February 26th, 2013

Observation Journal Entry #1

First thing to remember....it's stinking cold in the morning! Dress warmer woman!

The wind was whipping up the mountain from the Bay and was biting cold. Even though I was wearing a wool sweater, I shivered while standing at the foot of the flag pole with Ms. R and her Fifth Grade class. This week's flag crew raised the Stars and Stripes and the class flag to the top of the pole while feebly singing all four verses of America the Beautiful. I did not know until today there was four verses.

Next thing to remember: find the morning verse and memorize it.

We trooped to the field for jump roping. I was given two ropes and the three girls in the class to practice double dutch jump roping. Ms. R took all five boys to have them practice jumping in teams. Even though I can't jump double dutch, I can swing the rhythm of the ropes so the girls could attempt to enter the ropes. Its hard. Double dutch is complicated to both enter and swing. I found it VERY interesting that the girl who was best at entering the ropes and jumping was the worst at swinging, she could not keep rhythm, and seemed inhibited in crossing her mid-line with her right hand. Which is necessary to get a good rhythm for jumping. After much laughter from everyone and some cheering at successes we went up the hill to their classroom.

Everyone lined up at the door and shook Ms. R's hand and then came to me to shake my hand. I said good morning to each student and asked for names if I didn't remember them from my one day visit last October. Thankfully, its a small class, so there's not too many names to learn.

I'm here to observe and help with the second American Geography, History, and Culture Block. (The New) An earlier block in the year covered the Western United States, so during this block the Eastern Seaboard and the South are being covered. The State Report Paper is the method of instruction this block. (The Do, part 1). Ms. R is teaching the class how to write a basic five paragraph essay (The Do, part 2). Today she introduced the Introductory paragraph. Ms. R gave a personal story about writing her state report in 5th grade and copying it from the encyclopedia.  And how she found out the next year that copying from the encyclopedia wasn't allowed and she had to learn to put it in her own words. She properly named copying as plagiarism and mentioned that it's not allowed in neither High School or College. 

The plan is for the students to fill out a note taking form she's created, which has questions prompting the students, with the plan to turn those notes into a draft paragraph the next day. Ms. R figures it will take the entire 4 weeks to get through the entire 5 paragraph essay.

Today, the class starts with a practice paragraph on generic American History. They take turns reading it aloud, and answering the questions on the form as a group. (See picture below for Sample of Note Taking Form) Class worked together to find vocabulary words in text and create new definitions (best one: atmospheric moisture for precipitation.) When students didn't know how to spell it, she handed them dictionaries and gave them the first 2 letters so they could look it up independently.

Then the class was turned loose on their own report. Student worked alone or in small groups to answer the questions. Ms. R walked the room as needed helping children fill form out.

Discipline Techniques Observed Today: 
Lots of laughter, not the heavy.
Modeling behavior wanted.
Thanking students for performing wanted behavior.
Try again until you get it right.
Whispering, dropping volume when giving behavior instruction to a particular student even if student across the room.
Body space/presence attack. Got low to speak to them.
Encouragement to get job done or lose recess.

After the children finished filling out their forms, everything got put away and Ms. R told them a story about John Chapman/Johnny Appleseed. The story consisted more factual information rather than the legends.

Meeting Notes:
Prep speech exercise for Friday
Draw Johnny Appleseed on board Thurs/Fri
Prep story on Tecumseh for Monday
Prep story for Harriet Tubman for 3/12

Ms. R's main chalkboard space.

Note Taking Form Sample

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Required Activity Post:Week 1, Mentor Interview

Ms. R took  a year off after graduating from college to work on an organic farm in Maine. Lots of students come to the farm to visit, but then one day a local Waldorf School came and she noticed that there was something different about those children. This intrigued her. She sought out more information, discovered Steiner and the schools, and enrolled in Teacher Training at Rudolf Steiner College. The vocation just drew her in. This class is her second class. She took her first class through 5th and had to leave due to family need. Later she picked up this class in First when she returned. What's her biggest challenge in being a teacher? Working with the children! It can be difficult to figure out how to meet everyone's needs, to make sure everyone is met where they are. How much to challenge them vs when to let go and try again later. Sometimes knowing that the particular child who is your most challenging student is still going to be with you the next year. And the year after...and the one after that!  What's the most rewarding aspect in being a teacher: the children! Watching them grow year after year. Watching them come into themselves, and seeing who they become. What are her plans for the future?  She plans on remaining a class teacher for the forseeable future. Ms. R loves teaching and she's happy doing what she's doing. What are her hopes and dreams? Currently, helping the school stabilize. School enrollment is down from the Tech Boom, there is a high interest in the school in the surrounding community (more so than most places), but the community lacks the economic ability to enroll their children. We followed up with planning on a few activities over the next few weeks. We went over my abilities, places of growth, areas that need support. This is going to be great!! This entry was originally posted at http://aelfie.dreamwidth.org/1257.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Lesson Plan 1: Speech Exercise

Element of Main Lesson:

I will be teaching a Speech Exercise prior to play practice. 

Plans for Teaching:
Introduction of the Activity
I will be introducing several different tongue twisters to the class to warm up their voices, limber their tongues to encourage good pronounciation and enunciation

Steps in the Activity
Have the children stand tall, limber up shoulders, neck,  mouth stretch...recite Tongue Twister, have class recite back @normal speed and voice. Then speeded up, slowed down, big voice, small voice,  (not necessarily all...as long as I have their attention and doesn't get overly silly.) Then...singing the tongue twister.

Maintaining class participation in the activity: (embedded in steps?)
Definitely embedded in the steps. The silliness of the different voices should be enough to keep their attention throughout the activity.
Reflection on doing the activity:
This worked really, really well. The students got a bit silly with the Henry Hall as they tried to hop on their heels, but calmed down and got on task with only 2 reminders. I had a lot of fun, and learned a couple of new tongue twisters myself. 
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