Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Behavioral Management Techniques:
1. Head, Shoulders, Nose, etcà say and touch that body part and have students copy
2. Picking up pieces of rubbishà students have to pick up a certain number of pieces of rubbish and put in bin before they can go outside for lunch
3. Get little spot rugs or shape rugs and put them on the floor and these can become designated spots for certain studentsà can move them closer to front or farther away from other students (use as you see fit)
Teaching Tactics to Make Learning Fun:
1. Get a shape outline (i.e. star, airplane, Christmas tree) and give students a list of words to write following the outline…. It is a great way to get them practicing writing the words without feeling like they are doing work.
2. Dice Gameà way to test speed knowledge for sumsà take two large die and place them togetherà Students have to add up the two numbers and write the answerà only leave the die up for 3 seconds
3. Shape Knowledgeà write the name of the shape and students have to write the number of sides
4. M100W (Magic 100 Words)à use old Chinese boxes to hold the words
Saturday, October 30, 2010
It’s a good thing that Fridays only come once a week because they are exhausting! Friday in my CT’s class means an early lunch, swimming and, if the kids are good, Fun Friday Free Time! Fortunately for me, I have experienced a Friday before so I sort of knew what to expect when I went to school today. Rather than give the play by play of my day as I tend to like to do, today I have decided just to focus on my small group lesson: Guided Reading using the story Desert Journals.
Today was the first time that I officially was given a group to work with =D I did guided reading with the Brown reading group during Literacy. My CT switched up the groups last minute and in doing so switch up the book that I would be covering as well. Luckily for me, the book that she decided to have the Brown group read was one that she had used with the Navy Blue group earlier in the week and I observed for part of the time while they were reading. Thus, I had an idea about what sort of questions to ask the students while we were reading.
The Brown group consisted of five boys and one girl; one of the boys is notorious for not paying attention and distracting others. I had them all sit in a circle and I sat next to the boy who gets very distracted so I could keep an eye on him. Overall, I think the group did extremely well, especially since the book was at a higher reading level than they are used to. When we were “getting our knowledge ready” the students were able to correctly identify what they thought the book Desert Journals was going to be about. I was very impressed when one boy said he thought that it might be about coastal deserts; upon further inquiry I found out that he had heard the term on a TV show once. This illustrated to me that these students were able to make connections between what they were learning in school and everyday life. As per the usual progression that the students do when they do guided reading, we went on to the glossary. I wanted to have the students take turns reading the words in the glossary and the definitions but I had to alter my plans when it became very obvious that I was starting to lose them to other distractions in the room. So after reading a few of the words that I thought would be the most beneficial to go over, we started reading.
Leading the guided reading group was much different than observing it and although overall I think it went well, there are definitely things that I would change if I were to lead this group (or any group) again. Beforehand, though, I want to make a quick side observation. As I said before, earlier this week I had the opportunity to observe my CT as she led a group of students through this book during guided reading—an experience that I think was very beneficial for me on multiple levels. Not only did this give me an opportunity to see what types of questions my CT was asking the students it also gave me an opportunity to see her guided reading teaching style. I found that at the beginning of my guided reading session, I was trying to mimic what I had seen my CT do but by the end I realized that what worked for was not necessarily working as well for me. This was a good lesson for me—it can useful to use tricks and techniques that I learn from others but that does not mean that I need to put aside all of my own tricks and techniques, they can work well as well!
Keeping this in mind, I will bring my focus back to the Guided Reading. The first thing that I would change in the future would be the way that I go about reading the glossary terms. I would probably go through all of the terms ahead of time and pick out the most important ones and have the students read those and then I would read the remaining terms. I would also try to find a way to keep the students engaged while the other students are reading definitions—perhaps by writing the words and then a very short (1-2 word definition) on the board and at the end I would have the students draw lines between the words and their definitions…just a thought!
I decided to employ a technique that I learned either in a methods course or in one of my pracs in my group. I had them “popcorn” read—after one student finished reading a page, he/she would say “popcorn” and then another students name. The kids really liked this approach and I think it worked very well with these particular kids. In the future, however, I might need to use this technique with caution because I could see how this type of reading could expose a lot about the social groups in the classroom. I told the students that they had to “popcorn” someone who hadn’t already read but even this can be hurtful if the students are sensitive, especially if they are last in the group to be called on to read. So although I really like this method, it is one that needs to be used with caution.
