ST Blog – Week 12

Some important resources:

Lessons taught:

  • Subbed – working on district assessments for both classes

Thoughts I Had During the Week:

  • A lot of this week was “recovering” from student teaching – grading work, getting missing assignments from students, processing, and beginning work on my portfolio entry. Boy I was tired this week.
  • District Assessments – 7th: Economy and Geography (looking at two maps over time), 8th: Journaling (taking my prompts and turning them into one longer journal). ¬†Thoughts about journaling – it would have been better for me to have known what my cooperating teacher was looking for in the district assessment so that I could have better prepared students – but, it turned out to be okay.
  • I had my first interview for a teaching job! I passed the first round and then made it to the second where I had to teach a lesson to a group of students at the school – an interesting experience for sure!
  • Having to constantly guide certain students is really hard – can’t sit with more than one student at a time. How do you get students to not drag their feet?
  • Syria – yet another example of why teaching social studies is so important!!


Teacher Meme of the Week:

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ST Blog – Week 12

ST Blog – SOLO TEACHING – Weeks 10&11

I did it… I made it through my two week solo teaching period!!!!! WOW ūüėÄ

What can I say – solo teaching is hard. I have been exhausted for the last two weeks. When I came home from my last day of the solo, I took a six hour nap… you could say I was tired.

Although I was only required to independently construct one unit, I took on the challenge of doing two, as the seventh and eighth grade curriculum differ.  For the seventh grade, we looked at economics, including economic basics (such as wants, needs, choices, consumers, and barter), economic systems, supply and demand,  entrepreneurship, and trade.  For the eighth grade, we looked at the origins and history of the Industrial Revolution (IR), IR technology, culture of the Gilded Age, and labor unions.

One of my biggest take-aways from my solo was the fact that I made countless changes to both of my units Рultimately I ended on completely different notes than I had originally planned.  This was a great experience, and totally realistic of what a teacher goes through.  It was cool to be able to make adjustments as I saw fit, according to how the students were receiving and reacting to the material.

I think that I was successful in creating engaging learning opportunities for students.  I diversified my instructional and assessment methods in order to attempt to meet the unique needs of individual learners, and of the needs of the different groups as a whole. I believe that I made the expectations clear and made myself and the material accessible for all students.

One area for growth is my classroom management strategies. ¬†My first week, I did not have to use much strict classroom management because the students were still getting used to me being the authority figure. ¬†However, the second week proved a bit more difficult as students grew more comfortable – they were trying to see how far they could push it with me. I admit that there were situations in which I could have been more firm, but often in those moments I found myself trying to concentrate on the rest of the class and not on the individual student causing the problem. ¬†Also, I had never seen my cooperating teacher send students to the office before, so although I knew that was an option I had, I didn’t feel comfortable doing it myself.

Another area for improvement would be my timeliness in giving feedback to students.  I tried to keep up with grading assessments, but I found myself short of time everyday as I planned for the next. Although I reminded students multiple times of their assignments (and also had the responsibilities posted digitally and physically on the board), by the end of my solo there were a handful of students missing a lot of work.  If I had been more proactive after the first week to give that feedback, it likely would have been easier now for students to finish up the remaining work, with a lighter load.

I really enjoyed creating the assignments for students to complete. In almost all of my assignments for both grades, I created original assignments Рonly a couple times did I borrow lesson materials from online sources.  Although it made it a lot more work, it was a great way for me to not only engage in the content material, but also to make the learning personalized to the group of students who would be working on it.

It was an interesting experience to be the authority figure of the classroom.  For the first time, other faculty members had to speak with me, directly, instead of going to my cooperating teacher (who was hanging out in the library most of the time).  This gave me a more authentic glimpse into the field of colleagueship so critical to teaching.  I got to know some of my team teachers more personally, and supporting educators in my classroom (paras) worked with me to figure out what students needed.

A tough lesson that I learned, that I already knew but never had experienced, is that teaching is hard – there is nothing easy about it. ¬†It’s definitely a profession that requires passion, tough skin, flexibility, and the ability to keep your cool in unpredictable situations. ¬†It’s a job that keeps you up at night thinking about how you could improve, or how your student is doing, or what you’re going to plan for the next week. ¬†It’s a job that you need to love – if you don’t, you probably won’t think it’s worth it. But for those of us who do love it, we will treasure the moment when a student has a break through, the time a shy kid speaks up in class, and the moment when you learn from a student when they are “supposed” to be learning from you. ¬†Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, and not everyone can just naturally be a great teacher – it takes a lot of work to perfect your craft. ¬†Years of experience, lots of self-reflection, collaborating with other educators, attending professional development sessions, and having the mindset that you can always improve – a lot goes into the profession. ¬†I’m thankful to have had this opportunity in the school that I’m at, and I can’t wait to have my own classroom someday.

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ST Blog – SOLO TEACHING – Weeks 10&11

Day 16 – “I think I have a dollar in my bag!”

