Reading Content Coaching Week 3 – Observation and Reflection

This past week, I was observed for a shared reading lesson of the text The Garden which is a Frog and Toad story. The lesson involved analyzing the text in order to compare and contrast the experiences of the two characters using key details from the text. When I performed this lesson, it was the second day of a three day mini-unit and it was based on the Journeys teacher’s edition. My collaborating teacher and I; however, modified the lesson to fit the needs of our students. For example, I chose to replace some questions from the teacher’s edition with my own because I believe they matched the objective and would guide the students during the lesson.

The essential question for my lesson was “How are the experiences of Frog and Toad similar and different in the text The Garden?” I stated the essential question early in the lesson and made a connection between my question and the note-taking guide that we used. The students and I completed this shared chart as we read by documenting the experiences of each of the characters. I defined experience as “what the characters know and what they do,” which the reading content coach really liked. I tried to make a connection between this definition and my students by talking about how they already know kindergarten math, so they have experience with it, but that they do not have experience with college math because they do not know it and have not done it yet; this connection helped me meet FEAP 3E: “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines and life experiences.” By making this connection for the students, I met FEAP 3D (“Modify instruction to respond to preconceptions or misconceptions) because I anticipated that my students would not understand the word and so I gave them the definition in the very beginning to guide the lesson. The reading coach suggested that I spend a bit more time in this area of the lesson to make sure that my students really understood my definition so they could complete the objective and answer the essential question at the end as a formative assessment. This helped me to meet FEAP 1D: “Selects appropriate formative assessments to monitor learning.”

Then I read the text, pausing to ask key questions on most of the pages. I decided to read the text in this way because we already read it on the previous day so this re-read was used to refresh the memories of my students and help them analyze the text with a new lens (experiences of the characters). This aligns with FEAP 1B: “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge.” One aspect of the lesson that both myself and the reading content coach agreed that would have helped my lesson and my students was for me to explicitly model by performing a think aloud. In the very first line, the reader learns that Frog has a garden, which reveals that he has experience with garden. I think that using a think aloud to analyze this line would have helped my students be more successful during the lesson. In the future, I will work on using more think alouds. I believe that I stray away from think alouds because I do not want to think for the students too much; however, I simply need to find a balance between my voice as a teacher and the ideas and thoughts of my students. This will simply come with practice which is why I have begun to take more of the lead when co-teaching the literacy block with my collaborating teacher.

One compliment that I received from the reading content coach is that the areas that I should focus on to improve my teaching are very similar to those of a veteran teacher. He praised me for stating my objective early, using the note-taking chart throughout the lesson (mostly with responses directly from the students) and having a coherent plan for my lesson. He would like me to work on using various types of intonation and voice changes as I read the text and teach in order to engage the students. The reading coach and I agree that my collaborating teacher does a fantastic job with this. At one point Toad kneels on the ground and shouts at his seeds to grow; I leaned next to a student and slightly raised my voice during this part but my collaborating teacher actually got down on the ground and shouted at the floor. My students were laughing and then they were able to go back to the text and focus on the lesson. I have been working on this aspect of my teaching for a long time because, in the past, I was extremely nervous to be in the front of any class and sometimes I actually shook when I spoke to a crowd. Now, speaking in front of my students occurs so much each day that I am never nervous and instead very comfortable. The reading coach assured me that this aspect of my teaching will continue to grow and improve as I continue teaching, which is yet another reason why I am trying to get as much practice with taking the lead as possible.

I have scheduled a second observation for the week after spring break. This week is the USF Spring Break so technically speaking I do not have to come to my internship, but I went today (Monday) and will be subbing on Thursday and Friday. The following week is the district spring break so I will not teach my next lesson until March 17th. The week after that is the standardized testing for my grade level and my responsibilities during that time have not been announced. I am excited to continue helping out in my classroom even though I am technically on vacation and I cannot wait to return after the breaks!

