Video Reflection #1

In this video reflection, I am focusing on verbal and oral communication and classroom management. 

In terms of verbal and oral communication, I think I overall did a good job communicating to my students.  I did speak a bit quickly at times, but I don’t think that it took away from the instruction. In the beginning of the video, I did a good job of ending the discussion the class was having by asking the students some prompting questions to reflect on. My volume was appropriate for the whole class setting, and I also adjusted my volume appropriately for when I was having one on one conversations with students. 

After watching this video, I would advise myself to make the following changes in my communication. There’re a few times where I stumbled over my words. It wasn’t too disruptive to the instruction, but next time I would remind myself to have confidence in what I was saying.  I need to make more eye contact when giving instructions to the whole class, instead of looking at my papers or at the back of the classroom.  In the video I appear anxious and even fidgety, according to my body language – I am always doing something with my hands. To correct this, I think I need to just take a deep breath and relax. In regards to my speech, I have a few words that I seem to repeat somewhat often – “um”, “right?”, “so”, and “like”. I need to practice speaking without using these words. I know that they will undoubtedly come up, as they are commonly used in vernacular speech, but I need to be conscious of their use so as to limit them during lessons.

For classroom management, I think I was successful in managing the classroom in this video. I had the students’ attention in the beginning with our whole class discussion and instructions. After students moved to complete their independent work, I walked around to check in with individual students to make sure they were on the right track and to clear up any confusion they had. To remind students of what the assignment asked for, I wrote key points on the board for them all to see. 

Improvements in this area would include projecting the assignment on the board behind me to reinforce the instructions and cater to students who would have preferred to read it there. I also should have had the students watch both videos on Schoology (both the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, not just the event they chose out of the hat) so that they would have a well rounded understanding of both events – we could have even watched them together as a whole class. There was a point at the end of the video where some students were quietly chatting with each other and also laughing. I didn’t address these students, as at the time I didn’t think that it was detrimental to the lesson. However, another group of students continued to chat throughout the remainder of the period, and I failed to correct the behavior due to nerves – for the future, I must be firm and not worry about their reaction.

Video Reflection #1

Day 20 – “Milkshake”

In today’s practicum, we had Advisory time – continuing to work on personal poems and setting goals for the year (and as usual including some sort of musical/dance movement) – and also class blocks – two seventh grade groups.  In the social studies block, students began to write out questions to guide their research on their Revolutionary War topic.  The teacher asked that they consider the complexity of their questions (Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3) and advised them to use the assignment guidelines to help form their questions.

 

Today’s big takeaway: Providing students with a way to get their fidgeting out. My cooperating teacher purchased some wobbly pads for students to put on their chairs.  She figured that these would make the chairs a bit more comfortable, and would also help some students who need to let their “fidgets” out be able to focus in a less distracting way.  This is just one example of how teachers can make their classrooms a more productive and supportive environment for students.  Although it’s not “traditional”, it is an easy and effective way to promote student achievement.  Interestingly enough, I had a conversation about fidget toys with my father the other week. He, being older and having a more traditional educational background, didn’t quite understand the purpose and worth of such devices, so it was intriguing to reflect on the generational differences of viewpoints on education in this particular area.

Day 20 – “Milkshake”

Content Area Reading #11 – “Yankee Doodle is no more”

“Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Loewen, Chapter 5 (“Gone With the Wind”) pp. 131-165

I chose to read this chapter for my content area reading because I have taken a long break from Loewen and I wanted to get back into his piece, which I have enjoyed so far.  This chapter focused on racism, which was next in my reading in this work, seemed pertinent to the concerns of racism with the recent presidential election.

This chapter goes through the ways that textbooks address (or fail to address) racism in American history.  Although slavery ended, Loewen highlights how the “superstructure of racism has long outlived the social structure of slavery that generated it” (137).  Loewen references the impact racism has had on our culture, arts, and what perceptions individuals have about important historical events and periods.  Loewen argues that by making racism “invisible”, history textbooks deprive students of the ability and opportunity to critically analyze racism in the present.

