Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lesson 7 & 8

Lesson 7-

I incorporated coins into my centers for this lesson. First I let them finish the centers from the day previous, and then let them work in centers where they were adding the value of coins. Two digit addition, I think so. Another TEKs incorporated? I think so. By the way? I rock.

Students were self directed
I was able to save my voice a bit
Able to work one-on-one with some students as they worked with coins.
Pre-assessment of coins given - good insite into what they need to know

The coins were like toys
The worksheet was not very clear on the pictures - I printed it too small.

Overall, I think this was a pretty sound decision on my part. They know this stuff.

Lesson 8 - Traskhetball
I'm going to not reflect on this one because I spent a whole lot of time with Mr. Coleman talking about it today.

Things I need to work on-
1. My student's self-assessment/informal assessment. I'm starting to do more of it, but still don't do it as much as possible. As I cut down my lesson length hopefully I'll do more of it.
2. Length- My lesson was too long. I've kinda been following Ms. Howard's example a bit on this as her lessons are really long. With her though, their individual work takes the most time. So, me = learn more. me = shorter lessons, me = talk less.
3. When the voice gives out, take the time.

Otherwise, I got some very good feedback on my teacher presence, management, disipline, expectations, etc. All of those things that I have really worked hard on. I love when I get someone telling me that I've done something right! I really enjoy it.

Now, fingers crossed for the test tomorrow!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lessons 3-6

I taught on Friday using whole class inquiry methods to get my students to regroup.

What Went Well
My mid-range students got it. They understood.
The students are getting better at answering my 'why' questions and being respectful.

What Didn't Go Well
The students are at such DIFFERENT levels that the whole class left half of them bored, and the other half day dreaming.

This was an alright lesson. I don't think I want to do all class inquiry again though. The problem with that is that I know inquiry doesn't go well the first few times and I have to train the kids to think about their thinking. I'm understanding WHY so few people actually use this tecnique.

Lessons on the Virtical Frame
I used centers to teach the virtical frame and just get the kids thining about how addition and regrouping work.

What Went Well
The students (with the exception of two) were 100% engaged in every center.
I have some solid data to say who is struggling now. Namely, El, Mal, Pr.
I was able to have a little one-on-one time with every student.
Every student was able to explain regrouping to me.
They started explaining their work with words and making those verbal connections.

What didn't go well
Basically, nothing went so badly wrong that I would change anything. The students were engaged, they loved the virtual manipulatives, I only had to remind them twice about their voice level... Yes, some of them struggled with some of the centers, but all in all I believe they did REALLY well.

I loved using centers. Yes, it was a bit harder to think out the centers, but I think If I was a teacher of second/first grade I would have centers made to reinforce the concepts I wanted to teach already so much of that work would be done. I really, really, really like how self directed the kids were and I enjoyed being able to work with them one-on-one.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lesson 3: Estimation

I did my third lesson in my addition unit today. My biggest problem with Estimation is the definition of 'estimate'. Everyone I've talked to have defined estimation as an educated 'guess'. To the kids, they learned that a 'guess' really is anything that's out there. A guess cannot be right or wrong. But now they have me in front of them telling them that what they learned isn't exactly right, that there are 'rules' to estimation. There are ways to make estimation more exact, but they're not really easy to explain. However, I did the best that I could. For once, I taught the lesson a lot like it was explained in EnVision math. I put the lesson plan into my own words though (for the TWS!).

The students were able to identify their tens and ones.

Not Well-
I had to redirect them quite a bit.
I didn't have enough time.
The technology did /not/ work.
The students didn't have contact with the technology.

Anyway. I am not satisfied with this lesson, but I'm not sure HOW I could teach it better. Frankly, I'm thinking I'll have to leave this particular subject alone, having introduced it. On the benchmark tests they will simply add the two numbers together to see if they have enough money to buy the object. As they get more sophisticated in their estimation skills they will learn how to estimate better.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Link to Lesson Plans for Lesson 1 and 2 of addition unit.

My first two lessons of my teacher work sample have been completed.

I don't have much time, so I'll reflect quickly.

Lesson 1- Closest 10
Went Well-
Students were engaged.
Students were able to tell the closest ten using a number line.
Students worked quickly.
Students were able to get up and move.
I made the students go back to their seats and do it again to show that I was serious about them following directions.
New attention signal given and learned.
Able to switch gears when it was clear the learning goal was not being met.

Needs improvement:
I'm not sure if they are able to find the nearest ten without a number line.
They had to go back to their desks. Directions needed to be more concise.
Pick a management sceme and work with it.

Lesson 2- Place Value
Went Well-
Students realized I'm serious about directions (st.s had to pull their sticks)
Learning goal accomplished.
Students worked in groups without arguing.
Ma and Aa BOTH engaged in the lesson!

Needs Improvement-
Give more verbal praise - avoid empty phrase
Formulate questions before having groups present.
Need to find a new punishment than moving their conduct stick. What could it be?

Lesson 1 and Lesson 2

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Amelia Earhart Lesson

Amelia Earhart Lesson Plan

Today I was able to teach my first lesson with the second grade class here at Carroll Academy. My teacher asked me to teach about Amelia Earhart. I spent all Saturday looking for things I could do with her and came up completely empty. Finally, I asked the woman I live with (Rosemary) how she taught it when she was in second grade. She couldn't really suggest anything, but said the words 'paper airplane'. My struggle was that I knew my objective, but could not find an assessment to match it. With her suggestion however, I was able to find an assessment that matched what I was teaching (namely, write facts about Amelia on the paper airplane.)

