Diversity and Global Awareness

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1 Each candidate must address the Core Value: in their Capstone Portfolio. The following reflective (rationale) statements represent examples of candidate work and how they apply what they have learned with their advisor and committee when they present their portfolio. Following the reflective writing examples, there is more information on the directions the candidate s are given before they begin writing about their personal learning connections to this Core Value. The artifact I chose for NBPTS Proposition 1: Teachers are committed to students and learning and VCSU Core Value: is my portfolio project for Education 657 Exceptionality, Diversity, and Difference during the summer of The reason I chose the portfolio project was because it contained so many of the elements related to these beliefs. Proposition 1 is based on the belief that all students can learn no matter what circumstances surround them and teachers accept, understand, and work with the many differences that these children bring to the classroom to provide the best education possible. The portfolio attached as my artifact addresses many of the differences that students and teachers need to adapt to such as gender issues, diversity of cultures and races, equality of educational settings, economic situations, religious issues, and mental and physical disabilities. These also fall into the realm of the VCSU Core Value. Every classroom has diversity in learning styles, behavior, achievement, and social skills, as well as the differences listed above. Our teaching needs to be differentiated and flexible in providing the best learning opportunities we can for our students. Being able to understand positive and negative aspects of diversity makes the learning community more tolerant and better able to

2 handle all the differences. What I learned throughout this course is that schools need to honor cultural diversity and any other differences and give students an opportunity to teach other students about their culture and differences. I want my students to come to a school where the environment is free of bias and discrimination, and to not have to feel the sting of rejection or exclusion for any differences they have. Unfortunately, as much as we try with this idea, discrimination still has a way of occasionally rearing up. People who decide to make teaching their career choice really need to have the disposition to work with children and a love for being with them. This has to be the general foundation of their reason to become teachers in order for them to enjoy what they are doing, and for their students to enjoy being a part of their classroom. We have all worked with teachers who did not like being around children and made being in school a miserable place for many students. I think teaching needs to be a true calling, and the people who want to pursue it need to possess a passion for teaching, children, and improving their lives. They need to make a commitment to providing a safe, caring, learning environment for all students. The process of putting together the portfolio for Education 657 forced me to look at the negatives and positives of diversity in my own school and teaching practices. At times I did not like what I saw, but it has given me an opportunity to change areas that I needed to work on to make learning and my own classroom environment better. Upon reflection of all the areas covered in the portfolio, it also solidified many of the ideas I am already incorporating into my teaching practices and reinforced the idea that I am on the right path and doing what is best for my students. In technology education it is important to promote equal opportunity for all students and encourage female enrollment. Technology education classes have been traditionally male oriented and skill based which excluded other types of students. In order to promote equal opportunity, teachers must plan gender-neutral lessons and activities that are relevant to all students and relate to real life situations. The artifact I chose to use is a lesson for junior high students on vehicle restraint systems. The activity requires students to research a variety of safety and restraint systems used on vehicles today and develop a system for a model vehicle. The vehicle uses a raw egg as a passenger and students will conduct a series of crash tests to see how their system works. Each group of students must follow established criteria and constraints in their design and construction process. This activity relates information from technology education, physics, math, and language arts to a real life situation in which all students can relate. The application of knowledge in the different curricular areas shows students how they can apply what they learned. This activity, as well as others in technology education, requires students to work in cooperative groups. All students have an equal opportunity to contribute ideas and work toward a

3 common goal. Students learn that each member of the group has valuable input even though they may have different backgrounds and strengths. Cooperative learning activities also provide an opportunity for students to develop positive relationships with their peers. The more I know about educating a diverse population of students, the better I can plan my lessons in the future to be more individualized with an emphasis on real-world meaning for each student regardless of their socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity, or ability level. I am determined to consistently do my best and to make improvements in my own teaching methods in order to enhance student achievement in the future. I am responsible for planning and trying various teaching techniques that will ensure the needs of all individual students are being met. I am committed to treating my students fairly, respectfully, and most importantly with dignity. I teach upper elementary in a rural area of North Dakota. In my classroom there is not a lot of cultural diversity, however, there is diversity in the students academic abilities that I teach. Students in my classroom have various learning strengths and needs. I am committed to addressing each student s individual learning needs and recognizing their strengths. I use cooperative learning in my classroom on a regular basis to accommodate both the learning strengths and learning needs of the various students in my classroom. My students work in cooperative groups to complete many different tasks in many subject areas such as math, science, and language arts. The way I group my students varies. Cooperative learning is a great way to group students with peers from other backgrounds and with peers that have different learning needs and strengths. I want to make sure that students are given time to shine with their learning strengths and also given opportunities to receive help from their peers in meet their learning needs. Cooperative learning provides me with many opportunities to meet the needs of my students as individuals. Cooperative learning is also a great opportunity for students to develop positive relationships with peers they may not normally associate with. The artifact I chose to use is a technology unit for 7 th grade students where students are placed in cooperative groups to redesign the popular pocket tool, The Leatherman to make it better. In this unit students will need to brainstorm with their groups to come up with ways to make the Leatherman tool better. After they come up with a way or ways to make it better they need to use the steps in the Engineering Design Process in order to come up with their new and improved Leatherman. They will finally need to present to the entire class their design brief for their new and improved Leatherman. This technology unit for 7 th grade students that I have developed shows that I am a teacher who is committed to students and learning, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Proposition 1. I treat students equal. I recognized their individual differences and distinguish students from one another and make them accountable for

