April 4, 2016

The weather seems to be having mood swings for the past few weeks. We have experienced all four seasons here. It’s the beginning of April and a whopping 40 degrees this morning. So I bundled up and headed out. I usually take the train to Glenside and then take the bus from there. But today I decided to walk it instead of waiting for the bus because by the time I get there, the bus arrives. And so I did. However, wearing the jacket didn’t seem like a good idea anymore.

Anyway, I eventually reached the school. Today’s morning meeting was hilarious. Mrs. Smith always has a new or old and recurring game for them to do. Today’s game was “I love you bunny but I just can’t smile”. So the purpose of the game is to say this sentence in a way that you can get the person next to you to smile. And if that person smiles, he/she is out of the game. So the students are trying all sorts of ways to get the other to smile (e.g. Funny faces, different voices, singing, etc). Then this one girl, let’s just call her Suzy, starts to sing it like she’s in the opera and the whole class including the teachers just burst out laughing. The person she did it to was definitely out of the game, and since she was out, Suzy goes to the next person in line and does the same thing again. She took out three people 😄.

During math, Mrs. Reifsneider was introducing a new math unit to the class from the Go Math! books. They were starting to learn about lines, rays, and angles. She was going over the vocabulary with them like what a point is, what a line, line segment, and ray is. Observing her, I noticed that she didn’t just go over the vocab, she took them apart and reconstructed them using simpler language. She even used a human model where the students stretch out their arms which I think was interesting because it’s a nice way to help kids remember which ones which. For example, if their hands are outstretched, it means it’s a line because it goes on forever. And if you outstretch your arms on both sides but make a fist with both hand, that means that it’s a line segment because the line stops. And if one hand is open and stretching and the other hand is made into a fist, that is a ray because it starts at one end point and goes on forever.

As I was looking through the teacher’s handbook that Mrs. Smith gave me to look through, I noticed that RtI interventions with Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 were incorporated into the book to assist students struggling with the concept. I don’t think the teachers really follow this but as I observed later at the end of math class, the teachers sat down with the students who did not necessarily understand the concept and only let them go when they were able to figure it out.

Today was the day I taught the Language Arts lesson on government. The class went on a trip to the state capital last Friday so I started the discussion with that. I was able to do a better job today than last week. I interacted more with the students. I asked them more questions based on the reading such as Do you want to work rather than go to school?, Do you think children should work? Why or Why not?, What are the advantages and disadvantages of working during this time?, etc. The reading was a narrative nonfiction and produced questions like Why do we need the government?, Why do we need rules?, How does the government help us maintain order and help preserve our freedom?

Some things I need to work on is giving more feedback when a student answers a question or shares something. Also, Mrs. Smith had a few pointers for me. She told me to give them separate directions, which I agreed with as well, because as soon as I gave them two directions at once, they tended to follow the second direction rather than the 1st. And another thing I am having a problem with is bringing the class together after a discussion. My voice is quiet as Mrs. Smith told me. So I am to come up with a technique to let them know that discussion is over and that it is time to listen to me. I think this will probably come to me as I teach more. Mrs. Agnew, from Arcadia, will be coming to observe me teach the lesson on Public Offices next Monday. So here’s to hoping I can do a good job.

March 21, 2016

Every class on Monday starts out with a morning meeting where every students sits around in a circle and basically introduces themselves or each other. Today they said each other’s names out loud to the tune of the Adam’s Family. After that, they shared what they did over the weekend, and then played a game (heads or tails). Then they continued with math and then worked on “The Best Part of Me” project where they have moved onto taking a picture of their favorite body part. 

In Language Arts today, I introduced the lesson “Food for Thought”. The lesson went like this:

1. Have a volunteer read the essential question

2. Read aloud “Food for Thought” to the class

3. Connect to Concept Activity

             – As you listen, think about how the different methods of farming can be helpful or harmful 

4. Read aloud passage “All About Organic”
This part was not part of my lesson but part of the lesson I was doing:

-Author’s Point of View- purpose of writing, to inform or to persuade

-“Food Fight” is a persuasive article. The author’s take on GM (Genetically Modified) foods— Are these advancements good for us? What details support author’s POV? 
     â€¢ A New Kind of Corn (popcorn read aloud)

         – BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis -contains insect killing gene- makes changes in the corn to produce poison) is a GM food

     â€¢ Author’s POV in “BT corn is better” vs. Author’s POV in “BT corn could be bad”

So as I was reading the passage “All About Organic”, it dawned on me that I could have structured this lesson better. Instead of reading all three sections at once, I could have stopped in each section and asked questions to understand student’s level of comprehension. Even though I was a little frustrated with myself, I let it go because this was only my first lesson. I learned from my mistake and will do better on the second one. 

