Today I taught my first lesson plan. I was given some vocabulary words related to the unit of exploration, and decided to play a fun game I had played in my high school Spanish class: Flyswatter. To began, I formatively assessed students by creating a Quizlet wordset in which students completed a “matching terms” test. I did this so that students familiarized (or in some cases, introduced) themselves with the vocabulary that would be included in the game. After students completed this, we discussed as a class which terms were familiar and which were unknown. After explaining the rules of Flyswatter, I split the class into two teams and we played. Following the game was a discussion about the relevance of the vocabulary terms – why did I select those terms? How were they related to one another?
I taught this lesson three times, twice to two seventh grade groups that I had not been with before and once with an eighth grade class that I see every visit. Each time I did the lesson I changed it slightly – mostly, I changed how I managed the students. There were some unanticipated obstacles that came up, such the Quizlet test taking much longer than I anticipated, Quizlet temporarily freezing up, and so on. In these situations, I just had to go with the flow, and do what I could with what I had.
Today’s biggest takeaway was the need to implement effective classroom management strategies. Especially with the seventh graders, I needed to be more assertive in managing their behavior in order for the lesson to have its intended effect. The second seventh-grade group was especially chatty. There were some students that would not sit down when I asked them, and they continued to talk amongst themselves even though the rules dictated silence. Ultimately, I had to end the game short because of the lack of focus and amount of goofing off. To have prevented this, I needed to implement a stronger classroom management system; I should have reiterated my cooperating teacher’s classroom rules and I should have from the start been very clear about what behaviors I expected. An interesting thing I experienced is that classroom management strategies can be changed from class to class – the eighth grade group that followed this second seventh-grade group behaved much better for me, so I did not have to repeat the rules as often as I did with the younger students. There were many factors in play that may have affected this, including the eighth graders’ familiarity with me, the age difference, and the smaller number of students in the eighth grade class. Either way, I learned that even if I don’t have to be super strict with students, I need to have a classroom management plan in place in cases where it’s necessary.