I still need to work on the appropriate times to ask questions and to determine how much time a student should allowed to keep talking once he/she gets off topic. I try to ask a lot questions while reading to make sure the students are following along but sometimes I am afraid that this breaks the flow of the story and might actually make their comprehension weaker… In the future, I guess maybe I would go through and read the book and come up one or two questions for each page but then decide, depending on the group, when to ask them. With regards to letting students keep talking- I had a student who was talking about ice deserts but then he gradually got to talking about mountains and ice and then winter and the time he saw snow and I was not sure how to interrupt him politely to get him to stop talking so we could get back on track. I think I need to work more on my teacher voice so that when I do interrupt I sound confident and in control, and then I will politely ask him/her to finish up so we can get back on topic and thank him/her for sharing. I guess this is probably something that comes with more experience…. I hope!
Other than these few things, I was quite please with my first small group lesson. The kids were great and they were interested in what we were reading! I came up with one strategy that seemed to work really well to keep them from looking around the classroom. I told them that sometimes when I have trouble paying attention to the story, I put my finger on the words and follow along as the reader is reading out loud. As soon as I said this, all but one of the students put their finger on the page and followed along! I don’t know if it would have worked for the whole time, but it definitely did the trick for a while!
Okay, well that went on for longer than I thought! I’ll try to be less wordy in the next post but I hope that gives you a little insight on what teaching a guided reading group in Australia is like!
Until next time,
Woah—What a day! Today was absolutely hectic—the kids were just so full of energy and they just wouldn’t settle down!
I should have known it was going to be a calm day from the moment I woke up (an hour after my alarm went off the first time). I don’t think I have ever gotten ready so quickly and somehow I managed to walk out of IH and get right onto the tram. My luck stopped there; however, because I had to wait about 15min for the bus and then I ended up getting off at the wrong stop and so I had to wait another 10min until the next bus came! Somehow, I still managed to make it to school at the time that Linda told me to get there, so it all worked out!
As expected, the classroom had been rearranged and looked a lot different than when I left on Monday. It was fun to be in the room now with the kids in it—it was definitely a lot quieter when it was just us teachers setting it up!
We started off the day with a whole P/1/2 meeting in Dane’s room before breaking off into our reading groups. Linda has been working with the higher end reading groups and Dane has been working with the lower end and starting next Wednesday, after the Cup Day break, they are going to switch. To get ready for the switch, Linda had the students finishing up any lingering work from the past few lessons so that when Dane gets the students they can start with something new.
There were four reading groups all doing different things- I stayed with the Linda and the Guided Reading group most of the lesson but I did manage to wander a bit to see what the other students were doing. Starting tomorrow I am going to be taking a guiding reading group so I wanted to make sure that I understood how they are run in Linda’s classroom.
§ Start with accessing the knowledge—what do they know about lions and tigers
§ Then come up with a question that they hope to learn the answer to from the book
§ Take turns- each student read a page—some students were harder to read than others
§ One student had trouble with a word so he skipped it—my CT told him that he could either read the rest of the sentence and then try to guess what the word was or he could sound it out but that he needed to get out of his bad habit of just skipping words he didn’t know
§ I really liked this book because at the bottom of each page was a question that was answered in the reading on that page and then the answer to the question was written again (in a condensed form) on the bottom of the next pageà the students really liked this too!
It was really interesting listening to the way Linda spoke to the students- again I was very surprised at how adult-like she treats them. They would make comments about lions or tigers and she was not afraid to tell them they were wrong or correct their misconceptions. I feel like I have seen teachers let students get away with some of their misconceptions at this age
I find the reading groups very interesting and much different than my experience with reading groups at home. From my experience with my practicum at home, the teacher usually spends about 15min with each reading group or sees multiple reading groups in a session and usually starts the literacy period with a group lesson. From what I have seen thus far, my CT just tells each group what they are responsible for and then sends them off to separate areas of the classroom. Then, she spends the rest of the period working with one Guided Reading group and lets the other students work on their own. I know I have only been in the classroom for 3 days but I have not once seen her get up and go check on other groups during this time—she may ask students to be quiet or get back on task but she does not physically move and check on them—all of her attention is devoted to the Guided Reading group she is working with. The only time that the group comes together is at the end, after about 40min of working, and this is when the students present what they have been working on at each station.
