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Improving Education: Strategies and Approaches Essay

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Updated: Nov 10th, 2021

Annotated Bibliography

Clark, J. (1996). James S. Coleman. London ; Washington, D.C., Falmer Press.

This book is a contribution to the work of James S. Coleman in the field of social sciences. The main chapter beneficial for this paper is the chapter where the author analyzed the role of games as a learning device.

(1998). “Content Standards and Grade Level Performance Standards.” Web.

This web site contains information on the content standards in Madison metropolitan District. The main purpose of using this web page is assessing the grade level for implementing each research based strategy.

(2005). “Researched-Based Strategies.” Web.

This site as well as the pages that it links is mainly used as the starting point for the further research. It contains the summary of all the needed information in the field of research-based strategies.

Glasgow, N. A. and T. S. C. Farrell (2007). What successful literacy teachers do : 70 research-based strategies for teachers, reading coaches, and instructional planners. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press.

This book addresses the different research-based strategy’s specifically adjusted for literacy classes. The book provides an extensive explanation on how each strategy can be implemented.

Marzano, R. J. (2003). What works in schools : translating research into action. Alexandria, Va., Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching, ASCD.

Both books by Marzano contain the theoretical background of the research based strategies along with their implications. Both books were used for providing the literature review on the chosen strategies.

Introduction

Providing children with skills and knowledge is no easy task. In that sense, the world was always tending toward continuous improvements in the field of education. The rapid changes in the world change the contents of the curriculum, which accordingly requires changes in the way it should be delivered. In that sense, many educational researches have been conducted in order to constantly improve the educational process through establishing known and standardized practices. In that matter, this paper analyzes the main issue in considering such practices along with providing examples of three research-based strategies with their implementation

Challenges

When developing research based strategies, the main approach is to make the used concepts general, as the strategies cannot include all the specifics of each individual student. In that matter, implementing research-based strategies into instructional practice require a thorough adjustments to face the challenges that might arise during the process of translating the research results into practice. In that sense the following factors should be considered when adapting research-based programs for local instructional use.

  • The adjustment for English Language Learners- The idea of supporting the students who face difficulties can reach boundaries beyond this research, but taking in consideration that these difficulties are at the first place resulted from a circumstances that not connected to personal qualities for ELL students, developing their overall skills is vital issue. The implementation of such considerations might include: the emphasis on reading skills, supporting students’ strengths, connecting to cultural background, varying assessment strategies. (“English Language Learners,” 2005)
  • Addressing different levels- This key factor is resulted from the diversity of learners. In that sense adjustments to research based strategies should be made based on the assessment of the existing knowledge of each individual learner. The implementation of such considerations might include: differentiating instructions, varying learning styles, encouraging students’ choices, and appropriate support and classroom management. (“Differentiated Instruction,” 2005)
  • Individual characteristics- This factor is mainly connected with keeping the students motivated. Students’ motivation should be always encouraged, which in turn requires the consideration of the factors influencing this motivation such as individual attributes, background, experience, and the level of expectations. The implementation implies activities such as the following: students’ engagement in setting goals, recognizing individual differences, encouraging collaboration among students, and developmental differences. (“Student Motivation,” 2005)

There are other factors to consider, where those factors as well as the presented share one common idea which is manipulating the strategies to fit into changing environment. Each of the factors implies the consideration of some correlation in a particular variable, where standardized research-based strategies will be inefficient for all learners.

Cooperative Grouping

An important strategy for classroom implementation is cooperative learning. As the strategy titled, cooperative grouping implies working together in group together to achieve shared goals. Being a generic term that considers different implementation of this strategy, the grouping considered in the section is concerned with organizing groups into heterogeneous class. The defining elements of cooperative learning include the following: Positive interdependence, promotive interaction, individual and group accountability, interpersonal and small group skills, and group processing. (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001, pp. 85-85)

Based on particular conditions and circumstances, there might be three pattern cooperative learning groups used. The informal groups – ad hoc groups that can be formed for a period of a minute or a class, where the main purpose is “clarifying expectations for tasks, focus students’ attention, allow students time to more deeply process information, or to provide time for closure.” (Marzano, et al., 2001) Formal groups are used to complete specific class assignments, and base groups, i.e. long-term groups, are formed for support throughout the semester.

