Scholar Blog Post: Poverty and Brain Development

Poverty can have a huge impact on a child’s education. It is already a widely known fact that academic achievement and socioeconomic status have a strong correlation. This correlation is no coincidence as we consistently see children whose household income is below the poverty line do significantly worse in school on average than children who are not living in poverty. This achievement gap definitely has to do with tangible things such as ability to obtain resources like cellphones, computers, internet connection, extracurriculars, etc., but it also has to do with something far more detrimental. The early years of a child’s life are crucial for their brain development. Their brain relies on making connections through relationships with the primary caregivers. “…and if they don’t get that relationship it has an impact on development, it has an impact on the quality of synaptic connections that are being made at a rate of 700 per second in the first two years of life…” (Kulkarni) This interference not only hinders the brain from developing at the rate it needs to be, but severe childhood stress can actually release a chemical that destroys brain cells. This scary fact is unfortunately a reality for over 15 million children in America today.


The three scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles I found related to my topic of poverty and brain development are titled: “Poverty Linked to Reduce Brain Development”, “Prenatal Stress, Poverty, and Child Outcomes”, and “Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain Growth”. The first article “Poverty Linked to Reduce Brain Development” by Visser SN, Danielson ML, Bitsko RH, Holbrook JR, Kogan MD, Ghandour RM, Perour R, and Blum- berg SJ. conducted a very in depth study of a large sample of preschool age children and checked back in with them once a year until puberty. They did MRI’s of all the children’s brains, interviewed both children and parents on any stressful or traumatic life events, and did a test of supportive vs. hostility of the parenting styles. The results showed that “Poverty was associated with smaller brain volume in terms of white and cortical gray matter, hippocampus, and amygdala. However, the effects of poverty on hippocampal volume were mediated by the parent’s/caregiver’s support or hostility on the left and right sides. Stressful life events mediated the effects of poverty on the hippocampus on the left.” and “Regression analyses confirmed that poverty was significantly associated with the possible mediator of caregiver education, but caregiver education was not associated with brain volume.” (Visser 4)

The second article titled: “Prenatal Stress, Poverty, and Child Outcomes” by Tess Lefmann and Terri Combs-Orme discussed the commonly known disadvantages of poverty stricken children such as lack of resources, access to health care, high-quality education, safe housing, nutritious food, etc., but they also go on to talk about the effects of poverty starting in the womb. “Less well recognized is the contribution of prenatal stress to these gaps, as poor children’s disadvantages often start early in fetal life due to high stress experienced by their mothers.” (Lefmann 577) Research has been conducted on both animals and humans regarding the effects of prenatal stress on infant brain development and the results show a strong correlation between high levels of stress and problems with brain development.


The third article “Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain Growth” by Jamie L. Hanson, Nicole Hair, Dinggang G. Shen, Feng Shi, John H. Gilmore, Barbara L. Wolfe, and Seth D. Pollak, conducted a study of 77 children ages 5 months to 4 years from economically diverse backgrounds. They did MRI scans of their brains and examined the results. “Infants from low-income families had lower volumes of gray matter, tissue critical for processing of information and execution of actions. These differences were found for both the frontal and parietal lobes. In addition, differences in brain growth were found to vary with socioeconomic status (SES), with children from lower-income households having slower trajectories of growth during infancy and early childhood. Volumetric differences were associated with the emergence of disruptive behavioral problems.” (Hanson 8)

From these three scholarly, peer reviewed journal articles along with video we were assigned to watch for this course all relating to poverty’s effects on the mind and body, I have drastically expanded my understanding of the detrimental effects of poverty on the brain development of children. A lot of research has been done on exactly what aspects of poverty impact children and at which points in their life. I have learned how the negative effects of poverty start before a child is even born, due to the high levels of stress the mother experiences while the child is still in the womb. These effects can continue on from early infancy to the first few years of age while the brain is still in a crucial stage of development. The causes of these brain development issues can come from anything from the high levels of stress, traumatic life events, lack of caregiver connections, poor diet or not enough to eat, homelessness, etc.

