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. 

Gems:

  • 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.  
Opps: 
  • 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. 

Concerns

  • 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 
Successes 
  • 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 :)

Gems

  • 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 
Opps

  • 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!



Resources:  

Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence. (2015). Using Effective Questions. Retrieved from http://www.cte.cornell.edu/teaching-ideas/engaging-students/using-effective-questions.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

AEE 412 Weekly Investment #4: Teaching to a group!

This week's reading have lead us to dive deeper into thinking about how to approach an informational lesson which lines up perfectly as this week we are tasked with writing our first informative lesson.  As I sat and brainstormed this weekend about what information I would like to cover in this lesson, I noticed that a lot of the lesson was going to consist of me just presenting the information to the students.  I don't want for me to just be dumping information onto the students so thankfully the readings were able to help me think a little deeper and gave me some great ideas.  As I read, I also couldn't help but think back over my education over the years and realized that most of my teachers used some of these techniques at some point or another.  When students hear the word group work, we usually think of it as a punishment but now I see that the teachers put us into these groups only to help us learn the content much better.  If they would have just stood in the front of the room and talked about it instead of making us think about the information and work together to understand it, I would have just tuned them and not have learned anything.  I hope that I am able to help my students absorb content more efficiently by incorporating collaborative learning into my classroom by utilizing many of the ideas listed within our readings this week.

Our other reading this week talked about effective objectives for students and the importance of having objectives for every lesson.  I need to make sure that I as the teacher am make clear, concise objectives that my students are able to achieve.  Objectives need to be measurable and contain an action verb in the actual objective.  Student learning, written objectives and teaching all need to be on the same level of achievement as well.  Don't  write a high level objective and teach at a low level.  This would be like trying to reach for a book on the top shelf with out having access to a ladder.  Students will become frustrated and just give up.  No teacher wants their student to just give up on anything.  The video I found about objectives helped lay out the same idea just in a little different fashion.  Everyone has heard of SMART goals, well this laid out objectives in the same way.  Teachers need to have SMART objectives; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relative, and Targeted.  If I am ever struggling with writing objectives, I know that I can always look back on these resources.

Resources:
Groseta, K.J. & Myers, B.E. (2006). Using cooperative learning in formal and nonformal educationView in a new window. Retrieved from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/WC/WC06200.pdf

Newcomb, L.H., McCracken, J.D., Warmbrod, J.R., & Whittington, M.S. (1993). Methods of teaching agriculture. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Whittington, M.S. (2005). Writing objectives in secondary agriculture courses that challenge students to thinkView in a new window. Agriculture Education Magazine. Retrieved from  http://www.naae.org/profdevelopment/magazine/archive_issues/Volume77/v77i5.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpxgLKqhyNo


backgrounds in agriculture or interns in crop consulting  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Final Thoughts of my First Day Lesson

My lesson that was focused on the first day of class went well I feel.    In this lesson we were to introduce ourselves to the class, let the class introduce themselves, discuss the expectations, procedure and consequence of our classroom, and whatever else we could fit into 10 minutes.  I have listed below some of the things I think were successful and also some things I need to work on. 

Successes!  

  • Greeted students at the door and introduced myself to them quickly. 
  • Was able to get to know the students through example bell-work 
  • Loved the idea of my time capsule and think that it would work great in an actual classroom!  
  • Expectations, procedures and consequences were well organized and numbered.  
Opportunities for Improvement! 
  • Was nervous
  • Talked so fast, need to slow down majorly 
  • Need to make my expectations, procedures, and consequences posters more colorful and different from each other. 
  • Think I need to carry my lesson plan with me to help remind me of my prompts to ask students
Over all I think it was a successful but very informative experience and I am excited to see what next week's lab brings and how I am able to succeed or improve then.  I also am interested to play with other types of lesson plan formats this week and hope to find the one that fits me best!  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Home of the Seals!

