Day 8: A bittersweet ending-a final reflection

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Recap:  Today I had planned station work revolving around the concepts of microorganisms and microscopes. There was a variety of stations students circulated through including making a story about microorganisms to help them remember their characteristics, as well as memory card definitions, and microorganisms classification. Aside from the point that it was April Fool’s day and the students were a little more rambunctious, the lesson went well and students enjoyed the variety of tasks required of them. At the end, we enjoyed cupcakes and juice boxes and said our good-byes.

Reflection: It was very hard to leave the school after getting the know all of the students and the atmosphere and routines of the classroom. My coop teacher had taught me so much regarding management and instructional skills. I had absolutely loved my time in the classroom as it was helped me build my teacher confidence and has challenged me to grow for the better. I have learnt so much from these 8 short weeks in the classroom but am left with experience and knowledge that are priceless to my future in education. I have learnt to get to know your students well: their likes, dislikes, struggles, learning style preferences, etc. This knowledge will influence the way I present material to students and prepare me for any potential problems that may occur during class. I have also learnt the importance of organization and preparation for lesson planning. Although I never experienced that moment of forgetting everything I planned, I still greatly benefited from having my whole lesson specifically planned out so I could work on it at the beginning of the week and feel confident I remembered everything I planned for the day of teaching. I have also learnt to just have fun in the classroom and to really work on the concept of “learning being fun”. From my philosophy, I had emphasized I desire to teach students to be excited to learn… this experience gave me the opportunity to put this philosophy in practice. As I stated earlier, this experience challenged me. It challenged my management skills, “my teacher voice”, and my comfort-level (teaching ELA, and social studies). I also learnt the importance of being a continuous learner and being challenged with the lessons I taught. Also, going back and reflecting on my goals I had made prior to my field experience, I had reached and met all of my goals I had created. My teacher voice and ability to project wasn’t as much as an issue as I had expected it to be; likewise, my methods of assessment and attaining my students attention was not a struggle either. The one goal that I did, not necessarily work on, but understood more, was the importance of proper organization and preparation. The more organized and prepared I was, the better the lesson would go. Although there is always room to grow and improve as an educator, this experience has truly help guide me towards that path as well as better understand what my career will entail. This experience has made me that much more excited to finish university and be able to have my own classroom!


Day 7: New Faces and engaging learning

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Recap:  Today I was teaching the same lesson as last week except it was to the other Grade 6 class. I was told they are both very different groups of students and was looking forward to how they would take the lesson compared to the other group. I started the lesson by recapping the students about what the other pre-service teacher had taught about microscopes and rules for using a microscope. After this I had gone through the information about micro-organisms and their characteristics. Once the students had filled in their follow along notes, I gave the instructions about the activity and had gotten students to read the rules out loud. The activity had gone very smoothly and they had finished it half the time as the first Grade 6 class. Once everyone had recorded the correct answers I showed a video about the parts and functions of a microscope and ended the lesson with a crossword about microscopes.

Things I liked: I really enjoyed being able to step into a new class and feel confident with the lesson I had made. It was interesting to see how 2 different groups of students reacted to the lesson. As I stated last week, this lesson was planned to get the students thinking for themselves and having to use problem solving skills. I really enjoyed just getting to observe how students were able to talk through their observations and come to a conclusion as a group what type of protist they thought it was. The thing I thing education is coming to lack a bit is teaching students to think through problems for themselves and not just getting the answer handed to them. This lesson centralized around this concept and proved to be very successful at both teaching students as well as maintaining their interest.

Things I would have changed:  The only thing I would have changed is going through my management strategy before starting the class. I had gained the attention from my students by using the clapping strategy but they did not respond by clapping back.

Things that I had learnt: I had learnt from this lesson that classes will respond differently to lessons but not so much that it is unmanageable- the important thing is to have a discussion with the class beforehand on what is going to be happening and what is needed and expected of them.

Day 6: On task and working together

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    Recap: Today was one of my favorite lessons yet. I’m not sure if this was because it was my first science lesson, or because I was just proud of my lesson, but nonetheless it’s one I’ll use again. I had started the lesson off by showing the students where the Protist Kingdom is on the Kingdom of Life diagram and discussing the different characteristics about the types of protists- this was done with fill in the blank follow along notes. After this, I had broken them into groups of 4-5 and had them work through 5 activity sheets. Each sheet contained a picture and “criminal description” that a protist had done, with evidence from the picture and description, the students were required to determine what type of protist it was (cilia, fungus-like, etc.). Following the activity, I had shown them an intro video about the parts and functions of a microscope done through a song performed by Grade 6 students.

