Per Ardua Ad Astra

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

Another Reflection on the Science Class

One of the classrooms that I am in.
On Thursday (2/28), I went to the Science class for grade 8 and observed the whole class activity started from 08.00 to 08.57 in the morning. The class was taught by the main teacher, a co-teacher, and a consultant teacher. The objective of class activity was to deliver academic materials about animal and plant cells, sexual and asexual reproductions, and internal organs. The class was divided into three stations in which every station would discuss one particular material. The class disposition was arranged by the teachers, so that, when the students came in, the teacher let them notice the group division posted on the projector in order to know in which group they were. It was also an advantage for the teacher to check the student’s presence. After being familiar with the group division, the students sat down in the tables fraught with learning tools such as colorful markers and a set of internal organ pictures, and the teachers shared the goal of the class activities and explained what the students do in every group. Section 1 would discuss animal and plant cells by demonstrating puzzles. They were instructed to color scattered fragments printed on a paper, and then, they cut and glued it on another paper. The result would be two puzzles showing pictures of animal and plant cells.
For section 2 talking over internal organs by matching pictures to its function, the students worked with a consultant teacher on it. The teacher checked actively the students in terms of making sure that they matched the picture and its function correctly. The black and white pictures of internal organs were so many and took time to match. Lastly, the third group presented the reading of sexual and asexual reproduction with a co-teacher. In this activity, the teacher and the students read the material. The teacher took a turn first and asked the students to read it alternately and voluntarily. After doing the reading, the teacher took some vocabularies from the passage and searched its synonyms such as “same” is similar to “identical” and “equal”. Then, when the teacher explained about the reproduction by pictures, the students filled out the individual worksheet.
Given the aforementioned one-hour observation, I think the class activity was good enough to accommodate all students.  By looking up to the UDL checklist, the class included the three principles of UDL, which are representation, expression, and engagement. Firstly, the class provided multiple means of representation in which the teachers used visual prompts to help students such as pictures and highlighted important points in salient colors. Then the teacher used gestures or auditory cues every time. To me, the teachers tried so well to elaborate on the visual and auditory prompts to give a broad range of learning styles. But, I think it would be better if they use a video with caption aired in front of the class and give the students a choice in what group they are. It will let the students select their group based on their preference and experience or previous learning. What is more, it would be a barrier for two ELL students if the class offers all English texts in readings. I guess it would be great if the class supplies native language texts in materials and/or facilitates them with an ELL teacher in the class. Other than that, I really agree with the class setting grouping the students into small sections with a certain focus. It allows them to learn about both academic knowledge and social skills.
For the second principle, the class set multiple means for action and expression in which the students could co-opt the way of presentation of their works. For example, the student that had done with their project informed the teacher that she wanted to demonstrate it outside of class, then the teacher followed. Other than that, teachers maximized the learning devices such as powerpoint, Quizlet, and Mindmap, and I assume that puzzles and pictures are also low assistive technology to help the students in understanding. Despite the fact that these learning types of equipment feed visual prompts only, the teachers often use spoken and body language to explain it more. The teachers repeatedly checked the students whether or not they already understood and allowed the students to express their comments, questions, and feedback of the class activity. My reflection on this is that learning tools mostly serve particular learning styles. It would be a barrier if the visual prompts are only used as it is without being equipped with verbal explanation and/or body language.
The last is about how to provide multiple means of engagement. For this one, the class activity was truly engaging for the students. They were encouraged to participate in the class lively. And, the small sections triggered social interaction within groups. The objective of class activity was easily understood and the rubric was also delivered through the class, so students knew what they did exactly. Besides, the teachers offered additional time to complete the project during lunch or intervention sessions if the students needed. I believe that the class was so impressive, and it would be more impactful if it also provides more positive behavior support because there were some students in needs of that based on the IEP student program.
To sum up, If I practice this in my class, I would rather play a video with a caption related to the topics in the class and let the students get involved in opting their own small groups with given themes in the classroom after watching the video. It is important to the students because what they perceive based on the video and individual prior experience would be diverse, and by choosing their own small groups, they would be persistently comfortable with that. Afterward, I can spread the rubrics and certain subjects like the teachers did above. Other than that, I would ask the ELL students on what their preferences whether they need an ELL teacher or alternative native texts or what works for them, and I would like to put positive behavior support by using a token economy system to meet their needs. In consequence, the students would be a part of decision makers in the class activities.
Thank you for reading, I hope you can get the points what I am trying to deliver. Feel free to comment below if you need something to talk about. Have a halcyon day!