ST Blog – Week 13

Some important resources:

  • Thematic maps

Lessons Taught:

  • 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:

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ST Blog – Week 13

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

Content Area Reading #5 – #Twitter

“Democratic Twittering: Microblogging for a More Participatory Social Studies” Daniel G. Krutka,¬†Social Education¬†78(2), pp 86-89. Retrieved from National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)

I found this article while searching through the NCSS database. Initially I was looking to find an article on using textbooks in the classroom, but I stumbled upon this article and was intrigued by its focus on Twitter, a social media app that I personally enjoy using.

Krutka outlines the great potential Twitter has for creating engaging lessons and projects that require students to dive deep into content knowledge. ¬†He gives two specific examples of content areas (the Enlightenment and the Cuban Missile Crisis) where teachers used Twitter to encourage students to take on personas of important historical figures and to be able to concisely articulate their opinions, summaries of events, and so on. ¬†Along with using Twitter for class activities, other benefits of Twitter, according to Krutka, include allowing educators to communicate with fellow colleagues and also with students and families and serving as an outlet for educators’ professional development (connecting with other educators and sharing resources). ¬†I agree with Krutka in his claim that social media, including but not limited to Twitter, can be integral to student achievement and engagement: “If everyday citizens can utilize social media to promote change in the face of oppressive regimes then these services can certainly foster more participatory and democratic experiences for students and teachers” (86). ¬†I myself being a “millenial” enjoy using social media for not only personal purposes, but also for educational pursuits. ¬†With today’s modern world that relies so heavily on technology, students should learn from a young age how to use that technology in order to create positive changes within their worlds.

#3ThingsIDontWant2Forget

  • 1. Examples of teachers who used Twitter in exploring the topics of the Enlightenment and the Cuban Missile Crisis (having students tweet as if they were Voltaire, Rousseau, JFK, Castro, etc.)
  • 2. Twitter can be used as a quick pre-class or post-class formative assessment to “check in” with students.
  • 3. “A study I completed with my 20 pre-service social studies teachers indicated that the use of social media, and Twitter in particular, in our weekly class enhanced students’ relationships with each other and me, and also helped to blur many of the traditional lines often present in formal learning settings” (87) — TECHNOLOGY CAN BE GOOD!

#2ControversialIdeas

  • 1. “Twitter can be used with students in a variety of classes and age levels.” I agree with this to an extent. ¬†I don’t think that students under the age of eleven or twelve would necessarily benefit from an activity as described in the article, or even for practicing concise writing or sharing links with parents (87). ¬†I think that students of such a young age can use technology to enhance their learning, but the fundamental skills behind thinking through different perspectives and learning to how concisely write need to be grounded before technology can take them to the next level.
  • 2. Using Twitter as a participation tool – some more “old-school” teachers would disagree in saying that a student tweet counts as participating in class – “All students should have to speak” is what many may think, but I – and Krutka – disagree. ¬†As long as the content in the tweet is high-quality and thoughtful, then I think it definitely counts. ¬†In today’s personalized learning age, some students may be able to more easily and articulately express themselves through such mediums as opposed to traditional instructional patterns. ¬†If student learning is evident through Twitter, then I think it is a valuable tool.

#OneQuestion

  • 1. When using Twitter, it is easy to be very simplistic as tweets only allow so many characters – students could easily say, “There wasn’t enough room to put more.” ¬†How does a teacher balance that excuse with getting qualitative reflections/insights/responses from students?
Content Area Reading #5 – #Twitter

Day 7 -“Can I get an extension?”

In today’s practicum, I only saw one class period because of a schedule change. ¬†I saw a group of seventh graders, who I am still getting to know, and they worked on completing their explorer projects. ¬†I also was able to sit in on a team meeting, where students and staff of “Team Blue” met to recognize good deeds done throughout the last week or so. ¬†Teachers and staff members of the team specifically identified students they wanted to acknowledge, and these students received a marble as a reward. The students had a half day, so the rest of their time spent at school was spent in study hall, in which many students worked on finishing their projects.

 

Today’s big takeaway related to the explorer projects – no matter how clear you think you are being as a teacher, it is never clear enough. My cooperating teacher assigned this project at least one week ago, if not more. She took a significant amount of time out of class to go over the project requirements. She explained that the explorer baseball card and the map of the explorer’s journey were two separate documents that needed to be handed in. She repeatedly made clear that the due date was the end of this week. Despite all of this clarity and transparency, there still were SO many students who were – I apologize for the harshness of this term – clueless. The students didn’t use their ample class time to get the project done, and my cooperating teacher had to repeat herself countless times about the due date and about the content and display of the project. ¬†In such a situation, I can see why it would be so easy for teachers to get so frustrated. It’s hard enough to be patient all the time, but to feel like students aren’t listening to you at all is an entirely different frustration. ¬†Regardless of how emotional you can become in that moment of frustration, teachers have to keep their cool. Even if it seems redundant and overdone, teachers have to be extremely clear in directions and expectations, providing multiple written and verbal instructions.

Day 7 -“Can I get an extension?”

Day #4 – Don’t be a hovering teacher

Today’s practicum summed up in pictures:

 

 

Today’s new learning that arose from my visit was understanding the difference between “hovering” and “helping”. ¬†When students were given the remainder of the class period to individually conduct research on their explorer, I was asked by my cooperating teacher to walk around and check on how students were doing. I did this a few times, and learned a little bit about how to improve my “walk” as I went; instead of asking “yes” or “no” questions, it was more effective for me to ask specific questions, such as, “What is one interesting thing you have found so far?” ¬†By asking a more open-ended question, I could get a more in-depth response and thus better gauge where the students were at in their research. Also, I had a good conversation with my cooperating teacher about offering services to an extent; in other words, you can’t “hover” over students, or constantly be checking up on them. While being overly available intends to support students, it might have the opposite effect ¬†– it might drive students away. In my second class, I was less apt to make as many trips around the classroom and instead sat near the front. When I saw a student who looked like they were struggling, I made my way over to them and they were receptive of my offer to help.¬†Especially when working with adolescents, it is essential to let them have ownership and responsibility over their learning.

Day #4 – Don’t be a hovering teacher