Archive for the ‘Student Teaching reflections’ Category

Student Teaching Week 11 & 12 [4/19-4/28]

MONDAY – 6th grade classes finished their presentations on ecoscenarios. I was observed for the last time during the 7th grade classes. I did a lesson on digestion and absorption of nutrients using the List-Group-Label (LGL) literacy strategy and differentiated levels of reading on the topic. The class went relatively well – the class was a bit rambunctious and I still haven’t found my classroom management groove with this age group, but they got the reading and activity done, so I can’t complain!

TUESDAY – A tear out my hair and never come back to school day. Haha, it wasn’t that bad, but the kids definitely pushed me to the edge. Even the regularly well behaved students were incredibly rude and there was absolutely no decorum. I don’t even think it had anything to do with my cooperating teacher being out today. There wasn’t much I could do except be consistent with inappropriate behavior and not condone any of these new behaviors.

WEDNESDAY – 7th graders finished their digestive system monologues and we combined them all into a fabulous bulletin board outside of the classroom. The kids were all excited to see their work on display!

THURSDAY & FRIDAY My cooperating teacher was out again, so I was on my own again. After Tuesday’s experience I was sort of dreading it, but I was up front with the kids and instated a new policy: if I have to speak to you more than one, you get a check next to your name and will be reported to the cooperating teacher. I hate having to threaten them, but since she is their ultimate science classroom authority, it worked! The 6th graders watched the National Geographic Video “Hawaii: Strangers In Paradise”. It is a fantastic documentary on the organisms of Hawaii and led to natural conversations about adaptations and advantages within a population!

On Friday, the 7th graders completed endocrinology based patient simulations and had to use their notes on the endocrine system, as well as an article on endocrine disorders common in children, to diagnose their “patient”. They all took the task seriously and worked diligently in teams to come to a diagnosis!

MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY – State Language Arts testing began, so the classes were all whacky. Plus, I developed some sort of upper respiratory infection and lost my voice! 6th grade continued talking about adaptations by completing the FOSS Ecosystems and Populations Walkingsticks Simulations. They enjoyed working together on the computers and did a great job graphing their results! 7th grade moved onto the nervous system and has been working hard to understand the significance and delicacy of this body system!

Wednesday was my last day of student teaching and I’ve got to admit that I was sad to say goodbye! I have plenty of frustrations with the middle school age group (who doesn’t), but I feel so fortunate to have had such a positive experience – the kids, faculty, and administration welcomed me to their school and embraced me. One girl even begged me not to move to Nevada so I could get a job at the school next year; I am so thankful to be ending the experience on such a good note!

I’ll miss the view from my classroom!

The end of student teaching means the end of this series of posts, but just get ready – in the fall I’ll start a series of my first year teaching!


Student Teaching Week 10 [4/12-4/15]

Last week flew by so fast I forgot to write about it!

MONDAY – 7th grade classes did the lung capacity activity where they blew up a balloon in one breath and then calculated the volume of the balloon in order to determine their lung capacity. The first period, we split kids up and half the class worked with balloons while the other half used microviewers; the groups switched halfway through class. While it was a good idea to work with smaller groups of kids, chaos ensued. The second period, we just did the balloon activity and allowed students who finished sooner to work with the microviewers. I almost lost my cool with some students who would not focus, but I forced myself to be patient until the end of the period.

6th graders did some data analysis of an ecosystem with several populations as well as biotic and abiotic limiting factors. I love watching the kids sift through charts and be able to make meaningful conclusions. This was the third data analysis exercise in a row, so we were tempted to scrap it, but I’m glad we didn’t because it is a tremendous moment when the kids have gained enough skill from the first two attempts to successfully analyze complicated data!

TUESDAY – 7th graders had a quiz and watched the Magic School Bus episode on Digestion. The kids enjoyed watching and we did to! My favorite line from the episode: “In my old school we weren’t allowed to be digested.”

