Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

I feel like I really don’t have much to report again. Because of the Talent Show this Friday, today was another Talent Show practice day in which the music teacher called all of the students to the gym during their Specials (music, gym, library, and art) time. She then took the students who are performing in the Talent Show to the stage to practice with them and the rest of the students participated in a gym day which the gym teacher, my cooperating teacher, and I managed.

Yesterday the gym teacher had all of the students run 6 laps around the track before they were allowed to play with the various gym stations. Today she increased the number to 7 laps and told the students that they would be running 8 laps tomorrow and 10 laps on Thursday. She explained that 10 laps make up a mile. I thought it was interesting that she was expecting the same thing from every single grade level. The 5th Grade students are running the same amount of laps as the kindergarten students. I am also wondering how the younger students will deal with the increased laps because yesterday I had a kindergarten student who didn’t finish her 6 laps before the end of class. Will the students be able to run 10 laps before the end of class and still have time for the stations?

This is an incredibly short reflection, but I really don’t have anything else to say. I watched students run laps and play with toys. It was the same thing as yesterday and every other Friday here at Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School.

I’m not looking forward to doing this two more times this week.

<< Monday, April 13, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Wednesday, April 15, 2015 >>

This week there won’t be as much to reflect on as the Talent Show is this Friday. Because the Talent Show is this Friday, the music teacher is pulling all of the students this week from all of their Specials classes (Music, Gym, Library, and Art,) and practicing for the Talent Show with them. All of the student who do not get pulled are being sent to the gym for a “Fitness Friday” type of gym day. This means that my cooperating teacher and I are not teaching any art classes this week!

I was surprised to find that we’re simply doing a “Fitness Friday” schedule every single day this week for every single class. Every single class is running laps around the track and then having free time with the gym stations. It’s really rather annoying, and my cooperating teacher’s a little annoyed too. I don’t understand why the Talent Show students couldn’t have just been pulled from the regular Specials classes. Why did all the students who didn’t get pulled have to go to the gym?

Like I said, there really isn’t much to report. I watched students run laps. I watched students play with basketballs, scooterboards, hula hoops, and jump ropes. Rinse and repeat. I’m not looking forward to doing this 24 times this week.

There was one moment of significance, though.

While I was monitoring the students while they were running their laps and marking dots on their hands for every time they ran a lap to keep track of how many laps they ran, a kindergarten student came running up to me, “There’s a bird over there! There’s a baby bird over there!” he yelled. I looked behind me and found a large group of kindergarten students gathered around the building’s wall.

“Oh no! Don’t touch it! Tell everyone not to touch it; I’ll be there when I can!” I responded.

I didn’t know what to do at that very moment since I still needed to mark students’ hands with dots and I didn’t want to leave my post and cause a panic. I searched around for my cooperating teacher, but she had gone into the gym to monitor students inside, and I didn’t know where the gym teacher was either.

Moments later, another kindergarten student ran up to me and dropped a baby bird in my hands. The bird was quite young and hadn’t even grown all of his feathers in yet. His beak was intensely bright yellow and what feathers he did have were striped. I’m not exactly sure what kind of bird he was, but since there’s a lot of house sparrows nesting around the building, I figured he was a house sparrow. (I just did a quick Google Image search and yes, that’s exactly what it was.)

“Oh no!” I yelled out. ” I told you not to touch him. We have to put him back! We have to put him back!” I tried to reason with the kindergarten students that had gathered around me now, but they were pleading about how they needed to help him, keep him, save him. “No, we have to put him back exactly where you found him!” I gave him back to the student who was originally holding the bird and told her to put him back.

Moments later my cooperating teacher came outside from the gym and I called her over and told her what had happened. She went over to the group of kindergarten students and shouted, “Everyone get away from the bird! No bird! Get away from the bird! She cleared the area and stood watch for a moment to shoo away student who tried to return. For the rest of the class, we had to keep watch and keep students away. They were so interested and invested that they kept trying to return.

