Week #2 Reflection
On my second visit to the class I felt much more comfortable and the kids seemed a little more comfortable around me as well.
I got their early and no one had arrived yet, so I hung out in the teacher lounge. Pat arrived 15 minutes later with news she’d won a free office makeover from Vancouver is Awesome magazine. So the floor was abuzz with that.
Lesson planning & co-teaching
Rosella and Pat discussed what they would teach that day and decided on Science and Math, as per the usual lately. Pat mentioned how they’d decided to concentrate subjects over the course of a few months, having those subjects every day instead of once or twice a week, in order to really steep the kids in learning. Also, she noted, because it meant they were less likely to misplace their materials.
Rosella takes the grade 7 students in her class, and the grade 6 come to our side. Pat splits the 6s into advanced math and regular math, and spends more time with the kids who are struggling.
- Pat and Rosella seemed very supportive and accommodating of what the other wanted to do.
- Their lesson planning was mainly verbal and conversational and nothing was written down.
- How did Pat and Rosella find this place where they could co-teach? I don’t think it would be easy for me, as I would probably want to have a more structure. It would be nice on the one hand if my co-teacher was really good at teaching a subject I was not good at. On the other hand, if they were disorganized I would find that stressful.
- Since Rosella and Pat seem to develop their lesson plans on the fly throughout the day, how will I be able to plan my lessons during practicum? How will they fit in that structure?
Today Pat put the advanced math students in the art room so they could do a quiz. Quite a few of them mentioned how they were unprepared and moped around before leaving, making excuses about not having an eraser or whatnot. A few of them mentioned how they were “going to fail.”
Pat responded that they were being pessimistic again, and told me that she has high standards of 85% to stay in advanced math, or they need to come back over and do regular math with everyone in the main group. The kids slumped off and spent the next hour working on their advanced math quietly and surprisingly determined. I thought they might cheat since no one was watching over them, but when I went to look, they were all very deep in their problems. They were the most serious I’d seen them.
Meanwhile in the classroom, Pat taught math. She started where she’d left off the day before and went over what a spreadsheet is and how to use a table to determine values. It was a fairly standard lecture-style lesson, calling out students to volunteer answers to questions like, “What do you think the next number in the table would be?”
- Some of the students didn’t seem to understand the lesson. One girl was not even paying attention the entire time, but spent the time doodling in her book.
- Students engagement ebbed and waned, but was clearly spent after 30 minutes. 30 minutes seems to be a cut-off point when kids can listen and pay attention to someone else talking/teaching.
- Pat used an electronic white board for the lesson, which was pretty cool.
- Sometimes when no one was volunteering an answer, Pat gave the wrong answer on purpose, and the kids corrected her.
- What can you do for a student who is not paying any attention and not learning from the main lesson?
- How can you make a math lesson more engaging?
At the end of the math lesson, Pat told the kids they could play Prodigy math on their devices or a school device.
While the kids played, she explained that sometimes, after a difficult lesson like the one today, playing a game helped them get engaged again. She showed me around the back end of her Prodigy teacher account and it was quite interesting. Pat says it helps her evaluate where exactly the kids are having trouble in math.
She uses an app called Class Dojo where she posts a classroom blog, a chat group and also check-in questions every day. She also posts photos of classroom activities so parents can see what the kids are doing. When Pat showed me the Class Dojo app, she noted how many students had checked in and responded to a few of their comments. She also talked to me about how they’d had to fast-track their use of Microsoft Teams when Covid had hit.
- Pat spends quite a lot of time online communicating with the kids outside of class times. She posts her check-in either the night before or the morning before class, and she responds to every single comment kids leave.
- Some of the students don’t use the technology or participate in the check-ins.
- How could the online check-in be more engaging so that all the students want to participate?
- Does technology help or hinder the classroom?
- How can we make use of technology without it taking over the classroom?