Some important resources:
- India thematic map (literacy and population)
- Helping students practice career presentations
- Example of bill project (elderly driving license bill)
- Led discussion about economic terms in news
- Making group work contract
Thoughts I Had During the Week:
- One student had an awesome answer in a group discussion that I wasn’t expecting – left me speechless in a good way.
- Working on district assessment, had to sit with one student and literally give him everything he needs to get his work done. Needs constant pushing
- Career Presentations – great to see what students experienced. Really great to see student with ASD present.
- Delayed start – PLP/Content meetings. Created shorter class periods.
- Confusion about expectations of district assessment for both grades, even though it was talked about before. How do you make it clearer?
- I had a day that I didn’t want to be in school – not feeling good physically or mentally. I went to school because I knew cooperating teacher needed me – had to suck it up.
- Bill project – one group doing weed bill. Great conversations, but they can get too caught up in the talking part – will need direction to stay focused as project goes on.
- Outright refusal – “I won’t sign something that says I’m doing work, why would I do that?” A struggle with this student. Cooperating teacher has to be firm with him.
- Some students not using class time productively, but district assessment due next week – have been given SO much class time to work, really no excuses
Teacher Meme of the Week:
Today was my last Practicum visit of the semester!
I did the same lesson as last week – The Declaration of Independence with the eighth grade group. I mome minor adjustments to the lesson to make it go more smoothly, and I think it paid off. I shortened the length of the video of the reading of the Declaration, just focusing on the grievances that students would later dissect. Also, since this group was smaller and I knew the would get the work done, I allowed them to choose what groups/partners to work with.
Today’s big takeaway: teachers matter! My cooperating teacher and students surprised me with a little party and gave me a plant and thank you cards. It was such a sweet gesture, and I feel really appreciated even for my short time in the classroom. It was nice to know that what I did mattered, and that even for just a semester, I had made some sort of difference. I became connected to many of the students here, and I can only imagine how much more difficult it will be to say goodbye to students next semester during full time student teaching. I certainly learned a lot from this Practicum, including the realities of lesson planning, classroom management, and what teaching in middle school is all about. It’s safe to say that I am excited about middle school education, which is not something that I would have said a couple of years ago! I’m thankful to have had such a positive Practicum II experience with a great cooperating teacher and awesome kids.
In today’s practicum:
Today I taught a lesson about the Declaration of Independence. I had a 40 minute block to teach this topic. I opened with a fun video of a modern song adapted to describe the Declaration, and then I had the whole class take notes on the basics (when, where, why, who, etc.) Following this, we watched a video of a reading of the Declaration by celebrities, which had subtitles on it for students to follow along with. To end, I split the students into groups and gave each group three grievances from the Declaration to dissect – to take the original language from the document and explain what it actually means.
Today’s big takeaway: try your best not to “cram” too much into a period. In my lesson plan, I outlined and budgeted my time well to fit the forty minutes I had to work with. However, the reality of the lesson did not match – I was not even able to get to the end of my lesson, where I had planned to formatively assess students through exit cards. I was able to grasp what students were learning during the lesson, but I had wanted to tie it together at the end by asking each student which grievance they thought was most important – I simply ran out of time. I will be teaching this lesson again next week, and I plan to make some adjustments so as to fit everything in without cramming too much instruction and information into the lesson. As I have referenced in other blogs, I think that I will become better with cramming (by not cramming) as I gain more experience and learn what is really achievable during certain blocks of time. For now, I will have to go through the trial and error process, and make alterations as necessary until I get it “just right”.
Today’s practicum, in pictures:
(Students, in groups, examined quotes from important American revolutionary figures and paintings from the American Revolution. They had to match these images and quotes with descriptions that identified specifically what they were.)
Today’s takeaway: Sometimes what you plan is too much. My cooperating teacher had about 6 images and 10 quotes prepared for students to dissect. However, once we began the lesson, she realized that the number of quotes and images she wanted them to analyze was too large for the class period. She accordingly reduced the number of items she wanted students to look at and answer questions about. By doing this, she took some pressure off of the students who were worried about time, thus allowing for more thoughtful reflection on the primary texts at hand. Although her initial plan changed, I think it was better that she had more texts rather than having too few – it’s easier to take some away on the spot than it is to add more on the fly. This relates to the idea of being prepared for lessons in general – it is better to be more prepared rather than less. I think that with more experience, teachers can more accurately gauge the amount of information/materials they want to include in a lesson, but I myself find it difficult to determine how much – or how little – to include.