Semesters End

The reading material (Goodness of Fit) states that, “The power of a teacher cannot be overestimated” and I couldn’t agree more that teachers’ are responsible for the education of tomorrow’s thinkers and leaders.

This semester made me open my mind in a way I didn’t think was possible. Honestly, I didn’t know I was the slightest bit interested in teaching, but I found myself getting caught up in some of the topics from week to week. A big part of what I got from this class was that collaborative effort among educators is a must. Megan said it best when she stated in her module 8 post, that in order to create and uphold a positive school climate, teachers must work together as one unit, they must collaborate in order to create the best environment for the students.




I believe it will take a strong group of educators to stand up for students’ best interests. It is clear to me that ideas such as education: securing democracy, supporting the nation’s workforce and economy, ensuring national security and international competitiveness, and solving social problems have taken shape over the course of more than two centuries (Oakes). I am also a believer of, “if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” and know the previously stated ideas are of great importance, but I feel our education system is going at it all wrong. As long as we have standardized testing in America, we will be rushing to catch up to countries such as Finland who’s education system is thriving. If our country could trust teachers to teach, they would feel less pressure and when one enjoys what they do, others take note.

I think the most important attributes of an effective teacher would be patience, followed closely with kindness and understanding. Not all students come from the same backgrounds, same family lives, or same neighborhoods. All students are capable of learning and it is important as an educator to pay attention to your student’s different learning styles and needs. Some may need encouragement while others seek consistency; no two children are the same. Students’ deserve teachers that are critically thinking about how to best meet their students needs, how to develop lessons and curriculum that meet the diversity of the classroom (Gusa).

This semester has been tough, but rewarding when I look back at what I’ve learned. I never realized how much went in to teaching and the impact my teachers have had on me until I started looking back. One day I hope to be the teacher that makes an impact on my students lives. Malala Yousafzai couldn’t be more right in her speech to the U.N. when she said, “one teacher, one student, one paper, and one pen can change the world.”





Mod 8 overview- Gusa

Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (1999). Teaching to change the world. Boston [Mass.: McGraw-Hill College.

Mod 8 Reading Material – Making the Decision to Become a Teacher (Goodness of Fit)

Student ref. Megan


Self-Assess: I have two sources from reading materials and one from the book as well as a student reference. I think that I provided a synthesis of my growth this semester.

Adventure in Education

I have to say, module 7 was one of the toughest modules to date. It involved thinking outside of the box and creating ideas based off of what we have learned and what we would prefer in a school, a.k.a. our dream school. In order to gather our thoughts we were sent out to an enjoyable place in nature minus electronics, people, or any other everyday distraction. For mine I took to nature and was surprised what I was able to accomplish without interruption. The process of making myself do it in the first place was the real challenge. I feel like we are all so focused on our everyday lives and get distracted so easily with television, social media, friends, and family, that open thinking is difficult to do in such a setting.


When I first started my adventure study I just sat and looked around, like “where the heck do I even begin!” It took me a little bit to think about the task at hand, but once I started I was flooded with ideas of my dream school and no way of making sense of it all but to write down notes when the thoughts came to mind. After a while and a stall in ideas, my mind began to wonder elsewhere and I decided it was time to get home.


Writing the outline to organize my thoughts was important in the long run and really helped when I needed to write my initial post. Some of my ideas consisted of incorporating real life experiences such as linking math and bank accounts, mock job interviews, “recess” for all age groups, in class assessments, a farm indoor/outdoor type setting, a mentor program for students, and smaller classroom sizes. Classroom size being a big contributor to my overall idea, had some great advantages for the utilization of smaller class sizes. Advantages such as more individualized attention and increased student participation to name a few.



I decided to use the Albany Free School  as a model reference when organizing my dream school. Sir Ken Robinson said it best when he said that education has got to cherish the diversity of individual talent, he said what we have now is not an emphasis on diversity but an emphasis on uniformity. I think this is one of the main differences between your average public school and alternative schooling such as the Albany Free School. Just because a student can’t do one thing that policy makers say they should be able to, doesn’t mean they are not smart. Different abilities need to be acknowledged if we want innovation and creativity shaping the future of America. Grace actually mentioned a progressive school in Long Island that offers an educational setting with unique attributes such as freedom of opportunity, depth and variety of subject matter, personal attention, moral leadership, collective spirit, and a guiding philosophy. Their mission statement is to instill the quote “I have a gift, the world needs my gift, and I am not afraid to offer it” into every graduating student’s mind. I found this school very interesting to research and would work such attributes into my dream school as well.


