In today’s practicum, students completed a journal entry in their composition books about why there were different groups among the early colonists. Then, they completed a pre-test on Schoology so that my cooperating teacher could gauge where students are at in terms of their knowledge about colonization in North America. The remainder of class was spent taking notes on their iPads using both the textbook the teacher provided and a small presentation she gave. This content included conflicts that contributed to migration to the “newly discovered” North America, including Catholic-Protestant conflicts in Europe as well as Spain’s decreased role in western exploration due to the failure of the Spanish Armada.
Today’s big take away related to the use of textbooks. When my cooperating teacher first told me they were going to work from textbooks today, I was initially surprised because that is not something I would expect her to do to give instruction. However, the way she used the textbook turned out to make more sense in terms of her teaching style: she had the class read aloud together a section of the textbook that they were to take notes on, and discussed what they read as a class. She specifically highlighted the information that she wanted them to remember and take notes on. Most importantly, she supplemented the textbook information with a presentation of her own that she projected on the Smartboard. This presentation further explained the information in the textbook that was very vague; for example, the textbook only briefly mentioned how King Henry VIII changed England to a Protestant state, and merely stated that Queen Mary had plans to change it back to a Catholic state. My cooperating teacher must have foreseen these gaps, and decided to go into depth how King Henry VIII wanted Protestantism so he could get divorced, and described “Bloody Mary’s” violent attacks on those who were not Catholic. Had the students relied on the textbook alone for this information, they would not have got as much out of the lesson – especially as the parts that were the most interesting to them were in the teacher’s mini lecture. Textbooks often only “cover” topics and ideas, so they alone are insufficient for delivering content. Textbooks can be a good starting place, however, as long as they are paired with additional instruction to really engage students and give them the full picture.
(This reflection connects well to “Lies My Teacher Told Me”, a book I have done a good deal of content area reading from!)