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Week 15 – Final Reflection – End of Senior Year and Final Year Internship

I just completed my final day in the classroom today. I am just so honored to have had this opportunity to gain so much experience and knowledge in the classroom. I feel like I have learned so much about myself and teaching through the Residency Program. I will be graduating on May 2nd, which is tomorrow, and I am so excited for the future. I really feel so appreciated and I can tell that I have definitely made an impact on my students. They were so excited to give me their gifts, which including teaching advice from each student and a letter/drawing to wish me well.

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I also gave all of my students a treat for the last day and I created t-shirts for my collaborating teacher and myself. The students were able to sign their names so we can remember them.

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I am just so thankful for this entire experience. I cannot wait to get my own classroom for next year!

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Week 14 – USF Inquiry Conference

On Monday, I participated in the USF Inquiry Conference for the second year in a row. I presented my inquiry, which is about creating and writing a children’s book that incorporates both mathematics and reading strategies. I am also excited about my inquiry because it was the basis for my Honors College Thesis about what strategies, research, and resources I can use to write a children’s book. I presented in a roundtable format in which guests listened to me present and had the opportunity to ask me questions about my work. I am so happy for this experience because I am really proud of all of my hard work and I was so happy to share it with everyone. I was also excited to see other interns in the Residency and Cohort programs present with posters or in roundtable sessions.

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For my presentation, I discussed the children’s book that I wrote and read to my students. I collected data to discover their interests and mathematical needs. I wanted my book to reflect their characteristics and experiences as well so the book would be relatable so they could make connections between the text and themselves. I found a lot of research that revealed the benefits of using mathematic literature for lessons; read alouds are already engaging and mathematical literature helps students make connections, learn vocabulary, and see real world problems.

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My students really enjoyed all of the elements of the book, from the title to the main character and the plot. They were able to explicitly name the math strategies that they learned about and they even tried to solve the problems as I read the book to them.

I would love to get my book published in the near future; however, I would love to see what other teachers think about my book first so I can make improvements to it. I see my book as a resource for teachers to use as a read aloud to engage students before a math lesson. I created an example lesson plan for my book so teachers could get an idea of how to use it in their classrooms. There are also many phonics skills incorporated into my book such as long and short vowel sounds, contractions, possessives, and compound words. I created a page for parents and teachers to help their students learn and practice these skills using my book.

I was so happy to have a second opportunity to present research in the USF Inquiry Conference. I have definitely grown a lot over the past year. I am excited for what the future holds for me and I hope to take my book to a publishing company some day and see it in a store.

Week 13 – Mathematics – Finishing 2D Shapes

The end of the year is fast approaching and I am just so thankful for all of the opportunities that I have had in the Residency (UTRPP) Program. I am so glad that my collaborating teacher has provided me with the opportunity to continue to take the lead on teaching and planning in all subject areas so I can continue to gain more experience in front of the classroom.

I have many chances to experience guiding students through multiple units and on Monday we finished our 2D Shapes unit. The students took the assessment and based on what I observed, many of the students understood the content. There are still many students (about 6) who were unable to take the test because they were absent but I am eager to see their scores because I think they will show a good understanding of the content. One of the great things about teaching and planning math for the entire unit was that I am able to see the growth of my students and help address misconceptions and alter lesson plans to meet their needs.

For example, when teaching about equal parts, my students were confusing about whether or not certain squares were split into fourths. The students were able to recognize that four small squares or four rectangles that all looked the same are fourths but they were unable to make the connection when looking at a square split in half where the two halves are split in different ways.

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In the top squares, each piece is the same size. (I apologize that the rectangular pieces are not perfect on the second square but I wanted to show a pictorial representation of a misconception that my students had.) The third square, however, looks as if the four parts are no equal. But each side of the square (shown below using colors) is half of the square. Since these two pieces are cut in half each of the four parts are equal.

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This was a difficult concept for my students to grasp so I used actual paper that I cut up in front of the students along with drawings on the white board to help them understand. By providing this realia, I was able to bridge the gap in my students’ knowledge and allow many of them to grasp the idea. I felt like this was an important part to teach to help build their conceptual knowledge of splitting shapes into equal and unequal parts because my students made the assumption (which is a misconception) that when a 2D shape is split into parts of different shapes, that the parts are unequal.

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For example the fourth shape is split into rectangles and squares as taken from the other shapes on top. The parts are all equal even though they are different shapes because they are all half of half of the original shape. Although this terminology seems confusing, this conceptual knowledge can be helpful in the future, especially when students have to discuss fractions using ½ and ¼ and multiplying fractions to find half of a half or ½ x ½ = ¼.

