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.
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.
Finishing up notes on the French and Indian War Ready, here’s a vocab quiz (combined Language Arts & Social Studies for short blocks) If you get through this, you can do Kahoots for the rest of class Do you guys want to watch some videos? (Getting active, videos on working together) Assembly for the entire Middle School – Awards, recognitions, performances, videos You need to finish your personal poems before the end of Advisory!
Today’s takeaway: Find ways to engage students during instruction.
My cooperating teacher was finishing up notes with students on the French and Indian War. In order to explain the battle formation strategies of the British, the teacher decided to include the students. Instead of just verbally explaining how the British marched in lines and ducked down to reload ammunition (all the while exposing themselves to the enemy), the teacher asked a few students to get up and actually demonstrate it. The students really enjoyed this (both those participating and those watching) as it gave them a visual that allowed them to relate to the content. I think they got a lot more out of seeing how the British soldiers formed themselves as opposed to just listening to the teacher explain it. It was great to see the students having a good time, and I think that this content will be something that they will remember.
It can be super easy for a teacher to “lose their mind”, especially when students do not listen to instructions and consequently fail to follow directions. There were many students who walked into the classroom and honestly believed that they hadn’t been told there was going to be a test today. Out of all of the eighth graders (two different sections), only one completed a homework assignment that was assigned at the beginning of the week, although it was clearly communicated to the students and available on the students’ Schoology accounts. This can be very frustrating, but teachers must remember to stay composed and continue on with instruction as best they can. In this case, my cooperating teacher was able to build in some time for students to complete the assignment. However, my teacher is finishing up learning about the colonies, so the fact that her students failed to complete the assignment delays her plans moving forward.
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.
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.