I was able to explore my cooperating center and learn all about the program, the instruction areas, and the FFA chapter.  I can't wait to begin my experience and learn even more about the students, school and community.  Check out all the cool things I have learned so far! 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mindset: Final Reflection

My reading has come to an end.  I have finished my book on Mindset and I am excited to take
everything that I have gained and learned from these readings and use it to shape me as a teacher with growth mindset.  In the last leg of the book, it discussed a lot of the ways that parents, coaches and teachers not only guide children on the path of mindsets but it also talked about how they themselves need to have a growth mindset.  If you are a teacher who is of fixed mindset but are only trying to have a growth mindset when around your students, they are going to know that it is a fake front and the encouragement that you are trying give them will be wasted time.  Children need the encouragement and praise to be as genuine as possible and the best way to do that is to have a growth mindset from the beginning.  This can be hard! 

As the book goes on further, it talks about how most people are a mix of the two mindsets.  That all of us have a fixed mindset about something and they found that it was usually ourselves.  As teachers or parents, we have growth mindsets when it comes to our children and we are always trying to get them to also have a growth mindset.  We push them and encourage them to keep trying even in the face of failure.  However, when the parents or teachers fail themselves or feel as it they have failed, they will turn to the small part of fixed mindset that they have.  The most important thing to remember in these times is to "Practice what you preach".  You need to listen to yourself and know that it is ok if a lesson didn't go as planned or that every student didn't get a 100% on the last quiz. 

This is something that I particularly hope that I can remind myself of daily when I begin my student teaching.  It is easy for us to be hard on ourselves but encouraging to others who are in the same situation.  Part of growth mindset is that we have to learn from our mistakes and appreciate those moments when we do fail for those are the times of exponential growth.  By no means should we go out of our way to fail, but remember that sometimes the failure is even more powerful than the success!  I know that not every lesson I am about to teach in the spring is not going to go as planned or that I have planned an activity that was not able to meet the objectives of the day.  It is going to very easy for me to think that I am a failure and that I should give up and only conduct lessons that are simple and boring.  However, by reading this book, I hope that I am able to use many of the things I have learned and help keep myself out of these "Poor me" spirals of mindset death.  I need to remember that those will be the times where both myself and students will learn and grow together.  It doesn't mean that any of us have failed; we just need to go back to the drawing board and see how it could have went better. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is going into education but more importantly I would recommend it to anyone!  This book can be beneficial to anyone who wants to change their out look on life or wants to become a more positive person because as I mentioned in earlier reflections, living with a fixed mindset will start to effect your interpersonal relations.  There are countless suggestions within the book on how to start to change your mindset or how to strengthen an already growth mindset.  The most important thing to keep in mind though, is that this is a process.  You can't change your mindset overnight, it will take time and effort to help keep yourself on track to change! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

#AEE412 Weekly Investment Reflection 2

This week we are diving in head first and learning about the part that we all fear the most about student teaching; lesson planning.  This has been on each of our minds within my cohort and it is always one of the first things we have questions about when someone asks "What questions do you have?"  Well this week's reading may help settle at least my mind some.  I was able to take away that sometimes you need to come at a lesson from a different angle.  Our readings specifically talked about started with your desired end result and build you lesson backwards, leading up to developing your objectives.  You could start with a great activity and build off of that or think of a great interest approach and think of  lesson that goes with it; just keep Bloom's Taxonomy in mind.  Doing so will help to ensure that objectives are clear, well stated, and action oriented.
The "right" way to write a lesson plan!


I have had to write a few simple lessons in the past and have indeed had to include objectives in these lessons.  I always thought that the best objectives were those that were lengthy and had elaborate, scholarly wording.  When in fact these objectives are not incorrect, but are not as efficient as those that are clear and easily state what is expected of the students.  I now know that it doesn't matter how elaborate my objectives and not to be as afraid of lesson planning.  I am learning that as long as I keep calm, keep my end results in mind, and utilize the methods and techniques I learn along the way, I will have well written objectives and an overall effective lesson plan. 

