EDU 6526 Assignment 2 Video Analysis 8/5/15
The video I watched for this assessment was a special education math class for what appeared to be students in the 4-6th grade range and who appeared to be fairly highly functional special education students. It wasn’t clear from the video what the students’ disabilities might be. The teacher, Ms. Strawbridge, conducted what appeared to be a successful and meaningful math lesson focused on teaching the geometrical concepts of definition and calculation of ‘perimeter’ and ‘area’. She used many of the teaching strategies we’ve read about in our textbooks; “Classroom Instruction that works”, (Dean, et al. 2012), and “A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works”, (Pitler & Stone, 2012). As I viewed the video I saw Strawbridge using the following teaching techniques; cues, questions, non-linguistic representations, summarizing, note taking, providing practice and providing recognition.
Prior to conducting this math lesson, Strawbridge had written classroom expectations on the white board;
- Not Talking
- Hands are raised
- Taking notes
- Following Directions
Strawbridge started her math lesson by stating the objectives. She said, “Where are we going? Where is this going to lead us to?” As is typical throughout this lesson, she answered her own question by stating, “We are going to be able to: 1) identify angles, 2) measure angles, and 3) solve for missing angles. In my experience with special education students, especially those students who are reluctant or unable to speak, it’s typical and somewhat necessary for the teacher to provide answers to questions, in this way leading the class to a conclusion about what is concrete and about what will be focused on. “Students learn most efficiently when they know the objectives of a specific lesson. If students are aware of the intended outcome, they know where their focus should be,” (Pitler & Stone, 2012).
Strawbridge began her lesson at the point of reviewing prior knowledge. In this way she ‘cued’ the students to think deeply about what they remembered from prior lessons. She also used many questions to engage learners throughout the lesson. “What do we already know about geometry?” she queries. “Let’s do a quick review before starting the lesson so that it doesn’t completely leave our brain.” Using cues and questions helps students access their prior knowledge and make connections to new knowledge, it “focuses learning on the important content to come,” (Pitler & Stone, 2012). She showed information about the definition and examples of content related to discovering ‘perimeter’ and ‘area’ on the overhead projector. As Strawbridge taught about how to discover the concepts of perimeter, she made notes which were also shown overhead. “Note taking helps students deepen their understanding of information because these strategies involve high order thinking skills,” (Dean, et al, 2012). The teacher said, “Your notes should look exactly like mine, that’s how I’ll know you’re paying attention and that’s how you can get credit for today.” I noticed that her lesson used non-linguistic representations in the form of the addition sign (+), the subtraction sign (-), and the multiplication sign (x). “Non linguistic representations provide students with useful tools that merge knowledge presented in the classroom with mechanism for understanding and remember that knowledge”, (Dean, et al, 2012).
In my experience teaching special education, providing consistent and constant reinforcement is essential. Frequently, special education students, especially those more severely impacted, are not motivated to do well because of intrinsic motivation; they need a tangible reward. In this video Strawbridge provided two rewards; as she wandered around the room checking students’ work, she provided recognition by saying things like (specific names omitted in this review), “Good job”, “Looking good”, “Awesome”, “Nice on-task work”. “Praise provides informative feedback about the effort and care that students put into their work, the progress that students make in understanding content or performing skills,” (Dean, et al, 2012). The teacher also provided a type (individual point) system of recognition which, as viewers, we weren’t fully informed on. We just know she stated that ‘so-and-so’ got another point for effort. Toward the latter end of the lesson a timer chimed and the teacher gave the entire class another point (toward what we as viewers don’t know) for meeting classroom expectations.
As I watched the video, I thought of my own future performance as I teach special education students in a self-contained setting. I liked how she physically moved among the students to check their notes – to make sure they were on the ‘same page’ as she was. I appreciated how she recognized specific students covertly and overtly throughout the lesson. She kept momentum going emotionally as well as educationally. Although the video ended abruptly, we are left to assume that students gained some degree of knowledge regarding ‘perimeter and area’. I can also assume that in future lessons, Ms. Strawbridge will remind students what they learned on this day and days prior so that their future learning can be strengthened by repetition and the deep seated potential of prior knowledge.
Strawbridge, C. Special Education Self-Contained Math Class. Video accessed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuhtZDDSIGE
Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA: McREL.
Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA: McREL.