Another attribute I would like to add to my dream school after reading my classmates posts would be increasing the number of students at the school with ethnic backgrounds as mentioned by Katherine. After all, “young people are living in times of rapid cultural change and of increasing cultural diversity. Education must enable them to understand and respect different cultural values and traditions and the processes of cultural change and development. The engine of cultural change is the human capacity for creative thought and action”(National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education).


My classmates had so many good ideas for innovative schools and I really enjoyed this module although, it has been the most difficult. I would say that preparing my dream school has helped prepare me for future teaching responsibilities because I have never thought of these situations in the past and now I can’t stop thinking about them. I even find myself having conversations with my mom who is a teacher about her thoughts.






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Assessment in Education

So far, this Principles of Education class has been extremely interesting. I have learned a lot about education such as how children are grouped, teaching methods, and now how students are assess throughout their education as well as alternative methods. Module 6 has been one of my favorite modules because I am so against standardized testing. The central thought I am trying to understand is why this type of testing is still used after so much research and information has been discovered as to why it is not the best option for assessing student intelligence.


Until taking this class I had no ideas or theories influencing my thinking when it came to schooling besides the fact that I know what worked for me and what didn’t in school. Now I can confidently say that there is a reason things were difficult for me in school and that I am not the only one who experienced such problems. First of all, there are six facets of understanding that are the cornerstone for learning. These being: explain, interpret, apply, perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge (Oakes Concept Table7.3, p.216). I honestly believe that if the government allowed schools to use alternative methods to standardized-high stakes testing there would be an increase in success rates among all grade levels. Large-scale assessments such as tests have dominated educational assessment for more than a hundred years (Oakes, p.197), but when will enough be enough for the policy makers of education to understand these types of assessments do not bring out the full potential in America’s students? A nine-year study by the National Research Council (2011) concluded that the emphasis on testing yielded little learning progress but caused significant harm. The No Child Left Behind Act has demonstrated what happens when tests are misused. Negative consequences include narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, pushing students out of school, driving teachers out of the profession, and undermining student engagement and school climate (FairTest, n.d.).

The assessment used in the U.S today is neither fair nor objective, its use promotes a narrow curriculum and drill-like “teaching to the test” perspective. I agree with ProCon.orgs statement that excessive testing undermines America’s ability to produce innovators and critical thinkers (, n.d.). I don’t believe that standardized tests got me to where I am today in my academic career. I was not what you call a good test taker, though I do consider myself a strong, involved student. Learning is truly understanding material and being able to apply it and re-use it in different situations.


I believe Elena said it best in her initial post that testing cannot measure ones intelligence level or comprehension for that matter. There are many students who are very intelligent, but simply do not test well under stress/pressure. It is unfair to label students based on such bias results, and in the same manner evaluate the effectiveness of the educators’ abilities. I couldn’t agree more and would like to share a link provided to me by Lorraine in her response to my initial post this module. The website,, has some amazing options for some “outside of the box” alternative assessments, a great resource, check it out!

Overall, Module 6 has been my favorite, mainly because I could relate my personal experiences to what I was learning. I hope that the U.S. education system will reconsider the use of assessments such as testing that group children in unrealistic situations. Perhaps they could look into options used by other nations that have been proven to work and modify their tactics to reflect similar results.



How Standardized Testing Damages Education (Updated July 2012). (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2015, from

Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (1999). History & Culture: How Expanding Expectations and Powerful Ideologies Shape Schooling in the United States. In Teaching to change the world (4th ed.). Boston [Mass.: McGraw-Hill College.

Preston, C. (n.d.). 40 Alternative Assessment Ideas for Learning. Retrieved April 8, 2015, from

Standardized Tests – (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2015, from


Student References: Elena and Lorraine


Self Assess: I am missing an outside source and one student reference (B+)

Effective Teaching

In Module 5 we learned about the art and science of becoming effective teachers. The reading materials went into detail about different teaching styles, confronting ableism, the meaning of differentiated instruction, and teaching as an art. The book talked about grouping and labeling students based on different factors such as academic ability, disabilities, and “giftedness,” etc. After reading and researching these topics I have created some serious opinions on the matter.




