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REFLECTIONS

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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
                  SEMINAR REFLEXIVE PRACTICE
                       DR. SHERY STEELEY
            ...
Dr. Steeley                                    Date Due: Oct. 5th, 2009

              MY REFLECTION ON FIELDWORK ASSIGNME...
per chapter; reminder on Quizzes on Noun Clauses and types of clauses for
the next week and also a Quiz on rhetoric and to...
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REFLECTIONS

  1. 1. GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY SEMINAR REFLEXIVE PRACTICE DR. SHERY STEELEY TEA-PROGRAM 2009 CAROLINA BARRERA VALENZUELA GUATEMALA Seminar; Reflexive Practice Carolina Barrera Valenzuela
  2. 2. Dr. Steeley Date Due: Oct. 5th, 2009 MY REFLECTION ON FIELDWORK ASSIGNMENT My GOAL… To go through a sharing experience that broadens my perspective and helps the teacher inside me become better; first by empowering myself with new perspectives, techniques, and knowledge, and as a result being able to transmit all these through more exciting classes in which I can empower my students; as well as help my coworkers, my school and my Guatemalan community. On Wednesday the 29th of October I had my first visit to the assigned school for fieldwork, the name of the school is Oakton High School and it is located in Fairfax, Virginia. My mentor’s name is Beth Blankenship; she is a teacher for AP Language and Composition in 11th grade, her classes have about 30 students each. This visit was very interesting and it fit my goal perfectly, and even though not all the things I saw I agreed upon or liked, many of the things I witnessed were interesting and applicable to my classes and that made it meaningful. I’ll start with some of the good things I saw and some interesting teaching techniques she applied in her classes; first of all Mrs. Blankenship started her class explaining and projecting the agenda for that day’s and session and also for other assignments, which I though made class structured and easy to follow. Her session that day included: (assignments of the week, reminder to the students on them having to take the Practice Test 1 of Virginia Standards of Learning Assessments on Friday; reminder on them taking notes on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” up to Chapter 6 and having their double entry journals with two quotes explained
  3. 3. per chapter; reminder on Quizzes on Noun Clauses and types of clauses for the next week and also a Quiz on rhetoric and tone also for the next week’s sessions, she also told them about the Quiz they had that day based on the notes they took over Chapter 4 of on speech and creating opinions book (can’t remember the exact name)). Then class started, the session was interesting she started of by telling them to take out their essays and put them on their desks, she collected them and re-distributed them to other students so that no one got their own; then she gave them a piece of paper with a guideline on how to grade each other’s papers, and so each student did that silently until she said time was up. Then after that she went into a small discussion on “The Scarlet Letter” up to Chapter 6 reminding them on their journals; after that she distributed a sample essay for them to see how they would be graded on the upcoming standardized test on Friday, she had 2 examples one of a student who had a high grade- 6 points, and one of a student with a grade of 2 points. At the end of class she had her students take out their notes on Chapter 4 of the “speech book” and they could use these for their quiz. And then class was over, the next period was exactly the same because it was also an 11th grade class. Her class periods were double periods and I forgot to mention that every Wednesday in the morning the teachers have their meetings, so I actually witnessed part of the AP English Department’s discussions on several topics. Things I enjoyed from that day’s session, students were well behaved, did as were told, and seemed to know what they were doing. The teacher knew her topic extremely well and seemed to enjoy what she was teaching; the themes that were discussed in class and the topics are high level topics which the students seem to understand well, so it reflects a higher level of education which one would not see in all high schools in the U.S. I also loved her essay rubrics and an excellent idea on Creative Writing by adapting one of Langston Hughes’s poems about oneself which the teacher had done at the beginning of the year and had displayed her student’s works. And as I liked many things, there are things I didn’t particularly share or enjoyed.
