Monday, February 16, 2009

Love is in the Air

So, I haven't blogged in awhile, but I had my first observation with Mary Thompson last week.

To begin our Unit on Air and Weather, we did a lesson about air and the movement of it. The lesson where I was observed I had the students make balloon rockets on a fishing line and show me how air moves, conforms to the shape of the object it is in and how it can be used to prope
l objects. Mary Thompson said such wonderful things about my lesson. She said the students were so engaged and I required them to do so many things and somehow they handled it very well. She said it is obvious I am building a great relationship with the students and they really enjoyed my lesson. The students were required to write observations, draw pictures about what they observed and make predictions about the lessons. She said I didn't raise my voice once and had great classroom management. I will post my review on here once I scan it in. Overall, it was such a great review that it makes me very excited about teaching! Talking with Mary helped me confirm my want to be a teacher and shows that I will hopefully one day be one of the best. I am optimistic about my future.

In other news, we had our Valentine's Day party on Friday. The kids are insane all day getting ready for it. Here are some photos of the students making their Valentine's Day boxes and just enjoying the party.

That is really all for now. I will post more another time. It's back to school tomorrow. So long, long weekend.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So go ahead...and fall in love with a book.

School has been very busy. The weather has been beautiful, so we have spent quite a bit of time outside and the children absolutely love it, as most would.

We began our Science unit on Air and Weather on Tuesday. We began with a lesson on the properties of matter, specifically a gas. We discussed what gas looks like, how it smells, it's shape, etc. The students knew a lot already and we able to explain to me how air take
s the shape of any object it enters. Tomorrow we will be making balloon rockets, where the students are required to make a rocket using fishing line, a balloon, a straw and a zip-loc bag. I try to give the students enough time to explore and observe on their own. Second grade standards require that students learn the process of observation. We will also be making predictions for the balloon rockets before we begin the lesson. I think slowly introducing the scientific method and then putting it all together at the end will be beneficial for the students. If they spend a lot of time on observing and explaining, they will be able to not
 only use this skill in science, but other subject areas as well.

Last week we did a lesson on the seasons. The students each had a sheet of paper and had to draw their interpretation of each season. I cut them all out and posted them onto the bulletin board. I have since added the signs, winter, spring, summer, fall in the top left corners.

In other news, my class focuses a lot on Reading. Which is obviously very important. I have been working with one student who below grade level and it's really not that she can't read or comprehend, she just hates reading. We've been working really hard together to pick out books she can enjoy. We've settled on the Mr. Putter and Tabby series, so far and it seems to be working well for her. We are working on fluency more than anything, so I hope my love for reading can be conveyed to her and make her a bit more enthusiastic about reading. 

All the teachers were asked to read, Chip Wood's book, Time To Teach Time To Learn: Changing the Pace of School. I've read the first few chapters, because we will be discussing at tomorrow's morning meeting. It discusses the idea that students are bombarded with learning core subjects because teachers feel the pressure of teaching so much material so their students will pass standardized tests. When in reality, students should be given more free time to play around, grow socially and be able to focus on building morals and ethics. When I worked at Horace Mann Elementary, we focused a lot on building morals, talking about ethics in school and out. The curriculum centered a lot around the whole child rather than just the brain of the child. I hope to work in a school like this some day. The students need academics for life survival. They also need to learn self control, how to make informed choices, they need to empathy and responsibility. All of these are key to life survival as well, so why are they put second to standardized testing scores? Are teachers not required to teach these things even if students spend most of their days with teachers?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pull Your Chairs In and Look Smart

Ms. Miller gave the students a spelling list inventory today, which is basically a spelling test but the students progress is tracked throughout the year. The students were all pretty relaxed, slouching on their tables, heads down; Ms. Miller said, "Pull your chairs in and look smart." The students immediately straightened up and looked more presentable and ready to take their test.

The past days have been pretty busy. Last week we completed our landform maps. The students made their own legends and color coordinated their salt dough to make hills, water, mountains, etc. Here is one of the final maps (minus the covering of Mexico, which isn't an ocean, this one came out pretty good):

This week I gave the students an assessment to see how well they remembered the continents and major world oceans. I am grading them currently and almost all students have done well. We began a lesson about seasons the other day, but it was cut short by an assembly. We will be finishing it tomorrow. We discussed the four seasons, their weather characteristics and fun activities you can do outside during that particular season. Tomorrow I will be playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons and having them draw their own interpretations of each season. I think this will be a nice relaxing activity for the students. I made a bulletin board that resembles a window and out of each pane is a new season. I will post their drawings in the corresponding season window pane. We will also begin discussing the upcoming weather unit where the students will be tracking the weather for two weeks. We will discuss the change in weather patterns and how to measure wind speed, temperature, etc.

I have been doing some reading assessments with three students that are below grade level in comprehension. I am required to do one, but I took on all three thinking each of them could use my help and if I'm available I might as well give them the attention they need to progress in reading. I think this will also give me a good scope of students needs. Each student is different, so I will need to adjust my teaching accordingly for each one. This will be a good learning experience for not only the students, but also for me.

Not much else is happening in Millertown. The days go by fast and the grading has become a bit cumbersome, but it is always enjoyable at the Janney School. 

In other news, here is the link to some photographs of our field trip to the NBA Cares, Wizards Take a Time Out to Read. This happened my first week of student teaching. The students won a contest convincing The Wizards to read to their class. The class was picked up in a charter bus and we got a quick tour, a reading by Mike James and some free tickets to a Wizards game, which I attended last week.

On a side note, I am reading Randy Pausch's book, The Last Lecture. He retold a time in his high school football career when his coach was giving him criticism. He said his coach told him, "When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you." I thought this was a pretty interesting quote considering how much truth is behind it. Being a teacher doesn't allow you to give up on any student. It's obvious, the one lagging behind the rest needs the most help and attention. It's a teachers job to keep them up to speed, have faith in them and never give up on them or allow them to give up on themselves. Until next time.