The Power of Urban Teacher Residencies:
The Impact of IMPACT
1. Masters Inquiry Projects
a. Embarking on a Study of Perspectives Using Critical Thinking
The concept of multiple perspectives, that we each have different perspectives and that this influences how we view the world, is an important idea for fifth grade students to develop, as this concept helps students gain a deeper and more critical understanding of literary texts and assists with problem solving in life. This inquiry, using a community of learners approach and informed by a revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, focused on students developing critical thinking skills in all aspects of literacy to help them understand the idea of multiple perspectives. This qualitative study used a variety of read-aloud books, thinking maps, and collaborative learning activities to help students progress from lower-order thinking skills to higher-order thinking skills that allowed them to understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create from various perspectives. As a result of this inquiry, students understood the concept of perspectives and the existence of different perspectives in life, recognized the importance of thinking from another perspective, and gained the ability to create from an alternative perspective. These findings suggest that helping students develop critical thinking skills can assist them in understanding important concepts and ideas that promote critical understanding of literary texts and contribute to problem solving.
b. Deconstructing Race and Empowering Student Activism through Critical Media Literacy
The area of educational pedagogy I chose to explore is Critical Media Literacy (CML). The overarching question that drives my urban inquiry project (UIP) is, “how can students use and deconstruct media to inform their communities on societal misconceptions of race and genetics?” My inquiry conflates 1) CML, 2) an interdisciplinary approach to science education, and 3) social justice to combat perpetuated social mythologies such as socio-genetic labeling and racial discrimination founded on socially constructed misconceptions of DNA and genetics. The intended purpose of my Urban Inquiry Project (UIP) is curbing social injustice by way of student activism.
2. Connecting Math Methods and Student Teaching through Practice-Based Strategies: A Study of Pre-Service Teachers’ Math Instruction
There have been many calls for greater research into the connection between what is taught to pre-service teachers and how those teachings emerge in teacher practice (Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2005; Grossman, 2008). Understanding this connection and strengthening it is vital to the increased effectiveness of not just teacher education programs but of teachers and the increased learning of students. In order to strengthen this connection, researchers have been pushing for pre-service teacher learning to become more practice-based (Ball et. al, 2009, Windschitl et al., 2009).
The teacher education program in this study used a practice-based framework to design a math methods course which articulated critical aspects for teaching and learning mathematics (i.e., ensuring mathematical rigor, creating mathematical student discourse, and using equitable practices), and taught high-leverage strategies to meet these critical aspects.
This study investigated how these practice-based, high-leverage strategies emerged in pre-service teacher practice in their student teaching classrooms. Focusing on secondary math in a large urban school district, this study sought to answer the questions (1) How do the practice-based strategies taught in a math methods class emerge in pre-service teachers’ student teaching practice? (2) What supports the emergence of these strategies in a pre-service teacher’s student teaching practice and what impedes it? The study followed six pre-service teachers through a yearlong methods course and into their student teaching classrooms, and used classroom observations, interviews, artifact collection and logs of teacher practice to answer the questions. The findings suggest that pre-service teachers can use high-leverage practices in a way that is rigorous, creates student mathematical discourse, and equitable participation. The study proposes the following additions to the design of future math methods courses: (1) pre-service teachers enacting the practices in environments with increasingly more independence and less support before trying it in their own classrooms and, (2) sharing with their math methods course peers their findings after the enactment of the strategies in their student teaching classroom. These findings have implications for how we may more effectively teach methods to bring about change in classroom practices.