Friday, December 16, 2011

December 5-9

The final week:
This was a bittersweet week. My students knew it was my last week and told me each day that they couldn't believe I only had 4 more days, 3 more days, 2 more days... On my last day, I assumed I'd get lots of hugs and maybe a few goodbye cards, but these kids really showed how much they appreciated having me as their science teacher. Almost every period there was a variety of snacks for us to eat. I have never received so many containers of cookies, fudge, pepperoni rolls, and rock candy. I was even surprised by a few students who I thought would never go to the trouble of making me something. I received drawings from students whose drawings I had admired earlier in the semester.

One of my students wrote me a VERY long goodbye letter telling me how much she enjoyed having me as her teacher and that she wants to be a teacher now. It was nice to get something so thoughtful and to see that I have truly impacted the life of one of my students. I had a really amazing internship and I have so much to be thankful for. My mentor teacher was so helpful throughout the semester and is someone I can truly call a friend. My students were so great, even on their crazy days. I feel like I can call Suncrest home and I am going to miss everyone there so much. I have to give a shout out to the janitor, Gaylord. That man made a point to say good morning to me everyday and gave me the biggest hug on my last day at Suncrest. I really love my Seals!

November 28-December 2

This week, my students worked on atom model time lines. I had intended to do a cross curricular lesson at some point during my internship, so this lesson fulfilled that purpose. In this activity, my students were to do research on how the atom model has been depicted over time and to include "fun facts" for each model. These fun facts were to be events or important happenings that were going on around the time that each model was developed. This students drew these on butcher paper and drew pictures for each event. The students presented these at the end of the week. Many of students do not have presentation skills, so after my first period, I showed all of the other periods "what not to do during a presentation". My students did a great job after they were given these pointers.

My birthday was on Tuesday of this week. My students were really excited about it. They made me all kinds of treats, made me cards, and drew all over my board with so many Happy Birthday's that I couldn't read it anymore. It was a good day. I love my kids!

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 14-18

This week was an interesting week, to say the least. I have a student who has a strange affinity for plastic spoons. This student has been stealing spoons from the cafeteria and has been drawing faces on them to create a colony of "super spoons". Thursday was the most interesting day. This same student used two spoons, drew eyes on them, bent the handles, and held the spoons to his eyes with his eyelids to make it look like he was wearing glasses. He claimed that he was "blind" and could not do his work because he couldn't see his work. Like I said, interesting week. This is also the week before Thanksgiving break, so I'm telling myself this is why my students have been acting stranger than usual. Bring on the turkey!

November 7-10

This was a very short week, but an awesome one. The students were introduced to the computer program Starlogo and began manipulating the foodweb within this program. The students, at first, were very concerned with how to use the program and were getting frustrated with it, but soon began to see that this seemingly complex program was actually very logical if you broke down each part into small steps. Wednesday, my mentor teacher and I got some very exciting equipment in the mail. We recieved waders, and probes for the stream testing we do on Saturdays with a group of interested students. On our planning period, my mentor teacher and I decided to open the packages we recieved and try out, well play, wth the new equipment. We both put on the waders and showed them off for the rest of the school. The science Edline page now has a picture of me and my mentor teacher wearing the waders. It was a good day. We also took a group of kids to the stream to try out the new equipment. They were excited to use the new probes and waders to test the stream. We collected a variety of data which we will analyze later in the school year.

October 31-November 4

This week, we finished the roller coaster projects and each student got to present their finished product. We had guest judges come into the classroom (other teachers and pre-service teachers) to judge the roller coasters. Each group was given five marbles to test in which to test their roller coasters. If the marbles made it to the end of the track three out of five times, it was considered "functional". We had the guest judges vote on their favorite roller coaster based on functionality and the students also got to vote on their favorite roller coaster in each class period. The two winning roller coasters from each class period are now being displaying in the media center. The students were so excited that they were going to get to show off their roller coasters to anyone who walks into the media center. At the end of this week, we had a benefit spaghetti dinner for the Watson family. The school was a mad house (in a good way) with so many people coming and going, trying to get their spaghetti to support the Watsons. The school raised over $30,000. What an amazing accomplishment! It was a good week to be a Suncrest Seal.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 24-28

This week has been a good one. The students started building their roller coasters on top of or inside of their shoe boxes. As I walked around the room, I could hear them using some physics terms such as friction, kinetic energy, and potential energy. This makes me SO happy! We have briefly discussed some of these terms in class, but they are actually using these concepts to build and adjust their roller coasters. The goal is to build a roller coaster that can roll a marble from one end of the track to the other. Some of my students are being so creative with their roller coaster designs by including jumps and loops that actually work. Some of my least motivated students are staying on task and working as team players within their groups. I am still struggling to keep my lower level students involved with the physics. One of these students keeps falling asleep and the other is refusing to work in his group. To solve both of these problems I have given these students more independent work to keep them on task. Now both of these students are building Lego roller coasters that model the one that their group is making. As we finish these roller coasters next week, I hope to see an improvement in their behavior and willingness to work on this assignment.

