Sunday, September 24, 2006
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Shiny Happy Glass
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Last Week in Grade 8
I did my first Power Point presentation this week on Permafrost/Soil. It passed the test, if there was a test. I went on to do another PPoint for a science lesson on Animal Organ Systems. On Friday, I did a presentation for 'Guidance' class that I think put me closest to feeling the 'ole teaching flame within me than any other of my teaching so far in this program. The main thrust of the presentation was to encourage the students to volunteer and to look at ways to grow/discover throughout high school that would better prepare them for life. I did a rant about learning other languages. It was a very anecdotal and personal presentation and afterward, my AT told me that he thought it was unique and that he really felt like I was passionate about the topic (I am!). It was a bit of a breakthrough for me, in terms of feeling my groove again in the classroom. If I didn't have the full freedom to do what I want in my lessons though, I wouldn't have had that breakthrough. I really owe a lot to my AT. He's got a reputation for being tough and gruff, but he's anything but (I do still have 2 weeks left to go though in my bootcamp, so maybe we'll see what lies ahead!).
I spent all day Saturday reflecting on this lesson in a 10 page report for a very overdue assignment, so I don't have it in me to add too much more right now. I can say that this approach to teaching math is called 'constructivist.' The idea of it is to not just do 'show and tell' math, but to give the students one problem to work at (usually in groups) instead of giving them numerous problems and no feedback. The job of the teacher is to relinquish control and to step back and let the students explore math. Students have to be able to communicate their solutions and defend their decisions as to why they think what they've done is correct.
The students in this exercise, exceeded all of my expectations and went ahead to tackle the next topic: rotations. It's a bit scary for teachers to just let students go nuts with math. I did experience the reality that students can be a lot smarter than teachers. One of their combination rotation-reflection-translation solutions was totally beyond me. So, that kind of was my week. I missed writing about so much though.
Only 2 weeks left of Grade 8 (and 7 math and science). I hope I get to try out some new tricks.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Other Weekend Updates
On March 12th, I'm heading to London and Bristol for my alternate practicum. I am not posting a flag quiz because it'll be too easy. UK! England! I'll be visiting my History and Archeology Guru and getting lots of insight on glass and glasswork.
I've updated some postings below, in case you're interested.
A New Flag Quiz
Big Winds and Banging Doors
The ski trip for me was actually part of my cooling down from the last 6 busy weeks. I didn't plan on skiing. I was just there as an extra chaperone, so spent the 2 days mostly in the lodge acting as the check-in person. It was relaxing, actually.
My roomate for the trip was a mother of one of the students. Her son has severe allergies and I learned a bit about what it's like to be a parent of a student with life-threatening allergies. Basically, it's really tough. I didn't get around to asking her if what her view is on 'nut-free' schools (for example) , but I hope I get the chance to. I went to a workshop on civil liberties back in January where both sides of this allergy debate were discussed. Last week, I heard from a nurse/educator about the 'NO' side. I'd guess that the Mom I met would argue that 'YES' there should be '-----free' schools.
It is so hard to have a child with severe allergies! I could see how often the Mom that I met stopped what she was doing to wonder where her son was and how he was doing. Imagine how many years she's been doing the extra allergy duties!!?? By Grade 8, too, kids are coming into their own, so to speak. It's really hard for students who have allergies to be independent, yet not feel 'different' than their peers. I had no idea until this ski trip, how hard it was for parents of kids with serious allergies. Wow.
The class really did ski their guts out. Everyone gave it their all. They have soooo much energy. Despite all their warnings, it was really hard to keep them quiet in the halls of the hotel. There was no concept of closing doors quietly. You can't control their energy easily. We had a little dance party and karaoke party on Thursday evening. They could not decide on which songs to play. There was some great breakdancing....many moves and inspirations came from the breakdancing workshop they did with Miguel in October! Was that November? They wanted to do it again!
My favourite moment was probably when one of the students - an intense performer and perhaps the best breakdancer - insisted on singing 'Born to Be Wild.' There were only the 3 adults and one student left at this point in the evening, but he belted out the song while listening to his Ipod at a very high level. It was soo hilarious. When he was done, he wanted to sing another but we really had to call it a night. Imagine wanting to sing to an audience of 3 adults and your classmate? That's total artistry. It would have made an insanely good Ipod commercial, actually.
On Thursday night, a crazy icy rain moved in. The roads were pretty much closed on Friday, so the students decided to ski! It was so cold because of the winds that I thought I'd die walking over from the hotel to the lodge. I am in awe of how tough the kids were. They were out in the insane weather probably more than they were the previous day when it was sunny and not too cold. I am sure their teacher was proud of the hearty students he's cultivated. I've heard stories of them crying as they canoed through crazy rain during their camping trip in the fall. The snowy rain storm was nothing compared to that, I'm sure.
They are a very endearing group of students. I've officially completed my first 'teaching' trip. It's great to work with students on many different levels: the formal, the informal, and on the road.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
My First Class TRIP!
I'm off to be a chaperone on the Grade 8 ski trip tomorrow. I think that I'm sharing a room with parent. This is a picture of the neat art project that the class did as a lead-up to the trip. The teacher painted the background and everyone added a little picture. There's even an 'underworld' scene. The lodge is drawn in somewhere. That's where I'll be holding fort for the next 2 days. I've got lots of chips and snacks and some DVDs from the library to keep me busy while the skiers hit the hills.
The BE MINE Cake
The Love Squared Cake
The Hot Dog and Fries Cake
The Gumball Machine Cake
The Caterpillar Cake
The Big Kids
The Weekend Recruiting 'Fare'
Here's the breakdown of preselected interviews we had:
Me: Quito, Columbia, China/HK, and Bahrain
Riz: Turkey, Columbia, Kosova
Crystal: Mexico, Bangalore, Guatemala, Bangkok
I did all of my interviews, except for Bahrain. I'd say that I completely destroyed the interviews for Quito and China by being 100% unprepared for the questions. I didn't have anything ready to answer what I thought about Math and Literacy programming. Ooops. For future reference, I'll be most prepared. I added a few other interviews Friday night to my roster.
The line up procedure in the gym for procuring more interviews wasn't totally as stressful as I'd anticipated. But, I know that the 3 of us weren't totally prepared to 'sell' ourselves as we sat down and requested interviews. My understanding was that we'd just line up strategically to get interviews with the schools we wanted. I (and the others) weren't aware that we had to convince the interviewers to give us an interview. Thus, I really did not perform when I sat down in front of the first school's administrators. I quickly learned, by listening to others as I was in line, that one was NOT supposed to be modest in their requesting of interviews. Learning the hard way, yet again. I really am still not that comfortable doing self-promotion, but have realized that sometimes it has to be done.
Saturday and Sunday were full of interviews. Some did actually go quite well. It is quite a long story, but I did learn that 1) some of the recruiters used unscrupulous techniques to sign teachers and 2) that making life decisions is hugely stressful under time constraints. By the end of Saturday night (as I was on the phone in an instant teller 'room'), I had happily agreed to a contract with a school that I feel offers the most challenges and opportunity for professional development. The story of how the contract came to fruition is one that merits an account in person. For what was the most stressful weekend of my life in recent times, the ending ended on a great and surprising note.
Riz and I will be teaching together in Kosova, starting in mid-August.
(Crystal has accepted a contract in Thailand! Her Mom, who also attended the weekend, is happy)