Here are the last three questions on the REAP application and my expanded answers:
5) What four key components do you believe you must include in your plan?
REAP answer: A good introduction to catch the students’ attention and interest them in the lesson, instruction/modeling time to demonstrate the information to the students, followed by guided and/or independent practice to reinforce learning, and a closing time to review the material learned are necessary.
Expanded answer: (This answer almost seems to formulaic in its brevity to me and I wrote it) A good lesson plan begins with a strong introduction. I need to catch the students attention, draw them in and get them ready to learn. This may be a short reading, a short video, pictures, an accessible text on the topic, a quick group brainstorm, or any number of other ideas. After the introduction comes instruction/modeling as well as guided and or independent practice. How this is handled depends on the topic at hand. Sometimes I model only once and then have students try it out in small groups or partners and move quickly on to independent practice. Other lessons require more modeling with students working at the same time so that I can move around the room for quick formative assessment. Setting up learning on a scale like this where students move from being highly supported to highly independent I believe leads to more success. Finally a closing time is necessary, unfortunately I think this is the component that most often falls by the wayside, I know that I am guilty of leaving it out and not always intentionally. Sometimes the lesson is taking longer than you planned, maybe kids have gotten excited about what you are doing that day and you just keep going until glancing at the clock you realize you’ve run out of time for that closing activity. In our technologically driven society where so many students have computers or other devices at home we can implement exit tickets online using Google Forms, maybe they respond to a class blog post on the topic. At the beginning of class maybe students are handed a card to fill in something new or interesting they learn at any point during the lesson and they take the last two minutes of class to share that information with their tablemates. For me it was learning that closing really can be a quick activity (very much a formative assessment) that helped me to get it implemented more regularly as I want it to be.
6) When you think about your students, in what major ways do you want to influence their lives?
REAP answer: I want them to leave my class loving books and reading. I want to instill in them a sense of respect for others, responsibility to themselves, and the self-motivation to explore new topics on their own. I want to help them build up their sense of self-worth.
Expanded answer: There is so many ways I hope to influence my students. I want them to leave my class loving books, loving reading, choosing to read for enjoyment. If nothing else I want them to have found at least one book that they can’t put down. I want them to understand that reading isn’t just books. Kids read every day be it the cereal box at the breakfast table, signs as you drive down the road, stories on the internet, and some kids read an amazing amount in video games. I want my students to clearly demonstrate a sense of respect for others, to understand what that means and to do it. I hope to instill in my students a sense of responsibility to themselves and the self-motivation to explore topics they are already interested in as well as new topics on their own. I want to help my students build their sense of self-worth by asking them how they feel when they accomplish things and helping them to notice when they have done well. I want my students to leave my class being able to think for themselves. My job is not to teach my students what to think but how to think, and respect others right to think differently.
7) List and describe two core teaching strategies you most utilized in your classroom.
REAP answer: I often use real-life situations and television shows as a bridge for writing exercises and to make connections during reading to aid in comprehension. I also often have the students explain back to me how the work is to be done in their own words to be sure they comprehend the instructions.
Expanded answer: I often use real-life situation and television shows as a bridge for writing exercises and to make connections during reading to aid in comprehension. Specifically I have used episodes of M*A*S*H when teaching propaganda techniques after contacting Fox studios for permission. When discussing the importance of research questions and asking the right questions I share the story of our first house. My husband and I did not do our research and did not ask the right questions when looking for our first house, we ended up with a house built by a builder with a bad reputation, our walls were not straight, our slab was not flat, the kitchen floor tiles cracked, seam tape on the ceiling began peeling away in just a few months, and many more issues. I also often have students explain back to me how the work is to be done in their own words to be sure they comprehend the instructions. This is pretty self explanatory but I ask students to tell me what I’m asking them to do step by step to be sure they understand. I use many other strategies as well. One that I use consistently is cooperative learning the Kagan way. I use the Kagan structures on a daily basis, even when I’m not using a structure I use “think time” my students know this means think quietly, keep your ideas in your head until I tell you what we’re going to do with them. This has also required me to allow my students more time to think, teachers all know some kids think faster than others, we need to slow down and give everyone a chance to process what we’re asking. Think time as described in the Kagan structures has taught me to do just that.