Thursday, May 31, 2012

Equitable Distribution of Compliments

Couple days ago, I was watching a kindergarten and first grade student play two square. The kindergarten student won. I was kind of excited for that student because he was improving. So, I said "Good job!" to the kindergartner. Then, when the first grader got back in line, she was about 15 ft away, but I could still notice her solid stare at me. She yells toward me. "You're mean!" I pause the game. Walk back over to her.

Me: "What? Why did you call me mean?"

Her: "Because you only say negative things when I'm playing."

Me: "That's not true. I say 'good try.'"

the other kids: "Yea, he does always say that."

Anyway... her getting fussy with me still kind of got me thinking. After the fact, I can see why she got angry. By cheering for the kindergartner, I was basically saying that I'm proud that the first grader lost. So, by "negative things," that's probably what she meant.

For the days following that incident, I was a little hesitant to rejoin. It's kind of silly. What are the odds of an adult being afraid of a first grader. Crazy talk. I rejoined today and she was smiling at me. For this incident alone, I'm glad that elementary students seem to have a short memory span.

Today, I was trying not to say anything when kids were playing. I didn't want to seem like I was on one kid's side or another. Today, the kindergartner was playing again. After he lost and was right next to me in line, I told him that he was improving and gave him a five.

I already knew that a teacher is not supposed to favor any child more than another in the classroom, but I failed to make that connection with respect to sports competitions. If anything, sports competitions require more attention to praising all students equally (or at least in a way that it doesn't demean other students). Students are not necessarily in class for the sake of competition. Their main purpose is to learn. Whereas, the main purpose of a sports competition is to compete. So, each student will be focusing on whether they are doing better than their competing peers. Teachers supporting one student or another can intensify the students' significance of the competition.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Two Square: A Versatile and Efficient Sport

Recently, I've realized what my favorite sport to engage in is. It's a game that I learned of during my time student teaching. It's called two square. It's a fun game, but I like it more for its versatile and efficient nature. Two square is like tennis with a larger ball and no racquet or net. I'll describe the game in detail.

Ok. In two square, you have a square is drawn on concrete (such as on a playground) and it is cut in half by a line drawn through the middle of it. How big you want the square to be is at your own discretion. One half is chosen to be labeled as "A." The other is labeled as "B." The participant in A starts out by serving a rubber ball to the participant in B. The ball is about the size of a standard dodge ball. When the ball is served, it must bounce once on the ground before it leaves A and once in B. When the participant in B returns the serve, the ball must bounce once on the ground before leaving B and once in A and so on. If the ball bounces once in A, but twice in B, the student in B loses. If the ball bounces once in B, but twice in A, the student from B takes the part of the square labeled as A, and the student from A moves to B. A student also loses if on returning the ball it bounces once in their own square, but then bounces outside of the square. Those are the default rules. The participant in area A of the square can change them as they please (i.e. hitting the ball over or underhand, length of time you're allowed to hold the ball, number of hands hitting the ball, number of times the ball is allowed to bounce)

Alright. This game is versatile in a couple ways. This game can be set up anywhere. All you need is chalk, a rubber ball, and a concrete open space. This game can be played with anyone of nearly any age because even a first or 2nd grader can whoop an adult. Trust me. I've been one of those whooped adults quite frequently.

As for how this game is efficient, as I indicated in the previous paragraph, the amount of equipment you need is minimal. As is the cost. You can get a 52 count carton of chalk for $9 and a ball for $7. A basketball on its own will be at least $20. For baseball, a bat alone will cost at least around $30. Being the cheap punk that I am right now, I appreciate the opportunity costs.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Reasonable Arguments from a 4th Grader

On Thursday, May 24th, I had a disagreement with a student regarding my decision with a game we were playing outside. Let me give you some background on the game first.

The game involved differently colored circular tiles. I am able to put half of my foot on a single tile. There are ten tiles which are numbered one through ten. The objective of the game is to collect the tiles in order from one to ten. To do so, you must only stand on the tiles. If either foot touches the ground, you lose. If you collect every tile from one through nine, you win. Unless you've discovered how to defy gravity, you can't pick up the last tile.

