Whew, what a week. The problem with not blogging every day is that I forget what I wanted to say, grrr!
My students are taking their Congress test (created and formatted from scratch by yours truly) on Monday, and then that same day we’ll delve straight into the Executive Branch. I’ve been working on that unit for a long time, but it’s giving me a lot of problems organizationally. My Mentor Teacher finally helped me get an order down: Day 1: Basic structure of Branch, Day 2: Elections, campaigns, primaries, etc, Day 3: Electoral College (I’m particularly excited about the activity I have planned for this day!) Day 4: Presidential Powers (Domestic) 5. Presidential Powers (Foreign), etc.
And then maybe some more stuff. Before I started, I just assumed that DUH I would be using the West Wing to teach about the Presidency! But it’s actually a lot easier said than done. My MT showed The American President last semester, so if it’s okay with him I might show that instead since it’s contained into 2 hours instead of 7 seasons (What? You mean my students DON’T care if CJ and Danny Kincannon get together over the course of 7 years working together?!).
I have two units left to teach. I’m at school everyday, but I counted, and I only have FIFTEEN days of teaching left. One one hand, it feels like a lot, but I know that actually isn’t true. My goal is to try and use as many different types of activities as possible since I only have 15 times to try.
Also, speaking of school, and I am REALLY going to miss the kids in my ELD class. They’re just so funny and silly, and I love the atmosphere of that class. Today, students were interviewing each other for an assignment, and they had to answer questions about themselves. I overheard some particular funny conversations.
Q: What is something you feel strongly about? Student A: “Girls”.
Q: Think of one word that describes you. Student B: “Basketball”.
Q: Think of one word that describes you. Student C: “Attractive and fancy” (a boy).
Even though it’s my first class of the day and it starts at 8AM, I genuinely like working with them and I feel like the help I give actually has an impact, which is a great feeling.
Also, the scores for my Teaching Event are finally up as of right now (after almost a month of agonizing). I’m happy to report that I passed, and I scored MUCH better than I thought I would considering how hard I found it to cover everything that the rubric required. For each of the sections, you get a score from 1-4, with 1 being low and 4 being very hard to get (they told us that people don’t get 4s on most sections). While I was writing it, I aimed for a 3, knowing that I could get 2s and still pass. Here are some of the reviewer’s comments from various sections:
“These plans clearly draw on both prior learning (from last Unit of Instruction) AND utilize ways to incorporate student interests and background (drawing on such as their own family political perspective or as 17/18 year olds, their very own opinions), Candidate’s use of videos and political cartoons, combined with STRATEGIC GROUPING and Graphic Organizers, make this a solid Level 3, bravo!”
“These strategies reflect attention to student characteristics, learning needs, and/or language needs.
In both clips, Candidate makes good use of group dynamics (StrategicallyPlaced) interactions, forcing dialogue (in 2nd clip) before writing together, probing questioning to enhance learning, and use of RANDOM CALLING (in Clip 1) to insure more student involvment!” (3!)
“Level 4 is alleged to be impossible, but Reviewer feels that Candidate met ALL OF THAT CRITERIA, her videos and writeup clearly show evidence of her efforts to get students to interact and think about these cartoons, going beyond basic inputs to extract higher level thinking responses, probe for deeper understandings, utilizing student real world experience, like the piano player’s inputs, BRAVO!” (!!!! And, there was one section that we were told it was easier to score a 4 on, but this wasn’t even it, yesss)
“Candidate gives good feedback on the 3 Students Assessment Samples, it is clear, positive in intent, and yet gives suggestions to improve! The shortcoming is that she basically does not give any commentary on whole class feedback, therefore, this will not qualify for Level 4 score.” (I was so close!)
“Candidate utilized Zwiers research, considering Academic Language and grouping decisions, she also appropriately quoted Fisher, Frey, etal, regarding Heterogeneous Grouping arrangements and CLEARLY she utilized this idea well in her Strategic Grouping of 4-6 students, in ways that especially assisted her ELL’s and attempted good balance in other ways as well. Changes were discussed in limited way, but enough to justify Level 3 score even though most of her thinking related to allowing more time.” (3!)
“Reviewer feels comfortable with Level 3 and added the footnote here to show just how close Candidate came to NAILING listed supports, ie, her use of Graphic Organizers both lessons, good use of Vocab Development, and her Strategic Grouping that insured her large number of ELL’s or former ELL’s had good opportunities to have good peer support in the groups! Overall, Reviewer would like to COMMEND Candidate for some excellent work, likely she will continue to grow in positive ways, keep after it, you are doing very fine work!” (3, yay!)
Eeeeeeee! Okay, so to be fair, I didn’t include the 2 scores here that I got, but overall I’m thrilled with the comments, and apparently sometimes I’m better at this whole teaching thing that I thought, HOORAY 🙂