Sunday, March 23, 2014

The final days...

The final days were completed in my middle school placement. I learned a lot during the past few weeks, especially with having only one full complete week of school. One thing I felt I learned, which I had discovered during my last few days, was that implementing a variety of instructional methods helped support my students in ways that benefited them academically. This week, for example, I implemented a March Madness lesson that continued fractions and began to instruct students on how to complete probability problems while recognizing patterns. I thought that the simple fact the students could relate to the basketball tournament real-life situation, they were motivated to discover the probability of their teams succeeding.

One struggle I had with some students was to discover ways to keep them motivated and engaged to learn. One student tested this struggle significantly, occasionally stating he would not continue with the work, and would make remarks that would be hurtful to others, including myself. I dealt with this in best way possible by explaining that he needed to treat others the way he would want to be treated or he would not participate in any activity that was fun (which that day was the iPad and he loved using the iPad). I felt defeated this day because I didn't feel I was making a difference to help this student overcome a barrier for learning. However, I learned through communicating with his parent that he had really learned a lot since I had been placed in the classroom, and that I really did make a difference. This truly made my day, and helped me understand my purpose of being in the classroom. Even if I feel I am not making a difference, I actually am. Supporting the students in the classroom is more than just teaching, but to motivate the students in ways that is relevant to them. Sure- homework is not what students want to do, especially if he or she feels it is above their capability. Coming from a student and a teacher perspective, I dislike giving homework as well. However, to help support the students inside and out, they must do the work to practice. I helped the students understand this as I handed their homework out each day. I also felt that sometimes in the classroom, students did not want my help (in the inclusion setting). I felt that the students wanted to ignore my presence especially when I volunteered my time. However, as I walked in the hallways, I had an older student, who exhibited this behavior in the classroom, stop me and tell me that they understood the work well now. These last few days really helped show me that the bad days are not always so bad, and that is why I'm passionate about teaching to all students. I am excited to have reached these students in one way or another, and I will miss being with these students a lot. They will always have a special place in my teaching heart- and will constantly remind me that I am making a difference no matter what.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week of March 3

This is my last full week of full time teaching, and of course there was a snow cancellation. I think in the two-three month span, there was only one full week of school. As a teacher, I know understand why they would only want delays instead of cancellations. However, everyone is in the same situation. During this week, I created lessons in the iPad, and conducted my fraction academic change project. For my academic change project, I had the students record their progress. The three students really liked this because they got to see their improvement and also were more motivated to learn more. Using the iPad for the eighth grader to review basics seemed to work well for him because he was beginning to understand the concept.

My fifth grade class began adding and subtracting decimals, which I co-taugth with another Intern. This went extremely well! We found an iPad app, where the students unrolled to toilet paper as fast as possible. The students then recorded their time in seconds to the hundredths place value, and added their time with a partner. We then modified it to have them subtract as well. This went so well that the students even asked to play again when we had a few extra minutes on Friday at the end of class. Finding this game, which may have seemed not educational to some, was modified and ended up being more motivating and educational than ever expected. I loved finding this game and implementing it into the lesson. I hope to find more lessons like this in the future!

Week of Feb. 24

Once again, the weather never fails to intervene with lessons and learning. During this week, I had planned to begin the 8th grade student on algebraic expressions, and continue with simplifying fractions with the sixth grade students. The mini breaks the students keeps having is making the consistent development difficult because with a weekend break, it feels like I have to review heavily. With the long weekends and/or mini mid-week breaks, I have to work harder to review concepts learned previously. Most of the time, I don't even get to all the activities I plan. While this is frustrating, what am I going to do? Mother Nature does not seem to want to cooperate well.

On Thursday, Dr. ONeil observed me, and typically, I warn my students before hand that the person is watching me- not them. However, I was so concerned about making up the time we lost, I completely forgot to give them the heads up. I noticed half-way through the lesson that all of the students were more focused on seeing what he was doing, which obviously meant they were not listening to me. I addressed this by having the students introduce themselves, ask who he was, and to inform them he was watching me (not them). After this was addressed, the lesson moved forward. Even with missed time, I felt as if I was able to accomplish what I needed. I thought my lesson with the eighth grader went well because he then followed up with a puzzle placed around them room trying to simplify algebraic expressions. He worked hard, and it was nice to see him work and move around the room instead of the average day of taking notes at his seat. The sixth graders worked hard on simplifying fractions and creating equivalent fractions using the iPad, and other activities that seemed to go well.

