This past week is the final week of science content coaching. I have had such a great time continuing to take the lead on teaching and planning science. As always, I will continue to take the lead in science for the remainder of my time in my internship. Next week, the reading/ELA [English Language Arts] content coaching will begin. In order to start this process, my collaborating teacher and I spent the teacher work-day on Friday planning out the following week. My teacher gave me the opportunity to take the lead on planning ELA. We have always followed a co-planning model for planning ELA and Mathematics, but she wanted to give me the opportunity to be the one who made the decisions when we plan. I am so grateful for this chance to strengthen my teaching and my planning. I hope to continue my journey in this classroom and eventually take the lead on all subject areas, which my collaborating teacher and I hope will occur in late March or early April.
This is a photo of my plans for the upcoming week.
Since this was the final week of science content coaching, I was observed for a final lesson. This week I continued to teach about the land of Earth, and my observation lesson specifically focused on the landforms of Earth. The Nat Geo resource for first grade outlines 6 land forms that students should know—mountains, hills, plains, valleys, canyons and plateaus—but I also wanted to introduce two bodies of water—lakes and oceans—to my students. I believe it is important to teach my students about this because these common land forms and bodies of water can be found throughout the United States and the world and it is important that they can recognize these features of the land.
One way that I made the lesson more engaging for my students was that I showed them pictures of myself and my collaborating teacher visiting these landforms. I did this because I wanted my students to see that not only do these landforms exit, but they can be visited by anyone. Because I live in Florida, there are very few landforms that my students will come in contact with, and the idea of a mountain is a stretch of the imagination. I wanted to show them what a real mountain looks like, especially in comparison to others. Two photographs that I used can be seen below (please note that the people in the photograph have been removed in order to protect their rights and privacy).
I allowed my students to make observations and see the extreme difference in size between a regular adult and part of the mountain. My students were able to clearly see that the mountains are made of rock and they noticed that trees and grass can grow on mountains. I think it is important for them to make these types of connections because it clears up misconceptions, for example, that mountains are simply a block of rock. I think the personal connection to the landforms also helped make my students very excited and engaged, which allowed me to meet FEAP 3A: “Deliver engaging and challenging lessons.”
The feedback that I received from my content coach was that my lesson was great and that she could really see the progress that my students made in their thinking. For example, one student noted that Florida does not have mountains because it is flat so instead there are plains and sometimes hills. I think this shows a great level of understanding of basic land forms as well as applying that to the area around us.
As this is the end of content coaching, my goal will also be coming to an end. My goal was to analyze my questioning to make sure that I employ higher-order questioning techniques (FEAP 3F) as well as make sure that my questions match the content and objective that I am teaching. I worked with a partner in another first grade classroom to help me. She helped me by discussing how we can analyze our work together and by providing me with some insight as to how to monitor my questioning. Unfortunately, we did not have an opportunity to observe each other because our science times are at the same time in the day and we both teach science in our classrooms. We were also absent for days in which we had to do our certification exams or take care of other responsibilities.
I analyzed my data by transcribing some of my lessons and looking at the student responses by myself and with my content coach. We both agree that my students definitely show an understanding of the content that I am teaching by applying what they have learned and extending their thinking even with minimal or no prompting. One of my favorite examples of this was when one of my students made the observation that sand comes from rocks that are broken apart by banging them together. She made this observation to me with no prompting, she simply observed three samples of soil, sand, and rocks and then told me what she noticed. I was so amazed with her response. I was also very happy when one of my groups saw a small plant in their soil sample and told me that this happened because the plants grow and live in the soil. Another great example of the students applying what they had learned is when we made a class anchor chart about how we use the Earth’s land can be found here. I could very clearly see what the students absorbed from videos and other resources that I used to help me teach my science lessons.
Based on all of this information, I believe that I am on the right track with higher order questioning. I believe that my lessons are designed in a way so that students can learn content from multiple resources including but not limited to read alouds, the Nat Geo text, videos such as brainpopjr and exploration activities. I believe that I have shown a lot of progress during this content coaching cycle but also during this entire year as I have taken the lead on planning and teaching science. I have learned how to incorporate content from multiple resources in order to ensure that I can elicit student understanding from my higher order questions. I will continue to develop this goal by making sure to ask higher order questions in all subject areas to ensure that my students not only learn the content but can apply that knowledge and skill set.
During this week, I also attended the district STEM Fair Competition as a volunteer judge. This was a great opportunity for me to talk with students from around the district about the projects that they have been working on all year alongside other individuals from the USF community and local community in Hillsborough County. I was a judge for the Earth and Space Science for 3rd grade groups and Behavioral Sciences for 3rd grade groups.
I really had a fantastic experience because I saw so much work and effort that all of the students put forth. It was exciting to hear about the real world connections that inspired each group and how they would use this information to help scientists in the real world. For my participation I received a special pin, which I will definitely be wearing when I attend the STEM Fair Night that my school will have on February 19th so all students can show their families what they have learned and done in the classroom.
Next week, I will begin the reading content coaching cycle. I am excited to have an opportunity to take the lead on planning and teaching the ELA block because I have not had an opportunity to do this yet. I have been taking the lead on teaching phonics and my own guided reading group and I have helped to co-plan for the ELA block. I am also excited because I will receive another guided reading group, I will be working with the students who need additional support with letters and sounds as well as phoneme segmenting, which will be a new and interesting experience for me.