Friday, November 14, 2008

"Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way."

Week 6:

We keep hearing in our teaching class about multiple intelligences and alternative assessments. It becomes a little hard to picture creating enough variety so every student is happy. I think, though, throughout the week, within a variety of activities, my placement did a good job appealing to a diverse group of learners. Some things have to be taught and certain standards have to be met and as a teacher this is inevitable. However, I think it is important to give the most variety and options whenever you can to reach the most students. I saw several examples of this in the classroom.

This day started with Mrs. C reading aloud to the class. Instead of having the students pick out a book and read silently at the beginning of the hour, she told the class it was important as readers to also be able to listen to a book. She told them whenever they read that they should have the story going through their minds, like a movie. The kids we’re restless at first, but the book she picked was exciting enough to hold their attention. It was about a boy who goes to military school and is filled with scary, hard experiences. The students are able to talk at the end about what they think of the strict rules and scary administration. She makes sure they were listening by asking them questions. She asks open-ended questions and relates it to their lives. They all seem to have an opinion and have no problem letting her know they want to be heard. The students were able to listen and process without having to sit and stare at a book. I think this creates a new learning environment and gives the kids variety, which they need.

The next part was introducing the book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry. The book is about a utopian society that eventually crumbles. To get the theme across, she had each student create their own utopia. First, they filled out a worksheet of categories, like how will people get money, and what will people drive and live in. It even went as far as, what laws will you have and what will you do about drugs, teen pregnancy and gangs. She pushed the students to really elaborate and think about their choices and ideas. I was surprised at how much she expected from them and how far they could go in defending their answer. Next, they drew pictures of their utopias on a sheet of paper. Then she had the book on tape and they followed along as chapter one was read. She followed up with some questions, like how does this utopia differ from yours and what are some of their rules? I thought the class went well. The utopia exercise was a great way for them to understand the world in the book. They were actively engaged in what a utopia was and who they would create their own. I will definitely remember and maybe use this in my own classroom one day. Doing a creative exercise made it possible for them to be active participants in class and not just read or write directly on the book. They were able to be creative and show their own unique ideas.

During the next class, the students read the story of Persepholis. The story is about the Greek god Demeter and her involvement in why the seasons change. Persepholis is her daughter who was kidnapped by Hades. The students did partner reading where each person takes a turn reading. I went around listening and read a little bit for some of the groups. This didn’t take very long since the story was only a page. She had them fold a sheet of paper into six equal parts and then draw pictures in each one to create a summary. They were to number the boxes and only put the six parts they thought was most important from the story. Each student was required to turn in his own paper; however they could work with their partner to get their ideas. The students I think enjoyed this and were happy to not be writing a five sentence summary like they had before. They, also, were able to read with a partner and be engaged in the story instead of sitting in a big group.

Next they jumped into a DOL lesson on “your/you’re” and “were/where.” The sentences were about the Greek gods they were studying. They then read the story of Medusa as a class; where different people were called on to read. Afterwards, they had to answer nine questions on a lined sheet of paper, like what is the title, which are the characters, what was the god/goddess power, and to list some human traits. Some of the parts were confusing to the students because they weren’t sure how to pull the ideas from the story. I went around and guided them a little on where to look and tried to re-word the question for them. Finally, we got through most of the questions for everyone. They were able to go through it quickly as a class and then individually work through and think about their answers from the text. I think this was a good review for the test they have next week.

She reminded them there was a test next Friday and to start studying their god/goddess definition sheet they made. Almost half the class either wasn’t there or lost theirs, so I passed out blank sheets and she put the definitions on the overhead to let them catch up. This week showed me how many different ways you can approach and cover the material. Although the class periods looked similar in structure, Mrs. C approached the content in various ways so they students were not stuck in the same routine.

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