December 3, 2018 – Week 8 Final Reflections

This semester and the time I have spent at my placement have flown by! It’s sad knowing that I won’t be going back to my class next Monday but I have learned so much with each week I have been there. What I think I benefited most from with this experience, which my co-op also noticed, is my comfort level in the classroom. With each week I was better able to jump into whatever the students were working on and I became more familiar with what most of the students needed for extra help in their learning. I also learned how little things such as playing a song for the students on the topic can really help them learn and the ideas to stick with the students. There was not a lot of conflict that I saw in the classroom and when some students would start to act out my co-op would bring them back in using quick phrases or exercises to listen back in which showed some of the classroom management she had. In our final discussion this afternoon we talked about how these different skills come to you over time and as you get to know each class a little bit better and that she could see my partner and I improving in these areas.

I found it so interesting seeing the different ways that some students think while learning as well. There were some who excelled in reading and writing while others were skilled in math or did well in gym class and were involved in other activities outside of school. Seeing how my co-op tried to include aspects of the different learning styles in her teaching has given me ideas for how I might plan my lessons. I also took note of the different transitions my co-op uses, many of which involve getting up and going to another part of the classroom to grab textbooks or their notebooks which seemed to keep the students from getting restless during lessons.

Being in an elementary school was very interesting as well. Younger students react to things in completely different ways than older students do and I found their enthusiasm very uplifting and refreshing. Although there were a few students who were a little less enthusiastic, I learned that they usually would just need a little extra push to really get into their growth mindset and believe that their ideas were good and that they were on the right track. I wonder if maybe this push is what has been missing in what I have seen from older students but I think that if that confidence can be built in the younger grades that students should hopefully carry it on with them into middle and upper years.

To end the day my co-op had the students sit around my partner and I and tell us something they were thankful that we did for them, a compliment, or a well wish. Some of these comments were things like being thankful for help with Word Work, wishing us luck in university (one of the students said that his wish is that we pass all of our classes – I wish for that too!), commenting on how we were very nice when we were giving help and one of them thanked us for our lesson that we gave on Poundmaker! This was one of the most exciting ones because I was able to see that they were able to take something educational away from us being there. As they were leaving at the end of the day one of the students walked past me and said “see you in three years when you’re done university and are a teacher”. Hearing a student say they hope to have you again in the future is something I am sure all teachers want to hear!

I think that this placement was so beneficial because it really gave me an opportunity to learn some different techniques to go about all the elements of teaching and also allowed me to branch out to try some things out on my own. Although the time spent at my school was short, I was able to develop some big skills that I will use in my future as a teacher and have a great time while doing it!

November 26, 2018 – Week 7

Today was an exciting day at my placement because my partner and I were able to go into two other classrooms and also give a lesson to our regular class.

Both of the other classes we went into were 7/8 splits and they were very different from our regular grade 3 class. In the first classroom, I noticed that almost all of the students had cell phones and they seemed to be on them more often than not. One of the girls had her ringer on through the 45 minutes we spent with them and it kept going off. I noticed that when the teacher told the students what they were to be doing, they didn’t always listen, also. At one point the teacher had to run to the library to grab their textbooks. She told them to work on a small English assignment she had given them last day and then added a second one for anyone who was done. As soon as she left the students started talking to each other loudly and going on their phones. One of the boys started walking around, distracting the few who were actually working. I went over and asked if he was done the first assignment and he said yes then I asked if he had started the second one. He said there wasn’t a second one. I asked him what their teacher had said right before leaving and he just looked at me and I ended up telling him the second thing. Then he went and sat down but didn’t do the second assignment because he was back on his phone. When the teacher got back she told them that they were going to need to change their seating plan. She explained to us later that she had let them pick their new seating that morning and so they all chose to sit with their friends and so that was probably why they were acting up so much.

The second 7/8 class seemed a lot more mature than the first. Again, many of them had cell phones but they had them sitting on their desk face down and only looked at them if they were going to listen to music or every once in a while when they were actually working. I also felt more welcomed into this classroom by the students. The first class I noticed would try to quiet their conversations some of the time when my partner and I were around, for example they were doing a little race where they had to write down 12 things that fit a certain topic and once the first team said they were done then everyone had to stop. One of the girls in the back group we were standing beside continued to try telling another student things to write down until she noticed that we were listening. In this second class a few of the students included us in some of their conversations and I had a couple of students ask me for help and clarification on the assignment they were working on.

