This week in Grade 4 I taught about stress responses in the body. I started the lesson by inducing a small stress response. I had the students close their eyes and an take a few deep breaths, to reduce stress. While we were doing that, I had prearranged with my teaching partner to pop a balloon, to startle them. It had the desired effect, most of the students were startled.
We then proceeded to have a discussion about how their body reacted to the surprise. The discussion wasn’t going the direction I wanted it too, and the students weren’t understanding what I was trying to get at. So, plan B, improvise on the fly like a good teacher does. The students are reading the City of Ember, and were at the part where Lena, the main character loses her sister. The story goes on to describe Lena’s bodily reactions to stress. I used that as an example of what I was trying to get at and it worked we got on the right track and a great discussion that lead us into a story, with an ebook.
We then discussed rather than read word for word the book Stressed Out by Michelle Prather. I had planned to read the book but found the students were getting a bit antsy sitting, so I turned it into more of a discussion rather than a story. We had fun with the discussion. It was funny when we got to the part about clenching teeth and I clenched mine the students followed right along. I knew then they were all paying attention. We ended our lesson using another new to me tool the parking lot. A good friend explained it to me and I liked the idea. The parking lot is similar to a KWL chart, but for this the students write one take away on a sticky note and put it in the parking lot. Of course, the kids love writing on sticky notes. I think another good lesson with some valuable learning for me as a teacher and for the students.
After a few days off from University classes which included a break from our placement, I was excited to get back to my students. It feels a bit strange to say “my students” because technically I guess they really aren’t. However, it is equally as strange to just say “the students” because to me that implies there is no connection and that is not true. I missed being at the school on our days off and as our time with them is quickly coming to a close, I am going to miss them a lot.
The connections with the students are becoming deeper, more than me being just a novelty in the classroom. Students are beginning to share more about their personal lives with us(my co pre- intern and I). One student, who is very shy, is finding her voice around us. She sought me out one day to tell me about a book she was reading and this past week even put her hand up to answer a question. That is a good feeling. I find they engage in classroom topics with us at a different level too. Maybe that is because we are more confident now in teaching our lessons and are finding our groove in engaging the students. Which brings me to the lesson I taught this week.
This lesson was a Social Studies lesson, my favourite subject. It was a lesson that was new to me in all aspects. It was a lesson that outcome and indicator were from the regular curriculum requirements as well as Treaty Education requirements. I have never been party of Treaty Ed. in the classroom so to teach it was a bit intimidating at first. I also used a KWL(what do we know, want to know and want to learn) chart, something that was new to me as well. The lesson was an introduction to the unit my cooperating teacher is starting. The unit is on the importance of the buffalo to First Nations communities.
My job was to introduce the buffalo to the students. We started with a picture of the buffalo on the smart board and filled in the K(what do we know) portion of our chart. I, as well as their teacher, was surprised at how much they knew about the buffalo and the importance to First Nations people. After we finished the K portion we moved on to the W (what do we want to know) and again they had some great answers. There were a couple of times were I had to decipher a bit what the student was getting at but we got to the point. We then moved on to the best part of the lesson reading a story. I love reading stories to kids. We read Honouring the Buffalo, which is a Cree legend. Most of the students were very interested and engaged in the story and we had an amazing discussion of the book. The discussion was so good we had to rush to finish our L(what we learned) on our KWL chart. The contributions were great and there were so many hands up. So much fun. I can’t wait until next week, because I am sure they are going to tell me all the new things they have discovered about the buffalo while I am not there.
Today was my fourth week in my pre-internship. I got to teach a lesson in the classroom today after teaching in the gym and outside my previous 2 weeks. My lesson was on writing a persuasive letter. The lesson went well for a subject than can be kind of dry to grade 4’s and even this learning teacher.
I chose to do a lesson on writing a persuasive letter because I thought it might be fun and it fits into the curriculum requirements as well. I knew going into the lesson that it would require a fair amount of sitting and listening from the students and that can be hard to do for adults never mind 9 and 10 year olds. The students did really well and I tried to get them involved in the “lecture”(for lack of better word) part of the lesson. I had them tell me what they remembered from a previous lesson that was taught on letter writing. We brainstormed together who we could write a persuasive letter to and what we could persuade someone to do. I also played a short youtube video to explain some of what we were doing. I introduced an organizer for their thoughts and they got to work. The lesson went really well I felt. But….
After thinking about the lesson, I discovered I like teaching the fun stuff, like outdoor math games and basketball skills in the gym much more than writing. I was reflecting on that lesson it is something that has to be taught, and I tried to make it interesting by allowing the students to choose who they would write to and what they were going to try to persuade that person to do. However, I was left thinking if I wasn’t overly excited by teaching the whole lesson, what did the kids feel like. I was also left wondering how do I make the “lecture” part of the lesson more interesting and engaging. I thought the activity was good. Students need explicit instruction, but does it have to be so dry? I would love some suggestions how to make the lecture part of teaching more interesting. Until next time.
