Ms. Grant's Educational Philosophy


Audience


Students and their unique differences and needs are my primary consideration when planning my instruction. I believe that teachers should constantly reflect on their instruction and use formative assessments to determine if their methods are effective. As a teacher in North Carolina, I also have to follow the curriculum set forth by my state, my district, and my administration. Finally, parents know their children better than anyone; therefore, I always like to hear from them to gain a different perspective.

NCPTS Alignment: III; V


Teacher and Student Roles


My job in the classroom is to be a facilitator and role model. Rather than be a typical “sage on the stage,” I want my kids to take on most of the responsibility of learning. Students internalize information that they connect to on a personal level. They gain a deeper understanding when they are given the opportunity to reflect and discuss that information with adults and peers. Even when direct instruction is necessary (during mini-lessons, for example), students will participate in an interactive way. I plan to solicit real-world examples and bring them into the conversation as much as possible.

As a teacher, I try to make the content relevant and meaningful to students. Students will write down pertinent information from mini-lessons in a composition book. This notebook should, however, be interactive. Students will respond to the information on the opposite page by tying in connections to class literature, movies, current events, and, generally, the real world. My duty is to provide the context for learning. Through participation in our collaborative environment, students should gradually learn how to think, reflect, discuss, and learn.

NCPTS Alignment: I, II, IV


Literature Choices


Students will always have time to read a book of their choice in my classroom. At the beginning of each day, they will have approximately 15-20 minutes to read. Not only will they respond and reflect on this reading in a reader’s notebook, but I plan to assess their knowledge of concepts using their own literature selections. In order for them to learn to grow as a reader and appreciate books, students must be given time to truly read books that are meaningful.

Throughout the year, we will also read a common class literature selection. This may be a novel, short story, or poem. Often, I will try to teach major concepts using these selections as the foundation. Sometimes, rather than a singular class selection, students will be placed in literature circles. Generally, they will choose between four or five different books to read within a small group. All of the books will have something in common--ie genre, topic, character, etc. Students’ literature groups may even involve members across various classes, depending on how much technology is incorporated.

NCPTS Alignment: I, II, III, IV


Reading Instruction


Most of the actual reading instruction in my classroom will involve teaching reading strategies, the effects of literary devices, the elements of the novel, and various approaches to genre reading. As a language arts teacher, these topics are what my curriculum requires me to cover. Although I plan to provide mini-lessons and real-world examples of each area, much of this will be developed over time using various class discussion techniques, including Directed Reading-Thinking Activity.

I also plan to incorporate activities that promote fluency in reading. This is an area that most middle schoolers still need to improve. Since fluency is often a direct indicator of comprehension, it is vital that students are fluent readers. Activities may include recording podcasts, reader’s theater, and poetry for two voices.

NCPTS Alignment: I, III, IV


Writing Instruction


Throughout the year, I plan to incorporate writing activities in response to literature (both self-selected and whole class). Within each of these areas, however, I intend to let students have the freedom to select the medium and, in many cases, the topic for the writing. For example, one student may be writing a poem for two voices contrasting two characters, while another student may choose to write song lyrics written from the perspective of a character. Sometimes, students will write only in response to inspirational photos, videos, songs, and other media (including the news). Often, much of their writing will be published to their own blog.

A relevant form of writing that I plan to incorporate this year is Fan Fiction. This form of writing is based on a specific work in which all writers are familiar. The fiction needs to contain one or more elements (plot, characters, setting, etc.) from the original work, but other things are altered or added. Some fan fiction places the characters in an alternate universe, while others are merely “deleted scenes.” Each student will have a "beta," that will edit their work before final publication.

Finally, throughout the year, we are required to learn and apply proper research skills. Students, at the completion of the third quarter, have to submit a properly cited research paper. Therefore, I plan to break the paper into smaller pieces and incorporate mini-lessons and writings throughout the year to help with this.

For grammar and conventions work, I plan to instruct using mini-lessons, and then allow students to practice and interact with each other’s own writing to truly internalize the information. Not only will activities like this help the students, but the advanced peer editing will also help me.

NCPTS Alignment: I, III, IV


Assessment


To accurately determine their reading growth, I plan to perform three reading assessments throughout the year--at the beginning, midway, and end. These assessments will be a combination of the Scholastic Reading Inventory and, possibly, certain elements of the Informal Reading Inventory, depending on reading level. I plan to use the results from the assessments to appropriately plan their reading activities. Throughout the year, they are also required to take a ClassScape assessment every quarter to determine weak areas.

Throughout the year, I plan to assess students’ knowledge of various literature elements and topics using their own self-selected reading. I plan to do this after a mini-lesson is taught on the related subject. The responses will be collected on index cards. Students will also be responsible for published writing pieces on their blog, literature circle activities, and other responses to literature. Their interactive notebooks will be checked twice a quarter for completion.

NCPTS Alignment: II, V


Communication


By responding to students’ writing in their blogs and/or their notebooks, I genuinely give them an audience. I also do this by conferencing with them about their reading and writing. Through the questions that I ask them, they are forced to think more critically about the text or writing. By reading student responses, I gain an insight into their knowledge (or lack thereof) of reading, literature, and/or writing. Also, I learn what genres they prefer, in terms of reading and writing. I start to understand their learning style, and this allows me to be a more effective educator.
Using various technologies, I try to communicate with parents and students regularly. Our school uses Snapgrades which provides parents with their students grades, assignments (including due dates), behavior, and school notes. They can login for free using their own username and password and check their child’s progress in all of their classes. I also use Edmodo as a social network to communicate with students outside of school. It is a protected environment that allows me to post class updates, assignments, grades, discussion topics, and other things that students in that group can see. Also, if we do an assignment that needs to be turned in online, then it also provides a drop-box for submissions. Finally, I plan to provide class communication using blogs, student and teacher-created.

NCPTS Alignment: II, IV


My Inspiration:

Although I am the product of a melting pot of numerous ideologies and schools of thought, below is a list of inspiring researchers who helped mold my thinking a great deal.

  • The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
  • In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning (2nd Edition) by Nancy Atwell
  • Notebook Know-how: Strategies for the Writer's Notebook by Aimee Buckner and Ralph Fletcher
  • the research of Stephen Krashen presented in "Anything But Reading"
  • the research of Elaine M. Garan and Glenn DeVoogd as presented in Reading Teacher educational journal in the article "The Benefits of Sustained Silent Reading: Scientific Research and Common Sense Converge"
  • the research of of Dr. Morris of Appalachian State University which is presented in publications such as The Howard Street Tutoring Manual, Every Child Reading, and various other professional journals
  • the ideas of Dr. Robin Groce, Professor at Appalachian State University

North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards