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Prospective teacher teaching in Fifth Grade today. So on my last day on campus, I'm off to visit Third Grade.

This class has had 4 teachers in a VERY short amount of time. This class is VERY CHOLERIC. Many of the children have VERY firm opinions about HOW THINGS SHOULD BE DONE. And were not shy about letting the teacher know it. Teacher mostly maintained her calm and composure, but it's clear that the class at this point in the school year has worn her down. I'm betting she's glad she's got a 10 day break coming up.

Many students (read over half) couldn't keep still. Chairs leaning back, rocking on chairs, desks leaning forward and brought back. Fiddling with objects. Another good portion could not get their heads off the desk. If requested to stand, they leaned. If requested to sit, their head went to the desktop. Wow. 

It took a lot of directions and physical instruction to get them to move. First thing after a quick greeting outside the class went out and did farm chores. I accompanied the group that went out to the large animals in the back forty. Another parent helper attempted to get them to comply to instructions. The students basically ignored her and did what they chose. I stepped in with TEACHER voice and got compliance. Reluctant and surly, but compliance.

After the farm/garden chores, we returned to the classroom. We shook hands, and I asked each child to introduce himself. Teacher got the class seated and gave me a chair in the back to observe. This class has a WIDE and I mean VAST breadth in abilities. First activity, mental math. If they got their problem they were to pull out their journals and write on the day's topic. I was really impressed how Teacher met the students where they were in math. Some of the more advanced students got multiple process mental math with BIG numbers (read: hundreds and thousands). The not so advanced got simpler, one process, basic multiplication problems.

Next activity after Journaling was the "World of Words" utilizing a bean bag (first time I've seen this in action with children). Participation in the World of words took coaxing from some of the children and the suppression of others (i.e. the ones in the back going "O! O! Pick me! Pick me!") Material today was common and proper nouns. Teacher says a word and tosses a bean bag to get a student to identify the spoken word as either common or proper. Teacher threw in some tricky ones to throw the students off. For example, she threw bag at one student and word was "Rhino". Student who caught the bag said proper. Students in class yelled out "common", what they thought was the correct answer. Turns out the class was wrong.  Teacher knew that the student holding the bag had a pet at home whose name is Rhino. This got a LOT of laughs. 

I got a chance to chat with Teacher during recess. According to her 14 of the 17 need Extra Lesson. In addition, many need more than that. I found out that many in the class are youngest child which explains why some of them are so advanced. They've heard this material at home with older siblings. Most of her focus is still on social skills. How to behave. How to speak to adults. How to speak to each other. How to be kind.  She related that at the beginning of the year they were downright cruel to each other.  They have improved greatly, of which she is very proud of them. But she figures it will take most of their elementary time to "normalize" (My phrase not hers) Academically, she is meeting them where they are at (Oh and it shows. She has a masterful way of bringing everyone into the conversation. Making it comprehensible for the ones who already know the material and those who just aren't getting it.) A Trained Tutor works with many in the class. (Who also happens to be a Fifth Grade parent and the one with the new van.)

Teacher is also very choleric and mentioned that all she does is teach. She has no time nor energy for anything else. After only 2 hours of observation, I can see why.

Wish I could have spent more time in this class, but childcare arrangements demanded otherwise.
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Thursday

Short day today. Morning Lesson focused on finishing up state reports. I stayed in at recess with a student to recreate his draft of the 3rd paragraph. Lucky for him, Mrs. R kept his note page so it was quick to recreate. He even got started on the final copy.

Eurythmy class. So fun to watch. They played games, I got to make further observations on my two students. Today was also the last day for the Eurythmy block. The school can't quite afford a full time Eurythmist, so they compromise by having a ten-week Eurythmy block in the Spring. That way the children still receive some exposure, while the school economizes.

I then had the afternoon to myself. Usually there would be an afternoon long Faculty meeting, but tonight is Spring Assembly. All the Grades have prepared something to perform for the parents. The faculty meeting is canceled in order to prepare for that. 

I attended Spring Assembly. The night was straight out of my memories of grade school night assembiles, kids on floor, excited as all get out.  Parent's excited to see their children shine.The littles are just too cute. The middles are a bit awkward and the olders suffer through the night. A good night and lots of good things to see.

The day ends up being a bit bittersweet. It was my last day as part of the Fifth Grade and I find myself EXTREMELY disappointed to not be returning after Easter Break. It is so easy to become attached to a class and want to continue to work with them. I've enjoyed my time and makes me long for a class of my own. (Gack. I sound like I did when I wanted a baby! Maybe it's something similar...knowing there's something that's missing, and wanting it.) But...it's been good. I have learned so much. I am so glad I jumped through all these hoops to get it done! I'm very much looking forward to returning next year!

Plant update


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 Too tired for real entry: bullet points

Visit to Camphill (awesome place...lucky we have one here on the west coast. need more)
Eurythmy performance (not bad for only practicing 3 times)
Driving in car with Ms R and 2 children (you get some real interesting insight into the children you are working with when you spend time in a place where they can't get away)
Missing recess due to field trip
Extra long only grade 5 recess (no choir later, so rather than do spelling, play, skip rope, learn new unicycle tricks, finish the whole "Teddy bear, teddy bear turn around" jump rope poem. (quite long) (the three girls managed to last the entire poem)
Drool at brand spankin' new 2013 Sienna. (Field Trip Chaperone)
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Today was a slow day. A relaxing day. And a fly by the seat of the pants day.

