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Monday, March 14, 2011

Lessons and Classroom Management

I observed a science lesson this week in my classroom. This was very different from any I have seen in previous placements because of the nature of my classroom. First, my school does not have a separate science classroom or science teacher. Second, since my class is four and five year olds, the lesson had to be very teacher centered for classroom management purposes. Still, I was very impressed with her ability to conduct an experiment and involve the children in self-discovery.

First, my teacher called the students to a circle on the floor. She filled a baby bathtub (which she had to provide herself) with water. She explained to the children what an experiment was. This prompted a lot of chatter and excitement. However, my teacher handled this really well. She sat and waited for a few seconds, looked at her watch, and waited patiently. Once the students realized she was not continuing, she had their full attention. The experiment itself was pretty simple because they are so young. My CT used a few different materials and asked which absorbed the water. The students then talked about absorption and what it meant to absorb. They tested each one in the pool. They recapped which absorbed the water and which did not.

I did not see the follow up to this lesson, but I did see my CT's tentative lesson plan (she had very informal lesson plans, another difference from my previous placements). The students were going to discuss which properties absorbed water and which did not. Students were then going to offer up some ideas for other things that might absorb water. Some of the more reasonable suggestions would be tested.

I think the structure of this lesson was a very good idea, and also similar to what I have seen before and what I have learned in my natural science methods classes. The teacher presented the scientific concepts, demonstrated with an experiment, then let the students think critically to come up with further ideas. Although the students probably would have had a hard time doing the experiment themselves, they got a chance to experiment and see the process for themselves.

Another thing I noticed this week is that my teacher builds in a movement break in the middle of every day. The senior infants get 2 yard breaks a day (basically recesses), but my CT says she has found they still get antsy. Sometimes their movement breaks are pretty simple, such as hand motions with a song. This week, it was more elaborate and the kids got up and danced around the classroom along with a song (you can see this in the picture). She lets them get loud and excited for these few minutes, then when they return to their seats they focus well. This is something we have discussed in quality conversations and methods courses, but I have never seen it executed in a classroom. I think this is because the teachers I have observed in MA seem very pressed for time. This could possibly stem from more strict state standards. After observing it, I think it actually helped my CT with time management because the lesson to follow ran smoothly with few interruptions. I think I would definitely consider incorporating this into my daily routine in my classroom.

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