I am approaching the final days of my internship, which is exciting because of the new opportunities that await me in the future but also a bit sad because I will really miss my classroom and my students. I have made so much growth and progress over the course of this year and I just cannot believe everything that has happened to me throughout my experience in the Residency Program. I can definitely say I would not trade this for anything.

Week 12 – Mathematics – 2D Shapes

Lesson Plan for Observation on 4.9.15

I have continued to take the lead on teaching all subject areas in my classroom, which has been such a wonderful experience. I can clearly tell that I am making growth with my teaching. My collaborating teacher commented that my flow has definitely improved. I am just so excited to be able to practice. In the previous week, I had used a timer to help me stay on track and once I got a feel for the time, I was able to stop using it because I was more familiar with the timing of my lessons.

I planned a special mathematics lesson about decomposing 2D shapes in which I designed all but one of the worksheets. I was really proud of this lesson because it was a real observation to evaluate my teaching and I believe I did a good job. I introduced the lesson by engaging the students with a mathematics game. Then I did some explicit modeling for the students.

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Once I collected enough anecdotal data through a quick check and observations, I made groups based on ability levels and gave the students worksheets that I created. I pulled a small group to provide extra support. Then I called the students back together to complete an exit ticket and for the closure of the lesson I had the students answer the essential question. I really liked the lesson because I gave the students the opportunity to explore the 2D shapes with lots of hands on experiences and movement. One aspect of the lesson that I would have liked to work on would be to give the students a bit more time for the exit ticket but I wanted to make sure that there was enough time for the closure.

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One thing that I really like about creating my own worksheets is that I can make them to meet the needs of my students. For example, on the worksheets there are four small shapes: a triangle, a rhombus, a trapezoid, and a hexagon. The original worksheets that I found (see the first worksheet) had the students simply draw lines to show how they decomposed the shapes but after watching my students during other lessons, I noticed that my students had a lot of trouble with this. I think this may be related to difficulties with fine and gross motor skills but also because it is difficult to record the information even though students can explain it verbally. So I provided my students with the opportunity to circle the shapes they used in order to show me what they did so I could gain a better understanding of whether or not my students grasped the concept. On the actual worksheets, I colored in each of these shapes so the students can choose what shapes they used because they resemble the pattern blocks that they used just in case the students could not tell what the shapes were since I hand drew them. All in all, I really liked my lesson and I am glad that I was able to teach all of the previous lessons so I had enough anecdotal data and observations to make these key decisions to help my students be successful.

Another aspect of my classroom that I am extremely excited about is the amount of exploration elements in the room related to our science content. We have multiple plants growing inside and outside of the classroom. For our Long Term Investigation (LTI) the students are analyzing the changes and growth of catnip grass plants inside and outside, then we are also trying to grow lima beans and two potatoes. We are also raising meal worm beetles and we just received a shipment of pill bugs that we will be introducing shortly. The final, most exciting, element in my classroom right now is monarch butterfly caterpillars.

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The students are extremely excited about the caterpillars. They check them every day in the morning to see their growth and to see how much of the plant has been eaten. I was very happy to see one student doing research on caterpillars when she was in the classroom library so we put the book (as seen in the above picture) next to the caterpillars so they students can learn about the caterpillars as well. One of the best parts about this is that the students are so engaged that they want to share the butterfly garden with everyone that enters the room, including the principal.

I have had so many wonderful experiences in my classroom which I am extremely thankful for. I am so happy that my collaborating teacher has provided me with a lot of support so I can do things such as providing students with all of these exciting parts of the classroom to explore.

Week 11 – Mathematics Content Coaching – Observation 2D Shapes

Lesson Plan: Mathematics – Week 1 – 2D Shapes 

I taught a mathematics lesson about the defining attributes of 2D shapes on Wednesday of the previous week. For this lesson, I met FEAP 1A by aligning my lesson with the standard: “MAFS.1.G.1.1 – Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sides) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.” By the end of the lesson, my students had to be able to answer thee essential question: “What attributes can you use to define 2D shapes?”

When I was younger, I built 2D and 3D shapes using toothpicks and marshmallows and I wanted to incorporate that fun and engaging activity into my lesson to keep the students interested. I made sure to discuss the importance of using the items as math manipulatives. My collaborating teacher and the math content coach both agreed that the students were able to use the tools well and there were few, if any, distractions or students who misused (or ate) the tools. I first asked the students to make a rectangle and then I had a few students build rectangles under the document camera. My content coach offered a great suggestion to decrease the amount of time spent waiting for students to build these shapes; she said I should have the students build the shapes on dry erase boards and then have them lift the board and bring it to the front to share.

