Sunday, December 7, 2008

Title I at Glen Alpine Elementary: 5th Grade

On my last visit to Glen Alpine Elementary, I followed a few of the students after lunch to their Title I class. All the students that worked together were in the fifth grade, and there is five students in the class I observed. The students work on reading sentences and paragraphs, and writing in cursive. The students go to Title I every day except Tuesdays. I went to the lesson with a girl from my class named Kayla. She told me that she really likes going to Title I because it help her to better in all her other classes. She also talked about how she liked how there were only five students and one teacher, and she thought it was better and that she learned more in Title I then in her large, regular class. Another student in the class where I did my practicum was in the Title I program last year, but wasn't invited to it this year. I was told by the other students in Title I that he wasn't aloud back into it because he didn't get enough work done while in Title I. I was a little concerned at what the student was given or put into in place of the Title I program. Obviously there was a reason this student was in the program, and he didn't leave the program because he was caught up to grade level. This particular child was pegged as a problem child, and I have to admit that I didn't view him as that large of a behavioral problem. He asked a lot of questions that seemed a little excessive, but he seemed like he wanted to know why he was doing what he was doing all the time. It seemed that when he asked a question he was regarded as a problem because he didn't listen rather than a student. I really enjoyed my time spend in the Title I program because it allowed me to see the extra help that some of the students needed and were getting. My concentration area is in English, and so Title I programs are something that I am very interested in. I possibly may get my masters in something related to reading. I could definitely see myself being a reading specialist, and this experience really gave me a much better view of what type of skills you need to do this type of job.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Classroom Management Ideas from My Glen Alpine 5th Grade Classroom

I really enjoyed my time in Mrs. Revilla's fifth grade classroom at Glen Alpine Elementary. I had a lot of fun with the students, and I learned more than I thought through teaching, helping, and observing. When I first got to the school, I wasn't sure how I felt about the teacher that I was placed with, but as I got to know her things got a lot better. Mrs. Revilla is an amazing teacher, and I think our first day was probably not the best behavioral day for the class. An idea I learned about for classroom management has to deal with daily behavior and walking laps. Around the outside playground area there is a track. Each day, each fifth grade class starts out with eight laps. If they behave well during transitions and certain parts during the day, then they can erase a lap. The students have eight chances to remove a lap, so if they behave then they will have their full recess time to play. If they don't behave, then they may have to walk laps around the track before getting to play. This type of classroom management worked pretty well. Students were able to line themselves up and stay quiet, most of the time. It seemed that the students made a clear, conscious effort to transition smoothly and quickly. When it was time to switch for math class from reading class, all the students put away their reading books and got out their math supplies and lined up in the hallway waiting to enter Mrs. Osborne's classroom. Some days the students were too excited, and the most laps I ever saw them walk in one day was four. I would definitely consider this type of classroom management if it was evident that it would have an effect on my class. Each group of students is different, and I think that I may have to use different classroom management techniques depending on the likes and dislikes of the current class. Another form of classroom management that the teachers use is signing the students planners. Every day the students write in their homework and important information into their planners. If a student gets in trouble, then the teacher will sign their planner and give he/she an extra lap to walk at recess. The parents have to look at the planner every night, and if your planner gets signed during the day, then your parents have to also sign that they read why you go in trouble. I do like the idea of signing the student's planner and writing what the student did wrong so that the parents can be informed. Sometimes I felt as though the teachers were a little harsh with their planner signing though. It seemed that if the teacher was in a poor mood that certain students were almost watched until they did something wrong. I'm really glad that I saw this type of behavior from a teacher who overall I respect because it makes me realize how hard it must be to control your subconsciousness. I want to be making a conscious effort to be fair to all my students even if they rub me the wrong way sometimes. I also realize that when I am in a bad mood in the classroom, I need to try and let some things roll off my shoulder. Teachers are human and bound to over-react sometimes. As a teacher, I will need to try my hardest to leave my personal baggage at the door because it isn't beneficial to my future students. I've done a lot of researching on many different types of classroom management ideas, and I think that classroom management is the key to a productive classroom. If the students are in order and managed, then as a whole we will be able to accomplish more in the time we are given. A well-behaved classroom can also participate in more hands-on activities, which I think can truly make a difference in a student's comprehension level. A few websites with classroom management ideas are listed below:

ProTeacher's Classroom Management
The Really Big List of Classroom Management Resources
The Teacher's Corner - Classroom Management
SMARTeacher - Classroom Management: Elementary

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spelling Game (Substitue for Word Game)

On Wednesday November 19, 2008, Chantel and I did a spelling lesson instead of a word game lesson. The teacher asked us to do the spelling game/lesson instead of a word game because it went better with what Mrs. Revilla had planned that week and that day. A spelling list with all the words we used in our lesson was given to the students on Monday. The class had already done homework assignments on Monday and Tuesday and a practice quiz on Monday. In other words, the students had seen the words before and were fairly familiar with them. After our lesson the students would be taking their second practice spelling test. Mrs. Revilla has the students take a shot at spelling the words when they first get the fifteen word list on Mondays, and next the students take a second practice spelling test on the words on Wednesday. After the second practice spelling test, Mrs. Revilla assigns each individual student ten words to study for their actual spelling test on Friday. I like the way Mrs. Revilla takes the time to individualize the students spelling lists to the needs of each student. If the student knows how to spell a few of the words already, then Mrs. Revilla makes sure that the students are doing homework and working with the words that they may not know how to spell yet. I also really liked how low-stress the spelling tests were because of the practice quizes. The students knew that the first two practices were not going to effect their grades at all, and I think this allowed the students to really try and take chances when it came to spelling the spelling words for that week. The teacher made a comment to us about how the school didn't have a consistent spelling or vocabulary plan. Mrs. Revilla thinks, and I agree, that the school needs to have a certain standard for words that each grade must master. She says that one of her problems is that the students have a wide range of spelling abilities, and that some of the students don't know how to spell very basic words that they should already know how to spell. This is one reason Mrs. Revilla individualizes each students spelling tests each week because she is trying to get them all up to grade level. The lesson that Chantel and I did was called spelling battleship. Below is the general lesson outline:

Spelling Lesson Plan – Spelling Battleship

· Write the word groups on the board & draw an example battleship board
· Word Group 1: Slogan, honest, Shadow, Eleven, and Radio
· Word Group 2: Minutes, Virus, Humor, Balance, and Basis

· Count off the students by 2’s

· Students with # 1 à use word group 1

· Students with # 2 à use word group 2

· Spelling Battleship Instructions:

o Each will get a game board piece and a folder
-> Use the folder as a divider between the students
o Put your word list into any of the spaces on the game piece (one in each square)
o Take turns guessing squares (B2, C4, etc…)
o If you guess a square that has a word in it, your opponent will tell you what the word is.
Spell the word correctly à get a point … Spell the word wrong à no points and end of turn
o Guess a square with a word and spell it right à get to guess again
o The person to spell the most words correctly wins!

· Handout game boards and folders

After we had explained the game, paired the students up, and passed out all of the materials, we walked around the room doing informal assessments on how well the students were doing. The students were extremely enthusiastic about the game, and every student in the class had played the boardgame Battleship at least once. The students played the game for about fifteen to twenty minutes, or until about all of the students had tried to spell all five of their words. Most students were able to spell between 2-4 words correctly, and most of them were spelling 3 or 4 out of their 5 words correctly. I thought this was a good place to be considering it was in the middle of the week, and the students were still learning the words. The informal assessment allowed me to note that all of the students were on the way to mastering their spelling words for that week. I would definitely use this spelling game in my future upper elementary classrooms because the students really enjoyed it, and they really wanted to spell the words correctly so they could beat their classmate!