3 Things I Want to Remember

  • 1. The first non-native settlers in the US were blacks and Spaniards in 1526 (mouth of Pee Dee River in present-day South Carolina). Eventually the slaves rebelled against their mastered and escaped to live with Native Americans. Spaniards that survived retreated to Haiti.
  • 2. “In omitting racism or treating it so poorly, history textbooks shirk a critical responsibility.  Not all whites are or have been racist.  Levels of racism have changed over time.  If textbooks were to explain this, they would give students some perspective on what caused racism in the past, what perpetuates it today, and how it might be reduced in the future.” (138)
  • 3. Loewen’s explanation of segregation (in a sociological frame): “a system of racial etiquette that keeps the oppressed group separate from the oppressor when both are doing equal tasks, like learning the multiplication tables, but allows intimate closeness when the tasks are hierarchical, like cooking or cleaning for white employers.  The rationale of segregation thus implies that the oppressed are a pariah people” (155).  Textbooks need to include this, and if not, teachers need to explain it!

2 Controversial Things/Things I Disagree With

  • 1. “The very essence of what we have inherited from slavery is the idea that it is appropriate, even ‘natural,’ for whites to be on top, blacks on the bottom.  In its core our culture tells us – tells all of us, including African Americans – that Europe’s domination of the world came about because Europeans were smarter.  In their core, many whites and some people of color believe this.” (137)   WOW!!
  • 2. Many textbooks make the “bad people” anonymous – slavery happened, but it’s not specifically blamed on the whites; “there’s no one to be angry at” (138). There isn’t necessarily one person to blame, but responsibility needs to be placed on someone’s shoulders – in this case, white American society and culture.

1 Question

  • 1. Historically, some states passed and enforced legislation to write history textbooks in a certain way (include or avoid certain content). Has there been any recent – within the last thirty years – national legislation that addresses teaching all parts of history, even the bad parts?
Content Area Reading #11 – “Yankee Doodle is no more”

Day 19 – “What do you call someone from Texas? Texonian?”

In today’s practicum:

Observation of my peer teaching a lesson
Boys, you can talk about sports when we are finished our work
So, what is Manifest Destiny?
Encouraging students to think critically
Rotating around the classroom to check in
Very composed, confident
Answering questions with a partner
Texas – fight for independence, war with Mexico
Interesting primary sources to read from
Opinion-based question: were the Texans justified in wanting independence?
Nice job facilitating discussion with the whole class

Today’s big takeaway: Giving students a break during a long block.  This point was made by my professor, and I could see how this could directly apply to the lesson I observed.  These students were in this class for an hour and a half.  To begin with, they were very focused and on-task.  As the lesson went on, and as time passed, the students became a bit more antsy – some were “wriggling” around, others were getting more chatty, and some were neglecting to complete the assignment in order to talk with their friends.  These distractions weren’t too overwhelming, and I believe the overall learning targets were still met, but the latter part of the lesson may have been smoother had the teacher given the students a mental break.  This could have been directly in the middle of the class or lesson, or at any “natural” point that the teacher saw.  Even if it’s just for a few minutes,  letting  students unwind, stretch, and relax may have given them just what they needed in order to re-focus themselves to finish the remainder of class on a strong note.  I know that I myself have a short attention span, and as a student always appreciate when teachers give me even just a couple of minutes to step away from the mental work and re-energize myself.  This is definitely a component of teaching that I had never consciously nor reflectively considered, but certainly will now.

 

Day 19 – “What do you call someone from Texas? Texonian?”

Content Area Reading #10 – We’ve Been Trumped

“What a Trump presidency means for America’s public schools” by Emma Brown. The Washington Post, November 10, 2016.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2016/11/10/what-a-trump-presidency-means-for-americas-public-schools/

Inspired by the results of our recent presidential election, I was curious to see opinions on how Trump’s election will impact the American educational scene.  Typing in “Donald Trump impact on education” on Google, this article was the first to pop up.