After the class ended, I Google searched on my phone what to do with a found baby bird. According to what I read, the best thing to do was really just to leave the bird there. I read that bird’s do not have a good sense of smell, so they won’t actually smell if the bird’s been touched by a human and that their parenting instincts are so strong, that they’ll continue to raise the bird on the ground. I read that the bird has high chances of living if there are no cats or dogs in the area. This gave me hope and made me feel a lot better as I really didn’t know what to do and I just wanted to help the poor animal. He was sitting on the ground shivering ferociously.

I’m hoping that the bird will be all right.

<< Friday, April 10, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Tuesday, April 14, 2015 >>

Friday Assembly

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Today was a pretty good day, though I feel that there’s not much to report because it was a Fitness Friday.

The day began with the usual Friday assembly, though this one was much shorter than previous ones. Next week’s agenda was discussed, the new P.R.I.D.E. Leaders were given their badges, the birthdays from this week were celebrated, and the pledges were said. After assembly, there were still 20 minutes left of the 1st period class, a rare occurrence.

Unfortunately, it was raining all morning, so we were not able to take the students outside and instead had to hold gym stations inside. This caused quite a bit of chaos, since there’s usually half of the students inside and half outside. Instead, we had to squish all of the students inside with the basketballs, scooterboards, jump ropes, hula hoops, hippity-hops, and other toys. Another inconvenience was the fact that the music teacher was practicing next week’s talent show on the stage. This meant that all of the stations that are normally on the stage, such as the gymnastics mats, puzzles, crayons, building blocks, etc. had to be moved to the gym floor. Although we placed cones to separate the basketball area from the wheeled vehicle area from the gymnastics area from the hippity-hop area, etc., it was still a crazy mess with students running over the cones or just ignoring them.

It’s a challenge managing so many hyperactive and excited students!

After the 1st period ended, the jump ropes had been left in a complete mess. They are normally hung on a wheeled rack, but the ropes were so tangled the rack couldn’t even be rolled. I took the 5 minute passing period time to unravel all of the jump ropes and hang them back up appropriately. I also hung them up by size and color and was pleased when I was finished. The gym teacher saw my work and was incredibly happy and pleased. “Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen the jump ropes so organized!” she exclaimed. “The whole time I’ve worked here, it’s never looked like this!”

The next period went about the same as the first did. I spent my time making sure that students were safe on the wheeled vehicles, trying to explain to the students playing basketball that they weren’t supposed to travel with the ball out of bounds, and re-setting the cones that were ran over, pushed aside, or moved about.

When the next class period began, though, the gym teacher approached me with an proposition. She thanked me for the jump ropes again and began to ask if I’m an organized person. “Is your house really clean? Do you keep everything neat? Do you hate when things are messy?” she asked. I told her that I actually like organizing and I keep everything organized in my life. She was stunned. Then she asked if I’d be interested in organizing the gym’s equipment room. “I don’t want to pressure you, but if you like doing it…” I was thrilled. I absolutely love organizing things, and when it’s helping someone, it’s even better. For the rest of the day, I bounced between helping managing the students in the gym and organizing the equipment room.

Although the gym teacher kept saying that the room was horrid and that she was embarrassed by it, it really wasn’t bad at all. Everything was grouped together, all the balls in one bin, all the cones in one stack, it was just a little cluttered. Everything was basically organized, I felt it all just needed a home. I moved things around, sorted things a little better, and made sure that everything was in some sort of barrel, box, pile, stack, etc. By the end of the day, the room was completely organized with nothing out in the middle of the floor like before. Everything was on a shelf, put away, and easily in view.

The gym teacher came into the room and lost her mind. “It’s so clean! I can see everything! I’ve never seen it like this before!” She was so thrilled, that she video taped the room, photographed it, and began sending the photos out to other staff members. She called for the music teacher to check it out, and they were both in awe together. I felt happy to help and just excited that I got to organize, something I absolutely love doing. “Now that I can see what we have to work with, I feel better about Field Day!” the gym teacher said.

I’m really glad that she liked the room and I’m happy that I was able to help out. It made today a good day.

Katy Perry – Roar

Here’s one of the songs that’s played at the beginning of the Friday assemblies.

