Standard B:Delivers Effective InstructionTeacher Candidate: Jill CameronSelf-Evaluation of Audio TapeStudent Work SamplesReflective Essay No. 2Observation No. 2 (PDF file)
Self-Evaluation of Audio TapeI used my phone to create a voice recording of my last science lesson. At only half an hour, the lesson was short, involvedand the framework focal point was Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Speaking and Listening, grades PreK – 2.p.37. #1-3. I used the time to help personally connect my students with the penguin unit that was coming to a close thatday. To do this, I had the class conduct an experiment using a bucket of cold water, Crisco and sandwich bags. The goalof the activity was to give students an experience that would help them understand how the physical characteristics ofartic animals help them survive in the cold climates of the southern hemisphere. The experiment was a success. Studentsnot only enjoyed it, but each was able to demonstrate their personal “take away” verbally and in writing. Hearing thelesson for a second time via the audio file reinforced what I thought immediately after it originally ended. Throughout the lesson, my tone remained even when giving instruction and direction. I anticipated potentialproblems before they happened and set expectations accordingly. I feel that I used inflection to help guide students andkeep them on track and I relied heavily on the Socratic Method, which in turn addressed the standard I wanted to achieve.I liked the way I introduced the concept I wanted the students to understand using PAR method and feel that I provided anadequate foundation on which the students were able to build. I realize now that my teaching style relies heavily ondiscussion and I think that I was able to ensure that participation was encouraged and applied equitably. I also found thatI used whole class surveys as a frequent informal assessment tactic and capitalized on the results of each survey tochallenge misconceptions and incorporate prior knowledge. Despite having an overall good impression of my audio file, I found many areas that could use improvement.Specifically, I noticed that I had a tendency to use “up talk”, or elevate the sound of my voice at the end of a sentence thatwasn’t a question. I think this is an unfortunate habit that does little to inspire confidence, and I think it’s probablyconfusing if used when giving direction or sharing content knowledge. To this point, I noticed that when I used “up talk” Ialso used vocabulary that didn’t accurately convey my meaning. For example, when telling students that I wanted them toeach have something to share at the end of class, I used the word “should” when “have to” or “must” would have been abetter choice. Additionally, I’d work on slowing my pace and enunciating more clearly. I think that I speak too quicklyand string my words together, which undermines my ability to manage the class effectively. When I first saw this assignment in the Student Practicum Handbook, I was skeptical, although I can admit thatfeeling was truly founded in my dislike of hearing my own voice. In retrospect, having completed the assignment, I woulduse this as a tool to improve my practice in the future. I was amazed by the degree to which I found myself usingmultitasking management skills. For example, while supporting the student in front of me, I was often simultaneouslymanaging the class as a whole, or dealing with individual behaviors, and it was an unconscious effort. I do think that, ifpermitted by school policy and my student’s parents, I would video a lesson rather than rely on pure audio. In myparticular circumstance, I derive more value from an audio representation of something when it is accompanied by avisual component.
Student Work SamplesI found that it was easy to choose the two students whose work I wanted to follow, but struggled to find appropriatesamples given a few factors: first graders show large gains in knowledge over a long time period, but work products aregenerally not advanced. Between snow, vacation, and sick days, consistency and growth across subject area seemedstalled during my practicum. The one subject that the students did have every morning was phonics, and so I took myselections from there and did have to reach back a few months prior to my arrival:Student A: On LevelThe pictures you see below were taken from this student’s phonics notebook and the assignment is one the entire classreceives at least a few times a week: use the word of the day in a sentence. As you can see, this student did just that.The words, in chronological order from earliest to latest are: Yell (10/12), Walls (11/12), Fangs (1/13), Wise (2/13,), andKept (2/13). You’ll notice that a number of things here including the improvement in her spelling, handwriting and thecomplexity of her sentences.
Student B: Below LevelAs in the pictures above, the pictures you see below were taken from this student’s phonics notebook, the assignedwords are the same: Yell (10/12), Walls (11/12), Fangs (1/13), Wise (2/13,), and Kept (2/13). You’ll notice that his work isinconsistent, he was able to distinguish between “to” and “too” when writing his sentence for “fangs”, but misspelled aword wall word (some) in his sentence for “walls”. His last sentence was neatly written, the spelling was correct andthere were minimal corrections (erasing).