October 17-21

This week, we got through the rest of the notes. Hooray! I gave out a lot of homework this week, so my students weren't too happy about this. At least they had the opportunity to practice their equations for physics. (If only they could see it this way.) At the end of the week, the students took a quiz on the physics they learned and finally got to insert the rest of their Prezi pictures from the Buckwheat festival. I utilized my student "experts" by having them help students who were struggling with inserting the pictures.

As this week progressed, I found that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to differentiate the math portion of physics for my very low level students (those students who are on 2nd-4th grade levels). I began searching for material that I could use for them for physics, but physics is not a covered in grades 2-4. I have been seeking the advice of my mentor teacher and the 7th grade science teacher who have both told me that this is something that comes with practice. I did purchase a few science workbooks that are geared towards the elementary grades so I can see what type of activities are appropriate and see how to "word" the physics worksheets in a way that can be more easily understood by my lower level students. I am hoping next week's project (building shoebox roller coasters) will make all of the physics from this week make more sense.

October 10-14

This week, we began with a lab activity in which my students rolled a tennis ball down a ramp (the ramp was a book that was held at various angles). The goal for the students was to see the connection between a steeper ramp and a faster rolling tennis ball. We also did my least favorite thing...Notes. We began notes on various equations in physics. This included Force, Work, Power, etc. I tried to spice up my notes by including example problems involving my dog Carol and my cat Indy. I also included an example problem with my mentor teacher drag racing out of the school parking lot. My students really loved that example problem. I am finding it difficult to teach the "math part" of physics with some of my students because some of them are in lower level math classes and have a very difficult time doing very basic math. For these students, I gave them an equation sheet ahead of time and gave them guided notes so they could spend more time doing the word problems and less time writing down everything on the slides. Overall, the week went by fairly smoothly. Next week we will finish the notes and take a quiz on the math portion of physics.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October 3-7

This was a very short week for students. There was an ISE day on Monday and Tuesday was election day, so I only saw students for three days this week. Students put their finishing touches on their Prezi presentations and some of them even became "Experts". By this, I mean that those students who had finished earlier than others became "experts" and went around the room to help other students with their Prezis. It was amazing to see how motivated other students became once they knew they would be deemed "experts" if they finished their Prezis early. Students were more than willing to help as "experts" and became vital to the success of their peers in completing the Prezis on time (by the end of class Friday). At this point, students have been unable to include their Buckwheat pictures into their Prezis, but this is due to technical problems and not lack of student effort. As we continue on with Physics, my students will soon be assigned the task of building a roller coaster to show their conceptual understanding of Newton's laws of motion, the conservation of energy, and etc.

September 26-30: Buckwheat Festival!

This past week, my students have been working with Prezi to create a presentation all about simple machines and their real life applications. This project was developed in anticipation of a field trip to the Buckwheat festival!

This past Friday I accompanied my students to the Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood, WV. What an experience that was! I had never been to this festival so I was really excited to be able to attend this year and finally get to try Buckwheat Cakes!

For this trip to be considered educational, each teacher had to create an assignment that involved students taking pictures while at Buckwheat. The 8th grade team planned an all-day picture scavenger hunt and put together a Buckwheat Packet that explained what the students needed to look for. For science, my mentor teacher and I came up with the idea to have students take pictures of the simple machines found in the carnival rides at the festival.

While at the Buckwheat festival, it was interesting to see the reaction of the students to various sites that would seem "normal" to me, but very foreign to my students. Some students had never seen a cow in "real life". Some had never seen cow poop in real life. Some had never even been to a festival of any kind in their lives. It was amazing to watch them have those "firsts" as we walked around to different exhibits and vendors.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 19-23

This past week, my students researched Rube Goldberg and then designed and drew their own Rube Goldberg machines in the form of a blueprint. The creativity that went into these blueprints seemed to be only at one extreme or the other - some were the most creative ideas I've ever seen from 8th graders while others were as bland as low sodium Ritz crackers. I thought this assignment would be fun and boost students' desire to be creative in science class, but for many this was not the case. I wonder if this assignment was less effective because it was NOT a group project. When the students worked in groups on their bridges and made their news report videos they all were so creative. This time around many students could not even begin their Rube Goldberg machine because they said they didn't know where to start. Maybe this mini project was too open ended, but I did provide a series of guidelines and criteria that they had to meet. So, I'm stumped as to why there was such a gap in creativity. Perhaps the Prezi's they will be working on next week will show less of a gap.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 12-16

This week was full of technological crises. The students were wrapping up their videos and putting the finishing touches on them. We had issues with editing due to file type compatibility with MovieMaker. Some videos would only play sideways on the computer screen. Then the videos would not play at all, because they were saved in a file on the server which made them VERY slow and glitchy. The students thought they'd never get to see each others' videos. It was just a mess. But luckily, my mentor teacher is a tech savvy genius.