The 6th grade classes began research for their Ecoscenario projects. Each table was assigned an ecoscenario from the book; these included National Parks and preserved areas around the United States. Part of the assignment was to infer enough information from the articles given to create a food web. It’s amazing to me that they expect all the answers to be given. I had to explain countless times that the info should be inferred and not copied. It worked out well to assign the ecoscenarios as opposed to give students a choice since a brawl over Yellowstone National Park almost broke out!

WEDNESDAY – 7th grade officially began the Digestive System unit by discussing mechanical and chemical breakdown. 6th grade continued to work on their projects.

I covered two periods of the 12-1 class (a classroom for remedial students to have more one on one time with a teacher). It was a great experience and I loved the relaxed atmosphere. Each student had their own personal workspace and the room had its own fiction library. At one point, two students started verbally squabbling and quickly escalated to hurling insults and arguing. I recognized right away that I could not handle the situation and called the Vice Principal (who had already offered assistance if needed). I am glad I knew when I needed to ask for help and that the VP was there to support me. As soon as I called, the disagreement dissolved on its own. My training as a Writing Intensive Tutor in college came in handy since I spent both periods helping with their Biography assignment.

THURSDAY – my last day for the week since I took Friday off. The 7th grade classes learned more about the digestive system and had the opportunity to ask questions about anything related to the human body. We showed a plastic model with removable organs and the kids were totally grossed out; it was great! At one point a girl asked where a baby in utero would fit since the intestines are already squished up in the abdomen. The conversation continued down reproductive lines as another student asked about belly buttons. Finally, my cooperating teacher was trying to remember the word “placenta” and asked for the sac that carries the nutrients. One student rattled off every name in the female reproductive system and proudly announced to the class, “I’m the best at Sex Ed!”. It was hard to contain the giggles!

Only 2 weeks left of student teaching – I can’t believe it!

Student Teaching Week 9 [4/7-4/9]

A short week this week! The New York City public school vacation extended into this week, so we didn’t come back until Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY – First day back! The 6th graders were particularly quiet and studious. They completed a simulation which showed how limiting factors affect a population of milkweed bugs. We also watched the BrainPop clip on Human Population Growth. What a great website! Finally, the kids observed their milkweed bug habitats.

7th grade reviewed what they learned about the respiratory system before break by drawing the entire system and labeling the parts as well as drawing the alveoli and capillaries. Then we read about diseases that affect the lungs and did the List-Group-Label literacy exercise to review new vocabulary. It was really fun to have the whole class interacting as one to create the groups!

THURSDAY – The 6th grade studied an experiment from the FOSS Populations & Ecosystems curriculum that showed three data charts: the effect of temperature on hatching milkweed bugs, the effect of humidity on hatching milkweed bugs, and the effect of light on hatching milkweed bugs. The kids all determined temperature was the most important factor since below 10degrees and above 40degrees no eggs hatched. One student even made the astute observation that under no circumstances did all the eggs in a clutch (the packet of eggs) hatch. It’s so exciting to see them becoming scientists!

The 7th grade classes started the Respiratory Scavenger Hunt. They searched through several books on the respiratory system to answer questions given on the worksheet.

FRIDAY – The 8th graders were presenting their exit projects in a science fair format, so we spent half of each class reading the poster boards set up in the science room. This also meant we were displaced from our room, which provided new and interesting classroom management issues.

6th grade read another experiment on the abiotic limiting factors on algae and shrimp in Mono Lake. Students identified the most favorable conditions under which the most reproduction algae and shrimp is possible.

7th graders finished the scavenger hunt. We allowed them to use books, as well as each other, to complete the worksheet. Approximately 2/3 to 3/4 of the students finished all but one or two questions, so I should have left a couple of questions off since not having enough time provided students with a lot of anxiety. I was particularly frustrated with two students who are very intense about their academics; they were panicked that they were not complete and would get a bad grade. When I reviewed the packets, these students had only answered 3 of approximately 15 questions. I felt compelled to give them both a √- since their work was not satisfactory – I am planning on adding a note that they need to improve their time management skills.