This article focuses on the education policies that Trump proposed in his campaign for presidency.  According to this article, Trump’s main proposals focused on expanding school choice, and possibly limiting (or dissolving altogether) the Department of Education. The implications of Trump being elected president also mean that the federal government may interpret ESSA differently, which will affect the access disadvantaged children have to better education. For the time being, a lot of questions while continue to arise as the Trump administration will take time to recruit for their staff and continue to develop their policies .

3 Things I Want to Remember:

  • 1. Trump’s administration likely to include “a vigorous push for federally funded private school vouchers and a downsizing of the Education Department”
  • 2. Trump’s most important proposal on education, only mentioned a few times – a $20 billion grant program (money comes from somewhere in federal budget, but not certain where) to encourage states to expand school choice through vouchers, charter schools, and magnet schools
  • 3. Trump won’t have the legal authority to get rid of the Common Core State Standards – “Federal law expressly forbids the federal government from interfering with states’ decisions about academic standards.”

2 Controversial Things:

  • 1. Trump’s proposal (above) not supported in votes on ballot initiatives – defeat of one that would expand charter schools and one that let states to takeover struggling schools – “By pretty much equal amounts, by a two-to-one margin, they said ‘no, don’t touch our public schools,’ Weingarten [president of the American Federation of Teachers, adviser to Hillary Clinton] said.”
  • 2. “Trump has said alternately that he would scale back or eliminate the department altogether.”

1 Question:

  • 1. Are there ways to safeguard the Department of Education from being completely dismantled?
Content Area Reading #10 – We’ve Been Trumped

Day 18 – “Taxes is spelled with an ‘e’.”

In today’s practicum, I taught my Revolutionary Propaganda lesson to two other sections of students.  This go-around was successful like the other day.  These students are a grade above the other students, so some of them were able to come up with ideas for their propaganda poster quicker than others.  However, I did check in with a lot of students, again, to give them direction.  Many students just needed to focus on one specific stance to take (i.e., a Patriot propaganda piece could focus on the taxes the British imposed, a Loyalist propaganda piece could focus on the violence of the colonists). I think the students enjoyed the lesson, and I enjoyed watching them make creative and persuasive propaganda pieces.

After I did my lesson (about 50 minutes), my cooperating teacher showed students possible topics they could choose for an individual research project about the Revolution.  They had been assigned this task for homework, but many didn’t put much thought into their choices and simply listed three names they could think of.

 

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Today’s takeaway: Wording is important.  Seen in all groups I taught this lesson to, some students had a hard time with the wording I gave them in regards to what stance they were taking.  I used the terms “Pro-Revolution” and “Anti-Revolution”, really meaning “Patriot” and “Loyalist”.  I should have just used those latter terms instead, as the students were more familiar with them because they had used them in previous classes. In my head, it was clear that pro-revolution meant patriot, or supporting American independence and that anti-revolution meant loyalist, or supporting Britain and the crown.  Obviously, this wasn’t clear to everyone. I was able to clear it up for students when I checked in with them, but next time from the start I would be more conscientious of what terms I chose when labeling a specific kind of person or view, just to make it more clear and less confusing for students.  This is a little thing, but is a big takeaway as I’m sure this kind of scenario will come up again and again in instruction.

Day 18 – “Taxes is spelled with an ‘e’.”

Day 17 – “Look, I drew cats!”

BREAKING NEWS… In today’s practicum….

I taught a lesson on propaganda created before and during the Revolutionary War, showing examples and then having students create their own propaganda (both Patriot and Loyalist).

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Today’s big takeaway: Time flies.  I taught my lesson to two sections of students, each 40 minute blocks.  When I had planned out my lesson, I thought I had given myself enough time to complete the lecture/discussion and have students finish their propaganda piece and then share with one another. However, only a few students were able to complete theirs, most were still working (and at a good pace), and a few were still in the planning stages. It’s probably better to have too much planned than too little, and it’s okay that they didn’t finish (my cooperating teacher is going to give them more time to work on it next week), but that is something I have to keep in mind as a teacher, especially if I am on a tight schedule with the curriculum. And in order to give students enough time to produce quality work, I need to really value, budget, and prioritize the time I have with them.

Day 17 – “Look, I drew cats!”