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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lesson Planning

Lessons in my classroom are less formal than in other schools I have been in. My CT flows seamlessly between subjects and does not spend too long on each, which holds the attention of the class. The students switch classes for their reading groups, but they all know the expectations. When she says it is time for reading, they put away whatever they are doing, go get their folders and move to their spots. Reading is all done in group works. There is a reading specialist that works with the lowest group, my CT works with the next group, and I work with the top group. Even reading time switches quickly to hold the attention of the students since they are so young. They alternate reading pages, talk briefly about the book, do a quick writing assignment, then do workbook pages. All of this is done in an hour. This is different from every other classroom I have been in, where the teachers teach a lesson (such as modeling a reading strategy) where the students just listen, then the students do an activity based on it. Math is also very interactive. There is a support specialist who comes in. She does activities where the students count out loud, add based on pictures, or sing a song. Then, they break up into groups where the activities continue. For spelling, they sing songs and spell out loud. The lessons are never teacher-centered.

This picture is an example of my teacher's style. This lesson was to develop sound manipulation skills. The students heard a word and had to change the letter. For example, this word says "set" then the computer might say "wet" or "sat" and the students replaced the letter. My CT only spent a second or two going over the lesson. Then, she let the students do it themselves. When they were stuck or made a mistake, she would stop and reiterate the concept. I think this is particularly important because the students are so young. If she spent longer than a few
minutes talking at them, they would have a really hard time listening.

I also had the opportunity to meet with the principal this week for a project for a class. One of the questions for my project involved feedback and evaluation of teacher's teaching strategies. He said they are measured three ways: general school performance, grade level team performance, and individually. Individually, they are reviewed by peers and the support teams. I asked a specific question about standardized testing because this is a particularly important issue in the U.S. Teachers at Scoil Bhride are not judged based on their student's performance. When evaluated, review teams take into account who the students are, how the students performed in other classes, and teacher performance. I think this is extremely important to the atmosphere in the classroom. They are not teaching toward a test, so they make sure their class is interesting and every student is learning to their best ability. This is definitely a distinction in teaching style between Scoil Bhride and the schools I have been in for previous placements.

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