Sunday, March 4, 2012

Schmidt Ch. 6 and The 8th Week of Student Teaching

The big buzz word of the last few weeks has been ISAT. The tests begin this next week and we have been in a rushed flutter of activity to do last minute preparations for the 3rd graders. A couple of weeks ago, the principal decided that since many 3rd graders are underperforming in math, we had to take drastic measures to prepare for success. Two weeks ago, in our team meetings it was decided that we would group all the third graders by ability in a specific tested area and each teacher would teach a group for about 45 minutes on that specific area (measurement, number sense, geometry). We did it a total of about 5 times in the last week, and by the end I wonder if we made any difference at all. I think for the Math groups to have been effective, they need to have been happening for the entire year because it took student a while to adjust and learn appropriate behavior in this time. In experiencing students from the other third grade classes, I realized what an exceptionally behaved group of students I had and how well our classroom is managed. 

Another thing that has been happening this week is major referrals due to computer use. One student (G.D.) had posted up a picture of Taylor Lautner (actor in the Twilight movies) shirtless as her desktop background. I had felt badly when I heard of that because I actually did not know that the students backgrounds were supposed to be of themselves. I had seen the day before a background of the same actor (albeit clothed) belonging to G.D.'s best friend. But since the behavior was inappropriate her mother was called and a major referral was written. 

I.G. is a student who is really struggling. This is his second time in 3rd grade and his grades have been continuously dropping. His mother even called my cooperating teacher asking what was going on, because she has been taking away all of his distractions. During a time when the students were working on "Study Island," I walked past I.G. and he was artfully editing a picture of himself on Paint. So I closed the program, made sure he was logged into Study Island and had started a lesson and warned him that the next time he was going to move his card.  I then was helping some other student when I noticed I.G. logging onto Paint again. I asked him why and he responded with a blank-stared "Huh?" and "I wanted to save it." I asked him to move his cad, made sure he understood that he needed to be working on something else for now. He nodded and I walked away. After the time was over, the students shut their netbook lids and lined up for a bathroom break. I decided to check I.G. computer to see if he had gotten anything done, and was greeted by the same picture on Paint. So I discussed it with the teacher and along with a major referral, he is grounded from the computer for two weeks. 

It was a real wakeup call to the trials of technology in the classroom. I just feel at a loss with a student like I.G. He doesn't display any academic interests and seems unfocused. Any time you speak to him and direct a question at him, he responds with the same blank face and confused look. I wonder if he has any sort of attention disorder. It's something I think I'd like to observe and evaluate more, but the question is how? 

In the ISAT filled weeks ahead, I hope to learn how to best encourage students during this testing time. My teacher has laid out a schedule with Math games, fun-filled centers and no Reading program. I think it's great, but that this time could be used to focus on thing there aren't often time for, like Science or Social Studies, I however have been instructed to think of a fun/art center to teach this week. I may not think that's the greatest practice, but I am not a veteran teacher and I have never seen what these tests do to students. 

In Schmidt Chapter 6, I read a lot of information about writing. It seems that in this placement, the focus is neither on teaching creative writing or how to write academically well. No matter what grades I happen to teach in the future, I know that I will be teaching writing somehow because I believe it to be of extreme importance. 

I love the strategy of using journals in the classroom. I beleive it's a great way to help students practice writing in a more relaxed way and to make writing a habit. I think that my favorite information is on pages 133-134. I love the idea of having jump starts for students who are intimidated by writing and pairing those journal prompts with reading other fiction in diary format (page 134.) I would love if I could introduce some of these writing techniques in this placement. 


  1. Wow! What a big push for ISAT testing. I agree that the last minute efforts at meeting ISAT standards will not work. I liked this idea: “I think for the Math groups to have been effective, they need to have been happening for the entire year because it took student a while to adjust and learn appropriate behavior in this time.” That would be something for the principal to consider in the future.

    Such interesting stories about the referrals! I’m wondering the same thing. Maybe there is some sort of attention disorder. I think keeping a log of his behaviors at short intervals would be one way to track this problem. Then you could talk with other professionals in the building about possible problems.

    Your thoughts about filling the week with ISAT work is interesting. “I may not think that's the greatest practice, but I am not a veteran teacher and I have never seen what these tests do to students.” It will be interesting also to see how it affects the teachers.

    I’m glad you see the importance of writing and its impact on student learning. May be you can use some of Schmidt’s ideas at this placement once ISATs are done.

    I hope you have a great week.

    Prof. Meyer

  2. I too have experienced this teaching semester with students giving me the blank stare and huh response when asked a question. I of course do not know this student and his behaviors in class, but I feel that when I approach students and receive the same feedback, it seems that they use question “huh” as a way to give them more time to respond to the question or act like they have no idea what is going on. Children are very smart, and even smarter than we sometimes think. It may be a lack of interest or the student may be so far behind and lost that they take the time to something other than the assignment. Students like this in my class I try to gravitate towards them as much as possible, even if they say they know what the task is I re-explain the directions and give an example or demonstration. Most of the time it does work, but with the more difficult students to motivate it does take longer to get the student on task.

    Jessica Colvin

  3. Just wanted you to know that I got caught up on reading your last entries - finally! On culture...I know that you know this already but, it's not what you do, it's who you are. So, it's not about knowing every single culture to perfection, but about acting out of a love and desire to value and honor others.
    You are on an amazing journey; learning and growing leaps and bounds, carry on!