Weekly Student Teaching Reflective Journal

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    Student Teaching - Weekly Journal LogsPhillips Traditional Elementary,Des Moines Public School District2014 Spring Semesterby Kevin Zdenek

    Weekly Log: Week 32/9 2/14

    1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did youhave?This week I took over a second reading group, and continued working with a coupleof students one-on-one. I filled in for the 4 th grade reading group, which I will betaking over next week, and I now take half of the 4 th grade math class to work onMath facts so Mrs. Keller can provide more targeted direct instruction to smallgroups.

    Both reading groups, which I taught this week were covering the same material,however their reading levels and behavior levels differ greatly so I needed to plan toteach each of the lessons differently. One group meets 5 times and the other onlymeets 4, so in the end it feels as though Im planning for 9 different lessons insteadof 5. What I like about just planning for 9 different lessons is that I can createopportunities to benefit each group specifically. Both groups need help withauthors purpose, for example, however one group needs help thinking through theprocess while the other needs a more hands on activity approach so it gives me a

    great chance to try out different ways to teach the same content.2. What were your most satisfying and challenging experiences?The most challenging experience this week was teaching Mr. Adrians 5 th gradereading group. They are the ones who are more of a behavior challenge. During onelesson this week I kept losing their attention and focus. It was clear that they werenot the same page with what I was expecting from them. It felt pretty disastrous.

    So the next day I put together a lesson that allowed them to work independently attheir specific, individualized skill level. I gave them a choice board that addressed 5separate levels of Blooms taxonomy and told them needed to select two. They

    were all activities centered around the content we were learning. The students veryexcited and worked hard for me all lesson. It gave me an opportunity to go aroundto each student and work one-on-one with them to address the area they mostneeded help in. That was my most satisfying experience of the week. I was justthrilled that I could take a negative experience and find a way to turn it around intoa positive experience for the students.

    3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?

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    Next week, I will take over half-time teaching responsibilities. I have 4 groups. (Allthree reading groups one of which meets twice a day.) I will have manyopportunities to try new strategies, and work with every level of ability that Mrs.Keller helps. I will also be coming up with plans for a new writing unit, which I willtake over the following week. Mrs. Keller said that I will have a lot of freedom with

    that unit, and so I will enjoy going through each students goals and finding a lessonthat addresses a common need.

    Weekly Log: Week 42/17 2/21

    1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did youhave?This week I began teaching half-days. I was responsible for all the reading groups in4 th and 5 th grade. It was a bit of strange schedule this week at Phillips so it neverreally felt like I was teaching a full half-day. There was the snow day, a reward partyand a school-wide tile painting project all of which cut into instruction time. Still itwas a very full week. I led the writing group twice, and filled in to supervise severalmath probes. Overall I felt like it was a great stepping stone to prepare me for fulltime responsibilities next week.

    2. What were your most satisfying and challenging experiences?The most challenging and satisfying experience this week was the beginning toteach the book, Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. The students in Mrs. Rohwedersclass who I see twice a day most days desperately has been asking to read a chapterbook like the other groups do. Since next week is an off week from the Write -InReade r there was an opening in the schedule, which would allow the students tohave time to actually complete a chapter book. I was really excited to have thechance to teach this book to them. I did a book talk on Monday and presented 2appropriate choices for their reading level, and they chose Mr. Fox. So we began thefirst 3 chapters this week, and I have provided them organizational strategies tohelp them sequence and summarize the book. Before we began the studentsexpressed their worries about reading a chapter book, and felt as though they mayget lost and not be able to keep up with the reading. So I created some scaffoldingmaterials to help them process the content and reading strategies to help themsucceed. They are so excited to read the book, and it makes me excited as well.

    3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?Next week, I take over full time teaching. Mrs. Keller will still be working with somenon-IEP students in Math, and we agree that this will be the most effective approachfor two reasons. I will have a chance to really focus on the IEP students and theirspecial challenges in Math, and Mrs. Keller will be able to push the non-IEP studentsfurther during the limited instructional time we have. In the end its better fo r thestudents, and I think that needs to be the most important concern.

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    Other goals for the week include continuing the Fantastic Mr. Fox reading group,and working on the Main Idea of the story and eventually theme. In writing thestudents will write a short description of their weekend. In 4 th grade reading wewill continue to read a story about explorers and work on character traits.

    Hopefully, there are not so many distractions this week like we had with snow daysand reward parties. It will make for a busy week, but lots of fun!

    Weekly Log: Week 52/24 2/28

    1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did youhave?This week I took over full days teaching bell -to- bell. We dont really have bells,but I did have to run from one group to the next. Last week I was responsible for allof the reading groups, and then this week I added the writing group and three mathgroups. The math groups we split into two, and I took the students with IEPs, whileMrs. Keller taught the non-IEP students. It was a great opportunity because I havebeen able to focus my instruction at their specific comprehension level. The writinggroup is still working to complete their persuasive papers and so I wanted tocontinue to work towards wrapping up that project. Those are students from 5 th grade. The 4 th graders I am working with are working on division problems andcontinuing to read stories from their write-in readers.