I would love to hear how everyone approaches lesson planning as I begin the task of writing my first lesson plans for student teaching!  Please feel free to comment below some of your favorite tips and tricks or ask me any questions you may have! Thanks for reading! 

 http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/siteASCD/publications/UbD_WhitePaper0312.pdf (Links to an external site.)
 http://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
http://community.wvu.edu/~lsmong/Articulate%20Blooms%20Wheel/blooms_wheel.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
 Chapter 5, Planning for Instruction (26 pages

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Closer Look at SAE's

Supervised Agricultural Experience otherwise known as SAE is a vital part of agriculture education.  It serves as the opportunity where students are able to apply and showcase skills that they have learned both in the classroom and in FFA activities through a project of any type.  There is a way to turn almost anything you do into an SAE whether it be raising a livestock project for the fair, working at a local business, or even volunteering in your community.  There are endless opportunities to turn your students experiences and interests into an SAE. Through SAE, students are also able to discover what self-directed learning is.  They are able to take learning into their own hands and dig deeper into the things that interest them.  All of this being said, I was able to see some really interesting SAE while visiting some of the students of Selinsgrove High School.
I started my day off with Mrs. Fry by going to visit Kaitlin Shaffer.  Kaitlin is an incoming freshman
Free stall barn at
Kaitlin's Dairy Farm
to the Selinsgrove Ag Department and is just starting her SAE.  Thankfully her older sister has just graduated from the program and is helping her with small questions she has along the way. Kaitlin has two SAEs right now; swine finishing and on farm employment.  She is raising two market hogs for her local fair and has been keeping records of feed expenses, rate of gain, and once she shows them she will record how they placed and what they sold for. This is a very popular type of SAE with ag students.  In fact, most of my SAE's growing up were finishing projects that were exhibited at the fair. As I said before, Kaitlin also has an on farm employment SAE as well.  She lives and works on her family's dairy farm where they have robotic milkers.  She is able to log her hours and describe her duties on the farm in her records.  Since they have robotic milkers, none of her hours are dedicated to actually milking.  She spends most of her time during this project, helping with  feeding and keeping the milking facilities clean.  Being a dairy girl myself, I was very interested and curious about how things differ at a robotic farm versus traditional milk parlors. 
Jacob working on
the grill of his current
project. 
Next we went to visit Jacob Dock who serves as the FFA chapter's President.  His SAE was very interesting and was new to me.  Jacob does vehicle restoration as his SAE.  He has always had an interest in old cars and trucks and loved working on them in his free time.  So why not turn it into an SAE?  This was definitely new for me.  I knew that SAE's could be very unique but I never knew or thought about having a student have an SAE like this.  Jacob is currently working on two different vehicles.  One is completely tore apart in his garage as he is replacing the grill and various other parts on the truck.  The other is a project that he was working on and took for a test run.  Unfortunately, the test run didn't go very well so he is headed back to the drawing board to see what went wrong.  In his SAE, Jacob not only has to find vehicles to work on and then find parts to fix them but he also does a lot of fabrication.  On one of his finished projects, he replace the fenders and the bed of an old truck but he made it all on his own using the welding skills that he was able to learn in Mr. Swineford's classes at school.  Jacob was even a member of the 2nd place Ag Mechanics team at the Pennsylvania State FFA convention in June.  The team will be competing at the Big E in September.
Our last visit of the day was with Darrah Yerger.  Darrah also serves on the FFA
These are Darrah's Dutch Belted heifers
and her Belted Galloway bull calf. 
chapter's officer team as Secretary.  While driving to see Darrah, Mrs. Fry told me that Darrah had a little bit of everything at her place and I learned that she definitely does.  As we pulled up, I saw sheep, horses, chickens, beef cattle as well as produce fields and fruit orchards.  Darrah helps with all of the aspects of her families farm but her SAE's and focus is on the produce and fruit production as well as her small her of Dutch Belted cattle.  She has two heifers and one bull calf.  I actually learned from Darrah that she has Dutch Belted heifers which can be milked and are more like a dairy breed.  Her bull calf is a Belted Galloway which is the beef breed and get a lot more hair on them. Darrah also helps her dad with the produce and fruit production.  They grow tomatoes, green beans, peaches and apples.  Darrah helps her dad with planting, managing pests, harvesting and selling.  They are able to set up a produce stand at the Farmer's Market in Harrisburg and sell their fruits and veggies. 
Not only did Mrs. Fry just visit with her students and check to see how the SAE's were progressing but also on every visit she had the students pull up their record books and helped them with any questions or problems they were having.  We were able to show Kaitlin how to manage her breeding stock and where to enter the calves that were born.  Jacob had a few questions on how could he apply for a proficiency award and Darrah was curious where she entered experiences that related to her FFA office. 
I had a great day visiting with these Selinsgrove students and can't wait until I get to go on more visits.  I was able to see a variety of projects just in one day and I am curious to see what other unique SAE's are found within the program! 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Don't be a microwave dinner

