Today I taught 2 lessons: Daily Physical Activity (DPA) and Math.
My TA is very encouraging and tells me that I'm doing very very well while also giving me descriptive feedback and suggestions or things to try. It's great! I really feel like I'm making some progress and identified my weaker points, namely transitioning and being conscious of my formative assessments and checks for understanding.
DPA was a lot of fun! At first I was a little worried and wasn't sure what to do, but then I remembered one time while working with the Blast program in Lethbridge when we did this activity. Everyone dances around to music and when it stops, each pair has to be standing on a piece of paper that was laid out on the floor. You have to stand on the piece of paper for 10 seconds. Then to increase the level of difficulty you fold the paper in half each time so the surface becomes smaller and smaller. I started off the lesson with some stretches and warm ups. I used a warm up that I used to do in the ukulele group (tall as a tree, big as a house, small as a mouse.) There was one boy who was upset since the morning and was crying with his head down on his desk. I tried to ask him what's wrong but I couldn't get him to participate. Later when I asked my TA he told me he's upset with having to do the writing work during recess time and a bunch of other things. One of the things I was warned about was having the students pick their own partners because there's almost always a few left over. By chance, I had to pair one boy and a girl together. That worked because those particular students don't care too much whether they're working with a boy or girl, but I thought I would pair another boy with a girl until I could sense that the boy didn't want to. So instead I paired him off with another boy and I got the girl to be my partner.
The math lesson felt very chaotic and it was a little difficult to manage the class today, but my TA still said it was a successful lesson because I accomplished the goals and objectives I wrote down, and everyone seemed to understand ordering and comparing numbers. It was cool that my TA said in addition to taking notes on my performance, he also observed and took notes on each of the students about where they're at with these concepts. I had an activity where they worked in teams o 5. Each person got a sticky note with a 4-digit number stuck on them, and they would have to work together to stand in order from greatest to least, or least to greatest. To prevent one person from directing the whole thing while some of the others might not know what's going on, I said that they have to make sure every team member can explain how they decided this was the correct order. During the lesson portion when I was asking lots of questions and observing how students were doing on worksheets I had a sense of who knew the concept so I would choose team members who I wasn't too sure about. If they couldn't answer, I'd tell them they need to make sure everyone in the team knows before they go on to the next round.
Because I placed the 4 teams in the 4 corners of the room, it was hard for me to observe all the students at all times. Luckily, they were pretty good at being on task and working together, and this also gave my TA a chance to take notes on individual students.
A few of the things I noted while reflecting after my lessons today, and was mentioned by my TA later on, was how do I make sure my handouts aren't lost, and the importance of collecting things such as dice after each activity so the students aren't tempted to fidget or throw them around the room. There are so many things you think of after the fact! I wish I had gotten the students to pick up their paper after DPA, and to throw away the sticky notes after the math activity so I didn't have to do it. In terms of keeping track of papers, I need to decide on a specific place I want them to keep it, whether it be in a binder, their planners or the corner of my desk.
I think my focus for the next little while will be on transitions, using Bloom's taxonomy and trying to ask questions to assess more complex understanding of topics. My TA also suggested it may be necessary to have a one-on-one conference with a particularly difficult student, building him up so he knows he's important in my class but he needs to set a good example and take on some leadership roles perhaps? I was also told that students' behaviours can change with the wind....literally. I hadn't thought about that before, but it makes sense that a change in the weather will have some effect on a person.
I let out a big sigh when the math lesson was done and the kids were leaving for recess. My TA chuckled and said that was good and he wrote lots of notes. Stress levels rose instantly. The feedback was good though :) I was being too harsh on myself as usual so it was nice to have that conversation to realize there were some things I need to work on, but overall the lesson was a good one.
I'm excited for tomorrow! The kids are excited for tomorrow! Also, my TA told me one of the other gr.4 teacher's class is excited to help make cranes as well since they just finished a math unit that talked a bit about the crane. This project is quickly becoming more and more doable! As of now, I've made 142 of 1000 cranes. I'm quite productive on the drive to and from Cardston now! It's great :) My extreme exhaustion and lack of sleep makes me ramble on and on, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything else in the world. I'm going to miss the kids when the practicum is over. Actually, today one of the boys asked me if I would be here for Christmas. I told them I'm finished on Dec.10th and they looked a little sad and asked why. One boy asked me if I want to stay longer and I answered "Of course!" Then he asked me, "Don't you think they're a little mean? Telling you what to do and when you have to leave?" It was really cute :)