I would love to incorporate more of the iPad, and I try to do so as often as I can. I hope to find more apps that would become engaging for the students. They seem so motivated to work when using the iPad. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Week of Feb 17

This week was a crazy week. One thing that I felt went really well was my lesson on place value. I used arrow cards that really seemed to help all of the students, regardless of their instructional level, understand. I felt that because I incorporated the manipulative, the students really were able to see the real value of a digit based on their location. Instead of the 1 was in the tens value, they were able to tell me that the 1 was really 1 ten, or valued at 10. I also implemented a math puzzle with the place value concept that was on-grade level, and the students seemed to enjoy working on this as a group.

I also incorporated a strategy that I like to call the students become the teacher. I would have one student go to the board, and explain the process they used to get an answer. The 6th grade class created equivalent fractions using their interactive notebooks for this strategy. I had each student cut out puzzle pieces, and then create an equivalent fraction. Then, I had the students explain how they created the equivalent fractions. The class seemed to enjoy this because they got the chance to go to the chalkboard, and become the teacher essentially.

One thing I would like to begin to incorporate is using the iPad to enhance skills, since technology is limited in my classroom. The students see me take attendance on the iPad everyday, and I feel that they are itching to use it. They seem more motivated to learn when incorporating any technology, so I would be interested to see how this would work when using for a lesson.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week...After the snow storms

This is my first week back with no delays or cancellations (as of today, at least). I decided this week to start my lesson plans I had prepared for way back in January, since all the other work and assessments were finally caught up. The lessons for my fifth grade pull out was long division. My teacher felt that the older middle schoolers could use review for this also, therefore I taught both classes the lesson plan I had prepared. We began class with multiplication review, and discussing their time off. Then, the long division process began. I had the students create interactive notebooks, and one of the students, that is typically unengaged and trying to distract the people around him, was on-task the entire time! This same student told me after the first day how much he enjoyed working with the interactive notebook, and it was much more exciting than the average paper-pencil technique.

My mentor teacher and I decided that it would be exciting for both classes to keep adding on with the work they will begin after their long division assessment.

Update: Once again, the assessment was pushed back due to the weather. Snow, snow, go away...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Week Two-Five

With a few days of teaching, most of the days were snow days. I had planned on beginning teaching my first pull out class of the day, but weather decided otherwise. These past three weeks, I have experienced stress from a two-hour delay schedule, and stress with wondering how the students will retain the information from before the basically three-week vacation. As we begin back in school, even with delays, I wonder how a teacher deals with the stress and how she fixes lesson plans to basically review information students hadn't thought about in many days. In January alone, the students were in school a total of eight days. EIGHT entire days. While weather is out of the hands of any person, I have truly experienced what it feels like to want the snow to be melted away.

The first day back with students on the last day of January was crazy, chaotic, and difficult to keep students on-task. We had long agendas and students just didn't seem in the groove of things. I hope these crazy, snow delay/cancellations begin to fade, because as a teacher, I had a hard time finding ways to encourage students to keep their mind on learning and off of what the weather would bring us that night.

Another piece of my teacher experience with special education was how to complete paperwork on time.While I was talking to my mentor teacher during these cancelations, she emphasized the importance of some paperwork that needed completed for the writing assessment with the deadline quickly approaching.

Finally, during these cold, snowy days, I worried my students were safe, warm and fed. I found myself up late at night during these days hoping they were as warm as possible.

I must say, I am done with these snow days, and I feel as if we are just in the middle of these storms.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Middle School Week one

During my first week in the middle school placement, I found this to be completely opposite of an Elementary School. First, many students are placed for inclusion now, therefore most of my hours are spent in the general education setting. Second, the special education teacher helps all students in the general setting, not just the students in her case load. Finally, I found that switching from class to class and only covering mathematics made the day go much faster, and coming into contact with more students than I came into contact with in my elementary placement. I am interested to see how working in the general education setting will work, since most teachers look to the special education teacher as a helping hand. I am wondering how I can try to push for co-teaching in a different way then one teach one assist method. I am also excited to see how the resource room is different than the elementary resource room. From what I have already observed, the older students are much more independent but still need a lot of guidance in the fundamentals of mathematics.

I am excited to learn so much this semester and look forward to beginning teaching in a more hands-on approach!