Artifact 1- Membrane Transport "Jigsaw" Lab
Many teachers are familiar with using a “jigsaw” as a reading strategy. To do this, students read different sections of a piece and then teach each other about what they read, so that a single student does not have to read the entire thing. I applied this concept to laboratory activities. I had four ideas for laboratory activities that would support the concepts of diffusion and osmosis. I knew there would not be time for everyone to do them all, so I divided the experiments among 4 groups. The groups were then in charge of explaining their experiment and the related concept to their classmates. This was a successful activity, as evidenced by the observation (see below) of the student presentations by my program coordinator and student assessment scores.
Artifact 2- Varied Assessments
Because the learning styles of my students are so varied, I also try to vary the types of assessments I use. I also occasionally let students choose from different assessment options. The rubrics below are examples of non-test assessments that make assessments a part of the learning process (instead of something that happens after learning has stopped). For the Muscular System assessment, I ask students to design and perform a commercial for the muscular system. For the Mitosis presentations, students chose from a variety of presentation formats including rapping, dancing, and using clay models (see below). Of course, there are still some written tests too. The RAFT writing assessment also involves an element of choice. I let students chose (from a list) what role they would play, who their audience would be, and what their stance on stem cells was. The Water Quality assessment was a project that asked students to design a sustainable solution to prevent prescription drugs in drinking water. In addition to assessing students’ knowledge on water treatment, it also assessed student’s ability to plan, design, problem solve, and work together.
Artifact 3- Word Sort
A word sort is just one of the vocabulary review strategies that I find effective. In this activity, I give students a set of 27 words on note cards and ask them to organize them in order to show how the words are related to each other. I put students in groups of four, and give each a role: 1 justifier, 2 word sorters, and 1 presenter. This ensures that all students have an active role. I like that there are not right or wrong answers for this activity, as long as students are able to justify their arrangement.
Artifact 4-TPA Instruction Commentary (Teacher Performance Assessment)
This artifact was taken from my TPA work. (The TPA is an assessment developed by Stanford that measures how a teacher plans, documents and analyzes student learning, reflects on their teaching, and adjusts future teaching. See here for more information.) For this commentary I analyzed video clips of myself and explained how the instruction (activities, discussions, and teaching strategies) shown in the clips motivated and intellectually engaged children in developing skills and understanding concepts. I explain the reasoning behind my lessons. I also evaluated how well students constructed explanations of their lab experiments (see jigsaw lab above for laboratory activity) and understand related academic language.
All of my instructional strategies have two goals in common: 1) to make students think 2) to maximize student learning. For this standard I have highlighted some of the techniques I use to further student learning. It is important to vary these strategy as every student learns differently. I have also included an analysis of my teaching (TPA Instruction Commentary) to show the importance of continually reflecting on the strategies used to improve my teaching.