Advertisements

Reading Content Coaching – Week 2

This is the second week of reading content coaching. My collaborating teacher and I have been co-planning and co-teaching the literacy block and she has granted me the opportunity to take the lead on planning and some teaching. We plan out a phonics block, a read aloud, shared reading, high-frequency words, writing, and guided reading for each day. I am excited for all of the progress that I have made so far and what I will accomplish in the upcoming weeks. I will be observed on Tuesday for a shared reading lesson that I helped plan and I should be taking the lead on teaching the other days of this lesson as well. Currently, we co-teach for the majority of literacy and I hope to take the lead on literacy in the upcoming months.

I currently have two guided reading groups, the high reading group and the below level reading group. My high group will begin a chapter book next week. I want to begin this type of book because all of these students have started reading chapter books. I want to help them better understand the books so they will be successful and continue to grow as readers. For my low group, we practice sight words as well as the phonics strategies of the week. For example, last week we worked on the “ai” “ay” sounds and my students practiced sounding out and spelling words using magnetic letters. Next week, this group will focus on “ar,” “or” and “-ore” for phonics and both groups will focus on determining the main idea of a text or chapter.

I write about the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices (FEAPs) in all of my blog posts because these are the principles that I need to meet as an educator. Last week, I met with my PRT supervisor and my collaborating teacher to determine what areas I have accomplished and what areas I should focus on in order to continually improve my teaching, which allowed me to meet FEAP 1D: “Engages in targeted professional growth opportunities and reflection both independently and in collaboration with colleagues.”

One area that I will work on is my communication with parents and students. I have already worked on meeting this goal by actively participating in all Conference Nights at my school and writing home notes to parents. I will continue to work on this goal for the remainder of the semester. One way that I worked on this professional goal is by writing a note home to parents informing them about the award that our class won for our STEM Fair project. I typed up and sent home the note to invite parents to the event, which was fantastic. We had a few students come and they were able to explain all of their hard work to their parents and show them their STEM Logs that contain all of their work, which was another opportunity for me to work with parents.

1

I was also happy because one parent wrote back in the agenda to congratulate our class for their work.

2

I have also been working on communicating with parents about both positive and negative behaviors. I have never called a parent before but I have written in agendas many times in all of my internship classrooms. I attempted to call a parent last week but unfortunately the parent did not respond. One aspect of communication that I want to emphasize is positive notes and phone calls because parents always appreciate hearing about the hard work that a student has done and sometimes they simply hear the “bad news” instead of the great things their child has accomplished. When I interact with parents in person or through notes, I always make sure to focus on the positives and what can be done to help the student improve in the future.

With communication, I have also been focusing on providing immediate and specific feedback to students, which is related to FEAPs 3I and 4A. One way that I have been meeting these FEAPs is by teaching my students test-taking skills and going over test practice that we do as morning work to prepare for the upcoming standardized tests. In the morning, students complete the work by themselves which consists of either multiple choice questions, math word problems, or questions about a text. We then figure out the answers together as a group and use test taking strategies such as referring back to the text, checking all responses, and crossing out incorrect responses. After we finish, the students write “Checked Together” on their papers or we stamp their pages. By taking a small amount of time to do this, the students receive immediate feedback about their work and they are able to learn from their mistakes and see how to prevent them in the future.

3

4

            I am excited and slightly nervous about my observation next week but I have been working hard and taking the lead in shared reading before so I think I will do well. I am excited to receive feedback from the reading content coach so I can continue to improve my teaching. The following week, March 2nd through 6th is the USF Spring Break so the residents are not required to come to internship. I will be a substitute for two days that week and I would like to come in and work in my classroom. The following week, March 9th through 13th is the Hillsborough County Spring Break and therefore I will be unable to attend my internship. I am always sad to be away from my students, which is why I will make sure to come in and visit them. I will also make sure that I am still able to plan with my collaborating teacher so I understand what will be happening in the classroom when I am not there and what we will be doing after Spring Break. I planned a STEM lesson that is science heavy a few months ago in my Teaching Elementary Science class, which is about the needs of living organisms (butterflies) and how to meet those needs with their habitats and I hope to teach that lesson after Spring Break.

