ST Blog – Week 6

Some important resources:

  • Naviance (not really sure what it’s all about)
  • No Sir, Not I Sir (fun game)
  • Against All Odds (online game about refugees)

Lessons Taught:

  • Embargo
  • Debriefing the Genosha Sovereign State Challenge

 

Thoughts I had during the Week:

  • One day this week we took an hour at the end of the day to introduce the Career Unit (coming up in a couple of weeks). We sent students with a letter home to their parents and talked with them about what they want to do for job shadowing (required part of the project).  In my opinion, I think instead of holding onto the rubrics, as we did, we should have given them to the students before they do the assignments so they understand what is expected of them and so that their is less confusion.
  • As part of the Career Unit we had a Career Panel made up of 6 parents (most were parents of students on our team, one was not) – a journalist, a guidance counselor, two financial advisers, and an analytical chemist.  We had the panel go on for an hour. For the most part, the parents did a great job of describing their careers and answering questions. At some points, it seemed a bit too long as some students were getting squirrely.
  • April attended the Career Panel, and at first was kind of talking and making noises while the parents were talking. But then she was given a coloring book, and this kept her focused and quiet.
  • We went on a bowling field trip and it was pretty fun! Only had one issue with a student, everything else went really great.
  • The day before break, we did a school-wide activity.  The students were split up into groups of 5th-8th graders, and we had to make a 1 minute video using the props we were given. It was nice to meet some new faces. It was really interesting for me to see the energy level of some of the 5th and 6th graders – it was quite high!

 

Teacher Meme of the Week:

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Vacation next week!!! 🙂

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ST Blog – Week 6

ST Blog – Week 5

Some important resources:

  • Chatzy – A group chatroom. Teacher can be editor, can get rid of comments that students make if not appropriate

Lessons Taught:

  • Example of 8th grade district assessment (Constitution video)
  • Example of 7th grade district assessment (Kiribati)
  • Transparency/Corruption

Some thoughts I had during the week:

  • My cooperating teacher assigns seats in each of his classes, but he typically puts friends together at tables.  It’s nice for them to sit with their friends, but it can be very distracting sometimes. Should friends be split up?
  • In one class, there were two girls who were leaving for two weeks for a gymnastics trip. They wanted all the work they were going to be missing ahead of time. It’s hard for a teacher to prep that far in advance…and we wonder if they will even do the work while they’re gone, or do it when they get back.
  • The students took a Bill of Rights quiz this week, and were given plenty of time to review for it the day before and the day of the quiz – that’s important for this group.
  • I had made an example of the district assessment for 8th grade and had it ready to go to show the class. But, when I went to play it, the audio and video didn’t line up. It wasn’t a huge deal, but next time I need to check it beforehand.
  • Also related to the district assessment, the directions weren’t super clear in terms of the purpose of the video – who would watch it? Make that clear so that students would have better understanding of what they’re doing.
  • When my supervisor visited, she gave me some advice as she watched me interact with two classes: show the first group of students the same level of comfortability as I did the second group.
  • Important to make distinctions of when to use outside sources for information and when to use one’s own reasoning and creative thinking skills.
  • “Magical Moment” – student made a great comment related to the topic of discussion, so cooperating teacher not only gave him a fist bump, but also let him have a magical moment by getting to play the chimes in the classroom.
  • Important to set expectations when using a group chat website – one student, Martin, really not getting it and saying inappropriate things (getting people riled up). Had to be banned from the chat for a couple of days (while keeping in mind, he was going through stuff outside of class)
  • “Incident” – I had a student, Dennis, who came up to me during recess and said, ‘I could throw this carton of milk at you.’ I responded by saying that maybe he could, but would that really be the best choice to make.  He kind of shrugged his shoulders and went away. We learned that he ended up throwing that milk carton at the wall of the school, so he was told to clean it up. He later apologized to me for saying what he did, with prompting from a special educator that has been starting to work with him.
  • Dennis is being evaluated for special education services, but many of the team staff aren’t sure if the “adverse affect” condition of special education qualifications will pass for him.

Teacher Meme of the Week:

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ST Blog – Week 5

ST Blog – Week 4

Some important resources:

  • Video on power: https://safeshare.tv/x/c_Eutci7ack
  • Lewis and Clark Video
  • “In Plain English” videos

 

This week I taught a lesson on the Third Amendment to the 8th graders, a lesson on urban v. rural communities to the 7th graders, and a lesson on the United Nations to the 7th graders.  I think I am getting better at speaking more articulately and I am improving my in-the-moment response and questioning ability.  I am getting more comfortable with the students on a personal level as well.  I got to experience my first 504 meeting with a parent (Patrick) and I even chaperoned the dance (woohoo!).  There was also a delayed start one day in which the faculty and staff engaged in professional development regarding PLPs; for us, and some other faculty, we were focused on the career unit (specifically, dates, how it’s all going to look, is it going to be consistent between teams, if there was going to be a student panel, if you take class time to do it, etc).  Because of the delayed start, classes were shortened to 20 minutes each – there is only so much you can do in that time.