Poverty is an unfortunate reality for many families across our country. Odds are that every one of us future educators will teach an impoverished child at some point in our teaching careers, therefore we must be informed on what growing up in poverty does to a child and what we can do to help them succeed. I hope to teach high school aged students, therefore by the time they get to my class, any negative effects on brain development will be done for the most part. This does not mean that there is no hope for them though, the brain has been known to have the amazing ability to repair itself and with extra help and guidance it is possible to help children in poverty succeed. Although their brain tissues associated with logistics and reasoning, which is important for my subject area of math, may have gotten damaged or underdeveloped during their childhood, I think it is still possible for them to excel in this content area. It may take some extra time, effort, resources, and help, but it’s important that we never give up on them.


Sources Cited:

Hanson, J. L., Hair, N., Shen, D. G., Shi, F., Gilmore, J. H., Wolfe, B. L., & Pollak, S. D. (2013). Family poverty affects the rate of human infant brain growth. Plos ONE, 8(12), 1-9. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080954

Kulkarni, C. (2012, October 19). Poverty and brain development. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from

Lefmann, T., & Combs-Orme, T. (2014). Prenatal Stress, Poverty, and Child Outcomes. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 31(6), 577-590. doi:10.1007/s10560-014-0340-x

Visser, SN. Danielson, ML. Bitsko, RH. Holbrook, JR. Kogan, MD. Ghandour, RM. Perour, R. Blumberg, SJ. Poverty linked to reduced brain development. (2014). Brown University Child & Adolescent Psychopharmacology Update, 16(1), 3-4.


Final Reflections

Being a good and effective teacher can mean different things to different people, but I believe there are some universal traits of all good teachers. The first one being passionate. Teachers must be very passionate about what they do in order to continuously work their hardest day in and day out to ensure they are teaching the best that they can. Students learn best from teachers who are enthusiastic about their content area and are consistently excited to teach.  Another trait of good teachers is being engaging. No significant learning can take place without proper student engagement, which usually takes more than a lecture to get students properly engaged. These aspects of good teachers I believed at the beginning of the semester and still agree with now. Something that changed in my definition of good teachers is that they are very knowledgeable and well informed. This includes an expertise in their specific content area, but also knowledge on current events, new technology and teaching techniques, issues on identities such as race/ethnicity/socioeconomic status/ability, etc. Teachers can teach their students more than just math, for example. There are many other lessons and skills that can be brought into the classroom.


This course has definitely helped me prepare for most of the teacher standards. One in particular that stood out to me was number 3: “Teachers understand that children learn differently. The teacher understands how pupils differ in their approaches to learning and the barriers that impede learning and can adapt instruction to meet the diverse needs of pupils, including those with disabilities and exceptionalities” I feel like a decent portion of our course was dedicated to learning this standard. We learned so much about diversity of students in more aspects than just race, such as ability, socioeconomic status and more, and how these differences do have an impact on how students learn. We learned a lot about how we as educators must be flexible and figure out lesson plans and assessments that can be fitted and modified to students with different academic needs.


The most significant thing I have learned this semester that will help prepare me for my future career as a teacher, is probably how to be more understanding of students. By this I mean I learned the importance of getting to know my students on a more personal level in order to better manage the classroom and figure out what does and doesn’t work for them. Some students may lack motivation, concentration, basic skills, etc., but it probably is not their fault so it is our job as educators to figure out the causes and how we can better help them to learn, as opposed to blaming the student for their behavior. I got to practice this a lot in my O&P. I would get frustrated at times because it seemed like the kids couldn’t care less what we were doing in class. I had to take a step back to reflect on why this might be and what these kids could be going through to realize how I could get them more engaged and motivated.

Finally, how I plan to prepare my online identity for future employers is honestly not something I have totally thought out. I did enjoy this blogging process over the course of the semester so continuing on with this is definitely something I wish to do. Another idea could be a ePortfolio with a few of the projects and papers I am most proud of that I have completed over the course of my college career. I’m not sure what other technology or resources are out there for this type of thing, but I would like to further explore this in the future and see what other kinds of way I could digitally display some of my work and ideas for the job market. I know LinkedIn is a very popular site for making a profile, attaching resumes and portfolios, and seeking out future employers through so maybe that is something I could also look into for the future.

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Teaching Techniques and Methods

Part 1: Reflecting on our Module

There are so many different teaching methods out there to maximize learning for different subject areas, classroom styles, and learner types. In my future teaching career, I hope to incorporate both teacher-centered and learner-centered methods into my classroom. In my subject area of math I think this design would work best because some things in math just need to be flat out shown and explained which is easiest using teacher-centered, but the practice and rehearsal of techniques could easily be incorporated into student-centered to help break up the lessons.

