Monday, October 4, 2010

Get ready.....Get set......

Today is my first day working in 4th grade. This should be a great two weeks. I am prepared to teach my science unit. The classroom teacher should have prepared seeds for today that the students can pry open and examine. I have prepared a batch of seeds just in case she forgot. I have lesson outlines, notebook examples, pictures, software, laptop, supplies, back-up plans, a cool tie, and comfortable shoes.

I'm not nervous at all. This is going to be a walk in the park.

Why did I wake up at 3AM?

Well, maybe a little nervous.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Here we go again...

It's time to get back in the classroom. I start another 'field experience' this Monday. This time I will be in fourth grade. I had an opportunity to meet with my cooperating teacher today. We discussed the schedule, lesson plans, and what I will be doing. I volunteered to teach a science unit, and Ms. C. quickly accepted my offer.

Stay tuned for two weeks of reflections, plant updates, and excitement!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Goodbye Dad


Clifford "Mike" Shelhart
May 23rd, 1940 - August 20th, 2010
Clifford Mike Shelhart age 70, of Wheatfield, Ind. passed away at his residence on Friday August 20, 2010. He was born on May 23, 1940 in Rensselaer, Ind. the son of John James and Agnes Helena (Tansel) Shelhart, both deceased. Mike was a 1958 graduate of the DeMotte High School. Mike had worked as a operating engineer for the Local #150 for 52 years. On March 23, 1962 in Gary, Ind., he married Barbara Warren and she survives. Mike was a member of the American Reformed Church, DeMotte, Ind. He was a Past Master of the Hebron Masonic Lodge # 502, F&AM, Past Patron of the Order of the Easter Star, Hebron Chapter #119, member of the Scottish Rite Valley of South Bend, Past High Priest of the Royal Arch Masons, Chapter #150, Past Illustrious Master of the Norman L. Brown Counsel #109, Cryptic Masons of Indiana and was currently serving as Eminent Commander of the H.W. Matthewson Commandery #66 of the Knights Templar of Indiana Michael is survived by: Barbara (Warren) Shelhart, spouse; Scott (Lisa) Shelhart, Wheatfield, Ind., son; Mark (Jennifer) Shelhart, Chesterton, Ind., son; Cynthia (Brad Brickner) Shelhart, Chesterton, Ind., daughter; Sisters - Shirley Anderson of Kouts, Ind.; Sandra Shelhart of Hammond, Ind.; Bonnie (Tom) Postma of DeMotte, Ind.; 4 - grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Jasper County Hospital Home Healthcare & Hospice or Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
2:00PM to 8:00PM on Monday, August 23rd, 2010 at Jackson Funeral Service of DeMotte (Masonic Service at 7:00PM) (map/driving directions)

10:00AM at Jackson Funeral Service of DeMotte on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 (map/driving directions)

Crockett Cemetery
1800 W 725 S
Rensselaer, IN 47978 (map/driving directions)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hunting for an excuse.

This Rhode Island school board went hunting for an excuse for their  failing school.
It appears they went hunting with a bomb instead of a rifle (Its an analogy...please don't get the wrong idea about the reference).  One of my friends said this was like a hospital removing someone's entire leg to treat a few small infected sores.
I understand the need for change, but to fire ALL of the teachers seems to be the wrong approach.

Who is the school board going to hire now?  An entire school of fresh graduates?  Teachers that have been fired from other purging school boards?  

What do you think? 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Student Teaching Day 10


Day 10

The End

The last day of my teaching experience started like most of the others.  We had warm up sheets, the two minute math test, pledge to the flag, etc.  For the math lesson we started with watching some of the Schoolhouse Rock videos on multiplication.  After the videos we did some multiplication activities and ISTEP sample problems.  Maybe my post on play vs inquiry had a small effect on Mrs. J.

The children went to music and gym today.  While they were gone Mrs. J. and I talked while she planned lessons and I graded papers.  She showed me the highly scored scoring rubric she had filled out to send to my college. Even though it wasn't all flowers and sunshine, I received high marks from all involved.