<< Tuesday, April 7, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Monday, April 13, 2015 >>

Today allowed me to improve upon my teaching from yesterday.

The day began with 2nd Grade, a class in which I hadn’t actually taught yet. Because I was unfamiliar with the lesson, I asked my teacher to teach the first class yesterday so that I would be better prepared to teach today. The students were painting flower still lives inspired by Vincent Van Gogh. At one point, a student pointed to the picture of Starry Night behind me and exclaimed, “He’s famous for painting that painting, too!”

I’m incredibly embarrassed for responding, “No, that was painted by Vincent Van Gogh. That’s a different artist.”

It wasn’t until the next time that I said Van Gogh’s name that I realized my mistake, corrected myself, and apologized to the student. I don’t know where my mind was at! I need to make sure that I’m on top of my artists for the future. On a side note, I’m completely stunned that a second grader recognized Starry Night and its artist!

During 1st and 3rd Grade was when I was really able to improve my teaching. I focused on what I learned from yesterday and the suggestions made by my university supervisor. During the 1st Grade demonstration of drawing a dinosaur from observation using size, shape, and position to help you, I made sure to demonstrate the planning process with the students. I motioned with my finger before I drew and began by drawing a bad example and asking the students, “Is this what I’m looking for? Is this right, or is it too small?” They were all eager to shout out that I had drawn my dinosaur too small and needed to make it bigger. I also focused on distractions and made sure that they were removed from the students. I had to move my teacher’s wheeled office chair when one student began messing with it and had to inform another student to put away the toy that he was playing with. I also set a daily expectation for my 1st Grade students, telling them that they needed to complete their dinosaur drawings today and if they were able to, they could move on to coloring. The biggest change I made was making sure that I was looking across the entire room constantly, rather than looking from one student’s work to the next. It can be difficult to remember when you’re trying to see where the students are at and if you can help them!

Tiny Seed, Giant Blossom

Tiny Seed, Giant Blossom

Another big improvement I felt I made was with my 3rd Grade students. They are creating collages inspired by Piet Mondrain’s simplistic primary-colored paintings. I took what I learned from yesterday’s class and used it to help out today’s class. I was able to tell the students to glue their primary colors before gluing their black outlines, rather than gluing the outlines and trying to cut out a shape to fit inside the outlines, like yesterday’s class did. I also challenged the students to create more complicated and intricate designs with smaller shapes and emphasized that Mondrian worked with squares, rectangles, and vertical and horizontal lines. This prevented students from wanting to work with triangles and diagonals like the previous class.

I’m really happy with the improvements I made and I feel that the students’ work benefited from the changes. It seemed much stronger today than it did yesterday.

Today, I was also given the chance to create a teacher-made example of the Kindergarten lesson during my lunch break. My cooperating teacher is reading The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle to the Kindergarten students and having them create a collaged flower using cut-up strips of pre-painted paper. The paper is the leftover paper from the 2nd Grade lesson last week in which they painted pieces of paper in different colors and then cut them up to create collaged insects. My cooperating teacher explained that she will also use the leftovers after this Kindergarten lesson to allow the 1st Grade students to create collaged caterpillars after reading Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I like that she uses leftovers from different lessons to create new lessons from different students.

I was actually surprised because my cooperating teacher commented on my teacher-made example, today, something she’s never done before. “Wow, I really like your flower!” she said, “It turned out really well.” She explained that she liked that I used more pastel-like colors that were more blended together and more transparent than the flat, saturated, tempera colors that the students were actually using. After seeing my example, she said that she was now going to change the lesson to end up more like my artwork, with more transparent, pastel, blended colors. She was happy to have the inspiration.