At recess, my partner and I went back to our regular classroom and got ready for our lesson. We went and met the class as they were coming in from outside. A few of the students, when they saw we were back in their class, got really excited and wanted to tell us about things that have happened in their week. This was so exciting to see because it showed that the students were enjoying having us there.

The lesson we did was on Chief Poundmaker. We started off with a refresher on what peace meant to us and what we knew about treaties. Then we read a few sections on a book about Poundmaker and had some discussion on the main ideas we felt were important. Then we had another discussion about ways we could work to bring peace into our communities and talked about examples. We ended off with a song from a Saskatchewan Heroes CD about Poundmaker and we had a copy of the lyrics projected so that the students could read and sing along! I felt that it went well except that in the discussion when I first asked the students about peace I somehow forgot most of their names right on the spot! I think this must have been a result of being nervous. Our co-op teacher at the end of the day told us she felt that it went over well and that we had good time designated for each activity to hold the class’s attention.

We finished the day with health and learning how to make healthy decisions by looking at two options we could choose from. First  we did an example as a class, then one with a partner, and ended with each student doing their own. While they were doing their own I worked at the back with three students who asked for a bit of help. Two of these students were ones I haven’t worked with too much so it was great getting to see how these two also worked through their assignments. After helping these students I walked around helping other students before class was done and it was the end of the day.

As I have mentioned, a lot of the grade 7/8 students had cell phones and they used them more or less depending which class they were in. In the second 7/8 class they were doing some readings in textbooks and a few of the students had their own tablets and iPads from home they were doing the readings on. The grade 3 class I am with also uses iPads during Daily Five when they do some of the read to self exercises. For research they often use a combination of books from the library and online research using things like Britannica and they have math programs that involve games and activities that help them learn their skills.

November 19, 2018 -Week 6

This week was back to a more normal schedule from the previous one in which I went on a Wednesday afternoon to make up for the missed Monday.

We started with the Daily Five again and I was able to work with a couple of students in the read to someone else group. The first girl showed me how they check for comprehension by taking note of things such as place, main character, and problem. the Next boy that I read with had a Guinness Book of World Records book to read but when we started to look at it he told me that he just looked at the pictures and didn’t read what was said about them. I tried to encourage him to read some of them and eventually we started taking turns reading a couple to each other on each page.

The kids were behaving a little differently i noticed on this day. I noticed that a few of the students who listened really well most of the classes I have observed were acting out a bit more. when talking to my co-op she couldn’t think of reason for why this might be however.

On Friday was conferences and so we also had a few things to do in preparation for this. First The students were given a sheet with a list of personal behaviours each with a blank beside them. The students were to consider how well they did each behaviour and give themselves a mark out of 4 for how often they do each with 1 being hardly Ever and 4 being almost always. My co-op gave me 3 boys to work with that she thought would need a little extra help with this. Two of them needed help Understanding what examples of some of the behaviours might be so I was able to provide them with these explanations. The third boy my co-op said would probably just give himself mostly 4’s and wouldn’t be honest about the assignment. I found out that she was right because he gave himself, on the list of about 20, all 4’s except for 4 or 5 3’s. one of the behaviours was about causing distractions to other students. During this assignment he was playing with his pencil the entire time, throwing it up and catching it and tapping it on the table. I mentioned to him that that might be considered a distraction so he could maybe rethink his 4 but he didn’t catch on. These forms were going to be discussdd at conferences and my co-op said that a lot of the students last year who weren’t honest became shy and embarrassed when asked about how they answered each in front of their parents.

From that assignment we moved into trying to create goals for each individual student. They would look at what areas they had given themselves 1’s or 2’s and try to make a goal depending on this. They were also able to consider specific areas in math and English that they felt needed improvement and also use these. The boy who was giving himself all 3’s and 4’s struggled with this and only wrote down one goal for math and when I told him we were supposed to be doing two so to try coming up with a second he became slightly frustrated because there was nothing on the sheet he felt needed improvement So I helped him come up with one regarding the neatness of his desk as my co-op had made comment on it earlier. I then helped the other students in the class to make corrections before they wrote out a good copy of their goals.

I have talked a bit about how the students learn by being put into groups that correspond to their levels of understanding So I will do a quick reminder on how that worked. My co-op tests their skills about once a month to regroup and make sure they are in a group that will most benefit their learning. these groups all do the same or very similar work in their English classes but the groups focus on different things such as fluency, word choice, or writers voice.

