I probably don’t need to keep saying it because it seems like this is just going to be a fact of life for me, but life has been pretty hectic. The good news is that throughout all the chaos I have had such great, new, and rewarding experiences. Most notably, this week I taught my first lesson to real kids! I’ve “taught” mock lessons before in classes, but my “students” were always my fellow classmates. I also got to do a little learning center with another small group of kids.
Yesterday, I got to teach a lesson on writing algebraic expressions to a class of 6th graders. As I mentioned in my other post, I was previously doing observations in an 8th grade algebra class. I also previously mentioned that I would elaborate more on co-teaching. I don’t really want to go too much into that because I am way more excited about my recent teaching experiences, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
That algebra class was not only the worst use of technology in a classroom that I’ve ever seen, it was also the worst example of co-teaching I’ve ever seen. I used to think that the biggest thing holding co-teaching back was a lack of resources. Now I think that the biggest thing holding co-teaching back is simply really bad execution of co-teaching. On my first day in this classroom, the co-teacher literally sat in the back of the classroom and did nothing. That horrified me. On my second day in this classroom, the co-teacher seemed interested in actually interacting with a table of students. I was initially excited to see him in action until I realized that he was extremely antagonistic and completely unhelpful to the kids. He spoke to them in such a condescending manner that I cannot imagine there was very much opportunity for learning in such a hostile environment. Sadly, the best thing for these kids was for him to sit silently in the back of the classroom.
Math Lesson: Algebraic Expressions
Anyway, back to what I really wanted to talk about. I taught a lesson!! When the teacher in this classroom asked me if I wanted to teach a lesson, I originally wanted to say no. The question sent me into “panic mode” because the idea of teaching a class full of students is so intimidating and scary. Especially a class of students I am unfamiliar with. But, I took a second and reminded myself that teaching kids is my final goal. I will have to teach my first lesson eventually and no matter what, I will be scared and intimidated. I figured I should take every opportunity to get as much practice as possible.
It was just a mini-lesson, so it wasn’t too long. My students were already familiar with variables, so they came in with a lot of prior knowledge. When I was planning for this lesson, I thought the concept of variables would be the most challenging part to explain. Once I realized they already had this concept down, it was pretty smooth sailing. It was really amazing how comfortable I felt in front of the class. I get really nervous when giving speeches or presentations and I thought I would feel the same way about teaching a class. I was really surprised to find that I was at ease and there were virtually no nerves.
Since there was another teacher in the room, I felt like I got a small taste of what co-teaching would be like. I brought some strategies and tools to the lesson and she brought other strategies and tools. We really worked off of each other and I think we helped address the various different viewpoints of the students in the class. I loved it! I definitely think that my dream job would be in a really great co-teaching situation.
Since I didn’t have a lot of time or resources and I wasn’t too well acquainted with the students, I didn’t feel like I had the means to create a more engaging activity and I had to resort to a worksheet activity 😦 I kind of combined the independent practice and closure components of my lesson. They matched word sentences to the corresponding algebraic expressions. When they were done, they created their own word sentence and corresponding algebraic expression. I was so excited to see that they were all successful with these activities 🙂 The kids were attentive, responsive, and eager to volunteer. I feel very fortunate that my first lesson was with a class full of such wonderful kids.
Learning Center: Diary of a Worm
This morning, I did a little literacy learning center with some second graders. I did some observations in this second grade class back in the fall and I absolutely loved them. It was so exciting to go back and see them after all these months. Stepping onto the school campus and walking through the office felt so familiar, but I was afraid the kids had already forgotten about me. Thankfully, I was greeted with the enthusiasm that you just don’t really get with adults. I loved it!
My learning center was based off of the book Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cornin. I think it’s a pretty cute book. There are a bunch of little jokes throughout the book that kids and adults can all enjoy. I even got my boyfriend interested in reading it. He usually doesn’t like to read books and he usually doesn’t even let me read short books aloud to him. I’m a future teacher…I need to practice my read aloud skills!!
My favorite part of the learning center was their “make and take” activity. Since it is the end of the school year for these kids, I wanted to do a little spin on the diary component and have them create little end of the year books. I had them write “Diary of [their names]” or “Diary of a Second Grader” on the front. For the inside of the book, I used an end of the year memory book from Teachers Pay Teachers which is an awesome site that allows teachers to share their ideas and work with other teachers (either for free or for a small fee). Here is the book I used. I didn’t use every page. I cut it down to about 8 pages and then used a program called “CreateBooklet” to make the .pdf file into a bifold booklet.
Here’s what the books looked like before I brought them in. Again, since I didn’t have a lot of time or materials, I didn’t get to spend too much time decorating the books with them, but I brought in some stickers, markers, and colored pencils for them to use and they seemed to love it! The idea was for them to fill the pages of the book later. Hopefully it will help with their writing and storytelling skills and serve as a nice way to commemorate their second grade years.
The kids really loved the book and it was so nice to hear them giggle at the funny parts. They were so excited to get their own little memory books and to decorate the covers. It’s crazy how far a few stickers can go. I love second grade!!!
Even though life has been pretty overwhelming and stressful, it really feels like all of my hard work is paying off 🙂