The course, CURR304: Elementary Curriculum and Methods, has been developed for preservice teacher candidates in the initial phase of their preparatory program. These students enter the course having already completed two years of general liberal arts studies. The class meets two days each week on campus for one and a half hours each session. Students also work in an elementary classroom one day each week for approximately three hours and, among other assignments, they must teach a whole class lesson that incorporates important strategies learned in the course. The main goals of the course provide a general overview of important content:
Students will be able to
- identify important generalizations, concepts and facts related to a specific social studies topic and develop a unit content analysis that outlines the major ideas and concepts in a logical and coherent sequence
- locate and incorporate important social studies resources in their unit, including primary source documents, children's literature, photographs, artifacts, music, etc.
- use knowledge of state standards, constructivist learning theory, James Banks' Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Model, Blooms Taxonomy, and Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences to create lesson plans
- utilize inductive, direct, and cooperative strategies to create a two week unit of meaningful lessons that teach important generalizations, concepts, and facts
- create inclusive lessons that address the unique learning needs of students from diverse cultural groups and diverse abilities and intelligences
- critically reflect and analyze instruction in the elementary classroom
After attending a professional development workshop on the use of the INTIME
Technology as Facilitator of Education Model and video case studies, I examined the methods course to determine how the use of technology and the INTIME case studies could facilitate the achievement of important course outcomes. Two areas appeared most appropriate: first, the course could be enhanced by teaching students to develop strategic internet search skills and to locate important Web-based education resources including subject directories, clearinghouses and gateways; second, the students could further refine the skills of critical reflection and analysis by critiquing the video case studies of social studies instruction in elementary classrooms.
The syllabus was altered to include assignments and projects that would support these two goals (See notebook section labeled "Syllabus" with technology sections highlighted in yellow). First, early in the semester two classes were designated for instruction on the use of searching strategies and introduction to important web-based resources. Students met in the computer lab and I modeled and described important search skills (See handouts from these sessions in the notebook section labeled "Teaching Search Skills"). The skills addressed included
- Identification of hostnames as an indicator of credibility
- Distinctions between subject directories, clearinghouses, gateways, meta-search
engines and search engines
- use of Boolean operators
- criteria for assessing validity of source material
- use of the Michigan Teacher's Network Clearinghouse and other identified web- based resources
In addition to these two sessions on web-based searching strategies, I developed a group project that required use of the INTIME Facilitator of Education Model that was weighted as twenty-five percent of the course grade. In groups of three, students were required to analyze one INTIME video case study of elementary social studies instruction. Four cases were identified, those of Ms. Western, Ms. Hemphill, Ms. Challens, and Ms. Robinson. In preparation for the case analysis students had to read the INTIME Facilitator of Education Model and examine an evaluation instrument I devised based upon the model (See section in notebook labeled "INTIME Evaluation Tool").
This evaluation instrument was modeled on the observation forms principals traditionally use to evaluate first year teachers. The students were asked to compared the INTIME evaluation instrument with one used by the Ann Arbor Public Schools because I wanted to expose them to the criteria that are typically used in the schools to evaluate first year teachers. Students noted that the INTIME Model was much more complex and while categories were similar (The Ann Arbor Evaluation instrument is based upon NBFTS Teaching Standards), the INTIME Model explicitly addressed many sub-skills not evident in the Ann Arbor evaluation instrument. Next, I took students to the computer lab and we viewed the case study of
Kim Reed together. We evaluated his instruction using the evaluation instrument. I also created a summary report of our analysis so students could have a model for their group reports (See notebook section labeled "INTIME Assignment"). Students then met in groups of three to critique their assigned video case and were given 3 class periods to work in the computer lab on the project.
The groups of three could come together with another group of three assigned the same case, compare notes, and write a single report together. Finally, each group had to present their analysis to the class. During each presentation they had to show at least two clips from the video and comment on all seven categories of the model as well as conduct an analysis of the effectiveness of the INTIME case studies as a teaching tool.
