I thought this cartoon was funny because it really shows how I felt coming into this whole experience. I was very nervous, anxious, and not as confident with the students. I feel that this experience has really given me the ability to juggle many different roles in the classroom and act on my feet. I don’t feel that I’m “pretending” to know what I’m doing anymore, which is a nice feeling. The team at the middle school that I have been working with is extremely supportive and all offer their own advice, as well. It is nice because when they talk about younger teachers or student teachers, they often mention that they forget that I am also “new at this” because I am so comfortable and have discipline and control. It is really reassuring and motivating to hear these things. This week begins my transition into co-teaching with my CT and ending my full-time teaching and planning. I am in a phase where I really am just reflecting on what I have done thus far, working on organization of materials for my final, etc. I graded my 2nd Student Growth Through Writing Assignment and am collecting the data on that as well.
One of the things that I have been working on is getting my 4th period engaged in the lecture. I have been focusing on current events more, which they seem to really enjoy. I also have tried to create more games and interactive activities that they would especially respond to. I think that most of them are doing better, but I was slightly concerned because my CT took them out of class recently to do SOL review games that she created with them while I did a current events activity with the rest of the class and the students my CT pulled out were really struggling with the material. She and I were both a little frustrated because we’ve been really trying with them and they don’t seem to be retaining the material. As we finish up the content for the course, my CT suggested that I help her work on a project involving memory strategies for review. I think that’s a great idea and will allow students at different levels to participate.
The other thing I am still thinking about and is fast-approaching is the 3rd student growth through writing assignment. I am hoping to give it sometime early next week so that I will have time to grade them and give students feedback while also collecting my own data. I had students come up with their own people and stories in the past 2 assignments and I toyed with the idea of giving them a person this time, but I think I decided to give them topics to talk about and spend more time reviewing the topics rather than giving them a person. Some of my students have really enjoyed these writing assignments and I think part of the reason for that is the creativity, so I don’t want to take that aspect away. I am looking forward to seeing the results once I lay out the data for all 3 assignments.
Overall, I really feel that I have made definite progress and am trying to use the 2 weeks I have left to really explore different things, such as shadowing other teachers, helping my teacher with SOL review and projects, etc. I’m looking forward to this home stretch!
I think this image symbolizes what I’ve really been thinking about and focusing on this week as I had my students complete their second Student Growth Through Writing assignment. As discussed in my video, I am really working on self-reflection and trying to come up with ways to scaffold student learning and help the students improve on their last assignment. This will be one of the main objectives of mine as I finish out my last 3 weeks of student teaching.
This week I have been thinking a lot about the evaluation process that teachers have to go through and have also experienced my own forms of evaluation. I chose this picture because I thought it was a funny way to express how a lot of teachers feel about the SOL test and the pressure they must place on their students. My CT is sort of getting to the point in the year where she’s stressing about SOLs and it has been helpful to talk with her about what the expectations are and how she prepares her students. It’s a hard time of the year because these teachers have had a lot of snow days and are behind in the curriculum, but also feel the need to review and prepare their students for the SOLs. I sometimes feel that there is too much pressure placed on students and teachers and it’s hard to juggle everything at once. As I am planning my lessons, I have tried to think of warm-ups or other activities to incorporate that review for the SOLs while still continuing to teach the material we are doing in our unit. It is a balancing act, and I am hoping to get better at it and learn skills and strategies for when I am a teacher next year.
This week I also completed an analysis on my student surveys and was able to reflect on some of the things I need to improve on. A few of the things that I need to improve on include assuring students that I am available before or after school to help them and connecting lessons to the real world. I am definitely thinking of ways that I can bring in current events or real world connections and I think the students will really enjoy that. Some of my students are pretty unaware of current events so this will also just help them become active members of their community and maybe spark their interest.
One other thing that my CT and I have talked about that I need to improve on is giving clear and concise directions. A lot of times when I’m thinking of activities for the students, I feel that I am being clear and have an idea of what I’m looking for. However, usually 7th graders need more direction. If I don’t provide directions the students will turn work in that isn’t complete for my standards or isn’t done correctly. I am working on creating checklists for group activities, or rubrics, to ensure that students understand what they should be doing.
