Saturday, March 3, 2012

CP Reflection Week 5

It was a pretty great week! It's snowing right now and beautiful to watch as I write this reflection.

Monday, 2/27 - I taught a lesson on the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. Driving question of the lesson: How should we evaluate the use of nuclear bombing on the Japanese? I really struggled with this lesson plan. Over the weekend, I had assigned the students to read excerpts from Hiroshima by John Hersey, but I struggled with how to use that in class and how to sculpt a good lesson. All-in-all, the lesson turned out all right in all three classes. I'm still struggling a bit with questioning, but I have improved quite a bit. It's really helpful for me to actually write down the questions I want to ask as well as the answers I hope to get. I think it was a relatively powerful lesson. This was also my 2nd official observation by my mentor teacher (MT).

Tuesday, 2/28 - Our lesson in World History today was on Postwar Japan - Culture/Value changes, Constitution, American Occupation. I mostly just observed this lesson. My supervisor was coming on Friday for my 2nd observation, so my focus was on preparing/polishing that lesson.

Wednesday, 2/29 - Happy Leap Day! We didn't acknowledge this at all, but still. :-) Same lesson as the day before in World History, but I taught the portion on the Constitution. Twice. I felt much more confident in what I was doing the 2nd time around, so it flowed much better and was (I'm hoping) much more effective. Very interesting document, btw.

Thursday, 3/1 - It's March! Yay!! The students had a late start, though I was surprised by how many students came in at the regular time because they forgot about the late start. Oops! No late start for the teachers. Instead we had a department meeting and then training for the new online grading system. I attempted to make it in for the dept meeting, but my regular bus broke down 1/2 a block before I was to get on. I had to wait about 10 or so minutes for the next bus. I finally got to school around 8:25, and the dept mtg only went until 8:30. Oh well. During the grading system training, I just worked on prepping my lesson for World History - making sure I had all the copies I needed, the presentation all set, and able to run through it a couple times.

In World History, I taught a lesson on the Economic Miracle of Japan's phenomenal growth after WWII and the population shift the Japanese are experiencing now. Driving questions: How did Japan recover economically from WWII? How does an aging population affect a wealthy country like Japan? It was a really great lesson plan. One of the best I've written. Execution wasn't stellar, though. There were definitely changes I had to make to the lesson plan before giving it again on Friday.

In AP Euro, I spontaneously taught a very mini-lesson (about 5 min) on what happened after Lenin's death and how Stalin (very pragmatically) rose as Lenin's successor.

Also, I forgot my water bottle today! Ugh!! It's only the 2nd time I've forgotten it, and oh, how I missed having it. It's just so much more convenient than walking down the hall to the fountain.

Friday, 3/2 - I stayed up too late Thursday night and got up too early Friday morning - trying to work on a lesson plan for next Tuesday's AP Euro class. I knew I was going to be ultra tired during the day, so grabbed some Zipfizz to mix in my water to help me get through the day. It. Was. A. Lifesaver. :-) Well, except that sometime during the day, I dribbled some pink lemonade onto my white top, left breast. I knew I needed to take care of that before teaching 10th graders the last class of the day. Plus I was getting observed by my supervisor and wanted to look good. Thankfully, I was able to get it out pretty well in the bathroom before class. I really wished I'd had a Tide stick or Shout wipes or something, though.

World History - Same lesson as Thursday, but each class I taught it to was better than the previous, which was good since the 3rd time was when my supervisor came. The changes I'd made after the first two classes really showed by the 3rd time around. I was much more comfortable in moving around the class, presenting the material, and working with the groups. For the most part, I forgot that I was being observed and just went about teaching. :-)

After each observation, we sit down to talk about how the lesson went. It didn't get off to a great start, which was difficult for me because I had thought it had gone really well. She didn't like my opening, and that I didn't tie it together before the students got into the opening activity. I justified it by saying I wanted them to get there on their own, so ultimately, I still feel good about what I did. The students started by exploring specific sections of the Toyota company website. They worked in pairs to browse the website to learn about the history and corporate culture, and then compare Toyota's corporate culture to what they know about Japanese culture and assess how their values that might have helped them to recover after WWII. Her suggestion was to remind the students about what we've discussed in previous classes about Japanese culture before having them browse the website. I think that would have dumbed down the lesson a little for 10th graders. Maybe more necessary for 7th or 8th graders (more her background) than 10th graders, in my opinion (and perhaps the opinion of my MT).

She also gave quite a bit of feedback of how she would have done many things differently. Some of her suggestions were good, but a few I simply didn't agree with. It was getting to be a little frustrating. Finally, she did get around to a few things she liked about the lesson. Overall, the planning was really good. My questioning had improved a lot since the last observation. She liked how I switched up the partners for different activities. She appreciated how professionally I was dressed, and commented how the other students she is currently supervising don't seem to get it. Good thing I was able to clean the pink lemonade off my shirt before class!

Major things to work on: Motivating language to engage the students, helping them to know the importance of what I'm asking them to do. Relating the lesson back to them. Why should they care about the aging population in Japan? Giving clearer directions and expectations of what they are supposed to be doing.

For the weekend, I have some homework to grade, a lesson for AP Euro to finish prepping, and I'd like to get a lot of work prepped for the first couple lessons of our next unit: Latin America. The next unit starts on Thursday.

Overall, it was a pretty good week! I did feel a LOT more tired this week. I really need to be better about getting to bed on time and more efficiently using my evening time.

These reflections are taking me so long to compose! I really would like to take a few minutes each evening to reflect on that day and then just wait to publish it all together at the end of the week. Hopefully I'll give that a try this next week.

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