Reading Content Coaching – Week 1

Reading content coaching began this week and I was introduced to the expectations for this content coaching cycle. The coach would like to meet with all of us multiple times and focus on the observation and post-conference for each observation. This seems like a good model because it opens up more time for all of the residents all my school to meet with and be observed by the content coach. I will also continue to pursue my goal from the science content coaching, but the wording will be shifted slightly. I really want to focus on eliciting student understanding through higher-order thinking questions. I hope to continue to meet this goal throughout the year. I have set up an observation date for February 24. [The ELA block for the following week will consist of a Close Read for the Shared reading portion of ELA so I will not be observed during this time.] I hope to learn a lot from my content coach and continue to improve my instruction.

In order to meet the planning portion of content coaching, I took the lead a bit on co-planning reading for this past week. I have not fully taken the reins yet but my collaborating teacher has granted me the opportunity to move at my own pace with planning. We co-planned this past week and next week together, as we always do, making sure to incorporate read alouds, shared reading, phonics, high-frequency words, and a writing block during the entire week. We have also begun to practice test-taking strategies for the upcoming assessment in March, so we practice reading passages and answering questions for morning work and we will slowly incorporate this into our reading block as we get closer to the assessment.

I recently took over another guided reading group; I am currently working with the advanced group and now will be providing extra support to the struggling learners. I am excited for this opportunity because I have some experience (from my internship in Kindergarten last year) of working with struggling readers on letter names and sounds as well as sight words, but I have not had a chance to work with a group on these skills yet. I will be meeting with this group every day during the week and I will meet with my advanced group two or three times a week. My advanced group will begin reading a chapter book in the near future, which both myself and my students are excited for.

Last week, for Science, my class and the neighboring class took a trip to MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry to visit their Disasterville exhibit. This connects to a variety of areas in our science curriculum. For example, our current Long Term Investigation is observing the temperature and weather at our school for a month long period. The current standards of our unit are “SC.1.E.6.1: Recognize that water, rocks, soil, and living organisms are found on Earth’s surface,” “SC.1.E.6.2: “Describe the need for water and how to be safe around water,” and “SC.1.E.6.3: “Recognize that some things in the world around us happen fast and some happen slowly.” I met FEAP 1A: “Aligns instruction with state-adopted standards at the appropriate level of rigor” because the standard that our MOSI trip most aligned with is SC.1.E.6.3; we observed various fast and slow land changes such as flooding, volcano eruptions, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. I think this was a fantastic way to engage and interest the students about the content before we learn about it from the Nat Geo text because it helps them gain necessary background knowledge of the content and get them exciting about what might otherwise be considered boring topics. [FEAP 3A: “Delivers engaging and challenging lessons,” FEAP 1B: “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge,” and FEAP 3E: “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines and life experiences.”] This trip allowed students to gain a better understanding and almost experience these fast and slow events. For example, there are three rooms that allow the viewer to get a glimpse of what it is like to experience a tornado, hurricane, and a wild fire. These are experiences that my students will hopefully never have, but by watching the videos and hearing the sound effects, they gained some insight into what these events are like. This MOSI trip allowed me to meet a variety of FEAPs including: FEAP 2G: “integrates current information and communication technologies,” FEAP 3C: “Identify gaps in students’ subject matter knowledge,” and FEAP 3E: “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines and life experiences.”

Another exciting part of last week occurred when my collaborating teacher and I checked our school mailbox. We received an award from the District STEM Fair that I mentioned in a previous blog post where I volunteered as a judge. My class won the “Outstanding Primary Award” for our project “Ants and Sugar.” I am so proud of my students because they really put a lot of hard work and effort into this project. They were very excited and eager to see the results after performing the different trials. [Please note that I removed my collaborating teacher’s name in order to protect her rights and privacy.]

