Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 22, 2013

"Student Voices" update....

I was able to shadow my second student on Tuesday of this week. It was again a great experience.  I joined my 8th grade student in her second period Honors English class.  The class had been in session for a few minutes by the time I joined them.I sat two students behind my "shadow student" with a student that had an empty desk next to her.  Ms. Merrick was reviewing with the class the process to identify author's purpose and meaning from primary sources. The students had been working the last few days on primary source photographs of the Pullman Porters. Ms. Merrick made it clear to students that she was not attempting to focus on the historical facts of the Pullman Porters, but wanted the students to evaluate the photos and be able to determine author's purpose, mood, etc. As pairs we worked together to fill out our graphic organizer. We had to identify the overall theme, we had to attempt to identify with the information we had who the author may have been and what message he/she was trying to convey.  During the time we worked Ms. Merrick had the photo slide show going on her Apple TV display. Ms. Merrick also walked the classroom and checked in with all the pairs. She stopped by us and showed us a picture on her Ipad and asked another probing/guiding question to make us think without giving us any answers. The activity was very engaging for all students in the classroom, including me. It was an activity that required me to analyze and infer. My partner referred back to her notes a few times to help give me additional information that would help me to answer the questions. All students in the class were having very productive and insightful conversations. After we worked through for about twenty minutes, Ms. Merrick had students share out whole class while she wrote the responses for all of us to see. The students seemed very comfortable to share and my partner shared one of her answers to one of the questions. Class was shorter since we were on an assembly schedule, so not all students were able to fully complete the activity. Students put their documents in their folders and were told they could finish the following day.

My "shadow student's" next class was PE. I headed out to the blacktop and sat beside her. Even though I did not have my PE clothes (I had forgotten them) I wanted to join in the activities. So, despite the fact that I had my suit on I sat down on the concrete with the students. Several students told me not to sit on the ground since they didn't want me to get dirty. I smiled and told them it was ok and that I wanted to participate with them.  Mr. Garcia quickly came out and addressed the class. Mr. Garcia had us go through our daily warm ups. We had to do situps, pushups, and some stretches. After the warm ups Mr. Garcia's TA held up the portable whiteboard that had the objective for the day and key concepts that we needed to know. This was very helpful for me because I then knew that we were going to continue to work on our scocer skills and specifically he wanted us to focus on a corner kick and goal kick. Mr. Garcia had the students get into their teams. He then stated which teams would play each other. Since, I would make too many players on my "shadow student's" team, I was not able to play in the game. Instead, I stood down near the goal and watched the girls play and cheered them on. There were several different games going on at one time during the class period. Mr. Garcia rotated game to game giving pointers to the players. He stopped at our game and reviewed the proper practice for the students to get the ball back in play after a goal. After he demonstrated and walked them through the process they followed it the remainder of the game. The girls were all working well together and I heard a lot of positive reinforcement and encouragement especially when a student missed a goal or missed blocking a goal kick from the opposing team. These girls were definitely active and getting their heart rate up during this game. Mr. Garcia sent the students into the locker room a few minutes before the end of the period to get dressed. I headed back to my office to get my materials for the next class, US History Honors.

I joined the class as they were entering the classroom. I was able to sit in the desk directly in front of my "shadow student." The students in the class were all smiling and I had a feeling there was something that I was missing.  Mr. Harris addressed the class and asked us all to complete our warm up and reminded us that we would be taking a test. Now I knew why they were all smiling at me, the students found it funny that I was going to have to take a test with them. I completed my warm up activity and began to get a little anxious about the test. I wasn't sure how well I would do on the exam. Mr. Harris reminded students that they would be answering questions that he had created that would mirror the question style of the Common Core assessment. Mr. Harris pointed to the wall where he had Blooms Taxonomy and stated that many of the questions were asking us to apply our knowledge and pull from many sources to answer the questions. My level of anxiety was increased when Mr. Harris told the students they would be using their notes. I clearly had no notes on the materials. Mr. Harris asked me if I would like a copy of his notes. I said that I would but only if they were notes that he would give to a student. Mr. Harris stated that if a student had been absent for the notes he would definitely share his typed notes. I graciously accepted a copy of his notes. I began the very long test. I began to answer each question the best that I could based on the notes in front of me. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Periodically, Mr. Harris stopped the class to clarify a word meaning or to clarify what one of the questions was asking. Time was of the essence. Since we were on shortened periods because of the assembly schedule, there was no way I was going to finish the test. A few minutes before the period was over, Mr. Harris asked how many of us would need additional time. Many of us raised our hands, however; there were a few students that had managed to complete the test in the time allotted. Mr. Harris explained that we had two options, we could either take the test home and complete it or wait until tomorrow's class but we would only be given about ten minutes in class to finish. If I were truly a student I would have taken him up on the option to take it home and finish, but being that I am not a student I turned it in. Sadly, I found out later in the day that I had earned a 85% on the test. I apparently had completely read one of the questions wrong and answered it based on  the wrong colonial area. This shows that carefully or carelessly reading a question can make a drastic difference on a students' response.

It was a great experience being part of two Honors classes and a PE class on Tuesday. As a student I felt respected as a learner and challenged as a learner. I think that is my big takeaway from this "shadow" experience. As a student we will respond more positively when we are treated respectfully and when we are challenged to think beyond our comfort zone. We must push our students to do as much as possible. Obviously, we need to be aware and considerate of student's learning needs, styles, and accommodations, but we should always find ways of challenging all students to push out of their personal comfort zone. In PE, for example, even though I was in a suit and heals, Mr. Garcia didn't give me a pass on participating. I was then determined to complete the push-ups and sit-ups with all the students because I wanted to prove to myself and to the students and Mr. Garcia that even within a constrained situation I can make it work.

As a student so far on both of the "shadow" days that I have completed, there have been teaching strategies used that have worked for me and have worked for the other students.  The strategies that I really appreciated as a student have been: seeing the objective on the board and then that objective being explained to us. This really grounded the class periods for me and allowed me to know what was expected from me before I left the class. Without that piece, I would feel more like activities were just that, activities, with no real purpose or goal. Second, the times we were told as students to work together were very helpful, especially since I was not completely up to date on previous learning in the class. This allowed me time to ask my partners questions and get a better understanding of what was expected. Lastly, it really helped me and the students I was working with to have the teachers roam the classroom and check in with us. The times it worked best was when the teacher would stop and ask us more probing questions. This made us think more and gave us a clearer direction on how to proceed.

Honestly, I wish I could "shadow" every day of the week, but that just won't fit into the many other calendared obligations and duties that I must carry out. I do have several more "shadow" days scheduled. I just had another student sign up on Tuesday night after seeing me in one of his classes. Pretty awesome!! My goal after I shadow all of the students that have signed up, will be to come together for a pizza lunch and give them the opportunity to share with me their thoughts, suggestions, and questions.

Word of the week:  CONCLUSION: Conlcusion is something you decide after considering all the information you have.

West Ed Sweeps Week: This week is the West Ed T4S sweeps. We will have a sweep one day this week. 

If you would like to sign up to present ideas, strategies, or something great that is happening in your classroom at an upcoming staff meeting, please fill out the Google form found through this link.


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