Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Full Monty!

Greetings and salutations!

This has been a pretty great week! On Monday I picked up my first class and on Wednesday I picked up the rest of them! That's a bit faster than usual, but you'll see what happened.

My co-op and I decided that it would probably be best to start by picking up the last block of the day. In doing this, I would be able to watch my co-op teach the first two blocks and see how to teach that day's subject. So, I made my lesson plan and my co-op decided to go with what I had planned instead of coming up with examples of her own. This worked really well as I was able to see what worked in my lesson and what didn't. Basically, I was able to evaluate the lesson before I even got to teach it.

Needless to say, the lesson went very well when I taught it. If you're curious, the lesson was on creating box and whisker plots. It was also preceded by a mini-lesson on multiplying decimals. The students were really receptive to my teaching and the material and they seemed to understand the material, considering there was a fair amount that we went over.

Tuesday was also a good class, though a bit harder. We were covering stem and leaf plots, which aren't really hard, but the third block was interrupted by the football players being excused to leave for their game and then again by afternoon announcements. So, I had to rearrange my lesson so I could make sure that the football students got the homework that they needed and instructions to call a friend in the class to catch up as best they could.

Also, a student came up to me before lunch time and asked me to sit down and help her with box and whisker plots, which she said she was having a hard time understanding. I was shocked that 1) a middle school student was admitting they needed help, and 2) that she came and asked me and not my co-op, who was still teaching her block at the time. So, I told the student to come see me at lunch, as there really wasn't any other time that I could stay and help her. She never came to find me. I guess she wasn't looking for help that badly.

Tuesday night was our rescheduled co-op dinner/Pinning Ceremony. It was a fairly standard dinner. The food was okay. The pinning ceremony wasn't really formal at all since there were only two of us. After dinner, our supervisor told us that she would probably be coming in the next day (Wednesday) to make a formal observation. I told her that I would be taking on the first block as well as the third block. She has our schedule, so there was no need to clarify times.

For Wednesday, I had a quiz planned, followed by some instruction on bar and line graphs. First block went off fairly well. The only real issue that I encountered was that the graphs that I had made on an overhead for the students to include in their notes was too small to see. So I had to describe the graph to them, which took a little more time than I had planned on. I just adjusted the lesson a little bit according to the time that I had left. Then, during second block, my supervisor showed up as the students were taking their quiz. I was a bit baffled as to why she didn't show up during one of the times that she knew I would be teaching.

So, my co-op and I re-planned a little bit. After the students came back from lunch, I picked up the instruction of the second block so my supervisor would be able to see me teach sooner and not have to wait around very long. I fixed the problem of my graphs being too small during lunch by remaking them on the overhead to be bigger. This lead to me having to just read out the questions to the students in more of a discussion style. Apparently, this worked out to my advantage as my supervisor was able to comment on the fact that I had a very good classroom presence and I had the right volume, wait time, etc.

After she left, my co-op asked me if I wanted to finish the day off like I normally would have. I said yes, figuring that it would be best to keep the students with a consistent teacher. So I finished off the day as my first day of a full load!

Thursday I had planned an activity for the students to do with scatter plots. I started off the class with a discussion on scatter plots and was pleasantly surprised that the students were able to guess what scatter plots were with decent accuracy. Then we began the activity. The first block was unable to finish the whole thing, so I assigned a part of what was left for homework and told the students that we would be able to finish what was left after that in class the next day.

My co-op then asked me if I wanted her to take the second block or if I just wanted to keep on going. I chose to keep teaching. I figured I might as well. The second block was pretty rowdy during the discussion part of the lesson. In response, my co-op told me that I should tell them that if they didn't turn around their behavior, they would be doing some independent work instead of the activity. So before they left for lunch, I fussed at them, to use the Southern phrase. I must have gotten through to them because when they came back, they were perfectly behaved during the activity and weren't even that loud in groups. They must have been a little shocked that they managed to get the student teacher to fuss at them.

