Saturday, December 20, 2014
The third time I went to Mrs.Rule's classroom they were reading a Christmas Carol. They were expected to finish a packet on the book that consisted of critical questions about the main themes, comprehension, and vocabulary. Before they began to go over some of the packet questions she read a few parts of the book out loud in an interesting voice. Her reading out loud brought me back to my childhood and it made me realize why I love English so much.
Some of the questions throughout the packet really struck me. One consisted of asking what the importance of gift giving is on the holidays. Many kids answered by calling out that it is important to give more than you receive. This was very touching for me to hear because when I was in middle school, all the kids ever talked about during Christmas was about all the gifts they wanted or how unhappy that they were when they did not get them. In addition, she asked what the universal themes in the story were. Many of the kids stated that money can not buy happiness, do onto to others as they do onto you, and people can change. This part of the lesson really touched me the most because I enjoy reading so much because everyone can take a piece of advice out of what they have read and relate it to their own life. I think it is very important to teach the next generation of kids the importance of treating others with respect and to always be thankful for what one has. At the end of the packet there was a quote that stated "It's sharing your gifts, not purchasing gifts. It's not wrapping presents, it's being present and wrapping your arms around the ones you love. It's not getting Christmas cards out on time, it's sending cards, anytime, at the right time. It's not having the best Christmas light display, it's displaying the light of Christ that comes from your heart. It's not Santa coming down the chimney, it's Jesus coming down from Heaven and giving us the gift of eternal life." This really showed me the importance of teaching our kids what is right and encouraging them to do so. I hope to be a teacher one day that can influence many kids to be the best that they can be for themselves and others.
The second time I came to Mrs.Rule's classroom they were having a grammar and writing workshop. She told me that they go over grammar once a week and that they all have their own book that they have to work on for homework. She had them underline certain verbs, circle nouns, and fix any punctuation that was wrong in the text. She was not afraid to tell the kids that they need to raise their hands if they have not answered something yet. I do not know if I agree with this method of making everyone speak. Although, it would guarantee class participation, I do not know if I would feel comfortable making every kid answer even if they do not want to. Many times in classes where I knew I was going to have to answer something, I usually got more nervous; especially if I was not confident with the information. She also corrected them when they were wrong with their answer. Even though it is very important to tell the kids if they are wrong, I think she should have said "you are close" or "not quite" instead of shutting them down completely. As a student, I know how it feels to be wrong and become embarrassed in front of the class. Although, this is something that is very little to address, it is very important, especially to the students. At the end of the lesson she asked them a little bit about what they were going to be learning about next week to know how much she would actually have to teach the class. Many of the kids new what abstract nouns and the different points of view. This made me very proud.
During the writing workshop, the girls were working on their research papers. Each were given an author to write about and explain their childhood, accomplishments. and anything interesting about them that they had learned. She said she had them work at their own pace and let them turn anything in when they are ready because each student writes differently. She first had them complete 40 notecards and checked them. After that, they then completed a rough draft that she went through and checked all their grammar. The more grammar mistakes they made, the more points she took off. She explained to me the importance of checking their papers at every step because they still do not know how to write a paper on their own. Although, I understood that in 8th grade I could not write a paper like I can today, I think she should have given then more credit. Overall, I thought it was very clever to let them work at their own pace because it also builds independence. I though roughly enjoyed being in a classroom of all girls and was very interested in who they were writing about.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
The first time I walked into Mrs.Rule's room I had noticed that it was very similar to Mrs.Elliott's. The agenda was written on the board in numerous colors and there were many posters all across the room. The desks were arranged in two groups, one on the right, and one on the left. They were both faced towards the center of the classroom in which each group could see the other group. Although, they could not see Mrs. Rule very well when she stood at the front of the classroom, I feel like arranging the desks in this way would help build community throughout the classroom. Having children sitting faced towards each other I feel would help them to become more comfortable and familiar with each other over time. During the class, they were reviewing the book, "The Call of the Wild" by Jack London. Mrs. Rule read through part of the chapter with a very intriguing voice that kept the students interested to listen. She pointed out literacy examples such as personifications, similes, and metaphors and had the students look for examples as well. She then had them fill in answers to their packet which had many questions about the characters, plot, and vocabulary of the book. She told them mostly what to write in their characters box and had a few kids answer a couple of questions. She made sure that whatever they were writting was short and simplified in order for them to get the main point across. She was also very strict by calling out students that did not have their books open or were not following along or trying to answer the questions.
Towards the end of the second class, she gave me a copy of a finished portfolio that the students had been working on. It consisted of the books they have read within the year and an analysis on each one. Each book had questions relating to symbolism, vocabulary, literary examples, that they had to answer. In addition, they had to write three paragraphs relating to a question for each book. I found this as a great assignment because it truly had the students reflect on what they had learned and gotten out of the book. One of the main reasons why I want to teach english if I chose to teach middle school or high school is because each book has a meaning that you can take with you and apply to your own life.
Going to Agnon was very interesting for me. Driving up to the school, I was very surprised from the outside of the building. It was very stone-like and did not look like a normal school. I was first placed in a first-grade classroom that was teaching a spelling activity. The classroom was very small and the class only consisted of ten children. Each child was expected to categorize words into familiar categories based on how they sounded or their meaning. Many kids had a difficulty with this. After, they were working on the concept of subtraction. The teacher had them pull out their math books and place their pencil in the book as they looked up at the board. She had the higher-level children go out in the hallway and work with the other co-teacher. She then tried to describe the concept of subtraction with coins. She first had the kids try to answer a question in which Sam had eight coins and Mia had six. She asked the students how much more did Sam have than Mia. Many of the kids had a really difficult time trying to figure this out. She told Justina and I that it would take several months if not a year for her students to grasp the concept of subtraction.