So, I was having students take turns in order of who had asked me first. It's almost time for all of us to head down from the upper to the lower yard. 2nd graders are almost never allowed to play in the upper yard. And, this tile game stays in the upper yard. A 2nd grader comes by and asks me whether she can give it a shot. The other two 4th graders need to take their turns first. However, each of them have already had at least one turn. By the time the second 4th grader would have taken his second turn, the 2nd grader wouldn't have a chance to try the game out. I wanted everyone to have a chance to play the game. So, I said that I want to give the 2nd grader a chance to play.

The second 4th grader wouldn't have that. He put forward some good arguments. I actually agreed with what he was saying, but I wanted everyone to have a chance. I especially wanted this because the 2nd grader wouldn't have a chance to try the game. Anyway, these are a couple of the arguments that he put forward:

#1 "When she's in 3rd grade, she can play this game. Everyone else had to wait. So does she."

#2 "You know when you go to Disney Land and you're waiting in that long line. Then, someone cuts in front of you. That's what's happening here."

Yea, I can't disagree with him on his arguments. I admit fault. Even if I wanted to give the 2nd grader a chance to play, I guess I did essentially both condone and facilitate her cutting into line. So, in the future, even if I want to equalize opportunities for students, I must do so in subordination to the established rules.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Child Makes Health Resolutions

Recently, Kaiser Permanente stopped by at the Chabot Elementary. They put on a play. I didn't see the play myself, so I don't know the exact content. All I know is that the play was about eating healthy and having an active lifestyle.

Naturally, in an elementary school of about 500 students, the responses were mixed. Some students thought that the play was lame, but others thought that it was pretty meaningful. I'm going to focus on the latter.

I was playing a boardgame with one of my former students. I was inside the portable for my after school teaching job. While we're playing, she brings this up: "I'm not have cookies anymore. Well... I'll have cookies once a month." To be honest, that surprised me for two reasons. #1 I love cookies and #2 A child just said that she wants to limit her cookie intake. That's awesome, but it's just surprising to hear from a 3rd grader.

I replied, "Wow. I love cookies. That sounds hard. Why do you want to limit your cookies?" Her justification was pretty quick. "Well, we watched this play a couple days ago. They said if we eat too much sugar, we'll get diabetes. I don't wanna get diabetes." I supported her because it's a step in the right direction as far as health goes.

I'm surprised at her intended resolution. That's actually an ambitious resolution for some adults. So, I'll give her major props if she's able to pull it off.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

See For Yourself

Yesterday, I had an interview with Principal Dickey with East Oakland Leadership Academy. She was considering me for an 8th grade position that they had available. I found it strange that they were considering me for an 8th grade position. They've seen my resume. They know that I've mainly had experience with just kindergarten, 3rd, and 5th grade. So, at the very least, it kind of concerns me. Knowing that, I still went to the interview. The interview felt extremely easy for me. All I did to prepare for it was have examples ready for all of the following questions in this link.

Literally, an hour later, the principal calls me right back. She leaves a message asking me whether I could sub on May 29th. I hesitated at first. But, all I really have to lose is time. The sub position will be from 8 am to 2 pm. That will give me time to get a feel for whether the school is alright. Also, I assume that the principal will take some of that time to observe my performance. Further, I'll be compensated for my time.

Another reason why I was concerned is because one of the teachers that works at Chabot Elementary says that he's worked for East Oakland Leadership Academy before. He claimed that the superior to the principal abused her power. He said that she would illegitimately take money out of his paycheck. In the end, it's all hearsay to me. I need to experience the environment for myself. If he hadn't told me anything, I wouldn't be second guessing my conviction. I would be jumping right on top of this opportunity. Why? Because I would want to take whatever opportunity I can get. Hell... I wanted a K-5 position and I'm making myself adaptable for a 6th grade position.

