Student teaching, here we come

February 20th, 2011 | Uncategorized | No comments

I went into my placement on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and then I went to observe Holly down in Newport News on Thursday. Tuesday was a really fun day because my Anatomy section was giving presentations on research projects that they had been doing. They each had to research a different disease and make a posterboard (like a science fair project) on their given disease, and then give a 10 minute presentation to part of the class. The class was split up into 3 different groups (similar to how we did our final presentations in EDUC F11 this summer with McEachron) and each group took turns presenting. I really enjoyed walking around and listening to each presentation, especially since they had gone into more depth about some of the diseases than I knew, so I was actually learning some new stuff as well.

The biology classes have been quite boring lately. My CT has had the students do so many genetic crosses in the past week that I’m surprised my students haven’t rebelled yet. However, it has been better for me since I get to walk around and help the students who are struggling with it rather than just hang out and observe. Furthermore, it’s also been good because I’ve been having more interactions with the students than I was before, so transitioning into student teaching should be easier now.

Lastly, I’ve gotten my first 2 weeks of lessons turned in to my CT and we’ve gone over them together, so now I’m working on revamping those as well as making all the notes and PPT slides up for those lessons. It’s just starting to hit me that I’m taking over this week. I’m getting nervous:(


February 12th, 2011 | Uncategorized | No comments

Another week down. I did the second half of my microteaching on Monday, and then went in the next day for the anatomy sections’ eye dissections, which was a lot of fun. My microteaching went fairly well, but even after the second run through there were some changes I would still want to make. The first time through, I started by putting up some optical illusions on the board and had the students stand up based on what they saw in the optical illusion (as my engagement). Then, for the exploration, I had the students stand up all in the middle row and had them raise their hand when they could see me out of the corner of their eyes (I walked from side to side). Then, I had them raise both hands when they could not only see me, but they could actually tell that it was me. This didn’t work out too well, since most of the students cheated and didn’t keep their heads perfectly straight. Next I went into the explanation and went over notes on vision. On day 1, I really liked my notes and thought that they went well, but I put a little too much into them, so they took a little longer than I thought they would. Furthermore, I always forget that high schoolers do not enjoy just “summarizing” the notes and always right everything verbatim off the the board, so slides that I thought would just take 30 seconds actually took 2-3 minutes. This killed my activity, being a “science circus” on vision.

My activity consisted of 5 stations. One station was my “technology” aspect of the lesson in which I had students on the laptops doing a digital dissection of a cow’s eye. This served a great relative purpose because the next day they would be dissecting their own eyes, and this video showed step-by-step on how to do that. The last dissection they did was a heart, and the students simply cut it open and then wanted to be done since they had no idea what to do with it. By showing them the video and having them summarize the dissection, the students learned that dissections are more than just taking a scalpel and cutting. There is a point to every cut. After finishing the video, there were 2 other “technology” parts to the station. One of them was the Pearson Anatomy Lab that I did my technology presentation on, which allowed them to look at the eye and then take a quiz on the certain parts, and then the other part was a PHET simulation on “color vision,” showing how different wavelengths of light combine to make different colors in our brain.

I had half of the class on computers, and the other half was switching between the 4 other stations I had set up. Station 1 dealt with the focal length of the eye. The lens in your eye is simply a biconvex lens, just like any magnifying glass you can find at the dollar store. It works by converging the light rays that enter your eye so that they focus on the retina. I had the students take a few magnifying glasses, and given some information (like the thin lens equation) along with instructions, they were to find the focal length of the magnifying glass. The next station I had a Snellen Chart set up (the chart with the big E at the top used to test vision) and I had the students test their own vision. Also at that station, I had made some “disease glasses” (sunglasses with white out on them) to simulate what people would see if they had cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy. They were then to find how their vision changed with the glasses on. Then next station tested peripheral vision using a “vision hat”. One of the students was to put on the hat which was marked along the brim, and had an arrow attached that rotated with the brim. Another student then took an index card with a letter written on it and rotated it around the students’ head. The student spoke up when he or she could first see that there was a letter on it, and then again when he or she could read the letter. The students then measured where they could see it via the numbers on the vision hat and marked it down. The last station had some more optical illusions, which the students were to see how many they could figure out. Each station also had discussion questions regarding the activity.

