Rational Artifact- Guide to a Safe School The proposition that states An education leader promotes the success of every

student by ensuring management of the organization, operation, and resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment discusses the importance of a school community. Proposition one was chosen in fostering school safety as the number one factor in a school environment. In order for a student to learn, they must first feel safe. This artifact describes how taking even the smallest steps can lead to success in the classroom. Here is a direct quote from this artifact that summarizes the importance of school safety and how it pertains to proposition one. While you’re taught to educate the “whole child” you must also be aware of the social and emotional aspects of your students. Getting to know their home life situations and how they interact with other students is just as important as their academics. Setting a safe environment in the classroom where every child feels secure and safe is the first step. During my class instruction, from day one my students understand the importance of a safe and caring environment. I do this by letting my students take part in the classroom rules and consequences. I think when the children are involved in this process it promotes a safe environment. Positive reinforcement and hand signals are used rather than yelling and negativity. Children can relate to each hand signal and reflect and respect positive praise rather than negative. This type of best practice impacts my class in many ways. First, my students understand the expectations of the classroom from the beginning and take part in creating them. Because of this process, students treat themselves and others with respect and understand the importance of being apart of the classroom community. Reflection School and classroom safety is the first aspect that I approach at the beginning of the year. School safety is also the well being of one-self and others. Students are made aware that language can also make someone feel unsafe and they must learn how to phrase their words appropriately. The district that I work for practices Responsive Classroom. What this program does is allows children the first three weeks of school to develop and build classroom and school community. I start off everyday with morning meeting. Morning Meeting consists of a message, greeting, sharing, and a game. Coming together as a class every morning brings a sense of community to the classroom and fosters teamwork. At the beginning of the year my students develop their own rules. We talk about rules such as “No Running”, “No Chewing Gum”, “No Bullying”, and the list goes on for a while. Then I describe to the kids how it feels to hear the word “no” often. After our discussion about the word “no”, we change all of our “negative rules” into positive ones. For

example: In this school we walk, in this school gum belongs at home, in this school we use our self-control, etc. When they’re finished, all of the students categorize the new positive rules. After I lead them, the students figure out that our classroom rules fits under Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control. The first letters in these five rules spell out CARES. We go by cares throughout the whole year and are reminded of it everyday. I’ve noticed my students taking on different roles in the classroom after we establish these rules. When they know that they’ve controlled the creation of the rules they really own them. This also stops behaviors turning into larger situations. Along with the classroom rules, we talk about what happens if someone breaks a rule. We decide as a class, two consequences: You break it you fix it and Take a Break. The take a break chair is placed in a spot in the classroom that all children are aware of and have practiced often at the beginning of the year. Instead of the teacher yelling at students when they don’t raise their hands or break one of the rules they simply say, “please take a break.” The proper take a break is modeled at the beginning of the year to ensure proper usage. I believe if these simple steps start in the classroom and common language is used throughout the school, unwanted behaviors will stop. A Guide To a Safe School.ppt

Rational Proposition 2: Teachers Know the Subjects They Teach and How to Teach Those Subjects to Students. Differentiation is when a teacher concentrates on multiple intelligences, learning styles, the process in which students learn, and readiness levels. Being able to use diverse instructional strategies to teach for understanding, correlates to proposition two. This artifact represents best practices in the classroom and describes what differentiation should look like in a classroom setting. Here is a direct quote from Tomlinson’s book How To Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms. “In a differentiated classroom, commonalities are acknowledged and built upon, and student differences become important elements in teaching and learning as well.” (Tomlinson, pg. 1) This artifact connects with Proposition one because in addition to making a classroom safe, minds must also be taught in a “safe” way. I differentiate in many different ways in my classroom and address my student’s needs through instructional strategies. Choice boards, agenda’s, frequent conferencing, and literacy menus are a few examples of how differentiation has impacted my classroom and teaching style.

Reflection

Differentiation has impacted my teaching in many different ways. As apposed to a traditional setting, my students are constantly learning from one another, and learning to think about their own thinking. One way that I differentiate is through the use of choice boards.

Choice boards are a way for my students to work at their readiness level and by learning style. My students learn about their multiple intelligences and learning styles at the beginning of the year. This language is used as apart of my instructional teaching. Everyone in my classroom is well aware of their strengths and how to work on their weaknesses. A comfort level is established in the beginning to ensure safety in the classroom. My choice boards are used in two different ways. One way is as an extension to what we’re learning in reading. Students can pick a block to explore based on multiple intelligences. Another way I use choice boards is based on readiness level. Not every student gets the same “board”. Fair is not the same in my classroom. I believe choice is important when fostering learning in the classroom. Motivation is the key to understanding and students take ownership of items they chose.