Also, after actually being at the school, the kids actually seem pretty well behaved. I would be more understanding of the Chabot teacher's position if the school was visibly utter chaos, but when I was there, no kids gave me nor any of the faculty any attitude. I don't think a school that didn't have good control would have well behaved students. My impression of the school is still quite minimal, but I have no reason to suspect there is anything chaotic or seriously flawed about it. I'll take a deeper investigation next week to see how the school is.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Teachers Pay Teachers"

I'm giving credit to my former roomie, Paul Edison. He made me aware of this website. This website is called "Teachers Pay Teachers." And, that is exactly what can happen through this website. Teachers upload lesson plans, worksheets/exercises, activities, and so on. They set a price for the material that they upload. From there, based on whether you are a "basic" or "premium" seller, you can get a commission of 60% which transaction fees are deducted or a commission of 80% without transaction fees. Basic membership is free, but premium membership is not. It costs $59.95 a month. That's only bad if you don't sell very much. It sounds like if you're a popular provider on this website, then getting a premium membership becomes quite favorable.

Not only do teachers advertise what they have available to sell, but other teachers advertise what they want to buy. So, if you have the skill and just want some cash, find out what someone wants and provide it.

There are also sellers on this website who sell physical materials. I assume that online materials take up a larger fraction than physical materials. They're easier to provide. Something else about this website is that there is also a lot of free materials. Right now, that's all that I'm concerned with. I don't have time to create materials to sell on this website. I think that as I teach more, my materials will just accumulate and then it will become more effortless for me to sell on this website.

Anyway, it seems like an interesting online resource for any teacher. Whether you're an experienced teacher looking to make some extra cash or an in/experienced teacher just looking for more ideas, this website would seem to have some value.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Importance of National Education Standards

When I first start planning out the curriculum for my new job, I was just perusing through the book. As I was perusing through the book, I was just cherry picking the pages that I was going to go over. I stopped doing that after I given the Common Core Standards handbook. Basically, the Common Core Standards handbook enumerate all the objectives which a student must satisfy in order to progress onto the next grade. If I were to just choose arbitrarily as I had initially began, then there would be no guarantee that my students would make relevant progress with respect to writing.

So, what I'm trying to do is to get each of my lessons to satisfy at least one objective. To plan for that, I have a hard copy of the Common Core Standards handbook. In the relevant pages, I put a post it. Then, I write the listed number of the objectives which I will satisfy. After that, I search for the lessons that satisfy the objectives which I've decided on or am considering. Now, I can guarantee that the lessons I choose will make relevant progress towards their writing ability. I can guarantee that they will make relevant progress towards their writing ability because the schools which they go to will also attempt to address these same objectives. They will already be familiar to my students.

So, there are a few things you can take away from this. National Education standards are important for the sake of having academic objectives specified. They are also important for when a student goes from one classroom to another. The new classroom they enter will be minimally foreign to them because both I and this student's next classroom will be sticking to the content of these objectives. That means that this student will not necessarily enter a new classroom which is altogether too easy, not necessarily too hard either, but definitely familiar. Those circumstances would be unlikely if no teacher followed National Education standards, but rather just their own arbitration.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Advantages to Multiple Choice Questions

So, as you might know, I will be teaching writing to 3rd and 4th graders in the summer (going on to 4th and 5th grade). Some 3rd and 4th graders will be more proficient than others as far as their writing goes. That's probably true of all other subjects as well. In any case, Because different students have different needs, I must figure out exactly what their needs are. After I figure out what their needs are, then I can better decide what skills they need to focus on.

Something I had considered was just a practice CA STAR test on writing conventions, vocabulary, and spelling errors. At the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, my complaint about multiple choice tests in general is that if a student bubbles in the right answer, you don't know whether they actually knew what the right answer was or whether they were just guessing. That's still my complaint today, but I've realized there are still some benefits to a multiple choice test.

#1 They're fast. Students just read a sentence from their test booklet and mark what they think the correct answer. What is this fast compared to? It's fast compared to having students write something in response to a prompt and then reviewing it for grammar, spelling, vocabulary, cohesion, clarity, and so on.

#2 It tells you what students don't know. Here's the deal. If a student knows what the correct answer is and they want to get the correct answer, then they will mark it. You still don't necessarily know whether they know, but that doesn't change that if they do indeed know what the correct answer is, then they'll bubble it in. However, when a student bubbles in an answer which is incorrect, then you know what they don't know.

