Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dreams: Entering the World of Education

January 3, 2011 marks the first day of my student teaching internship. I have been placed in a 1st grade classroom and I am very excited about this upcoming chapter in my life. Becoming an educator has been a long time coming for me. It is how I started out in college, but when you are 18 years old, it is hard to decide what it is you want to do with the rest of your life! As it turned out, I did not make the best choice and changed my major at the beginning of my second year.

Being older (not super old!), wiser and at a different place in my life, I was able to make a decision that has forever changed my life. With the support of my loving husband, son and daughter I went back to school to obtain a degree in Elementary Education.

As I begin this long awaited journey, I am eager to enter the world of education and begin living the DREAM I have had for many years. Having the opportunity to be apart of students growth, learning and curiosity has kept my nerves up for days.

I will continue to write about my experience as a student teacher in 1st grade and look forward to others advice and responses to my posts.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Time Out: Reflection on My First Shared Reading Lesson

My shared reading lesson plan adequately addressed my objective and the standard of text-to-self connections. Through the use of real life pictures of my son’s bedtime routine, I was able to show the students how I made a text-to-self connection to the book, Time for Bed. This was also how I introduced the lesson to the students. In other words, this was also my anticipatory set for the lesson. I feel this was a strong anticipatory set because the looks on the student’s faces revealed those of very interested, engaged students. I was able to catch their attention through the use of the pictures.

When teaching the mini lessons, which consisted of teaching the blends SH, CH, WH and TH, I used words in the book and pointed to those words with the appropriate blends. This method was acceptable, however a more effective way of teaching this lesson would have been to have used flash cards with the blends on them and a correlating picture to help the visual students see the blend and a word with picture in which it was used.

I feel that I was knowledgeable of the subject matter and I showed evidence of this through my text-to-self personal example of my son’s bedtime routine. Additionally, I feel that my work with the whole class on coming up with some words that ended and started with the blends that we discussed was successful as seen through the student’s immediate and accurate responses. I feel this also shows proof of the effective communication between the students and myself.

My cooperating teacher did give me a worksheet that she had created for this lesson prior to class and I was able to successfully incorporate it into the lesson without advanced notice.

I feel it is safe to express that my closure for this lesson was nonexistent. I spoke about this in detail with my CT and we both agree. I did not really know how to close a lesson I guess, since in my course work after we “taught” our students (classmates) we just sort of stopped. I never realized this was or would be a problem until in the actual classroom. My CT was really great about this, giving me suggestions and then during one of her lessons the next time I was in her class, she modeled some examples of closure for me. I appreciated her help and this experience.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Philosophy: Classroom Management

My cooperating teacher’s philosophy in classroom management is positive reinforcement. Especially at the 1st grade level. She encourages this in several ways throughout the day, week and year.

First, she has a program called Character Counts, which was implemented to manage the student’s behavior. Through this program, the students have a small envelope on the bulletin board that has a series of laminated cards in them, starting with green. If the student’s card remains at green the entire day, they are rewarded at the end of the day through placing a sticker on their behavioral sheet. Once their sheet is filled up, the student’s are able to pick a prize from the prize box. However, if their card is turned through out the day (meaning their behavior did not match the classroom or teacher’s expectations) they do not receive a sticker for their behavior chart for that day.

Two of my CT’s reward methods are centered on the student’s behavior outside of the classroom, in particular their behavior in the hallway. One of these methods is a challenge between the boys and the girls. The line that is the quietest to a location and back receives a point. The points are tallied all week and the sex with the most points at the end of the week earns the opportunity to pick a prize from the prize box.

The other method is the compliment jar. If the students receive a compliment on how quiet and/or well organized they are while walking in the hallway, my CT puts a hand full of Smarties into the compliment jar. Once the jar is full, the students receive a class party. For example, it can be pajama day, in which the students would wear their PJ’s for the day.

During one of my observation days I witnessed the process and methods my CT used to handle a particular discipline issue. This issue is a reoccurring one in her room, in which one student is continuously disruptive to the other 3 students in the pod. Therefore, my CT moved this student from the pod by moving their desk away from the others, facing forward towards the board. I immediately saw an improvement in this student’s ability to focus on their work, as well as the other student’s. This was a noninvasive way to handle the issue without disrupting the positive classroom environment.

After my CT addressed this situation, she came to me to explain why she did what she did and how she has handled this particular student in the past as well. I appreciated this, as it was a great learning experience for me. Additionally, she made me aware that this was the 3rd time she had to remove the student from their pod and therefore a call into the parents was the next step.

Many of the classroom management techniques used by my CT would be ones that I would try in my own classroom. Some, however, may not work depending on my students. The one thing that I learned and truly believe in is that one of the best things you can do for your students is to know them!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Observations: Instructional Delivery and Content Knowledge

My cooperating teacher (CT) began her guided reading lesson with her student’s by reviewing what they learned during their last session. Compound words were taught and identified previously and my CT used her hands as manipulative to help the students understand that compound words are two words put together as one.