Not only was this my technology-enhanced lesson, it was also my differentiated lesson. I had met with my CT ahead of time and she gave me rankings of all the students in these classes. On the first day, I made the groups homogenously, putting all the smartest kids together in groups, and the next day I split them up and mixed the groups. What I found is that the students who may have been the smartest academically were not necessarily the best at unpacking the station. For instance, the focal length station required the students to play around with the light and the lens, but the smartest groups simply stood there and read the hand-out over and over trying to figure out what was going on. The “weaker” groups picked up and materials and started to mess around with them, which ultimately led to more success. The “mixed” groups didn’t have this problem and worked out better since they had the smarter kids to try and figure out the worksheet plus the “weaker” students to mess with the materials.

The first day through, I spent too much time on the notes, so the students didn’t get to all of the stations. Furthermore, I did not take into account the time it would take to get the laptops up and running. The second day, I went through the notes much faster, and made a few cut back on them, but that just frustrated the students who didn’t have time to write every little thing down (even though I told them the notes would be on edline, apparently they don’t like to have to check online). Also on the second day, I got my CT to start the laptops while I was going over notes, so that they would already be up and running. This allowed me to have every student get through every station. However, the students still wanted more time at each station, and they did feel rushed. If I were to teach this lesson again, I would definitely split it up over 2 days.

I’m so glad this week is over…

February 4th, 2011 | Uncategorized | No comments

I went in EVERY DAY this week, which is a great preview for student teaching. I was actually fairly pleased and received a compliment from my CT because she said she thinks I’m fully ready for student teaching. Last year she said she wouldn’t have let her student teacher start right away and wouldn’t have even considered leaving him alone with the class, but she thinks I’m ready for teaching right away and I’ll be starting right away on the 23rd. I did a good amount of observing this week, and my CT has started to show me the smaller aspects of her classroom and how to work all the technology and pretty much every aspect of the classroom that I’ll need when I first start. I did my microteaching today, (and also this coming Monday), which was quite exciting, but I’ll be reflecting more on that on Monday after doing the second lesson to see how things worked out.

This week was pretty standard for my CT, especially since I taught today instead of her. But I did want to mention what she did yesterday with her A&P students, which I thought was a really fun lesson. She was teaching on taste and smell, which most people do not realize are very closely related. Her lesson consisted pairing up the students and having them taste jelly beans, once with their noses plugged (with their hands) and once without them plugged. The students were AMAZED at how much better they did guessing which flavor jelly bean they were tasting with their noses unplugged than how they did with their noses closed. They had ZERO idea about how much smell influences taste.¬† I thoroughly enjoyed watching this lesson, because this is something that I pretty much thought was common sense. Thinking forward to job interviews, I know potential employers will ask me what I believe my potential strengths and weaknesses are, which I’ll have the same answer for: my content knowledge. I know that it is imperative to have a strong content knowledge to effectively teach any science at the high school level, but at the same time, I’ll start lecturing and won’t emphasize things that are imperative to student learning because I’ll think that it is common sense, even though many things won’t actually be. For instance, today in my microteaching a student asked me what the colored part of the eye is, and I simply answered “the iris”. However, Dr. Matkins pointed out that I should’ve repeated her question to the entire class and then answered, rather than just simply telling her the answer to her question. To me, knowing that the iris is the colored part of the eye is common sense, but to them, it is absolutely NOT common sense. This is something I need to work on.

I’m looking forward to finishing up my “science circus” on Monday with all of my corrections. I hope you guys will actually read what I have to say, because it should be quite an interesting reflection. Have a great weekend!

