Day 6 (41) - Monday April 4, 2011
After a week on the west coast it was back to work on the eastern seaboard. I had only had one week of experience in this school before I had left for California so I needed to get back into the elementary teaching mentality. Perhaps the best part of the day was how excited the students were to see me back in school. I had only met them for one week but they treated me as if I had been their teacher all year. This was a wonderful welcome back to school and I was immediately confident of the next few weeks. Today was the first day of the President's Challenge unit. In this unit, the students would practice their curl-ups, pull-ups, sit-and-reach, quarter-mile run, and shuttle run each class session until the completion of the unit in the beginning of May. Ms. Hinton explained it to me as, "they had fun all year with scooter highway, the obstacle course, parachutes, etc., and now it's time for them to work!" I had selected this unit as the one in which I would perform my student teacher work sample upon. I selected a first grade class and broke the assessment period into two days; curl-ups, pull-ups, and sit-and-reach would be today. While it was a little disorganized and chaotic at times, I was able to gather all of the information I needed for these first three tests. I need to ensure that the pre-assessment remains organized in order to gather what I need.
Day 7 (42) - Tuesday April 5, 2011
The pre-assessment resumed today with the first grade class. During my first week in the elementary school, I observed each class in order to determine which class it would be that I would perform the assessment upon. All of the classes were different based upon skill level. I determined I would assess first grade rather than kindergarten in order to facilitate the process. After careful examination of each first grade class, I selected the one I thought would benefit the most out of the experience. Today we assessed the quarter-mile run and the shuttle run. These were two of the more difficult tests to manage so I put them on the same day were there would be enough time for both. For the quarter-mile run, I needed to explain the rules about running outside as well as the course for the students to follow. With the shuttle run, I needed to describe how the test was performed without giving hints on how to run it. Needless to say, there was confusion in both of the assessments. During the pre-assessment, I am not supposed to tell students how to perform the task but merely demonstrate how to the activity. As we progress into the unit, I need to ensure that I am describing, in detail how to do each exercise in order to be successful.
Day 8 (43) - Wednesday April 6, 2011
Prior to the beginning of the unit, I knew that we would be doing the same activities and exercises each class session. After all, in order to perform well on the President's Challenge one must practice each of the tests in order to improve their skills. For children in kindergarten and first grade (and students of all ages for that matter), lessons can become redundant when you are doing the same things day in and day out. Therefore, I decided that in order to keep the students' attention throughout the entire lesson, I had to alter some of my teaching style. First, I decided to make each lesson a story and enlist the class as the characters (i.e. pirate-in-training, detective school, etc.). Even though we would be performing the same activities, the story was different and they perceive is as an entirely different experience. This will help me maintain their attention great a positive and fun learning environment. Secondly, I need to offer them some kind of incentive for good behavior (i.e. a game at the end of class, a paw print for the class, or individual cub cash). This way, they are working toward a common and individual goal at the end of class. I feel that as a result of these changes, there will be an improvement in behavior as well as physical fitness level.
Day 9 (44) - Thursday April 7, 2011
Toward the end of the day, it was time to teach the adapted physical education class. Throughout the week, they had all been on their very best behavior and I was looking forward to the class. Generally, each class session for this class is the same; exercises and stretching in the beginning and then ten minutes of free activity time. In the target unit, it was simple as they would go to a station and rotate throughout the gymnasium. Now, however, it was up to me to decide which activities would fill in that remainder of time. Today I decided to have each student and their one-on-one take a hula-hoop and a ball. The one-on-one would hold the hoop and the student would throw or roll the ball through. I was paired up with a student who was a little apprehensive at first to play but eventually did so. When it came time to clean up, he did not want to do so. He began crying and would not relinquish the equipment. He would run through the gymnasium yelling and screaming. Eventually, I was able to calm him down and get him to line-up and leave with his class. These classes take a lot of patience combined with assertiveness in order to get the students to listen. While this was undoubtedly one of my more difficult teaching experiences, it nonetheless helped to strengthen my abilities.
Day 10 (45) - Friday April 8, 2011
In the blink of an eye it seemed as if the week had flown by! Friday is generally a day with numerous kindergarten classes so I need to be a little more attentive to their behavior to ensure that they are listening and remained focused. Throughout the day, I noticed that many students would lose focus when I demonstrated all of the exercises (except pull-ups). I eventually formulated a way in which to combat this. During the last class of the day, I would call upon students randomly to come up and demonstrate the activities in front of the class. Generally, I would select students whom I knew could perform the exercises exceptionally well and those students whom I had noticed at the ones to lose focus during introductions. This helped immensely to keep the class attentive and prompted students to want to volunteer. One of the features I focused on was a positive learning environment. After each student would perform the exercise, I would encourage the class to applaud their abilities and 'bravery' to be in front of the class performing. I want all students to feel comfortable in class and have a positive outlook on physical education. I still demonstrated the pull-ups as many students could not perform one (and I liked hearing the oohs and ahhs when I was demonstrating!). Perhaps the best thing I heard today was a student telling me that they want to be as strong as me because I am their hero. This was an excellent note to leave the week upon!