Things I liked about the lesson:  I really liked the activity I had chosen because was an investigatory approach to teaching. I had provided instruction before this, but this was an activity that required the students to think for themselves and use evidence to prove their reasoning for their answer. I wanted to get this thinking on a higher cognitive level instead of always having the answers and steps to get the answers directly in front of them. It was great to see the students working together as a group and each providing their opinion with supporting evidence. The reason this was so great is because I was able to get the students to think scientifically… by this I mean that not only can they form their own opinion, but they work to have evidence to support why they would think this way. Also, I was very pleased with the noise level of the classroom- although it was louder than a normal group instruction, it was all productive, learning noises.

Things that I would have changed: The things I would have changed about this lesson would be that I handout the notes before starting class; that I make it clear that the different types of protists don’t all look the exact same to my example pictures; however they will all contain the same characteristics per group (especially the cilia); and finally, to better convey the instructions of the activity (that there will be 2 copies of the stations around the room, rotate until you’ve reached them all).

Grade 6 Math: Refining a Lesson Plan (N6.5)

1. Lesson Plan- before

2. Lesson Plan – after

Note: Professional development plans and feedback, as well as the reflections of the lesson, are in both links to the lesson plans.

Reflection: The first lesson plan was used on my first attempt on teaching percents, fractions, and decimals to the class. Although the lesson was well planned, I had not known that Grade 6 students did not understand that fractions were another way of writing dividing. This was some prerequisite knowledge that was essential for understanding my lesson. Needless to say, the lesson was only half understood and I don`t believe any of the students retained that knowledge for the next day. So, next week I had planned to teach the same lesson but taking a different approach. The second lesson plan I created involved making it more image based. The second attempt went much better and I was feeling a lot more confident in the level in which they retained. They were all able to get through the assignment and only struggled on the challenge question. Also, in my second lesson I had found a way to include the Treaty Education outcome into the lesson smoothly (this can be seen during the last question on my PowerPoint.

Day 5: Letting creativity loose

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Recap: Today I was teaching about informal and formal language. I was very unsure of what my students’ understanding of this topic was because in a previous lesson I had observed, students had used texting slang in places where it was not appropriate. I started the lesson by asking questions to gain further knowledge about their prerequisite knowledge. From this discussion I concluded they knew the difference between the 2 types of languages; however, it seemed like a few students just believed formal language was used by rich or famous people. After this, I provided a definition and examples of both types of languages and then did class examples. Once this was over, I handed out a worksheet that gave students individual practice and then corrected it as a class. Following this, I showed my slide of the summary and gave the instructions for the activity. My planned activity was making groups of 3-4 and providing them with a scenario they had to determine if it required formal or informal language and create a skit to show how it would go- this got rather humorous and allowed me to see the creative sides to my students.

Things I would have changed: I thought this lesson had went really well and exactly how I had intended it to go. The thing I would have changed, however, would have been talking to a particular student who constantly blurted out during class. I would have spoken with her before class and let her know I would give her one warning and then would dismiss her to the hallway if she continued. Although it wasn’t a major problem, it did cause some distraction and prompted other students to start talking when they shouldn’t have.

Things I really liked: I was somewhat surprised with the how well my students paid attention during the whole group instruction. This was the first time I had the full 33 students and was really happy that one of the problem students (who normally just tunes out and reads) to be at least listening to the instruction. I also really liked the role playing activity. This had really engaged and excited students in a topic that may have been rather dull- the consequence of this was a little more noise and talking, but it was mostly all working/productive noise and so was acceptable.

Things I learnt: From observing gym (they were allowed to create their own mini golf courses and then allowed to play the courses), as well as the role playing activity, I was able to witness the positive effects of allowing students to have the freedom of creativity. I don’t think I would have been capable of coming up with some of the role playing skits or mini-golf courses they created. It was really beneficial to see the possibilities available when you just provide a non-restrictive environment where the students’ creativity can be let loose. Although it did get a lot louder then it would have been if it were more controlled, some students learnt better then they would have any other way.