  • I really made sure that I was in control of the classroom.
  • The projector idea Did Not work, so I kicked it out and did something different.
  • I made sure that I changed the pitch of my voice
  • I was excited about the subject and teaching it.
  • I was completely prepared to teach the subject. The note cards were under their desks.
  • I elaborated slightly on every fact to give the kids a feel for the woman.
  • I made sure everyone was able to contribue to the classroom.

  • I should have tested the projector first.
  • Those stupid behavior expectations- I did not set them.
  • I need to work on my timing. That lesson should not have lasted that long. These are second graders for Pete's sake!
  • Be more fair when partitioning out work.

After the lesson we watched a short animated clip from Discovery Streaming (The Time Warp Trio), and I asked them to write a story about what they think happened when Amelia Earhart disappeared. A handful of them were able to do it, but most of them it was like pulling teeth to get them to engage their creative minds. Aa. had /good/ ideas, but REFUSED to share them in front of the class. Jac. did the same thing. Mayl. seems to struggle with vocalization of her thoughts all around, and it makes me wonder about her. I am going to keep an eye on her and see if I can't get her to start vocalizing more. To give them an example of the kind of story I wanted I did a short shared writing experience with them where I wrote and they gave me the ideas. I'm not sure if it helped because we ran out of time... but I can only hope. I want them to come back to this, because there are SEVERAL lessons that we can teach from this one piece of writing.

I think I am going to email Dr. Wilcox and Dr. Morrisson to see what they suggest to get these kids writing. Some of them love it. I was surprised out of my socks by Edw. He really wrote a good start to a story with lots of details. Some of the other kids though complained that they were 'bad' writers or 'couldn't' think of anything. All of these kids can write, but somewhere they were told they were bad. I intend to find out where this came from and do my best to erase it!

Randomly- The kids enjoyed talking about their answers in groups. They really did. Alex even asked if they could do some more of that. I'm going to incorporate that into my future lesson plans.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I realize now that I was spoiled in my last student teaching experience. My teacher was very big into cooperative learning and self-esteem. She made sure from the very first day that her classroom was a respectful and safe place to learn. From what I observed her philosophy is that it is perfectly fine to BE wrong, so long as you from it. Often she would give them the right answer, and they would the have to explain why the answer was correct.

Not to nay-say my teacher, I think she is wonderful, but this classroom is not built on that philosophy. (Which, I'll admit, is a very different philosophy then I have seen any other teacher employ.) This classroom does not follow that philosophy. The students worked in groups to create a pamphlet of Texas facts and they struggled with it. The groups argued and got impatient with one another when the work was not progressing fast enough. Often they would get so mired down with their arguments that myself or Ms. Howard had to step in and get them moving again.

One of my most recent pet peeves is the students saying "that's easy" when another student struggles with an answer. I always turn to the commenter and say, "Easy for you." More than once I've gotten back, "No, easy for everyone." Which is just plain not true. Comments like this make it hard to get the struggling student to venture an answer because they might be 'wrong'. As a teacher is is very frustrating.

Another thing I have noticed is that very few of these kids will venture an answer that may even possibly be wrong. On a rough draft they will redraw a picture several times to make it 'right', and will often give up if they cannot get it 'right'.

So, what do I do now? How do I get these students to work well in groups, as well as bolster their self-confidence? I believe that it is easier to learn from a wrong answer than a right answer, but when the kids plain will not answer a question for fear of being wrong... what I can I do?

To Do:
1. Ask Ms. Howard if I can see the report card.
2. Keep up on anecdotal notes.
3. Check out Triad.

Something Cool:
Ms. Howard sent me an email saying that the museum district down here is having a day for the teachers. They've got presentations in the morning and then educators get a free pass to all of the museums. If you go to at least three of the presentations you also get a certificate saying that you did it. I signed up right away, this should be interesting.

Overview of Aldine

For those of you who have not followed this blog, ever, I'll give you a brief update on who I am.

I am 21 years old. For the past 3.5 years I have attended Brigham Young University at the Provo, Utah campus. I entered to study elementary education and have kept that aim throughout the years. For my second semester in the program I was required to start this blog to post projects for a class on using Technology in the classroom. Every since then I have kept this blog to post updates in various parts of my education. I started student teaching this week at Carroll Academy in the Aldine Independent School District here in Houston Texas. This move is a big jump for me because I was raised in a rural community in Colorado. Aldine is an inner-city school in the middle of a very large city.

My first week is passing well, but I have a few things I have noticed that are radically different from the school I went to as a child, the schools I did my cohort work in and Carroll Academy.

Carroll is what is called a Magnet School. This means that it is a school with a whole lot of extra 'perks' to entice people to stay in the district rather than transfer their students elsewhere. From what I have observed Carroll has a majority student body made up of Hispanics, followed by African Americans and then whites. This diversity is one of the main differences.

The next difference is the size of the school. Carroll has 940 students enrolled. The elementary school back home as 450 in a year where everyone that could enroll has. There are never more than four teachers per team, and the school goes up to fifth grade. Carroll only goes up to fourth. This really shocked me when I learned about how the schools where split up. (K-4 is elementary, 5-6 Intermediate, 7-8 Middle, 9 own High School Campus, 10-11 High School.)

One more difference is the number of languages that the students speak. I have a gifted and talented second grade class so all of the students speak English. This is good for me because I have not learned Spanish. As a magnet school there are several bilingual classes in each grade so that students can move into English only slowly. In fact, in second grade, there is my gifted and talented, and one or two English Only classes. The rest are bilingual.

These are just the cultural differences between the schools. There are a lot more, such as security, staff positions, specials, lunch schedules, library, so on and so forth. There really is no reason to bemoan these differences, but I hope they give some context to the remarks that I make in the next few months with regard to this teaching experience.

If you're curious about the school or the district, visit their website:
Aldine Independent School District
Carroll Academy

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