Education Project - Improving Teaching and Learning

Development of professional teaching standards guarantees gaining high skills and knowledge by students. Educational establishments currently do their best to succeed in providing students with high quality education. To achieve this goal, teachers use innovative and non-standard approaches to the structure and plan of the lesson.

Characteristics of the Classroom Environment, Personalities of the Class

The lesson takes place in the equipped classroom. There is a small group of students. They show interest in the topic of the lesson and actively interact with each other. Common interest in the lesson and readiness to answer help the students turn into a rallied team working in a friendly atmosphere. The fact that students take the initiative to be members of the lesson is also an evidence of good social environment. In addition, it is a sign that the teacher managed to set the right tone for working process from the very beginning. An important detail is that students are interested in the lesson from the first minutes. After the first few slides with brief information about one of the Founding Fathers of the USA Benjamin Rush, students obtain the first opportunity to answer questions related to the topic they were listening to. The students begin to answer with respect to each other: they do not interrupt classmates and give everyone possibility to express opinions. As a result, there is an atmosphere of harmonious cooperation, where everyone takes into account both personal interest and interests of other team members. Such a kind atmosphere in the classroom encourages students not only to be confident in their knowledge and possibilities, but also makes them wish to listen to the information very attentively and remember it. The teacher also encourages students to support each other. He does not judge or criticize any one of them for not knowing the right answer. Instead of this, students may answer if they know correct response or let other students express their opinion. After each answer, the teacher says "Good job" to every student. In such a way, each student feels support of his or her social environment subconsciously. As it is evident from the video, students are also able to answer near the board. All the students are endowed with a full range of opportunities. There are no disabled students in the classroom.

 

Planning and Instruction

Disciplinary Theme

An introduction to a lesson's topic is an important element of the teaching process, as it helps to direct thoughts and attention of students to the appropriate area. That is why the lesson begins with an explanation of the idea of the lesson's topic. The context reveals that this lesson continues the acquaintance of students with a famous American theory. It also contains information about one of the Founding Fathers of America Benjamin Rush. The necessity of knowledge connected with Rush's biography is explained by his exceptional achievements and services, which have been important not only for the USA, but for the whole world community. After students are acquainted with the events in Rush's life, including education in different establishments, they find out about miscellaneous spheres of Benjamin Rush's work and his experience in many areas of social and scientific life. During the lesson, attention is also paid to the efforts of Benjamin Rush to develop proper science and democratic just politics in the USA.

Rationality of Choosing this Topic as an Educational Goal

In order to estimate whether the topic is appropriate to satisfy educational targets, it is enough to see the benefits, which it may give to the students.

The knowledge about Rush's life path, social engagement, experience, and his way to success accomplishes three important tasks. Firstly, the students are able to understand a contribution of this exact person to the further well-being of the USA. Secondly, information about the activity of one of the Founding Fathers of America is an important element for understanding activities of other personalities important for America's future, which will be discussed during following lessons. Thirdly, the biography of such a prominent person is a good and rather inspiring example for young and enthusiastic students on how to set and achieve goals and be useful for other people at the same time. Moreover, knowledge gained during this lesson may be also useful for better and deeper understanding of other related subjects and sciences.

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Assessment of Students

As the new facts are introduced during the class, it seems logical to check and assess whether students remember them. In order to achieve this goal, there is a special system of assessment, which is carried out with the help of technological equipment. Smartboard activities are used as a tool for control of knowledge. The purpose of the task for a student is that he or she has to come to the board first. On the screen, there are balloons, inside of which some facts from Rush's biography are written. A student has to read the information and say whether it is true or false. After this, a student presses the balloon and it blows up showing the sign "+" if the answer is "true" and "-" if the answer is "false". Such a system of student assessment has some evidential advantages. On the one hand, creative approach to the control of gained knowledge helps students be relaxed and engaged in the process. It means that they forget about the element of "assessment" and manage to enjoy the process itself. On the other hand, such a method gives a teacher the ability to understand quickly whether students accept and remember the educational material successfully. If yes, it means that educational goal of the lesson is achieved. If no, the teacher may see this situation, take measures and slightly change the way the material is explained, so that the next lesson will be more successful than the previous one. An important moment is that during the entire lesson there are some tasks, which prepare students for the final assessment. Questions and answers are repeated a few times during the class. That is why when it comes to a final assessment, it is not something unexpected for students since the material on which questions are based is already effectively memorized by participants.

