Backwards planning

This week I created and taught a lesson on Benjamin Franklin. This experience of planning was really neat because the idea of objectives and backwards planning finally connected with me after talking with Dr. Freytag for a while. You want to center you lesson around an overall idea or concept, some overall goal that you want to students to learn or accomplish throughout the lesson. Then the activities are built and centered around that concept. In this case, I wanted my students to understand the contributions of Benjamin Franklin and how it helped people (society). I wanted to encourage them to connect his contributions to their daily life today as well. I then centered my lesson around this concept through the activities and material presented or organized for my students.

My objectives should be centered through this idea of backwards planning as well.

Ex. Today we will learn…

We will do this by…

We will know you have learned this by…

 

I believe that most of this year I have been using the activities that I plan for my students to support what we are learning that day and supporting the activities with Bloom’s verbs. Instead I should have been using the activities to support the learning processes used to learn the content of the day. I think that by thinking differently about the way that I plan my lesson, my students are better engaged within the content and are more focused on the “what” rather than the “how.”

***One thing that I want to continue working on is pacing. Once I get a better feel for the time allotted to my lesson, I will start to plan according to the time presented and my lesson will run more smoothly, also contributing to my classroom management.

Functional Behavioral Assessment

The past month or two w have been working on Functional Behavioral Assessment or FBA’s in our Issues class. We have observed our class and gotten to know our students. We have each chosen a student that exhibits a challenging behavior that either disrupts the health or learning of the student’s peers or the student itself. The goal is to seek the antecedent of the student’s behavior to find out why they do that behavior. Based off of that we will think of ways to help the student to cope with antecedent and help them to and to create a plan that will hope to find an alternate behavior for the student and motivate them to learn that new behavior and create a habit of it. We want to help these students find ways other than exhibiting challenging behaviors to find what they are trying to get what they want and need out of the classroom, even if they don’t know what it is that they are searching for yet.

I chose a student who exhibits multiple challenging behaviors such as work avoidance and peer disturbance. This week I figured out that most of his challenging behaviors occur when he is being asked or expected to read, rather it be a book, a questions or short excerpts. I interviewed him about his feelings and attitudes towards reading this week, thinking that it may be an area that he is struggling in. I then proceeded to do a running record on his reading. His reading was fantastic! Therefore, I headed onto another route, searching for the trigger that leads to his challenging behavior. We discussed more about reading and it led to another discussion on how he doesn’t like to read not because he has a difficult time with it, but because he gets really bored. He has trouble sitting still. 

I am currently thinking of different ways of how to support this student in the classroom. I want him to get everything out of his learning experience that he can. I am seeing how the FBA process can help students within the classroom.

Last Minute Teaching

The other day my teacher was teaching a lesson and I was going around tending to the classroom and helping the students. It was a different kind of set up for the day. Because there was state testing earlier in the day the students switched and had all of their classes for a shorter amount of time in the afternoon. After my teacher taught two of the lessons, she asked me if I wanted to teach. I was caught off guard, not expecting the opportunity to present itself to me. I timidly said “sure”, and continued to prepare for the next class.

This taught me a couple of things. The first being to “expect the unexpected” or to “be prepared.” I want to always try to know what is going on so that I can try to step in at any moment.

I was not confident that I knew the material well and wasn’t exactly sure of the steps in the lesson because she had taught the lessons to the two classes a little bit differently. However, I chose a direction for my teaching and acted like I knew the content firmly.  This taught me to act sure of myself even if I am not. The students didn’t know I was unsure of myself, only I did. If I was to make a mistake, I would go back and fix it. After all, I am human and I will make mistakes. Eventually I will settle into teaching mode and everything will feel more natural as I go along. The students will feel more sure of the material if I act more sure of myself.

Small Jobs

This week I’ve been thinking about all the little things that make a class room into a classroom. The extra time and thought making a lesson turn into an experience, the themed bulletins, stickers on work well done and the little celebrations for Holidays and Birthdays.

It’s the little jobs as a teacher, threading formal and informal connections for the students lives into different areas of the classroom that makes it more like their second home. It’s the little jobs that a teacher does that really makes a class room a classroom.

