As of this point in my student teaching I have taken over math, word (similar to spelling, yet different), and this week I began with writing workshop.
Today in math the goal was to learn about similar and congruent figures. I started off the lesson with a video clip from United Streaming (a wonderful resource if you have access to it through your school). This short video clip (2 minutes and 15 seconds) is great because it introduces similar and congruency through the use of something the students see every day: flags. Then we went into a SMART board lesson next, which did not upload correctly, sorry (you may email me at email@example.com if you would like it). All was well with both of those activities, but then came the challenge. Next on the plans was paired practice using geoboards and rubber bands. After an adequate explanation of safety rules, we began by one student making a shape and the other making a congruent or similar shape, depending on my direction. Part of my expliciate directions were to keep voices at a whisper, which the class had a hard time doing. I had to stop them several times in order to bring them back down to a reasonable level. Don't get me wrong-they were excited about the activity, their excitement just got a little out of hand.
Word was next. We were looking at January's words and breaking them apart into root woods, prefixes and suffixes in order to better understand the meanings of the words. The students took right to this activity and enjoyed discovering the meaning of larger words this way. Normally, the students have some in between talk during word time, but today they were completely engaged. I love that feeling when they are all on task and I can see their little minds turning.
Later in the afternoon came the first time I had taught writing workshop completely on my own (planning and teaching). Today we began a new unit on essay writing. When I told the students what we were going to begin learning, I got about 5 groans. Not the best way to start out a brand new subject for me and a brand new unit for them. After the groans, I deviated from my lesson plan to find out the source of the groans. It turned out to be the result of prompts the students had a hard time writing from. Good thing we are not starting out with writing prompts. we will get there, but we will spend time writing about ideas that hit home with the students first. My hope is that after we learn how to write good essays we can branch out and come up with ideas from other people's ideas. I think Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop book will lead me, and the students, in the right direction, and get them back to loving essays.
So, all in all, a good day, with a few rough patches. But hey, isn't that what teaching is all about?