Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Back to Teaching

     Today was my first day actually introducing my lessons and taking over three of my four classes during student teaching. (I will continue to observe Grade 9/10 ICT until after Spring Break to accommodate my cooperating teacher's unit plans). I am so thrilled to be back in the classroom and doing what I love. I find the transition from classroom teacher to student teacher to sometimes be quite choppy and awkward so I always plan my first day as a "get to know each other" day. If you remember back to my student teaching placement in the fall, I like to survey my students and have them share information with me. This allows me to  organize myself and plan out the specifics of the lesson accordingly. 

     I am a strong believer that teachers need to plan learning experiences that are relevant and meaningful to their students. Through our various surveying activities I was able to find out what kind of resources my students can access, how busy they are outside of class, and what their learning style is (self-identified).

Grade 10 Geography
     I start off the day with Grade 10 Geography which has 20 students. Of these, approximately 15 of them are familiar to me as I taught them last semester in the first half of the Grade 9/10 ICT class which is optional to them. The first thing I had my students do is complete questionnaires on que-cards. I asked them to include their:
- Name
- Favourite Subject
- Least Favourite Subject
- One thing I love about geography is...
- One thing I hate about geography is...
(To see an example of what this looks like, you can see a few responses I got last semester.) I also get students to play the game "Over the Line" in which students pick a spot on the wall and if a particular statement that I say applies to them they step "over the line". It is essentially just a kinaesthetic way to complete a survey but students love it and I did this with all of my classes. Here are the results, which allow me to plan my lessons accordingly:




     After this I passed out the unit outline that I created and started introducing our unit on Natural Resources. To get us thinking, I asked students to write down one example of a natural resource (oil, trees, water, etc). Once every student had an example we left the classroom, formed a circle in the cafeteria, crumpled up our papers and had a snowball fight with them! This allowed all the students to mix up their papers and have some fun. After 30seconds I stopped them, had them sit down in the circle, read their paper and write down where they thought that resource was located. For example, if they picked up a paper that said oil, they might write down Alberta. Once every student had a location written down we repeated the snowball activity so that they had a new paper and we returned to the classroom. Students now had a paper that had a resource and a location on it, so I asked them to write a few sentences on what might happen to that location if the resource was misused. This helped get students thinking about what natural resources are, how they are distributed around Canada (and the world), and the implications of improper use. 

Grade 11/12 Agriculture
     Right before lunch I have Grade 11/12 Agriculture which has 8 students (7 in class and 1 participating via teleconference from another school in the "T-Division"). Of the 8, I had 5 of these students twice during last semester so I feel like I know these students the best out of all of my classes. I still completed, however, all of my surveying information because I wasn't sure if information had changed, and there were 3 students who were brand new to me. After the que card activity, we also completed the "Over the Line" survey. Here are the results that I received with this class:




     After this I passed out the outline that I created and started introducing our unit on Soils. I started us off with a brainstorming activity on the composition of soils (organic material, water, gases, etc). Our class time was cut short, however, to accomodate an extracurricular meeting. Tomorrow I hope to continue this brainstorming activity and create mindmaps to show the relationship between the different components.

Grade 8 Social Studies
     My only afternoon class is Grade 8 Social Studies which has 25 students who are all new to me. This was the class that I was most interested in learning more about because I had never had an opportunity to interact with them at all last semester. In similar fashion to my other classes, I also had them complete que-card questionnaires and the "Over the Line" survey. Here are their results:



     After this we actually had the recess break. The class is an hour in total but it is positioned oddly in the timetable and there is a break right in the middle. I have never had a class set up this way but I think it works well for their age level. When they returned I passed out the unit outline that I created and started introducing our unit on Ancient Greece & Rome. To get us thinking, I asked students to write down one social class that they might find in these ancient societies (military, slave, government, merchant, etc). Once every student had an example we left the classroom, and completed the snowball activity that I did with my Grade 10 class in the morning. After 30seconds I stopped them, had them sit down in the circle, read their paper and write down what they thought that social class' role was. For example, if they picked up a paper that said military, they might write down keep other countries from invading. Once every student had a role written down we repeated the snowball activity so that they had a new paper and we returned to the classroom. As this was the end of class, I had students write their name on the paper they picked up and hand it in. I plan to return them at the beginning of our next class and use it as a writing prompt to have them reflect on what life might be like for that specific person.
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     In each of my classes I also shared the following Prezi presentation about me. After I collected all of their information from them, I thought that it was only fair that I shared some information about myself! Obviously I had stories about each of the photos I included but I think you can get an idea of what I was trying to share:

     

     Overall I would say that the day went really well. I find "S-School" to be very supportive and encouraging and the students are very respectful and eager to learn. I hope to periodically update and share how each of my classes is coming along!

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