“It’s easier to scan a bubble test, or run it through a script like Flubaroo. But these assessments do not tell us nearly as much about critical thinking—or students’ progress toward the Common Core State Standards. Creating and completing meaningful assessments is hard (but worthwhile) work for both teacher and students.” (Powell) So although giving tests in a math class seems like the easiest and most sensible way to grade students, another idea for a more student-centered approach could be assigning groups of students different parts of a unit and having them prepare a lesson to teach to the class. Not only does it allow for student participation and group work, but it also helps them to really learn the material well enough to be able to reteach it to the class. In my opinion, there are no “right” or “wrong” teaching methods, and in my own experience as a student I find that using a combination of them actually helps me to stay focused and engaged. We explored some of these different methods in our Module 5, more specifically, one called Backward Design.


Backward Design I believe is a very effective teaching method. It just seems logical to start with the goal or what you want the lesson to accomplish and then working backward from there, to ensure everything you need to teach gets included. One way to use backward design in a class is to first figure out what standards need to be met for that specific grade level and curriculum and then figure out your desired results. Come up with goals, understandings, and essential questions. Next step includes: creating performance tasks and key criteria. Lastly, create a summary of the learning activities you wish to carry out. Another important element is to “consider possible misunderstandings” (Wiggins) in order to address them before students get confused and ask questions about them. I intend to use this technique in my teaching career both for the whole unit levels and the day-to-day lesson plans. I think it is a good way to organize every aspect of the unit and ensure every goal is being met. I think its especially important in helping to look at the unit as a whole and what kind of assignments are being used and whether or not there is some diversity to them.


Part 2: Sharing Your Lesson


Unit Title: High School AlgebraEstablished Goals:·      

  • Students will be able to comprehend an expression, along with the use of parenthesis and order of operations.
  • They will be also be able to solve equations and systems of equations.

  • Students will understand how equations and equalities work and how to properly manipulate each side to solve it.
Essential Questions:

  • How do expressions and equations differ?
  • What are the order of operations?
  • What defines an integer, whole number, rational, and irrational number?


Students will know:

  • Students will know how to use operations to solve for variables in one equation and in a system.
Students will be able to:

  •  Students will be able to comprehend an equation’s meaning, visualize/sketch it’s graph, and solve it.




Performance Tasks:

  •  Students will turn in assigned homework problems and complete quizzes for formative grades.
Other Evidence:

  • Students will complete tests for every unit and a final cumulative test for summative grades.
  • Test corrections must be turned in to receive partial credit back.
Key Criteria:

  • Students will be able to show their skills through formative and summative assessments.
  • Possible formative project could include groups of students teaching mini lessons to the class to further their understanding of the content.
  • Creating and playing math games as a class could be another formative project idea.



Summary of Learning Activities:W= Give an overview of unit/goals before beginning, get student feedback and what they already know and what holes they need help filling in along the way.H= Give real life examples and show the importance of mathematics.

E= Give instruction and then assign a problem and let them think about it and attempt it before giving the answer. 

R= Allow test corrections for every homework assignment/test/quiz and give partial credit back. This not only allows for improving grades, but also improving skills and learning from past mistakes.

 E= Update grades consistently so students know where they are at.

 T= Split class into groups by ability, the advanced groups can move on and the struggling groups can move slower and get extra help.

 O= Create some “fun” activities such as games and group projects.

Shown above is my lesson plan designed through the Backward Design Framework. First thing I did was decide on which grade level and topic I wanted to use. I decided on high school Algebra, because I feel like it is a pretty basic unit and would be a good choice to use for writing my very first lesson plan. Starting with Stage 1 (and referring to the core standards) I established two main goals for the unit itself, so what I would want my students to have accomplished by the end of the unit. I also wrote a statement of what I want my students to understand, what I want my students to know, what I want my students to be able to do, and also some essential questions I want them to be able to answer. Referring to Bloom’s Taxonomy, the skills I want my students to learn come mostly from “Remember (Recognizing and Recalling), Understand (Interpreting, Exemplifying, Classifying, Summarizing, Inferring, Comparing, and Explaining) and Apply (Executing and Implementing)” (McDaniel), because they need to remember the rules such as order of operations or what you can and can’t do to manipulate and equation, understand how expressions, equations, and variables work, and apply these skills to new problems and situations