I have found myself disagreeing with the concept of grouping and labeling. I do, however, agree with differentiation because it is an instructional theory that allows teachers to take diverse student factors into account when planning and delivering instruction (Willoughby, n.d.). The idea of differentiation uses small group, whole group, and individual tasks based both on content and student needs (Differentiation/reading materials). A personal example I think of when referring to differentiation is from high-school. I had a separate block set aside a few times a week for extra help with math when I was in middle school. I believe that this type of small grouping is an example of differentiation because it focused more on lessons designed around patterns of student need. This extra math help wasn’t “dumbing down” the material, but it allowed extended time for questions and answers. Being able to be in the regular classroom with my peers made me feel more confident socially and my other math help made me feel more confident as far as the actual subject was concerned. As Susan mentioned in her initial post, she suffered in silence in her regular classroom until her test scores showed her lack of comprehension in reading. I think this supports my theory as to why differentiation is a great concept. Student confidence is vital to success in education. The amount of student self confidence a child possess will affect every aspect of his or her educational goals (EduNova).




Another important topic that made me rethink education is the idea of ableism. Ableism is society’s pervasive negative attitude about disability (Hehir). I didn’t know much about this belief before module 5, or that it even had a name. Sometimes education and development services provided to the disabled children focus on their disability to the exclusion of all else, making it an un-even playing field from the get go. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Law  it is now demanded that schools educate every student to high academic standards, regardless of presumed intellectual ability, disability, social status, gender, or race, as the current push is for all high school graduates to be prepared for both college and careers (Oakes, p. 303).


Kassidi mentioned in her post that sometimes the best thing for a student is a teacher recognizing the potential and drawing it out of their student. I couldn’t agree more and this statement and believe it ties into the art of teaching; after all, teaching really is an art form. I really enjoyed this module and all the posts by my classmates. It kept me interested and wanting to know more!







(n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2015, from


Hehir, T. (n.d.). Membership. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from


Module 5 Reading Materials-Differentiation


Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (1999). History & Culture: How Expanding Expectations and Powerful Ideologies Shape Schooling in the United States. In Teaching to change the world (4th ed.). Boston [Mass.: McGraw-Hill College.


Willoughby, J. (n.d.). Differentiating Instruction: Meeting Students Where They Are, Teaching Today, Glencoe Online. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from



Student References: Susan, Kassidi


Self Assess: I had 3 references from our reading materials as well as outside sources. I referenced only 2, not 3 peers.

Module 4-Educational Success

“Humans have been learning since the beginning of time with major discoveries and innovations historically and currently emerging in spite of school.”

-Shouldn’t Education and Learning BE the Same Thing? 




In Module 4 we dove into learning theories. The reading materials went into detail about the taxonomy of learning theories as well as the different styles of involved. For this module we were asked to create a chart comparing and contrasting cognitive, behavioral, and humanistic learning theories, from this I have decided that there is no one correct theory. Every learner is different and saying that one theory will work best for everyone is incorrect. Some kids may excel in certain situations while others struggle.

Angela Lee Duckworth addresses the idea of grit, and how motivational learning is the most important concept when discussing student education. She performed a study with kids and adults in challenging settings and found that one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success, grit. Grit  is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals (Duckworth, 2013). I believe that this idea goes against the thought of the behavioral learning theory because it does not focus on environmental influences. A student could be from a broken home with nobody there to help or push them, but still succeed; where there is a will, there is a way. I think that Elena did a great job in her initial post when she revisited Duckworth’s thought that being able to see life’s goals as points in a “marathon” and not a “sprint” is what identifies those individuals who will come out victorious.

The initial post for module 4 was on the music video, “Learning to Fly,” by Pink Floyd. I really didn’t like coming up with my original post, but really got into reading other peoples. The way some of my classmates connected the lyrics and video was amazing to me. For example, Kassidi looked into the meaning of the Indian man appearing intermittently in the video. She came discovered the idea of the Native American Vision Quest. This made me want to look more into the link between culture and learning experiences. On pg. 164 of our textbook, Jerome Bruner has become increasingly convinced that people create and transform meanings (learn) as members of particular cultural groups. “Learning, remembering, talking, imagining; all of them are made possible by participating in a culture. So, in the end, while mind creates culture, culture also creates mind (Oakes, p.164).”




Overall, I agree with Lorraine when she posted that it all seems to boil down to there being no set way of teaching.  Incorporating different styles and individualizing lessons could perhaps have better results in educating our children. Module 4 was an enjoyable module for me, it allowed me to think into the theories behind learning and what can push an individual to be successful. I think that a good balance between learning environment and the want/need to succeed will provide any student with the tools necessary for a bright future.





Cultural. (2011, March 28). Retrieved February 27, 2015, from


Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (1999). History & Culture: How Expanding Expectations and Powerful Ideologies Shape Schooling in the United States. In Teaching to change the world (4th ed.). Boston [Mass.: McGraw-Hill College.