Reflective Essay No. 2 I found that it was particularly challenging to find two students from whom to collect five work samples in thesame subject area during my practicum. I started my practicum after the holiday break and ended the week followingFebruary vacation. During that time there were a few Monday holidays, students were absent due to flu and there were somany “special” occasions and “pull outs” that consistency within the content areas was difficult to find. However, everyday the students had a phonics lesson first thing in the morning. The lesson generally followed the same pattern: introduceword wall words, introduce a new concept or pattern, introduce new spelling words, discuss meaning and craft sentencesusing the new knowledge. I was comfortable enough with the phonics program (Fundations) and felt that reaching back tolook at work products created during the first half of the year would be appropriate and give me more material to withwhich to work. Once I settled on the content area, I was quickly able to choose one at level and one below level student,who both completed enough of the same work to make a comparison worthwhile. Both the at-level and below-level students received the same level of whole class structure and support duringlessons. All lessons started immediately after morning meeting and took place on the classroom rug and were introducedwith a whole-class, student lead reading of a phonics chant. From here the lesson took a teacher driven direction and thenew concept or words were introduced. Typical strategies used at this stage were: review, whole class discussion,sounding out words together while simultaneously “tapping out” them out, sample sentence structures and “marking” upthe special features of a word such as a digraph, “glued sound”, suffix, or consonant blend. The work samples that Ichoose are the final products of these lessons. After the phonics routine on the morning meeting rug, students returned totheir seats and wrote the word of the day and one sentence in their phonics notebooks (I added this in blue font on thework samples in the event the samples themselves aren’t clear). The at-level student was able to pay attention for the duration of each lesson and often volunteered sentences touse a class samples. My rule for this was: you may use the sentence if it is your own, but if you did not give the example,you would need to write something original. This particular student appeared to relish teacher feedback and always usedthe sentences she volunteered. I found that if she did not volunteer a sentence, she would minimally change one that wasgiven and hope to pass it as her own. After seats were moved mid-February, I noticed that the below-level and at-levelstudent were seated together and the below-level student adopted this same strategy. Based on my own observations, theat-level student freely shared with him. She didn’t appear to respond to “tapping” the sounds of words but could often beprompted into self-correcting when supported by simply teacher assisted “sounding out” of words, or if redirected to theword wall. One of things that stood out to me about her work was the marked improvement in spelling and legibility overtime. Even more encouraging, the detail she added and the complexity of her sentences increased from “Don’t yell in thehows.” to “I kept my cat in for the day”. I was really impressed by the sentence that she wrote for “fangs” but saw herbackslide and rush through “wise”. However, with the word “wise”, she displayed a great ability to “mark up” the wordsin her sentences. In all, I think that she showed improvement throughout the school year, especially when given thechance to work with a word that sparked her creativity.
The second sampling of pictures in the pages above comes from the below-level student. The words chosen areidentical to those I displayed for the at-level student. In this particular example, the below-level student struggled to sitthrough both the morning meeting and the phonics lesson and rarely volunteered sentences although he did like to telleveryone what the word of the day was when given the chance. Once the students left the rug and starting writing in theirnotebooks, this student often needed some direction before he was able to write. He rarely used the world wall, but wasreceptive to the “tapping out” strategy. This strategy required that the student tapped his fingers whenever he heard adistinct sound in the word he was trying to spell. When redirected to try this strategy, this student was often able to figureout how to spell the word he was stuck on without further support. Time management was often his largest obstacle; hewould think about what he wanted to write until warned that the lesson was ending and then rush through his work in aneffort to get his sentence completed. You’ll notice this quality in his samples. One thing that impressed me by his workwas the way he improved his word spacing over time (and thus the legibility of his words) and his ability to distinguishbetween “to” and “too” when writing a sentence for “fangs”. This tells me that he has a lot of potential and is able tograsp some of the more abstract qualities of the language, but he needs strategies that will help him stay on task. I thinkthat giving him a break between morning meeting and the phonics lesson would greatly improve his ability to manage histime. At this point, sitting on the rug for more than 20 minutes is too long for this student. There is little room for creativity in the phonics lessons because the school follows a very strict curriculum withscripted lessons and I think it becomes a bit mundane for the students. I think that if I had the ability to be more creativewith the lessons and strategies, I would introduce the lesson, or end the morning meeting with some movement, to helpsettle the students like my lower level example, who have trouble sitting for extended periods. I’d also make somechanges to the “tapping” strategy. I like it and it clearly works for some of the class, however, I noticed that the act ofseparately tapping each finger for every sound heard, involved a bit too much dexterity for the majority of the kids in theclassroom. I noticed some students focused more on how to tap, than what they were tapping. I think that clapping mightwork better for this group. I’d also like to spend more time reviewing the tools students have available in the room, aprime example being the word wall, which my lower level student rarely used.