Internship Reflection #4

Program Standard 3

Differentiation – The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual intellectual and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust their practice by employing strategies that advance student learning.

3.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Students

Teacher recognizes the value of understanding students’ skills, knowledge, and language proficiency and displays this knowledge for groups of – students.

3.2 Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness in Lesson Adjustments

Teacher makes a minor adjustment to a lesson, and the adjustment occurs smoothly.

3.3 Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness in Persisting to Support Students

Teacher persists in seeking approaches for students who have difficulty learning, drawing on a broad repertoire of strategies.

Interpretation of Standard:

3. Differentiation – Teachers tailor the strategies used for individual students and groups of students in the classroom based on knowledge actively sought ought regarding students’ academic skills, behavioral dispositions, family heritages and social communities.

3.1 Teachers actively use knowledge about students’ academic skill level, content mastery, and oral and written English language ability to help groups of students achieve academic expectations, thereby demonstrating a knowledge of the connection between individual characteristics of students and necessary teaching strategy adjustments.

3.2 Teachers monitor students for comprehension and behavior through regular formative assessments and make smooth changes in the middle of a lesson to focus in on learning targets that are not being met.

3.3 Teachers identify students who are struggling to master academic standards and continually implement a variety of strategies to meet the learners’ needs.

Focus Analysis: Differentiation 3.2

To provide more than adequate support for all levels of ability in a classroom of 25 students, a teacher must plan for differentiated instruction and be able to make adjustments in teaching strategies in the middle of lesson based on formative assessments and knowledge of individual student need. To benefit students, these adjustments must consist of high quality teaching strategies targeted to help specific learners and the transitions must occur smoothly.

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Figure 1. Lesson plan

In a segment of a lesson plan on Macbeth act 1 scene 3 analyzing Shakespeare’s use of word choice, alliteration and paradox, I altered my lesson plan based on qualitative observations that the support strategy in use was not meeting student need. My lesson plan stated that, following a teacher model of how to select synonyms for the words “fair” and “foul,” students were to work in pairs to complete questions 1-5 on a worksheet (See Figure 1 for lesson plan and Figure 2 for worksheet). The strategy of partner work was employed as a scaffold for students who were not yet capable of independently constructing the denotation and connotation of words, as theory suggests that verbalizing thoughts is a comprehension aide. While students were completing questions 1-5, I circulated and specifically checked with student L. and student Y. who are English language learners who, based on preassessments, struggled with Shakespeare’s language. Neither student was participating in a discussion with a partner nor successfully completing the worksheet.

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Figure 2. Student worksheet

Based on this informal assessment, I decided to regain the classes’ attention and use the teaching strategy of teacher-led whole-class discussion to model possible answers for the worksheet. Student Y. was able to complete the worksheet based on this whole class discussion (see Figure 3). Student L. was still unable to complete questions 2 and 3 (see Figure 4). This indicates that although the change in strategies was smooth, it was only partially successful.

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Figure 3. Student Y.’s worksheet.

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Figure 4. Student L.’s worksheet.


From this attempt to differentiate learning in the middle of lesson plan and my reflection on the relative success, I have learned that, to be most effective, changes happening mid-lesson must be anticipated during lesson planning. I believe with forethought, I would have used a different strategy than whole-class discussion that would have pushed each student to come up with individual answers instead of the ELLs relying on the answers provided by the stronger students in the class. One such strategy would be providing a teacher think-aloud model for question two and then allowing for an individual student attempt at question three. This would have ensured that all students are given the opportunity to advance their own learning without simply writing down what another student says.

My next step for helping these struggling students succeed will be to start the next lesson with a review of examples of denotation and connotation, as repetition is a key strategy for creating long-term knowledge. Another change that I will make is to anticipate possible failures in teaching strategies within each lesson and have an alternative method written into the lesson plan (an option “B”). This will provide me with a well-thought-out alternative strategy instead of an “in the moment” response to student need.


Internship Reflection #3

Program Standard 6:

6. Assessment – The teacher uses multiple data elements (both formative and summative) to plan, inform and adjust instruction and evaluate student learning.

6.1 Designing Student Assessments around Criteria and Standards

Assessment criteria and standards are clear.

6.2 Designing Student Assessments with an Emphasis on Formative Assessment

Teacher has a well-developed strategy to using formative assessment and has designed particular approaches to be used.

6.3 Designing Student Assessments to Inform Planning

Teacher plans to use assessment results to plan for future instruction for groups of students.

