Monday, March 12
Sarah and I are at Martin Collegiate. We will be teaching ELA 10B this week, picking up a novel study of Of Mice and Men. Today we just did an introductory mini-lesson, as our co-op wanted to finish up her chapter from the previous week. However, we did have a few minutes with the students at the beginning, and we gave them a learning survey, which asked them about their learning particularly in language arts. We asked questions such as “What do you like/dislike to read? What is your favorite/least favorite thing about school? What do you want to learn the most in this class?” etc. This idea is adapted from Teaching English by Design by Smagorinsky. It was really interesting to do with these students, and we were able to get to know them a little better, as well as have an idea about their feelings towards to ELA.
The most interesting question we used was the last: “Do your grades in school accurately reflect how smart you are? Please explain.” The responses we got were almost unanimous: “No, I don’t try” “No, because I think school is boring” “No, I’m lazy” “No, I don’t ever do my homework.” I thought it was so interesting. However, the students also answered a lot of other questions that showed us they desired to be engaged and have lots of things they wish to learn or see incorporated into the classroom. I am glad we did this survey, and I will use it again in the future.
Tomorrow we start teaching Of Mice and Men, and we’re really excited about our lesson. Our co-op is very traditional, but very supportive. We are learning a lot of things, and enjoying visiting other classrooms as well.
Tuesday, March 13
Today we taught our first lesson to the grade tens. From what we have learned so far about our students, they don’t do most of their reading or homework for class. So, for this period, we really wanted to have them engaged with the text, and make the most out of our classroom time together. A few of the kids also commented in their survey that they would appreciate more hands-on learning or less time spent sitting in desks, so we planned for some moving around!
For this lesson, we got the audio CD of Of Mice and Men and we played chapter four for the students while they read along. They were each given a set of coloured sticky notes, and we had fourteen coloured pages on the board. Each page had a question at the top of it. As the audio played, we stopped it periodically to ask a question about the text. We wanted to make sure the students were engaged, not just tuned out. Students wrote their answer on their sticky note, and stuck it on the page on the board.
We set up our lesson in an effort to create discussion. Our students rarely participate in discussion, and we wanted to see them more involved. Having them write their answer on a sticky note was a fun way to have them respond, as well as give them an opportunity to move around. Then, when it was time to move on to discussion, every kid would be able to participate because they had all just listened and even wrote down a response. However, we didn’t have chance to get through the entire audio today so we will take that up tomorrow. After half of the questions, we offered to stop and discuss the first half, but the kids insisted we keep going. If I were to do it differently, I may have required us to stop halfway and discuss so that everything was still fresh in their minds. We will see how tomorrow goes. It was really great to see them all participate. It went really well.
Wednesday, March 14
Today we got to finish our lesson from yesterday. We finished listening/responding to the chapter, and we had planned to use the questions and sticky notes to create discussion. However, we changed our idea during our prep this morning. We decided instead that students would be put into small groups and given two or three sheets of the board. Their task was to summarize or explain what their peers’ sticky notes had said and then find a quotation from the text to support their answer. They were given twenty minutes or so to work on this, and then they shared their answers with the class. It worked out well, because we told them if they put the effort in to do those two tasks, we would type up their answers so that everybody could have a chapter 4 package with questions, answers, and quotations – that they, themselves, had put together!
We hoped at the end to have a bit of discussion with some of their answers they presented, but as mentioned, this is a tricky group to get talking! So, even though they all had answers and they had all participated, they were hesitant to get involved in discussion, which was a little disappointing. However, they all came up with great answers and found awesome quotes for textual support, and we were really happy with that!
Tomorrow we have a day off, as it is three way conferencing today. Sarah and I are getting together to do some planning.
Friday, March 16
We started today with a journal response. We wrote the word “isolation” up on the board, along with a few prompts. Isolation is a major theme in the chapter we covered and we wanted to give students an opportunity to free write or make connections to their own life. Some students had never journaled before and met this task with some hesitation. We were pleased with the majority of their work.
After students handed their journal in, we made a web on the board connecting various characters to the word isolation with textual references. After this brainstorming together, we gave students a mind map and asked them to choose one character in the text that experienced isolation. This mind map included places for 3 supporting details and will be setting students up to write their literary paragraph next week. The students also received a handout from the previous chapter that they had put together which included lots of quotes as a starting off point.
Monday, March 19
Today the students had a quiz on chapter 4. It was a simple, multiple choice quiz that should have been quite easy seeing as we listened to the chapter in class together. However, some students still did poorly, which I feel bad about, but we gave them every support to help them be successful.
