Monday, February 28, 2005

Reformation Unit Lesson 1: Martin Luther

This was my first lesson in a two week unit on the Protestant Reformation. I introduced a project on which the students will be working the entire time, and did a brief introduction to Martin Luther's life and controversy.

Good things:
  • Students didn't complain too much about the project, and by the time I was done explaining it, they understood fully what they needed to do
  • I continually monitored the class to be sure everyone was taking notes and attentive
  • I was relaxed in front of the class, and didn't appear nervous
  • Students were attentive, and engaged in good discussion
  • I responded well to a rude question (What's the point of this project, anyway?) By calmly explaining my objectives of the project. In the future, I would ask the class to share why they thought we were doing the project to affirm its worth to the individual student.
  • When asked a question to which I didn't know the answer (What is purgatory?), I elicited the information from a student. In the future, I would not be afraid to admit not knowing the answer to a question, and look it up, or have a student look it up.

Areas of improvement:

  • Do not leave students unoccupied while I check homework
  • Whenever I give handouts, I need to hole punch them
  • Leave assignment on board until last class has turned it in, so they can't come back and say it wasn't on the board
  • Elicit more information from the students instead of just lecturing at them
  • Consistency in classroom management. I asked students to hold questions until the end, then I answered some questions that were shouted out and denied others.
  • Be aware of students with hands up. At one point I missed a student raising his hand twice because I was looking at my notes.
  • Make clear that notes from lecture are supplementary to reading notes, and that it is not necessary to copy everything down
  • Do not let students use bathroom while someone is talking; be aware of classroom
  • Check dates of other class projects before assigning project due date

Changes I'm making in the future:

  • While I check homework tomorrow, I will have students read an introductory article and write down the main points
  • I will emphasize effective and efficient note taking skills, including not writing down everything
  • I will keep a general watch over the whole class to be sure I am aware of all problems and needs
  • I have changed the due date of the project so that it does not conflict with a reading project

Friday, February 25, 2005

5 week wrapup

So now that I consult my calendar, it seems I've been in student teaching for 5 weeks now. I can't decide if it seems like longer or shorter than that. It's been an overwhelming time, and I think I've been sick for the majority of it. It's been great, though, and super educational. I've gotten to attend conferences and meet loads of parents at other functions. The parents are all so supportive of their children's education, which I love. the Junior High teachers occasionally complain about parents being overly involved, but I don't think so. I really hope I can be such a part of my kids' lives, if and when I have them.

I've been given the oppurtunity to plan a field trip to an Engineering Expo coming up. I'll be fulfilling the Legal Rights and Responsibilities Standard, which is necessary, and gaining experience in dealing with registering 50-some kids for an event, coordinating chaperones, and sending out permission slips.

I've been to Mass once a week since I started the semester, which has been interesting. I'm really enjoying the traditions associated with worship in the Catholic Church, even though I disagree with some of their teachings. Working on this Reformation unit has helped me to be more aware of the differences and similarities between my Lutheran beliefs and Catholic ones, and it's interesting to note the many points of agreement. I do wish there was more variety in the hymns, though.

On the topic of The Unit, as I've come to call it... I start teaching it on Monday, and let me say: it has been a major source of stress. I don't know how teachers manage to come up with all kinds of unique, engaging, multiple learning styles lessons. Maybe they don't. I have the first lesson completely written, except for standards. I have all of my project materials written, needing just a few revisions. I've read my resources for the SAC lesson, and my biggest task right now is re-writing them so they are readable at the 7/8th grade levels. That's my task for tomorrow.

I was supposed to be lead teaching next week while I taught my unit, but after a couple of sleepless nights, I realized that wasn't a good idea. I hadn't had any time to work on planning science lessons, and would have completely messed the kids up. I talked to Hannah about it, and she was fine with rescheduling. I did feel bad, though. I know that I'm scatterbrained and emotional and disorganized, and that I always get everything together just in time, but no one else needs to know that. I'm afraid Hannah's figuring it out, though, which I don't like. I need to maintain a professional appearance while in her classroom so that she respects me and lets me take on more responsibilities. I also need her to write that evaluation at the end. I think as I move through this unit, and on to teaching more science stuff, I'll become more comfortable teaching and mre in control of things.

Closing thought: How do I deal with a student in class who always has an answer for everything? I guess last year she was very shy, and not a good student, so she has shown great growth this year. But the other kids resent her, and appear to feel inadequate. Hanna's not too concerned, but I'm wondering if there's a way I can better address her lack of social graces, without telling her to hide her intelligence.


My last catch-up journal entry. This one's short.

February 16, 2005
Ok, so I got the approval for the unit on the Reformation. Hannah loved the idea, and just needs to make sure she approves everything I plan to teach. Now I just need to write it. I have some good ideas for a SAC lesson and final projects, and I have a couple of videos I’d like to incorporate. Plus, it’ll be my lead teaching week, so I’ll need to be thinking about science stuff, too.

Yikes. So much stuff to do. I don’t know how teachers find time to do this every day of the school year! One prep hour a day just doesn’t cut it. So apparently I don’t ever get to have a family.

Inspiration strikes!

Here's another past entry, from the night I came up with inspiration for my Religion unit on the Reformation.

February 3, 2005
After pondering this for a couple of days, I’ve thought of a general plan for my unit on the Reformation, which will probably turn into my big Unit for Seminar. Here’s how it’ll go: The whole unit will be based on the Inquiry (HOTS) method learned in my social studies methods class. Students will be given a question: What do you feel were the most important factors leading up to the Protestant Reformation, and what effect did the Reformation have on the Catholic church, and the Christian community as a whole? What impacts does the Reformation have on your faith life today?

I realize that these are 3 questions, and inquiry is only supposed to have one overarching question, but I don’t see any other way to do it, so that my assessment can fully replace an objective test. What is my assessment, you say?

So the kids get this question at the beginning of the unit. They are instructed to bring note cards to each class. Each class will focus on a different aspect of the Reformation, and involve multiple forms of communication (STANDARD!). I may give a lecture, or assign a reading, or engage the students in a SAC lesson, or something else. After each class, they will either answer a specific question on their note card, or they will write a hypothesis about the overarching question, based on evidence gleaned from that class.

By the end of the unit, students will have about 5 paragraph length questions answered, and will be ready to compile their evidence into a coherent answer, which they will present in one of three ways: an informative or persuasive essay, a power point presentation to the class, or an artistically designed poster. Each option would have a separate rubric (tons of work for me), but would answer the same question as listed above.

Good points: Totally MY unit, not a book unit. Engages multiple learning styles (STANDARD) and multiple forms of communication. Varied assessment practices (STANDARD). Probably more engaging and real to the kids than reading out of the book and memorizing facts.

Bad points: Hannah may prefer to have standardized objective tests. Maybe we could have one in addition? It’ll be tons of work. I’ll need to start now. I’m depending on my pastor to give me lots of references, because I’m not altogether sure where I’ll find them on my own.

I’m so excited. I need to make sure to ask Hannah about this tomorrow. Now for bedtime.