Saturday, October 14, 2017

#AEE412 Weekly Investment 8: Individual Teaching Techniques

This week we are finally getting to read about individual teaching techniques!  We learned about group teaching a few weeks ago and then our readings took us down a short path about problem solving approaches and assessments but now we have came back around to find out what individual teaching looks like. 

After reading, I have realized that individual teaching is just as important as group teaching.  This type of technique helps students learn how to evaluate and analyze information presented to them as well as promoting independent working strategies.  Individual teaching is also a great way to add variability to your lessons because as we know, group work is fun most of the time but you can only do so much with group work until you just need to go back to individual work. That way students are able to show what they personally know and don't have to rely on others to help them to convey it.  There are 5 categories of individual teaching techniques that you as the teacher can implement to an entire class or to a select student(s).  These 5 categories are: Supervised Study, Independent Study, Experiments, Notebooks, and Sheets (Informational, Assignment, or Skill).  Below I am going to reflect on each type a litter deeper and talk about how I would implement each type in my classroom.

Supervised Study: This is a way for students to learn the basic steps in how to use reference materials.  They are using resources around them to find the information instead of the teacher "spoon feeding" the students all the information needed to complete the assignment.  This is a great way to give both the teacher and the students a break from lecturing.  I find it much more fun to find information on my own then to have someone tell me what I need to be learning.  If I am able to explore the subject and the content on my own, I will be able to spark an interest much faster then if I am going to be lectured on the information.  This would be a great way for students to research types of milking facilities, which fertilizers should be applied to corn, or what is the best breed of cattle to milk for the most butterfat content in milk?  

Experiment:  Experiments are always a great way for students to learn weather in groups or individually.  With experiments there is a high degree of real involvement and hence interest. Students who are actually involved in their learning learn more and better.  I think that there are endless opportunities for experiments in an ag program.  You could see how animals react to different supplements in feed, you could apply different amounts of fertilizer to plants in the greenhouse and record the growth rates, you could even do experiments in the leadership classes about how self confidence and a great first impression make a difference.   

Independent Study: Independent Study is simply where the research and work is being done by an individual student on their own.  Both supervised studies and experiments can be turned into an independent study very easily.  It is also easy to look to a student who has completed all other work for the class session or lesson and assign them an independent study.  This is time for the student to pull from their own interests and research further into that interest using intrinsic motivators; they want to learn about it because they like it.  This truly could be anything since it is student driven.  

Notebooks:  Notebooks can be a great teaching tool but also a headache.  If students use the notebooks effectively and efficiently then they should work great.  Students are able to keep them organized, write down important notes from the lesson, or any questions they may have that can be addressed later if need be.  A well kept notebook could also be utilized by students later in the class like during a test if the teacher provides a 2 minute window of time to use the notes on the test.  When students don't write anything down, don't keep them organized or if the teacher is not presenting information in a way that students are able to easily capture notes then the notebook is pointless.  We use notebook now as college students in our AEE 412 class and I find them extremely helpful.  It gives me enough space to write out as many notes as I need or I have space to draw pictures/symbols to help me remember.  I also like that each page is dated so that I am able to go back and reference what we discussed on a specific date.  

Sheets:  There are 3 different kinds of sheets that can be used in a classroom; informational, assignment and skills.  I think all of these are extremely important and helpful during instruction.  Informational sheets are great when you would like for students to read over the sheet provided and then answer a few questions about what they read or this could be a sheet that has a picture of a pig and all the names of the body parts.  Anything that is providing information to students that can later be used.  Assignment sheets could be used as homework or could be a sheet of questions that need to be answered as students watch a video.  Finally skill sheets are huge in activities that are hands on.  These would be utilized in a shop setting where students need to be able to complete the skills on the sheet by a certain time period.  I can see myself using all three types very much in the future.  

In the end you as a teacher can use all of these techniques or just stick to one that you really like.  The important thing is that your students are able to gain skills and confidence in working independently and when they are finally able to apply those skills and confidence; you feel on top of the world!  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Solving the Problem with Problem Solving Approach

We have been learning all about the Problem Solving Approach in our classes the last few weeks and had the chance to show what we have learned by teaching a 20 minute lesson.  We have only been teaching for a max of 10 minutes up to this point so this was already a huge change for us.  Before, I was never able to accomplish all that I wanted in 10 minutes so I though that with 20 minutes it would be easy to fit everything in.  I was wrong.  I still felt like I was running through my lesson just to fit everything in.  Part of this is because we were teaching with the Problem Solving Approach so we had to leave enough time for students to be given a question or problem to work through and then also for them to actually work through the problem.

My problem solving approach lesson was focused on a problem that would arise in a Horticulture Class.  The question that I posed to students was "Which plants do we grow for the spring plant sale?"  This is a question that fits into the Possibilities/Factors type of Problem Solving. 

I went into the lesson feeling extremely nervous because I still wasn't sure if my lesson fit into Problem Solving.  I was nervous but I went into it thinking "It's okay because I am not suppose to be a master of this yet.  If I get it completely wrong, it's still going to be just fine I will just have to try harder the next time."  After it was all over I felt like it went okay.  I knew it wasn't perfect but I knew that I tried my hardest and it wasn't a complete fail.  I think that this lesson was a huge step in the right direction for me and I know that there will only be more to come in the upcoming weeks.  I can't wait to see where we will beheaded next in our PSU TeachAg Journeys! 