In today’s practicum, the students began with a journal entry that asked them to write a letter to the British Parliament about their concerns over the Stamp Act. Then, the students shared information about different colonial taxes that they had gathered as homework for today, and the class as a whole began to discuss the famous acts that contributed to the tensions that led to the American Revolution (they were able to cover the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, and the Sugar Act). After finishing the notes on each tax, the students completed a Kahoot about the tax to reinforce the knowledge.


Today’s big takeaway: making the information relevant to students. My cooperating teacher did a really great job of that today. ¬†Before the students shared what they had learned about their assigned tax, their teacher took some time to explain how taxes work and really demonstrated to the students how this would affect their daily lives.¬†She went around the room and took items from students, “demanding” 25 cents for them to have their possession back. ¬†The students seemed to really get the point of why the colonists would have reacted to taxes as they did. ¬†She explained how even though we are taxed today, we are given representation through electing officials who we hope will voice our concerns – the colonists, however, had taxation without any representation. I think that by connecting the content to the students themselves, and really forcing them to put themselves in the colonists’ shoes, my cooperating teacher was able to really get the message across. Students will be more likely to better remember that engaging, relevant part of the lesson rather than if they had only been told that the colonists were taxed without having a say. ¬†By making the information relevant, my cooperating teacher fulfilled the “so what?” question that teachers so often get when teaching history.

Day 16 – “I think I have a dollar in my bag!”

Day 12 – “Bweep”

Today’s practicum…

  • ADVISORY — Students finished their “Coat of Arms”, which displays a personal goal, interests, role models, and individual mottos. They were supposed to begin writing a “I am” poem, but they did not get to that. ¬†At the very end of this allotted time, my cooperating teacher put on a video with a skeleton dancing, and everyone (teachers included) stood up and mimicked the skeleton.
  • CLASS — Students handed in their current event assignment, and took notes on the colonies with the teacher. While they were taking notes, I read through their current events and graded them based on content (if they had a title, the date, where the information came from, a summary, how the event impacts people, and why they chose the article). ¬†At the end of class, the students were allowed to play a Kahoot because they had done a good job paying attention during the note taking.

Today’s takeaway…

While reading through the current events, I was astonished to see the difference in writing levels among students. ¬†Most students fell in the “middle” of the writing spectrum, but there were definitely some outliers. ¬†There were one or two students who clearly have a great understanding of writing – they were able to summarize, explain, and describe in a clear and coherent way. ¬†Other students, however, were significantly behind their peers in writing levels – even several grades behind. ¬†There were incomplete sentences, unconjugated verbs, and no explanation or even description of the current event. ¬†Having such discrepancies in writing ability is tough for teachers – especially in secondary grades – to address. ¬†The curriculum is already full of content-related standards that take up the teacher’s time and energy – it’s hard to incorporate writing skills into that already packed schedule. ¬†Plus, having to stop and take the time to teach basic writing is not engaging at all for students who do not need it. ¬†It’s critical for teachers to take the time to learn their students’ writing levels so that they can ¬†create lesson plans that allow all students to thrive while at the same time appropriately challenge students. ¬†The timing of this “revelation” for me is quite favorable, as I am creating a lesson plan that requires students to write. ¬†Knowing that writing abilities differ so drastically, I can adjust my plan accordingly.

Day 12 – “Bweep”

Day 11 – More About the Colonies

In today’s practice my visit, the students first completed a journal prompt about what it would have been like to be a Pilgrim sailing over on the Mayflower to the New World. ¬†Then, the students had to fill out a worksheet that categorized the new colonies into regions (North, Middle, and South) and then chronologically ordered them. Following this, students were split into groups to further research the characteristics of a specific region of colonies, using the textbook. The students, later this week, will share what they found with the rest of the class.


Today’s big takeaway was simply the reinforcement of the importance of group work and letting students own heir learning. Many times in classes throughout my educational experience I have worked either individually or with others to take on a topic and then teach it to the rest of my peers. ¬†Even now, in my senior year of college, I am doing that in one of my classes, and I know that such an activity is commonly found in many professions, undoubtedly in educational occupations. The skills of collaboration and being able to teach others the knowledge you have learned are essential not only on the classroom, but beyond. By having students teach others, you require that they really know what they are talking about – it’s a deeper learning than if they had just read the sections in the textbook; they have to own it.

Connected to this idea is the significance of being aware of group dynamics. My teacher allowed students to select their first and second choices for which region they were going to study. She collected their preferences and then she created the groups based on those and on her knowledge of who would work well together and who would not. This is essential to maintaining the classroom because if she had just let friends work together, the task might not get accomplished and consequently the learning might not have taken place. Her intentional group setting aimed to make groups that would be productive and thus be able to benefit the whole class, for if one group failed to learn, the whole class would have too.

Day 11 – More About the Colonies

Day 8 – “He had HOW many wives?!”


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!)

Day 8 – “He had HOW many wives?!”