Being Taught to Teach

Reflecting on Reading Groups
October 16, 2011, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Reflecting, Student Teaching

We finally got the kids into reading groups, well my CT did and asked if I would like to be in charge of one.  I will be helping the Maniac Magee group.  I think one thing I really need to do is ask my CT why I have the set of four kids I do.  Natalie is at a very different reading level then the other three and I am thinking this might be due wanting to give her a different set of kids to work with, since there are only two others who are around her level and they have to do a few other things together.  Anyway, I made the mistake of having Natalie read first in the group and then Mattie, because the difference in their skill was very tangible at the moment.  I think Natalie gets frustrated with lower level readers and my two lower level readers are more apprehensive about reading in front of her.  I have emailed some with my CT and come up with a few strategies for my group.  I think I may read a chapter aloud to them, discuss, break them into partners for shared reading and then come back to the group for discussion.  I did quite a bit of research on some good themes and questions for this book this weekend (as well as finishing it) and I think I will mix in a few different types for them to address (1-2 a session depending on how we do that first time).  I am interested to try one kind in particular, there are certain points in the book where you could imagine a conversation going on between two people even though it doesn’t (like when Maniac and Mars go jogging in the early morning), I think for questions like these I can mix up those partnerships (for the reading aloud I have two specific pairings in mind).

I reflecting on how things went on Wednesday, I am glad My CT offered for me to lead a book group, however I wish I had waited until I had fully finished the book and maybe observed her read alouds with a group.  I have really only led discussions for book groups before.  In this case we are having the children read together because we don’t want some to take the books home and read ahead like has happened in the past.  I had noticed that the kids do not know that a TastyCakes Butterscotch Krimpet is and it is brought up several times throughout the book.  I was hoping to bring some in for them so they could make that connection to the characters, but they aren’t sold in California, I guess that’s what happens when we read a book based in Philly and they use regional treats.  I am looking forward to trying again tomorrow.


Reflecting on Morning Meeting
October 16, 2011, 6:14 pm
Filed under: Morning Meetings, Seminar Journals, Student Teaching

I have been taking on Morning Meetings on Tuesdays and really been enjoying it.  Two Tuesdays ago I led a meeting on the word respect because I think my kids needed to revisit this idea.  On Monday of that week their art teacher sat down with them to talk about what has been going on and why she has been feeling this lack of respect from them.  She discussed how they had been good for her in the past and wanted to know what they could do together to make her feel better about coming back to the school.  I had been planning on doing this respect lesson, but it was nice to have a little refresher and something to tie my lesson to directly.  When they came in the students read the morning message that asked them to think about what respect looks like, sounds like and feels like.  They were asked to take a post-it back to their desk, write something and I would know they were ready when they were sitting back in the circle.  This worked out pretty well, I think a time limit might have helped, but for the most part they were back quickly and ready to participate.  We discussed the word together and they were able to share their examples.  After this little discussion I assigned the two helpers for the day, Omar and Mallory.  Omar had to do the first part of our activity.  I had an index card with the letter R written on it.  It was his job to take the tube of toothpaste I gave him and “refresh” our understanding of the word by racing the R in toothpaste.  The kids were a little surprised by this and I think didn’t quite know what to make of it, as Own worked we discussed the word more and what we could do to show it.  Mallory said, “not use rude words,” I thought, perfect, because that led me into the next part of the task which she would help me with.  I told them I realized that the R I had written didn’t stand for respect it actually stood for rude!  Then I said we needed to take back the word.  It was Mallory’s job to get the toothpaste back INSIDE the tube.  Of course this is difficult and nearly impossible to do (I gave her a popsicle stick to try with).  The students made the connection, I think Maya said something along the lines of, “It’s like the R is a person, the toothpaste tube is another person and the toothpaste is the mean words used.  You can’t put the words back, it just becomes a mess.”  From here we talked about then need to keep rude thoughts and words in because once they get out there it really just creates a big mess that is hard to clean up.  I thought the lesson went really well and the kids related it well to what happened the day before.  I was really excited to hear that later in the day the kids brought it up again while I wasn’t there.  my CT told me there was some disagreement and some said it was like the words coming out of the toothpaste tube!  I think giving kids these hands on opportunities to connect to an idea that they talk about so often in a different way really helps it stick.  I just hope I can apply that to academic subjects as well as social ones.

Reviewing my First Observation
October 2, 2011, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Seminar Journals, Student Teaching

                I had been really nervous about doing my first observation and excited to try this lesson with the kids.  I am glad that Sam had me look at the good things that came out of the lesson, because my initial reaction was to look at all the bad.  Of course I knew the lesson would not go perfectly and there are so many things I can learn from, but hearing that two of my kids really got it and were excited about their learning was fantastic.

                After going over everything I realized I really need to stick to what I’ve planned, I need to step up and assert myself.  I really think things would have gone much more smoothly if I had stuck to the groups I had decided on and not let the thought that kids wouldn’t like it cloud my judgment.

As far as how the lesson went for the kids, I was surprised at who had difficulty with it, found it challenging and even who succeeded with it.  I was hoping it would not be a far step from what the kids had been doing along the lines of factors, multiplication tables, etc.  Although some found it challenging, I think they were also excited about the opportunity it presented.  Natalie especially verbalized how challenging it was and I think that is important as I never hear her say this sort of thing.  I think by throwing in lessons that connect, but are challenging and different the children can get more engaged.  Also, although I was confident in Paul’s ability to do this lesson, I was so excited to find that it was Jack who was expressing the results I was really seeking.  One great thing that has come out of the lesson is that my CT and I talked about how well those two boys worked together.  I know they may not achieve the same level they did in everything, but I think this duo may have more of a chance at it when they work together.

After this lesson I realized I really need to work on having a signal with the kids (I tried out the “If you can hear me clap” once, twice, four times, etc. today), stick to my lesson, my way and not second guess myself, and finally I realized that I have to start getting comfortable in front of the class at the board or overhead so I do not exhaust myself by working individually with every child.