Some thoughts I had during the week:

  • Letting student do an independent project – to validate the work, share it with the class. My cooperating teacher presented it to the class, congratulating the student who created it.
  • It’s important to thank students for sharing and participating in class discussions (especially quieter students) – that positive reinforcement can do wonders
  • Value in debate on 2nd Amendment – although this is a controversial issue in society and even in this class, the activity has a lot of value in terms of encouraging students to be able to see alternative viewpoints and using evidence to question the opposition’s claims.
  • For some of the seventh graders, you need to literally stand next to them in order for them to get work done.  This is impossible in a classroom with only one adult in the room, as you have to attend to other students in the room.  What do you do?
  • Inclusion opportunity – April sits with her group in a debate.  She talks and makes noises during it, but the class keeps on going just fine.
  • Internet connection problem – one day the Internet in the entire school was out (not planned).  We had to make quick adjustments, as using Google Docs was a big part of the lesson that day.  There’s not much point in stressing out, because there is nothing you can do about it; just go with it.  We gave the 7th graders more time to figure out their states, and for the 8th grade we completely switched gears and watched a video on Lewis and Clark.  The Internet did come back later in the day, but we decided to stick with the adjusted plan, as we were not prepared or able to tackle what we wanted to do within the time span.

 

Teacher Meme of the Week:

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ST Blog – Week 4

Senior Seminar – Reflective Teaching Assignment

  1. How do each of the following qualities (openmindedness, responsibility, wholeheartedness, and collaboration) contribute to reflective teaching?

Openmindedness is “an active desire to listen to more sides than one, to give full attention to alternative possibilities, and to recognize the possibility of error even in beliefs that are dearest to us” (11).  Openmindedness is a significant component of reflective teaching; a reflective practitioner must look at all approaches to a situation and predict and reflect on the possible consequences – both negative and positive – of those alternative approaches.  Being openminded means that teachers acknowledge that there is more than one way to teaching, not just one’s own traditional way, and it also means that teachers ask themselves why they have chosen the approach they use.

Responsibility “involves careful consideration of the consequences to which an action leads” (11).  These consequences that teachers must consider include three different types, including personal, academic, and social and political consequences (12).  Reflective teachers must assume this responsibility – being aware of the consequences of their approach and actions, reflective teachers can better predict successful situations in their classrooms.  Although teachers will never be able to fully know what will happen in advance, reflective teachers have a slight advantage in the fact that their reflection allows them to preemptively manage unexpected outcomes of learning.

Wholeheartedness means that teachers “regularly examine their own assumptions and beliefs and the results of their actions and approach all situations with the attitude that they can learn something new” (12).  Wholeheartedness is the combination of openmindedness and responsibility – reflective teachers both see all perspectives to approaches in teaching, and they also examine the possible consequences of their teaching, good and bad.  Embracing one of these attributes is a step in the right direction, but to fully be a reflective teacher, there cannot be one without the other; reflective teachers must wholeheartedly invest their time in being thoughtful about their approaches and the results of those strategies.

Collaboration is an attribute of reflective teaching that Schon has appeared to neglect in his theory on reflective teaching – “although reflection can at times be a solitary and highly individualistic affair, it can also be enhanced by communication and dialogue with others” (24).  Collaboration has become an essential component of reflective teaching because teaching is not an isolated profession; by using the human resources around them, reflective teachers can better understand alternative perspectives and approaches to teaching.  They can share a problem with a colleague and ask for their suggestion on how to prevent the problem.  This colleague may have had a similar experience, or they may simply provide that unbiased point of view that allows the teacher to step back and question their intentions.  In addition, by having that dialogue and sharing how you will change your approach, you can have your fellow colleagues on the “same page”, so that, if appropriate, they can install such approaches in their classrooms in order to create a sense of consistency among students.

2. Re-read Teresa’s “teacher as technician” and “teacher as reflective practitioner” responses on pages 2-3 in Chapter 1. What is “technical” about the first response, and what is “reflective” about the second response? What does this tell you about reflective teaching?

The first response is “technical” because Rachel focused on the students as the problem instead of her approach – she “focused on devising ways to present those students with more specific consequences for not complying with the teacher’s directions” (2). She didn’t question her own goals and values, but rather questioned those of the students.

The second response is “reflective” because Rachel stepped back from the situation and considered alternative perspectives. Instead of looking at the students as the problem, Rachel turned her attention to her approach  – she “began to ask herself questions about the appropriateness of the classroom’s structure” (3).  She took a more holistic, self-reflective approach to prevent the problem.