Rationality of Using Technology

One of the major steps to successful teaching is the ability to give students all the necessary information in an understandable fashion. Technology is the tool, which helps to achieve it. Students can strengthen understanding of new information with the help of visual and comprehensive effects that exist owing to integration of the modern equipment. In this case, students see and read information about the subject of the discussion with the help of interactive board. They also watch the video with interesting additional information about Benjamin Rush. In such a way, the acquisition of knowledge is much more effective even on a psychological level. The matter is that the usage of this technology stimulates work of both visual and aural memory. An important moment is that the usage of technology during the lesson makes the process more modern, which, therefore, attracts interest and attention of students. A moment in the video when a student asks to press the balloon (final assessment) once more proves the effectiveness of technology. Why does she do this? Because the lesson is dynamic for her and she wants to take part in it. Subsequently, it becomes apparent that technology helps to improve the quality of the lesson. Moreover, brief informational slides, which are used during the lesson, encourage students to constantly refresh and repeat new information. This approach helps them to remember information subconsciously, without special attempts to memorize it. Overall, integration of technology into the learning process gives such results: better understanding and remembering the material, higher interest of students in the material provided, as well as possibility to show more useful information.

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Rationality of Using Specific Teaching Materials

Teaching materials play a key role in the whole process as they are the main sources of new information. Due to this fact, it is necessary to pay thorough attention to choosing them.

During this lesson, the following materials are used: video, which tells about certain moments of Rush's life in more detail; pictures, which show types of activities in which Benjamin Rush was engaged; info slides with the main stages of Rush's biography. An interactive game for assessment of students' knowledge is also provided at the end of the lesson. Another reason for using these materials comes from objectives and goals of the lesson, as well as the effect, which they have on students. The main goal of the lesson is to provide students with necessary information about the biography of Benjamin Rush. Work materials of the lesson contain this information. The choice of these specific materials has also a very positive influence on the ability of students to perceive words. Hence, we see that the choice of materials makes the lesson as successful as possible in all aspects. It obviously explains the rationality of these work materials as key tools of the lesson.

The Structure of the Lesson. Fostering of Equity and Fairness

The importance of well-planned structure is that it helps to manage time for all tasks and goals of the lesson. The structure of this lesson is planned so that students may interact both with each other and with the teacher. Practically, it is realized in a way that students are asked about the information they just heard almost after each block of information. This method helps students to stay active during the entire lesson. After discussing all materials of the lesson, students can check their knowledge with the help of Smartboard activities. Such an approach guarantees equity and justice of studying process. It often happens that a person wants to answer or express his or her opinion, but cannot do this because teacher chooses someone else to answer. At this lesson, situation is different: the possibility to answer depends only on the wish of a student, and teacher accepts everyone's answer. In addition, the atmosphere among students is also very supportive: if someone makes a mistake, students help this person with good-humored jokes and laugh. Each student also has free comfortable access to the materials of the lesson. All the information is mainly provided through the board. The classroom has all necessary conditions to make sure that information on the board is available to everyone independently, in any place at the classroom a student may sit.