Below are listed some of my gems and opps for this lesson. 


  • Really like the idea of my problem for the students of which plants we should grow for the plant sale.  
  • Also love that this was a real life problem that can be applied in many ag programs across the nation.  
  • I think I did a good job of making sure to talk to every student through out the lesson.  
  • I need to remember to watch and check the time more often while teaching so that I am better able to gauge where myself and the students are in the lesson.
  • I also need to remember to read the bell work out loud.  This is not something we have to do but I feel that it is better to read to the students as a sign that they need to prepare for the class.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

#AEE 412 Weekly Investment 6: Assessments

This week our readings were all about assessment!  This could not have come at a more perfect time as I have just received my first unit plan back with feedback in relation to assessments.  I only had planned for a summative unit assessment and had no formative assessments planned.  Through that feedback and the readings this week, I feel much more confident in making more assessments with less questions.  My unit assessment was a very long and complex test which I was worried would be too much for students but wasn't sure how else to check for understanding.  I now know that there are many, many ways that I am able to assess student learning.  I will definitely be going back and added more formative assessments to my unit such as quizzes, and task sheets at the completion of my lessons.

Assessments need to be directly related to lesson objectives and the information that was presented in the lessons.  I now know that I need to be testing my students on what they have actually learned and what they are able to perform.  It makes no sense to teach my students at a lower level of Bloom's Taxonomy and expect them to be tested at a high level.  Assessments need to be grounded on the level at which the information has been presented because you also don't want to do the opposite and test at a low level while teaching at a high level.  All assessments need to be fair to the students in the sense that they should not be tested on information or tasks that you know that they will not be able to complete successfully.

No one ever said that all assessments, both summative and formative, have to be in the form of a test.  For many classes the best way to assess what the student has learned is through presenting information gained or performing a task.  These are great for lessons such as welding, electricity, small gas engines and woodworking in an Ag Mechanics class.  This is also great to use for projects in animal and plant science classes by having students do projects on breeds or plants/livestock, types of greenhouses, and integrated pest management.  This assessment would be reflected through a rubric.  Rubrics are a great way for students to successfully show what they have learned!  You present a rubric to students at the beginning of the lesson and tell them that by the end they will need to be able to perform these tasks or present this information.  Students know from the start what they need to be working towards and are able to know exactly what you are expecting from them.  This helps cut down on situations like this : 

Instead, students are able to jump right into work with less confusion and ready to succeed.  
Below is a great info graphic that helped me to differentiate between the types of assessments.  It really helped me to understand what formative assessments are and how they can be used within the lesson. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

#AEE 412 Week Investment #6: Problem Solving Approach

This week we have been committed to learning about the problem solving approach of teaching.  I think thus far, this has been one of the hardest concepts to grasp.  It should be easy to understand, as the main idea of the problem solving approach is for students to in fact solve a problem however I realized that it is a bit more complex than that.

We have learned that there are four different strategies of problem solving approach: forked road, possibilities/factors, situation to be improved upon, and effect-cause.  I was having a hard time wrapping my head around these strategies and how to differentiate between each. It took me a while but I think I finally found a way to help guide me in the right direction when thinking about what each strategy is focused on.  I came up with an essential question that helps me to form the problems that are associated with each.  Below is an image of the strategies and the correlating question that I have found to help.

This image defiantly helps me to link what types of questions and problems to each types of strategy but I am still struggling a little with a different aspect of problem solving approach.  We have to write a lesson plan this week for this approach and I quickly was able to come up with my problem and was able to identify which strategy it fell under, however my problem now is I'm not sure how to fill the rest of the lesson.  

Can a problem solving approach lesson fill 90 minutes?  If so what kind of content to you build around it?  If you teach content around the problem solving, would it fall under an informative lesson instead of a managerial one?  I have learned so much yet I still have so many questions.  If anyone has any tips or great examples of how you use the problem solving approach in your classroom, I would LOVE to for you to comment about it below!!

Monday, September 25, 2017

First Unit Plan Reflection

I have recently prepared my first unit plan for the classes I will teach during student teaching.  This unit if for the Ag Foundations class which is a class that all ninth graders take at Selinsgrove High School.  All classes are block schedule and will be 90 minutes in length.  The Ag Foundations class is where students will be introduced to many different industries in Agriculture like Forestry, Food Science, Welding and Plant Sciences.  This unit plan is for my Animal Science unit where I will be going over main breeds of livestock of five species.  These species are chosen by students interest and also reflect the local industries that are strong in Snyder county.  I also included lessons about the basics of livestock judging, meat quality and proper injections.  Below I have listed some of my concerns for the lesson and some of the things I believe that I did well in the plan. 