Note to self: When using any technology, make sure software and file type are compatible, make sure you have a safe place to store files, and make sure you can open and effectively use those files. Ugh!

The videos, for the most part, were very creative and thorough. The students loved watching each others videos, but when it was one of their own turns to show their video they did not want to be in the room while they were on the big screen. It was interesting to see their reactions to their own videos. Embarrassment was probably the most obvious reaction, but that is middle schoolers for you. Secretly, they were proud of themselves and their videos.

I also gave a quiz on the material covered in the bridge project (Scientific method steps, variables, etc.). The Bridge Project is OVER! Here we come, simple machines.

I have changed my bulletin board. Previously, I had a contest with scientific method graphic organizers and had posted these on the bulletin board. Now that the Bridge Project and the scientific method unit is over, I have decided to put up student drawings, newspaper clippings of students, and other random student work that they are proud of enough to want posted on the bulletin board. The students seem excited about this, so, we shall see how this goes. I hope this shows them how invested I am in them and that I appreciate their doodles! :)

Highlights of this week include:
- SMS dance on Friday - These kids can Dougie!
- Watching one of my special needs students grin the entire time his video was being played on the whiteboard.
- Watching a student-made video with a student rapping about "Earthquake Dowling".

Thing I should work on:
- Backup plans when technology fails.
- More concise directions for students when using technology or doing a BIG project
- Patience with technology.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 6-9

This was a short week, thanks to Labor Day weekend...but, it was a difficult one. At the beginning of this week, I think the students had simply gone on too long with unstructured group work that they believe they could get away with misbehaving. I had to give out an ABC to a student who would not stay quiet while I was giving directions. I was not happy about this and neither was the student. But, things improved as the week went on.

Students tested their bridges before and after "Earthquake DOWLING". This "natural" disaster was hilarious. The students would add weight to their bridge until they thought it was close to it's breaking point and then the bridge would have to submit to this terrible experience that was "Earthquake DOWLING". My mentor teacher, Mrs. Dowling, would bend and twist the cardboard land that the bridges were built on to cause damage to the bridges and then the students would test their bridges again to see if it held the same amount of weight. The students loved and hated "Earthquake DOWLING", so classes were definitely interesting.

One of my students with special needs made an incredibly strong and durable bridge. The other students were so impressed with his bridge that they cheered him on throughout the bridge weighing/testing process. His bridge held the most weight out of his class period and the students clapped for him when he was finished testing his bridge. It was a really amazing moment.

Another student with special needs made a not-so-strong bridge, but it didn't matter to him, myself, or the other students. In fact, I am so glad that his bridge wasn't sturdy. You know why? Because as this child was adding more and more weight to his bridge, it caved in so far that students began reaching out to hold the cardboard against the table-top just to keep it from completely falling to the ground. I have never seen students so supportive of one of their peers. They cheered him on and made sure he got to add every single weight to the bucket. What a strong bridge they formed that day! So amazing!

On Friday, the students began working on their conclusion videos. They are going to make a "News Report" in which they will be reporting on the devastating earthquake and the bridges that were affected by it (of course, this means the bridge they constructed last week). The students began writing their scripts and figuring out how they wanted to film the news report. Some students wanted to make a movie trailer instead, which sounds really interesting and creative. I can't wait to see how they turn out. They begin the actual filming on Monday.

August 29-September 2

This has been a very busy and exciting week. The students have been working on their bridge projects in order to learn about the scientific method. They are spending a lot of their time in groups building the "best earthquake bridge" using glue, toothpicks, straws, and cardboard. This is the "designing/testing the experiment" phase of the scientific method. They have been very enthusiastic, but there are a few groups who are really struggling to believe in themselves and realize that they can indeed build a bridge out of these materials.

It has been interesting to see how my two non-English speaking students have been interacting with their group members. At first, they seemed segregated from their group, but eventually became more involved and even gave them the idea that really got their bridge blueprint going. Also, I have students with autism that are building their own bridges while working with a group. These students seem to be interested in making a bridge out of toothpicks, but seem a little out of touch with the goal of the project. I am hoping that when they finally get to test their bridges they will understand why we worked on this project for so long.