Student Teaching Weeks 7 & 8

In week 7, I finished up my high school rotation and had a week to wind down!


MONDAY – I got to observe and assist on my first day for 6th grade lessons in Photosynthesis and 7th grade lessons in the circulatory system. The 6th graders are learning from the FOSS Populations & Ecosystems curriculum, which has some really great examples, questions, and discussion points. The kids seem to enjoy it. I especially liked the data table given in which the students determined by analyzing data that H20, Light, and C2. The kids definitely felt like investigative scientists! We had a discussion regarding photosynthesis and that it is so important for humans because plants are the base layer of the food web; we concluded that photosynthesis is possibly the most important chemical reaction on the planet.

One student came up to me and asked, “Are you a student teacher? We never get student teachers in science!” It was really wonderful to be welcomed so wholeheartedly!

TUESDAY – I spent the day making this in order to teach trophic levels on Wednesday. It was nice to have a prep activity to work on. I also had the opportunity to plan with the science teacher and special ed teacher for the mixed special ed and general ed class.

WEDNESDAY – We had an incident, so I got to experience the excitement of an “investigation”. As students and I were rounding the corner to the classroom, we heard a crash and saw glass falling from the ceiling. I hustled kids into a room and took statements for the Vice Principal while encouraging students not to conspire about what happened, but simply write what they observed. It was exciting to see they were very truthful. It turned out that a student jumped to hit the clock and the face of the clock shattered. When questioned by the Principal, the student fiercely denied it – even when the Principal pointed out the blood on the students’ hands. The teachers were overjoyed because this was the last straw in suspending an incredibly disruptive student who had not received any discipline for any of his behavior.

I also thought that the act of writing what they observed could be transformed into a great science activity/discussion – watch something and write all your observations. How does point of view change from person to person?

With the 7th graders, we did an activity from the SEPUP curriculum that modeled the circulatory system. The kids seemed to enjoy the chance to get outside and some commented on how it was a great illustration for them.

THURSDAY – My cooperating teacher was out, so I was able to teach on my own for the whole day! I had a great time :)

FRIDAY – Total chaos the day before break. I was exhausted at the end of the day.

I really enjoy the excitement of the middle school classroom, but I miss the high schoolers. I look forward to (hopefully) getting a high school teaching job!

Student Teaching Reflection Week 6 [3/1 – 3/4]

Phew! Another quick week…

MONDAY – By far my most insecure day yet. I didn’t spend as much time planning and prepping as usual and I felt that it showed. I planned too much material and had to cut stuff during the lesson. I also chose to cram one more new topic in at the end instead of taking the time to summarize what we had discussed. The second period went a bit better, but I still was not confident with how it went. I saw two girls in the hallway that are in that first period who are pretty honest about their comfort/frustration level and asked them if they were completely confused – to my surprise, they said they were actually more comfortable with the content than they usually were with my cooperating teacher.

The last thing I needed was positive reinforcement for a bad habit!

Even in the midst of frustration, I’ve been reminding myself that my student teaching supervisor commented that I have the confidence and skill of a seasoned teacher. I am thankful to know that I’m a bit ahead of the curve.

TUESDAY – Tried station work today. 32 students had 2-3 minutes at each of 9 stations to discover and explore different aspects of sound, standing waves, and pitch. At first there was a lot of resistance and the kids refused to work fast enough to get through any of the thinking questions. The questions were designed to guide their thinking, not to be a complete assessment. Eventually they calmed down and maybe even enjoyed the different activities. We repeated the literacy exercise of the KWL chart; I really like forcing them to synthesize what they are learning!

Had a student approach me with a concern about her project grade. I reviewed her project with her arguments in mind and ended up granting her the points because her error was only written in the script and she corrected it in her video.

