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Week 3 journal entry: • Went to see Roy’s class • I got another opportunity to see another grade four classroom this week; it was nice to be able to see that class again. The kids of course were very excited to see me again, which reminds me that the novelty hasn’t worn out yet, as it has for my grade 6 classroom. The teacher was discussing reading, particularly in how to extract meaning out of the text. He had some strategies listed on a colorful poster board, though it was hard to make out from the back of the class. I was more interested in watching the students, and how they responded to the lesson. The lesson was structured differently than in my class. The majority of the students were on the floor (on coloured mats), listening to the teacher, and some others in desks. There was one boy who kept bothering another one, which continued until the teacher called attention to it. One girl was sitting in a different desk (someone else was in hers) and a boy rebuked her, telling her it wasn’t her seat, leading her to almost break out in tears. The student next to me intrigued me; she would suck on her finger, then on her shirt, then bounce her fingers all over her desk. I gave her an eraser to manipulate with her hands, and with that, she was able to focus on the teacher. Is she like me that our hands need to be busy when focusing? Was it merely my interruption that helped? I do notice however that there are a vast variety of restless movements throughout the class as they try to focus on a lesson. Some kids would constantly shift around. Some would rock back and forth, etc. • The kids then got a book to read as a group, which was nice to see as they all seemed to read well together. The interesting thing was how they divided the reading. One group I saw took turns with each line. Another had a narrator and kids speaking for characters. Overall, good group dynamics. The final part was a worksheet where they had a short reading and they had to find the meanings of certain words. One student kept asking for my help throughout, but it was obvious from the start that they were trying to just have me around, rather than do the work. I came up with a compromise that worked, telling them I would help them with a word AFTER they found the meaning to the first one (which would take them a while to look up anyway) Very different class and manner of teaching. I always take away some great ideas from this grade 4 classroom. • Went to see the Kindergarden class • I also went to see the Kindergarden class this week. This was a totally different dynamic than my grade 6, for obvious reasons. It was funny how the kids were so shy at first, and yet so enthusiastic after they get to meet me. The teacher had me do some rhyming cards with some of them, and one little girl kept coming back to do more even while I worked with other kids. I was surprised by how bossy so many kids could be. These 2 kids would hand me a puzzle they were making and say “put it away!” It was so brash I actually laughed. But beyond that, most of the time was indeed focused on play, but there were lessons intermingled throughout the time. We had a circle in which we sang about opposites and then the kids would say some and we’d add them to the song. I experienced the same amount


of music in other kindergardens in the past, and I wonder if music can be used in later grades? Is it something only useful in kindergarden? Hmm Got to ask the kids about music • Speaking of music, I asked the kids today about the music I’ve been playing for them during their reading time. I tend to play classical music, but today I added some latin and some african music to the mix. I then asked them after the whole thing some gauging questions, like is it distracting? Too loud? Can you concentrate? For the most part I got a positive response from the class, with a couple of exceptions. I spoke with those kids that had issues, and found a way to resolve their concerns. Their main issue was that it was a bit too loud and that the music changed too abruptly at times, causing them to lose focus. I decided to structure a playlist that emphasizes calm, reading style music that blends into each other. We’ll see how it goes next week. Showed a video about space • I showed a video about space this week, which I recorded off Discovery channel. Overall was a good experience, though having to fast forward through commercials was a pain and a distraction. My teacher did stop the movie for a portion at the beginning, to discuss some parts of what we were watching, but he didn’t do so after that. I wonder if he decided to discuss it afterwards? Or maybe that stopping the video would be too disruptive? Or perhaps he just didn’t have anything else to say. Either way, it was nice to see the kids so enthused about learning, particularly using video to learn. I did observe many of the students writing down facts about a selected planet when it came up, which was good as they needed to know about them for their projects. The drawbacks of Volleyball • One thing I noticed about gym time this week is that Volleyball really doesn’t lend itself to a class of our size. The half the kids had to sit and watch from the bench for half the lesson, which I wonder if it has to be that way in gym? When I volunteered in a school in the Rutland area, the teacher made a big point of using only games and activities in which all of the students were active. I wonder if this is a realistic goal in gym? Is this the point of gym? To teach skills or get exercise? Fun dance - can a teacher be fun? • The kids were doing some dances they had created during lunchtime. I thought it’d be fun to show them one of my favourite dances from my time in camps. It’s a dance called Jump on it and it’s taken from the show Fresh Prince of Bel Air. What makes this dance so funny is that you do a serious face for one part and a totally happy face for another. It’s a fairly silly dance that I loved to do in summer camps and totally changed the atmosphere of the camps to more lighthearted places. However, I couldn’t help but wonder as I was dancing whether it was something a teacher can do? Does a teacher have to maintain a serious image at all times? Can they be fun or does this reflect poorly on them? I’ve found that in the past, being fun and sometimes silly was one of the best ways to connect with kids in camps, school age care and wherever I may be as the kids feed off your enthusiasm. However, this is school, and for the most part, I notice the teachers have a serious face around the students most of the time. But yet, it was evident that after that fun time, several kids were way more connected with me. One boy


who talks with me sparingly has suddenly become very friendly, constantly wanting to talk and ask me questions. Another girl, who would only respond whenever I talked with her has been very chatty ever since. Maybe I should rephrase my question? Maybe I should ask “Can a teacher be enthusiastic?� After all, that is my biggest strength. I need to find out how to best use it as a teacher.


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