Something I found to be really great is that the teachers at my school went through the curriculum and put some of the goals into simpler words and phrases to understand.

Outcomes

These posters with the outcomes and goals are then posted in the classroom so that students can see and understand what they are to be learning.

We talked a bit about the textbooks used in the different classes as well. The science textbook is almost spot on for what is in the curriculum so they use that one quite a bit. In other classes such as social studies and math My co-op said she has to piece things together and also use other resources.

Overall I do believe that the students have an understanding for why they learn the topics they do and they seem to be excited about them.

November 14, 2018 – Week 5

So I wasn’t supposed to go to my school this week because I go on Monday afternoons but I really wanted to make it up so my co-op and I planned for me to go Wednesday afternoon instead. This was interesting because I noticed that the kids behave differently on Wednesdays than they do on Mondays. On Mondays they seem to have a lot more energy and talk more. Another difference on this day was that for their gym class they had a substitute as well as my co-op had one come in at the end of the day so she could get some marking done for report cards. It was interesting to see how the students behaved differently with the substitutes as well. In their gym class they seemed to be having more fun because the class was a little less strict and they were cheering for their teams more. In the other class when they had the substitute a lot of the students came to me over the substitute to ask questions and to get permission to get a drink or go to the washroom.

Having the substitute for the gym class was great because she told me they were supposed to start with some sort of game of tag and she let me teach them a new one that I played with my kids I worked with this summer. After tag we worked on soccer passes and then played a few games of soccer and she kept me involved in helping make the teams and work with them, helping with passes. It was nice to get more involved and to have been able to lead the game of tag at the beginning of class.

Next was Social and the students were just starting a partner assignment where they had to research a country, first by scanning a book about living in it, and collect information on what it is like living there. For this I was put with a group of two boys to help them work. One of the boys is an English as an Additional Language student, but I was really impressed with how well he read out loud to myself and his partner. After this class was recess and I went outside to do some supervision. Lots of the students in the class I am with kept coming up to talk to me and tell me stories.

The last class of the day was when we had our second substitute and we worked on a bit of health as well as some English and Art. In the Health portion we talked about how to make good choices and took some notes on trustworthy adults. Then we moved onto the English/Art portion and the students worked on creating pictures to decorate the papers they had written Remembrance Day poems on that I had been there to help with.

At the end of the day I went down to do bus supervision and talk to my co-op about this week’s topic. The school has Safe Space posters on many of the walls and windows and we talked about some of the health curriculum’s covered through the different grades. My co-op said that in the grade 3 health they mostly just talk about family dynamics and so they go into single parents and talk about how some families have two moms or two dads and also talked about step parents. In the higher grades she told me that they get more in depth with different genders and sexualities and for those classes a permission form is sent home. The parents in the school are very involved in what the students are learning about and she said that at times they may choose not to send their child depending on what may be taught that day, but the school does try to educate the students in these topics.

In the school there is also a teacher who comes once a week to work with the EAL students. The boy I mentioned earlier in this post gets pulled from class on these days to go work with her and 3 other students who are learning English. This is a program that she has said has been in the school for a number of years and is very beneficial to the students who come from other countries that may not speak English.

November 5, 2018 – week 4

In my classroom there is a wide range of reading, writing, and math levels. In this grade 3 class the students’ reading levels are from a beginning grade 3 level all the way up to a mid grade 5 level. The students are currently working on a novel study in class which they work on during Daily Five in their groups. Each group is reading a different novel based on their reading levels. In the students’ writing, the whole class is given the same prompts but the teacher focuses on different aspects of the writing based on the level they are in. For example, the students at the lower writing levels work on “green light, yellow light, and red light words”. These are the connecting words that they incorporate into their writing such as first (green), next (yellow), then (yellow), and finally (red). The students with the highest writing levels work on the structure and flow of their writing. One example of wrap around endings, one of the strategies they use, that a student read for the class was starting a story with “I can’t wait to build a fairy house” and she ended with “I can’t wait until the next time I get to build a fairy house”. The wrap around part was using “I can’t wait” to tie it back together.