The third block was better behaved than the second block had started out. They were probably the group that was able to get the farthest with their activity, so they had the least amount to work on at home. Overall, the day went pretty well.

For Friday, I had come up with another activity for the students to do that would give them a good idea of what sampling is and how well it works. They were to go "fishing" in ponds (paper bags) that were full of tagged fish (pretzel Goldfish) and untagged fish (cheddar Goldfish). They took 10 fish and recorded the number of each type. They did this for 10 trials and then found their experimental percentages. When they were finished, I gave them the actual percentages and they were to write a summary of what they learned about sampling. Overall, the activity went very well.

Over the weekend, I've been planning out the last two topics for this unit. I've also been thinking about how I want to work out the day of review that we will have before the test on Thursday. Friday will be up in the air, as I was supposed to have class with my supervisor but she changed the date. So now we can switch things up a little bit. That's pretty much everything I've got for now!

Sincerely Yours,
The Tenderfoot Teacher

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Following the White Rabbit...?

Good Evening!

Well, things have certainly been interesting lately, I can tell you that!

Friday, my co-op was going away for a wedding, so class was basically left to me to handle. Now, because of college rules, I need a certified teaching in the room with me, so there was a substitute. But my co-op basically told me that what I said went. I wasn't too nervous though.

All we did was go down to the computer lab and we started a benchmark test on the software that the school uses. The catch (because when isn't there a catch?) was getting the students to follow the directions that I gave. Since the test would take two class periods, I instructed the students to click the link at the top that said "Save Test To Continue Later" as opposed to the link that said "Turn In Test." I made sure that all eyes were on me and there was silence as I gave these directions. Upon returning to class on Tuesday, there were at least three or four students in each class that clicked the wrong link.

The test was what we call "calculator inactive," meaning no calculators. The test made this very clear in its directions, and I reiterated this item of information. However, every few minutes, a student would raise their hand to ask if they could get a calculator. Also, I knew that there would be some students in every class that would finish the test early. So I gave explicit directions that if they finished early, they should take out a book and read, which is what we always do in class anyway. Of course, there were some students who still didn't know what to do and sat there with vacant expressions until I finally clued them in.

But all in all, the day went well and everyone walked away whole and intact.

Moving on to Tuesday, we had a co-op dinner/pinning ceremony. Apparently my college decided that student teaching is such a big step that there needs to be a ceremony as a formal beginning to the semester. Well, our was a bit later than usual, due to timing issues for our college supervisor. So, last night, we are all waiting in the room at the restaurant waiting for the supervisor to arrive. Well, we waited for half an hour before we decided she wasn't showing up.

When I got back home, I e-mailed her asking what had happened, hoping that nothing bad had happened. Well, I got a call a little while later from her. She said that there was so much going on that she completely forgot. Now, I'm not the best at remembering things, and I've forgotten about plenty of things, but nothing this big. But I do understand that shit happens and I forgive and move on. But it was another thing for our co-ops. Both left families at home and took time to come out for us, and they felt that it was rather rude.

Today, during my planning period, our supervisor showed up, very apologetic. We're in the process of rescheduling, so we'll see what happens there.

While visiting, we got onto the topic of game duty with my supervisor. She agrees with my co-op and I that I shouldn't be off doing anything by myself. I am supposed to follow my co-op and do what she does. So she decided to talk with the principal about the assistant principal's attitude towards what we were there for. It was decided that I will still do this game duty tomorrow, but I will have a walkie-talkie that I can use to ask questions of the assistant principal should I need anything.

In talking with my roommate's co-op later, the assistant principal had been speaking with him about this afterwards. He was offended that the college would come in and tell him what he can and can't do with the student teachers in the school, claiming that the other college's in the area are fine with student teachers doing game duty. He also expressed the feeling that if that was how the college was going to act, then it might be better if the school didn't take student teachers from my college any more.

Let's talk about over reacting! But I'll just take the punches as they come and do my best to remember that I'm here for the students, not the administration.

Until next time!
The Tenderfoot Teacher