Day 4: A much better outcome

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    Recap: Today I was reviewing and reteaching my concepts from last time (relating fractions, decimals and percents). The last day I had taught, the students were having a hard time following the method I chose to teach this outcome. Today I had taken the more visual/100 grid approach and had much better results. The day had started with a review from the previous class to get their minds thinking about percents. Then I proceeded to explain fractions, decimals, and percents separately and then showing how to convert them all. As a class, I went over 8 examples of each asking students to provide me with the answers. Every single student had a chance to answer at least once and during this time my Coop had stated there was a lot of “oooh I get it” being said (they were understanding the material!). After the examples, I had organized a game in which every student was given a number (either a percent, decimal or fraction) and they were told to find the people who had relating numbers. Once the game was over, I had given them a handout/practice to be handed in.

Things I would have changed: The reason this lesson worked better then the one from last week is because it followed the textbook a bit more closely. I was unaware of their previous knowledge and so the textbook was able to aide me with what they should know and be learning. The thing that I would have changed, however, was the way I approached decimals. I had went through decimals first, but as my Coop suggested, it would have been more beneficial to do fractions first and then use the 100 denominator to show how to get decimals (2 zeros in 100 so we would move the decimal 2 place values to the right to get a decimal). Although this wasn’t a huge area of concern, I feel a few of the students would have learnt and connected better with this approach.

Things I liked/learnt: The thing that I was most proud of was my game I made up. Although it was a very simple game, it worked really efficiently! The reason it had worked so good was because, before I passed out the numbers, I shown a slide of the rules and instructions. I had read the instructions myself but had asked students to read the 3 rules on the slide (being quiet, no running, follow the rules or your out)- I had not intentionally made the students read the directions so that they would listen better but made a note of how effective this strategy had worked. I was worried planning this game into my lesson initially because I was expecting quite a bit of noise, even if it was productive learning sounds. The students had shocked me! Some started whispering, others talking quietly and not running. There was no problems during this game at all!

After it is all said and done, I had really enjoyed this lesson and had felt most students were understanding the topic. I look forward to next week when I teach about formal vs. informal writing!

Day Three: A day full of puzzling looks and questions

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Recap: For today’s lesson, my outcome was to teach my students about percent. I had started the lesson with an investigation segment that had got the students thinking about where they see percentages in their everyday lives. This was very engaging and I was very happy with this part of my lesson. After this I had given a 5 minute lesson about what a percent is and the relationships it has with fractions, numbers of 100, and decimals. I had gone in to the lesson knowing they would not get this right away and had planned to do 5 examples together as a class to clear the confusion. Although challenging in the beginning, by the last 2 examples I was able to get them to give me the procedure to write down as well as the right answer. After these examples, I had instructed the students to work through the 5 practice questions on their own. At this time I was able to go around to every student and walk them through the question they were on. There was a lot of questions at this time; however, every student I had helped had given me the impression they were following what I was helping them with. While I do think they did get it then, as soon as they were working individually again they had problems. I had originally planned, at the end of the period, for them to complete 2 percentage questions about their classroom. They did not get to this done as the practice questions took longer than I had thought.

Things I would have changed: There was a few things in my lesson plan that created a lot of problems. For one thing, I had overestimated their prerequisite knowledge- they did not know that fractions were another way of writing division, and they did not know how to use their calculator very well. This was very important for my entire lesson; consequently, making my lesson ineffective for the students. Furthermore, what I would have changed would have been my approach to teaching percentages- I would have focused more on how to get a percent from a fraction by manipulating the denominator to equal 100 instead of using the division method. This method was more parallel to the knowledge they already had and would have provided greater success. Another problematic occurrence was that because they were struggling in the beginning of the lesson, there was more students blurting out at this time. The cooperating teacher had suggested that this was because of their confusion as it had diminished as the lesson continued further.

What I had liked about my lesson: I had felt I had controlled my classroom very well. There was a few times the classroom was getting out of hand or off task and I felt I had gained control over the classroom quickly and efficiently. The majority of time, all students were on task and engaged in the lesson.

What I have learnt: I have learnt the importance of communicating with the cooperating teacher about prerequisite knowledge. I had also learnt efficient methods of classroom management and a great Set activity that was effective in gaining the students’ interests as well as their focus.

