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

Musings of a second-year teacher.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A friendly look, a kindly smile, one good act, and life's worthwhile.

Just a quick comment for the day. I went into my practicum classroom today to discover that my cooperating teacher was out with the stomach flu. Needless to say, there was a sub there in her place. While I talked to the sub for a few minutes and she seemed like a nice-enough woman, I didn't see her smile the entire time I was there.

Maybe it's just me, but smiles sure brighten up the classroom. I'm pretty sure kids can sense a teachers' mood and if a teacher isn't happy to be at school, can you complain if kids aren't happy to be there either?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Bump in the Road

I'm in the middle of planning my third lesson out of four for a unit in the spring. I needed to take a break, so I decided to write a bit in my blog. These first two lesson plans have been slightly discouraging. I know I didn't put full effort into the first one, but I thought my second one was really good. Never the less, when I got them back from my professor, my grade was horrible for both of them. I know that I'm still learning and I realize my mistakes once they were pointed out, but it's still discouraging.

Is lesson planning something that gets easier the longer you teach? I sure hope so. And I hope it doesn't take too long to catch on because right now it takes me about 5 times longer to create a lesson plan than it does to actually teach the same lesson.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Reflections on Technology

All the educational resources available via Web 2.0 are almost overwhelming. Prof Nussbaum-Beach has introduced my class to so many resources. We've tried out TappedIn, blogger, Flickr, wikis...tons of things that I'd never heard of before. I'm excited about all the new possibilities but I'm scared that 1. I'll forget about these resources 2. That they won't work out realistically when I get my own classroom.

It's reassuring to see examples of classrooms that have been able to incorporate technology effectively (for collaboration and communication!). One example is of Anne Davis's class of fifth graders. I explored their blogs recently and it was quite interesting to see what they had to say. Most of the students only had about 3 entries so far. The first entry was just a short introduction of themselves, the second was a poem, and the third seemed to be a response to an article of their choosing. While these entries didn't seem to have any information overwhelmingly special, I was able to see the importance of using blogs with these students. Benefits I noted:
1. Prepares them for the real world
There's no denying the fact that computers rule society. If we don't teach these students the technology while they're in school, they are in BIG trouble when they try to enter the workforce. Blogging gives students a meaningful task to practice computer-skills. Not to mention, it's great typing practice. I guess typing skills probably come more naturally for students these days, but wish I had been able to have that kind of typing practice instead of forced typing games.
2. Excites them
I'm not going to lie- I usually check my blog just to see if I got comments. Usually, they're just from Prof Nussbaum-Beach, but none the less, I'm thrilled to know someone is reading my writing. If nothing else, I'm encouraged to write more, just to get more comments. What better motivation could you give emerging writers?
3. Gives them a different mode for publishing
If students are taught like the students in my practicum school, then they've been writing and writing and writing and writing....forever. Handwriting gets old. This is an exciting new way to publish their writing. Not to mention a great way to share it with audiences that otherwise would never have the opportunity to read it.
4. Encourages them to work on their own
If students have access to computers at home, they can add to their blog whenever they feel like it. I know when I was a kid, I wrote tons of short stories. If I had been able to post them to a blog that would have been amazing! It would also help to give the teacher an idea of how much (or how little) students enjoy writing and creating stories, and how they are progressing.

Logistically, I'm curious how blogging works in the classroom. Would this be a daily task? Weekly? Monthly? I know that my students have computer lab once every 6 days, but the computer teacher usually has a lesson assigned. There are 2 sets of laptops available, but this would seem to be a hassle if blogging were a frequent activity. My classroom has about five computers..maybe it could be set up as an "in class" centers activity.

Just some thoughts. I'm glad that I'll continually have the blogging world and the entire internet to use as resources once I get out into the teaching world. It's amazing how much easier and quicker the internet has made life!

Friday, November 03, 2006

First two lessons EVER!

Yesterday, I taught my two first lessons. Ever.
Due to the way the schedule is set up, I ended up teaching my lessons back to back. This was slightly nerve-racking, as I was afraid that if I bombed the first lesson, there would be no hope for the second lesson.

My first lesson was taught during the children's computer centers time. I had planned a webquest for my students and then a worksheet on Kidspiration if they finished the webquest in time. Since I'm in a first grade class and some of the students are still struggling with reading, I decided to create podcasts for the entire webpage. I had a little difficulty finding a way to create a podcast, so I ended up using Xanga to create and audio file and then copied the html into into my html on questgarden.

I wasn't sure what to expect with the first graders and a webquest. I started the lesson by having all the students sit on the floor and we reviewed what they remembered from their field trip to Jamestown (the webquest was on the Powhatan Indians) and then I used the smartboard to go over a few things relating to the webquest. I explained to students that they should push the triangle button to hear the words read to them. I tried to explain the concept of clicking on a link and then clicking the back button to return to the main page.

All in all, it wasn't a disaster. It was pretty chaotic, though. I know that many teachers are wary of using webquests with children this young. As far as the material goes, I don't think my students had a problem at all. They understood how to click to listen to the audio bits, but overall I think the students needed a little more exposure to webpages before doing an independent webquest. Many of the students didn't understand the concept of scrolling down each page to make sure they had read all the information. Many of them got confused once they clicked on a link and did not know where to go from there.

I think that they seemed to enjoy the idea (especially the fact that there were games at the end they could play once they finished!), but next time I'll ease into the webquest gradually. Probably if I had done a webquest on the smartboard first and then in another lesson done something small about navigating webpages and I modeled and then students tried the same thing, then my lesson would have worked better.