I had the students build a few other 2D shapes and then I challenged them to build a circle using the toothpicks and marshmallows. Immediately the students were very vocal, telling me that they could not make a circle. I challenged them and told them to try, which unfortunately actually brought one student to tears when we became frustrated. I wanted my students to fully understand that a circle is made up of curved lines, no straight lines, which is why it has no flat sides or vertices and cannot be considered a polygon. I then gave the students a pipe cleaner, which they were able to easily form into a circle. I was a bit shocked that a student actually started to cry from frustrated but I definitely wanted to challenge my students and have them think critically about the shape. One student actually made a circle with marshmallows, which was great thinking but technically not aligned with the question. But I had her share what she did because I think it is so important for students to think outside of the box.

The students then completed differentiated worksheets independently and then they completed an exit ticket, which they helped design the rubric for. They had to answer the essential question, “What attributes can you use to define a 2D shape?”

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I really love this rubric system and have used it many times in the classroom. Purple is the “highest” score one can receive, next green, then orange, and yellow is the bottom color. The students aim to get a purple score, but a green is still a good score. The students led the creation of this rubric.

In mathematics, we have our students explain their thinking using a “5 Star Sentence.” Which is a sentence with a capital letter at the beginning, correct punctuation, correctly spelled sight words, and if a student does not know how to spell a word, he or she underlines the word. The students also needed to make a drawing/model of a 2D shape and label the shape with the attributes. The students decided not to put a specific number for the amount of labels for purple, which I liked because it gave them the opportunity to talk about all different kinds of defining attributes, instead of just sides and vertices.

One interesting part that the students wanted to add was the phrase “Don’t try” to the yellow part of the rubric. I have noticed that sometimes the students want to add this to the rubric. I think that on almost all occasions, students want to try and be successful in the classroom; however, my collaborating teacher and I have made it very clear to the students that they can receive assistance if necessary and that it is better to ask for help instead of not trying. I feel like this word choice was very interesting and it shows that they really want to show what they know and believe it is important to always try their best.

After the students turned in their exit tickets, the math content coach had them discussed what they learned in relation to the essential question. She recorded their responses on the board to see if my class had a good understanding of the content and were able to answer the essential question.

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After the recorded their answers she asked them to tell her what the attributes are of a 2D shape, which she labeled with a box (which one student pointed out is the shape of a rectangle). I was very, very pleased with their answers and I really felt like this discussion showed that my students clearly understood the content from my lesson.

I was really excited that my math lesson turned out well. I will continue to be a part of mathematics content coaching, although I may not receive another full observation cycle but the content coach may come in to observe me. I am excited for the end of the year but I still have a lot to do during these last few weeks. I have been granted the wonderful opportunity to take the lead on teaching all content areas for over two weeks (excluding testing week), which I hope will continue so I can gain more and more experience to help me improve my teaching.

Weekly Reflection – Testing Week

The previous week was filled with testing for most grade levels in elementary schools. My students took a standardized test during the week and the instructors and professors of my program decided that we should use that time to do professional development to make the most out of our time.

One day, I watched a video of myself teaching and looked at the questions that I asked. We discussed higher-order thinking (HOT) questions and how to incorporate those into our lessons. I was given some great resources to help me incorporate HOT questions into my lessons that best meet the needs of my students. When I planned my mathematics lesson for my observation for this current week, I used these resources to help me formulate my questions.

On another day, we had to create a fake conference schedule for a week, which was much more taxing than I thought. We had to plan out 25 conferences in a one week period and I was barely able to do it between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm with conference night from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm by giving mostly 15 minute timeslots and using up all of my specials times. I understand that this was an extreme situation but it was designed to help us think about how we will schedule conferences in the future. We also did pretend conferences using the data of real students from our classrooms. Some of my instructors pretended to be various types of parents and we had to perform a conference with them. I was given a parent who was constantly questioning me about everything in the classroom and what I was doing to make sure his student was successful. After the conference I talked to the “parent” who is my reading content coach and he said I did a great job of answering all of his questions and knowing all of my data. I was excited to perform a conference by myself because I have participated in Conference Night at my school before and will be attending Conference Night next week on Wednesday, April 8th. My collaborating teacher has granted me the opportunity to talk during most, if not all, conferences and share my experiences with the students in the subject areas that I teach. I am very excited to help out with conferences again to continue to gain more experience working with parents.