Normal Flag ceremony. We had to sing the third verse again because we forgot to sing the new chorus. Then moved to the deck to do a early-rehearsal for tomorrow's Eurythmy performance. Fifth Grades' been practicing it for months. But, we have a new wrinkle. One of the children lost a Grandfather last week, the memorial service is tomorrow,  and thus will not be joining us for the performance. I've been asked to fill in. I've done Eurythmy with them 3 times. The piece is fairly simple, I originally was going to take a boys part, but it threw everyone off sufficiently that the Eurythmy teacher and I switched places, so I have the easier role. Run through that twice and it seemed to work. Run up the hill to the classroom, practice the piece for Spring assembly. Grab chairs and run down the hill for 6th grade play (The Day Julius Caesar Died. Not bad...everyone needed to slow down and speak up!) watch play. Grab chairs and run up to classroom. Notice we have 30 minutes to kill. Okay, we have time for silent work! I handed out my corrected dictations to everyone, handed the student absent yesterday a hard copy and everyone has a big pile of drafts in their binders, pick one and work on a final draft. One bright student noticed a mistake that I made in the dictation (off his own copy no less) and I announced it to the room, so they could correct their copies. Silent work time is a time of observation (for me) and just general helping. Some had questions, some needed guidence, most just got to work. Then snack, recess, and meeting time

Upper grades meeting. This was a really interesting one. The school is going through accreditation renewal and a couple of representatives of the accreditation association sat in on this meeting. One representative was from a Waldorf School and one from a mainstream school. They had a LOT of very interesting, thoughtful questions to ask. I just sat, listened and absorbed. What was fascinating was watching realizations come over the faces of "my school's" teachers as they answered questions. So I'm getting the impression that even though accreditation is a huge PAIN, it brings out good things.

Then Ms. R and I had a one on one meeting. Topics of discussion: How to we get parents to realize early enough that our recommendations for evaluation are REALLY important! (i.e. before they cascade to a point that we can no longer help and the child either leaves or is asked to leave), why in the heck is Waldorf Education "Educations best kept secret" and what can be done about it. How hard it is to get office people who know what's going on so they know how to help. Outreach, capitalizing on our resources (you know, like the huge, major, world class university literally right behind us!) Good conversation! Lots of ideas. Lots of energy. She checked to make sure that I was crossing all my I's and dotting my T's and if I needed anything from her. 

All in all, a good day! I went home very happy!
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 Monday, today is a short day...but a BUSY one.

After 30 minutes of jump rope jumping we headed back up the hill. I was attacked by an extreme case of nervous bladder and ran ahead of the class and took care of the problem. And still managed to beat them to lining up. I shook hands with everyone and we all went inside. Ms. R got the class settled and then told the class that I was going to run the rest of the morning lesson and let me loose.

Review: I decided (with Ms. R's approval) to pull the last three weeks of discussions into a review. Basic topic, what can we say about the geography, history, and culture of the Southern US? In some cases it was pulling teeth. Some students were forthcoming with information, I asked others to elaborate or speculate on something their classmate just said, some I specifically asked questions. Some were not willing to enter the conversation and I targeted them specifically. For instance, when talking about the crops the South is known for I asked the student who's been studying Florida if he could tell that class what crop does most Americans drink each morning for breakfast. The light over his head went off and he answered "Orange juice!" I then asked him to share with the class the fun fact that we discovered about orange juice and "that other juice" He remembered and looked quite proud of himself afterwards. Unfortunately his head went back to the table. I was torn because I wanted to pull him into the conversation, but I knew that he had already had what seemed an emotional morning and that his head on the desk was his withdrawing to recompose himself. I decided that for now it had been enough. Although he did respond when I directly prompted him later in the discussion of culture.

What was hard was drawing them out. Most seemed uninterested in the conversation. Heads on desks, fussing with fingernails, staring off into space. I tried to utilize the map to prompt questions and comments. But honestly the conversation felt...well...dead. There were a few high points...which was nice....but I'm thinking I should have done something more active for them to do for the recall. Maybe I was expecting too much for a discussion. I keep forgetting that not everyone has my memory. 

Do: Dictation. I've not seen a dictation before. I've never done a dictation before. I needed prompting from Mrs. R on this. I wrote a draft last week and sent it to her for approval over the weekend. Ms. R gave me a thumbs up, so off we went. Paper for everyone (lined paper for a draft). I didn't shy away from big words in my paragraph, and I expected to be spending time with spelling. I told them to ask if they needed help spelling something.  First, I read the paragraph. Then started with the first sentence, breaking it into two parts. It took me awhile to figure out that I was going to fast. I started walking between the desks and looking at where the students were. Some kept up just fine (and their drafts are covered in doodles), and others needed more time. So I kept slowing down considerably. I'd read a whole sentence and then break it up for them to write down.

When someone asked how to spell something I did it at the board, asking them to try first, prompting the next sound or saying "not that sound...this sound", trying a different pronouciation to prompt an idea (i.e. fur-tle vs. fir-tile (Long I)), if they got stuck, I asked if anyone else had an idea. They did quite well. And the ones who aren't the greatest spellers seemed to be okay with the way I went over that. 

The dictation took about as much time as I though it would, but even then I ended up being done 5 minutes before I had planned.