Moving onto Stage 2, I created performance tasks, other evidence, and key criteria. I incorporated varying assignments by having assessments as the summative grades, but also having quizzes, group projects, and test corrections for formative grades. Lastly in Stage 3, I created a summary of learning activities. I took into consideration different learning styles and needs by creating a diverse range of assignments, instead of just all tests. A few ideas I had were: designing a group project where students get to teach a lesson, creating games or having the kids create games to help learn math concepts, and also something I found really helpful in high school, test corrections, where students who may struggle with test-taking can do test corrections on their own time to receive partial credit back, this also helps them to learn from their mistakes and reflect on the test. I think the Backward Design Framework helped me in designing my lesson mostly because I have never created my own lesson plan before and had no idea where to start. All the elements of the framework helped me to consider all areas of a unit and go more in depth on what I would need to think about and cover in class. There are so many other lesson design plans out there, one I found is called UDL (universal design for learning) and it specializes in lesson planning for a diverse classroom of learning types including special needs.

Sources Cited:

BrookesPublishing. (2016, February 11). Use UDL in your lesson planning to enhance your teaching. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

McDaniel, R. (1970, June 10). Bloom’s taxonomy. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

Powell, M. (2016, April 29). 5 ways to make your classroom student-centered. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

Wiggins, G. (2005, September 3). Overview of UBD and the design template. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

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Differences and Diversity in The Classroom

When anticipating what my future teaching career will be like, I can expect that I will be encountering a lot of diversity and differences among not only my students, but also their parents and my colleagues. Whether it be race or socioeconomic status, every family has their differences which can have a huge impact on the children’s academic careers. In class we talked a lot about “life opportunities” and whether all children have equal ones. We came to the conclusion that this is not the case, there are many factors that can either increase or decrease a child’s likelihood of succeeding.



In Lareau’s interview she talked about how in her studies she found that parents of middle class families tend to be more involved in their children’s’ school. They volunteer for events, enroll them in extracurricular activities, help them with their homework, and overall have an active role in their academics. While parents of low income families tend to be disconnected from their children’s school. They leave the responsibility up to the teachers to ensure their children are passing, they don’t help with homework, and their kids usually just hang out around the house and neighborhood in their free time.


These differences don’t mean that the middle class parents love their children more than the low income parents, it’s just all about the time, energy, ability, and opportunities they can afford to give their children. What this means in terms of the classroom is that, not all of our students are going to come in at an equal standing. For example, some children will have better vocabulary and spelling than others based on how educated their parents are and what they are used to hearing around the house. Overall, life is unfair and children who have high potential may not get the opportunities they deserve solely because of family income. It’s our job to try to level the playing field for all of our students and to do our best to bring up the students to the level of the rest, while still allowing those who are ahead to advance on. Most of all, it’s important for us to understand the differences in our students and not just assume that the child is not as smart as the rest.


An article that I found from the American Psychological Association, talks about how there is such a strong correlation between socioeconomic status and academic achievement, and the reasons why poverty, poor health, negative home environment and so much more, can significantly set back a student from their middle-class peers. Not only is social class a difference to be aware of in the class room, but also race. Race can play a huge role in how well a student does in school. Unfortunately, stereotypes exist, and they can mess with the still-developing minds of adolescents and cause them to believe they must be a certain way and do not have a choice in the matter. It’s our job as educators to ensure that all of our students are living up to their full potential, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or any other difference they may have.

Sources Cited:

American Psychological Association (n.d.). Education and socioeconomic status. Retrieved April 05, 2017, from

Elliot, J. (2013, June 22). Jane Elliott Brown Eyes vs Blue Eyes 1. Retrieved April 05, 2017, from

Gachuzo, M. Racism destroyed in one minute‼️. (2016, July 18). Retrieved April 05, 2017, from

Norton Sociology. (2013, March 26). Do parenting strategies affect the long term outcomes for children? An interview with Annette Lareau. Retrieved April 05, 2017, from

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Behaviorist and Cognitive Learning Perspectives

When it comes to education and learning, there are many different fields and approaches to help explain and improve how students learn such as behavioral, cognitive, constructivist, and social cognitive. Some theories coming from different approaches tend to conflict with each other, but there are also ones that work together, for example: the nature vs. nurture debate. The main difference between behaviorist and cognitive learning perspectives is behaviorism focuses more on explaining things through one’s outward behavior or things that can be observed, while cognitivism revolves around cognitive processes such as decision making and memory. These psychological perspectives come into play a lot when considering what teaching styles do and don’t work and for what reasons. We can and should consider both theories when aspiring to perfect our teaching methods because there are students with many different backgrounds and learning styles, so it is important to find ways to reach each and every one of them.