1

I cannot wait for everything that is to come in the following weeks! I will be continuing to take the lead as much as possible in order to gain experience to improve my teaching. I will have another conference with my collaborating teacher and PRT in order to look at my growth and see if there are any areas that I need to improve.

Weekly Reflection Content Coaching Science Week 4 Land and Water

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.

3

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).

4 5

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.

8 9

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.

6 7

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.

Weekly Reflection – Content Coaching – Science Week 3 – Land and Water

Science – Land and Water – Week 3 Content Coaching

Lesson Transcription from 1.30

This past week was a very exciting week for me. I took my teaching certification exam on Wednesday and I passed all sections! I am so happy to accomplish this because it has been a very important long term goal for me. In Science this week, my students took their Midterm Science Exam and I am eager to see how they did. I continued to teach about the land of Earth. Next week, I will continue this theme and we will begin to discuss the water of Earth as well and that all living organisms need water. By planning out my lessons in advance, I am able to sequence my lessons so that they are cohesive and continue to follow the same ideas and theme to match the needs of my students. This allows me to meet FEAP 1B, “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge.” I will be continuing to meet the science standard, “SC.1.E.6.1: Recognize that water, rocks, soil, and living organisms are found on Earth’s surface.” This helps me meet FEAP 1A, “Aligns instruction with state-adopted standards at the appropriate level of rigor.”

This week seemed as if it was a shorter week (especially in the area of science) due to the science midterm and my absence on Wednesday to take my certification exam. I still; however, wanted to make sure to have strong and engaging science plans so I explicitly outlined my plans for the day that I would be absent so my collaborating teacher had an outline to follow so my students continued to stay on track in science.

3

One lesson that I was really proud of this week was my exploration, guided inquiry lesson that I taught on Friday. For this lesson, I provided each group of students with three plates—one plate of sand, one plate of rocks and sand, and another plate with dirt from outside. The students were given the opportunity to not only look but to touch the samples. I did not give a name to any of the samples and simply told the students to draw and write down their observations and what they think each sample was called and possibly where it came from. I was amazed at their responses. The students were completely engaged because they could freely touch and explore the materials and I was glad that my explicit instructions helped me make sure that there were no messes or spills.

I incorporated my science goal into this lesson by asking prompting questions to my students. This allows me to meet the professional FEAP 1A: “Designs purposeful professional goals to strengthen the effectiveness of instruction based on students’ needs” and FEAP 1D: “Engages in targeted professional growth opportunities and reflective practices both independently and in collaboration with colleagues.” I was completely astounded at their responses, which can be found in the attachment above labeled transcription. One of my favorite interactions with the students occurred when one group was examining the rocks and, completely on their own, realized that the sand is “little rocks” that come when “you bang [the rocks] a little bit.” I was so excited to see that there were many great responses, which I believe occurred because my students were so excited and engaged by the activity. At the end of the lesson, I had my students write down what they observed and learned in addition to their notes. Below are some student responses.

4 5

I will continue to work on my science goal for the rest of science content coaching. I am so glad to see this progress in my students and in my own teaching methods. I hope to continue to grow as an educator by giving myself professional goals to meet that help me increase student engagement and elicit their understanding.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my students won the STEM Fair for their grade level at my school. We will be competing with other students in the school district next week. We worked on creating a poster board and we did our best to make sure that student work was at the front and center of the post. In the end, the only aspect that was not student made was the heading made from pre-cut letters. [In the pictures below, there are typed up headings but my collaborating teacher and I decided it would be best to have the students write the headings so we replaced that with student work.] My students and I are very excited about this project and are glad to have the opportunity to compete and display their work.

1 2

            Another important event that occurred this week was Conference Night. Since the second 9 weeks are over, teachers have been meeting with parents and guardians to discuss the progress of students. My collaborating teacher and I met with many parents on conference night, which helped me meet FEAP 4E: “Shares the importance and outcomes of student assessment data with the students and the students’ parent/caregiver(s)” and professional improvement FEAP 1C: “Collaborates with the home, school and larger communities to foster communication and to support student learning and continuous improvement.” I was so happy to attend and to be able to talk to parents directly about their students in the areas that I take the lead on teaching and planning.

