Saturday, November 19, 2011

Last day.

Yesterday was my last day of teaching the first graders. I got to work with the same group of 5 students and we continued reviewing animal movement and body parts and using VoiceThread. They were a little more restless and some were a bit more reserved. But they still had fun with it and showed a lot of enthusiasm.

I hope that Ms. Ingram got as much out of the project as I did. I have learned so much! I've gained really valuable experience learning how to structure lesson plans, how to use technology effectively in the classroom, how to scaffold lessons appropriately, how to be mindful of student behavior throughout a lesson, how to be flexible when things don't go as planned, and how to work effectively with other teachers to plan instruction.

I am really proud of myself for everything I have accomplished personally and professionally. I loved working with Ms. Ingram and the first graders. This internship was very rewarding and has made me really excited about the teaching profession. It has definitely opened my mind to the possibility of teaching ESOL.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Process > product

Today went really well, and I learned a LOT as a pre-service teacher. Half of the children went to the Book Fair in the morning and got to the classroom around 8:30. The other half was at the book fair until around 8:45. Ms. Ingram suggested that I start teaching the first group and then she could follow up with the second group.
The first group finished reading and discussing the "How Animals Move Book." They all had a lot to say about how animals fly and crawl. We talked about how human babies crawl, but adult humans can crawl too. We also talked about parrots and how parrots can talk like humans by copying what people say.

The students were immediately engaged by VoiceThread. I did a little pre-assessment to make sure everyone knew how to use a laptop mouse tracking pad by moving and clicking. Then we started looking at the pictures. As Ms. Ingram predicted, there was some disagreement and conflict about who would talk about which pictures. I tried to go in order and have them each choose between two pictures, but that didn't seem to be the best style for this group. Sometimes students were too shy or unwilling to talk about certain animals. And I wanted everyone to be willing and enthusiastic about participating. So we did more of a popcorn style. I would show a picture then ask if anyone would like to speak about that animal. That way, the shier students could choose animals to talk about that they felt comfortable describing.

The road we took to get them talking about animals was a little different than I had planned. It was also more difficult than I anticipated to have them talk exclusively about the animal body parts OR movement. This was actually a really good modification to my plans. Some students were less confident at first, so they used simpler sentences and required more prompting. Other students immediately jumped in to talking about both animal characteristics and the movements and used lots of descriptive vocabulary.

This was a great lesson for me, because it was a perfect example of how students differ in their readiness and instruction should be differentiated accordingly. All the students in the group had varied experiences and understanding that they brought with them into the classroom. One of the biggest takeaways I gained from the day was realizing how important it is to recognize and affirm each student for where they are in their learning journey. Because it really is a journey. Sometimes it's the process, not the product that counts.

One of the challenges I ran into was having the students sit still and stay quiet while other students were speaking. I think partially that was because they were so jazzed about using the computer. However, they were also all seated really close to one another. Tomorrow I may try some new strategies to keep them on task.
My main goal for the project was to have students practice using vocabulary describing animal body parts and movement. I think they definitely accomplished that. I'm excited to review with them tomorrow and continue using VoiceThread.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


So today did not go exactly as planned. I was scheduled to work with the children from 11:30 to 12, but there was some confusion so I didn't get to teach them.

So I re-worked some parts of my lesson plans so that I could do most of the VoiceThread part of the project tomorrow, Thursday, and do a mini assessment on Friday.

Then I got an email saying we now have 45 minutes tomorrow from 8:30 to 9:15 to be with the children because they will be at the Book Fair in the morning. I'm not sure how much we will be able to do tomorrow or what will be left to do on Friday. But hey, this is real life. Things happen. And I'm learning.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 1!

Today was so exciting! It was my first day teaching Ms. Ingram's class of 11 first grader ESOL students. I was nervous at first, but I definitely got over it as the lesson went on. The students were very attentive and well-behaved and oh so cute. For example, when we did the "think-pair-share" as we read the book many of them raised their hands to volunteer animals that they recognized on the page.
One thing I noticed is that it can be difficult to pay close attention to what one student is saying and give them the proper feedback while also noticing which students are not engaged and whether any students are misbehaving. Thankfully, they were all very well-behaved for the most part.
We learned a few new words that none of them had heard of such as scales, fin, hoof or hooves, and steep. For example, we talked about how surprising it was that goats could climb steep cliffs and how their hooves helped them do that. One of the things I noticed about today was that 30 minutes isn't actually as short as I thought. I also noticed that 1st graders have shorter attention spans than I had anticipated.
Ms. Ingram and I had to rearrange when I'll be teaching on Thursday due to a change in the 1st graders' schedule. I'll now be teaching from 8:15am to 9:15am. Since I have them for an hour on Thursday instead of a half hour I'm a little concerned I won't have anything left for them to do on Friday. If I end up getting most of our project done on Thursday, I may have them do a more creative project using VoiceThread on Friday where they get to create a story as a small group.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Getting to know the students

So this week I went into Ms. Ingram's classroom twice to observe the students. The first time was on Wednesday. I sat in a circle with them and they introduced themselves. We all sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." Then two of the students presented projects they had made for their homeroom class. Each student was assigned an animal and had to present about that animal. I can tell the students are excited about animals, so I'm glad we get to continue with that subject next week.
On Friday I worked with two students as they finished up their animal projects. I helped one of them write sentences about turtles.
Ms. Ingram and I finished figuring out the details for the project. We are going to do a guided reading of the book "How Animals Move" over the course of two days. Each page has pictures of animals doing a particular movement. Then we will play charades with the children to have them act out different movements. The next two days we're going to use VoiceThread to have the students record themselves talking about the different animal body parts and animal movements.
I'm a little nervous for next week since it will be my first time teaching in a formal capacity. I'm glad that there are only 11 students in the group because I think that will be much more manageable.
After visiting Ms. Ingram's classroom a few times it made me realize that 30 minutes is really not a lot of time. (I have the students from 11:30-12 each day for four days). And it has helped me realize that you have to be flexible because plans don't always go as expected. I hope that I can stick to the lesson plans I've drawn up as much as possible, but I'm also trying to see this as a learning experience that unexpected things can happen and part of my job as a teacher will be to be prepared to react to those.