A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.
~H. Stanley Judd
During my student teaching experience, planning for teaching and for lessons became an important aspect of my days at DJ Montague. During the student's centers time, the entire fourth grade team convened and planned lessons for a specific subject. We would try to plan a weeks worth of lessons in one meeting for a particular subject. This allowed us to stay ahead. In addition, this allowed me to practice important collaboration skills. During my student teaching experience, there were four fourth grade teachers and three student teachers (including me). Having seven people collaborate on one topic truly gave a wide range of ideas. In addition to team planning, the fourth grade teachers also split the work load for writing lessons. Each teacher was responsible for writing the plans for one subject area. This prevented the teachers from doing double work while still allowing the teachers the opportunity to tailor the lesson for their own students and for their own interests. During my time at DJ Montague, I was responsible mainly for writing the reading plans. While I may not have wrote plans for every subject, I still contributed ideas and added my own ideas and changes to many of the lessons.

Language Arts
Throughout my reading methods course, I had the opportunity to create different lesson plans for different levels of students. The first lesson plan I created was a guided reading lesson for a group of first grade students. I had the special opportunity to work with one of the wonderful first grade teachers. The teacher strategy grouped her student based on the DRA assessment and I had the chance to work with students who were struggling with reading. In my lesson, I chose a book that was based on their reading level and planned a lesson that incorporated their previous knowledge and the knowledge gained from the book. The students responded well and even completed a writing assignment based on the book.
"The bus takes us to the aquarium."
"The bus takes us to the movies."

The second lesson that I created during my practicum time was a Read-Think-Write aloud for my fourth grade students. This was my first time teaching reading to my entire class and I loved having this experience. Our assignment was to talk with our cooperating teachers and choose a skill that the students were working on during the week that we were teaching the lesson. We then chose a book to read loud, found stopping points where students would be asked questions, and then created a writing assignment. During this lesson, I learned even more about the students that I was working with and would be working with for the remainder of the year. I found that they can be really creative and are still in the age when the let their imagination run wild.
A struggling student's Read -Think-Write.

A student's Read-Think-Write.

While I was at DJ Montague, I wrote both writing and reading plans based on the consensus of the team. While I brought in my own ideas and resources, I still had to write the plans based on what the team agreed to do over the week. This taught me to both be flexible and to slightly change things based on what my students need. The first unit of lessons (week 1, week 2) that I wrote was for writing. I began my student teaching with a unit on biographies in which students had to write their own biographies. I took the students through the writing process, both describing and modeling how to take notes, start a biography, and end a biography. I edited with students and had an extension activity for students to complete once they were done with their biography.

Once I began teaching reading, I wrote the reading plans. One particular opportunity that I had was to think of independent book projects for students to complete while my cooperating teacher was giving the students their DRA tests. I chose 4 different projects that the students could choose from to complete their project. I developed my projects based on information that I found on different websites and with my cooperating teacher's help. I created instruction sheets that the students used to complete their projects. The five different projects, with rubrics, and examples of student work can be seen on my book report page.

One last reading opportunity I had during student teaching was to complete a novel read aloud with my students. During the fall, my students read Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. I noticed that they were very interested and engaged in the story. At the same time in my Language Arts methods course, I learned about author studies and how engaging these studies could be. Therefore, I decided to approach my cooperating teaching about completing a mini author study using the Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. She was interested in the idea, and during my student teaching, I had the opportunity to see the project through. I planned out 4 weeks of lessons to complete the book (week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4). I included some introductory activities into my first week of lessons. In addition to simply reading the book along with stopping points for the students to reflect on what we had read, I also planned reading prompts and activities for the students to complete after we read out chapters for the day. In addition, both the 4th grade team and the reading specialist were concerned about the upcoming SOL tests. Therefore going in to the project, I knew that I still had to incorporate the SOLs and the test taking strategies into my reading lessons. Therefore, I created my own SOL-lie passages using different chapters from The Tale of Despereaux. I would give students a copy of a chapter or part of a chapter along with 5 SOL like questions. This allowed me to continue with the project that I initially imagined while still working on SOL strategies.

Snapshot 1 (3-13-2013 10-06 PM) (2).jpg
Here I am working with a Kindergarten student on his states of water picture sort.

