Blackout Poetry

I am about to introduce Blackout poetry to my class for student teaching. Personally, I have been meaning to do this for a while. So when I decided I wanted to teach a lesson on poetry, this was one of the first things that came to mind as I was coming up with activities. This works well with my lesson as I am not only teaching the students to differentiate between poetry and prose but I am also teaching them to identify literary devices and the ways they help us understand text a little better. I was going to do this the old fashioned way with newspaper clippings and permanent markers but then I suddenly came across this cool interactive feature on the New York Times website.

Here’s the link if you would like to try it out: Searching for Poetry in Prose

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Aside

Day 1

It feels weird not waking up at 6:30 in the morning and getting ready for the day. I woke up at 8:55 am and thought to myself…’Mrs. Goldberg is out there on the black pavement getting them right now…oh wait…it’s raining. They are probably in the gym waiting for her to come pick them up.’ The other day, a student was asking me, “You’re just joking with us right? You’re not really leaving?” That just broke my heart to pieces 💔 😦

It’s going to take some time getting used to it. Every time I look up at the clock, I think about what they are doing, as I have the class schedule etched into my mind. Without even thinking, I think about it. It’s 12 p.m., they just went to specials. It’s 1:15, they’re doing math. It’s 2:23…they’ve started Daily 5.

I wonder what the school looks like without all of the student teachers. Did it change? Does it look different?

An End for New Beginnings 

Well…it’s over. I’ve said my goodbyes. The kids were crying so much. I was trying not to but it was so hard. They pleaded over and over, “Please don’t go. Why do you have to go today? Can’t you go on Monday? I don’t want you to leave. Just one more day.” And all this time my heart was aching for them. They grabbed me, held onto me, hugged me in anyway they could. The room was filled with tears. I felt like a tree, my arms outstretched trying to comfort them, my trunk being embraced by these tiny beings full of life. Their bus was called or their parents came to pick them up or they had to go to C.L.A.S.P…it didn’t matter to them. They stayed until they could stay no more. Every time I sent them away…telling them if they don’t leave they’ll miss their transport home…they came running back to my side, holding onto me, tears running down their faces 😢😭.

These kids are so young and they get so attached that it’s hard for them to say goodbye. It’s hard for all of us to say goodbye. It is the last day for all of us student teachers so we are all leaving together on the same day. It’s hard. The kids will come to school on Monday and they will see that we won’t be going out to greet them outside anymore…or be doing the lunch count..or taking them to specials. I already feel empty inside so just imagine how they might feel. This attachment that has been nurtured for the past three months will be gone all of sudden and they can feel that emptiness.

With lots of promises to come and visit, write letters, and just promise to keep in touch, we’ve said our goodbyes. I hope each and everyone of them has a great year.

Aside

The other day, my mentor teacher accidentally let out that I have a month left of student teaching. The whole class is devastated. Especially this one little guy who thinks everyday is my last day. He is constantly hugging me, holding my hand, staying close to me. Yesterday, he followed me halfway back before I realized he was walking right behind me. I asked, “where are you going?” And he said, “I want to go with you. I don’t want you to leave ” And then I told him I’m not leaving today! And then he’s like “Oh!” and walked back to music. That kid just melts my heart sometimes

Observing a Preschool Classroom 

This doesn’t necessarily belong under student teaching but because it’s similar to gaining experience being in a classroom, I’m putting it under this category. I’m taking three courses this summer and one of these courses is Instructional Strategies in Early Childhood where we are exploring the concepts of play amongst children in the classroom setting. And for that we have to perform our fieldwork in some sort of an early childhood classroom. I finally found a place with the help of my classmate, Katie, who works in a preschool, Chinatown Learning Center, in Philadelphia. It’s an easy commute which makes it easier for me. Today was my first day and I will be going every Wednesday from now to the end of June from 8:30-10:30 am.

I really liked the center. The way it is set up is inviting to both children and parents. Everything is miniature sized for the children starting from the tables, the chairs, cubby holes, sinks where students wash hands when they come in, and even the water fountain. It’s set up like that for them which I really liked. It helped the teachers to see things and teach from the children’s eye level. So they have different centers around the room. There is a science center, a writing center, as well as a center for blocks and dramatic play. One of the teachers pointed out to me that the children tended to stay away from the science and writing centers but flocked to centers like blocks and dramatic play 😊. The centers are all labeled of what is where and what is some of the things called in order to help the children get familiarized to different objects. One thing I noticed was that everything is written in English from the welcome board, to the instructions of how to wash hands, directions, labels, books, etc. this really promoted an environment of English language being spoken in the classroom, despite Chinese probably being their first language. Speaking of which, I was a little bit surprised that the children were speaking English because I as told by Katie that I would probably have to be placed with some of the English speakers as most of the children didn’t speak English. They were conversing with each other and with their teacher in English just fine.