Then Ms. R jumped in to help with the silly state song and that filled in the 5 minutes! Yes! (I had all but the last verse memorized, it's really a cute song and I've had it stuck in my head all week)

New: History of Washington DC.
You know something? It's EASY to tell a fairy tell in a way that's exciting and fun. I'm struggling with history. Which is SAD because I LOVE history!!! On top of it, my undergraduate degree is in history. Maybe it's because I didn't find the history of the city as fascinating as other things. I found some aspects of it different, and new, and wait? Really? Honestly? But the history of a city seems to be one of those things that tends to break down to the most boring aspect of history. Names, places, dates. Blech. Yuck...how boring! But I did find several pictures of the city's history that either was interesting or touching. The children got quite quiet and grave when I described the "I have a dream" speech. I told them I would not repeat it, because I could not do it justice. I'm thinking maybe now, I should have tried. But I think I touched them with the image of 250,000 people, gathering for the demand of equal rights of all, man or woman, black or white. With the dream that we would all receive equal treatment of both the letter and the spirit of the law. 

I finished up about 10 minutes short. Which actually worked out because I brought my Washington DC scrapbook. I made a week long trip there in January 1989 as a field trip and showed them some of the pictures, explained some of the things I saw, and showed them some of the souveners. I then left the book for them to peruse the rest of the day as I leave right after recess on Mondays. 

I think it went well, and I think the bit at the end when I talked about my experience REALLY got their attention. Lots of questions and LOTS of energy. While I was talking...they were quiet. A few questions and comments, but it seemed they were zoned. So there was a big contrast in the two sections of the discussion. Now to figure out how to get that connection and excitement during the story part. 

Cool thing! I've got homework to correct! Woot! I know this excitement won't last, but it really makes me feel like a teacher!

Plant Update!

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We had a truncated morning lesson today. We joined in a craft project with the 6th grade. We made cards and pins for the local police department for St. Patrick's day. I got the job of working the hot glue gun.  Very little interaction with the students, they were busy with this project and the class teachers and parent volunteer were working discipline. Although I did get to chat a bit with the students near me, (including an inquisitive 6th grader who asked all sorts of generic questions of me. Am I a student teacher, how long would I be here, do I live locally, do I have kids, etc, etc). Basically, they worked independently for the half morning the 5th graders had for morning lesson. Then a switch to their classroom for the Fifth Graders to take Spanish.

Ms. R and I left and went down to the faculty lounge. I made a quick call for clarification to PWE. (Glad I did! I did not know the existence of the Rubric! Makes me EXTREMELY glad I've been journaling daily out of my own need. I'd be in a world of hurt if I just saw that rubric today!) Then we had a discussion.

One of the things that I have really appreciated about this internship is that it has removed some of the veils I placed on Waldorf Education before now. When we come to Waldorf as parents we are in awe of these wise, knowledgeable teachers who know all this woo woo stuff that's hard to understand and contrary to normal society but rings true in our hearts. When I started I still fell into the belief that the Art of Teaching was the art on the walls, chalkboards, and the materials the children used. Now I am beginning to understand the Art is the weaving of the social sphere. It's not just the teaching the children to do things (although I know, Astrid keeps telling us, we don't teach them things, we teach them capacities), it's teaching them to get along and become better people through the teaching of the things. I've also made the realization that teachers are still PEOPLE. Messy, hurt, confused people who are muddling through as best as they can...just as I am. That made me feel so much better. The teachers have been allowed to step down from the pedestal I put them on.  I thought my brokenness was an oddity. But now I see, it makes me one of the gang. We are all working through our issues. We are helping children do the same whether we really know what the hell we are supposed to be doing or not. It's like parenting. I can only do my best, and pray that it's enough. And hope to God that they realize someday that I was trying my best and forgive me my mistakes. 'cause I know I'm going to make them and probably make a lot of them. But even knowing that, gives me the impetus, to keep going, keep striving, to be that broken adult and get up every day and do my best.

The other realization I came upon this week that is ringing true in my heart. The whole Grail Stream vs. The Arthurian Stream. Brian explained that the journey of the Grail knight is the solitary journey. It is the striving of the individual to grow. The Arthurian Knight is one of the group, striving together to bring an impulse out. Homeschooling is definitely the stream of the Grail. It is the parent working alone, sometimes in a unsupportive environment to master oneself and grow. Being a member of the faculty is stream of the Round Table. A group of people (hopefully!) working together to bring the impulse out into the community. I am not a Grail Knight. The solitary journey is too isolating for me. I die a little each day, and my work suffers. I work better as a Knight of the Round Table. The companionship and support from my comrades who are all striving for the same thing gives me the energy to keep striving. This was a comforting realization that I am on the right path. Even though I'm exhausted, even though I'm tired...I am energized the moment I step onto that campus. It's not something I feel at home. And I am glad that I know this, truly know this now. It's made it all worth it. Now the challenge is to not be crabby at my children once I'm off campus! Knowing that is good too. As is knowing that I have a truly loving and supportive husband, because by the time he gets home, I've got nothing left for him. I collapse in bed once he's home. I miss him. He misses me. This is not sustainable in the long run...I'll have to find balance.