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Proposition 3: Teachers are Responsible for Managing and Monitoring Student Learning. Rational This artifact was chosen because it aligns nicely with proposition three. To manage and monitor students’ learning there needs to be many variables in place. Differentiation is key to monitoring a students’ readiness level. In this particular artifact children are given a choice board, here the children choose based on interest and I can accurately manage a students’ learning when they are able to choose how they want to present their knowledge. Frequent check ins and small group instruction is also used to monitor student growth over time. I will often use small groups to teach a lesson instead of whole class. I find I’m able to reach more of my students this way. This artifact explains how important self-reflection is. When students are able to think about their thinking and are brought to that cognitive level students can self correct mistakes and teach others in the class as well. Reflection During the unit my students were very engaged and I was impressed on the background they already had on Rosa Parks. However, they were very interested on what caused the Civil Rights Movement. We started here and built our knowledge as we went. In my unit one of the skills the children had to work on was character traits. This is normally a very difficult skill to teach. As I looked at the unit plans I noticed that in order for my students to understand what a character trait is I would have to use some other technique to pre-teach this skill. I decided to use our read-aloud Frindle. The

students really love this story and they connect with the main characters. We started with two columns. One column for Mrs. Granger, the grumpy teacher, and another for Nick the fifth-grade sneaky student. I was impressed with the words my students came up with to describe these two characters. I copied the list to make sure everyone had a copy in hand. They used this list to fill in a venn diagram. I wanted them to see how alike the two characters really were even though in the book they’re so against each other. I was very impressed at how well this lesson went. In my unit the students had to research someone from the Civil Rights Movement. They had to list character traits for their chosen hero and for themselves. Just like what we did in Frindle, they did the same activity using a real person. If I didn’t allow them to practice with our read aloud I wouldn’t have had the same experience. I was pleased with the language my students were using. Some of the set backs I noticed was the lack of technology support I have in my district. When I would take my students to the computer lab there was always a glitch in our computer system. Some of my students could not use a computer so they had to double up. It was frustrating for the students and me. This is something my district is working to improve. Overall my students did a nice job on the outcome of their projects. This will be a unit I will implement year after year. The connection between reading, writing, and technology were evident in this project. My students were making many connections, which in turn nurtured the knowledge they already had on the subject.

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Proposition 4: Teachers Think Systematically about Their Practice and Learn from Experience. Rational The reason I chose to include my action research report under proposition four is because it states the importance of reflection and bettering one’s teaching practice. They critically examine their practice on a regular basis to deepen knowledge, expand their repertoire of skills, and incorporate new findings into their practice. With the final results of this study I was able to improve the instructional practice of writers workshop in my classroom. Through this study, I learned about my students motivation towards writing. This was important because I noticed a lack of motivation in my room towards writing and I wanted to change this. Being able to reflect upon and concentrate on this one area in my classroom has given me new insight on how to use different strategies to help foster learning.

Reflection Based on the research of this study, I intend to take further action in the future to foster learning in my classroom. The following changes will have to be made in order for strategic teaching and learning to take place. • • • Begin modeling at the beginning of the year. Incorporate strategies for best practice throughout the year. Conference with each student.

• •

Give choice when necessary with writing. Let students share with others their ideas and thoughts

According to the research, 60% of my students scored below proficient with distinction on the NECAP tests. This information indicated that modeling needed to take place in order for my students to understand formats of writing. I was able to start my action research with modeling the different components of the persuasive writing piece and align it with the Holistic tests. As a result, 58% of my students scored proficient with distinction. Next year I intend to start off with modeling each lesson first and then my students will have an opportunity during writer’s workshop to write independently. The five main strategies that I used during my action research were: 1. Listing ideas to prompt writing focus. 2. Using graphic organizers to foster organizing ideas. 3. Giving the student’s choice with their writing. 4. Listening to background music 5. Pair-share Although I have implemented many of these strategies in the past, they were taught sporadically throughout the year, without consistency. My plan for next year will be to integrate these five strategies into each lesson every week. I do believe part of the reason why 19% of my students improved their writing scores is because of the consistency this action research has lent. Choice is another important factor that this action research has shown. When my students were asked in the survey what they liked best choosing their own topics versus me choosing for them 80% either loved or liked the fact that they get to choose

their own. Through this process I noticed most of my students becoming motivated to write about a topic they preferred. With this in mind, I intend to allow more choice options in the classroom. My plan of action for next year will be a beginning of the year brainstorm about topics they would like to write about each year. This list can be referred to throughout the year to help students come up with topics. Even though many of my students indicated that using graphic organizers was not something they liked to do while writing, I still went ahead and added this to my list of strategies. It turned out that once my students were able to organize their thoughts in this manner they realized the importance of making a list or using a graphic organizer. When I observed my students taking the Holistic test I noticed many of my students using scrap paper to organize their thoughts first before beginning to write. Another important strategy that I will consistently use next year is letting the children share their pieces with the class. Doing this will motivate students to try harder knowing their peers will be revising their papers. I will start doing this next year as apart of my writer’s workshop. After modeling, practicing, and conferencing with me students will have the opportunity to revise with a neighbor and get feedback from their peers. This will be on going throughout the year. In order for students to benefit from these strategies and to see continued progress throughout the year, I will need to periodically check in with each student. I will monitor these strategies by conferencing with each individual student. During this conference I will give each student one area that needs improving and one area that they did really well. During this time I will take notes about what each student is struggling with and will be able to adapt my whole class modeling lessons as such.

This information will be used in my grade level meetings. I will share this information with my colleagues to see if they can use the results in their classrooms as well and get additional feedback from them. The school curriculum coordinator will be aware of this action research and can take this information to another level if she feels it warrants any importance in our school district.

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Proposition 5: Teachers are Members of Learning Communities.

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