So what does this mean specifically for applying these theories to the classroom setting? When considering Albert Bandura’s theory that environmental factors, personal factors, and behavior all flow together from one to the other and vice versa, it can explain almost all types of behavior in the classroom. For example: one of your students acts out constantly, talks out of turn, and seems to always need the attention of the class and the teacher on them…one possible factor that is causing the expression of this particular behavior with this child is that maybe they have neglectful parents at home who don’t take care of the child’s physical and emotional needs. There are endless other examples, but overall this theory says that any factor whether it be environmental or cognitive can create a domino effect of behaviors. Before jumping to conclusions about your students’ behavior, it is very important to consider the “why” and not the “what”.

Group Of Primary Schoolchildren And Teacher Working At Desks In Classroom

Some concrete applications of cognitive theory in the classroom include: being a good role model to your students. Be someone that they can look up to and model after. Encourage your students. If they have low self confidence they might need someone else to tell them that they can do it until they believe it themselves and live up to their full potential. An example for older students, possibly juniors or seniors in high school is to teach them about shallow and deep processing and different study techniques to help retain information that will come in handy when pursuing a higher education like what Stephen Chew discussed in his videos. Although extremely beneficial, there are some limitations to these theories. Unfortunately, like most things in life, problems and situations in the classroom are not always black and white and therefore require something more than a black and white solution. What I mean by this is that there are a lot gray areas when it comes to your students’ lives and learning experiences, and it may take some trial and error to figure out what specifically the problem is and what does and doesn’t work for them.


When it comes to my own beliefs in regards to the role of teachers, peers, and students, I’d have to say I fit somewhere in with the constructivist theory, more specifically individual. As I said before though, I think a teacher is putting all of their students at a disadvantage if they only choose to study the theory that resides with them. Although I am more of an individualistic learner and like to build onto things I already know, that doesn’t mean that will work for all of my future students too. Some kids really rely on their peers to help them learn, some like to learn alone. Some kids only need their teacher to guide them in the right direction, others need their teacher to manage and supervise everything they do. Every child is different and in my future teaching career I hope to get to know all of my students well enough to figure out their own individual needs and do my best to satisfy them.


Works Cited:

Barth, D. Caine, G. Caine, R. Sullo, B. (2017, January 5). Jean Piaget: Cognitive Development in the Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from

Chew, S. (2011, August 16). How to Get the Most Out of Studying: Part 2 of 5, “What Students Should Know About How People Learn”. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from

Chew, S. (2011, August 16). How to Get the Most Out of Studying: Part 3 of 5, “Cognitive Principles for Optimizing Learning”. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from

Hurst, M. (2015, June 4). Using Cognitive Development Psychology in the Classroom – Video & Lesson Transcript. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from

McGuire, S. (2013, March 26). Study Smarter | Dr. Saundra McGuire on The Study Cycle. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from

Woolfolk, A. E. (2008). Educational psychology: active learning edition.Retrieved March 14, 2017, Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

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Psychological and Social Factors of Learning

The way that we as humans develop and construct knowledge is very complex, but luckily some very smart psychologists have configured different theories to help explain it. Some of these psychologists include: Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, Lev Vygotsky, and many more. Their theories of brain development and learning are the basis of a lot of teaching practices used in and outside the classroom. The developmental theories that we discussed during Module 2 directly apply to teaching because in order to effectively teach a student, there are some things you must know about them prior to the learning taking place. The main factor of how learning differs from person to person is their age. One child who just started 1st grade is going to learn a whole lot differently than a child who is going into 6th grade. The reason for this is the different stages of Psychological development.


There are several different theories on what the stages of psychological development are. There’s Erikson’s stages of Psychosocial Development, Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, and many others. One problem with these theories is that they are general and don’t necessarily apply to everyone. Someone might be a young adult age, but are still stuck in the Identity vs. Role confusion stage, or there could be an 8 year old who hasn’t yet completed the pre-operational stage. These types of things should be kept in mind when applying these theories to your classroom teaching, not all students are at the same level.