Open House was this past Tuesday. It was definitely a memorable experience. I ran into one of my students with autism. He is high functioning and very social. He ran up to me with his mother and introduced me to her. He also told me something I will never forget. He said, "Miss Hatcher, you know, out of all of the interns here you are the one who has shown the MOST IMPROVEMENT!". Man, do I love this child. What a statement! I couldn't stop grinning the rest of the evening.

Next week, the students will get to test their bridges and begin working on their video conclusions! I can't wait for this part of the project!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Aug. 22-26

It was nice to have students the entire week, unlike last week. I am getting used to the new names and faces a lot quicker than I had anticipated. The students this year have been very enthusiastic about using the educational social network in my classroom. Students can use this site to share links and ask each other for help during projects and online assignments. The students were 'tested' this week to see if they could be respectful to one another on Edmodo by having a conversation about the meaning of respect. It gave me a good idea of who I need to keep an eye on when on the computers and who are the 'helpers' in the classroom.

I asked my teacher to let me teach all day on Friday, and I was pleased with how smoothly things went. The first couple classes were a little shaky at the begging of each period, because I wasn't really sure what order the directions should be given to explain the online assignment. I may have been going through the directions a little too fast for my students also. My mentor teacher gave me a few pointers and the rest of the day went smoothly.

One of my classes is an inclusion class with many different modifications. I have students who cannot yet speak English in this class. It is also the largest class with so many students we have run out of table space. So far, this class is my biggest challenge and most exciting part of my day. This class is going to be the one that best prepares me for my first year of teaching.

This week has been a positive experience, and I am excited to see what the rest of the semester holds. Good luck fellow interns!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Practicum plan reflection

To be honest, after midterm, I did not use the practicum plan. I liked the idea of creating one at the beginning to see when you will need to complete assignments and etc. but I did not use it so much as a 'planner'. I think it would have been more beneficial to me to make an actual planner. Maybe we could have used Google calender or created an actual paper copy of a 'participant planner' to print out so we could carry that around with us to class and to our PDS. Also, for me anyway, it think I would have used my practicum plan more if I had to make one in the fall semester because my workload was actually greater since I had Reading, C&I,and Sped along with our practicum.

I ended up just incorporating some of my learning goals into lessons for my my 2 week full time teaching. I don't think the practicum plan helped me to establish my learning goals, but it did make me consider how what I wanted to get out of my teaching experience at North Marion.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Characteristics 3 and 5 of the Novice Teacher

3. The novice teacher should recognize that teaching is a professional, moral, and ethical enterprise, should understand moral issues and ethical practices in educational environments, and should have developed ethical frameworks which facilitate effective teaching.

This characteristic refers to ethics of the educational setting that is our classroom. As teachers, we must be able to set an example for our students by being able to answer the moral questions that will come up during those 'teachable moments in our classrooms. This characteristic is especially relevant to science teachers and the 'ethics of science' conversations that are bound to come up during such topics as genetic engineering, gene therapy, cloning, etc.

At North Marion in my 10th grade Biology classes, I created a lesson in which students worked in pairs to assess the ethics of a recent genetic engineering article from the magazine Popular Science. I passed out a variety of articles so students would not all be assessing the same ethical issues. For example, one pair was given an article on genetically engineered cows that have been genetically engineered in a way that makes the cows not feel any pain. Students were given an ethics worksheet to assess how this genetic engineering relates to humans, how (if at all) it benefits humans, and if it is ethical to genetically engineer an organism just because it benefits humans.

They had to discuss their answers with their partner and then we had a group discussion on each of the various articles. I used this lesson to teach students not only about the ethics of genetic engineering, but also to teach students to think critically about the ethics of science as a whole, the responsibility involved in having and using these scientific technologies, and the responsibility involved in government regulation of funding for various types of scientific research. This lesson represents characteristic 3, because I led a discussion on a touchy subject to lead students into creating their own understanding of what it means to be ethical. I played devil's advocate to show students that these ethical issues have many different perspectives that must be addressed to truly assess the underlying 'right or wrong' of each genetic engineering scenario (if a 'right or wrong' can even be assigned).

5. We believe that the novice teacher should have in-depth knowledge of pedagogy.

This characteristic explains the importance of knowing how to teach through a strong understanding of learning theories,instructional strategies, and the learning process. I believe this characteristic most strongly demonstrates the importance of knowing your students and best meeting their educational needs.

