‘Synonym’ Rolls!

Quote Of The Day: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not!” – Dr. Seuss

What I Am Hanging Hope On: This past lesson was titled ‘Synonym Rolls’ after an activity students completed during the lesson. The EQ to guide today’s teaching was: how can the synonyms help me add detail to my writing? I began by reading two passages- one with detail, one without. Students were asked to compare the two passages and select which did a better job of helping the reader visualize the scene. Students chose the passage with detail- which led perfectly into a discussion on word choice and synonyms!

To create their ‘synonym rolls’ students cut paper into the shape of a cinnamon bun. Each child was given a simple word such as cold or smart to then come up with synonyms for. They wrote out the synonyms around their ‘synonym rolls’. I thought this would be an easy activity, but it proved challenging. Many students would think of only one or two synonyms then give up. To relate this back to my quote, I told students that not trying is not an option! We cannot expect to grow in our knowledge without pushing ourselves. Additionally, I showed them a thesaurus! This proved to be a great resource in the creation of their ‘synonym rolls’!

How I Am Feeling: Overall,  I feel pretty good about the lesson! The progression of events flowed smoothly and built off of one another. It was fun to hear students brainstorming synonyms and seeing their excitement over a simple tool such as the thesaurus!

A Wish For Tomorrow: If I were to teach this lesson again, I might think of another way to get students brainstorming synonyms. Once we thought of a few as a class, it seemed their brains suddenly became full of ideas and they couldn’t stop sharing! It was the initial thinking of a synonym that proved challenging. Any suggestions on how to get students thinking and better understanding the concept of synonyms?

I am thinking of starting the year off with a lesson like this. I want to teach my students the importance of word choice. We as writers are great artist. Our paint is the words we choose to create an image. I wonder if their are any great read aloud materials to inspire students to be creative and not be afraid to express themselves via pencil and paper.

Food For Thought: This was my final observed lesson taught at the Summer Learning Place. When I reflect back on the goals I set for myself at the start of the experience, I feel accomplished. I have built relationships with my students and seen much progress. Overall, it was a great experience!


Ready To Read?

Quote Of The Day: “To learn to read is to light a fire,” -Les Miserables… The lesson I taught today was a reading lesson! Students worked on their comprehension skills by learning how to select key events and sequence a story. Comprehension strategies are much harder to teach than I anticipate! It comes so naturally to me that sometimes as a teacher, and avid reader, I forget my students need to be taught how to think about reading!

What I Am Hanging Hope On: At the start of my lesson, I gave a reassessment on sequencing skills. I did this so that I could gauge student prior knowledge. Some students perfectly understood sequencing! Others stared at their paper blankly. The end of the lesson included another sequencing assessment. What am I hanging hope on? Success! Students who had stared blankly at their papers at the start of the lesson, were filling out answers with little hesitation! Sequencing, although difficult, was learned.

How I Am Feeling: I will admit, I was slightly discouraged about students lack of participation during the lesson and blank stares when I asked “now what did we learn about last week?” However, I realize I need to have patience! Reading words on a page can be easy, but comprehension and creating analytical readers is tricky. I must remember that students are learning and learning is a process! The more students are exposed to literature and practice critical thinking skills, the better they will become.

A Wish For Tomorrow: Tomorrow I hope to see more confidence in my students! It is important they know that failure is part of the learning process. Failure is how we grow it is not something we should be afraid of. I wish my students are more outspoken in their needs and less afraid to make guesses and share their creative ideas, as they relate to reading.

Food For Thought: If I could do one thing again, I would have students interact with me as we sequenced a skill together. For example, instead of simply having the steps of how to build a PB&J for students to order, we could make a PB&J in class and create/order steps as we go! I think this hands on experience would enhance student understanding of how to sequence and determine important events in a process.

Dabbling In Division

Quote Of The Day: “Mistakes are proof that you are trying”… a perfect quote for this blog post! Today I had my first observed lesson of the practicum experience. Although not everything went perfect, things were pretty well planned! One mistake was that I didn’t keep a close eye on my timing. Although students were catching on quickly, the pacing of the lesson could have been slowed down.

What I Am Hanging Hope On: Division! Yesterday, I introduced students to division in a hands-on activity involving the division of beads into equal groups. We worked with problems with the numbers 2, 3, and 4 as divisors. Today, we took things a step further! As stated previously, students began to understand the concept of division yesterday. They learned that to divide means to split things into equal groups; “fair sharing”. Today we moved past only having a divisor of either 2, 3, or 4. After connecting to prior knowledge, students played a division matching game. Next they were given a division word problem to solve. They each drew a visual representation of the problem to help them solve! Finally, students created lists of real-world applications of division!

How I Am Feeling: Overall, I am feeling pleased! I couldn’t be more proud of the progress my students are making. It brings me joy to see them grasp new concepts and flourish in the classroom. Today’s division lesson built on yesterdays. I felt the connection and small steps, that progressed off of one another, set up students for success!

A Wish For Tomorrow: More success and happy endings 🙂 I am going to introduce the connection between division and multiplication. My wish? That students find more success and their confidence continues to build!

Food For Thought: Next time I teach this lesson, I will correct the pacing. I may also choose another manipulative aside from beads to work with- they kept falling off the table! Oops! Although no big deal, falling beads were a distraction from students’ learning. Do you know of any good techniques for teaching division? I am always eager to learn!

Week 1: Done!

Quote Of The Day: “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your head like sunbeams and you will always look lovely” – Roald Dahl… This was the perfect quote for the first week of practicum! It was my intention to walk into the classroom with positive thoughts. Entering with a positive mindset sets the tone for the day. When you are having an off day, or feeling nervous and overwhelmed, your students feel it! On the first day of class, it is very important that I stay a pillar of strength; warmly welcoming students and letting joy spill from my heart.

What I Am Hanging Hope On: A sweet student of mine, Alex*, told Ms. S (the other classroom teacher) and I, that he was going to ask his mother to reschedule a doctor appointment. Why? So that he didn’t have to miss Monday! He said he wanted to spend time with his teachers because he was thoroughly enjoying Summer Learning Place. I am hanging my hope on the idea that all the students in class are enjoying the experience just as much as Alex!

How I Am Feeling: I feel relieved! This week has been a whirlwind and I am glad it is over. New beginnings can be hard. However, after getting to know my students, I know this is going to be a wonderful experience and nothing I can’t handle! The irony is that my students think they are the learners. Little do they know, I am the learner! These babies are teaching me how to become a better teacher. During this practicum my goals are to better individualize instruction, employ unique and innovative teaching methods, and help each student succeed in meeting their goals.

A Wish For Tomorrow: I noticed the students’ attention span begins to dwindle in the afternoon. My wish for tomorrow is that my afternoon reading and writing lessons, paired with a captivating classroom management style, hook and maintain the students’ attention!

Food For Thought: One of the introduction activities we did was titled “The Perfect Teacher”. In this activity, the students spoke their minds open and honestly! They weren’t afraid to tell Ms. S and I what ‘the perfect teacher’ would be like. Their top request? “A perfect teacher is kind”. Later on, students described their favorite teacher. My food for thought is this- at the end of the day, what do you hope your students think about you? I know I am not the perfect teacher by any means, but if kindness is their top priority, then I think I am succeeding thus far! I hope to be someone students trust and respect. It is my goal to treat each student with kindness and fairness. I hope each child receives all they need to succeed and understands that I am their biggest advocate-  when we work together, their is no problem too big to conquer!