Learning about the learner
The image above reflects a lot of what we read this week in terms of differences in learning styles. The girl learns better by reading each step one by one and planning how she will assemble the airplane, while the boy just plays with the airplane and makes it himself without reading directions. This is representative the variation between hands-on learners, visual learners, etc. Larson and Keiper discuss adolescent development in chapter 4 and the potential effect that biological, psychological and social/cultural changes can have on the student. It is interesting to think about these changes as I observe my students, especially with teaching 9th graders. For example, one day I had a student who got an unsatisfactory grade on a homework assignment come up to the teacher and start crying because she was so upset. This seemed to me to be more of a product of her hormones than her being actually upset. I also notice the vast differences in the students based on their age/grade in high school. It is just interesting to think about how these hormones, emotional changes, etc may effect the way they learn and operate in the classroom.
Another topic that Larson and Keiper focused on was multicultural education. While I teach in an area with very little diversity right now, it will be important for me to think about teaching students with different cultural backgrounds, language barriers, etc when I decide where I want to live/teach in the future. I have always thought it would be cool to live in an urban area when I graduate, but I also need to consider the implications of that decision. I will be exposed to greater differences in the student’s home life, where they are from, what languages they speak, etc. I think this is especially important when teaching social studies because I will need to teach different perspectives and world views.
Another topic that was discussed this week was teaching ESL students. I have been lucky enough to see a case of this struggle first hand in my classroom at the high school. There is a student who has a language barrier in one of my classes and my teacher is still trying to figure out how to teach her best while still being empathetic of her background knowledge. One day we were doing vocabulary development where the students had to write who, what, when, where, why, how for different key words in our unit. This student could not understand what the directions were and had trouble actually getting her thoughts down in English. My teacher asked her to start off by writing her ideas in Spanish and then asked her to try to translate into English once she had the Spanish sentence written down. I though that was pretty cool because he was recognizing that she was more comfortable with another language but also let her know that she is expected to work with the vocab words until she can successfully translate into English.
One last topic that is important to think about when moving forward is the use of technology for leading instruction. I have had a struggle with technology recently because of our online classes and my own personal lack of comprehension. However, I do see cool technology use in my own classroom experience. For example, my school has an online program that is similar to Scholar in which the students can access the text, their homework assignments, etc. during class time and after school. The other day, the students needed their book for their mapping assignment and a few students didn’t have them. My teacher allowed them to access the online portal to look at their books and explained to me that he would rather they use their phones in class and gain from instructional time than not use them. I think it is important to pick your battles and ultimately allow the students to do whatever is best for their learning.
Overall, I feel that I am starting to understand how it feels to be the learner a little better and am excited to shadow a student this upcoming week.