As I move forward, I will keep these suggestions and evaluations in mind and improve my instruction accordingly. I feel that this week has been very reflective and helpful. As spring break approaches, I hope to have time to reflect and revise my planning.
This past week I started on World War II, mostly using my own unit plan. I have now taken on full responsibility and am taking on the task of planning and teaching. I think that creating lessons ahead of time and using backwards design is helping me a lot with my organization and pacing. I also am learning that each class period goes at a different pace and has their own distinct challenges. This has allowed me to always have extra activities or worksheets for students who work faster.
Another way that my CT and I are planning to help pace the classes better is by pulling out students who need remediation to work on activities with my teacher while I teach in the classroom. It has been challenging because the students are on very different levels and I feel that if I try to teach them all the same things, I end up spending most of my time on helping students with trouble reading or trouble understanding the activities, leaving out students who are higher level and need self-directed learning. If my CT pulls out students once in a while, this should help pace everyone better.
Another aspect that I was able to experience this week was parent-teacher conferences. We only had 2 for the whole day and they both went really well. My school has team conferences with the four core teachers and reading specialist (if needed). It was nice to see a different way of conferencing. I felt like it helped the parents to cross reference how the student is doing in different subjects and different times of the day. I also think it helped because teachers were able to point out things that the students were doing positively and really keep the students best interests in mind.
As I look to next week, I will look towards trying to expand the creativity and scope of my lessons and get the students motivated for WWII. I am very excited to see how the students respond to the activities and materials this week.
Lesson Planning & Backward Design
The lesson that I delivered is part of my unit plan and therefore a bigger picture of how I plan to teach in the actual classroom. Elements of backward design were used in order to complete the lesson plan template and think about the actual delivery of instruction. Wiggins and McTighe order the steps of backwards design by first identifying desired results, then determining acceptable evidence, and finally planning learning exercises and instruction (p. 9). I used this order to make my unit plan and tried to make sure I had the objectives and SOLs clearly laid out before creating each lesson. The facets of understanding include applying what the students already know about the Great Depression to the world context, having perspective into why the world was set up for war in that time and place, and possessing self-knowledge by contextualizing Fascism and recognizing why it occurs in a specific time in a specific place.
I tried to make the lesson relevant and meaningful to students by both connecting the knowledge they already have about the Great Depression to the rest of the world and also showing actual footage of Hitler so that they can experience what it might have been like in that time. I tried to ask plenty of questions and have the students involved so that they would gain interest. The guiding question for the day was “How did the rise of Fascism influence world events and lead to World War 2? The power point slides clearly displayed the guiding question as well as objectives. The students will be assessed by collecting the framing routine, as pictured:
and exit slips. The exit slips are meant to really evaluate whether the students understood the impact or “So what?” of the lesson.
Reactions after completing the lesson
After completing the lesson with the class, I thought it was beneficial overall, but would have done a few things differently. One thing that went well was the student questioning and interaction. I think with 7th graders, it is really important to make sure to keep their attention while lecturing and make them feel involved. I also thought that the lesson had a steady flow and met the objectives that I had planned very well. We were able to get everything accomplished in the time allowed and the students participated with the framing routine well. I also followed the lesson plan fairly well. I skipped the working with partners and answering questions about the video of Hitler because in my real classroom the period is longer than 40 min, but besides that I was on track with time. One of the things that I plan to improve when I use this lesson in my classroom is the note-taking worksheet. I left fairly vague blanks and there was confusion as to where the students were supposed to write the information. For 7th graders, they will definitely need more structure, and may even need slot notes, which I re-designed after the fact. I also might consider pulling the students in and motivating them with a pop culture reference or some sort of experiment to show how Hitler gained power.
Reactions after watching the video
Watching the video helped me a lot in pointing out personal strengths and weaknesses that I was either aware or unaware of. I felt that in the video there were certain points where I seemed to be unsure of what I was saying or read right off of the slides, which was mentioned in the tuning protocol. When presenting this lesson in the classroom, I need to make sure to have all of my information practiced and ready. I also noticed a little student apprehension on tape when they were trying to take the notes and I will re-do the notes to make them easier for student use.