I have been very impressed with the students’ presentation skills—they all seem very comfortable speaking in front of a group of their peers and they have definitely been taught some basic rules about public speaking. For example, when the students from the guided reading group are telling the fact they chose to share almost all of them say, “The fact that I found the most interesting was…”—although this seems like the logical thing for students to say, at this age I would still expect more students to use fragmented sentences or just state the fact without giving the audience more information about what he/she is telling them. This also demonstrates that there must be a lot of scaffolding going on in the classroom. As it is the end of the year, a lot of what is being covered right now is review, but I imagine earlier in the year the students spent a lot of time on presentation skills.
One of the other reading groups, not doing guided reading, was working on writing down some information they learned about koalas from the book they had read during guided reading the previous day. When I asked a student what he was supposed to be doing he told me, “I’m making a graphic organizer and putting in facts about the koalas”. I think the students were given the freedom to choose how they wanted to organize their facts but I am guessing that they may have been given an example using an explosion chart (we call it a web diagram) because that is what all of them used to organize their facts. When these students were presenting their charts my CT asked them to say one of their facts. One of the boys turned to my CT and said, “we are supposed to paraphrase our answers, aren’t we”. To be honest, I was quite shocked. I do not know if my recollection of first/second graders is worse than I thought or what but I don’t think that many first graders in the US would be able to explain what paraphrasing is. If anyone actually reads this blog and is doing a prac in a 1st grade, could you ask your students what paraphrases is and see if any of them know? Thanks!
Believe it or not, my whole educational experience thus far in Melbourne makes a lot more sense now that I have spent some time in the P/1/2. Uni here in Melbourne has much more of an independent learning focus; in fact, lectures are not mandatory (most are recorded so you can listen to them online) and the majority of your grade rests on one exam or assessment at the end of the year. Had I not had the opportunity to attend Uni here, I think I would have been much more surprised at how much independence students are given in their learning. It is apparent that the Australian education system values independent learning and starts teaching students from a young age to facilitate their own learning and be responsible for making sure they get their work done.
Not to get all sentimental and all but it is for situations like the literacy groupings that I wanted to student teach abroad! It absolute fascinates me to see how differently education systems can operate even though all have the same goal: to prepare their students to be successful in their future endeavors. I also love (and at times get very frustrated with) situations like this because they make me call into question everything I know. It I was not exposed to how my CT in Australia runs her literacy groups, I might never have called into question the way that I have seen them run or may not have even been aware of how literacy groups that I have worked with in the past have been run. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to stereotype and say that the one or two pracs that I have are representative of all teachers in the US or that my one CT here in Australia is representative of how all Australian teachers operate but still the differences are vast and I think it is invaluable to be able to experience the differences.
I have so much more I could write about—I could probably go on for a few pages about maths but it is late and I have written heaps already and I have to get up for school again tomorrow…. So I’ll leave it at this for this post! I’ll post some more about what I’ve seen in maths and spelling and the integrated curriculum time soon!
Today was a great second day at Northcote Primary…it probably wasn’t the most conventional second day of observation but I believe that I was given a unique and invaluable experience nonetheless! Today was moving day and the P/1/2 was moving back into their newly renovated classroom… the students spent the day up where the Year 5/6 kids normally are and my CT, the other team teacher (Dane), the other student intern (Kellie) and myself spent the day moving and organizing the new classroom. When I say moving, I mean we moved everything into the classroom—all of the furniture that was already in there was all moveable so we essentially started from scratch when designed the room (except for a few cupboards that were already attached to the walls)! Now, I don’t know about you but I know that in some of my methods courses we spent some time thinking about and discussing the layout of our future classrooms. Let me tell you, it is one thing to think about how you want to design your room plan and it is another to actually set up a classroom, especially under a time crunch!
When we were first looking at the empty room, I thought about where the tables could go so that all of the children could see the board and have some space. I thought about the way the tables could be located so that there were little work areas on the floor. I thought about the cubby locations and the seating chart…. To be honest though, I didn’t think too much about where to put all the supplies or what supplies should be accessible to the students…
It was also much more hectic than I had imagined because not only did we have to find new places for all the stuff we moved from the old spots, we had to try to make sure that everything was somewhat organized so that the teachers could find all the materials they would need in subsequent days.
My CT is very organized, I reckon she ahs been teaching for over 20 years and it was very easy for her to pick up her half of the room and transfer it over to her new-old room. She had a general idea of what she wanted everything to look like before we started moving and so all of the big things in her classroom were probably done within an hour.