Next week is the final week of science content coaching and then I will begin reading content coaching in the following week. I will be volunteering as a judge in the district STEM Fair competition as well. I am excited for this opportunity to participate in my community. I posted a link to download my lesson plans for this week and as you may notice, it contains my lesson plans from the previous week and this week. The old plans from last week are in black and the new plans for this week are in blue. Most of the content remained in black because it was relevant to both last week and this week, for example, standards, misconceptions, and background knowledge are all areas that remained the same so I decided to keep the color the same. For the next week, I will be adding in my new lesson plans to this template in a different color to work on planning and creating a cohesive unit.

Weekly Reflection – Content Coaching – Science Week 2 – Land and Water

Science – Land and Water – Week 2 Content Coaching

We began a new unit in science during the second week of content coaching. This unit is called “Land and Water” and students will be learning about the land, water, and living organisms of Earth. This week focused on the land of Earth—how people use the land and Earth’s natural resources. This week was a shortened week because we had Monday off to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday. Then Tuesday was a non-student day so I came in to help prepare the classroom and take care of organizing student work for upcoming conferences since Conference Night is on Thursday of this upcoming week.

In order to help introduce this unit, I used videos from Nat Geo as well as Brainpopjr. I really love the Brainpopjr resource because the students enjoy watching the characters and the videos ask and answer many key questions. The videos that I used were Rocks and Minerals, Soil and Natural Resources. Theses videos were not in my original lesson plan, but I decided to add them into the lesson during the week in order to meet the needs of my students. I want to make sure that my students are engaged and interested. I remember feeling bored when I learned about rocks in elementary and middle school and I did not want my students to feel the same way. Adding these videos to my lesson helps me meet FEAP 3A, “Deliver engaging and challenging lessons,” by teaching the content through a video with occasional humor but lots of good information. The videos were also a good way for me to meet FEAP 1B, “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge,” because I used the videos to help introduce and review the various topics that we learned about. For example, we watched the Soil and Rocks and Minerals videos after we introduced and discussed how people use Earth’s land. I was also able to meet FEAP 2G, “Integrates current information and communication technologies,” and FEAP 3G, “Apply varied instructional strategies and resources, including appropriate technology, to provide comprehensible instruction, and to teach for student understanding,” by incorporating this technological resource into my lessons.

This week introduced Earth’s land so next week my students will be participating in some exploration lessons while continuing to build upon their knowledge of how we use Earth’s land. I believe it is important to emphasize the importance of Earth’s land because the students need to know how to protect and preserve the land since it is so important. By teaching my lesson in this way, I help the students understand the importance of not only learning the content, but appreciating the world around us. This helps me meet FEAP 3E, “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines and experiences” because the students can relate their experiences with the land in what they have done and seen with what we discuss. For example, we had a discussion about how people use Earth’s land and a popular answer was that we walk on it. This may seem strange, but it is a way that my students interact with the earth on a daily basis.

Something that I have not done much before but I was able to do during the past week was meet FEAP 3I, “Support, encourage, and provide immediate and specific feedback to students to promote student achievement” and FEAP 4E, “Shares the importance and outcomes of student assessment data with the student and the students’ parent/caregiver(s).” I have graded many assignments and tests in all of my levels of internship, however, on Friday, the students and I worked together to grade two assessments that they had completed. The importance of grading this assessment together was that, for the first time in my class, the students did the entire assessment by themselves—they read and answered all questions by themselves with minimal support from me. My collaborating teacher and I wanted the students to receive immediate feedback on these assessments so the students could see their progress and performance when they are in complete control of the test.