Mrs. R and I also talked about Monday. I said I'd love to take over AFTER we come inside. I'm not sure how to run the whole jump roping thing as I've been focused too much on swinging my own ropes and observing individual children. And frankly haven't been paying too much attention to what Mrs. R's been doing with her rope. (My Chiropractor is truly impressed with how hurt and tender my shoulders are. Note to self. Swinging double dutch ropes daily for 20-30 minutes wrecks havoc on repetitive strain injuries. Ow.) But I'm fairly confident about everything else afterwards. We discussed my ideas on the review, I promised I'd get the next draft of the dictation to her tomorrow. I think it will be a good way to cap my week as we have a normal day on Tuesday, and then a field trip on Wednesday and Thursday will be my last day in their classroom. Friday there is a demo teach for a prospective teacher and it's not appropriate for me to be there, so I will be observing the Third Grade that morning. Which should be fun! The teacher is a long time, master teacher and I'm looking forward to seeing how that class is run.

I also got some advice on how to fix my picture. I think it looks MUCH better!



Turns out if you want it to be spooky...you've got to make everything dark. Go figure.

And a quick picture for the plant lovers.



It's over the roof! My goodness! How much bigger will it get? Mrs. R hopes that the flowers bloom soon. Break starts next Friday and we don't want to miss the show. This thing is going to look VERY impressive once it blooms.
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I didn't go in today, I am really sick with this cold. I'm being visited by Sniffly, Sneezy, and Coughy...my least favorite dwarves. I'm also feverish, so I stayed home. I would like to say that I got more sleep, but was up with another anxiety attack and then Gray woke up early. Thanks son.

Even though I'm not at school today, I still wanted to write an entry as I am pondering somethings and I think its good to write it down for processing.

I don't think I'm doing as good a job as I am able. I feel like I'm leaving everything to the last minute and it's showing. My kneejerk reaction is to blame the whole problem on the situation. "If I were the one creating the lesson plans, I'd have been familiar with this material months ago. Then I wouldn't be scrambling to learn something cold and quickly and present it well. I'd just have to be reviewing what I already know and I'd walk into that classroom more prepared than I am able to do so right now."

Can I mention my inner bullshit meter is going off? Very loudly? Yea. Piercing, let met tell you.

The truth of the matter is, I'm not doing the best I could. I'm feeling SO overwhelmed right now it's not funny. I'm trying to be a good wife, mother, student, friend, and teacher...and I don't feel like I'm doing any of it with any modicum of success. That feeling of always being behind with EVERYTHING (or probably more accurately the perception of being behind with everything) is just killing me. I can't figure out where to focus on any moment to get any of it done, forget getting all of it done. I think I now understand the phenomon of Waldorf Orphans. Your kids are your kids, they'll love you forever, but the children in your class? You only have them for a short time and messing up there, means messing up someone else's kid. No pressure. Your kids clothes can wait, go through the drive through, there's a classroom of kids depending on you to NOT MESS UP. How is this living balanced?

Do mainstream teachers think of this? Or are they just enured to the situation and just do their best. 

Is my best good enough? Am I good enough? I don't know.

I'm having anxiety attacks at night wondering about this. I want this beautiful world not only for my children, but myself. But I'm struggling to see how in the world I'm going to manage pulling it all off. The situation seems futile. I know I have a lot to give to a school, but it just seems that because of my landlocked situation, I'm going to have a real hard time trying to find a school I can get to that will take a chance on me...and if I can't find that...then I can't give my children this world either. And that just really, Really, REALLY frustrates me. It's almost a feeling of "keep away" I'm being teased with this beautiful, supportative world, but I'm not allowed to enter it. I can merely stand at the door and watch the spectacle. But forever outside. Never a participant.

And it sucks.
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I did not want to get up this morning. I am suffering with the cold that the rest of my family is dealing with. However, some ibuprofen and caffeine perked me up enough that I feel almost human.

Last night I think I truly found the true gem of letting something sleep could be. I was assigned by Mrs. R to teach a John Henry song to the 5th grade. I looked up several different lyrics earlier in the week. Found out that several people have recorded versions including Harry Belafonte and Johnny Cash (For an after school special no less. It was a music video showing a steam drill and a John Henry whuppin' steel)  and found one I liked. I confirmed that I should only be teaching 3-4 verses instead of the hundreds I found. And I've been struggling to memorize it all week. First, I couldn't keep my younger daughter from singing with me (she LOVES to sing) and finally last night I said "G. I have to teach this tomorrow, I need to sing by myself so I don't mess up" so she finally quit. Second, it just wasn't seeming to stick. So the night before I laid out the copy of the lyrics and kept singing it over and over while cooking. If I got stuck I just glanced over and figured it out.  But by the time I went to bed I was still struggling to remember it. I went to sleep and it was in my head this morning, darn near perfect! Woot! So I need to remember in the future that letting it sleep also works on me.

I'm frustrated with my preparation for what I'm supposed to teach. I am so currently overwhelmed by life, so far it feels like I'm leaving it to the last minute and I feel unprepared to present it. Maybe its nerves. Maybe I'm not truly giving myself enough time to prepare sufficiently. I must consider this more. Needless to say I'm already working on Harriet Tubman for next week. I found this poem about her that I want to bring to the class. I'll look and sound stupid as it has this cool Rap cadence, but I like it. I think it's really all that matters. I've been reading about her daily and found she's done more interesting things than just being a conductor on the underground railroad. She was the first woman to ever lead a raid in the US Army. Go girl!  Then after the Civil War she worked on Woman's suffrage. Now comes the process of weeding down what I know to a fairly quick (15-20 minute) presentation.