6.4 Using Assessment to Provide Feedback to Students

Teacher’s feedback to students is timely and of consistently high quality.

Interpretation of Standard:

6. Assessment – Teachers must plan for a variety of formal and informal assessments to guide their instructional practices and provide evidence of student achievement.

6.1 Assessments created by teachers correlate to state or Common Core standards and are chosen at the beginning of a unit. The assessment is written in language that corresponds to the standards.

6.2 Teachers use multiple formative assessments throughout units and within each lesson in order to provide data that adapts instruction leading up to an end of unit summative assessment.

6.3 Student voice is assessed regularly as students are asked to assess their own progress towards learning goals. This assessment data is used to create responsive lessons that adapt to the needs of learners at multiple levels.

6.4 Teachers use assessments as an opportunity to provide feedback to students with an emphasis on providing feedback during formative assessments which allows students to plan next steps to achieve high expectations on summative assessments.

Focus Analysis: Standard 6.3

Teachers need to consistently adapt instruction to the needs of students; systematically analyzing data from informal and formal assessments is a foundational element for teachers to decide in what ways to adapt instruction. Student self-assessment on learning objectives is one form of assessment that I have been regularly incorporating into lessons in order to modify my instruction. I have used both pen and pencil exit tickets and Google Form exit tickets to ask students to reflect on their progress toward learning goals.

During a writing unit in 10th grade English, I used a Google Form to ask students to self-assess the effectiveness of a new learning strategy for improving their ability to share ideas. The learning objective for the lesson was “I will be able to annotate three sections of King’s Letter and evaluate his claims in writing.” The strategy used to evaluate King’s claims was a “silent discussion” in which the students sat in groups of four and responded to controversial statements from King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail (For example, one statement was “The goal of America is freedom”) in writing on a large, shared piece of paper for two minutes. Then students rotated the paper and extended the ideas previously written by their peers. This process was repeated.

This silent discussion was a new learning strategy, and beyond my own informal assessment of student engagement and level of analysis on the written documents, I decided to use a Google Form to assess how students viewed the effectiveness of the strategy in helping them share evaluative ideas. One question on the Google Form was, “I learned more during the silent discussion than I normally do during whole-class discussions” (See image 1). The student responses showed that only one-fourth of the class agreed that writing their thoughts improved their learning over the tradition verbal discussions. I used this data to adjust my lesson plan for the next class in which we studied King’s Letter. I had planned on continuing to focus on written analysis of King’s writing, but I changed my lesson to balance both verbal and written analysis, beginning with oral whole-class analysis and ending with individual written analysis in students’ writing journals.

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Image 1. Student responses to self-assessment question.

This evidence shows that I am incorporating student self-assessment into lesson plans with a plan for using it to adapt future instruction. The data from the student’s reflection showed that the majority of students valued class discussion over written analysis, however, a minority did find value in written analysis. I was able to incorporate this balance into my next lesson. Through this experience I learned that informal observation does not always match the internal assessment of students. I observed equal if not more on-task engagement during the silent discussion as I do during whole-class discussions. From that informal observational assessment, I would conclude that the silent discussion was equally beneficial for students as a learning strategy. However, the student self-assessment data showed that, in fact, student preference was skewed heavily toward oral discussion.

Using data from student self-assessment has an implication not only for using effective teaching strategies to improve student growth toward learning objectives, it also is an important factor in creating rapport between students and teachers. When students are asked for their honest self-assessments and then they see the teacher respond to this information the next day, students know that their voice matters and a bond of respect and open communication develops between students and teacher. On an emotional level, this is critical for the environment of the classroom.

It is clear that I have opportunities for improvement in correlating my assessments to the learning objectives for each lesson. Looking at the example analyzed here, I could have phrased the question to more directly analyze the students’ progress toward the exact goal of evaluating King’s claims, rather than broadly asking the students if the silent discussion helped them “learn more.” To accomplish this, my next step is to ensure that I plan my learning targets before I plan the student self-assessments, and I must craft the self-assessment questions from the language used in the learning target.




Internship Reflection #2

Program Standard:

5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

5.1 Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport

Teacher-student interactions are friendly and demonstrate general caring and respect. Such interactions are appropriate to the age and cultures of the students. Students exhibit respect for the teacher.

5.2 Managing Classroom Procedures through Transitions

Transitions occur smoothly, with little loss of instructional time.

5.3 Managing Classroom Procedures through Performance of Noninstructional Duties

Efficient systems for performing noninstructional duties are in place, resulting in minimal loss of instructional time.

