Aubrey Orne-Adams ’14, Mansfield Foundation International Fellow in Education
This week I began teaching my small group. I take the newest eight students (who moved into this class the same day I did) out for an hour each morning. When I talked to my cooperating teacher about what I should focus on in my group she told me it was mostly up to me. She gave me some general guidelines for some of the end of the year goals but left the majority of the planning to me. This was an extreme contrast to the freedom I was allowed when planning in the States. Due to the statewide standardization of curriculum in Iowa I had a fairly strict day by day plan for what I should be accomplishing with the students. This left only a small amount of wriggle room for me to develop lessons that were completely my own. Therefore, this new freedom was initially quite intimidating. However, I’ve found that I really love being able to design my own lessons and working with a small group has been a really nice way to ease into doing this effectively.
With my small group this week I have been working math support by helping the students learn to count down from twenty. To do that we have been doing a game called Number Line Hop. I draw a number line on the sidewalk outside of our classroom and the students have to hop down the numbers on the line while saying them out loud. I hope that including the motion of hopping and the verbal confirmation of saying the numbers will help students commit it to memory. In addition to this math game we have been using the Treasure Chest of Junk to help students think about words with similar initial sounds. Lastly we have been working on handwriting. For handwriting students are taught to practice the simple shapes that make up most letters and then as the week goes on we start practicing writing the letters themselves.
For topic the students are still learning about different holidays. To continue with that theme I taught a whole group lesson about Hanukkah, since it started later this week. Most students had never heard of Hanukkah and were very interested in learning about the traditional Hanukkah game called Dreidel. They were especially intrigued when I told them that the winner of the game often gets handfuls of chocolate coins. While a small group of students were playing Dreidel with me the others were working on decorating their own Dreidels (similar to tops) that now hang on our wall.
My week wrapped up with another trip down to the beach with the Waterwise program. This time I helped with a science lesson on animals living in the rock pools. This was an incredible example of true hands on learning as students were given buckets and told to go find wildlife in the rock pools to study. Once they found some they showed them to the other teacher or I so that we could look in our key to find out what sort of animal they found and some information about that animal. Some of the amazing creatures they found included jellyfish, crabs, two different kinds of starfish, shrimp, and fish. I think that I was even more excited about all of their discoveries that the children were because I have never seen many of those animals in the wild before. However, the students’ were still abuzz with eagerness with each new animal they found.