There was no jump roping today! Yea for my shoulders! Thursday is the weird day consisting of half of a morning lesson and then strings. Ms. R has a meeting, so I'm currently down in the office in the middle of this brain dump.

The class worked on their presentation for the Spring Assembly, all four verses of the Star Spangled Banner. There's four verses? I didn't know that. They sing well, but need to work on singing together as a group, some were "calling it in by phone" and some were belting it out and carrying the group. But their sound carried pretty far in the Redwood Grove. Sounded pretty.

Then up the hill and inside, where I taught them the four verses of John Henry I picked out. I sang the whole thing for them, and then we worked on it two lines at a time. I had them stand up, and stand straight up and told them why, that when we stand straight up we have full access to our lungs so we can enunciate clearly and sing loudly enough for that 80 year old grandma with the hearing aids in the back row who is struggling to hear them. I sang it. I remembered the words. Then I taught it to them. And that's where I started flubbing. I'm still learning how to show the students how high and low they should be singing with my hands. It's a LOT harder than it looks. I also discovered when breaking each verse into two, I got lost in the words of the verse and in the melody. Note to self: next time, practice singing the song the way you are going to teach it as well as how it should sound all together. That will reduce the likelihood of messing it up.

Other than that, day is going. I just realized I forgot my Eurythmy shoes...darn it. But it will be fun nonetheless.
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Tuesday.

More jump roping. OUCH. Several children decided to goof off while twirling the ropes with me and one chose to actively not listen. I so wanted to bonk this child one, but I didn't think it was a good idea. So, instead I walked over, looked him in the eye and said "You are hurting me by not working with me. Please do your part" But no. He didn't want to cooperate, so Ms. R called him over to her jump rope and another student took over. I thanked my new partner for stepping up.

Seat work. Several times a week, Ms. R leaves a half page worksheet for the class to work on while she is greeting everyone into the classroom.  Today's sheets are phonics sheets and focus on one sound per page. 3-5 minutes.

I made a massive flub today. I forgot to bring in one of Tecumseh's speeches to read to the children, like Ms. R asked me. I managed to pull out one of the shorter ones that show''s off his clever use of language, but I totally blew it. I COMPLETELY forgot she asked me to do that. I felt awful. She said "No worries." We all forget to do things.

The work focus today is a continuation from yesterday. The children received their note taking sheets that they completed yesterday back from Ms. R. and she instructed them to start the draft of their first paragraph. I focused my time by helping a student do this. This child is....um....slow to get started, and gets distracted easily, but isn't disruptive about it. The problem is that no work gets done! He's very bright and articulate though, he seems capable of the work, just not in a classroom setting. I helped him transform his notes into a draft like I had with his introductory paragraph last week. As we'd talk about how to transform the notes into full sentences, I'd make suggestions, he'd consider what I said, and then come up with his preferred statement, which I wrote down for him. We were able to get through the entire draft by the end of the work time. In addition, by that point he came up with his fourth question and answer (which were blank on the notetaking sheet) on his own and we got worked into the paragraph nicely.

We heard the story of John Henry today, a factual story, rather than fable. This was new to me. Previously I've only been familiar with the fable that I've told Second Graders. Yea for new stuff!  I'm teaching them several verses of the song later in the week (Did you know Johnny Cash recorded one? I didn't!) . I started drawing a picture today of John Henry. I've got it sketched out, and am starting to fill in, but I need more chalk colors than the ones available. I'll be bringing a few pieces of chalk from my collection at home. I've got a good start on the picture...but I think it still looks pretty sad. I just keep telling myself. I am learning to draw. I am drawing better each time I do so. Thankfully, though, the children don't laugh at my efforts.

It is supposed to rain tomorrow. I've offered to bring in a train themed game for the children to play. Since John Henry is about train track system building, it made sense to me to bring in a game that helps point out just what a pain it was for all these men to build it for real. I love playing games and especially enjoy inflicting new ones that I adore onto new people.

I am also currently memorizing the John Henry song, and Harriet Tubman poem I saw another fifth grade class memorize in a video.

Start of sketch of John Henry



And the first fill in.


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Another cold and windy morning saw us outside jump roping. The nice thing about it, is that it warms us all up. No need to complain about the cold anymore. However, my shoulders with the repetitive strain injury are killing me. I am not liking this AT ALL. I wonder if they will get used to it, or if it will continue to be a royal pain the shoulders.

At the start of Morning Lesson, Ms. R introduced the paragraph note taking form for the second paragraph, the topic is geography. Three required questions on the form are:
1. What does the landscape of the state look like?
2. What are the major water features, cities and natural areas?
3. What is the climate? How does the weather affect the people of this state?
Ms. R also left an open space for a 4th question or other ideas for interesting tidbits the children find in their research. The students are given state books borrowed from the library and encouraged to go through the Table of Contents to find the section of the book that will help them answer those questions. Ms. R also encouraged children to write fragments (my words not hers) in the provided notes section.  She told the children that just notes, a couple of words are enough, that full sentences not needed. Sentences could be developed later from their notes. The form also included a space for a summary/final sentence for the paragraph, and space for 2 vocabulary words.

Next up, the story. SHOW TIME, no pressure (ack!).