The afternoon writing activity was a small group project designed to teach descriptive writing,  The students were allowed to pick their own groups.  The four high ability girls banded together.  The boys stuck together.  The below grade level students grouped together.  The results were not what we expected.  The high ability group and the two groups of boys spent most of their time arguing and correcting each other.  The low ability group worked together and produced more descriptive sentences than any of the other groups.  It was fun to watch.

We did a few other activities and took a few tests as the end of the day approached.  The students turned in their work and got ready to leave.  On girl took Mrs. J  out into the hall to tell her something urgent just before the students were released.  I found out later that the girl had a surprise gift that she wanted Mrs. J. to deliver to me.

Here is my parting gift:

My friend N__ had brought me a Valentine card.  Hannah Montana Wizards of Waverly Place star "Alex" was neatly holding a Jolly Rancher apple flavored sucker.  My first valentine from a student.

After the students had left Mrs. J and I discussed how things had went and what we had learned over the past two weeks.  We both had a great time and worked well together.. Mrs. J, who had said on day one that she never wanted to have another student teacher for 8 weeks, invited me back to do my student teaching in her classroom.  I could have not wished for a better evaluation than to be invited back to teach again.

I have made many new friends over the past two weeks.  I have strengthened some professional relationships.  I have learned about children and about myself.  I discovered new things about office politics and the interaction of school departments.  I learned how to use a Promethean board, electronic voters, and two different document cameras.  I discovered how to co-teach and how differentiation works in the classroom.  I made a great connection with my friend and mentor Mrs. J.

I learned that a handwritten card and an apple sucker can be the best gift in the world.
Happy Valentines Day N____.

I'm going to go eat my sucker, look at all of the photos I took this week,  and miss my students for a little while.

Thanks kids.  Thanks Mrs. J.   I'll miss you.

Student Teaching Day 9


Day 9

Today was another normal day.  The morning work and math lesson symmetry went well.  Everything was fine until we went to the computer lab to write our final copies of the persuasive letter we wrote this week.  Things went downhill in a hurry.

The students were very needy.  How do I ..... over and over again.  These students have been doing similar exercises on these machines since kindergarten.  They should know how to type a document on a word processor.  The computer lab teacher and Mrs. J agreed.  It was hard not knowing who to help and who to let struggle a bit more.  I made some mistakes that raised the tension level in the room.  Students made some bad choices that further added to the stress.The overall computer lab experience was terrible for all involved.  Maybe this is due to the lab environment instead of having computers in the classroom.  Some ed-tech types say that labs are bad.  Technology should be like air - unnoticeable and everywhere.  I am inclined to agree, but if there were 5-10 computers in each classroom, then the classroom teacher would be responsible for teaching and coaching technology use.  The experience level and teaching capabilities are widely varied among the teachers.  Would putting computers in the classroom give all students an equal opportunity?  I'm not sure.

I was able to witness a few of the students have some social difficulties.  A few of the boys had a fight difference of opinion at recess.  This led to one boy being shunned at lunch; no one would sit with him out of fear of getting into trouble.  The shunned third grader, a normally rough-and-tumble type, had a tearful meltdown at the lunch table.  It was not the warm-fuzzy teachable moment you read about in the textbooks, but it was an opportunity for growth. I think the class troublemaker learned a bit of the unwritten curriculum today.   Sometimes the lessons taught by playground politics are just as difficult to learn as long division.

I got to witness a bit of the emotional stress that teachers must endure.  One student's family is going through a break-up.  The child seems to sleep (or not sleep) in a different place every night.  Another student will soon be evicted from their residence. Knowing these details of a child's life places a strain on the classroom teacher.  I do not know how a teacher could not be affected by the events happening in their students' lives. If a teacher is not affected by these issues, perhaps they are in the wrong profession.  I've barely known these kids for a week or two, and I'm losing sleep worrying about them.   How do teachers deal with this for 180 days and year?

Today was not the best day of my teaching experience; but they can't all be great.  Another teachable moment for me.

On a brighter note, I was invited to sit with the teachers at their table during lunch.  I've made it to the big time in the lounge.

