Tag Archives: Observation

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?”


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

Weekly Reflection 2/10/14 – 2/14/14

This past week was an interesting week to say the least. Friday was Valentine’s Day and we had a great celebration in my classroom. My students each received one of the boxes that I had covered with red/pink paper and they were able to decorate their boxes with stickers and foam hearts. The students really loved this activity and they made a bunch of cute boxes.

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            The students decorated their boxes on Tuesday after they listened to a read aloud about valentines. My collaborating teachers had another great idea of how to handle the valentines by requiring students to turn in their valentines by Wednesday. This allowed the teachers to collect the valentines ahead of time and prepare. If students forgot to bring in their valentines, they were allowed to bring them in on the following two days; however, by having a “due date,” the teachers helped to prevent any outbursts from a student not having valentines to pass out.

I brought in valentines for my collaborating teachers as well as my students. I based my valentines on a template that I found online as well as a favorite movie of my entire classroom, Frozen. I decided not to include any student names on the valentines so I would not violate the rights or privacy of my students. I also passed out my valentines discretely so as to avoid any complaints about one student receiving a “better” valentine than another student.

Pictured above are the homemade, hand-drawn valentines that I made for my collaborating teachers.
Pictured above are the four valentines that I made for my students. Student names are not included but I did write my own name, Ms. Leonick, on the valentines.

I really enjoyed the Valentine’s Day celebration in my classroom. My collaborating teachers had great ideas of how to turn the holiday into a fun classroom activity. For example, every Friday we have a different celebration and this Friday was “Red Day” (in relation to learning about the letter “r” this past week) and so everyone in the classroom wore the color red to class. On Friday we also had a “friendship party,” which I believe is a great way to celebrate the students in our classroom because the focus is on friendships and making sure everyone is included in the celebration.

I was also able to mail out the valentines for my friend outside of class. I have not yet received a response from this friend; however, her mother (who knew about the surprise beforehand) is very excited and was actually brought to tears by the kindness of my students. Below is a picture of the valentines in the envelope as it was mailed to my friend. (Her name is not included in order to protect her rights and privacy.)



            Although I had a lot of fun in the previous week, one of my collaborating teachers was unfortunately out on Valentine’s Day and she will be out for the next two weeks. The information came as a shock to me and to be honest, I was a bit horrified that she would be out. My other collaborating teacher was supposed to be out of the classroom for the final week of February so I made the immediate assumption that I would be “alone” in the classroom (with the help of substitutes instead of my collaborating teachers) for an entire week. Although I have had a lot of experience in the classroom due to the Urban Teacher Residency Partnership Program (UTRPP) at the University of South Florida (USF), I was afraid to take over a classroom “by myself,” especially since I would be in charge of two classrooms. However, my collaborating teacher assured me that she would be here for the final week of February so only one of my collaborating teachers would be out. This information was still a bit unsettling and we had some difficulties with the classroom on Friday.

I am a bit nervous about the next two weeks in the classroom but I will do my best to help out my collaborating teacher in any way necessary, including taking over some of the duties of my absent collaborating teacher. I have already begun to do this by grading papers throughout the day and performing the morning duties of checking binders in the morning. I was trying to take over the morning duties that my other collaborating teacher does in the morning because I wanted to help out when she was originally going to be out the classroom but I think my efforts would be best served performing the duties of my absent collaborating teacher.

Currently, my collaborating teachers perform co-teaching through a synchronous teaching format, which Barnard Badiali defined as “team teaching” (Badiali, B, Titus, N. E., 2010, 78). Badiali considers team teaching to be “the closest form of instructional partnership” because it “carries the greatest amount of shared responsibility” (2010, 78). I would love to be able to accomplish this with my collaborating teachers but I do not think I will be able to do this in the next two weeks. I am currently participating in “mentor modeling” and “one teach, one guide” methods of co-teaching in the classroom. In “mentor modeling,” or “one teaching, one observing,” one person, either the intern or the teacher, observes the other work (Badiali et al, 2010, 76). I currently spend my time as the observer because I want to learn from my collaborating teachers before I step in front of the classroom so I can be well prepared for my students. I also; however, participate in “one teach, one guide,” (also known as “one teach, one drift”) which occurs when “the primary responsibility for delivering instruction falls to one teacher while the other teacher circulates around the classroom to provide individual help to students” (Badiali, 2010, 76). I have found this method of co-teaching to be extremely valuable because it has allowed me to get to know my students well and work with them on an individual level.

My goal is to attain a level of “synchronous teaching,” but I understand that this will take a long time to develop so I will continue to observe my collaborating teachers and help out in the classroom. Since one of my collaborating teachers will be absent for the next week, I will try to take over more responsibility in the classroom in order to help out as well as gain more experience with teaching. I am nervous but also excited at the same time. I know that these next two weeks will be difficult but I think I will gain so many valuable experiences and knowledge from my time in the classroom with so many students and only one collaborating teacher.