Shouldn’t Education and Learning Be the Same Thing? (2014, August 20). Retrieved March 4, 2015, from


The key to success? Grit. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2015, from


Student references: Kassidi, Elena, Lorraine


Self Assess: I included 3 reading materials, 3 classmate references, and an outside source.



Module 3- U.S. Education

In Module 3, our class discussed education and policies. The reading materials provided insight on the Taxonomy of Learning Theories, educational philosophies, standardization, and the Rebirth of Education. According to, education can be defined as an enlightening experience. On that note, there are many philosophies of education, many different thoughts and feelings that exert influence in the education policy-making process. Researching all the philosophies has helped me narrow down my own feelings on the situation, as well as realize what is really used in our education system today.

As a philosophy, I believe in progressivism. It encourages social learning, allowing students to learn from one another, based on their needs. The reading material, Your Philosophy on Education, states the point that with progressivism it is believed that the focus of education should be students rather than content and that whatever is taught should be meaningful. The idea is to prepare students to be lifelong learners in an ever-changing society. I agree with this type of learning because it is indeed how I learn best. The teachers that I have had growing up that taught with such a philosophy have encouraged me to enjoy learning and seek it out on my own.

Many of my classmates discussed standardized testing in their discussion posts. Grace wrote how the NCLB’s influence can be felt in every public school. Consequently, standardized testing has become a powerful tool in influencing school level practices that are thought to yield higher test scores (Oakes, p. 96). The idea of standardized testing falls into the category of essentialism. This philosophy focuses on transmitting the culture from one generation to the next; training the basic intellectual skills (Oakes, p. 65). This thought of testing our teachers on the outcome of student tests makes it harder on everyone to succeed and places unnecessary stress on the learning process. Kassidi mentioned in her discussion post an idea that the students and parents in an end of year review could grade teachers, since they have the firsthand knowledge of that teacher’s ability. I agree 100% with this statement, this would personalize the review and help the teachers learn from their mistakes and grow from their accomplishments.

The short video posted to our reading materials was an interview of Dan Rather’s interview with Linda Darling-Hammond on Finland. In this video Linda and Dan discuss how the U.S. education system used to be number one and is now trailing behind many other countries that have put together a 21st century system. This is concerning to me because the U.S. seems to be stuck in a place where our schools are run as economic enterprises, more specifically with a factory mentality. Schools use an assembly line fashion, separating students by age grade, and ability. According to our textbook, “children are raw materials that could be processed into useful products in school that operated like efficient factories” (Oakes, p. 100).

Module 3 was an eye opener for me and really forces you to take a look at our education system as a whole. I enjoy videos better than articles because I feel that I can retain more of the information so I really liked Dan Rather’s interview. This reminds me that my preferred way of learning may not align with other peoples’ ways but that is what is what should be celebrated by America. We are a large country with many very smart individuals that just need guidance and support to recognize their importance in society. Standardized testing and factory like schooling for all is not the way to go about it.





Diane Gusa – Module 3 Reading Material, Your Philosophy for Education.


Definition of education in English:. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2015, from


Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (1999). Teaching to change the world (4th ed., pp. 61-122). Boston [Mass.: McGraw-Hill College.


Dan Rather’s interview with Linda Darling-Hammond on Finland. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2015, from



Self Assess:


I believe I have all the attributes except for 1 missing reference to a classmate.

Module 2: Shaping Today’s Schooling


Module 2 was interesting in that it discussed expectations and ideologies that shape todays schooling. Within the reading materials we learned the origins of American public education and it’s evolution as well as examining present-day education. Children are taught with the idea of preparing them for what they need to function as individuals as well as for the common good. Many of the expectations placed on education are not new theories. Ideas such as education: securing democracy, supporting the nation’s workforce and economy, ensuring national security and international competitiveness, and solving social problems have taken shape over the course of more than two centuries. Many of these ideologies remain significant in todays learning and will always assume their place in education.

I enjoy reading my classmates discussion posts because it allows me to see things in ways I may not have before. For example, I agree with Karen Kelley when she said, we need to find ways to make education fun and relevant so that all learners feel hope and desire to complete and fulfill their own destinies. I couldn’t have worded it better myself, but this is a complicated theory especially when considering the political side of schooling, schooling for the common good and not personal successes. Speaking of that, Lorraine Carhart mentioned the video, “Closing the Attitude Gap: A Success Story,” in her post where Baruti Kafele explains the type of culture that is needed to enrich students to make the world a better place is simply by making a student believe in themselves and making them believe that you as a parent and teacher believe in them. So in short, when kids believe in themselves individually, they can perform better towards the common good.