After reading several difference articles about the difference between effective and efficient teachers.  What I have taken away is that an efficient teacher does the right things while an effective teacher does things right!  Some may take a minute and say aren't those essentially the same thing, but when we start to think deeper, there is a huge difference!  When I sit back and think about the difference is as simple as the difference between a great teacher and a mediocre teacher.  An efficient teacher does do all the right things.  These are the teachers that dump information on students, makes the powerpoints, force students to take notes; all the "right" things to do for students to learn.  They teach everything by the book and don't change it up for fear of something going wrong.  However, these are the teachers that students hate going to their class.  They are long, tedious boring and bland classes that can be replicated by anyone; just like a microwave dinner.
These lessons have nothing interesting or special about them.  They are just standard and flavorless.  I never want to be a microwave dinner teacher!  I want to continuously keep introducing new flavors to my teaching. Even if I try something and it doesn't work as planned, it will still be an experience that impact my students and they will remember it.  I never want my classes to be predictable and easy to be replicated.  From the articles plus from an addition article, 6 Traits of Life-Changing Teachers, I have started to think past the obvious things and how to introduce things like humor, positive reinforcement and structuring comments into my lessons and teaching style.  I just always need to remember that I never want to teach like a microwave dinner; be flavorful and memorable!!

Link to article referenced:
https://www.edutopia.org/article/6-traits-life-changing-teachers-betty-ray?gclid=Cj0KCQjw24nNBRChARIsALldLD1Ka0chLKgEVABv1Y3Guj0BpJaxHNxRf6Lsz35zABsTZdn7IZu5vA4aAjweEALw_wcB