Science is a subject that has always fascinated me. Throughout high school I took extra science classes to learn as much as I could. When I went to college I turned my focus to the social sciences. I was lucky to have the opportunity during my practicum classes to create a lesson for a primary classroom. I worked with a partner and we decided to create a kindergarten lesson on water. My main concern during the lesson was that I did not bring concepts about water to a level that kindergarten would understand. However, I went into the lesson with a positive attitude and succeeded in my lesson. I even included movement in my lesson to engage students in a different way and to help students understand the concepts in a different way. A short video clip of the lesson can be seen .

Also, during my practicum, two classmates and I designed a science lesson based on student led inquiry called the science circus. During this lesson, I worked with my students, so I could anticipate how they would react to the lesson. I placed my students in groups so that we would not have behavior problems. At the time, my students were focused on weather. Therefore, we designed 5 stations where students could explore concepts about weather like clouds and rain, thunderstorms, and air pressure (supporting materials can be found here). My students were engaged throughout the lesson, and this lesson taught me valuable information about science. It made me realize that hands-on learning truly allows students to explore and understand concepts on a deeper level. We also reflected on the lessons that we completed throughout our practicum to better prepare ourselves for student teaching. An analysis of my reflection can be seen here.
Snapshot 1 (5-5-2013 10-54 AM).png
My students working at the thunderstorm station.

My students used blue ice cubes and red, warm water to see how fronts interact to create a thunderstorm.

My final project for my practicum class was to create a module that focused on one specific science unit. I wrote the module and the lessons with one of my colleagues at the School of Education. Together, we paced a unit on the Earth, Sun, and Moon, and wrote 5 lessons that could be used in this unit. Throughout the process I learned how to piece together a unit on a specific topic and to think about all of the materials needed in that unit. Initially, my cooperating teacher thought that I would be teaching this unit during my student teaching. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, I did not have the opportunity to teach this unit. However, I hope to use it in the near future.

During student teaching, the fourth grade team planned a unit on electricity and magnetism. While another student teacher wrote the plans that were posted online, I still added and changed the lessons to tailor my student's needs and interests. In addition to simply writing the plans, I also had to prepare myself for this unit. I had to read the notes and refresh my memory on electricity and magnets. I also had to test light bulbs and the experiment before bringing it to my students. Without the preparation, my hands on activity would have failed. I was short on batteries and light bulbs. Without the proper testing, I would not have realized that one of my light bulbs had blown. In addition, this preparation also gave me insight on the dangers of this hands on activity and the directions that I needed to give my students when working on this activity.

Social Studies
Throughout my time in my social studies methods course, I had the opportunity to create a unit on the Civil War. In this unit I focused on the fourth grade Standards of Learning that focuses on how Virginia contributed to the Civil War. I created a map and globe lesson that followed the direct instruction method, an art criticism lesson that focused on the drummer boys, a biography lesson that focused on the civic engagement of Robert E. Lee in the war, and an inquiry lesson that focused on poems during the Civil War. Each lesson directly connected to both state and national standards and stretched the minds of fourth grade students. In addition, I also created assessments to fit with each lesson and a pre-assessment and post-assessment to gauge the students prior and post knowledge.

During my student teaching, I taught a unit on the Civil War. Unfortunately, the unit I developed in the fall could not be used due to time constraints. However, the background knowledge that I gained truly helped me while teaching this unit. For this unit, the fourth grade team planned different activities. Throughout the unit, I used video clips, blogs, and accessed prior knowledge by focusing on the regions of Virginia.

Throughout my time in my mathematics method course, I had the opportunity to plan and teach math problems to teach problem solving strategies. I also planned two lessons and taught on of those lessons. For a more comprehensive review of my math practicum experience, please see my Math Portfolio.

During my practicum experience, I taught a unit on decimals and part of a unit on measurement. While I did not write the entire math plans, I changed most of the lessons to fit what my students needed. I added in physical movement and partner work whenever I could. For instance, I did a decimal race with my students where they worked in groups. I gave each group a set of decimals. Their goal was to put them in order from least to greatest. When they were done and ready for me to check, they groups did either sky punches or cross crawls. During this activity, students were extremely engaged. They had the opportunity to learn a different way and to interact with one another. I also used stations as part of my math lessons. I would teach a concept as a whole group lesson for either one or two days. They students would learn about and manipulate the concepts either independently or in partners. One station was always with the teacher. I focused on either teaching a concept or reinforcing a concept that students needed. I could also tailor the examples that I used based on what each group of students needed.

Return to Home Page