A Reflection Paper on Teaching for Understanding

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A REFLECTION PAPER ON TEACHING FOR UNDERSTANDING Submitted to Dr. ERNIE GRIO Course: SCHOOL PROGRAM DESIGN Submitted by Reynante R. Malano – ELP Teaching for Understanding was first introduced to me during some discussion on UbD in my masters. As a grade school teacher, that sounded new to me as said framework was actually intendedly implemented for secondary schools years back. But with the insights I gained from my classmates’ brainstorming and multitude exchanges of opinions, I was hooked on

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  A REFLECTION PAPER ON TEACHING FOR UNDERSTANDING Submitted to Dr. ERNIE GRIOCourse: SCHOOL PROGRAM DESIGN Submitted by Reynante R. Malano – ELP  Teaching for Understanding was first introduced to me during somediscussion on UbD in my masters. As a grade school teacher, that sounded newto me as said framework was actually intendedly implemented for secondaryschools years back. But with the insights I gained from my classmates’brainstorming and multitude exchanges of opinions, I was hooked on it and feltthe need to introduce UbD to my colleagues in school.When I first introduced it to some comrades most of them presumablythought that Ubd has been around for some time but perhaps, they just hardlynoticed it. They claimed that they must have been using it but it only hidesitself with another name. With this discovery, I could only sway my head andinsisted that Teaching for Understanding is not that stuff that they know, so tospeak. Because of that, I arranged a schedule with my Quality Circle Group inthe English Department so we could talk about it over a cup of coffee. Thereare only eight (8) of us in the group so said meeting was quite manageable andI really prepared to put my message across.We started off informally by asking each one how the day went duringthe day. We exchanged answers to questions regarding knowledge, conceptsand skills. We tried to discuss the definition of Understanding as againstknowledge and skills. Answers were as varied and as complicated as they couldbe. Others even agreed that knowledge and understanding are one and thesame.Most of them use lecture as the only way to teach a certain topic. Somewould just follow in toto the order of the Philippine Elementary LearningCurriculum (PELC). Some said that as long as they completed the minimumlearning competencies, they might as well did well. So superficial anunderstanding, I must say.Hence I discussed to them the UbD framework beginning with the wrongnotion of teaching for understanding--- that tests are not the end-all of learnerachievement; that memorizing facts, theories, and figures could only bestarters to truly understand the truth and essentials of a theme; that learners  should perform or demonstrate their own understanding about topics theylearned inside the classroom; that teachers should know only the essentials toteach the learners (schema-based) and connect them in a thematic unit forbetter understanding (from big ideas down to the supporting details, etc.); thatwe ought to always appeal to topics that are worth understanding; thatlectures could not suffice but include opportunities for clarification and planactivities that call for and build understanding; that understanding goes beyondknowing.In unison, we agreed that we would do away with rote knowledge or wewould expect children to be just parroting everything and follow memorizedroutines for stock problems --- those knowledge building or routine skillbuilding activities. I also challenged my colleagues to re-echo what transpiredduring our discussion. We should help teachers acquire the techniques.Of course, everything is better said than done so I asked the school headthat we be given an hour to discuss UbD in our July Professional Meeting to beheld last Friday of this month. Most of the discussion were reiterated to her asshe herself was not cognizant of the beauty and essence of UbD and then sheacceeded. However, we do not expect every part of the UbD to beimplemented in our school. I would only want to focus on the essentials andwhat research-based studies would have to say. Lesson plans will still bechecked daily instead of these being prepared on a weekly thematic unit basis.Definitely, there will be more strategies that need to be introduced.As for me being in-charge of the Grades IV and V teachers includingteachers teaching English across levels, I think it is best to start from here.There is really a need to convince my teachers to focus their teaching onlearner’s understanding. With the eight ones I already started forming analliance with, I believe that there is that great promise ahead that will soonentice other teachers to adapt the UbD which aims at enabling learners toapply their knowledge and skills flexibly in a variety of situations.This year, it is a welcoming change that Midyear and Final Achievementtests in our division have already been scrapped. In this way, more time canalready be alloted to performance-based activities for learners. They will nolonger be taught to the test instead they will now find time to improve theircompetence to achieve better understanding of the topics they learn in theconfines of their classrooms. Ongoing assessments can now have its right placein the process and learners can now collaborate with their teachers withidentification of goals and the like.
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