Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy

4.1 Component 1a: Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy – Expert teachers use a variety of formative assessments along with summative assessments throughout each unit. There’re various formative assessments to consider when trying to facilitate exceptional learning in a secondary ELA class, such as pair and sh

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Figure 1

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Figure 2

are, quick-writes, group literature discussions, self-ratings based on rubrics, think aloud, and performance. A summative assessment would be graded heavier so a test, essay, or unit project would suffice. Misconceptions are also addressed through these assessments as well as knowledge being presented in a meaningful and effective manner. I gained a better understanding of Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy through the Understanding by Deign chapter 5 reading and the How People Learn chapter 2 reading. Figure 1, Understanding by Deign, shows a description of how formative assessments are effective for checking for understanding, and according to Bloom’s work its “vital if students are to achieve understanding and avoid misunderstandings”. I learned that it’s important to include a variety of formative assessments throughout the unit because relying solely on a couple of summative assessments as a basis for understanding does not allow teachers ample opportunity to use the assessment data for future planning as well as any changes in instruction. Additionally, I learned that assessments can’t just be varied and engaging but must have merit that ties into core curriculum in order to enhance Students’ enduring knowledge, because teachers should think of students as the innocence of understanding. Therefore, always think with the end in mind when planning lessons and assessments. Figure2, How People Learn, explains the importance of teachers being aware that students come into the classroom with preconceptions already formed, and that any misconceptions need to be addressed before continuing a lesson. I learned that it is important for teachers to provide opportunities for students to build on or challenge these preconceptions because any misconceptions can impact how they retain new concepts. Student learning is enhanced when teachers are able to anticipate students’ misconceptions through having an understanding of their students’ background knowledge in topics such as region, economic status, social, and academic knowledge. For example, a teacher would have to explain American culture and English phrases to struggling ESL learners to avoid any comprehension misconceptions. Teachers often use examples of local things to avoid misconceptions because it’s assumed that the class has a basic knowledge associated with it. Academic knowledge can be anticipated with prior communication with students’ former teachers and pre-assessments. Pre-assessments are a valuable tool to address student understanding, which can take place before a lesson or the start of a unit. This form of assessment draws out students’ preexisting understandings, which allows teachers to adjust their future lessons to address any misunderstandings or expand on students’ preexisting knowledge. A pre-assessment in ELA could be a quiz, writing/performance activity, or class discussion. For example, when introducing a new book it is always good to pre-assess students’ knowledge of the book’s author, setting, and themes. So before beginning any novel, the teacher can give a quick oral quiz based on these three things. Emerging teachers need to have a thorough understanding of pedagogy techniques before entering the classroom because otherwise students’ learning will not be effectively developed or engaging.


Separation of Church and State

As a future language arts teacher I find talking about controversial topics to be most educational, because I want to learn how to lead a charged classroom discussion when provocative topics such as religion and sex education arise. To have a charged classroom the teacher has to start a discussion that will create both friction and potential for further learning, but it’s the teachers’ job to guide the students’ discussion towards a democratic education approach. Now in regards to the controversial topic of religion and sex education, I strongly believe in the separation of church and state as well as the right to have freedom of thought, inquiry, and speech under the First Amendment. With this in mind I believe these provocative topics should be discussed in public schools, especially in high school when these topics are relevant.

Now, abstinence-only education goes against our constitutional right to educate children because it “restricts students’ access to information and limit learning to one “approved” message about human sexuality” (Taking Sides, 2005). Furthermore, how can abstinence-only education align with the principle of separation of church and state when the programs are strongly associated with churches, primarily Christianity, that’re pushing their religious values. Why is it that federal and state funds have shifted from supporting comprehensive sexuality programs to abstinence-only programs that limit students’ sexual education? These programs offer curricula developed by religious groups “whose views on sexual orientation, non-marital sex, contraception, and abortion are not shared by other religious and non-religious people” (Taking Sides, 2005). It’s not democratically or culturally fair to promote one religion or creating a “we” of the school, as a community against non-Christians, which is something teachers should be aware of and avoid. Thus, the whole ideal of abstinence-only programs is biased to Christian values. The last thing I want to do is make one of my students feel like an outsider because their cultural beliefs differs from the majority of their peers.