Having said that, I will stick to looking at student writing samples. The only reason why is because a single sample of their writing will give me way more examples of their strengths and weaknesses than mere multiple choice questions.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Daily Oral Language"

Recently, I was accepted for a job in San Francisco. It's with this small organization in China Town called "Best Education." The director is leaving the arrangement of the curriculum up to me. I'll have 12 students a day, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, from June 4th to June 29th, and from July 9th to August 3rd. My students will consist of 3rd and 4th graders.

The good thing about this job is that he's setting a specific enough objective for me to achieve in 3 weeks. He wants me to teach the students how to write a good paragraph. I'll need to incorporate a grammar & punctuation component, reading, writing, and I guess vocabulary to some degree.

I met up with Mr. Agajan to give me some ideas on components I can include in my little 3 week writing program. He referred me to a program called "Daily Oral Language Plus." It has a collection of sentences. One set of sentences has some error with it. It could be grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and you get the idea.

Here's an example: "Mr West read me and Zach a book called Quillworker." That's the incorrect sentence. Here's the corrected sentence: "Mr. West read Zach and me a book called Quillworker."

This is how I would predict that I would use this. Everyday, as soon as the school day begins, I would write a sentence on the whiteboard. All students would take a pencil and paper and try to fix the sentence. The error of the sentence would be based on, for example, a grammatical concept that was learned the day prior. And, that would serve as a short review of that concept. That's how I think I would use it.

I still have a lot of planning to do. I hope I run this writing program well.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Behavioral Management via Engagement

There's an easier and more rewarding way to manage students than calling them out, taking away recess time, talking to them one on one, and so on. Simply involve them as much as possible. I'll give you an example.

A couple weeks back, I taught a lesson on interjections. I had several points throughout the lesson where I gave students opportunities to express an exclamatory sentence, read examples of sentences containing interjections with expression, come up to the front of the class, place an interjection on the whiteboard, and read it with expression, and show their sentences to the class after writing them. They were all very preoccupied. So, few students had much time to distract the class from the purpose of the lesson. And, they really seemed to enjoy the activities.

Some classes might be more difficult than others. I've been a substitute teacher for 6th and 7th grade before. They generally tore me apart. Many of the students weren't interested in learning (or at least, not when I was there). Maybe I was missing something important that I learned afterward. I dunno. All I know is that with the class that I had for this school year, as long as I made lessons fun and involving, the lessons went smoothly. I speculate that presenting classes satisfying the criteria of being fun and involving would work for all other grades as well.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Logical Consequence for the Challenger

A couple days ago, I was talking to a bunch of students about staying out of the planters. I'm trying to make clear that there will be a consequence for students who do not listen. In addition, I'm trying to mae sure that I clearly state what will be the consequence for not listening. I did so a couple days ago.

I told a student directly that if she didn't stay out of the planter, I would send her down to the portable in the lower yard. At the time, she was playing in the playground of the upper yard which is generally where upper elementary students stay during the after school program. Sending her down to the portable would be the equivalent of grounding her since I would be taking her out of a more desirable environment. It is more desirable because her friends stay in the upper yard.

I let her know that her mom had arrived to pick her up. She made an attempt to mock me. She steps one foot in the planter, stares directly at me, and smiles. "Well, I'm going down to the portable since my mom is here to pick me up. So, it doesn't matter if you send me down." With a second of delay, I clicked and responded right back to her attempted mockery of me. This is how I responded: "You just mocked me. You knew that I said that no students are supposed to play in the planter, but you did it anyway. It's OK though. I don't need to send you down today. I can send you down tomorrow."

Immediately after I said that, her entire face just drooped with sadness. The next day, she tried to bargain with me.

Her: "Can I pick up 20 pieces of trash?

Me: "You're negotiating with me?" (I hesitate)

Her: "Ok... how about 30 pieces?"

Me: (I continue to hesitate) No. You need to go down (to the portable).

Her: Really?

Me: Yes. You have to.

Her: How long...? We only have an hour.

Me: Hmmm... Let's say 20 minutes.

