Sunday, April 29, 2007

The End is Near . . .

(Of grad school, that is)

In 25 days I will graduate and finally be free of Pace. It really can't come soon enough. Just one research paper and two lesson plans/reflection papers to go.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Real Teaching Today

Today was slightly better than the last two days.

The poetry lesson that I did with my first graders went much better with the kindergartners today. Just like yesterday I read the kids three poems about rain. This time we made a web about all of the things that they think about when I say rain BEFORE we read the poems. The kids touched on pretty much all of the things that the poets did. This got them ready to imagine what they were hearing in the poetry. Then, I had them write their own poems about rain (which I didn't do with the first graders).

For K and 1 we have "poetry paper" which is paper with lines centered on the page that are only about a third of the width of the paper. The students wrote their poems on these lines. Although my kindergartners don't understand the rhythms and line breaks in poetry yet, their writing sounds like poetry because they don't always write in complete thoughts anyway. The lines force them to write with line breaks so it looks like poetry too.

* * *

The last two periods of they day I had a coverage of fifth grade. I've covered them before and they can be quite a handful. Today I went in armed with a plan. I gave each student a post-it to earn tally marks for a treat at the end of the period. This worked well for me as I've always struggled with behavior management on coverages. As for the lesson, I did a poetry lesson that I've done both this year and last year with various grades. First we read a poem called "Winter Eyes" that looks at winter through the senses. (I Do) Then, we brainstormed our own ideas for looking at winter through each of the five senses. Next, we re-write the poem about winter using the first two lines of each stanza and changing the last two. (We Do) Finally, the students choose a season other then winter and make a graphic organizer and then write their own poem in the same style of the poet. (You Do). The kids did really well on the assignment and it was fun working with them.

Two full periods of teaching! Too bad I couldn't have spent it with my own students.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why I'm Not Crazy About Teaching at the Moment

Here's a quick rundown on what I've done at school since we got back from spring break.

-First period(prep): I had to move all of the furniture in my room back to its proper place after it was scattered all over the place for our second floor waxing of the year.
-Twenty minutes with my newcomer group.
-I administered the NYSESLAT Interim Assessment to my fourth and fifth graders.
-We had an hour-long AIS meeting as part of our quality review process.
-Last period of the day: I taught a poetry lesson to my fourth/fifth special ed. group.
-37.5 minutes. (Essentially I baby-sit for a kindergarten class while the teacher dismisses the half of the class that goes home, then I take half of the kids that are left to my room for a fifteen minute lesson before packing up to go home again.)

-First period (prep): I got organized for the day, including making posters on chart paper for my first grade class.
-Spent 45 minutes packaging interim assessments and field tests and having them shipped.
-Twenty minutes with my fourth/fifth grade special ed. (We finished the poems from the day before.)
-45 minute PPT meeting as part of our quality review process.
-Poetry lesson with first grade class. (Went horribly, need to take a new angle.)
-Grammar lesson with second/third graders that is part of my action-research project for grad school. (Also went horribly. I need to do better tomorrow.)
-37.5 minutes. (Essentially I baby-sit for a kindergarten class while the teacher dismisses the half of the class that goes home, then I take half of the kids that are left to my room for a fifteen minute lesson before packing up to go home again.)

See what I'm getting at? There's really not a whole lot of teaching going on at the moment. I really hate days like these because I feel like I am not doing anything. It's days like these that I really wish that I was a classroom teacher so at least I could be with my kids all of the time. The end of the year starts to get more and more like this as I have the NYSESLAT to administer, classes are taking field trips left and right, graduation practices, assemblies, etc. All of this is not to mention the tons of meetings I get sent to. Before break I had one per week for five weeks! According to my program director for TFA the next few weeks should be the final push to achieve significant gains but I just feel like there's no time at all!

Monday, April 09, 2007

The End of Break

Spring Break is almost over. At the moment I feel like there's still a little bit of time but soon it will be tomorrow and that feeling will be gone. Thankfully we only have three days to get through before the weekend. And, my school is having our Quality Review so that should be interesting.

Well, my break started out very productive. I got up and went to the early classes at the gym and then came home and marveled at how much I could accomplish around the house before noon. I even went to some museums and FINALLY went to Zibetto. If you love good espresso even half as much as I do you have to check it out.

The second half of my break--not so productive. I slept in impossibly late several days and caught up on some movies on HBO On Demand. I'm on break though so it's allowed right? Hopefully tomorrow I'll make the early class at the gym and feel productive once again before going back to school. And, I should probably plan something for the kids to learn when we get back.