INTIME: Theoretical Framework
To summarize the framework briefly, three categories of the model articulate key behaviors and thinking processes for students: Students at the Center of Their Own Learning; Principles of Good Learning are Visible; and Tenets of Democracy. Within these categories, students are constructed as active participants in the construction of knowledge, they practice higher thinking skills with an emphasis on problem-solving and decision-making, they work collaboratively and independently, they reflect on their own thinking and learning, and they work in a manner which is "tolerant" and respectful of others.
The teacher's knowledge, role, and behaviors are outlined in the following categories: Information Processing; Content Standards; Teacher knowledge and Behavior; and Technology. The teacher is characterized as a facilitator of learning who structures learning opportunities that are developmentally appropriate. The teacher employs active inquiry and individual and group learning and multiple learning strategies. The teacher seeks to achieve important learning outcomes outlined in standards documents and demonstrates deep knowledge of subject matter. He or she respects student diversity, collaborates with families, and reflects systematically on practice with the goal of improving instruction. The teacher observes and assesses students in a variety of ways and uses the data to plan instruction. Finally, the teacher uses technology within instruction and to more effectively perform his or her role.
The model categories and lists of behaviors and skills were extensive and unwieldy. I attempted to create an evaluation instrument that included all of the items described in the framework and counted approximately 40 sub-skills and behaviors associated with exemplary instruction. These were then used to evaluate the INTIME case teachers.
For the purposes of this project, I will focus on student learning based upon the use of the INTIME case studies. For each of the four case studies, groups produced a written report (See final report notebook sections labeled by individual cases). Each group report included a critical analysis of each teacher using all seven categories of the
INTME model and, in addition, each group analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of INTIME as a teaching tool for preservice educators. The preservice teachers analyzed many strengths and weaknesses of these teachers' instruction using important concepts from the INTIME model and using important concepts taught in the methods course. I will report on each group's learning separately then analyze the implications.
The Case of Ms .Hemphill
The chart below provides a summary of the group's analysis of Ms. Hemphill's strengths, weaknesses, and the areas of the model that could not be observed from viewing the video.
|Use of cooperative learning
Students engaged in creative thinking
Informal and relaxed setting
Use of multiple intelligences
|No students were observed identifying
patterns or making connections to real cultures
No use of multiple perspectives or examination of real cultures
No evidence of national social studies standards being addressed
Students made the point in their verbal presentation that these
students appeared to create a culture out of pooled ignorance and
|No observation of students
comparing/contrasting cultures-examining differences
Strengths of the INTIME Model:
The preservice teachers wrote in their report that the INTIME model provides opportunities for preservice teachers to analyze and observe the use of many strategies such as multiple intelligences. Bloom's Taxonomy (Higher level thinking), group collaboration. Students could also observe the possible uses of technology.
Weaknesses of the INTIME Model:
The preservice teachers wrote in their report that the lesson clips were too repetitive for the viewer. The voiceover told the viewers what to observe and think without giving the viewers the opportunity to think and analyze on their own. They suggested that a better approach might be to pose questions to the viewer.
The Case of Ms. Western
|Use of cooperative learning
Active student engagement in learning
Inspired motivation and curiosity
Integration of many subject areas: economics, language arts, math
Allows for variety of leadership roles
|Teacher neglected to allow students to
have a voice
The teacher did not pose thought provoking questions
When a wrong answer was given, she did not follow up with probing
Ms. Western used the graphing program so students did not practice
|Did not observe students identifying
problems, researching, analyzing, evaluating
Did not observe student reflection on their own learning
Did not observe peer directed interaction and discussion
Students were not observed working on math skills--teacher assumed
Strengths of the INTIME Model:
Students stated that the INTIME model allows perspective teachers an opportunity to observe the teacher and students as they interact. They wrote that
the videos could be used to compare and contrast the teachers and to practice the
identification of strengths and weaknesses of teachers.