In math the students are learning how to skip count to 100. They started off using a number chart to help them and as some of the students started to figure it out they would ease away from using the sheet. The students who still ca’t quite get the skip counting on their own still use the sheets and the teachers makes sure that they are available to them for when they need. They also have unit blocks to help with counting. The teacher said that she will start with using blocks or other learning objects to introduce the ideas so that visual learners will be able to see the math they are doing. SHe also said that depending on the level the students are on determines the number of questions she expects of each student. For example, she might assign 8 questions but for the students who are at lower math levels she may allow them to choose 4 or 5 of the questions to work on while those whose level i a bit higher she might expect them to go ahead and work on additional questions.

At the end of the school day we were able to talk to our co-operating teacher about some more of the programs that the school has for some of the students who might have learning disabilities or just need a little extra help. the class I am with has only 2 and a half hours with an EA each week so there isn’t a lot of in the classroom help so she needs to decide where it would be the most beneficial to the students. When we are there the EA is around for Daily Five to help with English. There are also kids in the school in the FIAP program. There are other programs that are available for students with learning disabilities as well.

October 29, 2018 – Week 3

This week we had a different daily schedule than the past two days have been. We started off the afternoon by going through the spelling lists. my class has three lists that the teacher assigns by using colour groups (red, green, and blue). Students are placed in groups depending on their skills going into the spelling week. The red and green groups both were working on words with the short u sound in them, one group had longer words than the other, and the blue group was working on words with “ie” and “ei” in them. Along with these 9 words that every person in the group had each student had an individual list of 6 words they have struggled with in their writing which I found interesting and beneficial. my co-operating teacher, partner and myself went around to the students checking that every word was spelt correctly then we moved onto Daily Five. This is used for their English Language Arts and what they did is each row started on a different activity such as reading silently, creative writing, word work, reading with a partner, and guided reading (this activity was done on iPads where the students would first listen to a book, then read it themselves, then do a quiz on the book). The way Daily Five works is they do one activity, followed by a short lesson, activity, lesson, and ending with a third activity that they circle through Then pick up on the next one the following day.

after recess my grade 3 class had a Halloween buddy activity with the grade 6 class in the library where they were buddied up and circled through stations. My partner and I were at the craft station helping if the buddies needed it. This was fun but also super busy as all of the students were excited and energized but there were a few buddies who didn’t work together great so trying to help them get along while also helping the rest of the groups made it a very busy station! Both grades seemed to really enjoy this time though which was good to see. then we went back to the classroom and addressed a couple things the students could work on to make the next buddy day run a little more smoothly before the end of the day.

While our teacher did bus supervision we were able to talk to her about some of the ways she continues to learn and build her toolbox. She told us that she loves english so that is something she has really worked on but that she is trying to also build up math as well. One way she is doing this is by going to math based COPs (communities of practice) where teachers get together to share ideas and help each other with their teaching. she Really emphasized the collaboration that she uses to bring in new ideas and develop lesson plans and I agree that this is really important. After supervision we went back up to the classroom and she showed us some of her favourite books she’s collected and read through to develop her English lesson plans and how she incorporates them into her teaching.

Overall, she really emphasized that We should take the time to read through books such as the ones she showed us and others on different subjects to gain new ideas and to keep sharing and listening to ideas of our colleagues.

October 22, 2018 – Week 2

The students at the school I am placed at come from families who really push the students to do well in school and extra-curricular activities. My co-operating teacher told my partner and I that the parents are very involved in the learning of their children. The students are very involved in extra-curricular activities as well as groups and sports outside of school. One of the boys I was working with this week, for example, was telling me that he was in Cubs and he told me about how they were going hiking this week and he was really excited.

Parents of the students are also very involved in what goes on at school and come in quite regularly to talk to the teachers. I think that it is good that they are so involved because that shows that the families are probably having good conversations at home about school and the children’s learning. One way that the teachers keep parents updated is by using Seesaw. This resource allows the teachers to keep parents up to date on what their children are doing at school as well as get notes out while conserving paper. Seesaw is also a great way to start a conversation with families about events going on. An example of this was that our co-operating teacher was able to contact one of the parents to check that they had paid for the field trip they were taking this week.

Most of the students at my school have their own devices such as cell phones and tablets. There are days when they have activities that require technology so the teachers are able to tell them to bring their own devices from home, and also talk to parents about it via Seesaw, to use in these activities. This I find really interesting because I am with a grade 3 class. Growing up, the first device I ever had was one of those iPods that didn’t have games or any way to get on the internet and I bought it with Christmas and birthday money I had saved up when I was in grade 5. This is how many people in my school were, I remember there were a couple of kids whose parents gave them cell phones at young ages but I didn’t expect this in a grade 3 class of around 30 students. This is largely a result of how much technology is used today as well.