Student Teaching Day 8

Day 8

Final Evaluation Day

The day started with the usual morning routine, but with one exception.  We had a class meeting where Mrs. J explained some changes in procedure. It was the end of the grading period and time to move one step closer to fourth grade.  No longer would she prompt them for missing work.  If it's not turned in - too bad.  This is now grade 3.5 and the requirements have changed.  Some students will be unaffected by the change because they always turn their work in on time.  Other students, the ones with poor grades and a poor history of getting work in on time, will have to change their ways in order to keep their grade from dropping further.  The tough-love message of the day might motivate some students, but others just don't seem to 'get it', as they say every day.  Perhaps this is a lesson for the parents as well as the students.  I wish I could be around to observe the results of the changes.

We had a visit from a new guidance person this morning.  Our new  visitor gave a presentation on bullying.  Her lesson included some role playing games to demonstrate what a student could do in certain situations.  The content was good, but the delivery was off.  Most guidance presentations I have seen have this same problem.  I believe that a trained guidance counselor has a valid place in the school, but might not be the best one for presenting the message.  In elementary school the student-teacher relationship is strong.  The classroom teacher knows the students better than anyone else in the school building.  I think it might be best if the guidance personnel assisted the classroom teacher in planning and delivering the content, and let the teacher be the one that delivers the message; either alone or co-teaching with the guidance staff.

One bright spot of the morning was when two members of a island of students assisted a third during the guidance lesson.  The group seating is starting to foster some sense of community.

The afternoon brought my professor and my final evaluation.  The lesson was a flip chart on the IWB about reading and context clues.  A short quiz using the voting devices followed the lesson.  Mrs. J gave my professor a voting remote and told her she had to play along.  My evaluator seemed to be taken a bit off guard, but participated in the exercise.

The lesson went....OK.  Not a slam dunk, not earth shattering, and nowhere close to the best thing I have ever done.   It was just OK. It could have been better if we had written our own lesson, but we opted to use one from the Promethean web site.  The overall review from my professor was favorable.  She was impressed with my tech skills, classroom management, and teaching style.  I received another fantastic review.

With the last visit from my college now behind me, I can finally relax and enjoy the next two days in the classroom.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Student Teaching Day 7

Day 7

Today the students entered the room and had to search for their desks.  All of the students (except 2) had had their desks placed in groups of 4 or 5.  I expected grumbling and confusion, but the 3rd grade group handled the change with little disruption to their morning routine.  Morning worksheets, breakfast, lunch choice, Star Spangled Banner (and they still get the words wrong) and all of the other familiar morning activities occurred without issue.

The day's schedule was a bit altered from the norm.  Junior Achievement took up part of the day.  The visit from the guidance counselor didn't happen today.  We worked on math more than usual.  Math is where the biggest event happened today.

Some students go to the resource room for math.  Since we had an extra lesson today, these students were still in the classroom.  Mrs. J gave a short review lesson on the IWB, and then the students were split into groups to work on multiplication using unifix-type blocks.  The students were instructed to take 18 blocks and see how many different ways they could represent the total; 2 groups of 9, 3 groups of 6, etc. I offered to take two of the students that normally do not stay for math.

One girl (I'll call her H) in my group was a bit reluctant to try the activity.  I worked with her slowly and she started to grasp the exercise.  With tongue protruding out of the corner of her mouth, she stacked, counted, and re-stacked the blocks to find all of the possible combinations. When I showed her that there was a pattern (3x6 and 6x3, 2x9 and 9x2,...) I saw the light come on.  She was so excited that she had to go up to the front of the room and share her discovery.  I was happy to see that her classmates nodded in agreement and let her have her moment of glory.  Many of the at/above grade level kids could have easily shot her down, but they did not.  I felt a sense of community and family in the classroom.  H had her 15 seconds of fame and then we moved on to the next activity.

The new seating arrangement seems to be working so far.  There is a little chatting, but there is also some collaborating and mentoring going on at each island of desks.  It is fun to watch them try to help each other without giving away the answer.  I look forward to watching them work together the remainder of the week.