This is the third week at our cooperating schools and second curriculum lesson to teach. Last week I taught in the gym for a Phys. Ed class, a big space. This week I was teaching in another big space, outside. My lesson this week was an outdoor Math game.
I am fortunate that our cooperating teacher has given us our subjects we teach well in advance. However, I chose math and suggested the outdoor game before I experienced teaching in the gym. After the gym, I was a bit nervous to tackle another large space, the great outdoors, for my math game. The good thing about taking a game outdoors is that you can give the instructions inside while students are seated. This is helpful in that everyone can hear clearly and there are no distractions that the outdoors bring. Giving the instructions and grouping the students before leaving the class also allowed me to get the game started right away, so the kids were more focused and it wasn’t difficult to get them on task, they were excited to start.
The game we played was one that was created by my math group for an outdoor games assignment. The group had taught the game to peers not children. I had to make a few adaptations to the game to get it to grade and content level, which then caused some minor confusion in playing. I forgot to include an instruction for one of the requirements, the students brought it to my attention. The mistake was easily addressed and play continued. As I watched the students play I noticed that some were racing up and down the course because it was too easy. I set a challenge for those groups that when they reached the end they had to add 4 digit numbers before they could proceed. They were up for the challenge. They were concerned that they had no pencil and paper to use. I suggested using a stick or their fingers to write in the dirt. They embraced the idea and away they went. When they thought they had the answer they brought it to me and eagerly told me how they got it. I loved how they articulated their thought process and could see where they made their mistakes. The total aha moment of recognition of how they got the correct answer or where they went wrong was such a great feeling for me. It made me realize this why I am here, is seeing the learning and the looks on kids faces when they figure something out.
Their teacher has done a great job in teaching them to think through math and the process, and how to defend their answers. In this class math is much more than facts and getting the right answer, it is being able to explain your process and see what went right and what did not. This is something I definitely want to get good at doing. It is also really great to see the concepts we are being taught in EMTH in action.
So far both the lessons I have taught have been in big spaces, and have had their own unique challenges. I think for a pre-intern, I have met the challenge. Up next an actual in the classroom lesson. I am excited to see what challenges and more importantly insights that brings. Until next week.
Tools of the game
Pre-Internship oh! My!
All summer and into September, I was anxious and excited to start pre-internship. There was some trepidation too wondering where I would get placed, who my teaching partner would be, what would my cooperating teacher be like. I was so happy to find out we got to choose our teaching partners. I was also so happy to be chosen by an amazing person to teach with her. As it got closer to finding out our placements trepidation gave way to nervous excitement and just plain old nerves. The morning of our first day I felt so nervous. It turned out my nerves were unfounded.
My teaching partner and I carpooled to the school together so it was a little less nerve wracking arriving together rather than alone. We didn’t meet our teacher before hand but had some very enthusiastic emails from her, which also helped to ease the nerves. We were welcomed very warmly into the school that first day. Our coop teacher is amazing and energetic. My teaching partner and I planned an art type activity to get to know the kids names. I knew I had the right teaching partner when our instructions/lesson flowed so smoothly with one of us picking up seamlessly where the other left off. It was great. The intro lesson was received well by the students. Our teacher has given us the subjects we are teach each week up until the end of the semester.
Our second week went equally as well and started with some nerves again but this time because I was teaching an actual curriculum lesson, to actual young students. My first lesson to teach was dribbling in Phys. Ed. for an hour. The length of the lesson was intimidating since most elementary classes are 30 to 45 minutes. We are also learning in EPE 310 that the gym space is a hard space to teach in. Intimidated was the feeling of the day. Lesson time came and overall I thought for a first lesson, in what I was told was tough space, went well. I over planned my lesson and didn’t get to most of it. I was surprisingly good with that and taking my time and going with the students, I have a tendency to rush things. Handing out and setting up equipment wasn’t something I considered in my lesson plan but I thought I handled it well. The students are required to run for 5 mins at the beginning of class so I used that time to set up and all was well. I did forget the “treasure” for the game but put that out as the students were practicing the skill. The gym is a hard space to keep an eye on 25 grade 4’s but I was mostly pleased with how I did. I know there is improvement needed but that is what learning is all about.
I am excited for next week, bring on place value in Math. I get to play a game we created for EMTH 310. I am excited to see how it will work teaching it to the grade it was created for rather than adults. Weather permitting we will be in another large space, outside, to play the game. Nothing like tackling the tough things head on. I look forward to sharing that big space adventure with you.