Then, we moved on to instruction in literary paragraphs. Most grade tens are learning 5 paragraph essays, but our grade tens have never even written a paragraph about literature! So we had our work cut out for us. We gave them a model literary paragraph sheet that went through and explained each sentence in the format. Then, we gave them a sample paragraph that I had cut up and they arranged on their desks following the correct format. This was a difficult task for some students, but with a little direction, they were able to do it.
Following this independent activity, we assigned sentences to individual students and had them arrange themselves at the front of the classroom in the correct order, as a visual representation. Lastly, we went through two handouts that gave very direct and specific instructions about writing a literary paragraph. Tomorrow the students will have a work period in the library to begin drafting their paragraphs.
Tuesday, March 20
Today the students had a work period in the library. Sarah and I moved around assisting students when needed. Many students asked for help or clarification, but overall we were really happy with the effort put in today. Tomorrow we will move onto chapter 5, but Thursday the students will have another class period to continue working.
Wednesday, March 21
In an effort to stay on pace with the novel, we moved on to chapter 5 today. We gave students a handout with comprehension questions and then listened to the book on CD again. This method is very effective with this group of kids. We would stop the recording periodically and encourage the kids to respond to the corresponding question. We also told the students that they would receive a participation mark for filling out the answers in class.
The class went well and even led into discussion. It is great to see the students actually engaging with the text because they have the opportunity to read in class. We didn’t finish the chapter today, but we will finish Friday because tomorrow is a work period again.
Thursday, March 22
Today we were in the library again. Three students finished their paragraph and several others came close. We are really thrilled with the effort we are seeing in this class. The paragraphs are due tomorrow, but students will have conferences with us next week before handing in a final draft.
Friday, March 23
We picked up our second class today – ELA B30. It is interesting to work with grade twelves, as compared to grade tens. We began today with an introductory lesson to Othello, which the grade twelves will be studying for the next few weeks.
First, we had the students fill out a learning survey and do a short writing activity. We think it’s really important to take time to get to know the students. After that, we did a pre-reading activity called “take a stand.” One side of the room was labelled agree while the other was labelled disagree. We presented students with a variety of statements about love, dating, relationships, jealousy, secrecy, etc. that are major themes throughout the play. Students had to decide whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement and then take a stand. We used a hacky sack for students to take turns defending their position. This worked so well! It was a great way to get students involved and talking about issues that are relative to their lives, but are also connected to the text.
In the next period, Sarah taught the grade tens while Doug Hindle observed. On Monday I will be teaching while Doug is observing.
Monday, March 26
Today the grade tens had a quiz on chapter 5. For the quiz, we simply used the chapter 5 questions. We thought it would be interesting to see who had really learned anything from doing them as a class. We also chose to do it this way because it was short answer, rather than multiple choice, which requires students to show a deeper level of thinking.
After the quiz, the grade tens did a journal response. At the end of this week, they will choose one journal to hand in to be marked according to a rubric that they were given. They will get to circle the criteria that they feel their entry meets and explain why they deserve that mark.
We then moved on to chapter six. We did the chapter on CD again, as this is what the students asked for. They had questions to fill out at they listened. Tomorrow, we will have a work period for their paragraph revision.
Tuesday, March 27
Today the grade tens had a work period in the library. We had marked corrections on each of their paragraphs from last week, and they had the period to fix anything up and make sure it was in the right form. At the end of the period, many students asked if they could continue in the library tomorrow, and because they worked so hard today, we adjusted our schedule accordingly.
Wednesday, March 28
We began the class with a quiz on chapter 6. We used a quiz that we found online and projected it onto the screen. Students had score sheets to mark their answers. After the quiz, students responded to their last journal prompt before headed to the library. They had the remainder of the period to finish their paragraphs.
Thursday, March 29
We began the film, Of Mice and Men, today with the students. Any students that needed to fix further corrections on their paragraphs during the period were able to bring in a laptop from the library. We stopped the film occasionally to ask questions comparing the novel and the movie.
Friday, March 30
Today was our last day! With the grade tens, we continued the film while sharing snacks together. Almost all of the students had handed in their paragraphs in the last day or two, so we returned some and finished marking others. We had to say our good byes, and it was so sad! It has been an incredible experience, and I have built strong relationships with many of the students. I will miss the kids, my co-op, and the school! I am looking forward to internship.