After school, I attended a staff meeting with my cooperating teacher. I brought food to contribute to the potluck and tried a few odd desserts. The meeting began with the introduction of a short agenda and I immediately noticed that much of the meeting wouldn’t apply to my teacher and myself. The meeting covered testing, holding students back a grade, flagging students that need assistance, and other homeroom teacher duties. Anytime a paper was handed out, the principal told the person handing out the paper, “Only the homeroom teachers need that. The Specials don’t need it.” The only paper we ended up getting was the calendar for the rest of the school year. We did get an Easter egg filled with candy, too, though. I liked that the staff meeting seemed fun, lighthearted, and lively. There was food and decorations and freebies and everyone seemed to like being there. At the same time, the meeting points were serious, though. I was intrigued to hear the school’s process for holding back students and the fact that it was incredibly student-centered. The principal explained that a student will only be held back if it’s in the student’s best interest. If the student’s been held back before, then they won’t do it again because it’s not effective. If the parents veto the proposal, it won’t happen. All cases are looked at on a one-on-one basis. I really enjoyed hearing that they’re really looking out for what’s best for the students. They even mentioned that if a student is too big and would be much bigger and older than the other students, they won’t hold him back. I was also interested in the fact that the principal stated the being held back has been linked with emotional trauma later in life, including divorce. I never knew that!

After the meeting, I mentioned to my cooperating teacher that it didn’t seem like much of the meeting applied to her. She explained that most of them are like that and hardly anything ever applies to her.

At least there’s food!

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

<< Monday, April 6, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Friday, April 10, 2015 >>

This week I am really feeling the crunch. April has begun and there’s so much I need to do before May! My thesis is due, Student Teaching ends shortly afterwards, I graduate from college…I’m really stressed out about everything! On top of that, Student Teaching will gradually become more challenging as time progresses as I’ll be taking on more and more responsibilities. I really see why they suggest not participating in anything else during Student Teaching; it’s a full-time job!

The first week at Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School, I did not teach any classes. My second week, I taught one grade level. My third week, I taught two grade levels. Now that it’s my fourth week, I am teaching three of the six grade levels, so I am completely in charge of half of the classes. I’m not sure if I prefer this gradual schedule more than the schedule I had at Canyon High School where I was completely in charge of absolutely everything for two weeks, and not in charge of anything the remaining five weeks. I think I may have preferred the other schedule more as I was thrown into the job rather than given a tiny piece at a time.

Today was Monday, so again, I enjoyed observing the new lessons my teacher had planned for the classes. It was a bit difficult to teach, though, as I wasn’t completely sure of what all the lessons entailed. I hadn’t seen them performed, hadn’t read the lesson plans until I received a hard copy this morning, and I didn’t know if my teacher had examples, Powerpoints, etc. I tried my best and went with what I had to prepare the lessons. I think that it went pretty well, but I do have some suggestions to improve later on.

One thing that was a bit confusing was when I asked my teacher if she had her handouts with pictures of dinosaurs on them to give to the students to aid with their dinosaur drawings. She responded that she did and pulled out a poster with a picture of fighting dinosaurs on it. I thought that she had mentioned she had worksheets with tiny pictures of dinosaurs on them, so if we didn’t have those, I decided to improvise. My teacher has a how-to draw dinosaurs book, that I decided to use. Since there’s only one book and students wouldn’t be able to all use the book at the same time, I decided to draw the illustrations from the book on the white board, large enough so that the class would be able to see them. I drew five pictures, some full-body images and some headshots, and included a variety of dinosaurs. I was quite pleased with my drawings and thought that they would help the students in drawing their own dinosaurs. After I had completed my drawings, my teacher found the dinosaur handouts she had been talking about.

Woops! Well, at least we had even more references now.

I did allow the class to take turns using the drawing book if they wanted any of the images that I didn’t put on the board, but that turned out to be a mistake. So many students wanted the book and because only one student could have the book at a time, it caused problems. Tomorrow, I’m not going to allow anyone to use the book and will simply tell them that a majority of the drawings from the book are on the wall.

I was also quite nervous today as my university supervisor was coming to observe me. Again, today was a Monday, the “testing” day, in which I hadn’t done the lesson yet and wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I was a bit nervous about that fact, as well as the fact that I feel I simply am not as successful as I am with higher grade levels. After my instruction, my supervisor noted that fact, saying that I was still adjusting to this level and she had a list of suggestions for me.

