Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I have a wonderfully effective mentoring relationship with my mentor teacher.The guidance and constructive criticism she has given me has really shaped my teaching ability. She has taught me a lot about differentiating lessons for students with special needs and classroom management. We keep in touch outside of school by phone, email, and facebook. She always answers my endless number of questions about teaching and what works best with her students at Suncrest Middle.

Soon I will be taking on a project with my mentor teacher to make special modifications for one of her special education students. This is one way that we are both benefiting from the mentoring relationship. I am benefiting by seeing how a completely new type of modification can completely change how one student learns in the classroom while she is benefiting by ideas I bring to this situation.

I am excited that I will have the opportunity to work with my mentor teacher during my intern year when I will really have the opportunity to apply what my mentor teacher has taught me about teaching at the middle school level.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Creating a Wiki Page

By completing the Wiki assignment, I have learned quite a bit about what the purpose of a wiki is and how to navigate the editing and creating process. Using the wiki as a collaborative tool was a positive experience. The group work that was involved in this process is preparing us as participants for collaboration at the intern level. This collaboration will also become extremely important once we become teachers.

Also, I think it is really important for us as pre-service teachers to learn to collaborate while using technology. Since classroom technology is becoming increasingly more prevalent and essential, it is important for us to work together to troubleshoot any problems we may encounter with technology and to improve our understanding of its functions and benefits in the classroom.

Wikis can serve a number of purposes in the classroom. In a science class, wikis could be used as a representation of what the students have learned from a research project. For instance, you could have students do a web-quest and report their findings by making wiki pages about topics such as famous scientists, concepts or cycles (the water cycle, for example), or body systems. These wikis could be used at a later date for generating test material or serve as study references.

The wiki is a wonderful cooperative learning tool. My 8th grade science classroom at Suncrest Middle has a set of netbooks. A wiki activity would be a great way to take advantdage of these netbooks. Because more than one user can edit a wiki simultaneously, all of the students could potentially be working on the same wiki during each class period. It may be fun for the students to have a friendly competition between class periods to see who can create the best wiki page. Also, since students can access these at home, the students could complete wiki assignments for homework, over the holiday breaks, or even on snow days.

In my own wiki, I completed the Participant Involvement page, formatted the Participant bio pages, and worked with linking the pages together. I really liked the idea of adding the quotes from each participant and including some 'get to know the participants' information. I am also glad we decided to put a group picture on the homepage. I think it makes the wiki page a little more inviting and not so dull and wordy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who done it?

I taught a lesson last Wednesday on pedigrees. (A pedigree is similar to a family tree but shows what and how physical traits are being passed from generation to generation.) I typed up my lesson plan and made worksheets for this pedigree lesson. I thought I had everything figured out. Well, for the most part, the lesson went smoothly. I went over what a pedigree was, what shaded and unshaded circles or boxes represented, and how the lines between these shapes either meant that these people were the parents or the offspring. I showed them the difference between a phenotype and a genotype, just in case they forgot. The students responded well to the review and even helped me use the whiteboard.

Next the students numbered off into groups of about 3 students and worked on the "Who done it?" worksheet. The assignment was titled, "Who stole the Big East Championship trophy?" I typed up a short story about a family named the "Pittsburghlars" who have always sent their children to Pitt and have always been jealous of WVU sports. One of the Pittsburghlars stole the trophy and my students had to use the clues about the burglar from the story and the pedigrees to figure out who stole the trophy.

There was just one problem with this lesson. Time. Some students got the burglar right away, while some students struggled with the pedigrees. I am now concerned about how to manage my time in the classroom when some students get done so quickly wile others may take all period.

How do I write lessons that accommodate for student differences in the length of time it takes them to complete assignments?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Individual Lesson Plan

I've been spending a great deal of my tutor hours observing the students to see what activities really keep them engaged. They seem to respond most to technology and things that have to do with their lives outside of school. For my individual lesson, I plan to begin an with an activity that will grab the students and keep them interested throughout the lesson.

I am doing a genetics lesson on heredity, the passing of traits. I will have students look at images of physical traits that are passed from parent to child. I will have students inspect their own traits and the traits of other students in the classroom. They will compare and contrast traits to see who has traits in common and who has a unique set of traits.

I believe this introductory activity will engage the students because it physically involves them. They all have certain sets of traits that may or may not be the same as other students. I believe students will maintain their interest in this heredity lesson because they are learning about a topic that defines why they possess certain physical features.

Following this trait comparison activity, the students will be given a brief overview of pedigrees and punnett squares. Students will then work in groups to figure out what traits in the pedigree are dominant or recessive and how punnett squares can be used to explain why traits are passed in a particular manner. Students will write their explanations on the whiteboard towards the end of the period. Finally, students will have to create their own pedigree and corresponding punnett square.

I believe students will enjoy this activity, because I made it authentic for them. But I do wonder how I will maintain engagement in the future for activities that do not deal with biology. For example, activities that involve chemistry or physics.

Is it truly possible to make every science activity authentic or relevant?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lesson planning and Differentiation

There are a lot of accommodations that a teacher must take into consideration when lesson planning. My mentor teacher has a diverse group of eighth graders, many having Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Student Assistant Plans (SATs). Although these accommodations can seem overwhelming, my mentor teacher meets the needs of these students.

I have had experience tutoring many of her students with exceptionalities. One student in particular, is at the fourth-grade level. He needs assistance from his table partner and is given modified tests. Recently, I had the privilege of giving him an oral exam, while my mentor teacher monitored the other students taking the exam. He needed a lot of assistance with understanding what was being asked of him in each fill-in-the-blank question, but once he knew what the question was asking him, he knew most of the answers to these questions. He is a hard worker and pays attention in class, but he definitely needs to be given exams in this manner in order for him to successfully and correctly complete his exams.

After spending this past and current semester at Suncrest Middle, I have seen why it is necessary to plan for and make accommodations for students and how those accommodations are made possible with the collaboration of other teachers and pre-service teachers. Because it is plausible to believe that others are not always available to help, the teacher must, at times, attempt to meet the needs of these diverse students on her own. So I pose this question:
Is it possible for a teacher, without the collaboration of others, to meet the needs of diverse learners?