Her: Ok.

Me: Alright.

I felt that it was vital that I still send her down. Otherwise, my change in action would communicate that I can be pushed to administer different consequences. That's important since if I could be pushed to administer different consequences, then students might be able to get me to give them the consequences that they want to be administered. A consequence is not necessarily very influential in shaping a student's behavior if they get what they want. If they behave inappropriately, they can get what they want? It doesn't make sense to teach that.

Originally, I was going to have her stay down for the entire hour, but I had later decided that that would be too harsh. So, I cut her consequence down to 20 minutes. Hopefully, that was enough to teach her not to challenge the rules that I communicate.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When a Student Doesn't Get Homework for 2 Weeks

This week and the last week have been... special for students and teachers. On April 27th, Read-a-thon began. Here is a 1 minute video to give you an idea of what is involved in Read-a-thon. In case you don't watch that video, I will also give you a description of it. For 2 weeks, all students throughout the school will spend an additional 30 minutes per day to read. Depending on how much money a student receives as a form of sponsorship, they will read more. I assume that they will read at home. I'll explain that momentarily.

In the same two weeks which Read-a-thon occurs, STAR testing is taking place. Every student took school time of the first week to study for the STAR testing. They studied in class with their teacher. Accomplishing new learning had largely been halted for STAR testing. And, in the following week, all the students actually take the STAR tests.

Now, because the students of Agajan's class were preoccupied with Read-a-thon and studying for STAR tests, they didn't receive any homework for 2 weeks. I remember yesterday, one of my former students said something interesting. Inside the portable that I work in for the after school program, she was looking at some papers in a folder hanging on the wall. Those papers were homework that students had lost and did not have a name. She asked me if she could complete that homework. I asked her, "Are you serious?" Yea... She was serious. I asked her, "You like to do homework?" She replied, "Yea... well, I haven't done homework in a while."

I guess compared to STAR tests, homework seems pretty interesting. That and perhaps, being away from it long enough allowed her to recover her endurance for it. I'm not sure whether what the rest of her peers think, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Monday, May 7, 2012

General Teacher Interview Preparation Tip

A few weeks back, I did a phone interview Galileo Learning. I'm looking for a relevant summer job. Galileo Learning is a summer camp. Specifically, if I was hired, I would've taught in the K - 5 summer camp. I was already rejected, but when I was preparing for my interview I had the right idea. First, look at the first half of the job posting below:

"2012 Galileo Summer Quest Position Description, Assistant Instructor

Shared Values and Expectations
  • Serve as an ambassador of Galileo, demonstrating our mission and values in a positive and professional manner and acting as a role model of the Galileo Innovator’s mindset
  • Commit to building a safe, child-focused community
  • Demonstrate professionalism and accountability
  • Take initiative to analyze and solve problems
  • Treat others with courtesy and respect
  • Respond to camper, parent and colleague needs
  • Maintain a high standard of ethics, integrity and confidentiality
  • Commitment to educational programming for children
  • Flexibility to meet changing work needs and demands
  • Ability to work collaboratively on a high-functioning team
  • Openness to feedback and desire to grow professionally
  • Ability to handle multiple tasks efficiently and accurately
  • Strong organization skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to communicate clearly, maturely and compassionately with parents
  • Ability to maintain an excellent work ethic, a high level of energy and exceptional enthusiasm all day, every day, for up to 8 weeks
Education, Training and Experience                             
  • Upper-level high school student, college student or graduate
  • Demonstrated leadership experience
  • Experience working with kids or in a camp setting a plus
Essential Duties & Responsibilities
  • Become familiar with curriculum for two to five Majors
  • Assist Lead Instructors in delivering curriculum, learning skills necessary to be an effective and successful educator
  • Provide leadership, energy and camp spirit for campers, constantly assessing group dynamics and the needs of individual campers
  • Set, work towards, and achieve measurable professional development goals
  • Support camper check-in and check-out processes
  • Provide excellent customer service to parents by communicating with them on a daily basis about their camper’s experience
  • Assist with daily set up and clean up of camp and assist Instructors with lesson preparation
  • Contribute to and participate in daily opening and closing ceremonies, all-camp activities, and snack & lunch supervision and programming"
The information from the job posting above would be your best resource for preparing for an interview with Galileo Learning. They're telling you what they want. You may say in your resume and cover letter that you fit this mold, but they will want to verify that. Interviewing you is how they establish a stronger sense of security that you truly fit that mold. What I did with the information above is that I prepared an example for each of the bullets. I imagined that they phrased each bullet into a question. Here are some examples: "How you would build a safe and child-centered community?," "What is an example of when you set, worked towards and achieved measurable professional development goals?," "How would you serve as an ambassador for Galileo (i.e. demonstrate the "Innovator's Mindset)? etc. The first and third question were based on bullets under shared values and expectations and the second was based on a bullet under essential duties and responsibilities.