Weaknesses of the INTIME Model:
Students suggested that if the video is to be used as a teaching tool, why not include examples of teachers who need some
improvement as opposed to "exemplary teachers." They recommended combining sections one and two for a more focused experience. Most important, they thought the video clips should include different segments for each category of instruction and not repeat the same clips again and again.
The Case of Mrs. Challens
|Evidence of student learning styles
Students encouraged to problem solve and think critical
Active student engagement in learning in both class discussions
and small groups
Learning in a relaxed and informal setting
Identified patterns and made connections
Student choice and student decision-making
Students highly motivated
Teacher utilized students' prior knowledge
Students required to organize and present findings
|Little evidence of students using higher
order thinking related to social studies content--surface learning
"Find the state bird, state nickname, etc."
No observation of students evaluating and interpreting
Video does not show how technology can be used to support
learning of social studies content
Rubric did not align with her objectives
|Did not see students reflecting on their
Did not see students evaluating or interpreting information
Did not see social studies standards addressed--students did not
analyze multiple perspectives or ethical dimensions of the topic
Did not observe gender equity or family involvement
Never observed a finished product to be able to make a judgment
about student learning
Strengths of the INTIME Model:
Students stated that this model has great potential for teachers in training. It utilizes direct and inductive instruction and lends itself to facilitate cooperative learning. They found it helpful to watch a teacher, reflect on what they observed, then discuss it as a group. When they disagreed they were able to replay the video. They stated that the cases illustrated the use of Gardner's multiple intelligences and that the format is excellent for diverse learners because it has text, sound and video—with the ease of replay.
Weaknesses of the INTIME MODEL:
The students wrote that the biggest area of weakness was in the lack of strong evidence for all the criteria INTIME lists in the model. The students did not observe depth and strength of instruction in the social studies content. They did not observe cause and effect analysis, multiple perspectives, or the use of primary source documents. They noted that the project called for the lowest levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. They did not observe the highest levels of Banks' Model of Curriculum Transformation. The students stated that being able to observe student work samples would help them evaluate the quality of student learning. Finally, the voiceover was a problem—students found it difficult to draw their own conclusions when observing because the voiceover was telling them what to see and think.
IN many cases, they felt that what the voiceover was claiming was there was in fact not evident. The students suggested removing the voiceover and placing it in a separate section. This would allow the viewer to formulate his or her own opinion. They also suggested including samples of student work—perhaps in two or three stages of development—but certainly the finished product.
Finally, they felt that the videos were not good examples of teaching diverse students.
The Case of Ms. Robinson
|Students worked together interdependently
Students appeared to be intrinsically motivated
Students were able to choose which vehicle to create
Students put their own work and voices into the technology
Students were able to follow the pattern story
The teacher used whole class and individual instruction
Students were given opportunities to interact with each other and
Increased student appreciation for the subject by incorporating
children's literature that was familiar
Some higher level thinking--application of a pattern,
synthesis--creation of a slide
Opportunity to create drafts
Teacher provided continuous feedback
Well managed classroom
|The teacher hindered creativity and higher
The students were told which colors and elements to add--she
seemed to want students to create their drawings according to her
The teacher could have shown more warmth and enthusiasm
The teacher told them what to do "Put that on the sidewalk,
color the sun yellow"
Students did not engage in problem solving activities
Social studies content overshadowed by language arts
No effort to incorporate cultural differences in the classroom such
as modes of transportation in other countries
The teacher moved through the technology program quickly and
performed many of the technology tasks--technology was used to
enhance the product--not integral to the learning of the lesson
|Did not show the teacher addressing
different learning styles/unique needs of students
Her class contained several ESL students but no effort was made
to incorporate native language or address language needs
No reflection on learning or problem solving
No research observed
No use of cross cultural/multiple perspectives
No observations of parent involvement or the use of peers as a
Strengths of the INTIME Model:
Students wrote that the INTIME case study assignment gave them the opportunity to interact and
learn in a cooperative group. They participated in student-led discussions. The use of the CD-ROM (the cases had been placed on CD-ROM's) provided practice in the use of technology. The model demonstrated how technology can be used to enhance learning across subjects. The INTIME videos could be perceived as constructivist in that the videos were primary source materials that the preservice student can manipulate. All the videos provided different examples of various strategies of instruction. The video in conjunction with the evaluation form provided the opportunity to look in-depth at one teacher's practices. The videos had both male and female teachers from diverse geographic areas.