Writer’s Workshop Trial

This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to witness something really cool. In Lang & Lit, we have been talking about Writer’s Workshop and what it entails, how to teach/facilitate it and the language and literacy development process of students. In the fall, a woman came who is an expert on these things. She met with the third grade teachers and gave them some great tips for incorporating literature within the classroom.

This past week she came in the second block in the afternoon to teach a model lesson of Writer’s workshop. All of the third grade teachers had subs come in and observed her lesson with her explaining what she was doing, why she was doing it and briefly how to do it (I believe they had met on this topic before). It was really neat how they were learning so much as practicing teachers. It was also really cool to see the things that I have been learning about in class in action during the lesson such as mini-lessons on writing strategies, individual writing time, conferencing, and share time on their writing experiences. It was neat how much the students were sharing in their writing. They were writing about real things that they were processing in life. They were very open during the conferences and I feel like we learned a lot about the students that were conferred with. I can’t wait to have writer’s workshop in my class!

Interactive Slideshow

This past Friday was pretty cool. It was a staff development day with the focus being technology. My mentor teacher and I went to a staff meeting about the advancement and need for updating the teachers’ information page on the school website. It was really interesting to see the different purposes one can have for their page on the school website, especially because we had a conversation prior to the meeting involving Mrs. Miller’s page and a way in which we could use it.

When I came into  the classroom on Friday Mrs. Miller was telling me about how she has to do a unit on plants, is being observed soon and has to start incorporating technology into her lessons. Recently we have been learning different ways to include 21st century skills in some of my classes, especially in Social Studies. I asked her if she knew about interactive slideshows. I explained that they were slideshows that students worked through that consisted of pictures, graphs, videos, articles and more. We looked at what we had for tools and decided on making one for our students to explore on the iPads. We thought about the option of partnering some students who could benefit from extra support and let some students work alone, who would work better individually.

I also suggested that we take the investigation sheet and use it to differentiate. She chose questions that she thought were imperative for her students to know and we decided the first six questions were things we wanted all students to work through and discover. The next set of questions are things we want most students to know, but they aren’t as imperative to the unit. The last section of the questions are ones that are good for our students to know, but are more of extension learning for the emergent students.This way our lesson is geared towards students of all learning paces.

Grouping

This past week at practicum I tried something a little different. I created an activity around the investigation of U.S. symbols and their meaning. The activity was centered around student groups that had to work together to investigate their assigned symbol. This is very different for my students because they are used to individual work rather than group work and aren’t too familiar with the investigation form of class work. (It is very nerve racking to experiment with your students with these things when you are being observed. 😀 I found this out very fast.)

For my first class I had the students work together at their table groups where they were sitting, moving a couple students that I knew didn’t work well together. However, for the next group of students, my mentor teacher created a system to help me in which the students were given a number when they came in the room. The number they were given would be the table I where they sat at the tables are numbered. This helped separate students who sit together often and talk and put students together that don’t have a lot of experience working together. I have been learning more about the different ways you can group students within the classroom setting.

As I get to know my students even more, I have the opportunity to group them according to different ways. I can group them based on interest, group them grasped on mixed skills, or similar working habits and skills. I look forward to furthering my knowledge of my students skills and interests and see them develop into life-long learners.

 

Communication as Key.

I am not going to lie. This past Wednesday was a little bit awkward. I’m not sure if it was due to miscommunication, lack of communication, false communication or mistaken communication, but either way it was bad communication. 

I presented my mentor teacher my unit plan. We decided that I would teach my unit on the days that I was there (every Wednesday and Friday) and she would teach around it. Things went okay at first, even great. I was getting the advice that I had been seeking from her and our collaboration went up a notch. But soon I found our lessons to be overlapping too an abnormal extent (I’m not sure that she thoroughly read my lesson plans ahead of time, and I didn’t ask the questions I felt I needed to about it).The students were doing reading assignments, homework and activities in class that I had planned in my unit plan and I was at a loss of what to do. 

