Student Teacher Work Journal excerpts – Adapting Fourth Grade Map LessonWednesday, Nov. 28 -- 7 hours (1 hour lesson prep)Today was my first day taking over fourth grade, which is widely known as the roughestgroup of kids in the school. So that it would go as smoothly as possible, I spent a good dealof the morning finalizing the lesson, double-checking all the technology, planning whichstudents I would partner together, etc. I wanted to make sure all my ducks were in a row,because, as Todd warned me, if I let myself get derailed by even the tiniest thing, thestudents would be extremely difficult to corral again. The first class of the afternoon wassupposed to be my easiest, but as it turned out, it was definitely my worst.Despite all my planning and preparation, the lesson really flopped with the first class when Itried to move them to computers. Because we only have 10 computers in the library(including two laptops I pulled out of the closet), the students all had to work in pairs for theactivity. The first difficulty was getting them moved to computers. Despite my instruction tolisten carefully and wait to move until I was finished, lots of students weren’t sure where togo. Then almost everyone had questions once they started working. Simultaneously, I wastrying to get students several at a time to select books to check out. I was just pulled in waytoo many directions at once and the room was utter chaos. Todd and I talked it through afterclass and discussed how the students probably just were not ready to tackle the activity ontheir own yet and I should have provided more modeling than I did and scaffold some more.For the next two classes, I made the quick decision to forgo the computers for today andinstead spend the entire time of the lesson working as a full class on the SMART board.Although we still didn’t get much farther than the first class on the worksheet, the studentsseemed to be with me more than the first class, so I think the decision was definitely a goodone. I need to reevaluate my plan for next week to see if I think the partners at computerswill work or not. Because the first class of the afternoon is supposed to be the easiest groupand they had such a rough time, I worry that the other two classes won’t be able to handle itat all. Todd suggested that maybe I take a closer look at the worksheet I created and see if Ican make it a little simpler, so students will be more successful working independently.Overall, it was, as Todd said, a great learning day! I won’t become a better teacher librarianif I don’t have rough days to learn from!Wednesday, Dec. 5 -- 7 hoursToday was my final day of takeover for student teaching, and again it was a day of learningand adaptation. Today was fourth grade again, and because of the chaos that eruptedduring the first section of fourth grade last week, I was feeling really hesitant about goingthrough with the lesson as originally planned. I wanted to get students to computers to dopartner work, but after last week, it was clear that they needed more supported practice withthe coordinate system and modeling from me. After going back and forth in my head a lot, I
decided that I would play the afternoon by ear. If at ten minutes into the lesson, the studentsseemed to be comfortable with plotting coordinates on the map, I would release them tocomputers to finish the activity with a partner. Otherwise, I would keep them as a wholegroup and work through the activity together. On the one hand, I worried that keeping themas a group would be too much of one thing, leading to disinterest. But the idea of a repeat incomplete chaos didn’t seem like a fun idea either. Honestly, had I not spent so much timedeveloping this lesson, I may have scrapped it altogether and worked out a different way toteach the concept. As it turned out, with two of the classes, I kept the students all togetherand although attention waned a bit at the end, they seemed pretty engaged and prettycomfortable with the activity by the end of the period. I believe Todd is going to continue themap coordinate activity for one more week and attempt to move them to computers rightaway next week.