Sunday, January 12, 2014

Content Knowledge: Connecting the Dots from Practice to Experience

Like many primary teachers, it can be a challenge to put all the pieces of effective instruction together. Thematic units,  the role of students' culture in the content areas, and different approaches to teaching Social Studies can all come together and really confuse you!

Looking at it from the perspective of a first grade student, let's break this information down into mangaeable bits and go from there. For this reason, let's use an old stand-by of primary teachers: a graphic organizer.

What I Knew Already
What I Learned
Ovando & Combs (2012) describe thematic teaching as a way to teach a larger concept throughout each content area.
Use of thematic units helps students link their prior knowledge to new learning, making the learning become a part of their long-term memory.
Thematic units should be developed by planning backwards, where the student needs to be and how to get them there (Ovando and Combs, 2012).
The use of thematic units is especially helpful for ELL students as it allows them to encounter new vocabulary through multiple exposures and modalities.
Using thematic units will help increase students’ vocabulary as well as solidify learning through multiple exposures and modalities.
Role of Culture in Math and Science: How students approach new learning tasks, culture is interwoven into their application and performance.
Students approach learning new tasks in many different ways.
There are developmental universals that all students come to new learning tasks with. Understanding cross-cultural influences on learning helps teachers better understand the influence of culture in the content areas. Just as there is a Universal Grammar, the evidence suggests that humans are also hardwired with the language of mathematics (Ovando and Combs, 2012).  Counting systems may be different, but all humans share a common cognitive heritage, and are able to pick up on concrete and abstract math and science tasks. It seems the big difference is how students EXPRESS their mathematical and content knowledge: different cultures have different representations and expressions.
Use more ethnoscience and ethnomathematics in the classroom: teach traditionally fact-based subjects within a multicultural context, within a larger framework of the thematic unit.
Approaches to Teaching Social Studies:
Crititcal Thinking Approach, Social Science Approach, and Transmission Approach
(Historically, the transmission approach has been the most widely used.)
Teaching Social Studies within the larger framework of the thematic unit made sense: students were exposed to different cultures and different ways of thinking.
Allow for multiple perspectives to be read, seen, and heard in Social Studies.
Use of “powerful social studies teaching”: meaningful, integrated throughout the curriculum, challenging, and active.
Critical Thinking Approach allows for students to really think on the higher ends of Bloom’s Taxonomy: to evaluate different sources, justify opinions, explain their reasoning. The Critical Thinking Approach seems to tie in closely with the new Common Core standards!
The Transmission Approach, historically, has been used to prepare students to be responsible citizens. Mainly through the use of textbooks, students are the “receivers of knowledge” as it is “transmitted” by the teacher.
Social Science Approach teaches students social studies through the use of each different aspect of the social sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, geography. Most often, these 3 approaches are used in conjunction within a classroom.
Critical Thinking Approach ties in most closely with what teachers are achieving through the Common Core: close reads and critical thinking activities make for powerful social studies teaching: students are challenged, active learners as they think critically about topics that are meaningful to them.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week of November 11, 2013

Welcome to another wonderful week in First Grade!
This week, we will be working on the following skills and strategies in Reading:
-Making predictions and providing evidence
-Identifying characters and character traits in stories
-Using context clues to discover the meaning of unknown words
- Differentiating between facts and opinions

This week, we will be working on the following skills and strategies in Math:
-Properties of zero in addition
-Counting on by 1,2, and 3
-Adding on a number line
-Number Bonds review

This week, we will be working on the following skills in Writing:
-Giving supporting reasons for our opinions
-Crafting Bold Beginnings to grab the reader's attention
-Editing for punctuation and capital letters

You can help your child at home by asking him/her to predict what will happen next in her homework books and giving evidence from the story to support the prediction. You can also have your child tell his/her opinion about something.

Thank you for the wonderful support at Report Card Pickup! As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email, call, or come in the mornings from 7:00-7:30 am. Thank you for your support!
-Miss Spero
Room 114

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

First Grade Readers Are Writers!

First graders are busy the next few weeks learning all about the difference between facts and opinions. Students are working hard writing opinion pieces that include the following:
-Opinion statement
-2-4 Reasons to support the opinion
-Opinion words (I think, I feel, I believe, To me, etc)

You can help your child at home by asking him/her to state an opinion about something and then give reasons for that opinion.

Happy Wednesday!
-Miss Spero