Day Two: Changing students’ attitudes

light bulb
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February 11, 2014

Recap: Today was the first day I was teaching my own lesson. My lesson was about ratios at which I used a powerpoint and set of handouts that the students followed along in and filled in blanks and questions. I had used a lot of “I do, We do, You do” examples and had centered my examples around information that was relevant to them (such as Finding Nemo). Some things that were very positive from the lesson was that all the students maintained focus because they were all interested in the material and had handouts to refer back to when they had a question. Also, time management was right on scale. This was very surprising because time management was one of the things I was more worried about- I thought for sure I would be overtime. One of my favorite moments of this lesson was the attitude of one particular student. The student had stated at the beginning of the lesson before I had started teaching that “I’m not good at math, it’s always boring”. Half way through the lesson that same student had said “wow, this is actually pretty fun, it’s actually making sense”. That was a very reassuring comment and made me feel much more confident with my lesson. At the end of the lesson, I had asked all students to answer the one assessment question I had on the back of the handout. Once they were finished, they were asked to raise there hand and I went around to see if they had gotten it right. Based on my assessment, all the students had understood the definition of a ratio and could write it in the 3 different ways! This was a big victory I took out of my lesson.

Things that I would have changed: There was 2 things that I would have changed in my lesson if I could do it again. The first thing would be to sync my handouts better with my slides: I had questions on the handout (not requiring simplifying of ratios) and the answers on my slide with the answers simplified (ex. showing 3/7 instead of 6/14). This caused a little bit of confusion and a lot of questions. The second thing would be, that I would have planned more time to go over simplifying ratios. With the inconsistency of the slides, and not enough teaching time with simplifying ratios, I think only about half the class had walked away understanding this concept.

What I have learnt: On the professional development data sheet I had made the goal to make sure all my students were understanding my instructions as well as the material. One of the new strategies I had used, one of which I had gotten from a teacher from my high school, was the thumbs up method (asking students how well they understand the material responding by either giving a thumbs up if they understood, thumbs down if they needed further instruction, and then in between). This had worked wonderfully and had given me the information I needed as to how well my students were understanding. From this, the big lesson of the day was how beneficial it is to informally assess your students understanding, so correction can occur sooner, and you can fix the problem before marks are given.

Day One: Introductions and Building Bonds

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February 4, 2014

Recap: This was the first day at my Semester 5 field experience classroom. It was mainly focused around getting to know the students, but also getting to see how my cooperating teacher ran the classroom. My partner and I had been present for their P.E. class (with 66 Grade 6 kids), English, and Math. The cooperating teacher had told me and my partner not to worry about planning anything because she had set up how we were going to be introduced and the small work that we would do.  Therefore, instead of having my own plan, I was able to just make notes and observe. What I would consider my victory would be that during the small group work, I helped my group of 8 to understand the new concepts and be able to see their excitement when they understood (that a fraction actually means division).

Things that I would have changed: Even though my cooperating teacher had suggested not to plan an introductory lesson, I should have suggested to have one. It was just really disorganized because we had introduced ourselves in P.E. to the 66 students, but never got names from any of them. Although the class of 66 would be hard to remember names, for English and Math the group decreases to 15-30 students. If I was able to go back and redo this morning I would have introduced myself to the group of 66 but had an introductory game for the beginning of English. It would have been nice to get to know my students a little bit more and have them more familiar with me.

What I have learnt: This was a very exciting week just to get into the realization that I will be teaching in front of my own class. One of the questions I had made before the start of my field experience was that I wanted to gather effective methods for gaining my student’s attention while they are chatting or after group work. One of the methods I had seen this day was that the cooperative teacher had used clapping patterns, which their students repeat, to get everyone’s attention. I thought this was a great idea and the 3 times I had seen it in action, it had always been successful. I plan to use this during my own lessons and see if it is as effective for me, as it was for her.

Next week I will be teaching my first lesson, very excited!

Goals for Field Experience

Goals for my beginning teacher career:

1. Building up my “teacher voice”- I can do this by consciously reminding myself to acknowledge the volume of my voice and by gauging how intent my students are listening and if my volume may be impacting that. I will know if I’m effective if my cooperative teacher and partner are able to hear me clearly from the back of the room.

2. Finding my way of getting my students attention when its noisy- I will do this by researching effective methods to gain attention and by observing other teachers methods that they use (I’ve already seen a teacher use a chime, when she tapped it her students would stop what they’re doing and look at her for direction). I will know if I’m successful when I am able to repeatable use the same method for getting attention and it always yields results.

3. Use different types of assessments- I want to get away from the small list of traditional methods of assessing students. I know from my inclusive ed. background that all students needs differentiation. I want to research and ask other teachers what their methods of assessment are and then compose a list that I can reference. I will know if this goal is met because I hope to add one for every lesson.

4. Organization- I am somewhat am organized person, but I want my lesson plans and lessons with the class to be structured and organized. I will do this by establishing my routine at the beginning of the experience and continue the same throughout. I will know if I’ve accomplished this if my students know what to expect the last day before I tell them.