I am writing this just before 7 am and I have already been up for 2 hours and on various forms of transit for half of that time. Why up so early you ask? The reason is that today is my first STEP day! STEP stands for Student Teacher Experience Programming and it is essentially an observation day done in the class my practicum will be in. This is so that everyone involved can acclimate to the whole situation before our practicum actually starts and we are actually being evaluated.
It was just last week that we found out where our practicum placements were going to be and I could not have been more excited. The school I was placed in was my top choice and it is amazing. I first heard about it during the orientation day for school when our coordinators were telling us about what schools they work with and that we could be placed in. I knew immediately that wanted to be at this school.
They are an inner city model school as well as well as showcase schools for SMART, Copernicus and FrontRow. I don’t know what Copernicus products they have but I know that every classroom has both a SmartBoard and FrontRow installed. For those of you who don’t know what FrontRow is (I hadn’t heard of it before) it is a classroom audio system designed to ensure that all the students can hear instruction properly without the teacher straining their voice to be heard. I’m sure as students we all remember a time that we couldn’t quite hear the teacher, at last not very well, and so our focus faded or we simply didn’t receive the necessary instruction. So I can see the benefit of this system.
The school is also partnered with various different software companies and they have one a ton of awards. Our coordinator told us that all the teacher candidates that come out of school LOVE of and are so fired up about teaching and I really wanted to experience this. Plus I am really interested in technology and how it can be incorporated into the classroom so this school is right up my alley. My experience with SmartBoards is pretty limited so I a, excites to learn more about them and I have never been in a school with FrontRow so that will be totally new, as will much else.
The other thing that works out really well is that I am required to do one placement in a Primary classroom and one in a Junior classroom and this one is my Junior one. That is a perfect fit for in a tech focused school because you can do more interesting things with the older kids. I’m actually in a Grade four and five split which is exciting because Grade four has a really fun curriculum and I have never worked with fifth graders but I have also never dealt with the complexities of a slit before which is nerve wrecking.
I’m almost at the school now. I will update everyone later!
Sorry I haven’t posted lately but things have been pretty crazy as I’m sure not of you can imagine! I am actually writing this into evernote while on the bus on the way to school because I just haven’t had time to sit down at the computer and write. ThenI willot it later. If this works for me then you may start getting a lot mor updates!
Things have been going very well but the amount of information coming my way is incredible. It feels like everything is just whizzing by my head and I am just trying to snatch up whatever I can. I can not complain though because I am having a grande time. Everyday the group is together we get to know each other better and we get closer which is awesome. We actually had our first social event this past Friday at the Fox and the Fiddle down the street from OISE. There was actually a really great turn out and we even had one of our professors show up for a little while and she bought two orders of Mediterranean nachos for everyone to share. We were all pretty excited for her to show up because we all love her.
Since my last update we have had seen really cool classes, including our first science class. We did a few science experiments m class which got everyone really excited for the class, plus we learned that on the 14th of this month we are actually going to the Toronto Zoo to see what kind of programmes and resources they offer for school when you do field trips etc. We are also going to have a visit from Reptilia near the end of the year, which will be amazing.
We also had a field trip two Fridays ago. We went to Ward’s Island for an Aboriginal Infusion Retreat. This was an incredible experience. We engaged in various activities while there but one of the coolest things was taking part in a traditional smudge ceremony wit the two First Nations elders who came with us. I cannot describe the experience of participating in the ceremony and then listening to their teachings. It was…I do not want to say mind blowing because of was so peaceful bit it was that kind of thing.
What else have I been up to at school? Things have certainly not been fun and games because the assignments are finally coming in and I’ve got 3 or 4 due this week alone. This includes my first lesson plan and a rather difficult assignment for my related studies course on supporting ELLs in the classroom. The lesson plan assignment is cool because I have to create a 10 minute lesson to teach two classmates some skill you have. I chose to do mine on how to play the game Blokus. For those of you who don’t know what Blokus is look it up because it is a really fun game for both kids and adults (trust me I’ve played it with both) and it is a really fun way to work on your spatial-temporal reasoning and planning. I have to present this once I get to school so I will let you all know how it goes!
My assignment for ESL across the curriculum is going to be tricky. I have to interact with either a young child learning their first language or a child or adult over eight learning their second language and you have to talk about the aspects of the language that they have or have not mastered. I have already interviewed my ELL I just have to do the write up tonight. I have to come up with four pages though and I don’t know that we have already learned enough that I can really come up with four pages but I’m sure I will figure it out.
See you all next time!
Week two started today, and I think the routine is finally starting to feel normal! Some of the initial shock from the last week has worn off and this whole new experience is starting to feel a lot more comfortable. That being said, everyday still brings something new, and I don’t necessarily mean that in a philosophical sense. I mean we are still meeting some of our professors and going to some of our classes for the first time.
For example, today was our first music class. I have some experience with music, having taken piano from when I was in Kindergarten to about Grade 7. However, it was something I did because my mom made me so I was never super into it or super good. I do however, understand music well enough that the idea of having to do some basic musical stuff with kids doesn’t freak me out. The idea of being a music teacher, or having to regularly teach my own class music on a regular basis, terrifies me. I’m not THAT musical! Which is why I really appreciate the direction the professor is taking. He’s really focusing on real music lessons we can do that don’t require a ton of equipment or previous musical experience. In the three hours we were in class all we used were shakers, body percussion, and our voices for some K-1 songs. This is exactly what a lot of people are going to need, which is great.
We will also be learning to play recorders, something I never did when I was a kid even though that is so typical of an elementary school music program. My school just didn’t do it. The reason we are learning it is because our professor uses recorders to teach students how to play and read music at the same time so that the theory isn’t some abstract concept but actually has something concrete and immediate related to it.
Again, I felt like I was a little kid again because we were doing all these body percussion exercises and singing silly songs with all the hand motions and everything. I love this part of teacher’s college, it is so fun to actually be doing something in class instead of just sitting there. Last week we did glyphs which are a really fun exercise to teach kids how to read and use symbols. For those of you who don’t know a glyph is an activity where the students how to cute out various shapes of of paper to make up the features of their face. The catch is they have to do it according to a key that you give them. For example, in our glyphs the shape of your eyes had to do with what your favourite food was, and the shape of your nose revealed what kind of pets you had. Mine ended up looking like this:
Not exactly the prettiest thing but it was fun!! The mustache was an addition of my own for fun :P We used this exercise to talk about lesson planing as well as how you can add onto and play off of one activity that the kids really like to then expand on their learning and make the activity cross curricular. We could have just talked about glyphs and done the lesson, but where would the fun in that be? Plus, then we wouldn’t be able to decorate our class walls!