As an undergraduate student participating in an accredited teacher preparation program in the State of Iowa, I am required to develop an electronic teaching portfolio. My portfolio is divided into ten sections. Each section meets one of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners’ (BOEE) ten New Teacher Standards. Prior to receiving my teaching license in the State of Iowa, I must present and defend my portfolio to faculty at Coe College, my home institution.
Over the course of my four years as an undergraduate education major, I have been collecting artifacts to use in my portfolio. These artifacts include individual lesson plans, week-long plans, home-school communications, professional development materials, and reflections. Each of the ten sections of my portfolio includes at least two artifacts.
In addition to the artifacts, the Iowa BOEE requires all new teacher candidates to include ten synthesized rationale statements describing their instructional decisions, assessment strategies, teaching philosophies, and reflections. You will find one of my rationale statements below. I will post all ten over the course of the next few days. To view my teaching portfolio, please click on the tab at the top of my page.
Standard 4, Instructional Strategies: The practitioner understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students’ development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.
There is no “one size fits all” model in the elementary classroom. I realize that not every student benefits from the same instructional strategies. Some of my students prefer oral instruction, others are more successful if they are able to observe modeled instruction, and others thrive when there are opportunities for hands-on learning. I embrace this challenge by exposing my students to activities that are rooted in all three learning styles. In today’s ever-changing world, there are extensive opportunities to infuse new instructional strategies within the classroom. Within my day-to-day instruction, I implement instructional strategies that meet the needs of my students.
While I provide varied approaches to my instruction, I believe my students are active participates in their own learning processes. Therefore, my instruction is meticulously planned and aligned to national and state standards but it is also highly personalized. I believe in connecting the curricular content with my students’ day-to-day lives outside of my classroom. Yet, in the same way that every student is unique, so too is the personality of every classroom of learners year-by-year. An instructional strategy that resonates with my classroom of learners in 2014 may be irrelevant to my class in 2015. Instructional flexibility is an essential component of my practice.
On a day-to-day basis, I implement a wide range of instructional strategies that encourage student ownership of the learning process. My students engage in whole-class, small group, partner, and individual learning environments over the course of any given week. Woven within all of my instructional strategies, regardless of the learning environment, are higher-order questions and scenarios requiring student-led critical thinking skills. For example, while reading independently, my students’ use Post-It notes with higher-order questions aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy to ensure full engagement with the text, bolster critical thinking skills, and improve comprehension skills. While conducting hands-on experiments in science, my students work in small groups to answer guiding questions in a collaborative learning environment.
In order to ensure my instructional strategies are effective in meeting the unique needs of my students, I am continuously assessing student learning, gauging overall levels of engagement, and differentiating my instruction accordingly. My students who struggle with basic comprehension questions respond to Post-its aligned with Bloom’s foundational levels of questioning. Those who comprehend basic questions with ease respond to questions requiring their analysis and synthesis of the text. While collaborating during our science labs, my students engage in constructive dialog to draw collective conclusions. Differentiation in both scenarios allows for further personalization and encourages student ownership of the learning process.