The children are just so cute. I was at a table jotting down notes of the way the classroom looked or how and with who the children played. A little girl came up to me and introduced herself and asked me for my name. She then asks, “Can you help me make a house?” I was like”Yeah” 😊. A little later, another child taps me on the shoulder and introduces himself.  And then there are these tiny little beings inviting me to play with them and constantly saying “Miss Sara, Miss Sara, look!, Miss Sara, do you want me to make you a cupcake?, Miss Sara, do you want to play blocks with me?” And my thought at that moment is This is where I want to be. I mean I would still rather like to teach upper elementary but preschool doesn’t seem that bad anymore 😁.

May 16, 2016

Rocket Launching day🚀. The rockets the class had worked on and made last week will be launched today since they were unable to on Friday due to the weather. It was pretty nice day minus the cold. We were outside for a whole hour and even though I was wearing a sweater, I was freezing. It’s May, yet it feels like it’s the beginning of March. Since there were two classes, 4F and 4S, they took turns launching. The rockets went up pretty high so fast that sometimes we lost track of where it went before it started to fall down again. The students’ parents came to see their child/children launch their own rockets :). 

Today was my 2nd unofficial Observation day as well as Mrs. Agnew had come to visit again to watch me teach a lesson. Thankfully, I did better this time. I think part of that has to do with the fact that this time I wasn’t fretting over it. I treated it like any other lesson I would do with my host teacher during one of our regular lessons. I was a little nervous and I did trip on a few words, but I got over it and managed myself better. I know I have a lot to improve on, but today I felt good about my performance as I was actually able to get through the lesson :). Some of the things I need to improve on according to Mrs. Agnew: 

  • stay away from yes/no questions (now that I look back at the questions I asked, I realize that yes, I could have structured my questions better so that I would be able to engage the students’ level of higher thinking
  • Make personal connections to student feedback (I know, personally speaking, that this will improve with time)

Today is my last day here at Ancillae (unless otherwise told…they’re trying to work a few more Mondays in for me so I can get more practice but it’s not confirmed yet. We’ll see.) It was a nice experience and I learned a lot from both my host teacher and Mrs. Reifsnyder. I am hoping to be back for the fall, but again no official word has been given out yet as to where I will be placed for the first half of student teaching. 

May 9, 2016

There wasn’t a Language Arts lesson today but I’m prepared for next week. Stem projects are this week where the class is going to build and launch rockets. They’re supposed to launch it Friday but it is supposed to Thunderstom on Friday so the rain date is on Monday. If that happens, then my LA lesson forward or back a bit during the day. I don’t mind since I’ve to do it anyways wherever time it is. The rockets reminded me of when I did it in Mr. Jackowski’s class in 8th grade. Wow…it’s already has been eleven years since then o_O.

Anyways, today’s stem class is only in the introductory stages . They are filling out an application, watching videos, and engaging in various fun activities. The videos by Time 4 Kids and NASA introduces space, astronauts, telescopes, life of an astronaut, etc. Each of the four stations (putting together a puzzle with “astronaut” gloves, reaction test with rulers, crunches and planks, and wight balls) were done in a clockwise rotation with about three pairs of kids each. Since I was closest to the puzzle activity, Mrs. Smith asked me to look over that one. It was actually pretty interesting to observe. The rule was to put together a puzzle using “astronaut” gloves, or in this case garden gloves. The purpose of this activity was to show how astronauts have to work really hard with their hands because the gloves do not make it easy for them. Also their was an essence of teamwork tied in it as well. The only problem was that in the video, the puzzle pieces wer a tad bit bigger and the ones that they were given were even smaller than that. The 1st group was a bit serious. They had gathered all the outer edges of the puzzle but they couldn’t make any sense of it as only two people were working on it while the others were just looking or playing with their gloves. Each group after that got just as serious. The last group was able to actually put two pieces together and then somehow they all unanimously decided to ditch the gloves and just solve the puzzle 😄. There was teamwork alright; just without the gloves.

Although they did not have a language arts lesson today, they are working towards something related to it. It’s Porquoi (French for “why”) tales. Mrs. Reifsnyder was reading them Pourquoi tales which are tales that describe how something comes to be. The one she was reading was “How the Chipmunk Got His Stripes”. These types of tales have a moral tied to them. I was browsing through some of the other books and came across titles such as “How the Rooster Got His Crown”, “Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears” and “How the Sun and Moon Came to Live in the Sky”. It’s very interesting. This is the first time I’ve heard about Pourquoi. At the end of this project, the students are going to write their own myth. Mrs. Smith was showing various templates that she wanted to use or could use for her various leveled students. I could just feel her enthusiasm towards this activity. I want to do this in my classroom 🙂

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“Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears”

 

 

May 2, 2016

My lesson, on the Northern Lights, went much better today 😌. I did get stuck on a few words but I was able to recover from it. And this class is a nice group of kids. They didn’t make anything of it. For this lesson, I worked with a smaller group (nine students- advanced level) to help me get over these challenges. Some things I need to work on are connecting the lesson to life like Mrs. Reifsnyder was doing when we joined the rest of the class. She was talking about the different types of constellations that are up in the sky including hers, the Taurus. 