I need to praise the students who behave more and get on to the students who misbehave less in order to promote good behavior. This can be a little challenging without knowing students’ names, but I know that it can be done. I also need to improve my demonstrations and instruction by showing bad examples of what student’s shouldn’t do with their artworks, and by visualizing the planning process better, such as drawing a shape on my paper with my finger before drawing it in pencil. I also need to pay attention to anything that may be distracting a student and remove it from the area. I should pay attention to the room, in general, more than I have been, by checking the room when I make rounds, looking up more from talking with students, and listening to the overall noise level to make sure that students aren’t getting too loud. I know that I have strong focus and can sometimes go a little tunnel vision, tuning out noises and my surroundings easily. I can also help my students work more efficiently if I set a daily objective and tell the students how much time they have remaining. My supervisor agreed that managing student behavior is my largest weakness and the spot I need to most improve on. It was a little disheartening to go from observations at the high school level with barely any suggestions of things to do differently, to having a full list of things I need to change today. I’m hoping that I can focus on these aspects and improve upon them over the next few weeks.

There’s so much for me to focus on; I’m so nervous!

<< Thursday, April 2, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Tuesday, April 7, 2015 >>

Today was the last day of this odd week with crazy schedule changes. Today was pretty nice, yet confusing, because my cooperating teacher had several free periods due to schedule changes. The 2nd Grade students had a field trip today, so they did not go to art class during our first period of the day. My cooperating teacher then told me that the 3rd Grade students were practice S.T.A.A.R. testing and she heard that they may or may not be coming to art today. She also heard that they may be switching with 4th Grade, our last class of the day. The passing period before the 3rd Grade class, my cooperating teacher and I had no idea what to expect. 5 minutes after class started, however, no students had arrived and we concluded that the 3rd Grade students just weren’t coming. This gave us another free period.

Another confusing schedule change possibility resulted when my cooperating teacher received a text from the Music and Gym teachers asking if we should have the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Graders partake in Fitness Friday. Because Thursdays are a rotational day for these grades where they attend a Specials class for the second time that week, the Gym teacher thought that they should participate in Fitness Friday. My cooperating teacher does not like Fitness Friday, though, and already planned her day. Because the suggestion was so last minute and there were already so many schedule changes happening, my cooperating teacher convinced the other Specials teachers not to go with this plan.

On top of everything else, my cooperating teacher hasn’t had any lunch duty all week due to the S.T.A.A.R. testing, so we had another extended lunch period. All of this free time gave my cooperating teacher and I time to lesson plan, create examples, change the bulletin boards, prepare for the day’s classes, and prepare for the upcoming Art Show. It was incredibly helpful and it made me wish my teacher normally had a Conference period during the day.

I used some of this free time to continue working on my teacher-made example for the next 1st Grade lesson. Because the students will be outlining their works, I outlined my sketch in ink. The students will also be depicting their dinosaur in an environment, so I challenged myself to add a background, something I don’t do often. I am incredibly thrilled with how my example came out. I love my linework and the detail of my background. I really feel that it adds to my original sketch. Now, I’ll be coloring my picture with crayons, focusing on using multiple colors and blending them together. Hopefully the finished piece turns out successful.

Unfortunately, the principal decided to hold an assembly today because tomorrow is Good Friday and we don’t have school. I enjoy the assemblies, but my cooperating teacher does not as they cause the school day to start 15 minutes earlier, cutting into her before-school Conference period. The assemblies are usually pretty long, too, and since 2nd Grade is our first class, we didn’t get much extra time due to the 2nd Graders being gone on a field trip. We really only gained about 15 minutes of extra time.

The assembly also threw off many of the students. Because assemblies are done on Fridays, several of the students were thinking we were on a Fitness Friday schedule and that they were supposed to report to the gym instead of art class. Because P.R.I.D.E. leader students are allowed to go to class early without walking in line with the teacher, they weren’t led by their teachers to art class. We had to send students to the gym to collect the P.R.I.D.E. leaders, causing our art classes to start late.

Today was just wack-a-doodle!