As we discussed in class, the major difference between these two scenarios is who the onus is put on – a technical teacher puts the onus on students to make a change, whereas the reflective practitioner puts the onus on themselves to prevent the problem.  While a teacher as technician is trying to combat the problem through their efforts, a reflective teacher is willing to question their approach, values, and intentions and look at the situation from diverse angles in order to predict possible consequences of their actions and how the students will respond.

Senior Seminar – Reflective Teaching Assignment

ST Blog – Week 3

Some important resources:

  • Minnesota Center for Community Legal Education  Mini-Trial Manuel
  • Flag maker website: http://flag-designer.appspot.com/#d=9&c1=3&c2=1&c3=4&o=0&c4=1&s=16&c5=0

This week included a lot of really great discussion.  With all that is going on in the political sphere (Trump’s executive orders 😦 ). It was a full five day week, and I taught a lesson on monarchy for the seventh graders and planned a mock trial for the eighth graders. I got to experience a fire drill (it was planned), which is nice because I know now exactly what to do if it were to happen while solo teaching.  There were a couple of instances with the eighth graders where they really had a hard time being able to be focused during a class discussion – CT had to be more stern than usual to get the point across. During our team meeting, I got to see the process of evaluating a student with a special educator. She asked the staff questions about the student and they had to answer (both short answer and bubble answers such as “Often”, “Sometimes”, etc.)

Some thoughts I had during the week:

  • Talking about Trump’s immigration ban – how many chances do you get as a teacher to talk about a current event that is a constitutional crisis?! Really great opportunity to capitalize on the moment.
  • Controlling a passionate and opinionated class is hard! Sometimes you have to “sacrifice” the curriculum in order to talk about how this teachable moment in history is worth it
  • Inclusion – having “April” sit with group. She’s making noises and moving around, but class just keeps on going. Doesn’t stay in class for the whole period. Always has para with her
  • SBAC testing, mandatory certification – I didn’t have to do it, I won’t be administering test. CT saving me from the trouble
  • CT had to be stern – called out specific students who kept making jokes/faces at each other. “Is this direct enough? You take responsibility or I will, you choose.” Later in class talks to each student, finds out what “really” happened, apologizes to students in front of everyone. Let’s them save their pride
  • Amendments can seem boring, so it’s important to find cases and examples that make it interesting! CT does this well
  • Adjusting curriculum – one student not really doing work, isn’t engaged. CT changed curriculum/expectations for him – I just want you to create “this” product about the right to assemble (he had made a comment last week – “why protest? It doesn’t do anything”). Allowing him to “skip” other content this week in order to focus on this task. This option was a choice. Student said yes, appears to be really engaged. Not distracting others, is actually doing work.
  • students wouldn’t stop talking – CT asked them multiple times to come back, he rang his gong in two different ways, then threatened to put them on “lockdown” in the seats to do work, would send them to the office. “I don’t have to act like that, right? That’s the first time this year I felt like I wasn’t going to get you back. It’s like you forgot I was here.” That got their attention and focus.
  • “Patrick” has hard time focusing, but when I go up and work with him 1 on 1, he does the work. But he needs that constant pushing, which a teacher can’t always provide
  • CT working with “Ross” – acting as a scribe for monarchy worksheet. Talked through it with him. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have done it at all (never really completes work)
  • Mock Trial – I planned most of it, put a lot of time and effort into it. It didn’t go the way I had envisioned it (perfectly, of course), so I was kind of disappointed. CT disagreed – he said that although there were bumps, students got a lot out of it. Second group went better. What they got out of it was the process – saw challenges of being lawyers, how prosecution has burden of proof, etc. Had hoped some particular students would have stepped up to the plate, and they didn’t. Others that I didn’t expect, however, did.
  • Bringing in a guest speaker – we had a police officer come in (a student’s father) and he talked about search warrants (we had talked about the 4th amendment this week). Great “real world” connection.
  • “Lottery” system for 7th graders in order to pick country’s location and size – nondiscriminatory, fairness)
  • CT had been one of the leads on school’s Penguin Plunge fundraiser – happened this weekend, so all week CT was a bit stressed and overwhelmed – understandable!

Teacher Meme of the Week:

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ST Blog – Week 3

ST Blog – Week 2

Some important resources:

This week I had a three day week. There was a snow day one day (YAY!) and then I had to miss a day for an out-of-state basketball game.  One day I got to teach a lesson on Tinker v. Des Moines. The lesson went pretty well, and it had some great student discussion.  I think it’s really important that students realize what rights they have in school, and how they differ (or don’t differ) from those that they have outside of school.  My cooperating teacher and I used this court case to introduce student rights, and I think this case (one of the most important and memorable in this category) was a great one to start with. It was a situation that students could understand (especially with all of the current protests), and one that really got them thinking about their own lives – what can they wear to school? We also had a great conversation about what teachers could and couldn’t wear, and how our position of power changes our ability to express our opinions.

