Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Teaching = Awesome!

Today was my second day teaching my unit on Downriver. All of my students seemed to really enjoy it, and some of them even expressed that they really liked it so far. That made me so happy. They've responded really well to the activities I have planned, too. :) I'm really pleased they've had a positive response to the novel since I decided to change it from what my cooperating teacher normally teaches at this time.

Yesterday, they did a webquest as an introduction to the novel after we completed a short grammar activity. Today, I showed them some photos of the Grand Canyon and Storm King Mountain in Colorado. Then, I showed them a video of a couple of people rafting the Lava Falls rapid on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The raft flipped, so of course the kids loved it. I made up a character list sheet for them, so they could keep track of all the characters. I also made up a "river lingo" vocabulary sheet to help them with whitewater rafting/river terms they may not have been very familiar with.  I'm SO glad I had these two resources for them, especially the character list. It was a huge help as we began reading today.

Looking forward to tomorrow! :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Preparing for Teaching

On Monday, I will begin teaching Downriver by Will Hobbs to my 7th and 8th grade classes.

I am so excited.

However, I still haven't seen a "normal" class since I began student teaching because they've been working on a cooperative project the whole time. I'm a little concerned because it's a reading intervention classroom. I'm not writing a full unit plan until I get a couple of days under my belt. That way, I can see how to pace my lessons. Since the program is a double dose of reading, we're not allowed to give any homework, so all of the reading has to be done in class. These kids are the ones who really struggle with reading, so I know it will be slow going. I just don't know how slow. My unit is supposed to be 5-7 days, but in this type of classroom environment, it looks like it will be more along the lines of 3 weeks. I'm okay with that, but I just hope my university supervisor will be, too.

I've already prepared my introductory material and some pre-reading activities. I think the kids will enjoy this book, and I hope I can get them really engaged in the reading. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow Days, Snow Daze

Well, this is my third week of student teaching, and I still haven't gone to school for a full week due to snow. In fact, the number of snow days we've had almost equals the number of days I've actually gone to my first placement school. It's a little frustrating because I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of good experience, and it keeps pushing the project the kids are working on farther and farther behind, but today I'm kind of glad for it.

The kids have been working on PPT presentations and building hot air balloons since I began. Well, on Monday my cooperating teacher got VERY sick and had to leave early. She was out yesterday, which left me teaching the class with a sub (I'll explain more about that in a minute). Almost ALL of the kids finished their presentations yesterday, leaving me with nothing to do with them for today.

Actually, most of the kids finished their presentations early in the class period. My cooperating teacher had only left instructions for us to work on the PPTs. Luckily, I knew many of them would be finished, so I took the liberty of copying a few word ladder games and a few easy sudoku puzzles for them to work on afterwards. I'm glad today was a snow day, though, because I wasn't looking forward to having nothing to do with them today if my cooperating teacher didn't give me some ideas. I couldn't start anything new with them because the classes are still combined with the math classes.

So, my experience with the sub...I've heard many teachers grumble that they wished the student teachers could be the "sub" if they were ever absent. "It doesn't seem fair that we pay a sub to sit there while you do all the work," they say. This was true in my case. My sub was a nice girl, but she didn't help me at all.  Not that I'm complaining - I actually liked getting to see how the kids worked for me without my cooperating teacher there. But, it made me inclined to agree with those teachers who complain. Student teachers should be compensated for their time when their cooperating teacher is absent since they are the ones doing the actual work. That's not the case, though, and some lady got paid $80 to sit and play sudoku all day. Oh well...that's the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Student Teaching

I began my student teaching endeavors this past Friday at Christiana Middle School. It was certainly an interesting experience, especially after a 4-day delayed start due to snow. I'm wondering how my classroom experience here will affect my overall student teaching experience, as I am teaching in a reading intervention/remediation program for struggling readers. It's not a "normal" classroom environment. Much of their time is spent on computers, following a program that has been tailored for their specific needs. My cooperating teacher (who, upon first meeting, seems absolutely wonderful) also had her doubts of the benefits of my placement there. She didn't feel like it was the best way for me to learn "how to teach".

Regardless, I'm looking forward to the experience. The classes are very small (7-12 students on average), and it will help me to think outside of the box when it comes to helping students who are struggling. I am beginning to plan for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry which is what I will begin teaching after the students are done with their balloon projects (a project coordinated with the math teacher). I'm excited, and I am sifting through information to go along with the novel that will be appropriate for this environment. If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them!