This was an interesting experience because many of my students did well. One student; however, lied during the grading process and changed man of her answers. I was a bit concerned when I saw that she was the only student to receive a perfect score on both tests, especially when multiple questions had their answered erased and changed. I pulled the student aside and talked to her privately about the matter. She admitted that she changed her answers and she got very upset. I explained to her that, as her teacher, I want to see what she knows and what she needs help on because that is how I know what to give her extra support with. I confided in her that I too make mistakes on tests and on my homework, even in my college classes, but that it is okay because that is how we learn and grow. I wanted my student to know that it is okay to make mistakes and that she is not a “bad” student for doing so. Everyone makes mistakes but it is important to be honest so we can learn and grow as learners. I hope that my discussion with her and my personal connection to the experience helps her understand this idea because I want her to do well, but I want that to happen because she earned it, not because she wanted to make me happy.

I am excited for the following week because not only will I continue to take the lead on planning and teaching both Social Studies and Science but I will be taking my certification exams on Wednesday. I am a bit nervous but I have been studying and working hard for a long time and I feel like I am ready to prove myself by taking these exams. Wish me luck!

***

6

This is one of the anchor charts that we made as a class to explain how people use Earth’s land. The responses on this chart were all from my students and some of these responses can be traced back to earlier discussions and videos. For example, the response “we can build roads” using rocks and “to make bricks so we can build houses” was in relation to the Nat Geo text and the introduction lesson, which explained that we can use rocks to build roads and houses. The natural resources responses were mostly in relation to the Brainpopjr video about the natural resources of the Earth.Below are screenshots of the Natural Resource video from Brainpopjr, which obviously served as an inspiration for the responses of my students.

7

“Food” — “fruits” and “vegetables” were two responses.

8

“Trees” — “paper,” “cardboard” and “wood” were all inspired by the video. 9

“Metal” was inspired by the silverware in this video as well as the metal in another Brainpopjr video.

10

“Water” was another response inspired by the video.

I am very excited that my students responded so well to the video and were obviously engaged while they watched the video. I really love incorporating technology into my lessons but it is important that it is used to its fullest potential and that the students are engaged enough to absorb and apply the information that they learned.

Weekly Reflection – Content Coaching – Science – Cycle 1 – The Sun

Science – The Sun – Week 1 Content Coaching

The new content coaching cycles began during the past week. For this first round, I will be participating in Science content coaching. Next I will do reading, and then I will end the semester with mathematics content coaching. For this semester, each cycle will consist of five weeks instead of three weeks. I am excited because this will allow me to get more feedback from the content coaches so I can further improve my teaching. Another difference between the previous cycle and this cycle is that the lesson plan templates will be referred to as the “USF Lesson Plan” instead of “Five Page Lesson Plans.” I had mentioned this title last cycle as a general term but it has become the new official term. By completing the USF Lesson plan template, I meet FEAP 2A: “Organizes, allocates, and manages the resources of time, space, and attention” by explicitly writing time limits and the details for each part of the lesson.

This cycle, I will be focusing on writing unit long lesson plans instead of writing about a single day. This is really beneficial for me because it allows me to structure my lessons based around the unit and the standards that I teach. Another great thing about this new structure is that I have already been doing this by taking the lead on planning and teaching science in my classroom. I will continue to do that during this content coaching cycle and for the rest of the semester. This structure will allow me to meet FEAP 1B: “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge.”

I was observed during this past week when I taught a lesson about the harmful effects of the Sun. For this lesson, I modified an activity from the Nat Geo textbook. In the original lesson, students used light-sensitive beads [beads that change color when placed in UV light] to compare the effects of using sunscreen to not using sunscreen. For my lesson, I wanted the students to see the effects of various items that people use to protect themselves from the Sun. The students observed the beads first without any protection and then moved in stations to examine beads in four setting: (1) under an umbrella, (2) under sunglasses, (3) covered in sunblock, and (4) under a hat. This allowed me to meet FEAP 3A: “Deliver engaging and challenging lessons” because the students were engaged through the centers activity and then had to show what they learned through discussions and written assessments. The station activity also allowed me to meet FEAP 3E: “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines and life experiences” because I had the students picture going outside in PE or going to the beach in order to provide them with background knowledge and a visualization of the ideas we discussed.

