ED 3350 Spring Mid-Course Survey Results; ED 3350 Syllabus; Lesson Plan Template; Peer Observation; Unit Outline and Learning Map Example; Unit Reflection and Review Forms; ED 3100 Fall Course Survey Data; ED 3100 Syllabus
At the beginning of the year I got the syllabi for both ED 3350 and ED 3100 from previous instructors. My first observation of these syllabi was that they were organized completely around matching assignments to completion of standards. While I recognize the importance of completing the assigned Standards of Effective Practice, I also believe that a course that is a checklist of standards and assignments to complete them is not pedagogically sound. My experience and philosophical foundation tell me that the course is much more engaging and relevant if organized around thematic questions. Additionally, I prefer to use a holistic, non-point method of grading. I have found that this causes the students to put more emphasis on what they have learned (or not) in completing an assignment than on how many points it is worth (or not worth) and allowing those concerns to dictate effort and engagement instead of how that assignment connects to the larger themes, questions, and ideas of the unit/lesson.
Because of this, I restructured the syllabi for both ED 3100 and ED 3350. The organizational structure and emphasis was now thematic questions and guiding questions. The assessment method was using a holistic grading methodology instead of specific points for every individual assignment. The feedback and response to these two strategies is almost unanimously positive. Many students commented on the various methods of providing feedback that one of the strengths of the course was the organization and the use of broader themes. They understood why they were doing the work and assignments and how they connected to those broader themes and to one another. Some commented on the use of the Unit Outline and the Learning Maps. I believe that those that did effectively use those, found the benefit of using those as an organizational tool to prepare for the summative assessments. I would like to further improve on the use of these tools in concert with rewriting the course essential questions to better align with the standards, providing more provocative introductions to ideas, and also better match the goals of the summative assessment for each unit. As much as other courses are focused on completing standards, I want students to see modeled for them, that a course can be organized around and the work within that course leads to the completion of the essential questions used to outline and frame a unit of study. To further improve upon this, I need to do a better job of taking class time to lead students through regular reflection of learning by updating the Learning Maps as we proceed through a unit. Additionally, The feedback on the grading system was also almost unanimously positive. I will continue with this methodology. To improve upon this system, I would like to engage the students early on in a more in-depth discussion about the grading process, and in particular use the grade proposal as a means of co-constructing group norms and expectations.
At the end of each unit, I completed a unit reflection form to force myself to review the success (or failure) of formative and summative assessments used. This was valuable and is a practice I will continue.
I modified and updated the lesson plan template created last year by the pedagogy professors. This lesson plan template is now being used by all the education professors. The modifications that I made to the template hopefully provide a format that encourages a constructivist approach to teaching. Additionally, I began using this template for all of my lesson planning. This is a practice I should continue. In particular, I need to do a better job of reflecting on each lesson and making notes as to what worked and did not in that particular lesson. This will improve the quality of the unit reflections completed at the end of each unit.
The first essential question for this goal, “Do assignments and text align in scope and sequence between ED 3100 and Methods courses?” cannot be directly answered. I have not found direct information beyond a matrix indicating the placement of SEPs. This is a beginning, but I would prefer that the department identified the goals of each course in relation to the goals of the program as a whole, and then placed the SEPs in the appropriate courses. It is likely that this is the process by which the SEPs were placed in courses; however, as a new member of the unit, all I can identify is the location of the standards, not the process by which they were placed in specific courses. Indirectly, the professional education department has had many conversations about properly preparing students for the Ed-TPA by embedding the contents, ideas, language, etc. of the ED-TPA rubrics into specific courses. We have not come to a good way to do this that is not a duplication or additional layer of complexity in addition to the SEPs already embedded in courses. However, this discussion, along with conversations assessing the effectiveness of the Practice TPA in ED 3350 have prompted discussion about the scope and sequence of content and skills in three foundational education courses: ED 3100, ED 3110, and ED 3350. I believe that it is through the “problem” of the P-TPA and ED-TPA I will come to a better understanding of this essential question.
The second essential question revolves around the implementation of the new books in ED 3350, High Impact Instruction & and The Art and Science of Teaching. I am very satisfied with the first book, and am not satisfied with the second book. The first book has served as the backbone for the organizing themes of the course, which have been well received by students. Additionally, many students commented on the use of a book that was not a “text” book and how much more readable and useful this book is than a text. Two students who began but dropped ED 3350 last year have commented specifically that they found this book much more useful than the more traditional text used in the previous semester. The second book is very difficult to read. It has useful information about research studies and case studies in education. From first semester to second semester I modified a few of the assignments to better connect this research to the topics and assignments coming from the High Impact text. I saw some improvements. Also, fewer students commented negatively about the Art text second semester than first semester. However, no student commented favorably about the Art text. I will use this text for one more year and focus on pointing students to very specific sections, research studies and case studies in the Art text with individual reading assignments and activities linked to the High Impact text. If I can change the use of the second book to more as a resource to look up specific research, this might allow that book to be used as a better support for the concepts from the High Impact text.
The last essential question is simply, yes. Recently while attending an ED-TPA training, I was working with 3 other professors of Science Methods. All three were surprised that our “general methods” course was K-12 licensure candidates. The professional education department has determined that this is not ideal, and it would be preferable to create a secondary block of courses, similar to the elementary block of courses. Additionally, it has been identified that separating the ED 3350 into elementary and secondary sections is desirable. At this point, we have managed to add a note to the catalogue making a recommendation that one section is designated for elementary and the other section is designated for secondary. Undoubtedly, there will not be complete separation next term, but hopefully we are taking steps in that direction.