I started the week doing great with posting every day but as my week got busier and I got more involved in the life of my classroom I had less and less time in the evenings to post on my blog. I am really enjoying my time on my short practicum and it is going by way too fast! I wish I had more time to get to know my SA and students as I’m just beginning to feel like I am a part of the classroom. The title say’s it all , we’ve had a busy few days in division 4 between a science labs, acting out Inuit legends and the Halloween Carnival, somewhere in all the excitement we also managed to fit in my second math lesson and an introduction to our Peace unit.
Wednesday morning was spent doing science lab activities with guests from the Langley Centennial Museum, we looked at all sorts of aspects of weather and I functioned as the classes official note taker again as well as supporting a few students in staying on task during the discussion portion. We talked for about half an hour then moved into the focus of our morning building our own weather instruments; we built both anemometers for measuring wind speed and thermometers. The students were calm focused and engaged in these activities; I greatly enjoyed helping the students build their thermometers and trying to make them work properly. As if we didn’t get a good seal between the straw and the test tube, to make the thermometer coloured water was placed in the bottom of the test tube and a straw was inserted about a centimetre from the bottom of the test tube and the two were sealed together with plasticine. Then they were placed in a cold water bath with the temperature recorded at 5 degrees Celsius , the students marked the water level at this temperature on their thermometers, then the thermometers were placed in a hot water bath measuring at 50 degrees Celsius and this point was marked. The students asked some great questions about how the thermometer works and were able to look at how both air pressure and increasing energy in the water due to increased or decreased energy as the temperature changes alters how “high” the water goes in the tube.
In the afternoon on Wednesday the student’s turned the Inuit legends that they had been reading and researching into plays, this was their first work session on the project and focused on picking a legend and turning it into a script that had something for every student in the group to do. Some groups of the students were excited and engaged in this process while others were not and had a bit of difficulty getting started, once the groups were started they seemed to work fairly well. This took up most of our afternoon on Wednesday, as we also had tech ( prep time for me and my SA) .
Thursday I got to teach my second math lesson and though there is still lots of room for growth I feel better about this one than Tuesdays. I started by introducing my lesson with a story that was referenced on the day’s work sheet. after reading the story we modelled all the different ways that we could make the numbers 42 &17 with the base 10 block as those numbers come up numerous times in Margret Mahys ” 17 Kings and 42 Elephants” the story of the day. I feel like I had a bit better control of the classroom in this lesson as fewer students were off task then were on Tuesday. I am really liking using the strategy that was discussed in the Roland Case Seminar a few weeks ago to have students ” vote with their thumbs” to indicate understanding and where they feel that they are, I do Thumbs up for I’m ready to work on my own, Thumb to the side for I need a few more examples, and Thumb down for I’m very confused. My students seem to be voting honestly using this method, I ask all my students to turn their bodies to face me when they vote and to keep their thumb in front of their chest reminding them that the whole class doesn’t need to see their vote, just the teachers do.
Friday was a whirl wind of a day! Between Halloween and a Social Studies Lesson, yes we made our students work on Halloween. We began with a typical morning Attendance ( I got confused because many of my students had wigs on and some wore masks as well) , then collecting any money and notices and Daily Oral Language. After that we began a team teaching activity to which I gave the introduction. We are working on in inquiry project about peace and peace keeping in preparation for Remembrance Day. While this is the time of year to talk about peace with students I have approached it very differently and with the help of a good friend of mine who is a Corporal in the Canadian Army and currently deployed in Poland. When my SA and I first talked about me doing some Peace centred activities as a mini unity I wasn’t sure what to do so I told my friend what I was asked to do and he had an absolutely brilliant idea! He suggested that my students and I write , well email, him and he and his friends over there would do their best to answer our questions. I though that this was a great idea because not only does it cover the material that needed to be covered it brought a human connection and made it real to my students as these are real people they are connecting with. On Friday we did the first two parts of the project I introduced my students to Corporal Christopher Alliston ( Pher – I usually call him by his childhood nickname) , the friend of mine who had suggested this project. I decided to do my introduction as a story, because stories have a way of not only sharing the facts but getting to peoples emotions and hearts as well, and I wanted to engage the students beyond the intellectual and bring their emotions into it to help them make a meaningful connection.I started my introduction by showing the students a picture of Pher and I at the end of grade 5, and telling them the he was the little boy in the picture and telling the story of how him and I met and grew up next door to each other. I moved through a series of pictures from our childhood and high school years including our grade 7 class picture and one of us at our Grade 12 Dinner Dance, before showing them newer photos of Pher doing his job and the school appropriate images he had on Facebook, I had saved these images onto my I pad so that I could present all of the photos in a clean easy to follow way and avoid any potentially not school appropriate photos Pher had posted. My students were completely engaged through out this process often asking questions to get more information or wanting to know more of the story. We then as a class brainstormed questions that we could ask and they came up with 25 awesome questions that we hope we can get answers to, taking the time to talk about any questions that came up that we shouldn’t ask and why they shouldn’t be asked. At this point my SA took over and introduced the concept of writing a letter and how to structure a letter. She had created a graphic organizer to help the students organize their thoughts as well as a template to help the students lay out their work when writing their letters. Then we took a short break from this activity for buddies and recess. After recess the students got straight to work and wrote awesome letters asking questions and introducing them selves and sharing little bits about their lives such as what sports they play and what grade they are in. It was great to see the students so focused on their project and working so well in their pairs to write the letters. I forwarded the letters yesterday on to Pher and we are waiting to hear back from him, keeping in mind that we have to be paitent as his schedule and ours are very different and he doesn’t always have access to a computer or internet to get back to us right away. We are very excited to hear back from him and his friends soon.
Friday afternoon ended on a high note, with the annual Halloween Carnival. One of my students won the cake decorating competition for a very realistic set of skulls. My students all enjoyed the games and activities that filled the gym from the haunted house to the bouncy house and carnival games galore, the students spent the afternoon playing games, winning prizes and socializing. It was also a great time for me to chat with my students one on one and in small groups, they were excited to show their winnings and talk about the games they had played. I even joined a few in going through the haunted house. My whole class came to school in costume on Friday and we had many unique and creative costumes , it was obvious that the students put a lot of thought and time into their costumes.