We didn’t actually get to teach many classes today, just 5th Grade, 1st Grade, Kindergarten, and 4th Grade. It still seems like the students are lacking the benefits of demonstration. The 5th Grade students have been illustrating still lives in the style of Pablo Picasso and have been struggling with replicating his abstracted style. They’ve also been confused on how to add “random lines breaking up the picture.” The Kindergarten students again struggled with tracing their suns for their sunsets in a good spot, coloring the sunset, filling the whole page with the sunset, adding the ground, and adding the silhouettes. It seems like the Kindergarten students have really been struggling with the whole assignment and only find success when my cooperating teacher or myself walk them through each step one-on-one. The 4th Grade students are also struggling to complete their pointillism pictures with so many dots to create. I don’t think the students quite understand the dot concept though as they’re either drawing incredibly large circles, simply outlining everything in dots, or creating spaced-out dot patterns to color things in. I’ve been trying to explain to students that the dots are meant to be squished together and done in random colors with mostly the color you want the space to look, and after hearing that the students seem to be more successful. Many students, though, just want to be finished with the pointillism pictures and aren’t caring enough to work hard on them. They do look pretty tedious and time-consuming.

Sara Bareilles – Brave

Here’s one of the songs that’s played at the beginning of the Friday assemblies.

<< Wednesday, April 1, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Monday, April 6, 2015 >>

Objectives Wall

Objectives Wall

Today was another good day. For some reason this week seems to be going better than last week. I don’t feel nearly as tired or stressed. I feel like I’m in a better mood overall. I hope that this continues because, in reality, I am really freaking out about finishing my thesis in time and I don’t want my Student Teaching experience to be negative because of it. I’m just glad that I’m enjoying my time more. Hopefully this keeps up.

Today was another positive day because my cooperating teacher didn’t have lunch duty, giving us an extended lunch period. She doesn’t have lunch duty all week, which is really nice because it gives us a Conference period during the day, something my cooperating teacher doesn’t normally get. During today’s extended lunch period, my cooperating teacher and I were able to lesson plan for next week. I enjoy lesson planning with my cooperating teacher because she’s so organized and on top of things. She has a year-long curriculum already laid out so we can follow along and make changes as necessary. This feels like a much better way to lesson plan than creating lessons on the fly, as I’ve seen in previous placements. My cooperating teacher also already has her objectives and TEKS already printed and ready to be hung on the “Objectives” wall.

I absolutely love her “Objectives” wall and would like to use it in my own classroom because it’s so organized and easy to use. On the wall, my cooperating teacher has placed colored pieces of paper labeled by grades with the title, “Objectives” above them. On the colored pieces of paper, she’s attached plastic sheet protectors so that she can print out her lesson’s objectives and TEKS and slide the paper into the sheet protector. The end result looks clean, polished, and professional and creates an easy-to-read resource for the students. I’ve been struggling to think of a way to effectively relay my objectives and TEKS to my students and keep them posted in the room like it is recommended, and this is an awesome solution!

I’m really glad that my cooperating teacher shares my level of organization. Her room is spotless and completely organized with everything color-coded and labeled, and she knows where everything is. Today, I decided to sort the crayon buckets to make sure all of the buckets had the same crayons (2 reds, 3 yellows, in every bucket, etc.) something I’ve seen my teacher do when she has the time. When she noticed what I was doing she exclaimed, “Oh, yes, organization! Thank you!”

It really shows that you can have an organized art room.

After lesson planning with my cooperating teacher, I decided to use the rest of the extended lunch period to begin a teacher-made example for the next 1st Grade lesson. We decided to do Dinosaur Drawings, a lesson in which the students will draw a dinosaur from reference and color it with crayons, focusing on color blending and using multiple colors. The students will also place the dinosaur in an environment. I began by drawing my favorite dinosaur, the parasaurolophus. I was only able to complete the sketch for today, but I love the way it turned out so far. I’ll have to add the environment tomorrow, something I’m nervous about because I rarely draw scenery.