Aside from the psychological factors of learning in a classroom, social factors also play a huge role in learning. Parents, friends, classmates, media, family, financial situation, class, race, all have an impact on a student’s ability to learn. According to another psychologist, Abraham Maslow, every human has a hierarchy of needs. This is shown in the figure below where you start at the bottom and you cannot move up until the needs below have been met. So how this applies to teaching is that, how can we expect a student to come to class ready to learn and do school work if they haven’t even met their three basic needs? For example, a student who comes from a poor family who can’t always afford to put food on the table goes to school hungry, their basic physiological need to eat has not been met, therefore they are unable to move up the ladder. Or say, a student who gets bullied at school and is constantly on edge does not have their need for safety met, therefore no quality learning can take place. These social factors should be taken into consideration just as much as the psychological ones when getting to know your students.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svgIn my own teaching career, I definitely plan to take these theories into consideration. Depending on the grade level I end up teaching I will consider my students’ cognitive development level along with their lives outside of school. If a student of mine is struggling or seems to be disconnected I will try to find out why before jumping to conclusions that they are unintelligent or lazy, because there is probably something else going on in their life or possibly some of their needs are not being met. Overall, many aspects go into giving and receiving a quality education and all should be carefully considered by the teacher in order to maximize the students’ learning.

Sources Cited:

6. (2014, October 08). Zone of Proximal Development. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from

Erikson’s Theory and Career Development – IResearchNet. (2016, November 26). Retrieved February 22, 2017, from

J. (2007, February 10). Conservation task. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from

K. (2013, December 20). Piaget’s stages of cognitive development | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from

M. (2011, March 25). A typical child on Piaget’s conservation tasks. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (2017, February 18). Retrieved February 22, 2017, from’s_hierarchy_of_needs


Teachers’ Role as Researchers

The relationship between teachers and researchers is very important in the field of education. It allows for new ideas to be experimentally designed and tested in order to determine what practices do and don’t work in a classroom setting. Although the job titles and training may be different for both researchers and teachers, I believe they can also be used interchangeably. In order for a teacher to be successful, they must be constantly thinking ahead and adapting their teaching practices along with the changing world. This means that teaching practices used even 5 years ago, may no longer be relevant to today’s society. For this reason, it is necessary for teachers to also be researchers.


There is so much easily accessible information out there, because of the technology we have, which can be both a good and a bad thing. It is good because we have all the information we could ever need right at our finger tips, but it can also be bad because it can be overwhelming to sort through and decide which sources are useful and relevant and which ones are not. Using information literacy to evaluate and select which research to use can help simplify the research process. What this means for my future career is that my education does not end once I graduate college, I must be constantly learning and researching throughout my entire teaching career to ensure I am using the most effective, up to date teaching practices.the-great-homework-debate1

Whether or not teachers should be assigning homework to their students is a controversial debate in the educational world. A lot of research has been conducted to determine the affectivity of homework and its correlation with academic achievement. In my opinion, the amount of homework that should be given and for which subjects varies from different grade levels, but for right now I am going to focus on my own topic and level on students that I intend to teach. So, do I believe that students of the middle and high school levels should be given math homework?, the short answer is yes. I do though, have a strong opinion on how homework should be assigned. From my own personal experience in school being the student that gave the smallest possible effort in order to just get by, I remember which homework I fully completed on time, which homework helped me review what I had learned in class, and which homework I believe increased my academic achievement. On the contrary, I also remember which homework felt like busy work, a waste of my time, and something that would not actually help me learn or retain information in the long run. This homework usually got tossed in the trash as soon as I got home, and if a student like me did that, I don’t doubt there are many other students who do the same. Due to this experience, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what constitutes effective homework.


Through some of the research I did, I found other articles supporting my thoery with scientific evidence backing them up. One article in particular titled: “Teachers’ Feedback on Homework, Homework-Related Behaviors, and Academic Achievement” discussed the importance of teachers giving feedback on homework in order to create effectiveness. I completely agree with this theory because without giving feedback 1.) the students have no incentive to even complete the homework, and 2.) the students won’t know which ones they did correctly/incorrectly therefore no learning or improvement can take place. Another article I read called “Homework Hysteria” collected research on how too much homework is not effective and can create stress in the household. For example, if a student has 5 classes and each teacher assigns about an hour of homework, that equals 5 hours of homework in just one night for that student! Along with extracurricular activities, this leaves little to no time for family, friends, and a good night sleep. Therefore, the homework that is assigned should be concise and not excessive.

