Before the March Break, I introduced creating twisted endings to my grade 8s for their literature circle unit. A lot of my students complained about how they didn't like the endings of their book and wanted to change it. I thought it would be a great idea to have them create their own version of the end. This week, my grade 8s had lab time and worked on their book trailers (which are due on Tuesday, after the long Easter weekend), and if they were already finished their book trailers, they had time to work on their creative endings.
In math with my ELD kids, we started a new multiplication and division unit. It's neat to note that students understand multiplication more than they do division. My students struggled with understanding division and I felt like I was rushing the unit. This week, I decided to work on basic multiplication strategies. I started off my lessons with "math talks". For example, I would put a multiplication question on the board such as 4 x 8, or I would put a word problem on the board, too. I asked students for their strategy for solving the question. Students came up with different strategies such as breaking apart, repeated addition, arrays, and skip counting as some ways they can use to help them solve a multiplication problem. I really wanted to shift away from having them learn the multiplication table and so I applied real life situations where they would need to use multiplication or division to help them.
I finally got around to marking the Heritage Fair poster presentations that my ELD students created for their language arts project. All of my grade 8s participated in this fair, and my colleagues and I had the opportunity to be judges for the entire school. My ELD students had to create their poster presentation about a famous Canadian and compose a small speech that they would say when other judges viewed their poster. My associate teacher and I had to teach our kids about the basic structure of a poster: title, subtitles, bold texts, and borders around paragraphs. It was a nerve wracking experience for them, but I am glad they did it!
More about the Heritage Fair can be found at http://www.ottawaheritagefair.org.
My AT wanted her students to do a literature circle unit and so she thought it would be neat that I take the lead. Setting up the literature circles was interesting because there were so many ways to do it. My AT and I decided that it would be best to have 5 different groups of students. By this week, students should have finished reading their books and start working on part 1 of the literature circle projects. I decided that I wanted my grade 8s to produce a book trailer that would make me want to purchase and read their book. I showed them examples of good book trailers and bad ones, and as a class we decided what traits make a really great book trailer. We came up with an outline structure, techniques that are used in media, and ideas of ways to represent the tone and theme of their book in a video trailer. Lab time was booked this week so that students can start recording.
My ELD students continued to work on their math and practice fractions. I thought a fun review would be to create a class game. I divided my students into two groups and gave each person a white board with a marker and manipulatives. The goal of the game was to have every person in the group answer the question on their white board marker. If everyone in the group had the answer written or shown correctly, then that team would receive a point. The game was a total hit! If groups did not get the right answer, then the other team had the opportunity to teach their peers. They had their fraction math test on Friday and did very well.
During this week, students in the ELD class were working on their fraction comprehension by playing a simple games. One game had 10 blocks in a bag, with different combinations of red blocks and blue block i.e., there can be 3 red blocks and 7 blue blocks in one bag. Students were asked to randomly select a handful of blocks from the bag and then fill in a table: Total # of blocks, total # of red blocks, total # of blue blocks. It was interesting to see that some students quickly noticed that if they pulled 3 red blocks out of 5 blocks in total, then the fraction for the red blocks would be 3/5, and the blue fraction would be 2/5. It took some other students longer to figure this out.
Students then completed a fraction worksheet with appropriate level questions, and an 'extension' problem.
"Sally has three broken pencils. These pencils make up 1 quarter of Sally's pencils. How many pencils does Sally have?"
I didn't know that this question would be such a problem for students to figure out. I had a lot of fun trying to explain it in various ways because each student understood the problem differently. The first student I had understood the problem after I explained the English to him. Another student understood the problem when I used a circle diagram to explain what one quarter is. And a different student liked it when she could draw the problem.
At first, she drew what she knew: three broken pencils. She also knew that these broken pencils "= 1/4". The next step was to see if she understood what 1/4 really meant. I drew a circle for her and asked her to divide it into quarters. She divided the square into 4 equal pieces. I then told her that if we know that in one quarter, there are three broken pencils, then how many pencils would be in the other quarters? She started saying random numbers like 1 and 5, but that was because she didn't understand that fractions had to be equal portions. After explaining that, she was able to make the connection that if one quarter has three pencils, then the other quarters should have three pencils too. Thus, she knew that there are 12 pencils in total, because 3+3+3+3= 12, and 3 of the 12 are broken (3/12). So Sally has 9 unbroken pencils (9/12).
I love seeing the look on students' faces when they finally understand the problem and figure out the answer.
Looking forward to creating my first math lesson for these wonderful students on Tuesday!
