Artifact #3: Teaching Exploration Project (TE 848 & Field)

Artifact #3: Teaching Exploration Project (TE 848 & Field)
Program Goals:
1, 3
Standards:
2, 5, 6

            In my teaching exploration project titled, “Battling Against the Script: Finding a Balance Between Calkins and My Inner Writing Teacher” I took a critical look at the use of scripted educational programs within my elementary school’s curriculum.  Reading, researching, and implementing new techniques and expertise in my classroom is one of my passions.  While studying writing in TE 848: Methods of Writing Instruction, and implementing a number of narrative genre teaching methods, I was able to learn the most effective way to teach this style of writing to my fourth grade students.

            This artifact stands as an example of my ability and desire to teach narrative writing effectively to a diverse group of students.  I learned that addressing my students’ unique needs was an integral aspect of teaching writing and that following a scripted curriculum alone would not help all of my learners grow to their full potential (Standard 2).  It was essential for me to know and understand the individual needs of my students in order to find areas where they would require extra support.  I included three study students in this paper, whose writing I analyzed to determine exactly what they were able to learn from my differentiated writing instruction.  In researching effective teaching methods, I utilized knowledge and targeted mini-lessons from a number of educational professionals, including, Ralph Fletcher, Thomas Newkirk, Joann Portalupi, and Aimee Buckner (Standard 5 & Goal 1).  This paper displays evidence of my efforts to analyze and attend to the unique needs of my students.  I discovered a need within my school’s curriculum to research and employ different narrative teaching techniques, rather than those solely outlined in Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study.  I was also able to share my research and findings with the teachers in my building in order to improve both the teaching and learning of writing (Standard 6 & Goal 3).  Many of my colleagues are now using mini-lessons to help meet their unique group of students’ needs and the resources uncovered in this action research paper have become incredibly helpful in this process.

            This action research project taught me the value of utilizing a variety of programs, strategies, and approaches to suit individual students in a unique classroom context.  Even though a scripted program might seem like best practice because all students would be experiencing a very similar education, I have found that this one-size-fits-all approach does not address the specific needs of all students.  Through this research, I was able to unearth a number of useful, targeted mini-lessons to attend to the diverse needs of each classroom.  This process proved the importance of providing teachers with enough room to shape and edit the curriculum and materials presented on a yearly basis.  Each group of students is not uniformly constructed, meaning that the vast difference in needs from year to year is deserving of an educator who has the freedom and resources to effectively address them.

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