My professor visits tomorrow afternoon for my second and final evaluation.  I am teaching a language unit on the Promethean board, complete with a quiz using the remote voter units.  I ran through the flip-chart once.  It should be easy, but I'm still a bit nervous.  I did accidentally bring the Promethean board's pen home in my shirt pocket today.  Maybe I'll sleep with it under my pillow for good luck.

Student Teaching Day 6

Day 6

Inquiry vs Play

I am enjoying the inquiry based math instruction in this classroom.  Watching the children construct their own strategies can be quite exciting.  Mrs. J does a great job of letting the group members share their ideas.  The children feel safe enough in the environment to share ideas without the fear of giving the wrong answer.  They all seem content to be traveling down the same path of discovery as they learn about multiplication.  The mixture of teacher led discussions at the white board, partner work, and seat work appears to be working well.

The language lessons I have witnessed have used a different approach.  Learning the parts of speech is accomplished with a mixture of textbook lectures, worksheets, IWB activities, several doses of the Schoolhouse Rock videos, and some games.  Today we learned more about adverbs while we played a game similar to Scattergories .  The students (and adults) had a fun time playing the game.

I'm not sure if math is more difficult than language or if the difference in teaching methods is having an effect, but it is clear to see that the students do better with language than math.  I know that learning multiplication is difficult, and I understand that constructing knowledge takes time, but...... I believe that the reason that the students excel in their language skills is due to the presence of play.  The games, music, and videos grab the students' attention and keeps them excited.  Inquiry based math is...well... it is still math facts.  Maybe some more music and games in math class would inspire a few more 'light bulb moments'.  Maybe it's just too soon in the inquiry process and the ah-has will come in a few weeks.

The technology used in the classroom today got me a little more excited about how my hometown school feels about technology.  I was greatly pleased to see Open Office and TeacherTube being used in the classroom.  Free and open source software used to be unthinkable in the walled garden.  I'm happy to see a shift, for the sake of the students, the teachers, and my tax bill.

After school Mrs. J and I decided to take the desks out of rows and try placing them in small groups.  The students were grouped by compatibility and by ability level.  Each group has at least one child who is below grade level, at grade level, and above grade level.  It will be interesting to see how the kids react to the change tomorrow.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Student Teaching Day 5

Day 5

Friday was similar to the rest of the week.  We used manipulatives in math more than we did earlier in the week.  One child had something to share (or show-and-tell, as we called it when I was in school).  The class had two 'specials', Music and Gym.  Nothing out of the ordinary happened other than it was Popcorn Day.  Every student either paid $0.25 for a bag of popcorn, or received it free for having perfect attendance.  I'm normally against food for bribes rewards, but this seemed more like a party for everyone than a reward for perfect attendance.  Perfect attendance for the grading period should be valued more than a bag of popcorn.

I'm beginning to get a feel for how the classroom dynamic changes when some of the children leave and go to the resource room for remediation.  With a group of about 12 students left in the room, the instruction becomes more individualized.  Students seem to enjoy the smaller class size and more personal interaction with the teacher. I can only hope that the students pulled out to the other classroom (staffed with one teacher and two paraprofessionals), are having as good of an experience.

The tension in the building is starting to build.  You can almost feel the grip of THE test starting to squeeze.  So much rides on the test scores.  The students don't understand why it is important, but they know that the grown-ups really think it is important.
It's amazing what you learn when you eat lunch with the students every day.  I can see the anxiety building in many of their eyes. They are genuinely worried and they aren't sure why.

Does it have to be this way?

Field Guide For Change Agents

What did you do today?  I remotely collaborated with a group of educators and helped create this presentation.  Most of them were at a conference in Philadelphia.  I was in Indiana. We made this in less than an hour.

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Student Teaching Day 4

Day 4

Making connections.

Thursday seemed to be less stressful.  The weight of being evaluated seems to have been lifted from our collective shoulders.  The reduction in tension allowed everyone to relax a bit.  I was able to make some good connections and observations today.