Overall, research is a very important component in good teaching and should be used throughout one’s teaching career in order to continuously expand ideas and practices in the classroom. Purposeful research should be done through using information literacy in order to sort through and find the sources one actually needs and ensure they are accurate, scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. The research surrounding homework is important to consider when attempting to maximize academic achievement while still taking into consideration the students’ overall workload. All of the ideas I have discussed I plan to consider when beginning and throughout my whole teaching career.


Sources Cited:

(2007, December 10). Homework hysteria. Maclean’s. p. 2.

Culyer, R. O. (1996). Making homework work. Education Digest, 61(9), 52.

Goss, J. (2012, November 02). This is how I feel as I’m doing my research statistics homework tonite….Ahhhh is it August yet?! Retrieved February 05, 2017, from

Locke, J. Y., Kavanagh, D. J., & Campbell, M. A. (2016). Overparenting and homework: the student’s task, but everyone’s responsibility. Journal Of Psychologists & Counsellors In Schools, 26(1), 1-15. doi:10.1017/jgc.2015.29

Nunez, J.C., Suarez, N., Rosario, P., Vallejo, G., Cerezo, R., & Valle, A. (2015). Teachers’ feedback on homework, homework-related behaviors, and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Research, 108(3), 204-216. doi:10.1080/00220671.2013.878298

The great homework debate. (2015, March 17). Retrieved February 05, 2017, from

Turk Hij Den Biyol Derg. (n.d.). Retrieved February 05, 2017, from




Introductory Blog Post

Hello blog audience, my name is Liesl Ziegeweid and I am a Secondary Math Education major at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I’m hoping to become a math teacher preferably at a middle school, but other than that I have no opinion on age group or location. I’ve been thinking about what I want to minor in and one possibility is German, so I could potentially also teach a German class. What I hope to achieve in my teaching career goes farther than just teaching kids math. I hope I can help my students gain confidence in their abilities, look forward to coming to school and learning, and hopefully change some lives.


The most influential teachers that I can remember growing up were the ones that I felt made the class something extra, and didn’t just stand in front of the class writing on the board and lecturing as I struggled to pay attention. I appreciated the ones who put in the effort to make class fun, exciting, and more engaging. I think my bad teachers actually inspired me most of all because I don’t think any student should have to feel like their teacher wants them to fail and that success is simply unobtainable in their class. I will definitely take my experiences from when I was in school and use them to my advantage to better educate my future students and be more empathetic towards them.

What makes a “good” teacher I believe can be answered slightly differently for everyone, as I discovered after our discussion in class about the topic, but most good teachers definitely share some certain characteristics. In my opinion, the qualities that make a good teacher include patience for their students, passion for the subject they’re teaching and their career, and the ability to engage students in the learning and keep them interested and focused. When I think back to my past teachers, the ones I learned the most from and enjoyed the most were the ones who were alive and passionate and made me feel like the subject matter we were learning was important and interesting.


When comparing the effectivity of different styles of teaching, some are definitely more so than others. For example the teacher from the video clip from the Dead Poet’s Society was high energy, engaging, related the topic to the class, got everyone out of their seats, and overall had the students hanging on his every word. This style of teaching is definitely going to be more effective than the style from the second video clip where the teacher stands in front of the board and speaks in the most monotone voice and makes no effort to make the content more interesting whatsoever. It’s clear by the expression on all the students’ faces that they are hating the class, bored out of their minds, and are not going to retain any of the content they are hearing. I can relate to both these teaching styles as I have had teachers similar to both, and I have experienced first-hand the difference that teaching style can make on learning.


In the article titled “What Makes a Good Teacher?” from the New York Times, the author discusses the news that New York might tie teacher evaluations with students’ test scores. He questions whether test score should be the basis of deciding which teachers are “good” and which are “bad”. I completely agree that test scores do not necessarily determine the quality of a teacher.  Good teaching is far more complex than making sure students cram information into their heads, regurgitate it onto a test, and then forget it all shortly after. Good teaching ensures learning, growing, expressing creativity, and so much more.


Sources Cited:

Gonchar, M. (2015, March 24). What makes a good teacher? The Learning Network. Retrieved from

Regents, U. B. of. (2017). University of Wisconsin Whitewater. Retrieved January 24, 2017, from

Weir, P. (Director). (1989). Dead poets society [Film]. USA.