  • Do I have enough planned to fill 90 minutes 
  • Do I need to have more activities planned
  • Do I need to have more objectives for each lesson 
  • Do I need to add anything to the lesson/ remove from the lesson 
  • I really like the format I used to lay out my lessons, but might need to change format for rest of plan 
  • I really like the content that I am going to cover in the unit (Think I am covering some real fun/interesting topics) 
  • I really like my unit assessment, I made this test from scratch and think that it covers a lot of information from the unit 
  • I really like my reasoning for this unit  
Many of my successes and concerns were brought up in my feedback.  I actually had many people review my unit plan and give me feedback.  A lot of my feedback helped me with my length of lessons.  I think that as I learn more about pacing I will be able to better understand how much to plan for in each lesson.  I also think that some of my lessons may need a little extra added while other lessons are really full.  I think that I just need to shift some of my topics around to have it spread out well.  I had a lot of positive comments both on my layout as well as my assessment.  This makes me feel great because I put a lot of time into my assessment and making sure I am testing on the important information.  I think that as I go forward in planning units, I will only get better and learn more about how to effectively prepare a plan.  

Interesting points on my Interest Approach

This week our lab session was to demonstrate an interest approach.  I chose to do my interest approach for a lesson on the basics of livestock judging.  In livestock judging, you are usually presented with four animals that you then have judge.  This is exactly what I wanted my students to do in my interest approach but instead of showing them four animals, I gave them four oreos.  What I did was give each student 1 perfect regular Oreo, 1 regular Oreo that had half of the top cookie broken off, 1 min Oreo that had half of the top cookie broke off, and finally a regular Oreo that was only the bottom cookie.  I then asked the students to rank the cookies based on quality.  I asked them too look at the cookies and take notice if the entire cookie was there, were the cookies broken etc.  All of the students has placed the perfect Oreo first and the cookie that only had the bottom cookie last.  They two cookies in the middle though were different for each student depending on their taste.  You could truly rank these two cookies either regular over mint or mint over regular you would just need to defend it by saying that you "personally prefer one over the other because..."  That was a overview of my lesson altogether but below you will find a list of my gems and opps for the lesson.  I really like my interest approach and could find this working great in an actual class setting.  The added benefit is that at the end of the interest approach the students are free to eat the cookies!  Please feel free to leave any comments on how you think this would work in a class or if I should change anything up!! Thanks :)


  • Students were engaged and interested in what we were going to do with the cookies 
  • Students were able to rank the cookies as I hoped the would 
  • Feel that I dealt with issues well 

  • Bellwork took way too long -should have only had them do one type of species 
  • Time ran out before students were able to talk about why they ranked their cookies the way they did 
  •   Gave Students less time to judge the cookies 

#AEE412 Weekly Investment #5 Effective Questions

This week through the readings, I learned about effective questioning in the classroom.  Questioning your students is crucial to determining if they are absorbing the information you present to them during lectures and discussions.  I have always been a little worried about questioning though.  I never want to pose a question too hard that they feel dumb or can't answer but I also don't want to ask a question that is too simple or below their level.  Through the reading however, I have learned that either scenario isn't necessarily a bad thing.

When you pose a question to the class and there is no response, this could mean two different things.  1.  No one feels comfortable answering or 2. They did not learn the information required to answer.  Both solutions come back to you as a teacher and are able to fixed.  If no one feels comfortable answering, then  you as a teacher need to address the classroom atmosphere and get the students to help you understand what a more relaxed environment would be for them to feel as though they could feel confident in answering.  If they do not posses the information to answer the question, this probably means that you as the teacher had an off day and didn't do a good job teaching it.  Do not take it personally!  There is always going to be a time where you could have presented the information in a better or more clear way.  This just means that you are going to have to say "Okay guys, I did not do a good job of explaining this.  How about we go back and try this again?"  Does not mean that you as a teacher or them as students have failed, you just need to adjust and try again.

When you start to wonder if questions are too easy or basic, you just need to relate back to your objectives and the content that you had taught.  For each object for the day, you should easily be able to associate at least 2-3 questions that are able to be answered through the content.  If not, maybe you should re-evaluate your objectives or how you are teaching the lesson.  Also if you start to feel if you questions are too simple, maybe shift to a higher level open ended question.  If you usually ask questions in your class that are closed ended, meaning that they only have a right or wrong answer, shift your questions to more open ended; these have no right or wrong answer.  For example:  A closed ended question would be "What are the parts of the flower?"  This only has a right or wrong answer where students would need to list the parts of a flower.  An open ended question for the same content would be "What do you think the most important part of a flower and why?"  The students will still need to know what they parts of a flower are and how they work but it pushes the minds to the next level.

Learning how to rephrase questions and the difference between closed ended and open ended questions makes me think back to when we learned about Bloom's Taxonomy.  Through effective questioning you can easily take your students from the lower level of knowledge to advancing to the higher levels of applying and analyzing.  I found a very helpful resource that connects questioning to Bloom's that I will share in the resources listed below.  It helped me to realize that by pairing effective questions with clear objectives should lead to the success of a lesson!


Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence. (2015). Using Effective Questions. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

#AEE412 Weekly Investment 8: Individual Teaching Techniques

This week we are finally getting to read about individual teaching techniques !   We learned about group teaching a few weeks ago and then o...