Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Philosophy of Education

The idea of our own Philosophy of Education is a personal thing. It is ours and ours alone. Whether we realize it or not we all have one. Our philosophy is shaped from several sources. It is shaped from what we have learned from others. I have taken many graduate level courses on a variety of educational topics. It is shaped from what we have experienced. I have experienced eight years working in the classroom in some way or another. It also is shaped by our own personality and thoughts. I have pondered and questioned how I can improve as a teacher of children. Writing this Philosophy of Education paper allows me to put down what I believe about how to educate others. Four points I would like to make in this paper are: the purpose of education to gain tools to explore the world, always trying new things and make it fun, students are individuals and unique, and teaching is a partnership and respect them.

First, I believe the purpose of education is to help students gain the tools needed to explore the world around them. We are all learning as we go through life. The information we gain as we have experiences helps us to create the way we perceive the world. As teachers we help our students gain the tools to interpret and build upon the knowledge we are given from our experiences. Every single day we are evolving our perception of the world in which we live.

As teachers we should help the students learn the skills to gain knowledge for themselves to improve their lives. We teach facts. These facts tend to may stay constant or may change slightly from time to time. For example let’s take math. During a math activity a student was bowling. There were empty several soda bottles used as pins and a soft ball as the bowling ball. The student had two attempts to knock down the pins. After the two tries the student added the number of pins that were knocked down each try. So if the student knocked down two pins on the first try and five pins on the second try; the number of pins the student knocked down for that turn was 7. It does not change that 2 plus 5 equals 7. That is a fact that does not change. In order for the students to gain that knowledge for themselves they need to be taught the skills to interpret the experience of knocking down the pins and knowing how many were knocked down.

However sometimes facts can change. For example during a school year in which there is a presidential election, if you ask a student who is the president of the United States, you may get two answers depending on when during that year you ask the question. As our perception of the world changed so did the fact. As teachers we should give the students the ability to question and to find the answers out for themselves. They need to be able to think and reason for themselves to the best of their ability. In this example the students need several things such as: knowledge of government, what voting is, reading or being able to follow someone else speaking, and retaining the information. When they are able to do this then they gain knowledge to improve their lives.

Second, I believe that to be an affective teacher that you should always try new things and make learning fun. Do not be afraid to experiment in ways to present information from the lesson to your classroom. We can always improve. As such teachers should always be pondering on how I can present this material. How can I make the lesson real to them? How can I present the lesson in a way that they will remember the concepts? How can I grab and hold their attention? Teachers should talk to one another and share what has worked and what has not worked for them.

Teachers should try to make the lessons and activities as fun as possible for the students and for themselves. If you are not enjoying what you are presenting to students that can come across to the students and can affect their learning of the material. Also if the students are enjoying the learning process then it will be an experience they will want to remember. This will then affect the ability in retaining knowledge from the lesson. That is a reason it is important to try new things.

I have an example of the second belief. One thing I have worked on in my class is calendar systems. The calendar system is a way for the students to keep track of their schedule for the day. Every student has their own schedule to follow. I go over it in the mornings. The student’s calendar system is made up of tactile symbols that stand for activities during the day. There is a symbol for activities such as bathroom, eating, orientation and mobility, physical education, classroom lesson time, art class, etc. There are also symbols for the days of the week. Every day the students have a different schedule to follow.

So one of the things we have worked on is for the students to be able to identify the different symbols for their calendar system. As the year progressed I tried several different things in order to help learn the symbols. First I went over the calendar in the mornings at the same time every day. I took time for the students to feel the symbols as we discussed what was going to happen that day. Another thing I tried was to give a student a symbol to hold and explore. I then asked the student to choose between two choices and tell what symbol they had. I played board games with the students in order to help them identify the symbols. When we went over the schedule the students got to add the symbols to the calendar. When it was time for an activity on the calendar schedule the students got to feel the symbol for the activity and then when the activity was finished to put the symbol into the finished bag. I also made up a silly song about the symbols to help the students identify the symbols. Now I did not do everything at once. But as the year went on I kept thinking how we can help improve the way the students learned the symbols for the calendar system. I was willing to experiment. I was thinking of ways to make learning enjoyable and fun for the students and myself. All these things helped the student to learn to identify the symbols for their calendar system.

Third, I believe that each student is a unique individual. The students are coming from different backgrounds and experiences. The students have different strengths and weaknesses. The students have different challenges and opportunities. The students have different learning styles. All of these things must be taken into consideration by the teacher. As stated earlier, teachers need to ponder how to improve the lesson. Teachers need to be flexible and willing to try something new. As much as possible lessons should incorporate something from all the learning styles in them.

For example let’s go back to an example I had used earlier. One of the activities that students in my class enjoyed was the adding of bowling pins. The rules to the activity are stated previously in the paper. In this lesson the students got to do each of the learning styles audio, visual, and kinesthetic. During the lesson several things happen. The students have the auditory learning style when: I explain the rules to the activity, when they hear the ball knocking down pins, when they count verbally the number of pins were knocked down on each try, and when they state the answer to the how many pins where knocked down totally. The students are visually learning when they feel the ball and pins, feel each pin when they are counting, and feel all the pins they knocked down. The students are kinesthetically learning as they throw or role the ball toward the pins, as they move to touch the pins as they count, and as they move to take turns during the activity. Thus during this fun and simple learning activity all of the learning styles were incorporated for the students.

