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Philosophy

Effective Classroom Management
Susan Kovalik (ITI: The Model, Integrated Thematic Instruction, 1994) identifies four elements of effective classroom management. "You have powerful curriculum, all planned and ready to go--meaningful, useful, relevant, with opportunities to be creative and emotional; the prerequisites are in place--teacher and students are in relationship with each other, as are students with students; the parameters are clear at all times--general and specific ground rules, procedures, and directions; and, participation is expected and nurtured (students are actively engaged and on task)." (page 23)

Classroom Structures for Best Practice
Zemelman, Daniels and Hyde (Best Practice for Teaching and Learning in America’s Schools, 2005) identify six structures as key "ways of organizing kids, time, materials, space, and help" (page 183) in order to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills and provide variety and flexibility in the delivery of instruction and assessment of student performance.

  • Integrated teaching and learning "provide children with choice, continuity, order, challenge, and genuine responsibility they need to both enjoy school and stay engaged with work." (page 185)
  • Small group activities and teams mirror the world of work and promote active student learning. "In Best Practice classrooms, students work together effectively in small groups--in pairs, threes, ad hoc groups, and long-term teams...and learn best across a school day that provides a rich mixture of different activities, from quiet individual work to energetic collaboration." (page 189) 
  • Representing to learn "strategies help overcome the passivity of the traditional classroom, making students more active and responsible for their own learning. Teachers of all subjects and grade levels can have students keep learning logs in which students regularly do short, spontaneous, exploratory, personal pieces of writing or drawing about the content they are studying." (page 194)
  • Classroom workshop provides choice. "Students in a workshop classroom choose their own topics for writing and books for reading, using large scheduled chunks of classroom time for doing their own reading and writing. They collaborate freely with classmates, keep their own records, and self-evaluate." (page 197)
  • Authentic experiences focus on involving "students in tangible, genuine, authentic, real-world materials and experiences." (page 202)
  • Reflective assessment helps teachers "monitor students’ growth in richer and more sophisticated ways--observation, interviews, questionnaires, collecting and interpreting artifacts and performances." (page 206)

 

Curriculum...

  • Literature/Reading
    • Include sustained silent reading at school and at least 20 minutes of at home reading in student'€™s daily schedule.
    • Provide choices in literature to match students with "just right" reading.
    • Develop reading skills: phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, literary analysis, etc.
    • Build awareness of traditional literature.
    • Balance non-fiction and fiction reading.
  • Literature Studies
    • Use the literature selections identified for your grade level; give students choices.
    • Respect the choices for each grade ahead.
  • Language Arts
    • Develop a variety of communication skills: speaking, listening, writing, researching.
    • Focus on the writing process.
    • Integrate grammar and mechanics (spelling, punctuation, and capitalization) lessons within the writing process so students immediately apply skills to current writing projects.
    • Concentrate on the required forms of writing for the grade level and let students choose topics/ideas for those projects.
  • World Language
    • Build communication skills in a second language.
    • Develop understanding of cultural similarities and differences.
  • Mathematics
    • Develop reasoning and thinking skills.
    • Develop computation skills.
    • Provide frequent (weekly) problem-centered learning experiences in which students apply computation and reasoning skills.
  • Social Studies
    • Develop understanding of citizenship: What is citizenship? How have others demonstrated citizenship? How am I a citizen?
    • Work as historians in learning about significant events in history.
  • Geography
    • Integrate the five themes of geography: location, place, human interaction, movement, and regions in building map and globe skills and geography knowledge.
  • Science
    • Build proficiency with science process skills: observing, classifying, questioning (predicting, hypothesizing), exploring/ investigating (gathering data, planning and conducting inquiry investigations), communicating (describing and identifying, justifying, interpreting, inferring, drawing conclusions, making generalizations).
    • Develop understanding of key concepts in each area of science.
  • Health
    • Focus on health and wellness awareness.
    • Build decision making skills.
  • Arts/Physical Education
    • Integrate the arts into ongoing curriculum units.
  • Character Education
    • Make the character education traits (compassion, courage, honesty/integrity, perseverance, respect , responsibility, self-discipline, teamwork) an integral part of classroom management and ongoing curriculum units.
  • Technology
    • Integrate technology into the daily routine of the classroom...for information retrieval and research, student productivity, student-to-student collaboration, student problem solving, delivery of lessons, classroom management.
  • Concentric Circles Curricula
    • Three year olds, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten
    • Use the key measures and the performance objectives in each unit to develop lessons and activities.

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