During my teaching experiences at North Marion High School, I've had the opportunity to give out a learning survey in which students explained how they believe that they learn best and why they believe this. The majority of my students replied that they learn best in group or pair work and through working on projects. From this feedback, I created a lesson on genetic engineering in which students had to genetically engineer their own organisms in some way and answer a set of questions that relates to the ethics of science and the overall ideas in genetics that they had been recently learning. Students were given the opportunity to work in pairs or on their own. Students were also allowed to present their project in a way that best matches their learning styles. Students could create a powerpoint, documentary, song, rap,poster,skit, etc. The list I created for them had about 20 different ways to present their project. I feel that this lesson relates to characteristic 5, because I am appealing to student's learning styles and also using student feedback to generate a lesson that allows students the freedom to learn in a way that best works for them.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Practicum plan

One of my learning goals is to get to know my students earlier in the semester. Since I transferred to North Marion this semester, I wanted to start off the semester by getting to know the students as soon as possible. I gave out a survey asking students how they think they learn best. The survey contained a list of ways to learn, such as, by reading, hearing, discussing, doing hands-on activities, working in groups, etc. I did this so it would be easier for me to plan lessons that truly appeal to my new students' learning styles.

I found that my students not only said they prefer group work (according to the survey), but also work more efficiently in groups (based on my observations).

I haven't made too many changes to my practicum plan except for having to move certain lessons to a later date due to snow days and 2-hr delays. I have not removed or added anything to the plan. I would say for the most part, I'm right on track with the dates I put on each assignment. The only things I wish I had more time to complete while I'm at North Marion are my learning goals. I am trying, at this point, to incorporate my learning goals into the assignments that must be covered at my PDS.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Characteristics 4 and 7 of the Novice Teacher

4.The novice teacher should be a facilitator of learning for all students.

This characteristic pinpoints the importance of teaching in a way that is tailored to all learners. Every classroom is full of diverse learners with differing capabilities, previous educational experiences, and cultural backgrounds. It is imperative for the novice teacher to know his or her students in order to best meet their needs as learners.

In Sped360, I created a Classroom Strategy Toolkit that lists a set of 10 strategies for differentiating instruction. Within this toolkit, I listed the following strategies: jigsaw,think-pair-share, stations, activity choice boards, flexible grouping, R.A.F.T., among others. Next to each strategy and its description, I listed a rationale for its use, guidelines, and classroom examples for how I would or have used these strategies in a science classroom.

For example, under activity choice boards I wrote:
Description - Students use a bulletin board or sign-up sheet to sign up for the activity they wish to complete. This allows students to have some control over what type of activity they can complete.

Rationale - If the students are choosing the activity that most interests them then they are more likely to be actively engaged in the assignment and are motivated to complete the task.

Guidelines -
1. The teacher posts a list of activities for the students to complete. The students must complete one or more of the assignments based on the teacher’s guidelines.
2. Students choose the necessary number of activities that they would like to complete. They can do this by placing a post-it note with their name one it under a category.
3. The students complete the assignments of their choosing.

Examples -
1.Ecology: biomes
Students are given a choice as to how they would like learn about the different biomes found on earth. For example, they could complete a web quest, do a research paper,create a documentary, or give a presentation on the biome of their choice.

2.Physics: potential and kinetic energy
Students can choose how they would like to learn about the difference and relationship between potential and kinetic energy. For example, they could choose between researching and creating a Venn diagram, conducting a student-designed experiment, or by creating a model that represents kinetic and potential energy.

This toolkit demonstrates the "learning for all" characteristic by showing how differentiated instruction can be used through these 10 strategies and their real, applicable examples.

7. The novice teacher should effectively integrate content and pedagogy.

This characteristic demonstrates the importance of knowing both content and pedagogy in order to teach a particular content well. Knowing the content is not enough. You must know the content and know how to best teach that content, which in my case is science.

I planned and taught a roller coaster physics lesson to my 8th graders. In this lesson, I had students work in mixed-ability groups (unless they requested to work alone) and they had to build, present, and explain how their roller coasters related to Newton's laws of motion and the relationship between kinetic and potential energy. For this project I focused on three things: collaboration, critical thinking skills, and presentation, which are essential to my students in the real world. Students had to collaborate with others to design their roller coaster. They had to think critically to incorporate physics into their design. They also had to effectively communicate how their roller coasters related to Newtons laws and the transformation of energy from potential to kinetic during their presentation.

This project really had my students engaged. My students were learning the content by creating something of their own. They were using what they knew about physics to design a structure that was interesting and relevant to them. This lesson applies to characteristic number 7, because I knew the content well enough to be able to design an activity that would be challenging, yet comprehensible and engaging for my students.