Fourth, I believe to be an affective teacher that you need to remember that it is a partnership between the student, family, and teacher. As such you need to respect the people you work with. I think if you are respectful and show it on a regular bases then the exchange of ideas can flow smoothly. It helps with the classroom management side of teaching. Being respectful is for you, students, other staff, and teachers. As stated everyone is in a partnership in the education process. Being respectful is not hard and just requires doing some of the little things. Some examples of this include: using words like please and thank you in your everyday conversations, telling others you appreciate their efforts, being upfront and honest with others, and being calm and patient with others. When you are respectful to those around you it helps to provide a safe and friendly atmosphere in which to exchange and practice ideas and concepts with others.

I have had experience with having students in my classroom who have reputations of having behavior problems. These problems can potentially affect everyone in the classroom as well as at home. I have seen by being respectful to the student with the behavior, the family, other students in the classroom, and staff; situations that had a potential to escalate were able to gradually die down. It really helped to realize it was a partnership and to be respectful to everyone involved.

Thank you for reading my Philosophy of Education paper. I hope that this gives you a better understanding about me. I believe that as a teacher I can better educate the students in my classroom by following the beliefs discussed about in this paper. I believe that by following these believes that I can have an effective classroom environment in which everyone involved can benefit.

Journal of O&M Experiences

June 7 – It is the first day of class. I need a big note book for the class. We worked on sighted guide activity today. It was fun. We just went down the hall and back. We were in pairs. One person had a blindfold on and was holding on the other persons arm above the elbow. The person that could see led the other person around.

June 8 – We picked up canes today. It was a nice walk over to Spring Annex. The canes are measured from the sternum down to the floor. This helps to find the right size cane for you.

June 9 – Today we talked about guide dogs and did a little sighted guide work. We had a person come in talk about her experiences with using a guide dog. We saw the guide dog move through a little optical course. It was interesting to see the dog guide his master around. He shielded the master from the objects in the path. We practiced trailing down a wall and worked on sighted guide more. I learned what it feels like for my kids as they try to travel down the hall. You are dependent on your guide to keep you from hitting things as you travel. When you are trailing ye feel every little thing along the wall.

June 14 – Today we got to try on different glasses that simulated cataracts, glaucoma, and reitnitiour premotoma. It was very interesting to experience what it is like to have these eye conditions. I actually ran into a chair my first trip out in the hall. After that I grabbed my cane to travel.

June 15 – I tried a vision simulator that was 20/400. I could see real blurry shapes but not much detail. When I was moving around the room, I felt like I was on a ship that was rocking around. I felt very unsteady. I only had the simulator on for maybe 5 minutes, but since I was not used to the unsteady feeling I had, I started to feel motion sickness. Interesting experience.

June 22 – Today we practiced trailing and sighted guide again. I first worked on trailing. I started from the room and went to the part of the building with the elementary hall. There is a big tactile dragon on one of the walls. I took time to feel the dragon. I had one instance where I took a side trip into a bathroom. That was not intended. The sighted guide practice went well.

June 23 – We did a lot of cane work and trailing today. It was an interesting experience. It really is fascinating to experience what it is like to travel without being able to see. There were times that I ran into things on the walls like a fire alarm or into doors that were open. At other times I found that I got turned around and lost. I did not know where I was in space and did not know what direction I need to go. It was a real eye opening experience.

June 24 – Today we did a lot of work with the cane. We worked on the touch technique or the 2 point touch. This is when you hold the cane in the correct position, in front of you at the belly button, and move the cane from side to side an inch past your shoulders. You tap the can tip on the ground in each direction as you walk. We started close to some stairs outside an entrance to the building. We traveled down to the side walk until we found the curb to the parking lot. We then turned left and traveled down the sidewalk. The curb was our shore line or land mark to keep us from weaving around and to stay on the sidewalk. We followed the sidewalk until we came to the end and ran into the grass. We turned right as the sidewalk turned. We took a few steps and then turned around 180 degrees to the left. We then walked until we found grass in front of us again. It was a few steps. We then turned left and traveled down the sidewalk the way we had come. This time we had a shore line of grass on right. We traveled down until we lost the grass shore line. At this point we turned right and followed the side walk with the grass shore line. We traveled until we came to some steps. We walked up the steps and found the doorway into the building.
It was an interesting experience. You had to do a lot of things at the same time. You had to keep your arm in the correct position. You had to move the cane with your wrist and not your whole arm. You had to keep the shore line on your right and not lose it. You had to listen to instructions. You also had to keep in step with the taping of the cane. The left foot moves when the cane is taping on the right side and the right foot moves when the cane is taping on the left side. You also had to know where you are in space. All of these things came into play.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Spiritual Preparedness: Increasing Our Testimony

This Christmas when my family got together my folks decided that instead of presents the adults would do presentations and have discussions. I was given the topic spiritual preparedness. Here is my presentation. I used a lot of Church articles for my presentation.

