Learner Engagement Unit 3 Activity 2
TEXT-TO-PRACTICE EXERCISES: The following exercises are meant for self-study or use in a professional learning community. Reflecting upon these activities and discussing them with colleagues is important. More important, however, is to use these exercises as springboards for improving teaching practice.
TPE 5.1: Interview learners about facilitator-learner relationships. Interview a few learners about their perceptions of a caring and supportive facilitator. The following are possible questions:
a. What makes a good facilitator?
b. How does a facilitator demonstrate that he or she cares about learners?
c. How do facilitators provide support/trust/safety in the classroom?
In lieu of interviews, a class project can be assigned at the beginning of the school year or semester.
TPE: 5.2: Evaluate effectiveness of facilitator praise. The following scenarios illustrate different ways facilitators might provide praise in the classroom. Using Table 5.4, describe what the facilitator did that was effective and/or ineffective in providing praise.
Scenario 1: As Mrs. Smith hands back reading tests to her seventh-grade learners, she stops to speak to some learners who put forth a particularly strong effort on the assignment. She tells one learner, "Katie, I just wanted to let you know that I really recognized all of the hard work that you put into this assignment. It was a very difficult assignment and I could tell that you tried your best and noticed great improvement from your last assignment. I especially appreciate how you integrated the quotations so carefully into your own language. It makes your writing so much stronger because the quotes are being used to backup your points. This is something you should continue doing on all of your papers!"
Scenario 2: Mrs. Jones is a fifth-grade facilitator. On all of her tests, she writes "Good job!" and draws a smiley face if the assignment is completed. Maria is a very strong learner in the class. Mrs. Jones shows the other learners how much Maria wrote and tells them that she likes Maria's paper because of its length. Mrs. Jones also has a points program. When the learners complete their homework, they get a point. When everyone in the class gets ten points, the whole class gets a reward.
Scenario 3: Mr. Gonzalez assigned his high school learners a project about fairness in school. He asked the learners to collaborate on writing a letter to the local school board telling its members what they thought was unfair about schooling. He gave each learner credit for participation in the exercise. He had the learners compare their letters to each other to see which letter was the most effective. He then gave each group comments about their letters in which he praised their efforts and gave them specific feedback on how they did in relation to a rubric he had developed.
Scenario 4: Mr. Johnson has weekly conferences with his elementary-age learners. He reviews the learners' work for the week and tells the learners what they have done well and what they need to improve on. He then helps the learners make goals for the next week. When a learner has clearly demonstrated strong effort to reach his or her goals, Mr. Johnson offers praise to the learner and rewards him or her for the effort. Each learner has a chart to measure how many weeks their goal is reached. When the learners reach their goals, they note it on the chart. The charts are publicly displayed.
TPE: 5-3: Evaluate instructional features that support cognitive engagement. Which aspect of Table 5.6 would characterize your classroom? How does it vary by subject area and lesson? What changes could you make to your instruction to incorporate more of the features of a high cognitive engagement classroom?
TPE: 5-4: Reflect on your relationships with learners. Think about learners who you have had both positive and negative relationships with. Answer the questions in Table 5.7 about these learners. Using information in this chapter, describe strategies you could use to improve these relationships.
TPE: 5.5: Develop an educationally responsive lesson.
Using information in Table 5.8, develop and teach a culturally responsive lesson. How did diverse learners respond to this lesson?
TPE 6.1: Complete a classroom sociogram. A sociogram is a "mapping" of the friendships within a classroom. There are several ways to determine how connected learners are to each other. Follow the instructions from Teaching Tolerance
What did you learn about your learners' relationships to each other? How can this information help you support more positive relationships in your classroom?
TPE 6.2: Interview learners about their friendships.
Interview learners about their friendships. Ideally, choose learners who vary in their social skills and level of peer acceptance. Possible questions include the following: 1. Who are your friends? 2. How are they similar or different from you? 3. How do they support you in school?
TPE: 6.3: Develop a cooperative or collaborative learning lesson.
Using information from Chapter 6, develop a cooperative or collaborative learning lesson. How did learners respond to this lesson? What challenges did you encounter? How did you address each of these challenges?
TPE: 6.4: Develop strategies for productive group work.
The following table outlines several problems that may arise with group work in the classroom. For each challenge, develop a possible solution.