Planning and Instructional Processes

As a teacher of the Essential Arts (Visual Art and Technology Education) and former mechanical engineer, I have been made aware of the importance of a well-rounded educational experience encompassing both the sciences and the humanities.  Instructing students in pure content knowledge versus teaching them to develop an appreciation for the world surrounding their immediate environment are two similar, yet very different creatures.  Nonetheless, students ultimately establish connections and exchange information between these two worlds as they compare, contrast, discern, describe, and justify their opinions and points of view during each and every learning activity.  As an educator who seeks to make every moment a 'teachable' one, I constantly strive to provide my students with the necessary tools to develop these multiple perspectives of their experiences.  In turn, my students may then create an intellectually empowered environment in which they may become 'life-long learners.'

Believing that it is the duty of the teacher to meet the needs of not one student, but of all the students he or she instructs, I search to find innovative approaches to curriculum development and delivery in both of my disciplines.  While it may be difficult to address all criteria, Visual Art supplies a medium that permits a student to explore not only their emotions, but also their perceptions of the world around them.  Likewise, Technology Education provides an avenue from which the student may apply specific skills to invent, manufacture, and communicate these ideas to immediate and distant environments.  To many individuals the art process provides an escape from the normal routine of learning.  However, for others, it is a means of expressing oneself in ways that may not be expected.  Whether art is studied as a means to perfect one's drawing ability or as an avenue to instill appreciation and promote culture, it remains as a major communicative force in our society.  As future, responsible members of this human race, a student's experiences, gestures, and media intermix to generate a harmonious blend that transmits and provokes emotions through their mere act of creating.

Discovery Day Activity Sheet
This lesson incorporated economic principles as well as technical and artistic skills.
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I tell my students in art class to 'doodle' whenever they can ... it is nice to know that they listen as this was a Technology activity.

Entrusted with this ability, every child should further be exposed to critical thinking and reasoning skills to ensure the development of a sound interactive language that may expand as new experiences occur, thus permitting the student to function as an integral part of their society.  These intrinsic abilities that each child holds might otherwise parish if not permitted to surface.  By introducing cooperative learning opportunities across the curriculum using the content in Visual Art and Technology Education as cohesive bonds, a connection between previously learned information and fresh concepts introduced by others may be established.  This action allows those special students to adapt to material presented and explored through a way that best suits their learning style and not a style belonging to their neighbor; it also provides for a re-teaching of facts and content that might have been forgotten.

It has been the direction of my administration, the Caesar Rodney School District, to focus on increasing student achievement.  Our administrator at the Dover Air Middle School has sought to utilize a portion of each faculty meeting as an opportunity to present and participate in Professional Development to aid the staff in their instructional quests.  During an end of year faculty meeting, a program of Student Self-Directed Instruction was presented to each teacher via a text handout.  Developed by veteran teacher, Mary Gale as she borrowed from the book, Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong, the contract titled "Celebration of Learning Students Sign-Up Sheet" solidified many of my past conversations with Dr. Kay Stables concerning Authentic Assessment, and supported my aforementioned belief(s).

The Sign-Up Sheet permits students to select methods of assessing their understanding and/or demonstrating their acquired knowledge in a particular subject area based upon their individual learning styles.  Having researched Howard Gardner's thoughts and views of 'multiple intelligences' and 'personalized instruction' throughout my undergraduate and graduate experiences in education, I have always attempted to select a variety of avenues from which I can approach planning, instructing, assessing, and managing as each relates to my classrooms.  By surveying my students or having them select from a variety of project activities and endeavors that address content-specific objectives, I had permitted the class to tailor their educational experience.  Nevertheless, the majority usually prospered and the remaining students felt angered to have to complete something that someone else found pleasurable.  It was this observation that forced me to modify my instruction and provide opportunities for 'meaningful experiences' to every student, rather than a specific group.

Instructional Handout
(Original Sign-Up Sheet)
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Selected for use with my Technology Student Advisory group as I continue development of the Amusement Park Physics Unit - PRISM, I have elected to revamp and incorporate this inventive tool into the instructional contexts and design challenges of this project.  My goal is to further develop the list of possible Design and Make Activities as represented in the original Project UPDATE CLU (Contextual Learning Unit), An American History Theme Park, and produce an integrated chart linking the unit's cross-curricular concepts and students' learning styles so that every child will ultimately, have the same opportunity for receiving instructional content as well as appropriate and meaningful assessments.  Previously restructured during last year's endeavors, the HersheyPark Handbook for the culminating activity at the end of the year serves as an idea of the complexity of this unit as well as an example of my desire to plan and implement activities appropriate to my students' instructional needs.  This select group of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students receive instruction through the above unit and apply their knowledge by conducting experiments at a nearby amusement park in Pennsylvania, HersheyPark.

My endeavors and life experiences in industry and art-related professions aid in tailoring my development of these integrated lessons and demonstrate to my students that 'real' situations do exist; they further reveal to the student the existence of potential and meaningful opportunities that await each of them in their future.  Everyday paves the way for a specific focus relating aesthetic, cultural and/or educational aspects to the world of a child or young adult.  By personalizing the lessons, my students are awakened to discover their inner abilities and begin to make sense of the future that awaits them. [Follow this link to the Evolution of a Lesson to witness the factors that influence my instructional planning.] 

Required to choose a career pathway, my eighth grade students scurry about the Library and frantically stress about selecting high school courses.  Though the implementation of the new Technology Education curriculum and lab facility has reduced much of the student body's concerns by facilitating the concept of 'self-directed instruction' through a variety of modular experiences, it does not address every possible career pathway.  In an attempt to supply the remaining wayward students with direction and focus, I have implemented an 'Independent Study' module.  The requirements, activities, and assessment activities are mutually discussed and agreed upon by the student, myself, and sometimes, the guidance counselor.  It is her position to establish contact and provide the necessary information with respect to school choice and their offerings -- public, private, or specialty.  This most recent modification to my instructional 'bag of tricks' has proven helpful, but will not fully demonstrate its impact until Spring 2002 when our eighth grade students register.

Referencing the District's philosophy regarding student achievement and continuing her quest to embed Professional Development, our Principal requested that every teacher complete a specified plan for contributing to the achievement of our students through data analysis.  The plan requires each teacher to identify a specific grade level and analyze the respective student data.  Since I am a teacher of all grade levels, I have the unique opportunity to observe each and everyone of our students at some moment throughout their academic year, and may select my grade to study. 

My Current Plan
2001-2002 Academic Year
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Leaning to aiding the eighth grade group due to my 'double' schedule of Visual Art 8 and Technology Education 8, I began my quest of analyzing our school's data with respect to the DSTP scores.  I was amazed at the level of performance of our last eighth grade group, but knew that we, as a staff, had worked long and hard at preparing these students.  It was at that moment that I decided to view our new sixth grade group.  I began calculating and analyzing their scores in Reading, Writing, and Math.  What I discovered in my research was the need to build upon the entire sixth grade cohort's writing abilities, and I set out to develop a plan. [View my current plan as an extension of my Instructional Planning practices by clicking on the 'thumbnails' above.]

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