a punishment just this once, so that the students would
work on this particular point-heavy assignment. We decided that we would propose an offer to
the students, that if they were to use their computer time wisely for the next two days and show
adequate progress in their presentations by the end of class both that day and the next day, that
the weekly dreaded timed writing assignment would be eliminated from the weekly calendar.
This particular example of reinforcement was negative, because it involved removing an
undesirable stimulus from the learners environment in order to produce the desired results.
Reflection: As a whole the two implementations of reinforcement appeared to work well
when applied within the realms of both situations. I however, in the future do not want to be the
type of teacher who frequently condones positive reinforcement as a solution or motivator for
student behavior. I feel that by rewarding students with something physical every time they elicit
a positive response could make the reinforcement strategy lose a majority of its power. I do feel
that on this particular occasion that the positive reinforcement of offering the students an
opportunity to attend the petting zoo in exchange for on-task assignment completion was
appropriate as it was a special occasion, and it did appear to produce positive results. In reference
to Mrs. Andersons students, I feel that negative reinforcement can prove to be just as difficult to
implement, especially with repeatedly problematic students as there is usually no clear-cut way
to persuade rowdier students to behave at a designated class period even if you offer them
something of future benefit. The implementation of negative reinforcement in this instance did
satisfy the students from what I could tell for the time being, but it is unpredictable whether or
not they were actually able to maintain the freedom of talking in the computer lab for very long

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without abusing it. All in all, in both situations I was impressed with the teacher willingness to
allow students to experiment with new freedoms in exchange for desirable outcomes. I believe
that students are able to directly benefit from being given classroom autonomy and entrusted
with weighted outcomes based upon their personal use of classroom time.
Chapter 8 - Instructional Strategies
Response: While working with Mrs. Andersons sophomore English class, her students
were instructed to complete a worksheet based upon identifying the basic elements of plot
structure within the Shakespearean play, Hamlet. I had the opportunity to work one on one with a
few students who were struggling to identify and understand where exactly the rising/falling
action, exposition, and denouement were occurring within the story, because they did not fully
understand the nature of what was happening in the play due to the Elizabethan-English format
the play was written in. I decided to approach the students questions with a method of direct
instruction on how to read and understand a play. I took the students to a nearby computer station
to look up on online dictionary service to accompany our reading time. I broke the major act that
they were reviewing up into smaller sections, and directed the students to try to look at the piece
line by line as opposed to stanza by stanza, and if they came across a word they did not
understand they were free to use the computer to find the words definition. In order to become
more comfortable with reading Hamlet, I encouraged a student from a more advanced study
group to come over to offer peer assisted learning to my group. Because the student was within
the learners same peer group, she was able to help translate the Elizabethan vernacular of
Hamlet into a more modern way of speaking. While the students were working together, Mrs.
Anderson showed me a computer print-off sheet detailing a simple model explaining the basic
plot elements of a play. I went to the library to print off a few of these guiding sheets to hand out

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to the struggling students for homework review, so that they could use them as aides to better
scaffold their understanding of the format structure of most plays.
Reflection: I feel that the students I worked with best benefitted from the peer group time
that was allotted to them, because I feel that students in the midst of difficulty usually feel more
comfortable sharing their insecurities with their peers than what they do with their teachers.
Naturally, the students did not have a perfect understanding of all that was being said in every
line of Hamlet, but by the end of class between working with each other and allowing me to use
the text alongside their worksheet to scaffold their understandings, they were able to sift through
the first act of the play with ease. Furthermore, I was impressed with Mrs. Anderson easy to
follow play formatting chart that helped the struggling students visually understand the concepts
associated with the narrative structures in a play.
Chapter 4 - Complex Cognitive Processes
Response: While working with Mrs. Andersons sophomore English class, I helped two
students develop independent study strategies for remembering and mastering their weekly
vocabulary words for an upcoming test. In order to help the learners become more self-guided I
encouraged them to make flash cards with the definitions or proper spellings of each word
printed on either side of the card. While the students were working on their flash cards, I drew up
mini practice tests for the students to take with the words they had already practiced. I
encouraged the students to take the practice tests before reviewing their cards to determine their
level of proficiency with the words before using the cards. I then instructed the students to check
their answers with the answers on their flashcards, to see what they had missed and better
understand what they needed to review the most before the actual test. Both of the students liked

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the idea of creating practice questions for themselves so that they could gauge their own progress
before taking actual tests. I then referred the students to their vocabulary book publishers
website, where there were lots of practice tests and activities similar to the ones that I had
modeled to them to help independently prepare them for their tests. These strategies of accessing
online study sheets, creating note cards, and taking practice tests to gauge personal achievement
will help the students become more self-regulated learners by modeling to them simple actions
they can take to utilize simple resources at maximum efficiency. The students can competently
engage in self-regulation by learning to check their own work, as well as test-out various review
methods to find out which strategies work the best to meet their academic needs.
Reflection: When I had returned to class the following week, the students that I had
worked with informed me that they both noticed significant improvement in their vocabulary
memory skills since they began using some of the learning strategies I had reviewed with them.
One student remarked to me that he had even went online to check out some of the other free
educational software services that the textbook publishers for his books from other classes had
available to students for online review. I felt glad that this student in particular was able to draw
connections between what skills he had learned in English class and used those skills to become
more self-regulated in other classes as well.