After days of anticipation, my first student teaching 'field experience' was about to begin. I arrived early and checked in at the office. I met with my cooperative teacher and we made our way down the hall to the third grade classroom.
I have worked as a substitute teacher in this room before, so I had an idea of what to expect... Or so I thought. I was excited to see the new addition of a Promethean IWB, document cameras, and a wireless speaker system. I would discover later that this is one of only two IWBs in the building. I was excited to see this high-tech tool in action.
I learned that as in previous years, this classroom had a broad mix of students. Every 3rd grade student that started the school year with an IEP was placed in this class. This might be intimidating to some, but not to me. I did my best to squelch an ear-to-ear smile. Being immersed in an environment of full differentiation will be a great learning opportunity. Mrs. J printed a copy of the lesson plans for me. She then put the morning student directions and assignments on the IWB just as the students began to arrive.
The morning routine went the same as many other classrooms I have visited. Put away coats and bags, breakfast for some, notes from others, lunch money issues, missing pencils, and all of the other normal 3rd grade issues. We sang the Star Spangled Banner, said the Pledge of Allegiance, and got settled in for the day.
The first subject of the day was math. Mrs. J used the document camera and the IWB to create a flash-card type of exercise using 10 blocks and multiplication. She spent a great deal of time discussing with the students how they figured out the multiplication problems. Having the students verbalize their thought process and having it written on the board appeared to be a great method for introducing new strategies. The teacher never introduced a strategy or offered an opinion on the 'best' way to solve the problem.
The science lesson of the day was ‘mini-lab' where students were shown how air could be trapped under water in an inverted drinking glass. The experiment had a few variations where the students made predictions and the teacher tested the results. I enjoyed the science lesson and can see how it could be a starting point for a discussion on air pressure, displacement, and other topics. I did not see any other science activities mentioned in the lesson plans for the remainder of the week. If this is true, I will have to find out the reason why.
Time in the computer lab was spent working with a program called "A+". This appeared to be a math activity where each student worked at their own pace and ability level. All of the students were engaged for the entire 45 minute period. I wish that they were this engaged in all of their other subjects.
The spelling lesson of the day consisted of taking a pretest, having the test graded, and receiving a list of words to work on during the week. Students will be tested again on Friday. This activity was interesting because of the way the students were grouped. There were four different groups, and each one took a different test. I still find it difficult to comprehend how the students that are behind benefit from differentiated instruction. Yes, they are working at just above their ability level, but when do they catch up to their peers? I hope to find the answer to this during the next two weeks.
The afternoon was filled with the teacher reading to the students, the students taking turns reading aloud, reading in small groups, and an individual exercise that had the students read a few paragraphs and then draw conclusions. One of the reading sessions included information about Kwanzaa. The class asked some thoughtful questions and had a rich discussion about Kwanzaa and Africa.
I had a good first day. My goal for tomorrow is to become fluent using the Promethean board. My college professor will be observing me Wednesday morning. I do not have much time to prepare before I am evaluated.
Tonight is the fist night of working 8 hours at school and then 8 hours at my 'real job'. I'll be working the same schedule all week. I should go get some rest.