Spiritual Preparedness: Increasing Our Testimony

Matt. 25:1-13 the parable of the ten virgins and the bridegroom. The wise virgins where prepared. Who are the virgins? What does the oil symbolize?

The ten virgins, according to Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “represent those church members who are looking for the Bridegroom to come; and the oil-filled lamps are symbolic of the Holy Spirit which lights the way before the saints.”

What does the Holy Spirit do?
• The Holy Ghost works in perfect unity with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fulfilling several roles to help us live righteously and receive the blessings of the gospel.
• He "witnesses of the Father and the Son" (2 Nephi 31:18) and reveals and teaches "the truth of all things" (Moroni 10:5). We can receive a sure testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only by the power of the Holy Ghost. His communication to our spirit carries far more certainty than any communication we can receive through our natural senses.
• As we strive to stay on the path that leads to eternal life, the Holy Ghost can guide us in our decisions and protect us from physical and spiritual danger.
• Through Him, we can receive gifts of the Spirit for our benefit and for the benefit of those we love and serve (see D&C 46:9–11).

What is a testimony?
A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior's true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel.

How can we gain a testimony?
• The first step in gaining a testimony is to want one (see 1 Nephi 2:16).
• We must ask our Heavenly Father to help us gain a testimony (see D&C 42:51).
• We must want a testimony enough that we are willing to work to gain one (see Ether 12:6).
• We will enjoy our testimony as we study and grow and increase in our knowledge of the truth (see John 8:32).
• We must care for our most prized possession, our testimony, by keeping the commandments of our Heavenly Father (see Mosiah 2:41, Alma 32:41).

Why is desire so important?
• The laws of God are concerned with spiritual things. Spiritual consequences are brought about by our thoughts or desires, as well as by our actions.
• God judges us not only for our acts, but also for the desires of our hearts.
• Our heart is right with God when we truly desire what is righteous. It is right with God when we desire what God desires.
• President Joseph F. Smith taught that the “education … of our desires is one of far-reaching importance to our happiness in life.” (Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 297.)
• How do we educate our desires? We begin with our feelings. [W]e should pray to have the right kind of feelings about our experiences—positive or negative—and about the people we knew. If our feelings were right, the desires of our heart would be right and we would be more likely to take right actions.
• If we refrain from evil acts, we have clean hands. If we refrain from forbidden thoughts, we have pure hearts. Those who would ascend and stand in the ultimate holy place must have both.

Why is prayer important for us?
• We are all children of God. He loves us and knows our needs, and He wants us to communicate with Him through prayer. We should pray to Him and no one else. The Lord Jesus Christ commanded, "Ye must always pray unto the Father in my name" (3 Nephi 18:19). As we make a habit of approaching God in prayer, we will come to know Him and draw ever nearer to Him. Our desires will become more like His. We will be able to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that He is ready to give if we will but ask in faith.

What kind of work must we do?
• President Kimball has given some direction on how to fill our lamps with oil: “Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years. Fasting, family prayer, home teaching [and visiting teaching], control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures—each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thoughts and actions, marriage in the covenant for eternity—these, too, contribute … to the oil with which we can [by] midnight [be ready].”

What does scripture study do?
• In order to come unto Christ and be perfected in him, each person needs to receive a testimony of the Lord’s words. Some individuals falter because they fail to open the books, others because they read casually. As one would expect, there is a difference between diligent searching or “pondering over the scriptures” and casual reading.
• A casual, infrequent exposure to the scriptures will generally not open the door to the whisperings of the Spirit or provide insights into the Savior’s life and character.
• President Howard W. Hunter said, “Those who delve into the scriptural library … find that to understand requires more than casual reading or perusal—there must be concentrated study. … One who studies the scriptures every day accomplishes far more than one who devotes considerable time one day and then lets days go by before continuing.”
• There are certain blessings obtained when one searches the scriptures. As a person studies the words of the Lord and obeys them, he or she draws closer to the Savior and obtains a greater desire to live a righteous life. The power to resist temptation increases, and spiritual weaknesses are overcome. Spiritual wounds are healed.

How does obedience help us?
• Many people feel that the commandments are burdensome and that they limit freedom and personal growth. But the Savior taught that true freedom comes only from following Him: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31–32). God gives commandments for our benefit. They are loving instructions for our happiness and for our physical and spiritual well-being.
• The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that obedience to the commandments leads to blessings from God. He said: "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated" (D&C 130:20–21). King Benjamin also taught this principle. "I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God," he counseled. "For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it" (Mosiah 2:41).
• Our obedience to the commandments is an expression of our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Savior said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). He later declared: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept
• my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10).

Now that you have a process to follow, what should you do first?
• First take time to ponder your life and your testimony. Ask yourself what you would like to improve and work on. You can do this both individually and as a family.
• Make a plan on how you would like to accomplish this goal. Use the steps in your plan. Go and do it.
• Take regular times in your life to repeat the pondering of your life and make improvements as needed.

Are there any thoughts or comments?