The main arguable element of cooperative grouping is the division base on ability, where “Low-ability students perform worse when grouped in homogeneous ability groups” (“Cooperative Grouping,” 2005), and at the same time “students of all ability levels benefit from ability grouping when compared with no grouping at all.” (Marzano, et al., 2001, p. 87)

There are no certain restrictions on the circumstances for using cooperative grouping, where the only variations that could be observed concerned with the number of students in the group, the ability division and the purpose. The preferred implementation can be achieved through balanced approach in small groups with the smallest teacher-student ratio.

Within the instructional practice, the cooperative grouping will be used for mutual activity. In an example of a lesson for grade five English reading class, cooperative grouping might be used for book report. In that sense ad hoc groups will be formed for the duration of the class with three to four learners in each group. The main approach used will recalling new vocabulary from the short story read during the class. The sense of competition in recognizing the meanings of the new words will be used for the learners assessing their membership in one group.

An example of the activity can be explained as following: each new vocabulary word is associated with a particular action. A chosen member of one group will perform the action, while the other group should say the new word for that action. In that sense the criteria of “positive interdependence” for effective cooperative learning will be achieved, i.e. “mutual goals, joint rewards, resource interdependence (each group member has different resources that must be combined to complete the assignment), and role interdependence (each group member is assigned a specific role).” (“Cooperative Grouping,” 2005)

The aforementioned activity can serve as an assessment of student learning, where the new vocabulary is part of the lessons objectives. The role of this strategy in such assessment can be seen in the following:

  • The possibility for more diverse outcomes.
  • Continuous improvement process becoming an ongoing part of classroom life.
  • Enhancing learning through the students discussing their own work.
  • The ability to assess individuals as well as the group. (“Cooperative Learning And Assessment,” 2005)

Summarizing and Note Taking

An important strategy to consider for instructional practice is summarizing and note taking. This strategy can be easily integrated into lesson plans, where the teacher can help in utilizing this practice by providing the format, and guided practice for students to follow. Summarizing and note taking can be defined as distilling information into “a parsimonious, synthesized form. “(Marzano, et al., 2001, p. 30) In relating Summarizing and note taking to each other, both of them require the student to “translate information from a critical-input experience into their own abbreviated form.” (Marzano, 2007, p. 35)

The representation of summarizing and note taking are linguistic form of processing information, while the processing itself can be nonlinguistic. The linguistic aspect is evident in the ability to talk about what one “read, heard, or experienced.”(Marzano, 2007) The nonlinguistic part, on the other hand, is the associated mental images with a particular experience.

There are several macro strategies associated with summarizing and note taking. One aspect of such macro strategies is questioning. In general, there is “a positive overall effect for prominent use of higher cognitive questions in the classroom.” (Marzano, 2007, p. 38) Another aspect is reflection, which can be summarized as a review of critical input experience, along with identifying the following elements:

  • Points of confusion.
  • The level of certainty about content.
  • Accurate preconceptions
  • Inaccurate preconceptions

An aspect that was previously analyzed as a research based strategy – cooperative learning, where in this context, “it allows students to experience content as viewed from multiple perspectives.” (Marzano, 2007, p. 39)

In regards of the appropriate grade level for the implementation of summarizing and note taking, it can be said that there are no certain restrictions, specifically for summarizing. However, according to grade level performance standards, note taking as a typical behaviour exhibited as the students move from novice to expert, starts from grade five. (“Content Standards and Grade Level Performance Standards,” 1998)

The area of implementation of summarizing and note taking within the instructional practice can be examined through the same content are presented earlier, i.e. English reading for grade five. After reading the material for the class, i.e. a short story or an essay, the students will be asked to summarize the reading on paper. The form of note taking can take the form of a simple outline, which will represent the flow of the events in the story or a list of points that can be considered important. In such way, the students will create a draft, where they will be asked to implement the steps required for developing summarizing and note taking skills. The steps are as follows:

  1. Teaching the students “students the delete-substitute-keep process for summarizing.” (“Summarizing and Note Taking,” 2005)
  2. Removing unnecessary words.
  3. Removing redundant words.
  4. Substituting and generalizing, if possible.
  5. Creating topic sentences.

