I taught a full lesson today, my first one in P5W at St. Andrew's. The students had been learning about trench warfare in WWI and reading a book called Private Peaceful. For my lesson, we looked through a powerpoint that had pictures of life in the trenches, and discussed ways that they could describe the photos. The students had previously done some learning on this topic, so they had a lot of facts to share and many had questions about the historical aspects of it as well! I initially hadn't planned on going through the full slideshow, because it was long and some of the pictures could be described in mostly the same way. However, the entire class was really engaged, and so I decided to keep going. After the presentation, I read aloud a short section from the book they have been reading in class. I asked the students to either follow along or to close their eyes and listen; the point of this exercise was to get them to visualize life in the trenches as well as think about all the ways they could describe the trenches with each of their senses. When the reading was over, they wrote letters to their families as if they were a soldier in WWI; they made a rough draft in their writing copies and then a final draft on homemade parchment-style paper. They loved using the paper because it looked old and many of them crumpled it and torn off bits to make it seem authentic!
Overall, the lesson went very well, which was great considering the somewhat mature topic that we were discussing. Several students seemed to have extensive knowledge of WWI; they referenced developments in warfare technology and talked about strategies. They knew that the letters that soldiers wrote home were censored, and so many asked questions about what information they could and could not put in their letters. I loved experiencing their curiosity about the subject, and I also enjoyed seeing how some of them must read about this history on their own!
In comparison to other lessons I've taught during my P1, I felt much more relaxed during this one. I don't know if that is because the students are younger or because I had background knowledge of the topic, but I felt very comfortable in front of the class without preparing as meticulously as I had during my P1 lessons. I also wasn't as concerned about time management, because we had about an hour and 15 minutes for the lesson, which was a perfect amount of time. I thought that there was a good balance between when I was talking and when the class was directly engaged in conversation with me, as well as independent/quiet work. However, there were a few things that I would do differently if I could do this again. In regards to time management, I wish I had stopped them about 5 minutes early so that a couple of the students could share a sentence or two from their writing. They were all so creative and descriptive that it would have been nice for them to show off a bit to their classmates. Secondly, I should have given them more explicit requirements for their letter. They all completed the assignment correctly, but some students had a few questions about what exactly to write. Next time, I would have a couple guidelines to make it more clear, and which would also enhance the descriptions they were coming up with. For example, they could have to write one sentence each about what they saw, smelled, heard, and felt, in addition to anything else they might want to include.
I really liked teaching this lesson because it incorporated a lot of what we had been focusing on in previous classes, and because it integrated history and language arts lessons. My CT does a really good job of making sure that her lessons cover several areas of instruction, which I think is important because the students make better connections to different subjects over time!