Monday, December 8, 2008

Integrated project

We did a really cool integrated project at my dyad placement. There are four of us at this school. My dyad partner and I are in the k/1/2 split and the other two interns are in the 6/7/8 split. We matched the kids up so that each student in the primary classes had a big buddy from the middle school classes. They collaborated on the project which included science, writing, and art. The primary kids had been studying snails and the middle school kids had been studying weather in their science units.

On the first day, the primary kids drew, colored, and cut out a snail. The middle school kids drew a background scene of some sort of weather that they had learned about. This background became the picture for the snail. On the second day, the younger students studied their buddy's weather picture and decided where to put their snail. Once they decided where they wanted their snail to go, they glued it to the weather picture. After thinking about what they wanted their story to be about by studying the completed picture, they wrote one or two introduction sentences. On the third day, the middle school students continued the project by completing the story that their little buddy had started. On the fourth day, the all of the students got together with their buddy and the older students read the completed story to the younger ones. The younger ones followed up with saying "what ifs" or "what I liked" (something they are doing in literacy workshop.) We also took pictures of the students with their buddy and will be displaying the integrated project in the halls of the school. We made sure that we included ourselved in some of the pictures so that we have proof of our project for our future portfolios that we will have to do!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Never Linear

Lesson planning is something that I struggle with. The unit plan and attached lessons, that our cohort needed to complete, was a difficult assignment for me. I couldn't picture where my 23 kiddos were at that very moment, and whether they would be ready for the lessons I was writing. After all, a lesson really isn't any good if it doesn't meet the needs of your kids, right?

That feeling has been combined with my observations on student writing. Seeing their writing folders at conferences, I observed how disjointed the work seemed to be. There were countless sheets of paper tossed haphazardly into a folder, most not connected to one another. Was that the way writing was supposed to work? How would Routman look at the writing?

Finally I am starting to put it together in the midst of my still lingering discomfort around "knowing." I really want to bring in my laptop to record digital stories with the kids. I want to have a purpose for writing, and less of the scattered pieces of paper. I've also thought about using Audacity to create podcasts and audio books that could be compiled onto a cd for all of the kids. My MT has a cassette player/recorder, which I think could be good for testing out. But I'd like them to be able to take it home as testament to their work- "look, I made this! I'm on CD!" I also want to start writer's notebooks, and move away from the loose leaf paper, as I feel like it can be a way to show growth over time (almost like a flip book). Why am I at this point? Well....

"... what good teachers do, evaluate, rethink as they go. Teaching is a
draft-in-process: never linear, always changing." Routman p.149

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hiring Freeze at Seattle Public Schools

Looking at the Seattle Public schools website and clicked on the employment page to discover that they have put a hiring freeze in place in response to possible upcoming budget cuts. It said that for all open positions they will be hiring subs for those, until the freeze is lifted. Also, they are not currently accepting any new applications for regular ed subs at this point...I guess this is connected to the state wide hiring freeze? Hum....things continue to get more interesting.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Student StoryBoard example

This quarter I've been working on collecting material about the local Japanese American experience during World War 2. Check out a middle schooler's storyboard project- I'm hoping to do some kind of storyboard project next quarter with my 3rd graders...gathering ideas- what do you think?

you shall behave!!!

its the return of skinner!!!
ok, I know there was a bit of behaviorism overload on this blog a few weeks back, but here are some good articles for you all to see, read, love, and hate.

Lehrstuhl für Genetik und Neurobiologie

A Primer on Educational Psychology

What is Behaviorism?

Incorporating self-direction in learning concepts into the instructional design process.


oovoo Thanksgiving!

Tech took over my Thanksgiving festivities this year we set up a web cam and prepped family from across the country to set up a account. Similar to sykpe, allows you for free to talk over the internet via webcam to up to three people. It was like having our own coast to coast news broadcast. For the classroom, webcasting has endless possiblities. I'm excited to continue to explore all these fun tech tools!

Get Inspired From Great Teaching

Yesterday I was a bit down and whenever I am down and tired and my brain is mush I have a tendency to want to give up on things. I wonder if I am making the right choices in life and I question every decision down to the color of my socks or which head of lettuce I should buy. And I question, in this state of mind, if I really want to teach. Is it worth it? Will I be good at it? Will I drown when the classroom is mine? Even if I am good at it is there something else I'd rather do? Should I take on a career with more pay or with less work or with less responsibility? Anyway, I was rejuvenized once again yesterday when I observed a third grade teacher at my dyad placement.

This teacher was awesome. She is only in her second year of teaching, yet she is a pro. As much as I don't want to believe the fact that classroom management is key to learning because I want to have fun with the students in my room and I don't want to be a discilinarian I have to admit that in her room things went smooth. First thing kids came in quietly, put there things away, and sat down. There was an established routine. Next the kids did morning jobs which are warm-up activities that change each day. Today they read passages and identified the main idea. When finished they did job number 2- they read their own book and then filled out a story map: setting, characters, title, author, and then using complete sentences, problem, events, and solutions. And they worked SILENTLY!!! During this the teacher pulled one group of 6 up to her group work table and did guided reading, a practice she does each morning with a different group to ensure that she hears each child read at least once a week- good stuff. The kids in the group read the pictures of the book first, then they read the words all together, took turns reading individually, turned to a neighbor to discuss what was happening in the story, and then took turns retelling the story.

Everything this teacher did was clear and concise. She struck just the right balace between kind and supportive and approachable and yet stern and clear about high expectations. Brilliant. And she made it look so easy- we need more teachers like her and I believe I can do that.