After we went to a 2nd grade english classroom. The teacher was very nice and outgoing. The kids were expected to complete a grammar packet that consisted of pronouns and other grammar mistakes that the teacher had found that they were having difficulty with in the past week. Many of the kids were very silly and enjoyed coming up to the teacher, Brooke. After they were done they were asked to take out a book and read or give their folder to the teacher so she could clean it out for break. As Brooke had talked to Justina and I, she told us that she use to teach 8th grade in California and Florida but her husband had got a job at the Cleveland Clinic causing them to move. Despite the great change, she says she loves her job. You could see the way she smiled when she talked and spoke to her kids. She had a playful personality that would joke around with the kids when they had asked her questions. She had told us that you have to get use to them asking you a question about something that you have already said four times. I thoughroughly enjoyed being in her class and could tell that they had a class in which discipline was a major priority but having fun was as well very important.
When I walked into Mrs.Elliott's classroom when she was teaching a reading lesson, I again saw that the agenda was up on the board and the students were silently reading. There was even a christmas tree in the corner and a reef on a side table in the back of the classroom. I thought it gave the classroom a very homey and cozy touch. They were given twenty minuets to read the rest of the chapter and if they did not get done they had to finish it for homework. She had each pod of tables go and take a bathroom break one at a time before she started their math lesson. I was very impressed how she was constantly at all times able to keep a calm and soothing voice even when the kids became loud when leaving for the bathroom. I could not help but write down in my notebook that I loved the atmosphere of the class and that I thought all the kids were beautiful. Every time I have observed in Mrs.Elliott's class I have found that I have loved it more and more.
The first problem that she wrote down on the board was "National elections in the United States are always held in November. The date of the election is the first Tuesday that follows the first Monday in November. What are the possible elections?" She first had a student read the question out loud and then another student read it again. I thought this was a very clever strategy to make sure that all the students were able to listen and comprehend what the question was asking. Mrs. Elliott then asked a student to come up to the board that had gotten the question done. The student came up and answered and explained how he had gotten the numbers:2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8. I was very impressed once again by how much these students knew and how they were able to articulate how they had gotten the answer at hand.
The next part of the lesson consisted of students learning how to multiply numbers. She explained to them that 25x20 is the same as 25 x (2 x 10) because 10 is a multiple of 20. She had them think of multiples as groups that could fit into a different number so many times. In addition, she handed out a sheet with long multiplication questions. They were expected to get to number 12 and then had students volunteer to come up to the board and explain how they got their answers. During this lesson, I was very surprised with how she was easily able to break down such a hard concept such as multiplying double digits. I was also very shocked how comfortable they were in getting up in front of the class. This behavior definitely represents what a strong and comfortable community Mrs.Elliott has created within the classroom. Lastly, she had the students close their eyes and hold up a thumbs up or a thumb down to show her wether they were getting the information. I though this was a very clever way to cultivate their feelings on the material. After walking out from this class, I was very proud of the students for their hard work and dedication to learn.
The science lesson that I observed at Gesu consisted of students learning about owls. I was told that the following week the students were going to be dissecting owl pellets. I thought this was very exciting and do not remember dissecting anything ever in elementary school. The students were expected to be completing a research paper about owls and a specific one that they have chosen to learn about. She had the students take out iPads from a cart to use in order to complete their assignment. I was very surprised that the school had two carts of iPads that any teacher could use. This really made me realize how much technology has effected our classrooms today. I think allowing students to use such technology allows them to fulfill their curiosity and to learn about the things that they are the most interested about. In addition, I was very surprised how all the kids knew how to work the iPads and only needed help knowing what to write down. Their sheet had five bullets in which they had to write down five general facts about the owl population and then two facts on an owl that they had chosen to focus on. Mrs. Elliott had told first told them the directions, waited a few minuets and told them what she had expected of them again. As an elementary teacher, I think it very crucial to understand that it may take many times for children to listen and comprehend what you are saying. Personally, I think this is very easy to forget as an adult sometimes because it has been so long since we have been that age.
When I went to Gesu to observe a Social Studies class I was very surprised at how much the students knew. They were learning about how we vote and why we do. She had a powerpoint slide up on the board that went along with each topic that the kids had to answer questions on. The students were taught the requirements for a president and fun facts about each one in our nation's history. It was very evident that they were very excited once they were told that there was going to be a student election held. Each fourth grader had to come up with a slogan that rhymed with their name or was catchy that would make their students vote for them. If a student had a problem with coming up with their own slogan, they would ask the class as a whole to help them. I thought this was a very good way to build community within the classroom and to show the importance of teamwork. When a student needed help they raised their hand and everyone else shared an answer that they had. They then had to write five qualities that they had as a person that would make them a good president. While they were writing their qualities down, I was able to walk around and observe what they were writing. I saw many papers that said they were friendly, honest, smart, and fair. I thought this was a great lesson to tie in the morals that all kids should know. At the end of the lesson she had them chose two other people that they would form a political party group with. Each student was either the president, vice president, or treasurer within their group. She highly emphasized the importance of letting anyone that wanted to be in their group to allow them to, and to treat everyone equally. Lastly, she told them that no one will be left out and if they are she will chose their groups.
In addition, I thought the kids again were very well behaved. Whenever she would ask the class a question so many kids would raise their hands and whenever the room got too loud she would say "I don't answer anyone who calls out." This seemed to remind the kids the importance of listening to others who are talking and waiting their turn.