Here’s an example of a student’s work on the notes:
As you can tell, the student had trouble filling in the last blank area because the titles for the sections were not clear enough and did not match up with the slides.
The one other criticism that I have was that it seemed like I went a little too fast through the important info in the slideshow and then used a longer time to question and complete activities. Next time, I would try and spend more time on the material and making that more creative.
Below is a clip of the lecture portion:
One of the positive things that I noticed in the video was the student involvement and student interaction between each other. They seemed fully engaged with the material and comfortable to answer questions and speak with their peers.
Below is a clip of my questioning:
I also felt that I had good movement around the room, which is something that is very important with middle schoolers. I thought that my role as facilitator of the classroom worked very well because I wanted the students to take on responsibility for providing answers and analyzing historical information. I also really liked the questions that were prepared and liked that I had them on the slide shows for students to visualize. The questions were thought-provoking and intriguing.
Comments and Ideas from Tuning Protocol
I received a lot of helpful feedback during the tuning protocol and actually plan to tailor my lesson based on the feedback when I am teaching the lesson in my school. My colleagues seemed to like the video a lot and thought that it was powerful to have the victory speech and ask the students questions about the video afterwards for meaning. People also seemed to like the transitioning from each activity to the next, including the way that I had students create a list of words that we discussed during the lesson and using that list for the fascism frame. Another strength was my use of pictures throughout the power point, which helped to intrigue student interest, especially for the Just Do It.
The one weakness that people seemed to express was the confusion with the notes, which I explained above. I actually decided to make short slot notes instead, since there is so much information in a few slides. My cohort also suggested alternative ways to show the power of Hitler’s charisma, including clips from “A King’s Speech” or showing that Hitler was the Time Magazine Man of the Year. I think this would definitely give the students a better perspective into Hitler’s influence and catch their interest. Another idea was to have a visual discovery for the picture of children stacking money during German hyperinflation. I think that’s a really good idea and even though that was mostly discussed in the prior lesson, it might be a good source for review.
Overall, the tuning protocol really helped and I appreciate the suggestions so that I may change future instruction.
The main goal that I have as I continue into my role as a full student teacher is to work on making sure that all of the materials I have are well-planned and tailored to a 7th grade level appropriate to my students. A lot of the time when I am creating material, I assume that students will follow along and take notes responsibly, but in the real world classroom, it is more difficult to motivate younger students. I also am working towards implementing group work in the classroom, which is also a challenge with a younger crowd. I can already tell that my students would respond well to integrated, differentiated activities based on their interests and motivation. One of the areas that I have definitely improved upon from the fall midterm is managing time better in the classroom. That was one of the areas that I really had trouble with in the beginning because I wasn’t familiar with how fast I lectured and how long it took students at different levels to complete activities. As I practiced lessons in our methods class and began my own teaching, this skill has definitely improved. I also am more aware of student’s reactions to certain materials and look for areas where the students may need further direction. Overall, I feel that these exercises and watching myself on videotape helps a lot in my teaching.
I composed a video of my reflections and thoughts on this assignment as I move into student teaching:
VIDEO ANALYSIS AND REFLECTION
1) It seems that throughout the video there is very adequate classroom involvement. Every question that I ask of the class, they deliver answers for. I also feel that there is a mixture of students answering questions, and the same students aren’t participating for everything throughout the class period.
2) The students seem pretty engaged in the lesson. I can tell that they are engaged because every time I instruct them to write something down or take notes, they immediately start. They also answered questions quickly and have fairly happy facial expressions. They don’t look too bored, which is reassuring.
3) The questions that I asked are mainly used for analysis purposes. During lecture, I am mainly asking students to recall information they already know, such as the definition of nationalism. After the video and throughout the fascist frame routine, I ask them to analyze certain traits that Hitler/the Nazis have. I don’t really ask too many high level questions until the end of the framing routine, and when they had trouble I tried to scaffold them. I think next time I could compare different types of leadership and ask more compare/contrast questions.
4) I never actually asked if students had questions, which I maybe should have done. However, I did try to make it an open environment and leave enough wait time if students had questions for me. I also made sure to walk around while they were completing group work and asked how they were doing.