  4. 4. Now some of the things I didn’t really see or liked were; the kids behaved well, but there was almost no feedback from them, if the teacher asked a question and they didn’t answer it was ok and she would just keep on going, the students were extremely quiet and I though that was not good for such a long class. Also the class arrangement is just a normal rows arrangement which is not inviting for discussions but structured, but I suppose it is because of the number of students and the limited space. I also noticed that the kids don’t even salute the teacher as they come in or go out of the classroom, they didn’t even say Hi to me at the beginning until I broke the ice; it is an extremely cold environment. And the last thing that caught my attention was that as the kids were taking their quizzes I walked around the classroom and started reading their own Langston Hughes “Theme for Essay B” Poems and as I did so I noticed that some heads started to roll after they were done with their quizzes and they started reading the poems and commenting on them, I don’t know but it seemed as if they hadn’t shared them among themselves previously, which if it was the case is sad because they were absolutely wonderful. And that was the end of my first Wednesday’s fieldwork… On Friday I got to Oakton and had the privilege of Ms Blankenship arranging a super schedule for me, I had mentioned to her that I love History and Art and that I would also love to see English taught in other grade levels, so she was really nice and had me attend several classes; this was actually great because all her classes were to take the Virginia Standardized Practice Test for English Writing; and one class of those was enough. So the first period I did get to witness the 11 th graders take the sample test, and then I was off to see a regular 10th grade English class, and after that an Art class. The 10th grade English class was good, the teacher had good ideas for making the students participate, but I think that she lacked experience and afterwards I was told that she was new and so yes you could notice she had a hard time managing the group. Her class also started with the agenda of the day, which included a SNEEZE AND WRITING activity for a 20 minute period, this was the first time the students were doing this and it was related to their reading on “Antigone”,
  5. 5. the title of the entry was “An incident that has demonstrated my values…” – before the kids started writing she gave out the rules to the activity, and the kids pretty much followed them, mainly at the end. Then, the next part of the class was reading and discussing a chapter of “Antigone” so she had some students come up to the front of the class to read a part, this was good though one could hardly hear them, and she never told them to raise their voices, or didn’t correct them on how they were reading or pronouncing. And after that, she had the students stand up with their homework of vocabulary open and as they were getting wrong answers they had to sit down. She did have good ideas, got the students involved but she should also correct them and not just say everything is great and ok. It is absolutely great to give positive reinforcement, but I do think as teachers we can also give input on how to become better. And finally I went to an art class, I loved the environment, how the students loved and enjoyed the class, I got to see 10th graders and 12th graders, and I saw how the teacher was PASSIONATE about what she did and she transmitted that to her students, I loved her class and got really interesting ideas from it. So my search for more techniques and ideas for teaching continues, and my learning process is precisely in process…
  6. 6. Seminar; Reflexive Practice Carolina Barrera Valenzuela Dr. Steeley Date Due: Oct. 6th, 2009 MY REFLECTION ON PORTFOLIOS IN GUATEMALA In general portfolios in Guatemala currently are not used so much by a large percentage of schools or Universities. The schools who do use portfolios are usually the ones that have some link with the American culture. The way in which these schools use them is mostly the way portfolios are used here in the U.S., which is for keeping physical or technological records of teachers’ or students’ works and knowledge proven accumulation over a certain period of time. The basic goal behind them is to keep these records and basically be able to see progress through them, or also to be able to keep a record of people’s works and be able to go back to them and use as reference for ideas, techniques, strategies, and so on. With kids I’ve also seen portfolios used as a tool for journal entries and reflections. Some Universities like the one I attended “Universidad del Valle de Guatemala” has some of the strongest emphasis in Education Careers and it does promote the use of portfolios and actually teaches you how to do them and makes you practice doing them as the courses develop. Though, I know that most Universities don’t teach this topic in detail yet. The Guatemalan National Curriculum does suggest the use of portfolios, but it is not yet demanding its full use… so we’ll see if at some point it would…
  7. 7. Seminar; Reflexive Practice Carolina Barrera Valenzuela Dr. Steeley INCIDENT(S) THAT CAUSE REFLECTIONS ON MY TEACHINGS Related questions: How does that reflection inform your teaching? Do you share your reflections with colleagues? Supervisors? Recently my seniors had their standardized Michigan and ELASH tests and they scored very highly, at least the majority. I was really proud of them and excited because this means that they won’t have to take English at University level, and automatically this certifies them to be eligible for graduating from University with English proficiency. So, yes this made me reflect and see that what I’ve been doing in class is working, sometimes I feel frustrated with grades and attitudes coming from them, but in the end the information and skills were been obtained and managed. And yes, I did share this with my colleagues and my Principal and all of them were happy and congratulated me on the manner. One aspect that I’ve also been reflecting about is a comment some of my 11th grade students made on a lesson related to “Animal Farm” and they said that they felt it exciting in the beginning and middle, but towards the end they got fed up and lost interest; this also made me think that I need to adjust some assessment and activities for my future lesson plans in this topic.