One day my cooperating teacher was out, so I took the lead on teaching, although I had a substitute teacher with me.  I didn’t plan the day’s lessons myself, but taught what my cooperating teacher had organized. For the seventh grade group, we were continuing what we had been working on during the week, and it went really well. The eighth grade group did well too, aside from some students in one class who were talking over other students in our class discussion.  The eighth graders were doing a lot of independent work, and many of them did a lot of good work.

Some thoughts I had during the week:

  • My cooperating teacher does such a good job of making connections in the moment that he might not have anticipated.  There was a situation where a student asked a question that easily could have spiraled the conversation out of focus – but, my cooperating teacher kept his composure and handled the situation perfectly. I hope to have that “coolness” when I teach.
  • “Framing” – something to keep in mind is how you “frame” what students are about to do.  It’s important to set the stage for the lesson by emphasizing key points of learning, relevance to “real life”, and the purpose of learning the material.
  • The first time you teach a lesson, it likely won’t be the best version – you can make adjustments for the 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th) time!
  • Making connections to the students’ lives is important – my example was showing students their own school’s dress code, and asking them what they think teachers can wear – or can’t wear – to school.
  • When absent, making an “overview video” – when my cooperating teacher was out, he made a short video for both classes where he went over what they would be doing for class.  This was great because it not only let the students know of his expectations, but it gave me (and the sub) a better understanding of what was expected.
  • Inclusion – when I was leading a class discussion, I was able to incorporate a student with a disability (on the autism spectrum) that normally does not get to participate very much in class. The student’s para found an opportunity for her to join in on the discussion, and I was glad that I was able to call on her and have her be part of the class.

Teacher Meme of the Week:

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ST Blog – Week 2

ST Blog – Week 1

This weekly blog is intended for me to reflect on my experiences as I go through my semester of student teaching!

Some important resources I want to remember:

  • Culture Grams
  • Newsela
  • iCivics
  • Safeshare
  • Crisis of Nations
  • Quizlet live
  • Video: “Inside North Korea” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlJUGZPanB8

During my first week I got to do some solo teaching, as my cooperating teacher was absent and there was no substitute.  This also happened to fall on Inauguration Day, so I got to do a pretty cool lesson related to this historic event.  The lesson went well, and the students were really excited about being able to watch live coverage of the inauguration.  Although the timing didn’t exactly match up for them to be able to watch the oath of office and the inaugural address, they benefited from being able to see the Capitol building, seeing important figures that attended the inauguration (the Obamas, the Bidens, the Chief Justice, former presidents, the Speaker of the House, Bernie 🙂 ), and seeing what led up to or followed the inauguration – examples include the Trumps going to the White House to meet the Obamas, the motorcade, the prayer service, the choral performance, the luncheon,  Trump signing his official recommendations for department heads, and the Obamas leaving in their helicopter. The only issue I had during this day was that my cooperating teacher left snacks for the students to enjoy during the live coverage, and each class left a huge mess of crumbs all over the room, despite being asked to pick up after themselves. This revealed to me a lack of respect for the classroom space, and it hopefully will be addressed in the beginning of this next week.

Some thoughts I had during this week:

  • Difference between the seventh and eighth graders – the seventh graders are much easier to work with and are more able to get through things on their own. The eighth graders do have some self-motivated high achievers, but a majority of students need to be directed regularly and are distracted by their fellow peers.
  • Staff at the school – super great. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming and willing to lend a hand.  Our team has some wonderful teachers too, and I have enjoyed getting to know them.
  • “Bringing it in” – I like how my cooperating teacher has students “bring it in” when he wants to talk with them. They bring their chairs to the front of the room and form a little circle. Here, he lets them know what is going to be going on during the class period, and he displays a slideshow on his board that students also have access to on their computers.  He stressed that these little horseshoe discussions should be kept relatively short, so that students don’t lose focus or become bored. It’s also a great way to get them to focus without having their technology in front of them.
  • Politics – during inservice (my first day on the job) the principal made a point to say that if anyone is talking about the inauguration, we need to stay away from the politics (really put in a strong effort to avoid them) and just focus on the day itself.  I agree with that to an extent, but personally this week I have had hard time with this. I know that as a teacher, it is not my job – or even really my right – to impart my political views onto students.  However, with the issues that have been raised in this particular election, I could not help but cringe when I heard some of the things that students were saying (a great majority of the students, surprisingly, are Trump supporters). I kind of wish that I was allowed to have a discussion about the politics – not that the students are necessarily wrong in supporting Trump, but rather talking about the implications and possibilities of his inauguration.  In Singer’s “Social Studies for Secondary Schools”, he talks about how it IS important to get political… yet the principal of my school disagreed. Where is the line drawn, I wonder?

 

Teacher Meme of the Week:

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ST Blog – Week 1