Analysis of the Video Recording

Video Sequence as a Harmonious Element of a Teaching Sequence. Closure of the Lesson

During the lesson, it is important to create comfortable studying atmosphere. Subsequently, this raises the question whether video recording is not a disturbing factor. Considering its advantages, the video itself has become a successful and logical element of the teaching process in general. It helps to improve different aspects of learning process. The first aspect is the way the teacher leads the lesson. It is a wonderful opportunity for the teacher to look at herself independently and evaluate strong and weak points of her speaking. The second essential aspect is that video reflects general atmosphere during the lesson. It is easy to analyze social environment in the group and assess general mood of participants during the lesson. In addition, the teacher can notice some important details, which were not obvious in the process of the lesson, but became explicit after watching the video attentively. Probably, the most important thing, which makes the video a harmonic element of the teaching process, consists in its high quality and transparency. The fact is that readiness to record a video of the lesson is an obvious evidence that the studying process is held according to high standards and there is nothing to hide. In such a way, educators have an opportunity to show a high quality of teaching, and pupils have a possibility to express their opinions and to be sure that the way they are taught is highly efficient.

What is more important, closure of the lesson is one of the criteria aimed to assess the quality of the lesson. The lesson in the video is closed by discussing an assignment for the next class. The teacher asks students to use a social network, where they can obtain access to the assignment. After elucidating all details connected with homework, the lesson is over. The usage of social network for studying cooperation is also an innovative and modern approach, which helps to create good work environment between teachers and students.

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Objectives and Effectiveness of Materials, Which Come From the Video

The video helps to comprehend the main objectives, goals and purposes of the lesson. Evaluating the effectiveness of materials, there is no doubt that the choice was right. The teacher could rely on info slides and students had an opportunity to learn new information much more effectively with the help of additional technical equipment.

Strategies of the Lesson

Being a thoroughly planned event, this lesson has a definite structure and strategy of assessment, good questioning and elaborate actions in case unanticipated changes occur. One of the distinctive features of this lesson was the absence of the aim to give a mark of knowledge for every student. Instead of this, the main task of the assessment process was to compare the level of students' knowledge before and after the lesson. In such a way, there was a try not to evaluate the level of knowledge, but to help make it better and higher in an interactive way. To achieve this goal, a special activity on the Multiboard was applied. The strategy of questioning was to ask questions connected with key points of the discussed topic during the lesson. The main reason for such a strategy is to help students remember information through repeating and recollecting the new data. High level of teaching also includes the ability to act correctly in unexpected situations. Though there are no serious situations, there is one interesting moment. During the assessment activity, one of the students made a mistake. According to the assessment strategy, each student answers near the board only once. However, this student wanted to take a second chance and asked for the teacher's permission to answer again. Though it was not planned, the teacher allowed the student to try once more. In such a way, a rejection, which is unpleasant for students, was successfully avoided.

Intellectual Engagement, Evidence of Inquiry

A wish of the previously mentioned student to take part in the activity even after the failure is a very positive sign, which may serve as an evidence of high intellectual engagement of students in the topic of the lesson. It means that the interest in taking part in the discussion and the desire to answer correctly were even greater than the fear of failure. The secret of such a successful lesson lies in finding the right strategy for communication with the youth. Their interest in modern technology was integrated into the learning process through the usage of technical equipment during the lesson. What is also important, students answered mostly correctly during the lesson. It means that they understand and remember the material, which the teacher gives them.

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Classroom Climate

Another significant aspect, which may be analyzed with the help of the video, is general atmosphere during the lesson. According to psychologists, the social atmosphere is one of the major factors, which influences person's ability to concentrate on information and analyze it. If the atmosphere is friendly, it facilitates the process of critical thinking; if there is a pressure, the ability to concentrate decreases significantly. The video shows that the atmosphere in the group is very kind, supportive, and friendly. This is one of the main conditions for successful studying process. There is one moment in the video, which clearly shows the atmosphere in the group: when someone gives the right answer, all the students gladly applaud, but when someone makes a mistake - everyone is disappointed and begins to support a mistaken student.

Conclusion

This project is a unique opportunity to show and analyze the teaching process. The video recording makes it possible to see its both advantages and disadvantages. According to the results of the recorded video, key factors for successful teaching process are comfortable social environment, technical equipment, interesting material, and appropriate communication skills of a teacher in order to build rapport with students. The analysis of the video material helps to improve these aspects and make lessons even more interesting.

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