Archive for the ‘Internship’ Category

On Thursday, June 7, 2012, I observed another Mr. O’s A.P. Government class. The students were completing a series of debates on important political issues. I observed a debate on the issue of Gay Marriage.
Mr. O began his class by calling attention to the front of the classroom. The students seemed unruly due to the lateness of the class in the year. Mr. O was able to call attention to the front of the room and provided time for students to set up the debate court at the front of the room.
The first debate was on the issue of Gay Marriage. The entire course of the debate was mediated by a panel of students who acted as the jury and judge of the debate. The two sides of the debate sat at two desks opposite each other and followed specific procedures to explain their reasoning and perspective. The debaters began with a minute opening statement for each side and then were given time for a rebuttal and crossfire argument. The floor was then opened to questions from the class. The debaters opposed to gay marriage made interesting arguments, highlighting religious and traditional reasoning. The comic way that the arguments were presented suggested that the two individuals may not have been entirely convinced of their arguments. The two debaters in favor of Gay Marriage had much more prepared statements, communicating a firm conviction of their perspectives and arguments. When the debate was opened up to questions from the class, students in the audience, the pro Gay Marriage students, and the judges grilled the two students against Gay Marriage. This turn of events illuminated the general leaning of the classroom towards one side of the debate. There were then a couple students who illuminated their conservative background by voicing their perspective conflicting with the common class motivation. These students were met with intense opposition to their perspective. One student in the panel of judges then asked the incredibly illuminating question: “How does allowing gay marriage protect the institution of marriage.” Another student from the panel of judges then asked, “Why does one group get to call unions marriage while another doesn’t?” Other students then illuminated the condition of children with two parents of the same gender.
Throughout the debate, Mr. O interjected comments and questions to keep the debate going and to call attention to different sides of specific arguments. At one point, his pointed question illuminated his close affinity to one side of the argument, but mostly maintained a moderate position within the debate. He also corrected a student because of his degrading comments, revealing the high standard that he has for his students in a moderately relaxed atmosphere. During the whole process, the students communicated a comfort with Mr. O’s curriculum and expectations. This kind of atmosphere is conductive to healthy learning environment.
The debate ended with a finishing statement by each opposing sides. Mr. O then finished the class by discussing justice and moral issues with the class. He started his summary by asking students poignant questions about differences between individual moral standards and ethical reasoning. He illuminated both Consequentialist and Categorical reasoning for ethical standards. He then described a scenario proposed by a Harvard Professor which involves moral reasoning within a trolley car. The students were then given the option of killing five without decision or killing one by making a conscious decision. A second scenario was presented were the students would have to kill someone in order to save five people. His point was to illuminate how student morality changes in specific situations. This particular discussion created diverse student discussion and interaction illuminating their confusion with these particular scenarios.

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On Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, I observed Mrs. E. S.’s Advanced Placement European History class fourth period. Having completed the A.P. tests, the class was presenting projects on historical topics of student interest. I had the opportunity to observe a presentation on specific terrorist organizations and a presentation on the history of chocolate.
Both presentations were very well laid out and excellently presented. The two students who presented the terrorist presentations discussed the Black Hand, Cosa Nostra, and the IRA. For each group the students described the history of the organization, the infamous members, and the weapons that the group famously used. They were very detailed in their description of each and easily answered questions from the audience, showing a familiarity and understanding of the content.
The second group described the history of chocolate. They began with an explanation of where chocolate comes from and how it is made, then expanded into a detailed history of chocolate’s development and influence on western culture. They described how the chocolate had come from the Aztecs, had spread to Spain during the period of Spanish conquest, and the spread to the rest of Europe. They then described how France had perfected the chocolate creation process and some of the festivals in France that are continued today because of it. They then described how that process had been altered in Switzerland to become what we know it as today. They then finished their project with a quiz over the project’s content and gave students chocolate as a reward for their correct answers.
The excellence of both of these projects proves the educational worth of student interest led research and projects. Both groups of students showed a passion for the subject matter unlike other presentations that I’ve observed during my internship where the topic has been selected by the teacher. Students need to be inspired to take charge of their understanding of history, which often means creating their own framework for understanding. If students can be encouraged to understand material from meaningful contexts then they will more likely to hold on to that information after the unit test. Student led projects like these allow students to pursue meaningful contexts by which they can retain new understandings.