I would say that the environment created by the school community is a positive one that pushes their students to learn and be open to all the opportunities offered around them.

October 15, 2018 – Field Placement Day 1

My co-operating teacher had asked that for my first day I come a little early but I wasn’t able to because I have a class that ran into that time. For that reason, I went the week before to get a tour of the school and meet my teacher as well as the principal of the school. Both of these women were so welcoming and friendly which I really appreciated. This short hour was packed full of information and what to expect come Monday. My co-operating teacher also told me that I would be able to run a lesson later in the placement and asked if there was any other class I was interested in spending a day with. She is going to talk to the grade 7 and 8 teachers so that we can hopefully plan something one of the days. On Monday I got to the school right as the bell to come in from lunch recess was about to go so I went to my co-operating teacher’s classroom and waited for the students to come back in. When they did there was a few of them who came up and asked if I was also going to be a guest teacher as they had already met my partner. The first class in the afternoon was Phys Ed so we walked to the gym as soon as everyone was ready. A couple students stopped at the water fountain so I waited with them and they talked to me a bit.

In the Phys Ed class I worked with half the students at a time while the Phys Ed teacher was doing fitness testing with the others. I gave the students encouragement and gave them some examples to do when they had time to make up their own steps when running through the floor ladders. After all the fitness testing was done we played a game before walking back to the classroom. On the walk, our co-operating teacher told one of the students to walk with me and tell me about himself. He seemed kind of shy and didn’t talk a whole lot except for when I would ask him questions.

Next we had Social Studies where the students were learning about the difference between rural and urban communities. My co-op teacher told the students that I grew up on a farm and that I’d be able to help if they needed on the rural section of their venn diagrams comparing and contrasting these two types of communities. I walked around checking in on students who weren’t working and asking those who seemed stuck if they needed help. Some of the students talked through their thinking with me and brainstormed some ideas to put down. Once done the venn diagram they were to work on corrections and their teacher told me that I could go around checking if they were right. On the first girls assignment, I saw that the corrections were on geography which I haven’t studied since probably grade 9! I quickly thought to go back with the student to check what their booklet said, read the section that gave the answer, then asked her if it was right. She said yes and I said right and marked it correct. I kept doing similar things with the other students who needed their corrections checked because I hardly knew any of the correct answers! This let me talk through the students’ thinking with them though and they didn’t seem to question it or have any problem doing this so I think it worked out okay.

Next was recess and my co-operating teacher told two students to give me and my partner a tour of the school yard. The two boys got to talking to me and my partner had another boy from the class come up to her and start talking so we ended up slitting up. I spent the whole recess just walking around the playground with these boys. They showed me the playground and told me about what they usually do at recess as well as what the rest of their class and the other grades did too. At one point a group of the girls in my class came up to me as well and started talking to me about what they were doing and pointing out some of their siblings. Then they ran off again and the boys continued telling me about themselves and telling stories. Another girl from my class ran up to me later on and told me that there were some other kids doing things that they weren’t supposed to so I started to go over to tell them not to but another teacher made it there before I did. It was still good to see that the students saw me as being someone who could step in to make sure that the students weren’t doing things that could result in one of them getting hurt.

After recess was planner time so I went around checking for if they had done any reading last weekend and handed out “Star Bucks” to those who had. The Star Bucks are used for the students to show that they have done something good and they have a board where they keep track of them. While going around I also got to talk to more of the students and find out about some of their things they do after school.

The last class of the day was Health class. We started off reading a book about neurons. While we were reading the book one of the students had a nosebleed so the teacher showed me where the gloves were in case she would need help cleaning up at the sink. Her nosebleed stopped not too long after though and she managed on her own although the three of us were keeping an eye out and checking in on her. Then we talked about having a Growth Mindset and we made a pledge to keep one for the year. I loved the growth mindset because it really promotes positive thinking which I will also benefit from!

At the end of the day our co-operating teacher had the students line up and each tell us something they were thankful for that we did today for them. After school we had a meeting with our co-operating teacher and she told us that she does that with them a few times a week. Then we discussed how the day went and our teacher said she was impressed with how we were able to jump right into the classes and get along with the kids.

Overall it was a great first day!