  8. 8. Seminar; Reflexive Practice Carolina Barrera Valenzuela Dr. Steeley WHEN PLANNING WHAT FACTORS DOES THE TEACHER CONSIDER? I think that when planning a teacher should consider many things but most importantly I would say the following are a must:  Lesson coherence and alignment with curriculum.  Good activities to make each lesson meaningful, exciting and interesting for the students to learn.  Good strategies for addressing the lesson in a righteous manner.  Meeting individual needs, considering multiple intelligences and different learning styles.  Good assessments to go along with activities and strategies.  As one plans, a teacher must already think of the Evaluation process.  Lots of creativity should be involved while planning.  Consider school policies and established standards to look for alignment.
  9. 9. Seminar; Reflexive Practice Carolina Barrera Valenzuela Dr. Steeley HOW DO YOU USE LEARNING STRATEGIES IN YOUR TEACHING? I think learning strategies are really useful, many people consider them a waste of time or that they could take away from the time which should be dedicated to lecturing or just getting to a topic as fast as you can. When in reality learning strategies can actually motivate learning and make a more meaningful impact con the students’ learning process. I use learning strategies most of the time because I see them as powerful tools to enrich my classes. I usually use Journal Entries for reflection on certain topics related usually to literature we read or any other topic been taught at the time. I also like to use concept maps, tables, Venn –diagrams, different graphs, artistic ways to do renditions or to elaborate on some kind of reflection, KWL tables, etc. I also believe that certain warm up activities can HELP in getting students to feel motivated and ready to learn, such as the many ones I already knew before coming to TEA but also some new ones I learned like Tea Party, shoulder partner, etc.
  10. 10. Seminar; Reflexive Practice Carolina Barrera Valenzuela Dr. Steeley HOW CAN GROUP WORK AID YOUR TEACHING? I think group work is very important when teaching. I consider two types of group work that come into my mind. First the group work a teacher should create or have with other teachers of her own subjects, but also with other teachers of other subject areas. This is important because a lesson plan can become richer and more effective when another person provides backup or insight, for instance those that teach the same topics can give new ideas or perspectives on how to approach a certain topic. Also teaming up with co- workers with different subject areas than your own is also good because you can plan wonderful holistic lesson plans together that can target many subject areas and can be evaluated at the same time by different teachers. Also a group work inside a classroom with students being teamed up, can help in making the class more involved in teamwork and learn how to work in groups is a skill that must be acquired today, because in real life that’s how everyone works, or at least the vast majority.
  11. 11. Seminar; Reflexive Practice Carolina Barrera Valenzuela Dr. Steeley HOW DOES A TEACHER USE OBJECTIVES IN PLANNING IN YOUR INTERNSHIP? ARE THERE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR COUNTRY AND THE FIELDWORK SCHOOLS HERE? In the school I attended to here in Virginia- Oakton High School, the teacher always had her agenda of the day posted at the beginning of the class and the objectives of why students are doing the work they are doing. She actually sometimes not only talks about the day’s work but also future objectives and tasks to accomplish. Which I consider great because students know what is expected from them and to which direction they are aiming at. Knowing objectives is great because they are like guidelines that help you close gaps. In Guatemala I can’t generalize because it depends on schools, but in the majority of schools students don’t know the objectives and this would be the usual case, but again it depends on the school and teachers.

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