Tone and mood are more elements of style that I needed to introduce to my students. I started by showing a clip on YouTube about the movie Frozen as a horror movie. The class loved it because it was so creepy. Although they've seen the actual Disney movie, I asked students how they felt about watching this version of Frozen (most of them said they would watch it if it was a movie). We then had a class discussion about what conventions and techniques in this video made the video scary i.e., how did the music in the clip change the entire tone of the original movie? I then explained to them that the overall feeling of the video/ their reaction is the 'mood' and the way that feelings/actions are expressed in the video is known as 'tone'. I differentiated between the two by telling them that mood is the feeling they get after watching/reading and the tone is the author's attitude towards the writing.
As a class, we dissected the lyrics of Keep Ya Head Up by Tupac Shakur. Students had the opportunity to read lines from verse 1 of the song and discussed what they thought the underlying message was, the overall tone, and their mood towards the lyrics. We then watched the video for Keep Ya Head Up and we talked about the conventions and techniques of the vide, keeping in mind wether the techniques helped create a specific tone or not i.e., does the music flow well with the lyrics? Students had the opportunity to discuss what tone and mood they wanted to set with their book trailers in their literature circle groups.
This week was my first official beginning. Luckily, it was a 4 day week because of Family Day (which I am thankful for because I was anxious).
On my first day of teaching, I had to introduce the elements of style to one of my grade 8 classes. My issue? How was I supposed to make elements of style interesting? What are the elements of style anyway? Why are they important?
These questions helped me develop a lesson plan. After several hours of researching ideas and suggestions on how to make this lesson interesting, I came up with the following:
On the board I wrote, "The girl is pretty. She is sad. She is wearing a green dress". I then asked for two volunteers to come up to the front of the classroom (students seem to really enjoy standing at the front for some reason), and asked them to draw a picture to the following description: 'A giant of a man was standing in the doorway. His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair' and 'He was a big, beefy man, with hardly any neck, but a very large moustache that curled towards his nose. His hair fell down past his shoulders in tight black curls like a the hair of a baby lamb'. I asked the class why the descriptions that I read were better than the simple sentence about the sad girl in the green dress. Eventually, someone said that the descriptions compared two objects together so that it was easier to imagine. And this is how I introduced the topic of the various elements of style.
As a class, we unpacked the definitions of simile, metaphor, hyperbole, and personification, and why they are important in literature (as both my English classes are in literature circles). I then posted four sheets of chart paper around the class and handed each student a sentence that is an example of one of the four elements of style.
After debriefing about the various sentences and arguing about why some are similes versus metaphors, I gave students chart paper and asked them use evidence from their novels that will help them draw the main character from their text. I used the example of Sodapop from The Outsiders, where the author states that 'Soda attracts girls like honey draws flies' and that "he's got eyes that are like two pieces of pale blue-green ice.' Overall success!
In my first week of practicum, I watched both my associate teachers (ATs) teach their classes because this was my first week at Glashan Public School- an intermediate school located in the downtown core. The classes I get to observe and practice in are two grade 8 French Immersion English classes and an English Language Development (ELD) class.
My main goal going into this week was to take attendance in all three classes and learn names, since I was still relatively new to the school. I also wanted to start teaching the following week, so I sat down with each associate teacher and discussed moving forward with a new unit that I would begin to plan and teach.
A new refugee student from Nepal joined the ELD class this week. He has no prior school experience and was born and raised in a refugee camp. He's very energetic, and although he doesn't speak any English, he seems very excited to be in our class. As an observer in the ELD classroom, I noticed that my AT differentiates A LOT. She told me I would become the 'Queen of Differentiation' when I finish my 8 weeks because of the various learning needs of students in this class. Already within my first week, I can place a relative level around each student in regards to English and Mathematics. I get to start teaching a fractions unit with these guys next week.
In the English French Immersion classes, the students were working on a Public Service Announcement (PSA) project, where they had to create a video about one of the short stories they read. I walked around to each group and was impressed by the amount of work that students had put into these projects.
On the Friday, teacher candidates were invited to attend the Professional Development Day. It was interesting to see that all teachers were invited, regardless of the school board they worked for. I attended a workshop on physical literacy, which focuses on incorporating activities in everyday learning. It was quite hard to sit down while listening to Dr. Rebecca Lloyd. I also bumped into one of my elementary teachers who taught me- I don't know who was more surprised!
Today, my associate teacher (AT) explained the term 'inferencing' to her students. This is one of the first few times I have seen her teach, and I find it quite captivating at how she scaffolds and questions her students to the extent where they start answering their own questions.
She first asked them to provide her with strategies that would help someone use inferencing to understand a situation that they are in. Answers like body language, facial expressions, and subjectivity were some responses. She then asked the same question, but in regards to fictional books. How does the author communicate meaning without explicitly stating the obvious? Answers like character speech, how the author writes, and the narrator (side note: I wrote narrotor on the board and the class started giggling).