I was actually asked the 2nd question that I formulated. I can't remember what else I was asked since its been a while since I did that interview. But, it makes sense that they would ask you interview questions related to those bullets since they are telling you what they want and they want to make sure that you are what they want.

Unfortunately, despite my preparation, I failed. Why did I fail? There is a problem that I have in interviews. I can actually provide a lot of detail. And, while in the interview, I worried about providing too much detail. However, because of that worry, I provided too little detail. I didn't provide enough examples. I might've even responded vaguely. From now on, I've decided that it will serve me better to provide too much detail rather than too little. That isn't to say that its always good to provide too much detail. Of course, no one wants to hear me ramble. So, I will give at least one example to back up my answer. That will be the rule of thumb. If I haven't given at least one example to back my answer up, then I've said too little.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Logical Consequence Against the Defiant

As I've said before, I've been reading a book by Robert Mackenzie called "Setting Limits in the Classroom." One of the best and simplest ideas that I got from it was the idea of logical consequences. I had a particularly successful opportunity in utilizing it a few days back.

These students were playing with wood chips in this patch of area where the trees are. One of the school rules is that they are not supposed to play in that area. So, I told them once, "You need stop playing with the wood chips. Otherwise, you'll have to stay inside (i.e. the auditorium rather than the playground) for the rest of the day." In their defense, they weren't doing anything particularly mischievous or harmful, but some students have (e.g. throwing wood chips around or simply making a mess). They agreed to stop doing it. So, I walked away. They started playing with the wood chips again. I returned to them and said, "Ok. All three of you need to go inside." Two of them agreed to listen. I thanked them for doing so. One of them was trying to defend themselves.

Her: Ok. We'll stop playing with them.

Me: I already told you to stop before. You had your chance. You'll have another chance next time.

Her: But, other students play with wood chips.

Me: Yea, but that doesn't mean it's right when they do it. No one is allowed to play with the wood chips. Alright. Time to go inside.

Her: You're unfair!

Me: No I'm not. I just said. No one is supposed to be playing with them. Ok. Time to go inside.

Her: (pauses for about a minute... Finally, she gives up and walks inside)

It doesn't end there though. After we headed down, that same student tried to challenge me again.

Her: Mr. Auto, can I open you up and check if you're made in China because you're fake?

Me: (Pause for 5 seconds) You just called me fake. You just insulted me. If you insult me again, you'll stay in the portable for the rest of the day (i.e. the remaining hour left in the after school program).

Her: (She says nothing... and walks away)

Just to be clear, in the first case, they didn't use the wood chips properly, so the logical consequence was to have them go inside. The consequence was administered to show them what happens when they refuse to follow school rules on the playground. If you can't follow school rules while on the playground, then you can't be on the playground.

In the second case, that girl wasn't being respectful to me, so the logical consequence would have been to send her inside. If you can't be respectful to your peers and teachers on the playground, then you cannot be on the playground.

So, the gist is if they cannot follow the rules for a given area, then as a reminder, they will temporarily lose their privilege to use that area.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Example of a Direct Instruction Lesson

In the post just previous to this one, I mentioned how I taught it via a direct instruction model. Also, I said how it took me 18 minutes to teach that an interjection is a single word followed by an exclamation mark. I think that without any context, that sounds bizarre. So, I'm going to explain how that's possible and why that length of time is reasonable.

