Some strategies I used to get their attention included:
"If you can hear me touch your nose."
"If you're finished writing put your hand on your head."
"Eyes on me!"
"Show me you understand with a thumbs up."
Each student had a chance to sing a call & response type part with me by way of an introduction and I was glad that they were all willing to participate. There was one boy who was a little nervous but he was a good sport anyway! They had a blast answering "hmmm...do you like onions?" with YES! or NO! and variations of those words. It became a contest somehow between whether there are more people who like onions or more people who don't like onions. That was something I hadn't thought of. Luckily, it didn't get out of hand and everyone had fun. :)
A few things I need to think about are how to position myself so that I can see all the students all, or most, of the time. As I was going through each row of students, I had my back turned to the first row while going through the middle row. My TA informed me that 3 of the boys were goofing off a little bit behind me! It's inevitable to have my back turned to some students while in the middle row, but I could have moved around for the back row so they turn around to answer me.
Another thing is finding an acceptable volume. I tend to be on the quiet side, but I need to figure out what is an effective volume to speak in while addressing the whole class so that all students can hear.
A third thing is figuring out how to deal with students who will try to challenge me. There were 2 students during my mini lesson today who I had to stop and wait for. One was really excited and wouldn't sit down even though I asked him to, but after I said "have a seat," "please sit down"and stared at him for a few seconds he sat down. The other was stabbing his empty juice box with a pencil. I asked him to stop and put it away, and he did after stabbing it a few more times while I waited for him before continuing. His classmates helped a bit by telling him to stop because they wanted to keep singing. I wonder if it's helpful when his classmates tell him to stop certain behaviours...
Another big lesson I learned from observing my TA today was the use of google documents for a whole class collaboration effort. He introduced Google docs and explained that he wanted the class to come up with questions he will use for their science quiz on plants. I helped demonstrate that 2 or more people can type and contribute to the document at the same time. Because everyone has the power to type and delete text, he emphasized that students need to be respectful of other peoples' work and don't delete work that isn't their own. The students seemed to understand at the time, but after the break when they got into the document, things went a little crazy and a bunch of the information my TA had written got deleted. He told them that since they weren't listening to his instructions, they will write quiz questions on paper and maybe try Google docs again at a later time. After some silent work, he gave them another chance and it was less chaotic. In conversation with my TA after class, he shared his self-assessment/reflection about one thing he could have done to minimize the chaos. Next time, he will provide numbers 1-20 (for each student of the class) under each heading so that there will be no confusion of where they are supposed to type. It can be quite confusing with so many people typing at once! Having a number and spot to start at is definitely helpful.
My TA also showed me all the different places in the school that have art supplies and I'm quite excited to think up fun projects for the students to do! There are so many supplies...so much more than I had for my art camps this summer! Tomorrow will be my first art lesson (I'm using my micro-teach drawing lesson plan) and I'm looking forward to doing winter themed crafts and christmas crafts. I told my TA that I'm hoping I can put together some sort of mini-exhibit with the class at the end of my practicum and he was supportive. So much work to do! So little time!