Back to reality…

January 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized | No comments

I went in this week and was able to set some dates for upcoming assignments with my CT. Since York was taking exams this week, I was only there on Monday, but I did get to help administer the 2AB exam that day. It was quite interesting. My CT asked me just to keep an eye on them and answer questions when they had them. I did my best to answer any questions they had without giving away the answer, which was tough sometimes. Also, my CT said they use a program at the school to make up the test. She said that whenever I’m there full-time I’ll be able to use it as well, but I’m not so sure that I want to. Some of the questions were not phrased very well at all, and I wasn’t even sure of the answer for a couple of them because they were so terribly phrased. Furthermore, some of the questions on the “scientific method” definitely could’ve had more than one answer, so helping them with those questions was quite difficult. This day really made me look forward to Dr. Gareis’ class to see more about how to properly assess the students and help with writing tests.

Last reflection of the semester!!

December 10th, 2010 | Uncategorized | No comments

It’s been fun guys, but let’s face it. It’s time for a break:) I went in to school yesterday, and it was a very interesting day. It was a B day, so I had 1st period Biology, 2nd period Biology, and 3rd period Anatomy. 1st and 2nd period used the PRS system called “Qwizdom” to review for an upcoming test, and they also reviewed by copying notes onto their “unit folders” which will be turned in for a grade and returned to them later on in the year before the SOL as a review. If you read my blog last week, recall that I was bothered by my CT’s misspelling of the word “received”. I had a similar experience this week. When talking about the term nondisjunction, she wrote on the board “occurs when chromosomes¬† fail to seperate” and “results in to few chromosomes in a cell or to many chromosomes in a cell.” I know this is silly to be reflecting about, but I was hoping for some feedback from someone. Would you say something to your CT’s about these misspellings? Furthermore, in the review game, one of the questions she had made was referring to the surface area to volume ratio of cells. The question was “if a box is 4x4x4, what is the surface area?” Recall that surface area is the area of one of the sides multiplied by the number of sides, so the answer should be 96 cm^2, but she had the answer listed as 16 cm^2. When one of the students said “but Mrs. Ellis, it’s a box, not a square,” my CT said that that didn’t matter and the answer is the length times the width. I didn’t want to make her lose control of the class or call her out for teaching something wrong, so I kept my mouth shut, but now I kinda wish I would have said something to help out the students. What would you guys have done in my situation?

Anatomy was much more fun, and was the reason I went in on Thursday this week. They did a heart dissection (not sure what kind of heart though, I probably should’ve asked). I was quite surprised with how my CT ran the dissection though. My CT is usually very big on keeping everything very structured, but with the dissection she just had the students get in groups, get a heart, cut it open, and point out about 8 different structures. Most of the students seemed to get bored with it really quickly since they weren’t sure what they were looking at and they didn’t have any motivation to figure it out since it wasn’t for a grade. It resulted in one or two students in each group playing with the heart for about 10 minutes while the others just sat and talked. I’m glad I got to see this because I’ll be leading a cat dissection while I’m student teaching. I’m thinking that I’m going to structure it like my college anatomy classes were structured. I’ll have step-by-step instructions for the students, letting them know what and where to cut, and what structures are to be identified at each point. I’ll also have some sort of worksheet that they fill out so that I know they are actually doing the dissection and aren’t just poking around the cat.

It’s already December? Seriously?

December 3rd, 2010 | Uncategorized | No comments

I went in on Monday and Tuesday of this week, but most of my reflecting was done in the activity and demonstration posts (the previous two). I am, however, very proud of myself for one thing though. After turning in the “technology-based” lesson plan for our technology class, I did think it was a good idea to have a back-up plan for when I was teaching this week, and sure enough the computer system was down on Monday. I had printed out everything that I needed and made enough copies for everybody, so instead of using PowerPoint to give notes, I drew my notes on the board! I was very happy that I did print everything out so that I knew exactly what to lecture on and exactly what to draw to teach mitosis to the students.

Secondly, I did observe one of my CT’s anatomy sections. She was teaching the students about blood type and which blood types can be donated to which others and all the genetics that go along with blood typing. One thing that got on my nerves though was that my CT misspelled the word “received” as “recieved” on the board, 4 times!!! I know we’re going to be science teachers, but does that mean that we can’t use correct spelling? I wasn’t sure if I should say anything to her or not, and none of the students said anything (I hope they noticed as well and didn’t copy down the wrong spelling). Would that have bothered anybody else? If so, would you guys have said anything?