Weaknesses of the INTIME Model:
Students stated in their Final report that the largest area for improvement was in the area of the voiceover narration. They stated that "By placing the narration over the action of the video, the makers changed what could have been a wonderful inductive experience into a direct instruction lecture on video." They wrote that they were not provided with the opportunity to use their own higher level thinking to analyze the teacher. In addition, the videos should have shown an entire class period rather than edited sections. The segments were very repetitive and the students were only shown what the makers felt was important. They stated that it would have been helpful to observe how technology could be used to learn social studies content—such as using the web to locate primary source documents or using meaningful social studies software to
learn concepts. Finally, they commented on the lack of diversity in the classroom—diversity was not well represented. The videos did not show how multiple perspectives could be used in the teaching of social studies or how incorporating students differences could be used to benefit student learning.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Incorporating the INTIME case studies as a tool for teaching students how to reflect upon and analyze classroom instruction has yielded meaningful results;
however, student learning occurred chiefly because they were encouraged to challenge the stated claims of the video
makers. The students in the methods course valued the opportunity to view a real classroom and critique the teacher's work according to clear criteria as described in the model. They were able to verify many of the claims made by the INTIME developers but also pointed out important weaknesses and absences that challenged the running commentary. The students valued being able to replay segments, challenge their classmates' assertions, and imagine other possible ways to teach the lessons.
Through this process, they found many important weaknesses not noted by the developers. Perhaps the most repeated concern was that the technology was not used in the service of learning social studies content but as a way to enhance the presentation of content. In the teaching of social studies, technology could be employed to help students access important primary source documents, evaluate the validity of sources, locate important sites that teach meaningful information, and use software that helps students explore important social studies concepts. None of these uses were incorporated (with the exception of the case of Ms. Western). Instead technology was most often used to make a presentation more visually appealing or to capture a performance on tape or to publish work students had previously created. Thus, the cases do not provide good examples of the integration of social studies and technology. In fact, in many of the cases the content addressed is non-existent as in the case of Mrs. Hemphill, in which students create a culture based on their own knowledge—they integrated no knowledge of culture into their presentations and perhaps because they were creating a culture out of thin air they incorporated their own stereotypes of other cultures, portraying them as primitive.
In addition, students commented that a more effective mode of presentation would have been a constructivist one. Here I yield to the articulate words of one group, "By placing the narration over the action of the video, the makers changed what could have been a wonderful inductive experience into a direct instruction lecture on video." Perhaps the narration could be placed as an option after each segment is viewed. The students also suggested incorporating questions at strategic points. The developers have made an erroneous assumption that exemplary teaching has no room for improvement and therefore the analysis is silent on important issues and concerns that the students noted. This demonstrated to me their ability to critically analyze instruction using important course concepts and the INTIME model.
The students commented again and again about the problems with repeating the same segment from the classroom to illustrate different components of the model. The students would have liked to view a full lesson and diverse clips. An additional component that would help them evaluate the strength of instruction is the ability to view student work samples. Finally, they felt that portraying the work of culturally and racially diverse teachers in diverse classrooms would improve the materials. There was little evidence of teachers seeking to address the needs of culturally diverse students (Race and ethnicity, gender, ESL, special needs, socio-economic status).
It is clear from the analysis the students provided that they have had ample opportunities to use important course concepts and aspects of the INTIME model to critically analyze the video cases. They were able to refine and develop the skills of reflection and critical analysis. They have highlighted many
strengths of the INTIME model and pointed out critical weaknesses that should be addressed to improve important learning out comes for students. I have valued the learning opportunity this model has provided.