Well, Wednesday was when it came to the awkwardness that it had to come to, in order for it to turn around. I was pretty sure the students had done about half of the bulk of my lessons, and all were left were reinforcement activities. But, without the foundation of my lesson, my students would have just those activities. I knew they had been doing some of the stuff I had been planning in class, but I wasn’t sure how far they got and what they did. So, on Wednesday, I prayed about it, brought in a variety of things I could do, and asked her where she was in teaching.

From there it was a little awkward, but we got things sorted out.

Our communication/collaboration hasn’t been that great. We have been doing well, but I am a more organized person who wants to know how things are going to happen and she is more of a “go with the flow” kind of person. I guess part of me has tried not to ask so many questions because I have been concerned that I am bothering her or taking up her time. But this event made me realize that no matter how I feel that I am making her feel, I need to ask her the questions that I have so that I can do my job.

 

(Things have been going good at practicum. I don’t want to mislead you. This is just a little struggle that I had.)

One Thing

Aside

This week’s blog post is a little different. Instead of looking through the lens at teaching, I want to look through the lens of teaching. Specifically looking at the students that are being taught. I’ve always known that I have an emotional connection to people. It is easy for me to feel empathy and sympathy for others, to care for and love them. But, I didn’t realize how much a connection I would feel towards my students.

Since the beginning of my practicum experience at Fillmore, there has been a young boy that I have had a special bond with. Some would call him “at risk”, others would label as being the “next statistic”, but I see him as just a kid. He’s been going through a rough time, and although I don’t know what he feels like, I know what it is like to go through a rough time in my own way. We’ve been working together on math and various other subjects. Sometimes I can even get him to work on things that others can’t. But, along with many others, I can see him slipping. Slipping through the cracks of society and spiraling downward. People are starting to see him for the actions in which he partakes and the consequences of his behavior. And while I must admit that such actions have not scurried to the back of my mind, I can’t help but to see that he is just a boy. He feels like no one cares about him and because of that he has started not to care in return.

This may seem like a rant. it may seem to be irrelevant. But, I am not going to take this story for granted. While I have watched this student struggle and have attempted to reach him in my eight hours of presence within the school each week, I have realized something. Something about me and my future career as an educator. Facts and skills are important. Not only that, they are imperative to learning and growing, to contributing to society and to developing your person to the best version that it can be. But, for me something comes before that. If my students come into my classroom and leave taking away one thing, I want it to be love. I want them to know that they are worth it, that someone loves them and believes that they can accomplish anything that they put their minds to. I want them to know that they are strong, capable and competent, but more importantly, that they are loved.

Unit Plan, Day One

Wednesday was my first day of teaching my Unit Plan. I had the opportunity to teach it two times. I teach to one class at 12:00 and to another at 1:00, each one hour long. My first class was more rambunctious than my second, but I was told that it would be that way.I altered the way I taught from one lesson to the next, as I imagine most reflective teachers would.  There were a couple of things that I changed from my first lesson to my second based on the smoothness of the lesson and the reactions from my students. During the second lesson I spent a little more time trying to get to know my new students as this was the first time that I was teaching them. I also altered the way that we did the KWL chart. The first lesson the students got sticky notes for the know and want to know categories and we went through the process of thinking and putting our ideas on the board twice. The second time around, we thought about what we know about as a class and I wrote the answers on the board. Then I gave them sticky notes for the second column, but instead of having then put their ideas on the board and me reading them, I had them read their ideas to me and the class and then I collected them and put them on the board. Also, the seating arrangement was different. During the first class, I had the students push the desks (which were in team table style) aside and sit on the floor surrounding me (which was a little closer than was comfortable). The second time the desks were in a U shape, I moved forward and half the kids were sitting on chairs and half were on the floor. The story time was pretty much the same, but more organized and paced better because I knew what to expect. I also knew a good note to wrap up on because I had found one during the last class. 

My lesson went nothing like I had initially planned out, but that is okay because I expected it. Mrs. Miller and I went over it before I taught that day and made a few changes that I think really benefited my lesson. We basically took what I had planned and split it up into two days. This way I was able to take my time with what I had planned and let the students get the most out of it. I think that my lesson went really well. I believe I am feeling more confident with my teaching and knowing what my students can handle.