Be all that you can be. Find your future--as a teacher.

Musings of a second-year teacher.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

One of the things I LOVE about the education program is the excuse to read children's books. As a kid, I absolutely LOVED reading and actually got in trouble because I'd read too much (yeaaaa I'd take my book to the dinner table). So, needless to say, I was especially excited when one of our assignments was to read 19 different children's books. I've started reading a few, but the library here at school doesn't have a great selection.

At lunch during my practicum yesterday, the other teachers were talking about the Children's Lit classes they had taken. This class has been eliminaated from the education program here, which disappoints me. We're covering a little bit in another class, and it's surprising what you can learn about children's books.
1. It didn't occur to me that picture books could be used for older kids.
2. I never took pictures and how kids would react to them into account.

I was also surprised at some of the books that my fellow students hadn't heard of! I guess it just depends on which books you read as a little kid, but I was really surprised when some people hadn't heard of the hungry caterpillar!

This makes me wonder how well I'll keep up with books that the kids love. I know I have a huge list of favorites, and I'm crossing my fingers that my students will love them too! I'm wondering what some good resources for discovering new books are? Any suggestions? Comments on favorite children's books? Specifc ways to use them in lessons?

For technology class this we, we were required to complete a "Technology Inventory." This basically forced us to discover the technology available in our schools, and it was really interesting what I found out.

The school I'm in now is fairly new (read: 6 years old and ALREAdy adding on), so you'd think that it might be more "up with technology" than some older schools. I can't say this is really the case.

I've visited the computer lab, and it does seem well equipped. There are plenty of new computers and a smart board for the computer teacher to use with students. Most classrooms have about 5 computers that students can use and have internet connections available. And, of course, each teacher has their own computer. The library has a relatively impressive selection of media to check out, such as digital video cameras, digital cameras, etc. The only application the school DIDN'T have was video conferencing.

After listing that, I suppose the school is rather well equipped. But, what surprised me was the lack of technology use in the school. I know that incorporating technology may be harder for teachers that have been around for a while, and it's harder to use with younger children, but still.

There is one student with disabilities in my classroom that uses the computer frequently to do learning excercises. But I haven't really seen my students use technology otherwise. My teacher didn't know much about the applications when I asked. She did know that she had web space available to create her own page, but she said she hadn't had time and that they had been given just quick instructions on how to create their own websites.

Another thing that surprised me at the school was that the morning announcements are still on the PA system. When I was in high school, we had morning announcements on TV and I know my little sister (who was in elem school at the time) also had the closed circuit broadcast announcements. The elem school she was at was definitely not brand new or in an especially affluent section, so it's interesting to see the differences in how some schools have this and others don't.

So, I didn't think that my school had exceptional technological resources when I started this post, but after rereading what I've written, I think I'm changing my mind. There are definitely plenty of resources available, but they aren't used to their potential. Teachers don't really know how to incorporate them seamlessly, if at all. Hopefully all the WONDERFUL advice I'm getting in class this year will help me to be better at integrating technology into the classroom.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

With a month of classes behind me, I'm in the midst of the education program and getting ready to start multiple lesson plans. After spending two hours of group debate and planning for one lesson, I'm beginning to appreciate the amount of time that goes into a single lesson plan. I was excited to read Miguel Guhlin's blog with a lesson plan for teaching poetry to second graders.

He promoted the use of ClassBlogmeister to publish 2nd graders poems online. This would enable other classrooms to read and comment on the poems posted. Without having an account on ClassBlogmeister, I haven't had a chance to see exactly how this works, but I'm excited about the concept. As I was reading Miguel's blog, I thought that he was simply going to photocopy the poems and distribute them to the students, but then I realized that they were going online. What a great way to make all the poems accessible to the entire class! Not to mention the excitment of actually seeing your poem online! This sounds like a wonderful way to share the poems, without wasting paper...and I like the fact that students get to read the other students' poems and analyze/critique/comment on them.

I'll have to look into this ClassBlogmeister for when I'm student teaching. Anyone else have experience/ideas with this tool?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'm going to try to make this quick since I have about a million other things to get done, but I wanted to blog about this before I forgot about the incident.

Today, while I was at my practicum (in a first grade classroom), I overheard a conversation that totally shocked me. I was sitting on the side of the playground watching the kids play, with another little girl sitting next to me. One of the girls in my class came up to me and the little girl beside me and told us both that we were invited to her birthday party. A girl from one of the other classrooms overheard the invitation and asked if she could come too. The girl from my classroom responded, "No, I'm sorry but my parents said we couldn't have black people over. I'm only allowed to invite one." Needless to say, I was absolutely shocked to hear this come out of her mouth. I was baffled as to what to say. I didn't want to make a huge deal of it, if it wasn't necessary, but I also don't want children to go around with these ideals and I definitely don't want feelings to get hurt.

I talked to my cooperating teacher about the incident and she told me that this little girl IS known for saying things for shock value. She called the little girl aside and asked her what she had said earlier and if her parents had really told her this. She adamently agreed that they had, so my teacher said she would talk with the mother. So, after witnessing this, I'm curious of the best way to handle it. If these are the kind of ideas the parents are instilling in their child, I definitely disagree with them, but it makes me wonder what the place of the teacher is in this situation? I feel that she should be told to act a certain way in school, but is it really the teacher's place to overrule the parents' ideals overall? My cooperating teacher told the little girl not to tell other children in school what her parents said, so hopefully at least conflict is avoided for the time being.

I'm not sure exactly what topic to search in order to find more information about how to handle an issue like this, but I will be doing more research when I have more time. If anyone has any suggestions for the best way to handle an issue similar to this, I'd love comments.