I will be observed on Wednesday for a mathematics lesson on the defining attributes of 2D shapes. I had a preconference on Monday, which went well, and I am excited to perform my lesson. I made sure to formulate some HOT questions and I will have them available to me to use during the lesson to make sure that I do my best to elicit understanding from my students.

Reading Content Coaching – Second Observation Reflection

It has been a few weeks since I have posted. The week of March 2nd through the 6th was the USF Spring Break; however, I still came to internship on Monday and I was a substitute on Thursday and Friday, all of which were great experiences. The following week was the Hillsborough County Spring Break, and the past week I had my second and final reading content coaching observation.

I was really excited going into my shared reading lesson because I wanted to focus on what I discussed in the previous post-conference, which was making sure to use intonation and emphasis by reading the story with emotion. I had my observation on Tuesday, March 17th. We read the story “Little Rabbit’s Tale” from the Journeys text, which has the same storyline as Chicken Little. The rabbit is outside and when the wind blows, an apple hits his head and he thinks the sky is falling so he warns all of his friends and they tell his mother but she shows him the truth and he apologizes for making his friends miss out on different activities. The focus of my lesson was to analyze the author’s purpose for writing the story to determine what lesson thee author wanted to teach us.

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One thing that I used to struggle with is my presence in front of any group of people. I remember shaking when I gave a book report in the 6th grade even though I had a poster board and was reading off of an index card because I just got so nervous speaking in front of people. Throughout the years, I have taken many steps to remedy this by making myself raise my hand and share my thoughts and present in front of others. I even went so far as to take a Public Speaking course at USF to give myself more practice. During my internship experience, I have had few problems, if any, speaking to students because I am truly passionate about helping them be successful so I focus on them instead of my own worries.

Part of this former fear; however, still lingered when I read texts because I did not read with enough emotion, so this time I made sure that really got into the text. I simply took everything out of my mind except for teaching and giving my students the best experience possible with the book.

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For example, when the apple hits Little Rabbit, the text reads “Thump!” in large, red letters so each time I read that word, I leaned in next to a student and shouted while hitting the desk. The reaction from my students was immediately obvious—they laughed and became instantly engaged, which was great because I drew their attention in on the very first page. I kept reading the story like this, acting it out as well by skipping through the room like the characters as they “dashed” in the story. I also cheered “Hooray!” and jumped up like the characters.

I discussed this experience with both my collaborating teacher and the reading content coach. I was, and of course still am, very excited and I thought that I did a good job and I was pleased to discover that both my CT and the reading coach felt the same way. The reading content coach praised me for working on the skill that we had discussed and making such immediate and apparent improvement with the skill.

This current week is testing for students so I will be unable to teach reading since the testing takes up the entire morning; however, my goal is to take the lead on teaching and planning reading. For the entire last week, I took the lead on teaching the literacy block based on lesson plans that my collaborating teacher and I made together. During this week, I took the lead on planning all of the literacy block (phonics, shared reading, and writing) and I will be taking the lead on teaching it as well. My collaborating teacher will still provide support when necessary but we both agree that by taking the lead, I am gaining valuable experiences that will help me so much in the future when I am a teacher.

During this past week I also took the lead on teaching mathematics and science. The science unit that we have been learning is about living and nonliving things and we will be transitioning into plants and animals next week. In mathematics, my students learned how to tell time on both digital and analog clocks to the hour and half-hour. Although I did not plan these lesson, I taught all of the lessons on time and then gave the assessment on Friday. I am very proud to announce that out of 17 students (1 student was absent) all of my students passed with a 71% or higher on the exam. I then recorded all of this data on an excel spreadsheet that organizes it to show the scores of the students, what percentage of students got the question correct, and how many students missed each question, which allowed me to meet FEAP 4F: “Applies technology to organize and integrate assessment information.” Looking at the results, I noticed that some students still have misconceptions that I will be addressing with them during this week in the time after testing but I am so proud of my students and I am really happy to see the clear results of my teaching.

I will be taking the lead on planning mathematics for the upcoming week and I will be taking the lead on teaching it as well. I will have my mathematics content coaching observation on Wednesday. According to the district calendar, the next unit is 3D shapes but during a Professional Learning Communities (PLC) meeting with all of the first grade teachers at my school, we decided it would be more developmentally appropriate to do 2D shapes next and then 3D shapes.

I was so excited to finally have an opportunity to take the lead on teaching all subject areas. For the remainder of my internship, I hope to take the lead on both planning and teaching all subject areas (with some assistance from my collaborating teacher) to help me improve my teaching skills. I am so thankful for the support from my collaborating teacher, my instructors, and the content coaches for helping me achieve this.