Afterwards, she showed them this small video about inferencing, and then asked every student in the class to read one page from a book called 'Woolvs in the Sitee' by Margaret Wild. The book is written in a way that is hard to understand, as the protagonist- a young, lonely boy named Ben- does not spell properly. He uses words like 'rite' and 'bisikils'. Or sentences like 'I ransaks the cubords. grabs a bag. stuffies in warm kiothing. tinned food. matchts. a torch. Before I leaves. I scrawls a messij in the dust. I've gon looking for yoo. Yor frend Ben'. The point of letting the students read this picture book (which provides very dark pictures) is to allow the students to practice inferencing. What do they think is happening? How is the author trying to communicate meaning through the little proper words she uses?
Finally, my AT reads them a short, descriptive paragraph about a man who returns in the morning and places his boots in a plastic bag because 'Alice' yells at him. He then takes his dusty overalls and puts them in the washer, then heads up the stairs to shower and have dinner. The objective of this exercise was to see the different inferences of all the students in the class. Some students thought that Alice and the man were married because they lived together, others thought that it was a mother and son relationship. Some students assumed that because he wears overalls, he must be a farmer. Others thought that the man was a painter who worked over night. The activity was interesting and started a debate between the students because they tried to prove each other wrong about their inferences. Needless to say, I think the students understood the concept and will hopefully be using inferencing when they read their novels for their literature circles.
During my prep period, I decided to attend an ELD Mathematics class because I wanted to experience a teaching style from a different teacher.
Here are some quick facts for those who are not familiar with ESL (English as a Second Language) and English Literacy Development (ELD) courses:
This was all new to me as I have never been placed in an ESL class, let alone heard of the ELD program.
I had the opportunity to sit in on an ELD Mathematics class (I believe they were level 3 ELD students) and observed the way the students behaved and interacted with their teacher and peers. Here are some of my notes that I made while watching:
My favourite part of this class was the integration of Khan Academy. The teacher has students create a profile that allows them to answer various math related questions that involve word problems and bar graphs regarding topics involving money, time, and length. The students really enjoyed using Khan Academy as they gained points for questions answered correctly and actually learned how to solve the problem. It was inspiring to see that the ELD students did not give up on a question until they solved it. They also did not ask for help until they've tried solving the problem on their own. Most students I've seen usually give up and then seek the correct answer from the teacher.
It was an excellent class to watch and I believe that the students are in very good hands. The teacher is kind, understanding, and offers different instructional strategies to meet student needs.
I was very happy last Wednesday because I finally got to sit in on my AT's OSSLT Literacy Course (OLC4O). This course is offered to students who have failed the OSSLT the first time and is meant to help students acquire and demonstrate provincial literary requirements for graduation. Reading a variety of texts, producing various forms of writing, and maintaining a portfolio containing a record of their reading experiences is some expectations for this course.
This class is very different compared to other courses because it strictly focuses on improving reading and writing skills. My AT starts all her classes by allowing the students to read a book for 15 minutes (that's it, that's all) and then they need to write a brief summary of what they read. I learned that my AT asks for these journal entries at random times. When I asked why, she told me she does this to make sure that students actually do their reading reflections every class and not write them all at once, then hand it in. I thought this was a great strategy for making sure work gets done.
My AT then introduced the class to an "Osso Buko" recipe from a cook book called the "4 Hour Chef" by Tim Ferriss. She introduced the author of the book, his background, and the "Osso Buko" recipe, a recipe most of us have never heard of before. She then went over the first page of the recipe introduction and gave students a handout that included direct and indirect questions. Students were given time to answer the questions for the remainder of the class. I had the opportunity to walk around and help students. It was really interesting to see the various reading and writing levels in that class. Regardless, I was more than happy to help (and learned about a new recipe I can now try at home)!
I am currently completing my CSL placement at Ridgemont High School. I was excited to hear that I was going to be in a grade 9 and 10 English classroom because that is the highest level I am 'allowed' to teach as an individual in the J/I program. However, due to uncontrollable events, I was told that I will not have an associate teacher and that a new pairing will be made.
On my first day, I was able to attend a grade 9 geography class. Students were working on their projects about a valuable resource and needed to create a presentation to explain where it came from, how it's used, how it influenced different countries, and why it's a valuable resource. Students were very creative (and shy to speak to student teachers). Some ideas that they were researching included the hijab, make up, aluminum, gold, and chocolate. It was interesting to see that the teacher allowed students to use their cellphones in class, as long as it was for 'educational purposes', i.e., researching their presentation topics. I thought this was funny because I remember passing notes back and forth in my grade 9 geography class, even though it was just a few years ago. Times have definitely changed and the use of technology is more prevalent in the public school system. Looking forward to completing my practicum at Ridgemont!
Glashan Public School
A vibrant and diverse school community in the heart of the city of Ottawa.
What is CSL?
Community Service Learning (CSL) is an academic program and form of experiential learning where students contribute to their community by participating in professor-approved community service placements related to course learning objectives.