After the review was complete, my CT went into explaining the objectives of the lesson being taught that day. To access previous knowledge, the alphabet, and the sounds each letter makes, is reviewed. She went over new vocabulary with the students and then they began reading, one at a time, one page at a time, until all the students had read once. The students were then told to finish reading the story at their own pace.

My CT then asked recall questions to her students about the story they just read. In order to go above the level of the students to challenge them reasonably, she asked them comprehension questions from the pages they read on their own rather than on the pages that were read as a group.

During the closure of the lesson, my CT related the lesson back to the objectives through asking the students to read the story with their parents at home. This met the objective of rereading.

If I were teaching this lesson, I would have added visuals to the new vocabulary words. These particular students seem to me to be more of the visual type and I feel that visuals of the words would have helped them with the meaning of the word. Additionally, I would have added the first letter of the word and the sound it makes in addition to the meaning. Again, this particular group of students struggled with phonics and needed to have review of this on a regular basis in order to succeed in reading.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Learning Space: What it was like

The first grade classroom that I am observing was an eye opener to me. Not in the sense that it has more or less than I expected, it just wasn’t exactly what I expected. What did I expect you ask? I’m not really sure to be honest. All the past and recent headlines about school districts all over the country, I guess one thing I expected was for the classroom to be small with over 30 students. What I walked into was a room that was larger than I expected with a student total of 24.

The teacher has the students organized in pods of 4 students each, which is a design I have favored from the beginning of my MATC program. I enjoy this set up for many reasons, but the primary reason would be the opportunities it offers for collaboration. This configuration is conducive to learning because all the students are able to see the front of the room nicely and the desks are only 2 rows deep. Additionally, this configuration allows for enough space for the other half of the room to have a small group table, an audio station and circle time.

Although the room is a larger size than I expected it to be, it is still not large enough to have center stations that covers all areas of content. Therefore, the teacher accommodates this need through centers stations that are written on the white board and are in bins located in the front of the room. Some of her stations include poems, word zone, math and book nook.

The classroom environment is a positive one. This is encouraged and modeled by the teacher through several means. First, the classroom rules are posted in the classroom in a space in which all students can clearly see them. Second, routines have been established and practiced, therefore leaving no excuse for misbehavior. Third, a program titled Character Counts has been instituted; in which students are begin the day with a green card. Their cards are turned to yellow, and then orange etc if the student’s behavior does not meet the expectations of the classroom or the teacher. If their card does not get turned throughout the whole day then the student receives a sticker for their behavior chart. Positive reinforcement is used to keep your card at green comes in the form of a prize from the prize box once your behavior chart is filled.

The physical & classroom environment of this 1st grade classroom has several aspects that I would possibility adapt in my own room in the future. Ideas have defiantly generated in my mind that were jump started from my experience in this classroom.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It Begins: Reflection on The First Days of School

The First Days of School
by Harry K. Wong & Rosemary T. Wong
Reflection Ch. 18-20

These 3 chapters brought me back to my Classroom Management class where we created our own Comprehensive Classroom Management Plan (CCMP). I remember sitting in my family room, creating procedures, routines and expectations for my “classroom”. I really enjoyed doing this and I look forward to modifying this CCMP in my future real classroom.

I am glad that I had the opportunity to read these chapters in this book because I agree with having a discipline, routine and expectation plan/procedures in your classroom. I also agree with taking the first week of school to go over and through these things, as I do believe they are an essential part of a teacher’s classroom management and the classroom environment that is created through these plans as well.

In my classroom I will have the students participate in adding more expectations to the ones that I have already created myself. In doing this, I believe that the students will abide by them more if they have a hand in creating them.

The book talks about posting your consequences in the classroom along with your expectations. This is a great idea and one I did not think of right away. I feel this would have come naturally as a next step in my classroom management, but I am glad this book reinforced it. I also found use in the section, which discussed logical and illogical consequences. Excellent examples were given to explain the difference between the two.

I ended the reading reflecting back on all 3 chapters and what they taught me. One definite message that I came away with is to always deal with the behavior, not the person.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Here's to my very first blog post!

Believe it or not, I created this blog in December of 2008. After I secured the site, I never touched it again. Fast forward to July 2010. I went to Google Blogger to secure my site and it was taken. What? Oh, right. It was taken by, um, ME!

So, here I am writing my first blog as a pre-service elementary teacher, about to enter into the world of education. With one semester left before student teaching in the spring, I decided to begin to create my digital footprint. I hear that knowledge (and the use of) instructional technology in my future classroom is valuable and will enhance the learning of my future students. So, if this is true I better get a head start so I know what I am doing!

There will be many adventures I will take and many curiosities I will have as I complete my course work and begin my new career as an educator, and I am looking forward to using my blog as the spot to tell my stories and ask my questions in hopes for some feedback from those more seasoned in the profession. For example, how was my first post?

With that said, I am going to keep this one short. Until next time......