During our first meeting Ms. R asked me to prepare a 15-20 minute story of Tecumseh. Now I have to admit, I was a bit dismayed about this...I had read a quick kids version of the story in preparation for this block, but other than that, I did not know ANYTHING  about this person's biography. So I had to do quite a bit of studying up. Telling a History story to a roomful of Fifth Graders is quite a bit more daunting that telling a Fairy Tale to a bunch of First Graders Oh dear. See, if you mess up the Fairy Tale...you can just keep going and work with the mistake. Make a mistake about telling History? Can't fix that without looking like a dope. But without a challenge, there's no room for growth. But overall I think it went fine.

I spent the week looking over different books, wikipedia articles, and various websites to find out information. And then spent the weekend writing notes and refining them. The biggest problem was figuring out what to tell them! Tecumseh had such a BIG life, it was difficult to figure out what to focus on, and what to gloss over just enough to give the children a flavor of the historical situation. I didn't veer too far off my ideas of what I wanted to say. I had a cheat sheet in my pocket that had the various treaties and the dates on them so I could remember to get them in proper order. Ms. R said to go ahead and use the board to mark these down. It's okay to go from notes in 5th grade instead of memorizing everything. But I had three pictures in my head of what I wanted the children to know, and I think I managed to do that. Only a couple of brain farts when trying to think of the proper descriptive words I wanted (as I didn't write a script), but I managed to keep moving, remember where I was, give the images I wanted to pass on, and bring my own enthusiasm about this person. In the end, I felt sorry for him. He tried so hard to unite the various tribes of the Native Americans, but they couldn't stop fighting amongst each other to fight together. I don't think they would have managed to keep their own lands safe, I think it would have made the US Army work for it a bit harder. God IS on the side with the most artillery factories...

So, scary, but good. I'm glad its over until the next story!
aelfie: (Default)
Today is a weird schedule day.

First of all, half of morning lesson is eaten by Strings class and it's also Thursday so its a short day for the weekly faculty meeting (Which is quite long). Extra bonus weirdness, my mentor Ms. R not at school today, my class has a substitute (who also happens to be a student, but she's been there almost 2 months) Extra, extra bonus, today is also the Chinese exchange students last day of school.

Today's morning lesson is for the class to make goodbye cards for Jerry and Peter. The children work mostly independently, asking for spelling help and similar questions,  while I work on my assignment. I need to create a chalkboard drawing. Yeah. I'm learning to draw and my beliefs in my ability to draw are minimal. I drew a picture of Johnny Appleseed. I have to say I think I did a good job the trees and the hill of dirt he stood on, but poor Johnny!  I'm VERY glad I rough sketched him in and then did the trees because when I finally stood up to look at what I drew, Johnny was half the size he needed to be. I drew a second rough sketch to try and get the proportions right. I managed it on the first try! His body is eight heads tall! And even then, I still managed to goof him up. I accidentally gave him a plastic left arm. I drew it in a way that no human arm can look like unless broken. Whoops!  I didn't know how to fix it, so I just left it. And his face looks funny. I'm not sure where I screwed up on that one either. I warned Ms. R that I'm learning to draw and I can keep up with the First Graders. But anyone older than that and I was in trouble. But all in all it wasn't bad. Strings Teacher wrote something above I'll remove later and finish the drawing



After a shortened morning lesson the strings instructor came in to teach. I stayed and listened to the children playing violins and cellos. They played quite nicely!  After String and recess, then reading period. The class is split into small groups and take turns reading a book out loud. I took one regular student and one exchange student and sat outside and read. Student did well and got annoyed when I helped him too quickly, we eventually worked out when I could help him. The exchange student asked lots of questions about the subject of book (North Carolina) and seemed interested in the answers, but didn't seem to understand that it was 3000 miles away from us. I think it must have been a frustrating month for this student and his twin, knowing just enough English to get along, but not enough to truly understand. They played well with the other kids so it seemed to be working out okay. As a side note, these boys went through and memorized the Suzuki 1 book for their instrument (violin for one, cello for the other) in 3 weeks. Phenomenal musicians!

Then a long faculty meeting, but the Eurythmy was awesome. And that's all I'll say about it. Faculty meetings are equivalent to the confessional...what  is said does not cross the doors.



aelfie: (Default)
Placeholder Post

 Circle: more jumping rope. Boys to double dutch this time...one sucessful entering...not one could jump. They couldn't figure out that you have to move to the center of the stike zone...that if you are too left or too right, you get hit with the rope you aren't jumping.

Move to classroom: Classroom desks pushed to one side of room, they had cleaned last night. At line up Ms. R asks which students wants to live in civilization? Which in newly settled country? Which in the far wilderness? Group A here, B there, and C here. Asks each group to describe and think about how life for Johnny Appleseed would have been like in those areas. come up with ideas, remember details from story yesterday.

Room put back together and each group reported starting with Civilization (encouraged to use their own words, not just repeat element from story day before).

Moved to state report. Ms. R put a 2 sentence intro paragraph on the board for example and gave out sheets of paper (with reminders to use cursive and use every other line) and write out their own 2-3 sentence paragraph. Also pointed out that the words I or me really aren't allowed in this formal style of writing and please try not to use it (with example on the board of formal academic style)

Discipline Observation
As a student-teacher who spent nearly a year teaching handwork and had troubles with classroom management, I am fascinated in watching how others do it. what I saw today.

