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EDUW 696

WTS #10

1. What have you done as a teacher to partner with families and community that has ultimately
improved student learning?

At the time I began my student teaching I did not expect that school closures due to the corona virus
pandemic to turn into reality, however very quickly during my student teaching, I realized that it would
become a very real possibility. The sixth grade team that I am a part of transitioned into virtual teaching
relatively smoothly and the regular education teachers set up their Google classrooms so that students
could pull up assignments on their own and work independently at their own pace. I worked with my
cooperating teacher to set up Zoom meetings with small groups of students in order to provide them the
help and support they needed during this challenging time. We had to make contact with a lot of families
to provide them at least ⅓ of the services that we usually provide in terms of academic support and
intervention and social engagement. We contacted the school Bilingual Resource Specialist to help
communicate with a Spanish-speaking family and address their needs and worked with teachers to
develop a schedule that families and students could access and devise a system so that families would not
be overwhelmed with schoolwork, but rather have a resource so that they had an idea of how to approach
their school work.

Specifically we created individual schedules for each student so they knew when to pull up assignments
on Google classroom and the expectation for online learning each day and also how to access support
staff such as the special education teachers and their regular education teachers.

An example of an online schedule we created, individualized and e-mailed to each student we work with:
2. What have you done as a teacher to continue learning that has ultimately improved student learning?

I actively read articles on websites such as Edutopia and other sources to have an understanding of current
issues affecting education today such as the effects of the pandemic on schools and students, how to
respond to student needs in special education, and topics relevant to student teachers like myself. I have
also watched TED Talks and other resources where there are new ideas of how to innovate and improve
public education. One speaker from the Khan Academy talked about how to improve student learning and
achievement by beginning on the basics. He had assumed when teaching sixth grade that students would
be performing at grade level and if they were not, it would not take much time before they grew to that
standard. That was the wrong assumption to make and he solved this problem by focusing on basic
lessons such as using kindergarten lessons so that students could master the basics of an academic unit.
The general idea stuck with me and applied to my student teaching situation. I knew that my current
special education students are not performing at grade level and are around 2nd to 3rd grade level so
trying to create sixth grade lessons for the most part would not be beneficial.

I implemented a few lessons about shapes such as discussing the features and characteristics of certain
shapes (a rectangle is a shape with four sides and corners but not all equal, a square is a rectangle with
four equal sides and corners, a circle is a round shape, a triangle has three sides and corners). We also
discussed how to identify shapes in the real world (a poster is a rectangle, a clock is a circle, a triangle is
one of the patterns seen in a quilt) and did an activity where we tried to find as many shapes in the library.
Finally, we used construction paper cut-out shapes and divided them equally into halves, thirds, and
quarters and talked about how to divide a shape into equal parts. These series of math lessons were fairly
successful because they engaged students and helped them learn the objective of understanding and
identifying geometrical shapes, a standard that they had not passed yet in the classroom. I applied my
knowledge of the talk by the teacher from Khan Academy and went back to the basics so that students
could learn more and I could meet their learning needs where they were and not jump to the sixth grade
level math standard, which would not provide any real benefit to them.
3. What have you done as a teacher to lead or collaborate initiatives that improve student learning?

So far, I have not been able to be a part of any special committee at the school I am placed at for student
teaching, but I have worked with my cooperating teacher to improve lesson plans and create lessons that
meet students at their 2nd to 3rd grade reading level. One activity I started leading was reading FaceSpace
with students. We took turns reading 2-4 sentences each and discussed each page and then I created
reading comprehension questions and a drawing activity so that students could think about what they are
reading and reflect on it. This activity was useful because it was developing their current level reading
skills and also having them engage with text. Using research-based teaching practices and my current
knowledge of students and their skills, interests, and abilities, my cooperating teacher and I knew that
students’ attention span and frustration level with reading would not allow them to read as quickly as
regular education students, but we used that knowledge to implement a reading activity to meet students
where they are and improve their reading fluency and comprehension level.