Dane, the P/1 teacher, on the other hand is a first year teacher who is not very organized, to say the least. He was flustered from the start and wasn’t afraid to admit that he was overwhelmed and felt like he had 15 things going at once (probably because he did). He really had no rhyme or reason behind moving his stuff from one room to another, it was more of a “let’s just get it to the new room and then we will sort it out” type of move. In the process, we spent a lot of time throwing things away, looking at all the contents of the bins he had acquired over the year and reorganizing all of his things.
o Dane had at least 3 people helping him throughout the day and it still took about 4 hours to get his room to the same spot that Linda’s was (and it only took her 1 hour). It was a nice real life example of how much it pays off to be organized.
I have to admit though, I did really enjoy helping Dane out because it felt more like what I feel like I will be doing when I am setting up or restructuring my first classroom. In the process of reorganizing, I was able get a look at some of the games and activities that these students do and it was fun to see how different they look (yet covering similar material) to things we do in the states. It was also fun helping Dane organize his classroom because he was much more open to letting us help him design the layout, whereas Linda (my CT) knew how she wanted her classroom to look. It was very interesting to see how different all of our perspectives were, each of us helping Dane was looking at the same space but in totally different ways. This also helped me realize that even though the physical space was similar in both Dane’s half and Linda’s half of the classroom, the way that they use their space is much different and that speaks to their individual teaching styles!
Today was my first day in Linda and Danes’ P/1/2 class at Northcote Primary School. My blog for today is going to be in a more informal form as there was so much to write about that I just wrote it all in bullet form… Here are some of the notes I took throughout the day… Enjoy!
§ P/1/2 all meet together on the circle in the morning, after play lunch and after lunch where they go over the schedule for the day
§ P/1 go to Dane’s side of the room and 2’s go to Linda’s
§ Once finished their work they must ask for permission before they are allowed to get their play lunch. They sit in circle and eat and then are dismissed to go out to recess (must have hat on if it’s nice out)
Behavior Management Techniques
§ Heads, shoulders, knees, hands in lapà teacher says and touches the part of her body she says and teacher copiesà gets their attention
§ Call teachers by their first names
§ The other student interns name is Kellie as well (different spellings though)
Reading Groups for Literacy
§ Broke up into reading groups—mix of P/1/2—depending on where they tested in- that is what determines reading group
§ Accessing the Knowledge before readingà Guided Reading Routine
o Not allowed to open their books until told to do so
o First- looked at cover and predicted what book would be about
o Then- discuss what type of things would be written about and what types of words they might see in the book
o Next look at table of contents and discuss whether or not they thought their predictions about what the story were going to be right or not
o Go to glossary and go over terms- each student reads a word and its definition
o Then read the story
§ Groups identified by colors and each group had its own station
o Orange- guided reading with Linda
§ Reading “Desert Journal”
§ Learned about different types of deserts—lowest reading group but was level 28 on their reading scale
§ Book had small print and some of the vocabulary terms included: arid, extinction, marsupial, down (referring to insulation type of down)
o Purple- Nessy—computer program with activities related to language arts
§ Some doing identifying syllables
§ Some doing spelling
§ Students worked alone or paired up at computers (really no supervision)
§ Worked on task for the majority of the time
§ Knew how to navigate to the games they needed to play
o Brown- independent reading
§ When finished their task was to make an alternate cover for the story they read
§ Got to pick book themselves—were very quiet and engaged in their activity
o Navy Blue- finishing poster on Pool Rules—writing rules and coloring
§ Wrote rules such as no diving, no running, no fighting, no swimming in spa, no going on the water fountain caterpillar…
§ Most drew this water fountain caterpillar that is at the pool where they go swimming
§ Some drew pictures of jelly fish, sharks, islands—not necessarily pool related
§ Allowed to talk while working as long as they used their inside/whisper voices
§ Brought together after about 30min and had sharing time
o Students from guided reading each shared an interesting fact that they read
o Students from pool rules showed their drawings and read their rules
o Students from independent reading showed their alternate covers
Integrated Curriculumà Toys In Motionà Physics:
§ Moving from library back into renovated room and so they did a writing activity related to the science/physics they did the previous day
§ As a class when over the following questions
o What is a force
o What is gravity
o What is friction
o Which toy worked best on the table
o What did the bubbly wrap do to the car?
o What force was being used?
o What is torque
o What forces act on a yo-yo
§ Then students were told to go back to their seats and using their best handwriting, paraphrase/respond to the questions—they could refer to the board if needed
§ Organized bookshelves- each pair got a letter or a few letters and ahd to make sure all the books in that spot had an author with that letter—if not, returned
o Very independently done and came up with a loud but good system of teamwork
§ I was very impressed with this class—for as young as they were they were very well behaved and smart!