One child got hyper at time of putting room back together, she guided him into the immediate corner with an arm around the shoulder and spoke very quietly to him about calming down and sent him to putting his seat where it belonged.

One child playing with objects that are distracting to her and others.  Hand held out in silent demand for items. One item immediately handed over, child attempted to retain second by putting it in desk, she moved around the desk to remove the retained object and child handed it over.

During story (of the Iroquois nation) three children disrupted activity. Kept them in at recess. First, they restarted their day by lining up outside and walking into the room. Then held quick discussion with each individually about the offending behavior, had them practice desired behavior, and discussed why desired behavior was the desired one and can't we agree this works for us all so much better? Took less than 5 minutes.

Ms. R's style is authoritative. She doesn't come across as the heavy, strict disciplinarian I remember from elementary school. There's lots of laughter, but most of her discipline/classroom management is VERY QUIET. She lowers her voice when dealing with unwanted behavior. She removes the student from the situation for quick (!) chats on the behavior desired and illicts their promise of cooperation. She makes them try again. "Hmmm...that's not the correct, behavior. Please try again." That is her method for both individual students and the entire class. When the class came down the hill running and yelling, she sent them back up and had them do it correctly. I like the way she lets the children know they've messed up, and then teaches them how she wants them to behave. It's an attitude of you're not a bad kid, I'm just going to show you how to behave so we can all get along happily.

This is something I wish to emulate. when I started teaching I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't know how to strike that balance of how to be an authority without resorting to authoritarianism. I didn't set up rules nor did I think about what behavior I wanted in my class. Since I jumped into the classroom without this, I fought an uphill battle with the upper grades for the rest of they year (defined 3/4). I figured out First and Second fairly quickly and rarely had discipline problems with them, but that 3/4 made me tear my hair out for the rest of the year. I'm not sure if having my own son in the class is what made it so, or just the personality of that particular class. But what I got out of that experience is that I MUST have a plan for the behavior I want to encourage and how do I discourage the behavior I do not wish. Ms. R has, I think, an interesting approach. I like the quietness of it and I like how she tries to preserve their privacy when possible (i.e. pulling child into corner for quick chat) so that they are NOT disciplined in front of everyone. (Which, as I remember from being a student many years ago, is both embarrassing and opens one up for harrassment on the playground.)

Playground observation:
You can kinda ID class by their activity.
5th graders are playing with abandon. Lots of laughter and trying to learn to ride unicycles together.
6th graders: boys are playing on swings, but trying to look cool. Girls are posing at playing a game.
7th graders: boys are showing off their physical abilities to one another. Girls, in a group talking and taking furitive looks at boys
8th graders: boys standing around BSing. Girls fixing each others hair while BSing. Sometimes these groups intermingle...but mostly this class stands around chatting the entire recess.

 
This entry was originally posted at http://aelfie.dreamwidth.org/1678.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
aelfie: (Default)
The day started with circle: more jumping rope. Boys to double dutch this time. Only one successful entering the ropes, but  not one could jump. They couldn't figure out that you have to move to the center of the stike zone and that if you are too left or too right, you get hit with the rope you aren't jumping. Lots of laughter and frustration. And pain on my part. It takes a LOT of energy to keep swinging two ropes for 15-20 minutes.

Move to classroom 
When we entered all the classroom desks sitting to one side of room, the children had deep cleaned last night. During line up Ms. R asks her class, which students wants to live in civilization? Which in newly settled country? Which in the far wilderness? Sends the children into the room and have them congregate by group in different areas in the room. Ms. R then asks each group to describe and think about how life for Johnny Appleseed would have been like in those areas. come up with ideas, remember details from story yesterday.

After a group discussion, with some prompting to use their own words and not just repeating elements from the day before,  the students put their room back together and got started on the desk
work for the day. The state report. 

Ms. R put the first two sentences of the introduction paragraph on the board, for an example, and gave out sheets of lined paper, the forms they filled out the day before, and asked them to write out the next 2-3 sentences of the paragraph. They were also given reminders to use cursive and only use every other line.
Ms. R also pointed out that the words "I" or "me" are not allowed in this formal style of writing and please try not to use it.

Discipline Observation
As a student-teacher who spent nearly a year teaching handwork and had troubles with classroom management, I am fascinated in watching how others do it. what I saw today.

One child got hyper at time of putting room back together, Ms. R guided him into the immediate corner with an arm around the shoulder and spoke very quietly to him about calming down and sent him to putting his seat where it belonged.

One child sat at his desk playing with objects that are distracting to her and others.  Hand held out in silent demand for items. One item immediately handed over, child attempted to retain second by putting it in desk, she moved around the desk to remove the retained object and child handed it over.

During story (of the Iroquois nation) three children disrupted the activity. Ms. R kept them in at recess. First, they restarted their day by lining up outside, shaking hands, and walking into the room. Then Ms. R held a quick discussion with each child individually about the offending behavior, had them practice desired behavior, and discussed why desired behavior was the desired one and can't we agree this works for us all so much better? The whole process took less than 5 minutes.