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On June 6, 2012, I observed Mr. M’s 2nd period U.S. History class fulfilling the observation requirements for my internship. Mr. M’s teaching method differed significantly from my mentor teacher’s. It was a great opportunity to compare two different teachers to define what aspects of both teaching styles I want to use in my classroom.
Mr. M and my Mentor Teacher teach the same class, so I was already familiar with the content of Mr. M’s lecture having taught a majority of the material already to my students during the internship. For this reason, I was able to focus on the delivery method and learning strategies present in the lecture and analyzed each strategy for its impact and effectiveness.
Mr. M began the class by reminding his students about assignments that were due and tests that still needed to be taken. He informed the class that there were several students who had been absent the day of the test and that those students would receive a zero in the grade book until they found time to make it up. He then handed out a map activity to the class which he planned for them to work on later in the period.
Mr. M then began to describe the Nixon administration and Watergate. He informed his students from the beginning of the lecture that he knew that they had been jumping around a lot when covering content in his classroom, meaning that the topics that he had addressed in his class had not been specifically chronological. He then had students recall information that they had learned in previous lessons by asking about aspects of the Nixon Administration that they had covered already. The students showed their engagement by actively answering all of Mr. M’s questions. He then described the important aspects of the Nixon Administration and Watergate, briefly covering topics by spending less than 5 minutes on each. He then moved on to cover the Ford Administration very briefly and then described important concepts from the Carter Administration including developments in the Middle East. The lecture took about 40 minutes, and Mr. M finished the class by having his students work on their map assignments.
Throughout the course of his lecture, Mr. M posed questions to his students to gauge comprehension and retention of material. Unfortunately, this created a lecture format with a variable flow, where important content and concepts were difficult to identify. Mr. M also used very few visuals. The central visual that he used was the Middle East map that he has hanging at the front of the classroom which was used in his explanation of Middle Eastern developments during the Carter Administration. Also, the lecture content lacked specifics which made his presentation seem imprecise or scattered. The overall lack of structure created an environment where it became very easy for students to check out.
Mr. M’s format was very successful at eliciting student response from students who wanted to respond. Unfortunately, his format required very little student engagement otherwise. It was clear that many students were not taking notes and there appeared to be very few repercussions for not taking them. With more structure, Mr. M could be more successful at increasing student performance in his classroom. The flexibility of his classroom is desired for a healthy learning atmosphere, but the structure for successful student performance needs to be in place. The students need to be free to actively engage historical understanding on their own, but will not be productive without the proper framework.

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For my Internship I constructed many lesson plans that highlighted different aspects and topics of U.S. History.  Specifically for the TPA process I was able to write all of my own material and created several activities that highlight my ability to engage students in content and help them develop their academic ability.  The lesson plan that I’ve provided is one of the lessons that I submitted to Pearson for review as well as my reflection on student work for the daily activities.  I’ve also included the three student work samples and the documents that were missing from the TPA submission.

