Friday, April 9, 2010

Making the Most of It

Although this was a very busy week for me, I took out a chunk of time last night to write my formal lesson plan for my writing lesson for today. I have not had much feedback on how effectively I teach writing and I wanted my CT to evaluate me on this subject. I gave my CT the formal lesson plan and a camera because I wanted her to capture some of the lesson in pictures (to include in my portfolio, of course!). She took some pictures but did not really take many notes on my lesson. When I asked her about it, she said that she totally for got to take notes on my lesson and that she would do it right then (3 hours after my lesson was taught). I was a little frustrated because I know that she was getting her sub plans for Monday together during my lesson. The comments that she did end up writing were very generic and her simply affirming my success with the things that I said I wanted her to pay attention to. How can you give me feedback if you are not even watching the lesson?

So, I’m going to do my own self-evluation:
I taught a lesson on Persuasive Writing. We read Hey, Little Ant earlier and the week and came up with reasons why the kid should squish the ant and reasons why he should not squish the ant. Today, I wanted students to write a paragraph for one reason why the kid should not squish the ant, using ample secondary support. We reviewed the story an the reasons we came up with for both sides. Then I had students determine which two ideas they felt were most important about why the kid should not squish the ant. I told them that they would choose one of those reasons and write a paragraph, but first I wanted to model it for them.

Prior to the lesson, I chose one reason to support why the kid should squish the ant and wrote a paragraph modeling the incorporation of a topic sentence and support. We read it aloud and students helped me identify the examples for support I included. Next, I had students select partners. One partner would “talk long” about reason #1 (which was selected earlier in the lesson) for two minutes. After two minutes the other partner B would talk about reason #2 for two minutes. While each partner was talking, they were to discuss support about why that reason justified not squishing the ant. After they discussed with a partner, we shared out some of the examples they used for each reason. Then I sent students back to their desks to write 1 paragraph about one of the reasons, reminding them of the topic sentence and supports that needed to be included. After 15 minutes, students shared out their writing whole class and we gave Thumbs Up to that person when they were able to identify the required components within their paragraph.

*I think that allowing students to choose their partners made their conversations have more substance because they wanted to talk to the person they chose to work with. I have learned that if I want students to focus on a certain skill when working in partners, they are more likely to engage in the skill if they are able to choose their partner (of course with the expectation that all talk and behaviors are centered on the focus of the lesson)
*Creating a paragraph to model the focus of the lesson helped students to understand what I expected of them when they wrote their paragraphs. It also helped me to think about what aspects students may struggle with because I went through the entire process myself.
*I gave each partner a letter (A or B) so that they would know which reason they needed to talk about with their partner. If I were to do this lesson again, I would have had the paper letters prepared ahead of time because it took about 3 minutes of my time to find the paper and marker to do it during the lesson.
*I feel that by incorporating the conversational piece in the lesson and modeling the paragraph for students made them feel more confident and prepared to go back and write their own paragraphs. I was so pleased to see all of my students engaged in writing when they went back to their desks.
*Overall, I think the lesson went well. I prepared quite a bit for it and I think that preparation resulted in my students being able to apply the skills and focus of the lesson in their own writing.

~In these last few weeks of my student teaching experience, I am doing my best to turn every negative situation in to a positive. I want to end this year, walking away with as much growth and preparedness to teach and this is a great way for me to ensure this happens~

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good lesson. I would be really frustrated with that teacher. I expect that when a person agrees to take on a student teacher (presumably they are asked first?!) they are interested in helping someone develop good skills. We have 4 student teachers at my school who are from the US right now. I do notice that the CT's are not always 100% focused when they are teaching. Your role is not an assistant to help that person have less to do, it is to LEARN FROM THEM.

    I can't wait until the point when I can have a student teacher! I know I will love being a mentor.

    I have one bit of feedback for you. This may pertain more to other age groups because it sounds like the model you used was fantastic. With younger children, I find that if you use a model that directly pertains to what their product needs to be, they will tend to just copy what you wrote. Sometimes I use a similar example but one that does not directly pertain to their topic. Like I would write about persuading my mom to let me stay up late instead of the book about the ant.

    I love how you used a book for the argument and clearly developed both sides/opinions. Using A/B for partners also sounds like an excellent strategy to keep partner roles organized and efficient. Once they got to the writing stage did they get to choose their argument or did they have to use the one they were assigned during the discussion?

    The fact that you took the time to reflect on your own lesson despite the lack of help from your CT is awesome because in the real world of teaching you won't have someone telling you what went well and what you can improve--you really do have to just reflect and figure it out.