WEDNESDAY – Review for the quiz day! A new challenge sprang up today – how to teach unmotivated kids on a rainy day when you’ve got a migraine and short temper :) I did okay this morning, but started to get upset when two girls insisted they needed to review for the quiz in a different way than I had designed. Can’t they trust that I know what’s on the quiz and they don’t, so maybe I know what material we should cover?!

This was also my first “why did you not hand in your project that was due 2 weeks ago and what are you gonna do about it” meeting. She never showed up. :)

THURSDAY – a frustrating day. One of those days when I was frustrated with the institution of student teaching because I don’t have enough time to really get to know the kids and them get to know me. Really looking forward to having kids from the beginning of the year from more than 4-6 weeks!

One week of high school placement left!

Grading Homework

I am a strong believer in √+, √, and √-.

Now that I’ve been grading homework assignments for a few weeks, I’m sold on it. My cooperating teacher grades on a scale of 10. I find that precious moments that could be spent thinking about and writing down comments are spent arguing with myself about how many points that mistake warrants or that correct answer earns. Since I feel the comments are more valuable than points given, I would rather give the students √+, √, and √- and spend my time writing comments that might help students develop a deeper understanding or elucidate their misconceptions.

This will also reinforce my desire to not base my students’ assessment and confidence based on numbers or grades. √+, √, and √- are much more formative in nature and allow students to evaluate themselves on a more rubric-based scale: excellent work and understanding, good effort with some improvement needed, insufficient effort or demonstration of understanding. This was how I grew up receiving assessment and I find that it took longer for my peers and I to develop grade-based complexes.

I want to encourage my students to focus on achieving understanding and the ability to communicate content and I think √+, √, and √- and comments will help me to do that.

What have you found successful in grading homework?

Student Teaching Week 5 [2/22 – 2/25]

It’s a short week for me since I’ve got to take tomorrow off (it might be a snow day in NYC anyways!); it’s been a week full of wonderful experiences!

MONDAY: Did the first explicit lesson on waves, their anatomy, and the wave velocity equation. Kids were a bit confused in the first period, so I tried to be more explicit in explanations and transitions and the second go-around went much better. I’m still frustrated with how quiet that second period is.

I collected the Pendulum Unit Projects and started looking through them. These kids are so bright and their projects are so entertaining!!

TUESDAY: We split the class up and my cooperating teacher took half the class out into the hallway for 20 minutes while I kept the others inside. He spent time discussing wave speed, reflection, and refraction using a slinky and snakey (tightly wound, long spring). I used the ripple tank and discussed reflection, refraction, and diffraction. The lessons went fine, but the kids were so quiet it was like pulling teeth.

I spoke with my supervisor (who had observed me on Monday) and he thought I was doing very well. I need to have more time for summary at the end of the lesson and stop saying “Okay.” all the time. I realized this today on my own, so had to laugh when he brought it up:

“Okay, Suzie why don’t you answer the question.”

“Sam, you think the answer is this, okay…”

“Okay, what do we think about this?”

“Okay, so here’s the equation we derived.”

I’m getting sick of hearing myself! In 2nd place is, “Go ahead…” – I NEED A NEW VOCABULARY!

WEDNESDAY: We split the class again and Mike introduced superposition and interference as well as the anatomy and concept of standing waves. I reviewed refraction and diffraction with videos and computer-based simulations. I really enjoyed working with smaller groups of kids at a time – the quiet class was much more lively and interactive in smaller groups.

I realized today that my interview for jobs with the Clark County (Las Vegas) DOE is in 2 weeks! Ah! I’ve got to get cracking on that teaching portfolio!!

THURSDAY: Wow, so it’s really difficult to teach a 60 minute class about Standing Waves and the Doppler Effect when you’re using mostly YouTube videos. I felt really overwhelmed. Luckily, my cooperating teacher stepped in a certain points during the lesson and we co-taught a bit. I really enjoyed that and he had some really valuable demonstrations to add to what I had started!

I’ve been trying hard to revise each of my lessons at the end of the day and update them on Scribd, so feel free to snag what you want. Looks like you can even subscribe to my documents via a reader!