Weekly Reflection 10/7/13 – 10/11/13

This week I would like to discuss the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices (FEAPs) and my work towards each of the FEAPs so far in my classroom.

The first FEAP that I would like to discuss is under the fifth heading: “Continuous Professional Improvement” and the goal is to “use a variety of data, independently, and in collaboration with colleagues, to evaluate learning outcomes, adjust planning and continuously improve the effectiveness of the lesson.” Last week, I attended my first PLC, or Professional Learning Community. My CT (collaborative teacher) and I discussed my attendance to this meeting when we discussed the FEAPs on September 19th, 2013. The meeting took place on October 3rd, 2013 and it began at approximately 7:40am. I arrived at my school very early that day so I would be ready for the meeting; however, the conference room was dark and no one was there so I was nervous. I asked a few of the staff in the office about the PLC and two women confirmed there was a PLC but they each said different grade levels. There was a PLC for my grade level (which will not be discussed in order to protect the privacy and rights of my teacher as well as my students) that day and after I had asked the two women in the front office about the PLC, some of the teachers had arrived for the PLC.

The Professional Learning Community was about the topic of reading levels. My CT and I agreed that it would be beneficial for me to attend this meeting because I watched her perform some DRAs (Developmental Reading Assessments) of the students as well as helping during FAIR testing.

The PLC was led by the reading specialist and she discussed a variety of topic. The first item that she mentioned was fluency. Sometimes students struggle with fluency but the reason behind this struggle can be confusing. The reading specialist showed a graphic organizer to remind us of the various reasons for fluency issues. This chart will be shown below:

fluency

The reading specialist emphasized that a teacher must consider that fluency problems can be caused by a variety of issues and that as teachers, we must discover what each student need helps with. We also discussed that for most students if they have fluency issues they will most likely have little or not comprehension of the text that they are reading. So if a student has a poor score in the fluency section of the FAIR test as well as a low score in the comprehension part, then the comprehension may be suffering due to a lack of fluency and the teacher should focus more on fluency than comprehension, if he or she can see that fluency is the major issue. A teacher must compare data from other assessments, such as DRA, to determine if fluency is an issue or if the formatting of FAIR may have influenced the results.

We discussed the FAIR data of all of the students. The teachers had to find all of the students at and under the 30th percentile rating for the fluency and word analysis sections. The teachers also had to figure out which students scored at the 40th percentile and below for comprehension on FAIR. All students who fall into this category need interventions. We discussed a variety of interventions such as having the students go to the computer lab in the morning to learn and work on specific skills. Another tool mentioned was the Fluency First book. This book provides a variety of texts that allows the reader to practice his or her fluency.

When discussing the word analysis section of FAIR, a variety of strategies were mentioned to help with spelling. The first of which is to teach students spelling for words that have different spellings with the same sound. My CT introduced this into my classroom over the past two weeks. The students learned about workings that make the long “i” sound such as “ties,” “bright,” “fight,” “buy,” etc. I graded the spelling tests for my class and (although a few were absent and did not take the test at that point in time) everyone that I graded received at least an 80% on the test and showed significant improvement in their spelling as compared to the pretest.

Another strategy that was mentioned was to teach students If they are not sure how to spell a word to write the word out in different ways. For example, if a student was trying to spell the word “bay,” he or she could try:

          bay                          beigh                               bai

The student would then have to decide which word looks correct. In the example above, the student should chose the “bay” spelling of the word. This is an interesting strategy; however, since it requires the student to have an idea of how the word should look, it may not always work for all students.

This PLC was very insightful. The reading specialist constantly reminded the teachers that we must look at each student individually and compare what we have found from assessments such as FAIR and DRAs as well as what we have observed in class.

I went to another PLC on Monday. As I have mentioned in previous posts, every Monday all of the teachers of the same grade level meet up and discuss the lessons for the upcoming week. This week, we discussed math as well as science.

In math, we discussed the lessons concerning the Associative Property, the Distributive Property and Combinations. The students would learn about how to multiply 7s and 9s. I asked if the teachers taught the “finger method” of multiplying by nine. In this method, students hold up all ten fingers.

finger counting 1

The student puts down the finger which is the factor that is being multiplied by 9. The finger that the student puts down is counted from the left to right. So for example, if the problem was 9 * 2=___ the student would count two fingers from his or her left hand. He or she would put down his or her left ring finger (marked by an “X” in the picture).

finger counting 2

Then the student counts how many fingers are on the left side of the “down” finger. In this example, we have one finger. Each finger on the left side equals ten. So in this case we have ten so far. Now the student counts the number of fingers on the right side of the “down” finger. The student would see that he or she has eight raised fingers. This number is in the single digits. Now the student combines the two numbers, 10 + 8, which equals 18. So the student would learn that 9 * 2 = 18.

I was very eager to contribute this strategy; however, I was glad to see that the teachers already use this strategy.

The teachers discussed having a small quiz as well as making a test. My CT was concerned about having two math tests in a week, as would be needed for the schedule. Eventually the teachers designed the test that would cover the entire lesson and they pulled questions out of the math books and discussed whether or not their students would be able to answer the questions based on the lesson. When the teachers discussed science, they did virtually the same thing. The teachers had been teaching the students about energy and they were ready for a test. They chose questions from a few different sources as well as an exam that they had used last year. They discussed whether or not students would know the answer to the questions based on the lessons and how the lessons were taught. For example, the teachers decided that the students most likely would not understand what “work” means because the teachers did not use that word in class.

We also discussed a science lesson that my teacher had created and implemented last week. This lesson consisted of the students working together in a group using flashlights to discover how light works. The students would receive a basket with four mirrors, a piece of paper with a hole in the middle, a piece of aluminum foil and a flashlight. A picture of a bullseye was taped to the wall. The students were directed to stand facing the opposite direction of the bullseye and get the flashlight to hit the bullseye.

light experiement

The students would accomplish this by using a mirror to reflect the light. This was the first of five challenges that the students were given to complete. The students only had to complete the first two challenges and make diagrams of what they did in order to receive credit for the lesson.

My CT and I practiced this experiment together after school one day to make sure that everything was feasible. I personally really liked the experiment and the students seemed to enjoy it as well. The students were very creative and most picked up on what they had to do immediately.

My CT and I discussed our experiences with this lesson to the other teachers and we discussed the lesson. The other teachers decided that they would like to do this lesson as well. My CT and I agreed that the students needed to have a longer period of exploration time than what they had in our class. The best idea would be to have students explore on the first day. One the second day, the students would read a few pages in their science textbook and learn that light reflects and travels in a straight line.

During the past two weeks, I have done a lot in order to meet the standards of the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices. I hope to continue to learn and grow as I work with other professionals in my field. I will be attending the next PLCs with my teacher so that I can continue to meet the FEAP under the fifth heading, which is “use a variety of data, independently, and in collaboration with colleagues, to evaluate learning outcomes, adjust planning and continuously improve the effectiveness of the lesson.”

 

Acknowledgments

  • The image of the hands was taken from Google Images. I was unable to locate the original source of the image. The blue outline of the hands with the numbers, the first picture of the hands, is the original image. I added to the image for the second appearance of the image in this blog post.
  • The MS Paint pictures were created by me.
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