I opened the door to the classroom and was greeted by "I'm so glad you're here!" from Mrs. J. The tone of her voice told me something was not quite right. I was informed that there was a schedule change for today. Mrs. J had an evaluator coming to observe her teaching a math lesson. That would have been fine, but I was planning on my professor evaluating me teaching the math lesson.
Time for a hurry-up plan B. Mrs. J had picked out a Science lesson for me to teach. I had 20 minutes to prepare. I quickly read the lesson, and then mentioned to Mrs. J that I wished I had the materials to make an experiment to accompany the lesson. She magically produced the yardstick, binder clips, balloons, and string I needed for my experiment. I assembled the parts, tested the experiment, and got everything ready just in time.
The day started as usual when the students arrived. The children settled down and began their morning work. Soon after my professor arrived it was time for the Science lesson. The children passed around the wireless microphone as they took turns reading from the textbook. I demonstrated the fact that air has weight by using a balance made from the above mentioned materials. It didn't go as well as in the rushed rehearsal, but it was fair. After the students read the chapter, Mrs. J and I broke the students into two groups (by ability) and worked on the corresponding worksheets.
My evaluation went well. My professor was greatly pleased with my performance, preparation, and reflections. I could have not wished for a better review. I spent a few minutes talking with my evaluator while the students took a restroom break. Mrs. J's evaluator came in and my evaluator left. It was now time for math.
Mrs. J led a lesson on multiplication and division using balance diagrams and stacking cubes. Her lesson was another inquiry based, hands-on lesson. I am impressed with this style of math instruction. I was able to stay for Mrs. J's discussion with her evaluator. I learned more about the inquiry based program they were using in the third grade. I was able to learn some of what was working and what was not, and got to see how the professionals made adjustments to their instructional plan.
We had time to work on writing before lunch. The students worked on their rough draft from their previous day's simple-six prompt attack sheet. Some students did well, but many struggled following the simple-six guidelines. Erasure crumbs littered the desks as the corrections were made.
When the students returned from lunch, we had a few behavior issues to address. Mrs. J firmly and swiftly took control of the class and discussed the problems at hand. I may have handled things differently if placed in the same situation, but I did learn a few new techniques by watching a professional educator in action. I'll file these new tools away for possible future use.
The Social Studies lessons for the week were discussing an African family. One of the topics brought up yesterday was the food fu-fu. Today Mrs. J had made a batch of this African staple during her lunch period. We took the class to the teachers' lounge where the students were able to sample this interesting food. The hands-on activity was the highlight of the day for many of the students.
Reading and language followed our African taste test. A reading specialist came to the room to help, and we broke the class into three groups. The three adults each took a group, and we rotated groups every 15 minutes. The small groups worked well, and the students remained engaged throughout the activity.
This brought us to the end of the day routine. Gather mail, write assignments in the assignment books, coats, shoes, buss assignments, and so on. This portion of the day is a bit chaotic, but the children know the routine and all of the tasks got completed with time to spare.