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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 3- Talkative Thursday [Observation Day 4]

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!



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