Guided Reading Lesson

Chantel and I did our guided reading lesson plan on November 12, 2008. The novel the class was reading is called The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain, and our guided reading lesson was on the epilogue of the book. We split the class into two groups: I led one of the groups in the guided reading lesson plan and Chantel led the other group. Before beginning reading, I led a discussion with my group about what an epilogue is and why it is important to the story; as well as review on what a prologue is. Also before beginning our reading, I led the group of students in a discussion about what all had happened up to that point. I told them to imagine that I had never read the book and collectively as a group the students told me all the important details up to the epilogue. Then I asked the students to share their predictions about what may happen next based on what we already know. I think this is a very important question when it comes to the understanding of a novel. If the students truly understand what they have read so far, they will be able to make an educated guess on what might happen next. I then instructed to the students to read half of the epilogue, on their own (silent reading), and to be looking for clues or details on what might happen next. I informed the students that after they finished reading the assigned pages that we would talk about what just happened, and what is going to happen next. When everyone was done reading the first half of the epilogue, almost all of the students were able to make fairly accurate predictions about how the book was going to end. I was able to feel out the different levels of comprehension from the students as each on shared what they thought was about to happen. Before we finished the book, I told the students to be looking for how the story ended for each character. Did all of the wishes get reversed? Do you think everyone will be satisfied with how the book ends? Then the last few pages of the book we read together in a circle; the students already had reading circles that they used a few times a week. All of the students in the group had a chance to share a few facts about what they remembered happened to a specific character in the book. I was able to get an informal assessment on how well the students comprehended what happened in the book, and also by the students sharing with what they thought about the whole idea of wishing. Our discussion then led into how they felt of the saying 'be careful what you wish for.' I asked the group if they ever met a gentlemen selling wishes at a fair would they buy one, and if so what would they wish? At the end of our group discussions, we asked the students to get out a piece of paper and to do the following: You meet Thadius (the Wish Giver) on a bus, and he leans over and whispers in your ear 'I can give you whatever you want for only 50 cents.' Write how your conversion would go from there. Would you take the wish, and what would it be? If you wouldn't take the wish, how would you get Thadius to leave you alone? Would you move seats, get off the bus, ask for help? The students had a lot of fun with this part of the lesson because they were able to write a short narrative about what they would say to the wish giver. In my own future classroom, I would probably do a longer lesson that consisted of a few activites to assess whether the students understood the chain of events, comprehended the material well, and understood the underlying meaning of the story. A possible assessment could be to give to give a group the written assignment to answer specific questions about the story's plot, characters, chain of events, themes, climax, and other literature concepts. Another thing that I would do differently in my future classroom would be to better choose the groups I put the students into. Because Chantel and I hadn't observed the children in too many group activities, except for their group reading circles, we were unaware of how some children may interact. In a classroom where I know my students well, and I am able to tell who works well with whom, who really helps the children that need the most peer help, which students distract certain others, and which students don't get along. Overall, the guided reading lesson went really well, and the students seemed to have a great understanding of the book The Wish Giver.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Upper Elementary Reading Lesson Plans, Activities, and Ideas for My Future Classroom

I was having a hard time deciding what to write about for my next journal. So, I thought that I would search the web to try and find some great lesson plans, activities, and ideas for reading in the upper elementary level classrooms. I'm pretty sure that that is the grade level area that I would like to teach in, and I also want to have a large archive of different helpful resources by the time I graduate. This blog in particular has been a lot of help because I am able to put links into my blogs with descriptions, and so I am easily able to navigate through the sites I have already found. Below is a long list of lesson plans and activities by subject that involve literature:

The Reading Nook - This website has a list of mathematics related literature sorted by concept: fractions, addition/subtraction, multiplication/division, measurement, time, pattern, etc.

ERIC Digests - Literature-Based Mathematics in Elementary School. This article discusses the benefits of a mathemaical literature collection, ways to use mathematics literature in your lessons, the importance of the context, and resources.

Teaching and Learning Elementary Mathematics: Richmond University - This site includes many links for resources in teaching mathematics.

Dr. Seuss - A list of links to lesson plans that involve works by Dr. Seuss.

Literature/Reading Activities and Lesson Plans - This website includes a variety of links to lesson plans based on specific books.

Harper Collins - Reading Groups guides on Harper Collins books.

Scholastic - Lesson plans, activities, games, reading groups, etc. for all the book published through Scholastic.