Today, I taught the 1st and 3rd Grade classes and I feel that I was competent, again. For the 3rd Grade class, I decided to give the students a quick, 2-minute demonstration on how to properly use watercolors. My cooperating teacher and I have been having issues with students trying to dig out the watercolor paint from the tiny trays or using way too much paint with barely any water. Their watercolor paintings have been coming out really dark and over-saturated as a result. I took a moment to explain that watercolor should use a lot of water and barely any paint. I then showed how the students could blend colors when the paper was wet and keep colors separate when the paper was dry. The students seemed impressed and amazed. When I felt like they understood how to use the paints, I set them off to work.

I was incredibly pleased to find that this group of 3rd Graders were doing much better than the previous groups. This time, I didn’t see any students trying to dig the paint out of the trays. There were few students using way too much paint and not enough water and I saw several students experimenting and mixing colors! Many students were adding several colors to their flowers and wetting the paper to allow the colors to bleed and blend. My cooperating teacher and I were so excited by this success.

This goes to show that demonstrations can do wonders for the students, even if it’s just 2 minutes!

I’m excited to see what else the students can accomplish with the help of demonstrations.

<< Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Thursday, April 2, 2015 >>

Today was another day in which it was difficult to wake up in the morning. Because I had a Student Teaching Seminar meeting yesterday, as soon as I finished my Student Teaching for the day, I ate dinner, picked up some prescription medication, cashed a check, wrote my Student Teaching Reflection for the day, and attended the meeting. The meeting let out around 8:00pm or so and I didn’t get home until about 9:00pm because I live out of town and stopped for gas and food. (I hate having to eat every four hours because of my blood sugar.) As soon as I got home, I ate and went to bed. This morning as I was walking into the school, I felt as if I hadn’t gone home yet.

It felt like I was just at the school!

Today was another fairly easy day because of the S.T.A.A.R. Testing. Because it was a testing day, my cooperating teacher and I did not have lunch duty which gave us an extended lunch period. My cooperating teacher also still had the room set up in the modified arrangement to remind students that it was a testing day and that they needed to be more quiet than usual. Our schedule was also slightly altered, as Kindergarten and 5th Grade were switched, so we had Kindergarten in the morning and 5th Grade in the afternoon after they had finished testing. Another result of the testing was the fact that we had more students in our Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade classes. Because the librarian was hosting tests, the classes that were supposed to have Library as their Specials Day were split up into thirds, one third going to Gym, one third going to Music, and another third coming to Art. This meant that we had several students from another class mixed in with our classes. My cooperating teacher quickly found out that we didn’t have enough seats for all of the students, so she asked the excess students to sit on the carpet. She decided to give them an alternate assignment today, since they weren’t really supposed to have Art today and they would have it another day this week anyway. She didn’t want a select group of students to get ahead of schedule and since we didn’t have seats for them anyway, it all worked out all right. These students were given coloring sheets, or grids to create patterns on. S.T.A.A.R.

Testing can really alter a teacher’s schedule, and ours wasn’t even changed that much!

Today, our kindergarten students were more successful with their sunset images. I tried to help the students on a more one-on-one basis by showing them how they could blend colors to create the sunset and how they needed to color a majority of the page, not just a sliver at the very top. I feel that after seeing a demonstration, they were more successful. This keeps reinforcing my idea that the students would benefit from seeing demonstrations in class before or while they are working. My cooperating teacher normally spends about 5-10 minutes at the beginning of every class showing the historical reference and possibly showing a teacher-made example and then lets the students work the rest of the class period. Because the students work so quickly and my teacher and I spend a lot of time trying to explain concepts to the students or fix their errors, I feel that another 5-10 minutes of demonstration could really help them be more successful.

Because we had an extended lunch period today, I was able to create a teacher-made example for the 1st Grade project. My cooperating teacher had an image that was almost the same project as the one they were working on and was almost finished, so I thought that it would benefit the students to see a completed example of the actual assignment. The students are making landscapes with a single tree using torn tissue paper. My teacher’s example showed an apple tree in a lush, green field with a setting sun, so I decided to create a cherry blossom tree in front of a rising sun to give the students variety. I was also interested in creating an uncommon tree as I’ve become bored with all of the green apple trees I’ve been seeing while Student Teaching. I really think that my piece came together quite well, especially with the unified color scheme. I’ll have to see how it aids the students tomorrow.