TPA Lesson 2

TPA Assessment Commentary

Student Work Sample 1

Student Work Sample 2

Student Work Sample 3

24.1 The Movement Begins (Part One)

24.1 The Movement Begins (Part One) Teacher Notes

Lesson 2 Learning Objective

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On Wednesday, March 14th, I attended Auburn Riverside High School’s Parent Teacher Conferences and filled in for my mentor teacher while he was out for tennis practice. This was officially the second week of my internship and there was very little that I knew about the students. In preparation for the conference I became familiar with my mentor teacher’s assignments and expectations. I used an Ipad to access the student’s records and conversed with parents about missing assignments and what students could do to improve their grade.
I conversed with one parent who informed me about their student’s learning difficulties. I was able to accommodate those difficulties later in class. I also talked with a couple who were concerned about their student’s grade, which had slipped significantly since the last grading period. I was able to direct them towards the student’s missing assignments as the reason for the drop in her grade. There were several other parents whom I was able to supply missing assignments for their students. I also talked with the ELL specialist, who was seated at the table next to me, and was able to ask her about the ELL students that I had in several classes. It was an excellent opportunity to understand how to reach some of my struggling students. I interacted with several teachers and participated in a wave that the teachers started towards the end of the conferences when very few parents were left.
I was very glad that I was able to participate in the conference because I gained invaluable experience for my future teaching career. I was able to successfully interact with parents about classes that I had just started observing and was able to assist them with understanding their student’s grade and what they could do to help their students perform better in the classroom. I also gained invaluable knowledge about my struggling students and how I could accommodate them in class. Because of this experience, I know what to expect for my own Parent Teacher Conferences in my future teaching career.

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On March 15, 2012, I attended Auburn Riverside Theatre Raven Player’s musical, Once on This Island. There were several students from my classes that performed in the play and I was glad to be able to support them in their extracurricular activities. The production was extraordinary and contained many beautiful sets and costumes. The overall message of the play, however, contained themes that I thought were inappropriate for the school environment.
Once on this Island is a play about a young girl that is rescued from a tree by an older couple and who is blessed and destined for greatness by the gods of the island. She saves a young white man from a car crash and keeps him alive in her hut in the village until the white society comes to get him. She then leaves her village and her family to go find the young white man while accompanied by the gods on the island. She eventually finds her young man, whom she loves, who is recovering at his home from his accident. She decides to stay with him in his room and it is implied that they sleep together. Once the young man recovers, the young girl discovers that he is promised to a girl in the white society. When she asks him about this, the young man responds by telling her that there are some girls that you love and some girls that you marry. She is then kicked out of the house that he lives in when she gets in the way of the marriage and dies pledging her love to him outside the gates of his house. The gods then decide to take the young girl’s spirit and change it into a tree that grows up and breaks the gate of the young man’s house. The play then ends with the gods explaining how the young man’s kids will play always within the shadow of that tree and that eventually there will be a little girl from the village whom his son will fall in love with, forever reminding him of the love of that girl from the village that he rejected.
There were several aspects of the play that I took issue with. First, the play glamorizes young intimacy. Secondly, the play creates the impression that love is something that is selfish and ultimately tragic. The characters wage love against each other throughout the play and end up destroying each other’s lives. These themes are incredibly destructive to young minds if taken seriously and could lead them to make bad decisions in their young lives. A better play would have explored themes like selflessness and the love of family. I was very glad to see my students perform in the play, but was concerned with the content and messages of the production.

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On Saturday April 28th, 2012, I held a practice Advanced Placement United States test in my mentor teacher’s classroom for the A.P. students. The students were able to prepare for the official A.P. test two weeks before the test by taking the test from several years before. The students were very appreciative of the fact that I had taken several hours out of my Saturday to help them prepare for the test.
I reserved the room with the school office during the week prior. When the students arrived on Saturday, they took an 80 question multiple choice test for 55 minutes. This was followed by a 15 minute break. They were then given 130 minutes to complete the Document Based Question and two free response questions. The students followed the procedures for the A.P. test and were able to prepare themselves for the A.P. test environment. All of the students stayed for the multiple choice section, but a few left after the break and took the essay section home to complete. There were a few students who stayed until they had finished the essay section and one stayed for all of the time allotted for the essays. Each student was given a packet with the answers to the test and hints on how to rate their essays. I graded their answers to the multiple choice section and returned their completed sections to them.
Many of the A.P. students that showed up for the practice A.P. test had taken the Advanced Placement European History exam the previous year. This experience, however, was a valuable reminder of the conditions of the test for the students. It also allowed reminded them about test question phrasing and the rigor the expectations for the test. Through this experience the students gained a valuable understanding of what the A. P. U.S. History test would be like and were able to prepare for the official test accordingly.

