These past two weeks have allowed me to take over more responsibilities in the classroom and take the lead on many activities. For example, I have taken the lead on Calendar Math as well as classroom management during Daily Five/Centers and monitoring the students while in line. I have also begun to take the lead on dismissing the students at the end of the day. I have taken the lead on a variety of lessons in the classroom. I hope to start really planning with my collaborating teacher so I can continue to get involved in the classroom.
One activity that I took the lead on was performing a read aloud of the short story Charles Tiger. During this activity I modeled good reading skills (what to do before, during, and after reading as I did last week with the Chrysanthemum read aloud. I also worked with the students to create a chart about the Characters, Setting, Problem, and Solution of the story. I did this later on in the week for a read aloud of Here Comes Trouble. My students have watched my collaborating teacher and I create these story charts many times and now they can use this tool when they write about reading during Daily Five/Centers. My students really like using the chart and have few problems filling out the chart. I did notice; however, that my students have some difficulty determining the exact setting of the story Charles Tiger because they want to list out every place that the story took place in but this shows me that they do understand the concept of “setting” and simply need to work on condensing their ideas and discovering the main setting. My collaborating teacher suggested that I ask them where the Problem/Solution occurred and to use that as the setting. I tried this during my read aloud of Here Comes Trouble and I noticed that the students had a better understanding of the setting.
Another area that I have taken the lead on is Social Studies. In the past, I only taught a few Social Studies lessons but my collaborating teacher and I agree that this would be a great area for me to start practicing designing and implementing lessons in the classroom. I used the first grade textbook and taught the students about rules, laws, and responsibilities, which aligns with the Social Studies standards SS.1.C.1.1 Explain the purpose of rules and laws in the school and community, SS.1.C.2.1 Explain the rights and responsibilities students have in the school community, and SS.1.C.2.2 Describe the characteristics of responsible citizenship in the school community.
I honestly struggled with this lesson. My students were not engaged and they did not seem to grasp what I was trying to teach them because the struggled to answer the questions that I asked them. I was upset at myself afterwards but I knew I had to move forward in order to be successful in the future. My collaborating teacher suggested that I move around the classroom more so I could manage student behavior better and keep the students more engaged. I agreed and decided to try again a few days later.
For my next lesson, I used the textbook again and this time I talked about people with authority. This lesson connected to the Social Studies standard: SS.1.C.1.2 Give examples of people who have the power and authority to make and enforce rules and laws in the school and community. During this lesson, I moved around the classroom at regular intervals. I took pauses in between paragraphs that I read and continued to ask questions to make sure the students understood what I read. I immediately noticed a misconception among my students when I asked them what “power” meant. My students understood the concept of “power” to mean “electricity” as one student told me power was “the thing that makes your car and house work.” Although this seems comical, the question helped me make sure the students understood the concept of authority/power by providing a better definition: having control over something. I had my students provide examples of people with authority in the community (police officers), school (teachers and principal), and government (the President). Then my students and I worked together to fill out a worksheet about authority in the school.
My students were easily able to determine that the Principal had the most authority in the school but they were unable to come up with the term for the Assistant Principal. I tried my best to give the students struggle time to see if they could come up with the answer themselves. My collaborating teacher noticed that I needed some help and joined in with some amazing co-teaching. She was able to elicit the answer from our students and help me move along with the lesson. She also helped me ask great questions at the end to wrap up the lesson. She asked the students who has the most authority in the school (principal), who has the most authority in the country (president), and who has the most authority in their homes (parents). I really appreciated my CT’s help with the lesson and I felt very confident when I finished. My collaborating teacher told me that she noticed a definite improvement in student engagement and linked that to my movement in the classroom.
My collaborating teacher also helped me with taking the lead on Social Studies by providing me with a great lesson tool: Second Steps. This is a tool that provides Social Studies lessons that focus on developing empathy and social-emotional skills in students. I believe it is important to develop these skills in children to help decrease bullying and increase awareness about emotions and how to help others in need. I did a lesson about recognizing the emotions of others in pictures and how we can help others feel better when they are sad or angry. My students analyzed the following three photographs and had to point out what emotion the children felt and what clues they found on the children’s faces to support their answer.
I was really happy that my students were able to quickly and easily identify the emotions that the children felt. I think it is important to teach these skills to children so they can help out their peers when they are in need. I had my students roleplay where one student was upset/sad/angry and the other student had to comfort him or her. The students really liked this activity and used phrases such as “Are you okay?” and “What would make you feel better?” in order to empathize and help others.
I am excited to continue to use the Second Steps resource in my classroom. I plan to teach these lessons once or twice a week to go along with other Social Studies content.
I cannot wait to get back into the classroom to work with the students again.