Ms. R's style is authoritative. She doesn't come across as the heavy, strict disciplinarian I remember from elementary school. There's lots of laughter, but most of her discipline/classroom management is VERY QUIET. She lowers her voice when dealing with unwanted behavior. She removes the student from the situation for quick chats on the behavior desired and elicits their promise of cooperation. She makes them try again. "Hmmm...that's not the correct, behavior. Please try again." That is her method for both individual students and the entire class. When the class came down the hill running and yelling, she sent them back up and had them do it correctly. I like the way she lets the children know they've messed up, and then teaches them how she wants them to behave. It's an attitude of you're not a bad kid, I'm just going to show you how to behave so we can all get along happily.

This is something I wish to emulate. when I started teaching I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't know how to strike that balance of how to be an authority without resorting to authoritarianism. I didn't set up rules nor did I think about what behavior I wanted in my class. Since I jumped into the classroom without this, I fought an uphill battle with the upper grades for the rest of they year (upper grades being defined as a combined class of 3rd/4th graders). I figured out First and Second grade classes fairly quickly and rarely had discipline problems with them, but that 3/4 combination class made me tear my hair out for the rest of the year. I'm not sure if having my own son in the class is what made it so, or just the personality of that particular class. But what I got out of that experience is that I MUST have a plan for the behavior I want to encourage and how do I discourage the behavior I do not wish. Ms. R has, I think, an interesting approach. I like the quietness of it and I like how she tries to preserve their privacy when possible (i.e. pulling child into corner for quick chat) so that they are NOT disciplined in front of everyone. (Which, as I remember from being a student many years ago, is both embarrassing and opens one up for harassment on the playground.)

Playground observation:
You can almost identify each class by their activity.
5th graders are playing with abandon. Lots of laughter and trying to learn to ride unicycles together.
6th graders: boys are playing on swings, but trying to look cool. Girls are posing at playing a game.
7th graders: boys are showing off their physical abilities to one another. Girls, in a group talking and taking furtive looks at boys.
8th graders: boys standing around talking with each other. Girls fixing each others hair while talking. Sometimes these groups intermingle...but mostly this class stands around chatting the entire recess.

 
aelfie: (Default)
First thing to remember....it's stinking cold in the morning! Dress warmer woman!

The wind was whipping up the mountain from the Bay and was biting cold. Even though I was wearing a wool sweater, I shivered while standing at the foot of the flag pole with Ms. R and her Fifth Grade class. This week's flag crew raised the Stars and Stripes and the class flag to the top of the pole while feebly singing all four verses of America the Beautiful. I did not know until today there was four verses.

Next thing to remember: find the morning verse and memorize it.

We trooped to the field for jump roping. I was given two ropes and the three girls in the class to practice double dutch jump roping. Ms. R took all five boys to have them practice jumping in teams. Even though I can't jump double dutch, I can swing the rhythm of the ropes so the girls could attempt to enter the ropes. Its hard. Double dutch is complicated to both enter and swing. I found it VERY interesting that the girl who was best at entering the ropes and jumping was the worst at swinging, she could not keep rhythm, and seemed inhibited in crossing her mid-line with her right hand. Which is necessary to get a good rhythm for jumping. After much laughter from everyone and some cheering at successes we went up the hill to their classroom.

Everyone lined up at the door and shook Ms. R's hand and then came to me to shake my hand. I said good morning to each student and asked for names if I didn't remember them from my one day visit last October. Thankfully, its a small class, so there's not too many names to learn.

I'm here to observe and help with the second American Geography, History, and Culture Block. (The New) An earlier block in the year covered the Western United States, so during this block the Eastern Seaboard and the South are being covered. The State Report Paper is the method of instruction this block. (The Do, part 1). Ms. R is teaching the class how to write a basic five paragraph essay (The Do, part 2). Today she introduced the Introductory paragraph. Ms. R gave a personal story about writing her state report in 5th grade and copying it from the encyclopedia.  And how she found out the next year that copying from the encyclopedia wasn't allowed and she had to learn to put it in her own words. She properly named copying as plagiarism and mentioned that it's not allowed in neither High School or College. 

The plan is for the students to fill out a note taking form she's created, which has questions prompting the students, with the plan to turn those notes into a draft paragraph the next day. Ms. R figures it will take the entire 4 weeks to get through the entire 5 paragraph essay.

Today, the class starts with a practice paragraph on generic American History. They take turns reading it aloud, and answering the questions on the form as a group. (See picture below for Sample of Note Taking Form) Class worked together to find vocabulary words in text and create new definitions (best one: atmospheric moisture for precipitation.) When students didn't know how to spell it, she handed them dictionaries and gave them the first 2 letters so they could look it up independently.

Then the class was turned loose on their own report. Student worked alone or in small groups to answer the questions. Ms. R walked the room as needed helping children fill form out.

Discipline Techniques Observed Today: 
Lots of laughter, not the heavy.
Modeling behavior wanted.
Thanking students for performing wanted behavior.
Try again until you get it right.
Whispering, dropping volume when giving behavior instruction to a particular student even if student across the room.
Body space/presence attack. Got low to speak to them.
Encouragement to get job done or lose recess.

After the children finished filling out their forms, everything got put away and Ms. R told them a story about John Chapman/Johnny Appleseed. The story consisted more factual information rather than the legends.

Meeting Notes:
Prep speech exercise for Friday
Draw Johnny Appleseed on board Thurs/Fri
Prep story on Tecumseh for Monday
Prep story for Harriet Tubman for 3/12



Ms. R's main chalkboard space.



Note Taking Form Sample


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