4 these differences in their practice. This also follows VCSU s core value diversity/global awareness because I am including equal education opportunities for all students. I plan to use what I learned about cooperative learning and leveled learning for students by planning this unit in the future while I am planning other technology units for my students. It is important to me that all students are given the opportunity to learn. The artifact I chose to represent is a middle school lesson designed to promote International Peace Day, Product disassembly: It s what s on the inside that counts. This artifact embodies NBPTS Proposition 1: Teachers are committed to students and their learning and the VCSU Core Value of Diversity and Global Awareness by incorporating the message of International Peace Day teachers and students are able to celebrate their individual differences and similarities. Within this lesson students will understand the importance of culture, the relationship between socio-economics and culture, and how culture influences gender roles, ethics, and ideology. What I love about this lesson is that it uses a simple everyday household item, the flashlight. Flashlights come in all shapes and sizes, but when examined more closely as to how they truly are built and operate, students learn that they are not so different. This lesson through the connection with International Peace Day also allows for open dialog about the various cultures represented in our community. It is my hope that through lessons like, Product Disassembly: It s what s on the inside that counts, students will discuss cultural diversity amongst themselves and learn that their cultural differences are more similar than they might think. It should be a goal of public education to inform our communities that cultural diversity is more than census data; it is what makes each school and individual similar yet different. Understanding that there are many definitions of cultural diversity is important to me as an educator. Culture can be defined through many lenses. As information, culture is a complex web of information that a person learns, and that guides each person s actions, experiences, and perceptions of events. As behavior, culture represents the patterns, symbols, institutions, values, and other human made components of society (Banks, 1984). As a way of life, one s culture represents language, food, clothing, morals, ethics, overall lifestyle, and integrates every aspect of life. One s personal culture and world outlook can be fluid or static over the course of a lifetime. Through research of this topic in the EDUC 625 Issues in Schools, Community and Family course, I learned that: Culture is: Culture is not: Dynamic, either static or fixed, Artifacts or material, A continuous and cumulative process A laundry list of traits and facts Learned and shared by a people Biological traits such as race,

5 Creative and meaningful to our lives A guide to people in their thinking, feeling and acting Idealized and romantic heritage of people as seen through music, dance, and holidays Higher class status derived from education, socioeconomics The second artifact that I have chosen to represent the topic of Diversity and Global Awareness is a research paper titled, Improving Native American Understanding of Math and Science. In 2006, President George W. Bush announced his American Competitiveness Initiative, which was designed to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation s children a firm grounding in math and science. At the time of this announcement Native American students across the nation were struggling to achieve academic success in the math and science classroom. Though this paper addresses the specific learning styles of Native American culture it is a good reminder to teachers that with the diversity in our classrooms comes cultural values. It is extremely important for teachers to understand and promote the importance of multicultural education, teaching multiple intelligences, and preparing new teachers for the diversity they will be exposed to in their classrooms. Culture clashes need not occur over mathematics and science education, nor any other subject matter, as the human brain s ability to acquire new knowledge, process, learn and retain is not based on race, culture, or socio-economic status, but as a result of motivation and realworld application of concepts. Banks, J. (1984). Teaching strategies for ethnic studies (3rd ed.) Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon Each classroom has its own distinctive culture, composition, and characteristics. Within my courses, it is my responsibility to address diversity issues such as cultural and ethnic differences, generational variations, and gender-specific concerns if I expect my students to be successful in today s global workplace. In addition, the more I know about educating a diverse population, the better prepared I can be to address these unique qualities and characteristics. Teaching in North Dakota, there is not a lot of opportunity for students to experience a variety of different cultures first hand so I must be creative in the experiences and activities I design. I specifically select textbooks that offer a large number of class activities from diverse perspectives and that offer many extra resources. These resources give me a foundation to start and I can build activities from there. The artifact I chose to use is a lesson for my Office Management course. This cooperative activity requires students to compare different business cultures in the framework of conducting a successful business meeting within a particular country. Each group conducts Internet research, organizes information, and composes a presentation or play to demonstrate its knowledge of the country s business etiquette. Students need to see how cultural, ethnic, and/or language differences effect their daily interactions on a constant basis. The best thing I can do for my students is to model appropriate, acceptable behaviors and offer students opportunities to learn about the unknown. To me,