March 14, 2016

This Monday was more of a normal school day. Mondays happen to be introductory days when the new unit gets introduced so Mrs. Smith was feeling a little bad for me because most of the activities where you get to do something with the students happen to start from Tuesdays. So we have to figure that out.

In the morning befor math started, the students were working on “The Best Part of Me” where they have to choose a favorite body part and write about why they chose it. During Math, they were being introduced to tenths and decimals and hundredths and decimals by Mrs. Reifsnyder. They were learning how to use models and number lines which are part of the common core practices. They were also learning about fractions (Which hundredths is it?), problem solving (Write 4  60/100 as a decimal —> 4.60), and word problems.

The rest of the class went like this:

Reading/writing- How can words lead to change?

What is a biography?
– a life story about a famous person which includes a lot of facts
– Thomas Hopkins Galedet- how was sign language brought to America?
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Fight against inequality)
– Nelson Mandela (fight inequality and discrimination)

Vocab- overview of Vocab words — “tension” was a confusing word

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
– Argued that women should be able to vote and have the same right as men (“Declaration of Rights and Sentiments”)
– Author’s Point of View- an author’s position or attitude about a topic of selection

At the end, Mrs. Smith and I decided that instead of her doing the whole Language Arts lesson, I would introduce the first half of it and then she will carry on from there. Eventually, I should be able to do a whole lesson and be observed doing it.


March 7, 2016

I started my first day as student teacher at Ancillae Assumpta Academy today. This is a Catholic school that serves grades kindergarten to 8th grade. It is about a five minute walk from Arcadia University. I will be under Mrs. Jennifer Smith for the duration of my stay, which will be from today to May 16th, 2016. I will also be working with Mrs. Lindsay Reifsnyder who co-teaches with Mrs. Smith.  Someone from Arcadia will come and observe me teach a lesson sometime during my stay.

So the class is a 4th grade class with 28 students. Class starts around 8 o’clock but of course students come in before that. There are students with special needs in the classroom but there are no IEP’s. As Mrs. smith informed me, the students are tested but they are not necessarily diagnosed. This was interesting to know because I always made the assumption that all schools had some sort of an IEP for special needs students. However, this school does have “action plans” where the assessments are structured for specific individual students. Also as I was talking with Mrs. Smith about how she plans her lessons, she said that she doesn’t really make up a formal lesson plan. She just comes up with weekly plans thst includes the Objective, Process, Assessment, etc. Also, another thing I found interesting was that they do not take the PSSA’s. What do they take instead? The Terra Novas which test the common core standards.

So today was actually not a typical Monday for either the students nor the teachers. The class was getting introduced to a new STEM project (Riley Rover Base Project) where the students will use coding and programming to build and maneuver a robot. Today bieng my first day, I was observing a lot and jotting down a lot of notes of what the students were doing and what the teachers were doing. The classroom was packed with students and teachers. There were five of us in the classroom. Two teachers introducing the STEM project, two teachers observing,jotting down notes about the project, and managing the classroom, and one student teacher (me) observing it all. Mrs. Smith kept on commenting how funny this looked because she has never had so many professionals in her classroom before. Because there was so many things going on at one time and because this was a new concept, we did not finish until it was time for lunch. But the students learned to program Riley Rover using the Bluetooth and an iPad. They played around with the axis and practiced going forwards and backwards.

The rest of the day was pretty laid back. I got to connect with the girls of the class as they pulled me into one of their games. It was pretty fun. I was a little nervous because I had never played the game before but they were really patient and taught me how to play. Towards the middle of the day, they had religion class where they read from the religion book. They read about the Holy Spirit guiding us and then they were thinking about the beginning of the unit and specific example from that unit. After that they moved on to Social Studies where they were learning about William Penn and the native Americans. Before they headed out for gym, Mrs. Smith was reading the book, Drizzle, out loud to them. The author is going to be coming to the school in May so they have to finish the book by then.