    2. What were your most satisfying and challenging experiences?The most challenging experiences this wee have been working with the mathgroups. It has worked out perfectly to split up the math groups because the IEPstudents Im working with had some basic misconceptions that needed addressingbefore they could be expected to compute more advanced calculations. I focused ontwo digit decimals instead of the three digits that the rest of the class has beenworking with. It may have meant taking a small step back, but their most recentmath probe showed that they were still unable to order numbers with two digitdecimals. My lessons have shown that although they can name the place values,they dont understand what they mean. They struggle determining whether 0.6 ismore or less than 0.62. So while it has been an everyday struggle, it has also been avery rewarding and eye-opening experience. I have had to learn a great deal of

    patience, and by the end of the week I felt as though I was beginning to gain sometraction with them. That was certainly rewarding.

    Another rewarding experience has been the 5 th grade reading group, which has beenreading the Fantastic Mr. Fox book. They finished the unit on Friday, and thestudents who were nervous about attempting a chapter book when we began theunit were begging for me to start another one next week. The last thing I had themdo was write an exit slip, which asked them to reflect on 1. What I learned from

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    the story, and 2. What I learned about myself as a reader. The students were ableto successfully identify major themes from the story, and one student wrote thatwhat he learned is that he felt he could read any chapter book. It was a veryrewarding experience for me, and I hope for them as well.

    3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?Next week, I will continue teaching full days. I will continue working on goalsestablished last week. In Math I will continue reviewing concepts introduced tostudents over the last several weeks. In reading I will continue to use the prescribedwrite-in reader interventions. However, in writing once the persuasive papers arecompleted, I will have a chance to tackle a new writing concept. I have notformalized my plans for that lesson as yet, but I know that two of the concepts thestudents have a great deal of difficulty with is stamina and descriptive words. Theydo not write out their sentences exactly how they hear them in their head becauseof how long it would take them to do so. As a result, they do not write out completesentences, and when a student is trying to simply finish as quickly as possible they

    will not attempt to describe an event in great detail. I want to come up with severallessons that will help the students be able to get down descriptive details quickerand use them in complete written thoughts.

    Weekly Log: Week 63/3 3/7

    1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did youhave?This past week was my second full week of bell-to-bell teaching. I worked with thereading groups on the intervention lessons. I worked with math groups reviewingand expanding their understanding of the core concepts taught during this unit.Also I worked with the writing group on a multi-day lesson I developed with helpfrom the resource teachers. That was a great learning experience for me because ittaught me a lot about planning, and how much you should expect from a student toget done in a lesson. It was supposed to be a two-day lesson, but I quickly learned itwould have taken a full week to get through everything.

    2. What were your most satisfying and challenging experiences?My most satisfying and challenging experiences this week involved my math groups.

    I felt as though I had a much better handle on being able to teach those skills thisweek. What turned it around for me was spending time developing multi-step storyproblems, which reviewed all the necessary content over this unit. My mentorteacher is amazing at coming up with story problems on the fly which address a skillset she can see needs extra work. Until Im at that level of ability where I can changedirection of the lesson on the fly, I found it easier to develop a story problem thatwould address all the different areas of concern. Students could then work ahead attheir own pace, and as they encountered a concept they had difficulty with I could

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    re-teach or scale back the complexity of the question until they understood.Meanwhile, the other students in my group were not waiting for me to come up witha new story problem. They could work ahead. For example, I would give a storyproblem, and first I would have them estimate, then I would have them solve for thetotal, then I would have them round to nearest decimal place, and finally, I would

    have them multiple and/or divide by whole numbers. This process helped meunderstand where students were having difficulty and what core concepts I neededto address. It may have t aken me a lot more time to do it this way, but until Imbetter at coming up with math problems like Mrs. Keller this is the route that helpedme prepare.

    3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?For my last week of student teaching at Phillips, I will have the opportunity toobserve different classrooms and even a different school. On Monday I start byvisiting Brubaker Elementary School to see a self-contained special education room,a behavior room and another resource room. They have 12 full time special

    education teachers at Brubaker with some students with more severe intellectualdisabilities. So Im excited to see the differences. Then I will be shadowing somelower elementary students in Kindergarten and in 1 st grade.

    On Tuesday, I will shadow the 3 rd grade special education teacher at Phillips. So Iwill be able to see some new students and different techniques. One student has aspecific behavior goal, which I had not had a chance to experience with the 4 th /5 th grade students. Im looking forward to learning some strategies to address that typeof students needs.

    On Wednesday, I will be sitting in with the 5 th grade general education classrooms. Iknow many of these students, but usually I only see them in small groups. I mexcited to see how they perform in a general education setting. Plus, since my nextplacement is a general education 5 th grade classroom, I will be observing sometechniques and strategies for teaching to a full 5 th grade class. Then after school, Iwill be participating in a mock interview with the principal at Phillips, Mrs. Prior-Sweet.

    On Thursday, I will be shadowing my mentor teacher again for one last time. I willget to say goodbye to all the students I worked with, and wrap up my placementhere at Phillips. Its hard to imagine that its nearly over already.

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