We started the day in usual form. After the skill builder and math facts, we worked on a sample ISTEP problem involving operations with time.  After the students had the opportunity to work on the problems, Mrs. J led a discussion with the class.  Using her familiar inquiry method, the document camera, and the IWB; Mrs. J discussed with the students how and why they came up with their answers.  Some students are struggling, but I was able to witness the fabled "ah-ha" moment, along with the accompanying audible gasp.  There are few finer sounds to be heard than this.

The activities in the computer lab were again self directed learning.  The children had a choice of three activities.  These programs are self adjusting to the students' level.  Again, this is the place with the deepest student engagement.  How can this be duplicated outside of the computer lab?

While the children were at Art, Mrs. J and I had an opportunity to talk about teaching as a career, how we each decided to become a teacher, the state of the economy and how it is affecting the job market, and other education related topics.  We brainstormed about how to improve the use of technology in her classroom, the school, and in education in general.  She told me of her experience at the ISTE conference she attended last summer.  We talked about how a few of the students were having an off week, and some of the social issues that were a part of her student's lives.  Conversations such as these are the most valuable portion of this field experience.  I can improve my classroom management skills and learn about lesson plans while working as a sub, but interacting with teachers on this level does not normally happen during a normal sub assignment.

In the afternoon we worked on symmetry of shapes on the IWB, handwriting workbooks, and parts of speech on the IWB.  Mrs. J and I seemed to develop a rhythm as we both worked around the room.  Our teaching styles appeared to gel a bit today.  I had never before been able to visualize how some people work as co-teachers, sharing a classroom with another full-time educator.  After this afternoon, I can see how this could be a great arrangement if one had the right partner.  I also see that it could be a disaster for all involved if the chemistry was not correct.

The day ended without incident and all of the students made it to their respective busses.  Mrs. J was conducting a parent conference as I gathered my things to leave.  She was talking to the mother of one of the students that had been having trouble this week.  It was good to see her take a swift proactive approach to address any problems before they got out of hand.  Another valuable tool for my toolbox; correct small issues before they become unmanageable.

Student Teaching Day 3

Day 3

Evaluation Day

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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Student Teaching Day 2

Day Two

The day started in a similar way as yesterday, but a bit less hectic.  The students filtered in, stowed their gear, and began their morning routine.  After performing our patriotic duty, the work began.

Math was interesting this morning.  The teacher gave the students several problems (3x4, 6x4, 8x4) and asked them to explain how they found their answer.  The main point of the lesson was to show that order of operation didn't matter; the most efficient way was the usually the best way {the state standardized tests are fast approaching).  The teacher did make good use of the IWB, but once again the students did not get to use it.  One boy did leave his seat during the discussion to point ad items on the board, but he never got the chance to interact with the technology.

After math was a visit from the guidance councilor.  Her lesson was on giving and following directions (tests prep again).  Her lesson did not go well.  At one point she selected a student to be the 'writer' and stood her at the board with electronic pen in hand.  The girl stood there at the ready for five minutes, but never got the chance to write.  The guidance councilor apologized to the student and promised that she could be the 'writer' next time.  The children were split into groups of two to work on an exercise in giving directions.  Time expired before the students were able to get a sentence or two written on their papers.  I'm not sure why things didn't go well.  Perhaps my presence in the room upsets the normal flow.  I know I do better with a group of students when I am the only adult in the room.  I should find a way to correct this by tomorrow...I'm being observed by my professor in the morning

We worked on 'simple six' writing attack prompts after lunch.  I was able to go around the room and assist the students while they brainstormed their stories. 

Writing was followed by reading.  A reading teacher from the Title One room came into the classroom to help with reading.  The class was split into three groups, and the students rotated between me, the reading teacher, and 'seat work' as Mrs. J monitored the classroom.  The small groups worked well, but I see the need for additional teachers/aids/ or parents to make the groups run smoothly.  Small groups could be hard to manage with only one adult in the room.

Overall today went well.  Some of the newness has worn off and the kids are more at ease with my presence in the room.  I expect this to improve a little each day. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Student Teaching Day 1

Day One

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.