5.4 Managing Student Behavior by Establishing Expectations

Standards of conduct are clear to all students.

5.5 Managing Student Behavior by Monitoring

Teacher is alert to student behavior at all times.

Interpretation of Standards:

5. Learning Environment – In order for students to succeed academically, teachers need to consider the whole student – the intellectual, physical, and social aspects of the student – and create a classroom atmosphere that allows the students to feel safe and respected.

5.1 The teacher ensures that she builds a connection with students by using a friendly and engaging demeanor for all teacher-student interactions. Teacher actions take into account individual student personalities and adjust interactions accordingly.

5.2. Teacher creates an organized environment by ensuring there are procedures in place for smooth transitions between tasks. This prevents loss of instructional time and prevents anxiety for students who otherwise would be confused about what action to take.

5.3 Teacher follows established procedures to accommodate necessary non-instructional tasks, such as taking attendance. Students have designated tasks to accomplish while the teacher attends to these duties.

5.4 Teacher establishes behavior expectations and communicates them to all students regularly. For example, the teacher could place a behavior poster on the wall and regularly refer to the expectations verbally.

5.5 Teacher ensures students follow behavior expectations by closely observing student behavior. This is best achieved when the teacher circulates throughout the room and intervenes before behavior situations escalate.

Focus Analysis: Standard 5.2

As a teacher, it is my job to ensure that students view my classroom as a place free of anxiety and stress. Part of creating a welcoming and anxiety-free environment is being clear about procedures for transitions so that students do not experience a loss of self-confidence when they are unsure of how to act or what to do next. Additionally, lack of procedures leads to a waste of potentially large amounts of classroom time that could be devoted to academic learning (Marzano, 118).

My English classroom is provided with 1:1 Chromebooks, which allows for expanded integration of technology into the classroom, with the added challenge of ensuring that all students are on-task. It is therefore critical for me to have clearly defined procedures for transitions involveing the Chromebooks during lessons. The Chromebooks are kept in two rolling carts that are locked and must be moved to and from the classroom every day. Upon taking over the lead for the class, I established and communicated my own procedures for the Chromebooks, starting with where the carts would be located each day; I moved them so they no longer blocked access to half of the whiteboard. Next, to avoid a bottleneck at the carts, I created a procedure for students to always take a Chromebook as they enter the classroom on the way to their seats. Even after weeks of using this procedure, I still must verbally remind the first students who enter the classroom to pick-up a Chromebook, as it has not translated into a habit yet.

The next procedure I am working on is wait-time while students download and save the document that will be used for the day’s instruction: I wait approximately one minute and then ask students to look at me when they are ready to move on. This procedure requires monitoring. During the lesson on Wednesday, after everyone acknowledged with their eyes that they were ready, I circulated and four students had still not downloaded the document. I investigate the cause, two students were not listening to instructions and two were confused about how to search for the document. From this experience, I learned that I need to post the title of the document on PowerPoint to assist students and speed-up this transition process. Image 1 shows the instructions I had on the board for Wednesday’s lesson. Image 2 shows the instructions for this coming Monday’s lesson with a specific reference to the title of the document in use. I will monitor the transition on Monday and reevaluate how effective the procedure is.

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Image 1

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Image 2

This example of my daily routines and procedures for transitions involving Chromebooks demonstrates that I am aware of the potential for wasted academic time due to the difficulties involved in distributing and using Chromebooks on a daily basis. Although I am constantly refining my procedures,  I strive to communicate the new procedures clearly with regular repetition so that the students understand the expectations.

Although transitions do not appear to be the most glamorous aspect of teaching, I have learned that they are critical to the academic success of all students. For example, if I failed to monitor the transitions when students downloaded the document on Wednesday four students would not have been paying attention to my guidance about how to use their independent work time. Because these four students are not intrinsically motivated in this class, chances are they would not have asked for clarification. They would have missed an entire segment of critical learning.  I have also learned that I need to devote a significant amount of time before the start of the school year to procedures, but also not to be afraid to change or add procedures as the school year progresses.  It is never too late to improve.

My current goal for improving transitions surrounding the use of Chromebooks is to create a new procedure for collecting the Chromebooks at the end of the class period. Currently, the procedure is simply to devote about four minutes of class time to having all students individually bring-up and plug-in their Chromebooks. Once that process is started, it is very difficult for me to regain the attention of the class. I am going to experiment with a procedure where I will give a signal – double-clap of the hands while saying “Chromebook time” – and one person at each desk will collect their partner’s computer to put away. This procedure limits the number of students who will be out of their seats and ensures that students will not start to put away their Chromebooks too early. Focusing on procedures such as this leads to more time devoted to academic learning and a stress-free environment for the students and the teacher.