6 diversity education means using cultural knowledge, experiences, and learning styles of students to make learning more suitable and valuable for them. By embedding into my lesson plans opportunities for students to experience and learn about diversity on a consistent basis, I am hopeful that the unknown will someday become the norm. In closing, I believe, the more exposure, opportunities, and experiences I can present my students, the more open-minded and less fearful of the unknown they will be. As a result, they will become better prepared and more productive in the global workforce. I teach fifth grade in a rural area without a lot of cultural diversity. However, within my class of nineteen there are kids with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and diverse abilities. Children have various learning needs and social strengths and weaknesses. I am committed to identifying the needs of each student, and helping each one develop his skills. Cooperative learning is a strategy I use on a regular basis. The benefits of cooperative learning include higher retention of concepts, improved problem solving skills, and increased creativity. My students are expected to collaborate with each other in math, language arts, science, and social studies. They often complete the steps of the Engineering Design Process in order to come up with a solution to a design problem. My artifact is a research paper on effective grouping strategies for these kinds of activities. In every class there are students who don t get along with others. They lack maturity or social skills. They are unable to compromise or pick up on social cues and body language. These students are difficult to work with because they don t know how to cooperate. Working in a group with a student like this is frustrating and most children do not enjoy the experience. What is the best way to group students for cooperative activities? Through my research I discovered that groups based on gender have many positive results, especially for females. Productivity and participation increase when students work with members of the same gender. I found this to be true when working on technology education units. Girls tend to be passive when paired with boys in a Building Beams challenge. Many are satisfied with watching as boys build and design paper beams. Girls who work with other girls on this same project cannot be passive and must take a leadership role in order to complete the challenge. Cooperative learning activities ensure that students develop social maturity. Students learn to work with all students and become more aware of each other s strengths. Today s teachers are expected to be able to teach the traditional skills to a very nontraditional group of students, and to diversify instructional methods in ways that support students self-esteem, knowledge of technology, and ethnic and language backgrounds. In the right environment, all students can avoid failure and develop a sense of pride and accomplishment.

7 My classes are academically, behaviorally, and culturally diverse, and I need to provide a supportive setting that meets all of their needs. I am the Librarian/Media Specialist for a K-5 elementary school. My school has a very diverse student population, with 42 % of the students identified as ELL (English Language Learners), and 76% of the families that are on free and reduced meals. Two classroom goals I have are to celebrate diversity rather than tolerate it, and to find ways to encourage all students to value their own cultural heritage and appreciate their classmates diverse backgrounds. The artifact I chose to use for NBPTS Proposition 1: Teachers are committed to student and learning, and VCSU Core Value: Diversity/Global Awareness and is a diversity and stereotyping lesson for grades Kindergarten through Fifth. Through this lesson, both students and I build an understanding and appreciation for different perspectives and opinions in the world around us. Students develop knowledge by interacting mentally and to some extent physically with people and objects surrounding them. They strengthen intergroup understandings, respect for each other s cultures, and the development of skills that will later be needed in community, national, and global citizenship. The literature and activity I use in this lesson provides students with active learning experiences they can use to see the world from different points of view. These elements are all a part of Proposition 1 and the Core Value associated with it. My school s mission is to create a nurturing and cooperative environment that provides the resources for all students to develop skills to pursue knowledge and develop attitudes to meet the challenges of our changing world. I plan lessons that support this mission. Working with our students has allowed me to understand today s diverse populations, and helped me develop teaching strategies that will benefit all. Each rationale (reflective) statement will include: (1) a description of the artifact and how it exemplifies good teaching in connection with National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) standards; (2) an explanation on how the artifact connects to the specific VCSU Core Value being addressed; (3) a reflection statement communicating the impact the artifact had on the candidate s learning and growth as a professional, and ideally a connection to how the VCSU Core Value can be utilized by the candidate in the future to enhance student learning. What is a rationale statement? For each artifact in your portfolio write a brief rationale statement about why you selected it. A rationale statement is neither a description nor a summary of the artifact, but it addresses the fundamental reasons why your artifact exemplifies your best work, how it connects to the key standard or core value, and what the candidate has learned in the VCSU program. The rationale statement should answer the following questions: Why did you choose to use this artifact? Briefly describe what you did and how this reflects good teaching in connection with the (NBPTS)?

8 How does this NBPTS proposition apply to the VCSU Core Values? (or other key VCSU component) What did you learn about this NBPTS proposition and VCSU Core Value in the process? Reflect and identify how you will be able use this knowledge in the future? (Ideally How will you be able to use this knowledge to enhance student learning in the future?) Most rationale statements will be completely positive, but some may explain a positive learning outcome out of a challenging experience. The reflective writing of the candidate s learning process may include some descriptors of unsuccessful efforts that called for new ideas and alternative strategies to enhance future experiences. While achieving success can be a great motivator, we do not only learn from our positive experiences.

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