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During this week, my U.S. History students completed a review of the Cold War and began work on their Classroom Based Assessment. My Advanced Placement U.S. History students began their video review of history- their reward for completing the A.P. test.
The U.S. History students have been working on a review for about a week since they finished their Vietnam unit. We watched two films on the Cold War in class and completed a set of notes that detailed the central Cold War events that took place since the Vietnam War. The plan had been originally to have the students complete a project assignment that had them describe each event that was a possible topic for the CBA during the video review. However, when I started this process with the students I found that they had checked out during the film and were not completing the assignment. For this reason, I abandoned my original plan for the unit and wrote notes for the review film and constructed a set of lecture notes. This experience was invaluable because it has helped me realize the balance that needs to be established between student initiative and guided learning. The students need to be given the opportunity to explore topics and issues on their own. However, if they are given too little guidance they will not willingly pursue understanding unless scaffolds and expectations are properly in place. The ideal classroom is an environment where students feel compelled to pursue understanding on their own. This is a goal that I have set for my future classroom.
These students also began the process of completing their Classroom Based Assessment, which assesses each student’s ability to analyze causes of a significant Cold War event. Each student has been assigned a topic that has been previously covered in class and will be completing a 2 to 4 page paper analyzing causes from specific social science perspectives. For each day the student has been assigned a specific objective, which assists each student in preparing their materials for the essay. During Thursday and Friday of this week, the students worked individually in the library to complete each daily assignment. There has been some confusion regarding daily assignments and some conflict over topic assignment. I was not able to give every student their first topic but was mostly able to give them one of their second or third choices. There has still been some shuffling of topics as students have realized that their original topic has been more difficult to research than they originally thought. Besides this, the last two days of the week were greatly productive.
With the A.P. students I have begun a series of historical films which address different aspects of the 20th century. To maintain educational progress and learning, I created a series of reflection questions that accompany each film. These reflection questions will be completed in addition to a generic worksheet created by my mentor teacher which asks generic questions about Hollywood’s interpretation of history. With this process it has been difficult to keep students focused on the content of the film because the A.P. students have mostly checked out after the A.P. test. On Wednesday, I began to consider abandoning the film unit because students were not paying attention to the film. Besides my frustration with their apparent rudeness, I was in the position where the lack of attention in class was creating a complete lack of productivity. If the students were getting nothing out of the films I was showing in class, why show them? I informed students of this perspective and their attitude and conduct in class changed dramatically the next day.

