Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day Three of Vacation

hahahaha... Kirk. I knew that. My bad.

Moving on.

Today was so interesting! I observed in a 2nd grade classroom taught by my dear friend, Kasey, who I went to high school with. What a great grade to teach! The kids are independent (they can read and write) but still respectful and eager to please the teacher. Nice! And Kasey was so natural! Firm but not at all mean!

First let me say, times have changed! The three biggest changes I noticed all came right in a row, first thing in the morning. The first thing the kids do in the morning is eat breakfast! Provided by the school! The state of Texas decided that students coming to school hungry wasn't working. In my classes, they have said a few times "when we recognize a need in a student, we are legally obligated to try to meet that need". For students who come to school hungry because they didn't have breakfast, and in some cases dinner (so many children only eat at school...) learning was impossible. At least learning before lunch. So in Texas, every elementary student is entitled to a free breakfast. (I'll let you know tomorrow if they do the same thing in middle schools!) Today it was some type of breakfast sandwich, a juice box and chocolate milk. I think that's awesome! Change number two came in the form of video announcements. Every classroom has a projector installed in the ceiling and when the bell rings, there are 15 minutes of announcements. So cool! The most impressive announcement, in my opinion, was the fact that the school had parenting classes going on today. Yeah! You heard me! Not only does this school feed the children before they ask them to learn, they offer assistance to parents who need help learning the ropes. How great is that? The part of the announcements that made me giggle was realizing that I don't know the pledge to the Texas flag. I thought that I did. I don't. haha. I know part of it. I mumbled the rest.

I've forgotten what I was going to say the third change was... I'm a little tired. Hehe.

It was so neat to see the processes that I've been learning about put into practice. When I was studying for the EC-6 test, there was a LOT of content about English Language Learners and how to handle them in your classes. Kasey's first assignment today for her class was a writing assignment. All of the students gathered around her and they made a list of famous Americans that they have studied this year. She wrote every name down on a large flip chart at the front of the room so the students could see how to spell the names. Then she told them each to write a paragraph about what they know about one of these people. (The funniest line from the day came from this activity. They were listing a lot of historical figures like Martin Luther King, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. One student asked if they could write about Michael Jackson. And then someone mentioned that MJ died last year and one student jumped up and said "A doctor killed him!" and another student said "I thought he was shot" and the first student said "Yeah, a doctor shot him!". Oh dear. How that made me laugh! He was so serious, and everyone totally believed him!) Anyway, while the students were writing their paragraph, Kasey told me that she has 5 ELLs in her class and they are required to write 5 short papers to monitor their progression of language comprehension. Kasey didn't want to make just those 5 students do an activity that no one else had to do, so she has been incorporating the writing assignments into other subject areas, like social studies today. How great is that?!

I also got to see a lot of examples of behavior modification. I thought her class was really well behaved! Kasey spent a good deal of time quieting them down, but not because they were misbehaving really, more like they were excited! She used lots of cues that we have talked about in class... she has visual cues like putting her finger over her lips and making eye contact to quiet a particular student down. When the whole class needs quieting she either says "Give me five" and each student holds up five fingers and looks at her for instructions, or she says "Clap once", and they all clap once and then "Clap twice", and they all clap twice. These are procedures put in place at the beginning of the year, and now when Kasey uses those cues, the students know exactly what to do and what is expected of them.

We have also talked about, in my classes, the fact that students want structure. They want to know what is expected of them so they can succeed. I totally saw an example of that today. During a reading activity, the class followed along as they listened to a story being read. And then afterwards, Kasey told them that she was going to give them 3 sticky notes, and she wanted them to write down three facts from the story. When she handed out the sticky notes, she just tore off small stacks, and the kids who didn't have 3 sticky notes flipped out! "I've got 4! I've got 5! What do I do?" Something was a little different from what they expected and, for the smallest minute, they panicked. Kasey was quick to tell them not to worry about it and if they wanted to write down extra facts, that was okay as long as they only had one fact per sticky note. It was smooth sailing after that.

All day there were connections like that! I saw so many examples of what I have been studying.

Two random things I learned today:

1. Pencils = Chaos.
I understand that students need to be able to erase, but pencils are unfortunately fragile!

2. Kids sneeze a lot. A lot.

She had one student who was a pencil breaker. When Kasey wasn't looking he would push his pencil against the bottom of his desk until the lead broke so he could get up and sharpen his pencil. She had a singer who really belted it out at the end of the day! I think it was a made up song, but boy oh boy! Was she into it! There was also a spinner. When the class had to line up for something, this girl would run to the end of the line so she could spin until the line started to move. Cute =-)

It was a really neat day. I am glad that I got to see this school because it was great! And I'm glad that I got to see 2nd grade. I didn't realize this, but Kasey wasn't the only teacher I knew at this school. There were a few others. That was nice!

Tomorrow, middle school art! Woohoo! We are going to have dinner at Mel's house tomorrow night and then we have a birthday dinner to attend on Friday night. I have class all day Saturday. Sooo... it's possible that I won't get around to any online classes until Sunday. No bueno. But not a disaster either. I have all next week to work on them. I was just hoping to get them done over vacation.

Still no test results =-(

1 comment:

Marie said...

How fun! I love to hear what school looks like to people who haven't been there in a while.

Hang in there, test results are coming!