§ Teacher gives them a lot of independence but they do well with that
§ Talked to like they were adults—teacher told them that sometimes they can think things but shouldn’t say them out loud
o Gave example of wanting to boil her son in hot oil—says she thinks that when he is bad but never says it
§ Let students share their stories that weren’t necessarily related and honored them but quickly got back on topic
§ A lot of respect and a definite understanding of classroom rules and expectations
§ Students got along well and it was fun to watch the older children interact with the younger children- especially at recess
§ I couldn’t believe the level of physics they were discussing and how good of an understanding these students had of these terms! They were discussing torque and gravity and friction!
§ I was also very impressed with their writing abilities—they were good spellers and writers for 2nd graders
§ Compared to US—not many students asked for help and students did not seem to be as distracted
§ Teachers really treat students much more like adults, even at this young age
§ Great accents
§ Fun to see the different types of books and fads at school compared to US
o Stories about kangaroos, wombats and emus
o AFL and cricket
Say that there are two girls who are just finishing their year in a 2/3/4 class—if they were a part of the composite system they both would just be finishing Year 3: Sarah and Emily. Sarah is the youngest of four siblings, this was her first year in the 2/3/4 class but she has been in the same physical classroom for the past two years. Emily is a middle child and although this is only her second year in the 2/3/4 class she does not get along very well with a lot of the girls (they say she is bossy). At the end of the year when the teachers get together to create their classes for the upcoming year, they take both Sarah and Emily’s personal situations into account. The teachers might decide that Sarah should remain in the 2/3/4 classroom because as the youngest child, it will good for her to see what it is like to be the oldest in a classroom. At the same time, they might decide to change the physical classroom that the 2/3/4 class will be in so that Sarah does not have to be in the same physical room for three years in a row. Emily, on the other hand, might be placed in the 3/4/5/6 classroom so that she has the opportunity to be around a different group of students. They might reason that she might be able to model the behavior of some of the older children while also having the opportunity to model behavior for the younger students, which perhaps will help her to learn to be less bossy.
As you can see, the focus in these decisions is based much less on academic abilities and much more on what the teachers feel is better for the students socio-emotional development.
Immediately after learning about the different classroom types during one of our sessions with our program coordinator, I asked if I could be placed in either a composite or multi-age classroom. A few days later, my program coordinator told me that I would be teaching in a composite 1/2 classroom at Northcote Primary School. When I walked into my classroom on the first day of class I found out that I was in an even more unique situation that I thought. Technically the classroom that I am student teaching in is a composite 1/2 classroom but it is also sort of a multi-aged Prep/1/2 classroom as well. You see, my CT is a mentor for the P/1 teacher and since the beginning of the year they have found ways for both of the classes to work together. Now that the classes have moved into their newly renovated classroom, they even share one large room—so I am really getting experience in both a composite and multi-aged classroom!
Let me give you a little bit of background on Northcote Primary School. Northcote is a suburb of Melbourne, it takes me about 30 min (1 tram and 1 bus and some walking) to get to the school from where I live. The school is nestled in the middle of a neighborhood right near the center of town. The school has been in existence for over 100 years but many of the buildings have recently, or are currently being, renovated. There is a lot of open space around the buildings, which has been converted into a few gardens, an Astroturf field, two playgrounds, blacktop, and some grass. The socio-economic make-up of the school is primarily middle to upper class. Unlike many schools in Australia, this public school does not have a mandatory uniform but it does have a dress code. The school day runs from 9- 3:30 with a play lunch break (about 25min) and a lunch break (about 30min).
As I have said before, I am student teaching in the P/1/2 class that is taught by Linda and Dane. There are 47 students in the classroom; 24 in the 1/2 class and 23 in the P/1—the age range is 6-8 years old.
I think that is enough for now! Hopefully this background information helped to give you a better picture of how Australian schools are structured! I’ll continue to give you more information about my school and my class as the days go on!