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During this week, my students and I finished the Civil Rights Unit by talking about social and economic issues facing African Americans and watching a PBS documentary on the movement called “Eyes on the Prize”. The students also spent a day preparing for the test, and then took the summative assessment on Friday. I also covered all of my mentor’s teachers classes on Friday and gave a practice A.P. Test on Saturday.
The Civil Rights movement after it had accomplished its two initial legislative goals of outlawing segregation and protecting voting rights of African Americans attempted to solve the housing and job discrimination that was taking place against African Americans all over the United States. My students and I discussed this issue by looking at particular events and individuals that define this movement towards social and economic equality, an issue that is largely still viable today. My students also reflected on the importance of nonviolent protest and returned reflections that largely communicated this understanding.
We watched this incredible documentary (“Eyes on the Prize”) for the next two days which is constructed from original footage and photographs and modern interviews with the still surviving participants. Many students reacted appropriately to the controversial and aggravating footage of white southerners assaulting peacefully protesting African Americans. At one point, a female student responded to footage of the first Selma March by asking questions about the legality of their actions and eventually coming to the definitive conclusion, “That’s not right.” With these kind of moments, my desire to continue attempting to reach students is solidified and encouraged because it becomes obvious that the students are getting the message inherent in the topics and themes we address in class.
The students prepared in class for the summative assessment on Thursday. They were given a list of thirteen short answer questions to prepare for and time in class to begin writing their responses. I informed the students that they would be turning in their prep work to me before the test, because many of them failed to prepare for the last summative assessment I wrote. This practices was mostly successful and a majority of the students turned in their prep work to me on Friday. Both first and third period prepared for the test this way. So far, I’ve only graded first period tests, so I’m hoping that there will be a noticeable difference in third period, where I implemented a new form of note taking to encourage student information retention. Overall, though, I’ve seen a general increase in scores for this unit relating largely to the subject matter and the stressed importance of the review before the test.
There was one student who is ELL and for which I wrote an assessment that required less English proficiency, though no less proficiency in the content of the unit. Even though I’ve differentiated for him to encourage him to become a part of the learning community, he turned the test in blank (again). I’m not entirely sure how to proceed with this student. I was told that he was a very successful student in his previous school and I’ve talked to him directly and to the ELL expert about how I can best accommodate him. But he’s not even attempting, which is a sign I’m unsure how to interpret.
I also taught my mentor teacher’s full roster of classes and gave a practice A.P. test on Saturday. I felt somewhat unsure about my anecdotal knowledge of the Vietnam War, even though I’m familiar with the general themes and content. I informed my students before the lecture that my understanding of these events is not going to be the same kind of proficiency that might come from someone who lived through the Vietnam War. It was my indirect ploy to help students understand that I’m not yet an expert in all the material that we will cover in class so that they don’t have that expectation of me, which students responded to positively. Besides that, though, I thought the lecture went pretty well for having little external knowledge to discuss while covering the content on the PowerPoint presentations. I then gave a practice A.P. test on Saturday, which about seven students showed up for. They were very appreciative that I gave up my free time to do this for them and I think that it will be helpful for them when they take the A.P. test in a few weeks.

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During this week I completed the Teacher Performance Assessment process on my ten day unit plan on Civil Rights. For this process I created all of the materials for the unit, fulfilling one of the expectations of student teaching for SPU. I recorded myself teaching for the week and tried to introduce students to experiential forms of learning, which is largely a departure from their normal routine which mostly consists of lectures and videos. My attempt was to have students engage different personalities and aspects of the Civil Rights Movement in order to help them create their own impression and perspective of the events that transpired. This process was met with mixed reviews from the students.
On the first day, I had the students organized into three juries at three different tables around the room. After the pre-assessment, I had them review the evidence surrounding the trial of the two men accused of the murder of Emmett Till and then work together to come to a verdict that they thought was fair and equitable. After they turned in their verdicts, I informed them of the actually ruling of the Mississippi jury, which, with all the evidence against them, was acquittal for both men of all charges. This activity launched my Civil Rights Unit which consisted of a shortened lecture and a group or individual activity analyzing primary or secondary sources for each day. The lecture format had been altered from a fill in the blank format to a concept list format, which required students to listen to what I was saying to get the information for the lectures. Because of this change in format, the result was that lectures took much longer than expected, leaving less time for the activities then I had planned. Many of these activities were presented in class and ended up as homework. Students were also given an extra credit assignment to supplement their work load and struggling students were given additional materials to help prepare them for the assessment, which will be altered for them during this week.
I got mixed reviews back from students on their self-assessment which included questions about their opinion of the Civil Rights Unit so far. A few complained about the amount of homework, which had partially happened because there hadn’t been as much time in class as planned for the activities. Students also disliked the fact that information was often repeated, which was intentional. Student readings from the night before matched the content of the lectures so that students would be exposed to content twice or more for retention for the assessment. A few students enjoyed projects like the civil rights song that they wrote and when they listened to the entirety of the “I have a dream” speech by Marin Luther King Jr. Many students reported that they enjoyed the new format and that they were confident in the material they had learned for this unit so far. Many also knew what they had to do to prepare for the test at the end of next week. It will be interesting to see what the assessment results are for this format with the intentional additions that I’ve added that focused on helpings students understand and retain unit content.

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