Excursion #4

2. Analysis of Learning in Middle School.

Describe lessons/learning activities that you have seen that struck you as appropriate to how these students learn and analyze what you saw. Use the prompts below to help organize your analysis, which should be thoughtful and substantive.

 

1. Start be describing the context of the learning. What School district and school? What subject(s)? What was the goal of this/these lesson(s)?

 

I am at the Croton Harmon School District at Carrie E Tompkins Elementary. I am currently student teaching in a first-grade classroom. I have been unable to step out and observe a middle school classroom since I student teach 5 days a week while completing my EDTPA. However, I was able to observe my teacher as she taught multiple mathematic lessons. The lessons I observed were focused on mathematics and specifically, the goal of these lessons was to allow students to understand the process of measurement.

 

2. Next, describe (in as much detail as possible) the lesson(s) itself /themselves. What did the teacher do? Why did he/she do it? What do you think their intentions were? How well orchestrated or cohesive was/were the lesson(s)?

 

I observed 3 lessons, each lesson consisted of the usual format, I do, we do, you do. The first lesson was an introduction to measurement. Specifically, how we properly measure, this provided the introduction of centimeter cubes the students would be using. The first-day students learned that in order to measure correctly we have to make sure to line up our endpoints. The next day was to make sure all cubes are touching, and not floating or zig-zagged from each other as we measure. The next day was the introduction to paper clips, specifically large and small ones. This lesson taught the students that when measuring we need to have the same standard unit of measurement; this way we can compare the data we collect. Each day the teacher prompted students by gaining their full attention with a story. The story helped engage students to listen and be prepared for what they were about to learn.  My mentor teacher would keep students engaged no matter what, specifically keeping them on their toes and would even make mistakes as she modeled for students. She did this with the intention of having the students point out what she did wrong so they can learn and figure it out on their own. Her intentions behind this process are that you never want to hand the students the correct answer or process, you want them to understand and put together the pieces the best they can with your guidance. My mentor teacher has been teaching for years upon years so each lesson she teaches is another act that she puts on as an actress. Her lessons are cohesive, and the students always get it, and she will make sure of it. There are always a few who need some extra support, but she will always make sure those students are pulled and tended to. I am not sure how well this theatrical experience would work for a middle school setting, but a revised performance could be implemented to do the trick.

 

3. Next, describe what the students were doing and how this did it. We're they engaged? All of them or just some of them? All of the time or just some of them? What did the teacher do to manage their engagement? Were these actions effective? Why or why not?

 

The students are always engaged. My mentor teacher provides students with the proper materials so after she models, the students are able to demonstrate immediately at the meeting area what they are understanding and what they aren’t through guided practice. They all are given a baggy that has all materials that are needed to measure along with tools of measurement. The students then take this baggy with them when it comes time for independent work so they can easily transition into that work time. When it came time to guided practice the teacher had all students participating, whether it was writing on a whiteboard, measuring an object, or turn and talking with a partner. If she asks for a response to a question, she will always ask for a thumbs up of approval from the rest of the class to make sure everyone is participating and paying attention. I believe these actions were effective because each student was participating when asked to and each student understood the content and what was being asked of them. The most important part is to make sure your students understand the content and I believe because of her actions the students were able to successfully grasp the material.

    • Syed Mohsin
      Syed Mohsin

      Hello Marissa,

      I enjoyed reading your post. I loved how you observed that your mentor teacher made mistakes for the students to point out and correct. I have seen this strategy being practiced with 3rd graders before and know how effective it is for these young children. They love it when they get to prove the teacher wrong. You also talked about the teacher being an "actress" and putting on a show. I truly believe that we have to act all day, every day. I think this aspect of teaching keeps the spirit of the students and the learning motivation alive.

      I also thought that the teacher having baggies for the children with all the necessary supplies was very effective. That is something all of us teachers can use in our classroom, or just having the necessary materials within the reach of the students and the teacher. I also thought that the way your mentor teacher handled the "guided practice" part of the lesson was effective, especially the way she made sure that students got involved, whether to measure or in recording the results on the board.

      You also wrote about the teacher using "Thumbs up" to check for understanding and then moving on. I think this is a very good strategy. As a new teacher, I have to admit, that sometimes I forget to do this and just carry on with the lesson. I have also seen teachers doing pullout with students in the back of the room, when most of the students go for independent practice, and have to say that, it is a very good strategy, to provide students with extra help.

      Thanks,

      Syed Mohsin

       

      • Gerald Ardito
        Gerald Ardito

        Syed,

        Your comments for Marissa were very constructive and insightful. Thanks.

        • Gerald Ardito
          Gerald Ardito

          Marissa,

          You have done a very solid job with this Excursion. Your observations are very clear and insightful. And you are clearly working to incorporate what you observed into your own teaching practice.

          I wanted to delve deeper into some of the things that you said.

          I observed 3 lessons, each lesson consisted of the usual format, I do, we do, you do.

          This is, as you know, a very effective strategy when done well, and this teacher seemed masterful in utilizing it. You were lucky to see that in action. Also, this teacher clearly did a terrific job of orchestrating the set of activities in ways that deepened and extended the original work (as opposed to doing more examples of the same type of thing, which is all too common a practice).

          My mentor teacher would keep students engaged no matter what, specifically keeping them on their toes and would even make mistakes as she modeled for students. She did this with the intention of having the students point out what she did wrong so they can learn and figure it out on their own. 

          This is also a very powerful practice and one that allows the teacher to make visible her/his thinking, and with that, the thinking of the students. Understanding what to do is important; having an experience of how one might think is only more so.

          Sadly, I have seen teachers made mistakes (unintentionally) and then be rude or resistant to students when they tried to point it out. So much for building a learning environment of trust. Oh well.

          I believe these actions were effective because each student was participating when asked to and each student understood the content and what was being asked of them. 

          Once again, you have clearly observed an outstanding teacher. Good for you.

          One last question -- what would you do to either 1) deepen the lesson or 2) make it more your own? You can answer by clicking on "Leave comment" below.

           

           

           

           

           

          The students are always engaged.

          I am really curious to know what internal measure you are using to determine whether they are engaged. (By the way, I am not saying that they aren't, I am just asking how you know they are).

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