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success Part 2


Mindset: The New Psychology of Sucess Part 2
I have been super busy the past few weeks between getting to experience the Pennsylvania Association of Agriculture Educators (PAAE) Summer Conference and going on my first of several visits to future students' SAE projects, both events to which I will be blogging about very soon!  Between it all I have been able to read the second part of my book and I must say it is starting to really get interesting.  The first few chapters were mainly overviews, ideas, and definitions of what both fixed and growth mindset are.  In the next few chapters, it starts to discuss specific stories, studies and examples of how your type of mindset can influence you life and decisions that you make.  My cooperating teacher, Valerie Fry, and I have both really started to reflect on not only how our types of mindsets will influence us both in the classroom in the upcoming months but how it has truly shaped the way our lives are.  Shall we begin? 
Chapter 4: Sports and the mindset of a champion
This chapter  I actually really got into reading about the backgrounds of some of the most legendary sports heroes we know today like Michael Jordan, Wilma Rudolph, Mia Hamm, Muhammad Ali and Babe Ruth!  All of these people who we idolize all started as athletes who were not so hot in their fields.  None of them were considered naturals which what everyone thinks you have to be in order to succeed in sports.  In fact, most sports agents aren't looking for natural raw talent anymore, they are looking for a good player with an even better mindset.  All of these amazing players and athletes got
to where they are today because of their mindset.  A popular movie called A Cinderella Story has a famous line that has stuck with me (see photo to the right for quote).  This is truly the message that this chapter is pitching home (pun intentional)!  It is saying that if your not the strongest, the fastest, or whatever your excuse is; there is absolutely not reason that you cannot succeed if your mind lets you!  Don't let your mindset hold you back!
This chapter also talks about character and what it is deep down.  "Character is the ability to dig down and find the strength even when things are going against you."  This book does a great job of explaining that character grows out of mindset.  When someone wants to work hard and knows that no matter what, at the end of the day, as long as they have put everything into themselves and be able to say "I can do better or we will get them next time with more practice".  This isn't something that is easy to say or something that you want to say.  We would all like to say that we have growth mindset and that we never give up, but we all know deep down there is that one thing that we have turned our backs on.  This is when character has to be learned.  We have to learn to pick up the pieces, move on and try harder.  We have to learn to put our best foot forward even when things are not going for us.  We have to learn to have heart!  When we learn these things is when we will truly have the mind of a champion; a mind focused on growth!  My take away moment: Mindset is MORE important than talent!- I want my students as I go into my adventure to take risks.  If they are able to word hard, be dedicated and have a growth mindset they will have no barriers! 
Chapter 5: Business mindset and leadership
This chapter really made me think.  I am not very good when it comes to business and it is actually a great struggle of mine.  So when I headed into this chapter I was terrified that it was going to be talking over my head the whole time.  Thankfully, it brought it down to my kind of terms and didn't talk so much on the business end but more on how to be a successful leader and not letting your victories over take your mind.  There was a lot of discussion in the book about different CEOs and heads of companies who started out as geniuses in business, who were going to set so many companies on the fast track to success.  Only a few of the stories provided ended that way.  In all the others, these smooth and fast talking individuals who at first were very good at their jobs.  They quickly got caught up in the image and worrying about what would happen to that image if they failed even slightly.  Instead of admitting that maybe their ideas didn't work they wanted, they would sooner lie to investors and the public.  They just want to prove that they are better than everyone else.  They are only concerned about their reputation and have no concerns about the employees or the business itself.  This starts a bigger problem as these great geniuses don't want great teams to support them.  Eventually, the business will get rid of the toxic leader or unfortunately will fail completely.  The real sad part is that these toxic leaders were happy to see the company fail, they would rather see it close because of them than let someone else come along and gain praise for fixing it. 
Thankfully, the past has shown business owners and investors that these fixed mindset leaders will only harm the business.  They are looking for leaders who maintain a healthy sense of confidence.  Usually these are those who didn't set out to be leaders at all.  They didn't want to prove themselves, they just wanted to do what they love and see where it took them.  Leadership is all about growth and passion which is exactly what growth mindset is all about!  Being able to admit, I don't know what I'm doing can someone tell/show me how it is done is crucial in any type of leadership position.  These are people who are focused on how can the entire group better themselves by working there.  Are they able to push their minds and use their creativity to be able to create a new and better idea than the leader has.  In return that leader is able to say "Look, Joe has worked hard and came up with this great idea!"  My take away moment: Great leaders don't use the word me, they only say we! - I hope that I as a teacher, a leader of the classroom, realize this and remember it as I go forward.  I want us as a class to succeed together in this adventure, not just me! 
Chapter 6: Relationships mindsets in love or not
This chapter was all about how our mindset can affect all of our relationships with others; family members, friends and significant others.  We all have had a bad relationship once in our lives.  It may have been a co-worker, a friend, or even a family member.  When you part ways is when your true mindset will come out.  There two things you can think:  1. Revenge:  All you want for that person is hurt and pain for what they have done or 2. Forgiveness: You walk away saying I have a whole life to live and I am not going to let this hold me back, it went wrong and it's ok.  Can you guess which one is the fixed mindset?  Growth mindset people are able to know how to move on and embrace the future because they know that even though it didn't work out, they were able to learn something about themselves because of it.  There is no great relationship without conflicts and problems so you must be willing to learn as you go.  Which leads me to another favorite quote of mine that echoes this books message.  Country Singer, John Michael Montgomery tells us all in a famous song that "Life's a dance you learn as you go, sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow"( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLrnwnNycoQ ).  As people come into and out of your life you need to take advantage of the time you have with them and learn as much as you can about that person because in return you will learn more about yourself.  An important part of this chapter focuses on the friendships we make in our lives.  We need to search out for those that are going to guide us in wisdom, encourage and reassure us, and sometimes praise us.  There can be dangers in praise as I will later read about in the book, but as humans we all need a little bit of praise every once in a while to boost our moral and help us to not give up.  We also need to not worry about finding perfect people to surround ourselves with.  There are not perfect people and if you only look for perfection you will never learn or grow.  My take away moment: Things don't always work!  Forgive, forget and turn to those who you still have! - I will not win the heart of every student along the way.  I cannot let this bring me down.  I will work to become a better version of myself and learn from that of how I can connect better with all students! 
I am looking forward to what the last section of the book has in store for me!  I know that by reading this, it will only make me a better and more aware teacher of both my students' mindsets and my own.  I am already starting to brainstorm about how I can carry these ideas I have learned from this reading into how I can help inform others of how their mindset is key to how successful every aspect of their lives is!
Thanks for reading! 
- Macy