5) I think the main role I played throughout the lesson was that of facilitator. I tried to keep direct instruction to a minimum and mainly use their insight to answer questions and create the frame. I was leader in that I was mainly keeping the class on task and flowing, and I was a co-learner in a way during the framing routine. The students were offering up suggestions for the definition and so-what for the frame that I didn’t necessarily have planned.
6) The main task that I asked students to do was to analyze what they were looking at throughout the lesson. First, they were analyzing a picture of Hitler propaganda. Then, they were asked to answer questions about the Hitler video. Finally, they were to look at the list of words on the board that we came up with and analyze what the words have to do with fascism. I think that for 7th graders, this would really capitalize on their prior knowledge from WWI and the Great Depression.
7) I feel that I took advantage of questioning, gaining students reactions, and having them “help” to create the framing routine. Instead of just lecturing, the students were more engaged in the lesson.
8) I could have taken greater advantage of the information regarding Hitler and done more with the youth camp in particular. Considering the age level of my students (7th grade), it would have been meaningful to do some sort of exercise or example of youth camps in Germany to show the students how it was to live in that time period.
9) I feel like students did a really nice job with taking risks. When they were answering questions, they sometimes seemed unsure but answered anyways. They also were challenged to share their inferences for the definition and meaning of fascism. The students seemed very open to talk to each other and help with answers as well as ask me questions when needed.
10) I tried to scaffold students to take risks and answer questions that they weren’t sure of. I think the main part of the lesson that this was apparent in was the framing routine. I tried to have students really think about the implications of fascism instead of just listing the characteristics. Once again, I think I could have definitely gone into greater depth with the programs that Hitler put into place, such as the youth camps.
11) I think that the learning goals were definitely achieved. The main point of the lesson was to answer how fascism affected world events and lead to WWII. This is just an intro lesson to fascism and I actually added in another lesson after this one to continue with fascism before starting Allies and Axis powers. Therefore, I think the main idea for this lesson was to come up with a concrete definition for fascism and start thinking about what this means for the world, which was achieved. Students had a pretty good grasp on the different tactics used from their answers to the video and poster. They also had good answers for their exit slips, which show understanding.
12) I think the lesson was mainly designed to start small and build, and the anticipation was that I would have student help with definitions, recall of review material, and building on to the lesson. I feel that for 7th graders, there may be either misconceptions about the ideas of dictator or fascism that I would have to address or they may not be able to come up with the answers. I would need to address these issues and explain the correct definitions. There would also need to be an alteration to the note-taking sheet to make expectations more clear.
I liked this photo for this week because now that I will be taking on the role as full time teacher, I feel that the whole process will seem much more rewarding to me. It is exciting and new to me to think that the grades that students receive and the progress that they make in the class will be a result of my effort to teach them. So far, I have only felt like I am helping the teacher by having another adult in the room, but the roles will be reversed. I think this is a very exciting new step in my journey and look forward to seeing student progress and really learning from my mistakes/ triumphs as I go.
This week I would use one word to describe my experience: comfort. Throughout the week, I felt much more at ease in front of the class and even started to learn a little bit more about my students preferred learning styles while trying out some new techniques. I was also able to sit down with my CT for an hour and discuss different activities and ideas she suggested to incorporate in my unit plan and the rest of my teaching, as well as developing a schedule for the curriculum. I feel more comfortable in other ways, too. I feel that I am starting to gain an authority role with some of the students that I was having trouble with in prior weeks and my teacher commended me on that. The process of getting students to sit in their seats and begin class quietly is becoming shorter and easier, which is also nice.
As I turn in my unit plan and curriculum framework, I feel that in the next week I need to make sure I discuss any other issues or concerns I have with my teacher before moving into my full-time role at the middle school. I would like to ask her a little more about behavioral issues, ask her opinions on changing the seating chart for potential group work activities, and also look into her grading routines so that I can properly create my own grading. I may also create a note to send home to parents, informing them that I will be taking over soon, therefore creating open communication.
I look forward to this new chapter in my experience and am ready for the challenge!