Two strategies can be integrated together, i.e. summarizing and note taking with cooperative learning. In that sense the new vocabulary game can be more efficient if the students marked unknown words in the notes during the reading of the material, and as a cooperating activity the lists of unknown words can be exchanged within the group to a emphasize the self development of the students.

Additionally, a model presented by Fisk and Hurst (2003) can be used to promote reading comprehension, which is implies that “initial reading of text followed by note-taking, written paraphrasing, sharing of written paraphrase.” (Glasgow & Farrell, 2007)

Simulation and Games

Using a competent approach in forming an educational motivation, is related not as much to the need to comprehend a particular information, but rather to the ability to implement the obtained knowledge in practice. In that sense simulation and games can help in solving such issues. Gaming in the educational process is directed toward the following tasks:

  • Didactic tasks toward mastering the content of a specific subject.
  • Psychological and communicative, i.e. the development of cognitive and personal spheres of the participants of the educational process, the optimization of the relations between students, as well as between the teacher and the student.
  • Reception of information through a particular medium.

In that regard, the processes involved within the game and simulation context include the following:

  1. Acting in a particular instance.
  2. Understanding the particular case.
  3. Generalizing or attempting to understand the general principle that is applied to Step(1-2)
  4. Acting in a new situation or set off circumstances. (Clark, 1996, p. 135)

In addition to the special educational purposes, games and simulations help to solve emotional, communicative, personality and other problems of the students, as well as harmonizing the relation between the teacher and the student. The latter part can be related to the system of punishment and rewards, as in most cases “grades are almost completely relative, ranking students relative to others in the class” (Clark, 1996, p. 134), while games on the other hand, “are inherently appealing to most children – playing a game is in some sense its own reward.” (Clark, 1996, p. 134)

An important element is the implementation of games to serious goals, rather than mere entertainment, where “Major corporations, government institutions, foundations, educators, and nonprofits are turning to games and emerging technologies as a new approach to simulations, training, education, and other practical applications.” (“Simulations and Games,” 2005)

There are no certain restrictions or appropriate conditions for games and simulations, as different games can be implemented to different grade and developmental levels.

Implementing simulation and games to the educational process will vary depending on which priority will be set. It can be said that simulations are better suited for scientific purposes where “Simulations can provide students engaging experiences towards learning crisis -management, communication and problem solving, data management, and collaboration” (“Simulations and Games,” 2005)

In the context of the previously mentioned English lesson, it can be said that cooperative learning is strongly associated with simulations and games. Role-playing the characters of the required reading in class will “provide important opportunities to learn and practice skills when forming cooperative learning groups. (“Simulations and Games,” 2005) In replaying particular scenes from the book, where each student will be given a short line from the text, after which the screen be recreated. In such manner not only the text and the objectives associated with it will be accomplished, also simulation and games might develop creative skills.

References

Clark, J. (1996). James S. Coleman. London ; Washington, D.C.: Falmer Press.

Content Standards and Grade Level Performance Standards (1998). Web.

Cooperative Grouping (2005). Web.

Cooperative Learning And Assessment (2005). Web.

Differentiated Instruction (2005). Web.

English Language Learners (2005). Web.

Glasgow, N. A., & Farrell, T. S. C. (2007). What successful literacy teachers do : 70 research-based strategies for teachers, reading coaches, and instructional planners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: ASCD.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works : research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Simulations and Games (2005). Web.

Student Motivation (2005). Web.

Summarizing and Note Taking (2005). Web.

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