Marzano, J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

EDU 6361: Permeable Textual Discussion

Please click on the links below to view a lesson plan outlining how to implement a permeable textual discussion in the classroom (Gritter, 2012).  The additional link shows the instructional materials used to establish procedures for group discussions and the rubric for assessment.

Permeable Textual Discussion Lesson Plan

CR Group Discussion Guidelines and Rubric


Gritter, K. (2012). Permeable textual discussion in tracked language arts classrooms. National Council of Teachers of English, 46(3) 232-259.

Internship Reflection #1

Program Standard 7.1Communicating with Families: Teacher communicates with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and is available as needed to respond to family concerns.

Teachers can help foster positive family support of their child’s academic and behavioral improvement by communicating regularly through an avenue approved by parents. An ongoing case study of the dynamic nature of teacher-parent communications involves a 10th grade English student, T.

As evidence of my work on this program standard, a summary of recent activity follows: I attended a parent-student-teacher conference for T. where both parents expressed concern for T.’s across-the-board failing grades, due largely to lack of effort and failure to turn in assignments. It was disclosed that a computer is not available at home, thus complicating some amount of homework completion for T. I initiated a clarification during this meeting of how best to contact the family for follow-up and they indicated emailing T.’s father was best. Although email is not a robust form of communication, unlike talking on the phone, this preference for email coincides with what research says about the convenience of frequent email communication between teachers and parents (Thompson, Mazer, & Flood Grady, 2015). The meeting concluded with a 6-week focus for T. to attend after-school study groups everyday monitored by his science and math teachers, and for English follow-up to be done during his study-hall (which takes place in my classroom). To encourage open communication, I emailed both parents following the meeting to confirm our mutual commitment to a change in T.’s academic path. Within a week, I followed up with a second email communication regarding a possibility for computer access at home. In English, T. has had three assignments due since the conference and, following coaching and supervision in study hall, T. has turned in two of the assignments, one on time and one late (Figure 1).

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Figure 1. Digital portfolio for T. showing two submitted assignments on the right. 

This summary of my interaction with T.’s family shows that I am learning how to take responsibility for the teacher-parent relationship by initiating follow-up communications in accordance with the method that works best for parents. I am actively seeking resources to help solve limitations identified in the home – namely, computer access – and providing an opportunity for T.’s parents to take advantage of this possibility. Through this experience, I have learned that not all effort will show an immediate reward, as I have not yet received a response from T.’s parents. However, the experience has given me a new level of confidence to be an advocate for the student’s best interest with the parents. I have also made an important shift in my internship from relying on my mentor teacher’s assessment of a situation, to combining his advice with information directly from my own interactions with T. and his family.

Research shows that parent monitoring and discussion of student behavior has a significant impact on student behavioral expectations, absenteeism, and homework (McNeal, 2014). Keeping T.’s parents informed about his progress and assignments will provide substance for the monitoring they are actively involved in. Already, this joint effort to closely monitor T.’s work has resulted in improved effort from T., who has turned in four assignments for this semester, which doubles the total number of assignments he turned in for the entire first half of the year. We are working with the assumption that the act of doing schoolwork will lead to higher learning outcomes.

To continue this positive trend in T.’s effort, I have identified three steps to focus on: 1) Be directive with tasks during T.’s study hall. He responded well when my mentor teacher made a friendly, but assertive statement at the beginning of the period telling T. that the first thing he needed to do was turn in his English paper. Taking into consideration the rapport I have built with T., I will enact the same demeanor regarding T.’s current outstanding assignment hoping to repeat this success. 2) A week before the next large writing assignment is due, I will communicate to T.’s parents what the assignment is and when it is due. Giving them this information ahead of time will enable them to encourage T.’s effort on the assignment. 3) Continue to differentiate assignments, taking into consideration T.’s lack of access to a computer at home. For example, I provided all students the choice to do a handwritten or digital reading journal for the current unit.


McNeal, R. J. (2014). Parent Involvement, Academic Achievement, and the Role of Student Attitudes and Behaviors as Mediators. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 2(8), 564-576.

Thompson, B. C., Mazer, J. P., & Flood Grady, E. (2015). The Changing Nature of Parent-Teacher Communication: Mode Selection in the Smartphone Era. Communication Educaiton, 64(2), 187-207.