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am a senior at Penn State majoring in Agriculture and Extension Education.  I have reached the point in my education that I will be learning about methodology and teaching styles in the fall to prepare me for my student teaching experience.  I will be starting my student teaching in January with Valerie Fry at Selinsgrove High School.  Part of my fall classes requires myself and Mrs. Fry to both read the same book and then discuss and reflect on the ideas presented.  We have chose to read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, PH.D.  The book is about the difference in people's mindsets and how to identify the differences.  The book thus far, has included a lot of stories of successes of individuals with a particular type of mindset.  I would like to reflect and summarize main ideas and theories I took away from each of the first three chapters. 

Chapter 1:  The Mindsets
This chapter opened the book by teaching me of the two different mindsets that one can have; fixed or growth.  Those with a fixed mindset tend to believe that qualities and abilities are carved in stone and are assigned at birth.  For example, if you are gifted in math, you have always been gifted just with your natural abilities.  There is no extra required work needed; if your good, your good if your not, your not.  These individuals also require lots of feedback but only if it is positive and confidence building.  If they have any feeling that they have failed at a task, then they will give up and adopt the idea that they are a failure.  If they have excelled at a task, they feel on top of a mountain but need positivity and praises to keep them there or the will spiral down into a feeling of failure.  Once they have mastered a task, they don't want to challenge themselves by going to the next level for the fear of not succeeding so instead they just stay stagnant at the last level of success.  On the other hand, those with a growth mindset believe that basic qualities and abilities are things that can learned and can cultivate through hard work and efforts.  They never stop seeking to learn.  Growth mindset learners feel that there is no success earned with out effort.  Even if you already have mastered a task, you should strive for the next level and keep learning and pushing yourself to do better.  They appreciate a challenge and are want to hear helpful criticism so that they can adapt and grow.  

Chapter 2: Inside the Mindsets
This chapter includes many stories of individuals that compare their personal mindsets and where they have gone in life.  Many of those with a fixed mindset started early life off being called geniuses or child prodigies.  They were always being praised and told that their skills were amazing and had a natural gift.  These people just road on what people had told them was a natural gift and did not exert any additional efforts or practice, leading to them being passes up by those with growth mindsets and efforts have paid off.  It also discussed the idea that those with a fixed mindset also suffer from playing the blame game.  This is when they blame their failures or misfortunes on others.  It never has to do with them not practicing or learning new skills; its everyone else's fault.  The reoccurring example within the book is John McEnroe, famous tennis player.  He never strived to push himself or learn to adapt to new situations; it was never his fault.  The examples of growth mindset mentioned  were Micheal Jordan, famous basketball player and Chuck Yeager, an elite military pilot.  Chuck differed from other pilots, as they believed they were special and born with much more bravery and smarts because they were a pilot.  Chuck said "There is no such thing as a natural-born pilot.  The best pilots fly more than others; that's why they're the best." 

Chapter 3: The truth About Ability and Accomplishment
The final chapter I will be reflecting on talked about how to recognize accomplishments of students.  Studies conducted showed that if individuals were given constructive and specific praises they were likely to change from a fixed mindset to growth.  Saying things such as "Your hard work paid off" or "Really nice job, I can tell you put a lot of effort in" guides students into a growth mindset.  Phrases such as "Wow, your really smart" or "You really have a gift for this" will only support a fixed mindset.  This chapter also discussed stereotypes and the affects that they have on mindsets.  Stereotypes such as woman can't succeed in math and science, or African Americans are less intelligent hinder individuals.  This especially has negative effects on those with fixed mindsets because they feel that no matter what they will never succeed; they feel their destiny is already determined by stereotypes.  But it still expresses that with hard work, effort and a strong growth mindset, you can succeed and overcome your faults.  They do briefly talk about how this needs to be used in context of course.  Those who have access to money, higher connections, and additional resources have a better chance of achieving goals and keeping a positive mindset no matter why type.  No everyone is able to access all resources however, so some have to work and work even harder to achieve success but with a growth mindset they will have a better chance of reaching goals. 