April 25th, 2016

Long story short… I did horribly. Just horribly. Not that it’s a surprise. Public speaking was never my strong suit. I was just a bundle of nerves, fidgeting in my seat, waiting for all of it to be over. I just couldn’t get rid of this feeling of anxiousness. It was there when I left home, it was there when I got to the school, when I met Mrs. Agnew, the person observing me, it was there even way after I finished the lesson. Mrs. Agnew is really nice. She came a bit early just so I can get to meet her and get comfortable with her before I teach the lesson. Although it did not really help me release my anxieties, I really appreciated the thought. I had a shaky start because all of a sudden all eyes were on me. 28 students, 2 teachers, 1 observer. It wasn’t like I hadn’t done this before but for some reason that 1 observer made all the difference.Of course, there were other factors that added to it such as:

1. The arrangement of the desks- Mrs. Smith changed the desks again last week. When I was making the lesson plan, I kind of had it all figured out about where I will be standing and such. I liked her old arrangement better where the desks were in clusters. It made moving around much easier. But this one, which looked like a mirror reflection of an “E”, kind of forced me to go to the front of the room where all eyes were pointed at me. There was that awkward silence that I typically experience when I start a presentation. Even though I didn’t have to go to the front of the room, I felt more compelled to do so because of how the desks were arranged.

2. Just the thought of knowing I was going to get observed today was a big drawback. I don’t do well. I don’t feel natural. Like today, I start to fidget around, breathing is irregular, my face starts to flush. This was my third LA lesson in this class and not once did Mrs. Smith have to step in for me. Even though I know that Mrs. Agnew is not here to judge me, I kind of had it in the back of my head that she is still observing me. And that thought in and of itself is why I did so poorly. I think I will get better with practice. Hopefully 😓.

But that is when I stopped. No matter how many breaths I took, no matter how many times I read a sentence over, I could not get myself to move on. All eyes were on me. Thankfully, Mrs. Smith took over the words I could not bring myself to say. But I felt frustrated that I let myself get to that stage. I looked at Mrs. Reifsnyder as Mrs. Smith read on. She gave me a warm smile that said something along the lines of “it’s OK”. I’m very happy that I’m in this classroom with two very good role models. I’m learning something each and every Monday that I’m here. After the lesson, Mrs. Agnew worked with me and Mrs. Smith to help me overcome my challenge . So for next week, I will be working with a smaller group and then two Mondays from that Mrs. Agnew and I will, hopefully, teach a lesson together. That lesson will be on poetry. I can’t wait 😊.

April 11, 2016

Part 1

Mrs. Smith isn’t here today as she has gone on vacation to California. There isn’t a LA lesson today and next Monday AA Academy is closed. The following Monday, I am going to be observed teaching the class a lesson on Public Office by Ms. Agnew from Arcadia. Last week, I volunteered to facilitate the morning meeting for today because I need to connect with the students more. So just like every other morning meeting, today’s morning meeting consisted of the greeting (Hit the Floor!), sharing something about the weekend, and a game (charades). Well, I might switch out the game of charades for their favorite game, Statues, which Mrs. Smith isn’t very fond of because it’s not really effective in terms of a team building activity.

Part 2

Well, that went horribly. The greeting was okay but the other two was horrible. The one where they share something from their weekend, I was under the impression that one person would share one thing each. But only three people went and answered questions that their peers had. When I asked, I was informed that they are only allowed three shares. That threw me off a bit because that wasn’t what Mrs. Smith and I talked about last week. And the game of charades was even worse than that. I figured that maybe it was my fault that I didn’t specify the directions clearly.  But then I remembered that Mrs. Smith told me that this group can get loud pretty quickly. I had to go to the middle of the circle in order for everyone to focus on and listen to me. I realized that even though I explained to them how the game worked, I should have also told them which direction it should go in so they aren’t popcorn picking, to sit down in a circle, and raise their hands, without calling out, if they knew the answer. Well, as you can imagine, all three of these things happened today. Mrs. Reifsneider told me that I did fine but since they can get out of hand sometimes, I have to know how to reel them back in. Sometimes they are forgetful so I have to be there to constantly reinforce quietness. It looks like it’s going to take me a little more time until I can get comfortable enough with the kids that I can use my voice to quiet them down. However, I fear by that time, it will be time for me to leave AA Academy. Anyways, hopefully I’ll be able to both teach the lesson and manage the class simultaneously on the 25th of this month. I know I will make mistakes, but since I’ve already been getting positive feedback from all of my other lessons, I want to get the chance to improve on other things as well.