In order to meet FEAPs 1A/5A [Designs purposeful professional goals to strengthen the effectiveness of instruction based on students] needs, in the Ethics section of the FEAPs, I have designed a goal to work towards during this content coaching cycle. My goal for this content coaching cycle is to examine my questioning. I ask many planned and unplanned questions and I want to make sure that all of my questions connect back to the standards and the purpose of the lesson. I also want to make sure that I focus on asking higher order thinking questions, which will help me meet FEAP 3F: “Employ higher-order questioning techniques.” My content coach is helping my meet this goal by taking notes about the questions I ask and how the students respond to my questions. I will also be working with a peer to meet this goal.

The purpose of my lesson for this week was for students to understand that there are harmful effects of the Sun that we can work to prevent by using items to protect our bodies from the Sun, such as sunglasses, sunblock, etc. I met FEAP 1A: “Aligns instruction with state-adopted standards at the appropriate level of rigor” by designing this lesson around the standard: “SC.1.E.5.4 – Identify the beneficial and harmful properties of the Sun.”

I was very excited to see that the students clearly understood this by the end of the lesson. One of the questions that I asked is what material would be the best to use in order to protect yourself from the Sun. One of my students answered that you would need to use all of the materials to protect yourself from the Sun because some materials do not cover up your entire body. Two examples of this are the hat that only covers your head and sunglasses that only cover up your eyes. When I planned the lesson, I hoped that my students would learn that they need to use at least some of the materials mentioned to protect themselves, but I was very surprised and excited to see that many students understood that all of the materials can be used at once. This really shows me that the students understood my lesson and really grasped the concept of protecting oneself from the Sun.

One aspect of the lesson that I loved was having my students explore each of the objects by going outside and moving in stations. One problem that I faced; however, was that the students were very curious so they kept touching and moving the beads. By doing this so often, the beads came in contact with the light and changed colors. This was an unfortunate accident but it did highlight the point that the objects do not completely protect you from the Sun, which may have led to the understanding that you need to use all of the objects to protect yourself.

At the end of this lesson, I had the students write in their journals as an assessment piece. I try to have the students write each class period so I can use this to inform my teaching for the rest of the unit. This writing allows me to see if the students understand the concept or if there is a misconception that I must correct. This allows me to meet FEAP 1D: “Selects appropriate formative assessments to monitor learning” as well as FEAP 4D: “Designs and aligns formative and summative assessments that match learning objectives and lead to mastery.”

Below are some of the responses that I received for this lesson. I was really proud because the majority, if not all, of my students understood the concept and wrote a correct answer. One student in particular, a boy who has been learning how to speak English after moving to the United States, has really improved in my classroom. At first, he rarely spoke or wrote, but now he raises his hand all the time and is always eager to share his thoughts by speaking or writing. His answer is included in the examples below.

1

2

The student wrote, “I can protect myself b using all of the things that we used outside.”

3

The student wrote, “I can protect myself by using an umbrella.”

4

The student wrote, “I can protect myself by the roof.” This came from a discussion about how when we are indoors, the roof blocks the sun which helps to protect us. The student’s notes from the station exploration can also be seen: “The beads turned color” and “The sunglasses protect us.”

Many of the students had responses like these, which I use to inform my teaching practices that the students have a good understanding of this concept. At the end of the week, the students took a science test about the Sun and the Stars (the unit in which this lesson occurred). The next unit will be about Land and Water, which will begin next week. Within the next two weeks, the students will be taking their science midterm. The students saw similar questions in the beginning of the year science test and now the students will be able to show what they have learned. I am a bit nervous but excited to see how they do because I have taken the lead on planning and teaching science for a few months now so this will give an idea of how well the students have understood my lessons. I am excited to continue the science content coaching and cannot wait until I can be observed again!