I cannot wait to dive deeper into this book and see what the gems are held within the pages.  I am really hopeful that there are lots of example of how to keep a positive growth mindset overall in a classroom of students.  I would love to have my future students all have a growth mindset and continuously strive to do better and keep raising the bar for themselves.  I already have learned a lot and I have only began.  I never thought much about the feedback and praise given to students and how that can effect their mindset.  I didn't know that calling someone gift or smart could in return someday lead to downfall.  I would love to hear what you guys are thinking thus far of my book and my reflections; feel free to comment or leave questions below.

Thanks for reading everyone! 
-Macy  

Hello Everyone!

Hello everyone! My name is Macy Fisher and am finally a senior at Penn State University majoring in Agriculture and Extension Education.  Through out the next year, I will be using this blog as a space to reflect and discuss the adventures and lessons I will experience through out my pre-service teaching.

I will take on this unique and intensive learning experience of student teaching at Selinsgrove High School under the guidance of Ag teachers Valerie Fry and Curt Swineford.  I cannot wait to begin this journey and am excited to see what the next year holds for me as I learn teaching methods and styles in the fall to prepare for student teaching in January 2018!  I will frequently update, reflect upon, and unpack my thoughts regularly here.  I can't wait until I can tell you more about what's to come but for now I will tell you more about myself. 

I have grown up on my family's owned and operated dairy farm in Mifflin County.  We have a 50 cow milking herd that consists of my grandfather's original herd of Holsteins, my sister's herd of Ayrshires, and my herd of Jerseys.  From the time I could walk, I was always out in the barn with the
cows and constantly learning about anything and everything.  My family is deeply rooted in agriculture but never pressured me to make it my passion, thankfully though I knew that I never wanted to stray away from the agricultural community.  Which lead me to being a very active member of 4-H and the Captain Jack FFA chapter in high.  I was also a part of the track and field team, was in band for a short time, and was highly dedicated to the Captain Jack FFA Square Dance Team.  If you didn't find me in th
e Ag room through out the school day, you could just walk down the hall to the Special Education department and would find me.  Starting in Jr. High, I was a classroom helper every year in the special needs rooms and loved being apart of these students everyday successes.  My life's passion is teaching agriculture but a very close second would be teaching special education. 

You might be wondering what drew me to wanting to become an Ag teacher.  Others may say that it took them a while to realize that they wanted to teach or they started elsewhere and it just came to them; for me it was all I ever wanted to do.  From my first few days in the Ag room at my high school, I knew that I wanted to be just like my Ag teacher!  Erica Mowrer will always be my role model and be the reason that I found my path in life.  She made the Ag room the popular place to be and not just because they did fun things in class.  She made everyone feel like their own rock star and that they can be successful in whatever they do.  It may only be a small victory like getting all of your seeds to actually sprout or it could be coaching a member to run for State FFA Office.  She was able to take me from a shy and quite student to some one who couldn't stop talking and loved talking in front of crowds.  I knew I wanted to teach but I didn't realize that it was my passion until I served a year as the Mifflin County Dairy Princess.  I was able to experience both formal and informal teaching with diverse learning groups and I loved every minute of it.  From that moment, I knew that as soon as I graduated; I was headed to get my Ag Ed degree! 

My path has had a few bumps and turns along the way.  I had to take a few years off before actually starting my journey unfortunately.  The captain of our family's team and the head of our farm, my grandfather, unexpectedly passed away and it took a while for my family to transition not only mentally but physically.  I have always said that my family comes first, so I knew that I could not put my education before helping my family. I hold no regrets in waiting to start this adventure and am very happy to finally be a this point in my life where I can look towards the end of the tunnel and start to see a glimmer of light. 

I can only imagine of what lies before me.  I know that it will not be easy but I know that every moment of it will be worth it; hence my blog title Macy's Moments.  I know that every moment was go though in life, no matter how easy or hard to overcome, is a moment for us to learn and grow.  I hope that you will continue to follow my AgEd journey one moment at a time! 

Thank for reading!
- Macy

#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...