- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
Having a student intern this semester is allowing me to reflect on my own teaching. It has been interesting to see the transition of college knowledge to classroom application. The university has expectations to train teachers and then the elementary classroom happens.
As an educator I am constantly using assessment to guide my teaching. Information gathered helps me prepare lessons and meet the needs of my students in formative and summative format. Today, however, Lauren was the one getting assessed. I was not part of this process; just as when I give assessments in the classroom and take a step back, today Lauren was on her own. She had her first formal observation from the college.
Mentor Teacher: Lori Rice--We spent time over the weekend reviewing and talking about the lesson plan for her first formal assessment. Lauren has developed these skills and can prepare for a lesson well. She picked writing as her first formal observation because she feels comfortable with this subject. We talked about her lesson and the teaching points she was making. We also talked about classroom management and higher level questioning. These are the areas she is learning still and brought the least experience with her from her collegiate classes.
Lauren is working on stating her expectations for both academic objectives and student behavior. Teachers who can master being clear and following through in these areas have more student engagement in activities. There is a balance in preparing students for the lesson and moving quickly to keep their attention. We discussed being clear in expectations and hold students to those expectations. Lauren wrote these into her plans as reminders. Classroom management can impact the success of any lesson.
Teacher Intern: Lauren Laudan--My goal for this lesson is for students to practice writing descriptive and vivid words as we begin word choice in writing. These words will help paint a picture in the reader’s head- “show not tell”. The students have been practicing writing with voice, so word choice is a very similar trait.
My objective for this lesson is: “Students will hear a story with strong word choice, examine sentences by changing dull, dry, and overused words, and then identify words in a paragraph which need stronger word choice.” This should be stated at the beginning of the lesson to help students focus their learning. This group of students has demonstrated mastery level of voice, so now they are moving into looking at word choice. For my students who need more support, I will allow them to work at a slower pace. For students showing mastery, I have “next step” activities ready to help extend their learning. After this lesson, the next step is for students to write a poem about themselves and create a users manual about themselves and how they best learn. The users manual will be their final assessment.
This lesson builds on a previous lesson which introduced the trait of word choice. Before word choice, the students focused on voice. In this lesson, we will discuss how voice and word choice go together well and have many similarities when writing. I also want students to clearly identify the difference between voice and word voice. I need to state my expectations of having all students' eyes on me when I speak, using a 0 voice level voice (no talking), and writing their ideas in their journal. Stating my expectations will allow all students to understand their role in learning.
Students often hesitate to pick up a thesaurus to find a “better” word when they are writing. However, encouraging students to use this resource will help them apply synonyms and antonyms, an activity we do weekly in vocabulary. I have noticed my students’ writing often includes the same words over and over again. Students also do not focus on replacing dull, overused words with more vivid and descriptive words. When asked to change a single word in a sentence they are able to put all their focus on word choice.
I plan to have students recall the “RIP words” from the previous lesson. I will also play an engaging video of a fourth grade class attending a funeral for “dead words” using the Smart Board to show the YouTube video. The rest of the lesson will consist of pre-made task cards and copies of the paragraph to edit and complete. Get a copy of my lesson plan here.
Mentor Teacher: Lori Rice--The assistance I could give Lauren was over. When the college observer arrived it was no longer my class. I left a few minutes before she was to arrive so Lauren would be seen as the classroom teacher by the students. I wanted them responding to her authority and did not want my presence to interfere in her observation. Leaving my classroom was bitter-sweet. I felt proud of Lauren for her hard work, but misplaced as I was not the classroom teacher any longer.
Student Intern: Lauren Laudan--In this lesson, I first modeled what I expected my students to do with their
own task cards when they worked independently or in their small groups. I began the
lesson with recall, which also served as a formative assessment. This helped me know students that might need to work at a slower pace or would require more support.
I believe in keeping students actively engaged with a variety of strategies including whole group discussion, pair-share, and independent work. I included all three of those in this lesson as students were allowed to use their group
members during the task card activity. The paragraph editing was completed independently as a formative assessment. For the students who usually sit at the back table with a Para, I stopped frequently at their desks to check for understanding. I was able to assist by reading aloud to them. We also reviewed the various parts of speech. I encouraged students who finished early to write more than one sentence for each task card.
Mentor Teacher: Lori Rice--When I walked back into the classroom the students were engaged in a read aloud activity. Lauren looked like she belonged in the front of the room. I asked her later how it went and she said well. I was honored, when we were alone later, that she asked if I wanted to see the comments. I could see how our work together was impacting her skills. She is strengthening her classroom management and higher level questioning. These skills will just continue to grow throughout the semester.