I have just completed my second week in an elementary school classroom with my collaborating teacher (CT). I have to say, I cannot stop smiling and talking about my wonderful experiences so far. Every day I say good morning to my students. I try to ask them questions about how they are feeling, what they did last night, etc. and I try to connect to their experiences. I do this because, according to the text EdPsych Modules, “Building teacher-student relationships can begin with something as simple as greeting students each day as they arrive for class” (Bohlin 68). I love making connections to my students because I believe it makes me seem more like a real person to them; someone that they can talk to if they ever need help.
On Friday, one of my students came into class with her hair up in a bun. I asked her if there was something special going on later that day. She told me that she was taking eight dance classes and that night she was doing three: jazz, hiphop and ballet. I smiled when I learned this information and I let her in on a little secret: I was a tap dancer for over seven years and I did ballet for a few of those years. I try to make connections like these every day to my students.
I made another connection to my students this weekend while I was reading for homework, and I plan on sharing this in class on Monday. Whenever my students have to read an article or a passage, they write “thinking tracks” in the article to track their thoughts are they read. These “thinking tracks” can be questions, pointing out sentences or facts that interested students, etc. In my textbook Reading With Meaning by Debbie Miller, she mentioned this strategy for responses to reading by stating: “Sticky Notes. This is probably the most authentic [type of respone], and what kids use the most. Keeping track of thinking on sticky notes is a lot like writing in the margins or highlighting text in your own book” (61). As soon as I read that sentence I realized something: I still keep track of my thoughts. I looked through my textbook and saw all of the notes that I wrote in the margins and all of my underlining and the stars to mark important facts. Many students like to question whether they will actually use something in the real world and I have a prime example of how “thinking tracks” works and stays in use for years to come!
One of the things that I like most about my textbooks this year is that they contain real life examples and practical ideas and the methods of implementing these ideas and activities in classroom. I have found so many interesting ideas and activities that I have actually started collecting them in a spiral notebook. One of my favorite ideas so far is borrowed from the textbook Classrooms that Work: They Can All Read and Write by Patricia M. Cunningham and Richard L. Allington. The authors mention that students should be “provided [with] a variety of things to write with and on” (Cunningham 35). When I was a child, my parents would lay out huge sheets of paper on the ground for my siblings and I to write and draw on. I loved having so much space to be creative! I think that it is important to provide students with space to write so they can explore their own ideas and thoughts.
Another idea that I really liked from Classrooms that Work is teaching students concrete words using “cereal boxes,” “places to shop,” and “menus from popular restaurants” (Cunningham 39). I love this idea because teachers can use familiar symbols and words such as Walmart, Cheerios, McDonalds, etc. to teach children how to read. At first children might not actually read the words; they may just remember that a bottle of brown soda with a red label is “Coke;” however, this could activity spark interest in students by connecting reading to real life objects. Every time students see the signs, they will proudly proclaim what it says and hopefully, with guidance from a teacher and their parents, the students will learn to recognize and read the letters and words.
One of the my most important goals as a future educator is to keep students interested and engaged in lessons and assignments. A simple method of doing this is to include students’ names in lessons and assignments. In Classrooms that Work, the authors note, “As usual, children’s attention is better if you make sentences about them” (Cunningham 41). I did not realize how powerful names were until I read my own name in Reading with Meaning! As soon as I read my own name on page 53, I perked up. Here was the sentence that struck me along with a bit of context: “Think, too, about children who know about certain types of stories. Caroline, Devon, and Nicole, like Adam and his dinosaurs, know about fairy tales” (Miller 53). I noticed that after I read my own name, I paid attention more and I got excited every time I saw my name in the following pages. I think that it is important to use students’ names in classroom activities because it helps connects them to the activity and it shows that they are an important part of the classroom.
I am currently working in a “supportive teaching” role in my CT’s classroom. Supportive teaching is defined as having “the teaching in the lead instructional role while the aide circulates among students to provide support in a subordinate role” (Díaz-Rico 178). I am always excited to work in my classroom. I really enjoy my role as a supportive aide because this role allows me to connect with students on a daily basis and provide extra help for them. I hope to soon co-teach with my CT. We have already talked a bit about doing a lesson using prezi.com, a presentation tool similar to PowerPoint.
As always, I cannot wait until I return to my class!
- Bohlin, Lisa, Cheryl Cisero Durwin, and Marla Resse-Weber. Ed Psych Modules. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.
- Cunningham, Patricia Marr., and Richard L. Allington. Classrooms That Work: They Can All Read and Write. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, 2011. Print.
- Díaz-Rico, Lynne T. The Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development Handbook: A Complete K-12 Reference Guide. 5th ed. N.p.: Pearson Education, 2014. Print.
- Miller, Debbie. Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades. 2nd ed. N.p.: Stenhouse, 2013. Print.