Terrific Science: Literature-Based Science - According to the site, 'With funding from the Ohio Board of Regents, we developed a professional development program for teachers that promoted the use of children’s literature as a springboard for teaching elementary and middle-school physical science.'

Homeschool Science: Teaching Elementary Science with Great Literature - This website discusses why to use literature to study science, if you don't have a strong background in science, and what books to use and where to find them.

How Do Apples Grow? - An integrated Science, Literature, and Art Sequencing Activity

Social Studies:

Children's Literature with Social Studies Themes - This website has links according to themes and grades.

Opening Doors to Social Studies with Children's Literature - The website was created by students at Utah State University in the Spring of 1997. It has links according to themes, titles, grade level, and author.

Wednesday, Nov. 5 at Glan Alpine

On my second visit to Glen Alpine I think my teacher was a little bit more relaxed. She didn't seem quite as angry and didn't seem to speak with so much attitude in her voice. The students worked on the first paragraph to their stories today. The writing prompt is you're a leaf! The students are supposed to describe their journey as a leaf. Each day the students work on their stories a little bit. I really like the prompt idea as well as the writing schedule the students were on. The first day they brainstormed ideas, the next day they write their first paragraph, then over the next few days they write their body, and then finally their conclusion. For the most part, the students didn't seem to have a problem getting motivated or finding something to write about. One thing that I noted about the day was that the teacher made a good use of her time in the classroom. The students transitions were pretty smooth and quick, something I definitely hope to accomplish. The teacher met in the back of the classroom with students one-on-one while the other students did individual or group work. Another thing that I notcied and also want to incorporate into my classroom is the fact that the students were always doing something constructive. An idea that I thought sounded like fun is that the students are picking poems or stories to memorize and perform as a speech. I helped type up some of the poems and stories that the students had chosen. I definitely want to use this idea or something similar to it in my classroom. The poems and stories usually tended to be funny and were very entertaining. I really hope that I am there on the day of the performances because I can't wait to see the personal touches the students put on their speeches.

There is one activity in the fifth grade class that I would change somewhat. Every day the students either read their guided reading novel independently or in groups. After they read, they answer more questions on the story in their worksheet packet. I just feel like there isn't very much creativity in this guided reading lesson. The students read and answer the questions. There is no creative art project or further research project or anything creative that could add a little interest into the story. The worksheets in the packet definitely provide a hard copy for important parts in the story and help children remember and understand certain details. I just think that there should be something else; something that allows the students to make it relevant to themselves and their interests. I think that if I were to use this type of lesson in my future classrooms I would be sure to take it a step further and add in some creative activities besides the informative worksheets.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

First Day at Glen Alpine

I am at the school Glen Alpine in Burke county, and Chantell and I are in a fifth grade classroom. Both of us are a little unsure about out teacher. The whole first day we didn't really do anything, and we both kind of felt more like a burden than wanted. The teacher told us at the end of the day that next time we would do something, and we arranged all the dates and details for the lessons Chantell and I will be teaching. Our teacher seemed to have a bit of an attitude that she may not have realized was so strong. One of the first things we saw when we got into the classroom was the teacher as a male student a question about the part of the story the students had just read. The boy could answer the first half of the question, but not the second half. Basically, she called him out and made him look stupid in front of the rest of the class. When he told her he couldn't remember she could easily have said something along the lines of next time try paying closer attention to the important details when you read because this is important to the novel. Instead, the teacher rolled her eyes and said something along the lines of didn't you just read? Didn't you remember anything? God try really reading next time, and the went on to ask another student. The student had volunteered to answer the question, and you could tell that he was hurt by her reaction. I'm glad I really got to see this type of situation because I never, ever want to react that way to a student no matter what else has happened that day. I just don't think there is an excuse. The other thing Chantell and I both agreed on was the teacher's interactions with a new girl. Our first day in the class was also a little girls first day in the class as well. On a more positive note, I'm still excited about working with the students and being in the school all day. The teacher could have been having a very stressful day and our later visits may prove much more fruitful and exciting.