I never believed in myself when it came to school so I never did anything 100%. It wasn’t until I attended BOCES for graphic design (something I loved to do) that I felt good about what I was learning and what I could do. I feel like this feeling is what made me realize I could get good grades and be a productive student.

Changing the Education Paradigm was a great addition to the module readings. Out of all of them it stands out to me because it kept me interested and wanting to learn more (I even wanted to share this video with people). The way the author explains how we teach children by age group, as if their “date of manufacture,” is the most important thing really made me think. When you consider it, every individual person advances at their own pace and some kids, no matter their age, are where they are on the education spectrum.

I believe that the purpose of schooling in the U.S. is to support the nation’s workforce and economy, but a higher standard has been set to ensure international competitiveness as far as standardized testing is concerned. I do believe that education is taking a turn towards a more comprehensive approach, allowing for individual growth as well as growth for that of the greater good. The thought of this brings me back to the ideas we discussed in module one about creating a classroom community. This type of thinking/culture supports today’s educational goals because culture influences climate. When the personality of the group is positive the attitude of the group will follow. Initially, the formation of public schools began with the goal of preparing students to be active members of society with a voice on pertinent matters of the future (Oakes, 2013). A theory that holds true even in today’s experience.


“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Henry Brooks Adams 




Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (1999). Teaching to change the world. Boston [Mass.: McGraw-Hill College.

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms. (n.d.). Retrieved February 4, 2015, from


Self Assess:

I believe I did everything on the rubric except-

1. I am missing 1 classmate reference

2. I did not tag keywords-I tried this and don’t believe I did it correctly- I will work on for future posts

Classroom Communities

Module 1 went in depth on forming community in the classroom for an environment that promotes positive social skills and academic success.  I agree whole-heartedly with the idea of creating caring and democratic relationships within a learning environment. As I reminisce about my personal experiences, I’m reminded of times when I experienced both an ethic of care and an awful classroom. I enjoyed reading my classmate’s discussion board posts about their experiences in education and their thoughts on teaching for the future. It’s great to hear from people who were there and remembered what it was like to be in certain situations. Grace when to a small school and felt that her teachers did not push her to be her best while Misty recalled an eighth-grade teacher who’s non-assertiveness made it impossible to control her class. I can identify with my classmates but can’t imagine learning something like this when we were younger. Children don’t understand the concept, and that is why it is so important for future educators to encourage the idea of community in ways that kids can understand.

As I researched the topic of classroom communities further, I came across an article that caught my eye. The article was titled, “Back to School: A Surefire Strategy for Building Classroom Community”. In it Shaw (2013) states that “in true communities of learners (including teachers) a support system is built in which we can share not only tragedies, but triumphs, and bits of joy or fun from daily life. And from within that context, the emotional environment, we are safe to take risks, to grow, and develop into our true selves.” Allowing students to feel supported in a safe, stable environment is so critical to their development as individuals in life. When I was in Graphic Design school, my professor encouraged sharing of opinions and feelings in a way that made everyone comfortable and supported by one another as opposed to feeling knocked down or uncomfortable. I felt like this encouraged learning for me and made me what to do my best.

I believe some of the things that helped create a community in my experience were encouraging choice theory and SEL (social and emotional learning) as well as assertiveness. Children respect a teacher who respects them and their individuality and learning needs. William Glasser’s choice theory “emphasizes that the successful teacher-as-manager should provide students with a “satisfying picture” of the desired activity; “empower” students by allowing them to choose and experience the consequences of their actions; and stress cooperation, rather than punishing, telling, overpowering, and enforcing rules” (Oakes, 1999, p. 228). A greater sense of accomplishment can be felt when things are done because a student wants to do them as opposed to feeling like they have to. When kids respect a teacher, they want to please them and will do what is necessary to do just that.

Module 1 was enlightening for me; most people don’t take the time to reflect on their education, so it was interesting to think about and categorize because I never have before now. I think every educator should learn how to create a sense of community in their classrooms to help mold future generations not only for education, but for life as well. After all, I agree that children learn best when they can feel like they are accepted and part of something larger.


Back to School: A Surefire Strategy for Building Classroom … (n.d.). Retrieved from

Oakes, J., Lipton, M., Anderson, L., & Stillman, J. (1999). Classrooms as Communities: Developing Caring and Democratic Relationships. In Teaching to Change the World (4th ed., p. 228). Boston [Mass.: McGraw-Hill College.