Sunday, June 26, 2005

Cold Calling

I used Cold Calling in my lesson on Friday. I wrote all the students' names on sheets of paper, I mixed them up, and then I drew one student's name at a time to give an answer to a question on a worksheet. We were working on semicolons, and each student gave the correct answer when called on, but each student still cringed when I held up his or her name. I don't know why, but they seem more eager to answer a question if I just select them than if I draw them.

My guess is that when I call on them randomly, they think that I am favoring them or that I believe that they are smart enough to answer the particular question. They just seem more eager to please me if I choose them. It's kind of a positive reinforcer to be selected by the teacher. Sometimes if I ask a student, "Do you want to go to the board?" they respond with, "Do you want me to go to the board?" When I tell them how much I would appreciate it, they never fail to go to the board. With Cold Calling, it's less personal, it's just going when it's your turn. It probably worked in some of the other classes, but my class didn't respond well to the method.

Monday, June 20, 2005

"Reluctant Disciplinarian"

I loved "Reluctant Disciplinarian." I thought it was a great book. I wish Gary Rubenstein could have just told us flat out what works, but I know every class is different and every teacher is different. He had some great tips, and now I just have to put it all together and find something that works for me.

I think the best tip was to be traditional the first week of school. I want my students to know that I'm a teacher, and that we are going to work in the classroom. The best way to let students know that I'm a teacher is to show them, and to fit into what they think a teacher is, at least at first. I'm going to give students textbooks, rules, consequences, procedures, the works. I also like the idea of a quiz on Friday of the first week. Then, the students know that they really have to start learning. And, once they all score well on the first quiz, they will think positively of themselves as well as my teaching ability. It's a good way to start the year. I know that I wanted all my teachers to act like teachers. Once everything is settled, I can do more creative activities.

The other tip I really liked was Rubenstein's reward system. I really like the lottery system, and baking cookies, so it seems like a match for me. It's so much easier to reward the students than to discipline them. I've really seen that in student teaching. The students now feel comfortable enough to speak out and come to the board because they know I'll encourage them and never let them feel embarrassed about their work. And it makes class so easy and fun. I finish teaching with so much energy. The students are just perfect.

Formal Lesson Evaluation

I just finished watching my formal evaluation, which is thoroughly embarrassing. I didn't look half as cool as I thought I would.

Anyways, I thought it went pretty well. My objective was "using consistent verb tense." I gave the students a worksheet to complete first. Then I had an activity where I gave each student a piece of poster board with half a sentence on it and they had to find the person with the other half of their sentence. So I rewrote the same sentence two or three times in different tenses. I had them lay out all of the poster board sentences on the floor, so they got to move around a little.

I was a little nervous at first, especially since we were having trouble figuring out the camera. After a while, though, I completely forgot I was being watched. My lesson was exactly 30 minutes, which is how long I said it would be. That was awesome. The students all scored high on the worksheet I gave them, so I think they understood the material. They all worked well together during the activity and tried to help each other out.

I didn't have any discipline issues to deal with during this lesson. Anything I asked of my students they did. All they need is a smile and a little encouragement. So, I think what I need to work on is my discipline plan for the fall when my students won't be as perfect.

I have to say I am relieved that I'm done with the formal. Dr. Sullivan comented on how relaxed I looked for class today.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Country Dictionary from a City Girl

I have realized that certain terms are loosely used in the country parts of Mississippi. I was raised in Dallas, and I went to school in Austin, so I have found myself creating new definitions of terms as used in my new surroundings.

highway: a long stretch of road with one lane going in either direction, usually flanked on either side by fields

traffic: a slowing of vehicles due to the large number of tractors on the "highway" (see above) during the Fall

a long commute to work: a 20 minute drive in "traffic" (see above)

downtown: one or two blocks of shops and a restaurant built very closely together

grocery: often used in place of restaurant

Feel free to add more definitions as needed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Couple of Teaching Ideas

I had a couple teaching techniques that have worked that I wanted to write about. And also a couple things that I'm going to steal.

I had to teach verb tenses on Friday, June 10, so I wrote a story about going on a field trip with the class. For every verb, I gave them a choice of verbs in parentheses and they had to select the correct verb. I used my students as the characters, and they had to read the part of the story that had their name in it. They really seemed to like that, and it was a fun assessment of what they knew about verb tenses.

I also used inductive teaching during that lesson. I made a chart with different subjects (he, she, they, we, I) and then they told me what helping verb to use with each subject (such as am, is, are, was, were). They used the chart to create rules for helping verbs.

I got some good advice from a student today. He told me he had trouble with the assignments in the book because he usually didn't understand the directions. The book always gives an example of what the answer should look like but it doesn't describe how to reach the answer. The student told me that if we (the teachers) worked out the first two or three on the board, he would spend less time trying to figure out what to do and more time on the assignment. Rewording the directions isn't enough-- he wants us to clarify the thought process needed to answer questions in the book. I like that.

I'm doing my formal observation on Friday from 8:30 to 9:00. I wanted to go ahead and do it so that then I could observe some high school math classes. The only thing that's still hard for me is timing-- anything I think is going to take 5 minutes ends up taking 30. Hopefully I can cut down and really fit a lesson into that 20-30 minute period.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Teaching-- For the First Time

I was the teacher today-- for all of 45 minutes and with 6 other adults in the room, but still, I was the teacher.

I'm in a 9th grade English class with Jake, Sarah, and Mason. I'm teaching math in the fall, but this has been good practice. I did an activity with the parts of the speech that went over very well. I made the students do a worksheet and explain to a partner how to find the correct answer, which really made them think about "why did I choose ___ as my answer?".

I feel like I'm really starting to get to know the students, which helped a lot. Some of them want to go to board, some of them would rather die. Some of them can't stop moving for a second. No, most of them can't stop moving for a second. But I love that they all call me "Ms. Bartlett" and say "ma'am" with every response. I just love it, but I try not to let it show.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Visiting My School for the First Time in Belzoni

Today, Meredith, Anderson, and I left for Belzoni at 6:30 in the morning. We were surprisingly awake for the drive, and it was a fun, scenic trip with only a couple of wrong turns. We made it to the school, Humphreys County High School, around 9:30 and immediately met with the principal, assistant principal, and a lead teacher in the junior high school for our group interview. We then went on a tour of the high school, which had more technology than any of us were expecting. The high school and junior high are connected, and right down the road is the lower elementary, upper elementary, and central office. We were able the visit the central office and meet the superintendent. Then the principal drove us around Belzoni.

Belzoni is the catfish capital of the world, and the town is covered in painted catfish sculptures. Belzoni is a small town, and the people are very friendly. They just got a McDonald's, which is a huge deal there. We stopped by a BBQ on the side of the road for lunch, but nothing was ready when we went by so we ended up at the Sonic. But good food is definitely something to look forward to. We took a different route back to campus that involved more highways, which was easier for us city folk to figure out than the small country roads. We are all looking forward to going back. I am planning on taking my mom to see the town next weekend, and I know Anderson plans on returning then as well. We were told that we should know which subject we are teaching for the fall by mid-June, so we will also want to take a trip to the school to pick up the required texts. We all left with a great impression of the town, the school, and the people, and the excitement just seems to keep building as the summer progresses.