Artifact #7: Problem of Practice Essay (MATC Application & Field)

Artifact #7: Problem of Practice Essay (MATC Application & Field)
Program Goals:
1, 2
Standards:
3, 4

            This artifact is representative of my application to the MATC Program.  It is titled “Differentiation in a Combination Classroom” and it focuses on a problem of practice that I was facing when writing the essay.  At the time, I was assigned to teach both fourth and fifth grade students in a split-grade classroom.  This was my first and only experience in a multi-age classroom and I was stunned to find exactly how difficult it was to address the unique and varying needs of my diverse group of students.

            In this essay I address the necessity for an educator to know the students in the classroom, especially when the already heterogeneous group of students includes both fourth and fifth graders.  I point out the need for differentiation and individualization in the classroom.  As teachers, it is important that we assess students’ needs and strengths before attempting to differentiate curriculum to reach all learners (Standard 4 & Goal 2).  This artifact shows evidence of my contemplation and thought process surrounding the varying learners in my classroom.  I focus on two distinctly different learners, one low-performing 5th grade boy, and one high-achieving 4th grade girl.  In this problem of practice essay, I describe and reflect on the ways that I met their unique needs (Goal 1).  By examining this problem of practice, I have analyzed, critiqued, and responded to this persistent issue in my school district (Standard 3).  I also wrote about my appreciation about the fact that this issue is difficult within the traditional elementary classroom, and even more so with my own experience in the combination classroom.  Without identifying and discussing these problems of practice, education is unable to move forward and learn from mistakes.  The more discourse and deliberation that occurs with regard to issues of education, the better our policies and practice can become.

            I enjoy looking back on this artifact to see how much my view and understanding about this problem of practice has changed.  It is clear to me that the MATC program has helped to introduce me to many research-based teaching methodologies.  In the artifact, I conclude by stating that I am hoping the MATC program will provide me with the chance to better improve my differentiation skills.  Throughout this masters program I have learned best practices in literacy instruction—such as the workshop model that allow me to better differentiate my reading and writing instruction.  I have also learned about the importance of using students’ culture, background, and prior knowledge as a focus in curriculum development.  If I had known this during the year I taught in the combination classroom, it is possible that I would have been better equipped to create and manage curriculum that was more applicable to all students.

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