A couple days ago, I was prepping myself for a lesson that I had to teach. I wanted to make it super simple. An additional suggestion that one of my supervisors gave me was to use a direct instruction teaching model. To be honest, I was familiar with the name, but not with all that occurs in such a model. So, I looked it up in Google. This was the most helpful result that I found. This is the breakdown of a lesson taught via direct instruction.

1. Express content and language objectives.
2. Connect lesson to students' experience and justify lesson to be taught.
3. Show final product of learning and process behind learning it. Students will merely observe.
4. Guided practice. Students take part of the lesson and the teacher takes a part of the lesson.
5. Independent practice. Students engage with lesson all on their own.
6. Closure. Students are reminded of objective of lesson.

I'll give you an idea of how I utilized these steps. First, I had three students read each the content and language objectives. You can read them in the poster shown below:

Second, I had to spend about two minutes to make sure that everyone understood how to behave in class. Then, I asked students to give me a thumbs up if they've expressed a sentence in a loud or excited way before. Almost everyone gives a thumbs up. I ask the class if anyone wants to share an excited or loud sentence that they've expressed before. Then, I explain that in the lesson, they will learn that sometimes only single words will have exclamation marks after them and those words are interjections.

Third, I showed them some examples of three different interjections. I allowed different students to read them in an expressive way. I pointed out to them that if there is no exclamation mark, the sentence or word is read loudly, but if it has an exclamation mark it is read loudly or with excitement.

Fourth, on the board, I listed three sentences containing blanks. Each of the blanks could have an interjection placed in them. I posted interjections on the board for students to come up and post on to a sentence. I had three different students come up.

Fifth, I gave all of the students a scenario. The scenario was that their parents got them a really awesome birthday gift. They got them a pet dragon or unicorn. I asked the students to think of how they would respond, to write a sentence containing one interjection, share it with a partner after they finish, and show me a thumbs up once they are finished. I set the timer for two minutes to complete this task.

Last, I took two different students work to show under the docucam, had them read it to the class, and I corrected their pronunciation accordingly. Before I ended the lesson, I asked someone to remind the class about what an interjection is. Then, I handed the class back to Mr. Agajan.

I think that should give you a better idea on why it took me 18 minutes to teach this lesson. On top of that, you also need to factor in time for behavior management.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Creating a Simple Enough Lesson

I've been trying to complete my last TPA. My hardest part was recording a lesson that I was satisfied with. I wanted a lesson that shows the students being productive, interested, and quiet. Also, I needed to do a lesson that was small enough. I needed to teach a lesson that was no less than 18 minutes but no longer than 20 minutes. That turned out to be hard to do.

For the first lesson that I taught, I wanted to give my students a method for learning how to solve math word problems. There were two problems with that lesson: #1 It was complicated. It consisted of multiple components. I drew them a table that consisted of two columns and four rows. From the first column and row down to the last row, these were the names of the rows: "Know," "Question," "Need," and "Use Info." In the second column for the know row, students write down information directly from the word problem which can be used to answer the question of a word problem. In the second column of the question row, students write the question of the word problem exactly as they read it. In the second column of the need row, students leave it blank or write the info that they need to solve the word problem. Finally, in the second column of the use info row, students use the information they have to solve the problem. Now, #2, a lot of students found it boring to practice using a method to solve a word problem.

Originally, when I was practicing the lesson above at home, it took me about 15 minutes to complete. When I actually taught the lesson in class, it took 33 minutes. I probably would've been better off just teaching them about just one row from the table (i.e. Just the know or the question row instead of every row). And then, for each consecutive lesson, I could introduce another row. That way, they could've directed all of their focus at just one part of the table.

The second lesson that I taught was much simpler. In the lesson, they learned about interjections (i.e. a single word followed by an exclamation mark [e.g. Wow!]) When I practiced that lesson at home, it took me 13 minutes. When I actually taught the lesson in class, it only took me 18 minutes. Much less of a time gap.

Something further that you might be wondering is why it took me 18 minutes to teach my students that "Wow!" is an interjection. I think it's worth its own post. I'll address that in my next post.