<< Monday, March 30, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Wednesday, April 1, 2015 >>

Desert Sunset & Silhouette

Desert Sunset & Silhouette

Today, I’m glad to say, was a pretty good day. Although I was sick for a majority of the weekend and spent the rest of my time working on my thesis, even until 1:00am last night, I had a successful day today. Although I was tired, I was did not feel moody or stressed and the day ran by quickly.

Today, I was again greeted by my cooperating teacher handing me a printout of this week’s lesson plans. She had also emailed me a copy of them yesterday morning. I also noticed that the classroom had been rearranged. My cooperating teacher had been toying with the idea of rearranging the room for the STAAR Test days in order to keep talking down and to remind the students that test days are special days in which they need to be more quiet. She had seated all of the chairs on one side of the tables so that all of the chairs were facing one side of the room. She felt that if students weren’t sitting across from each other, they would talk less. I then began helping my teacher cut strips of tissue paper to refill the tissue paper bins for the 1st grade students.

The first class began and a wave of second graders entered the room. I was shocked at how quietly they entered the room. Because today was a STAAR Test day, students were not allowed to talk in the hallways at all, and they were obeying. Immediately, though, students were confused as to where to sit. Although my cooperating teacher explained that the color-coded tables were still the same and students were still to sit at their assigned table, some students sat wherever they wanted or were just confused in general. Some also started to move chairs from one side of the table to the other side, (the side where they normally sit.) It took a bit after my cooperating teacher continued to explain until the students finally realized where they should sit. Finally after everyone was seated, class could begin.

This class was working on Eric Carle collage insects. Last week these students painted large pieces of paper in random colors so that they could cut from the colorful papers and create a collage insect this week. The painted papers were handed out and students started cutting. There were still some understanding issues. Some students began drawing on the paper they would be gluing their collaged pieces to, while others tried to draw an entire insect on the painted paper, rather than cutting out pieces, like legs and wings. Some students had even painted insects and flowers on their papers last week and just started cutting those out. It took explaining from myself and my cooperating teacher to help them understand the project. Students who had already painted “things” on their papers were instructed to cut up those things into different parts and to then glue them together in a collage style. I was intrigued by the insects that some of the students were creating, as some showed great signs of creativity. Some of the painted papers turned out really well, too, and helped add to the insects. Last week I thought that this project may have been too advanced for the students, but today I thought otherwise. With a great deal of explaining, the students were able to accomplish the task.

During the 3rd grade class, I again helped students to improve their watercolor paintings of flowers inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. After some students had covered their entire paper in paint, I encouraged them to add darker shades in places such as behind petals and in the center of the flower. Students were amazed when I told them that they could add shadows and create darker values that would help make their piece more interesting. They were also amazed when I explained that they could use more water and less paint to help the colors blend better, or to move paint from areas that were too saturated to areas that could use more color. I loved explaining these new techniques to the students and seeing their faces light up. They really caught on and improved their pieces, too.

Today was my second time taking over a class as I taught a 1st grade class again. This week the students were continuing to add to their tissue paper landscapes. I began the class by explaining that today was a test day and that there shouldn’t be loud talking. I told students to whisper if they needed to say something. We then reviewed what we did last week as I asked them about what they created and what a landscape was. We also reviewed the criteria of the assignment as I asked them if they could simply make their whole sky blue or their whole ground green. “Can you just glue a whole sheet of tissue paper to your piece?” I asked, as the students called out in response. I felt that the students understood the project and handed out their works and let them get to work. While I don’t feel as comfortable teaching the elementary students, I feel competent at it. I feel that I know what to do and how to conduct an effective class.

Today my cooperating teacher and I did struggle with noise, though. Although we had seated the students differently, the noise level didn’t really seem affected. Students tried to talk to students they normally didn’t sit near and would even talk to different tables. My cooperating teacher constantly had to remind students that today was a testing day. I did notice that my 1st grade class was more quiet than the other classes, but they still had to be reminded constantly when chatter started to crescendo. I think that the different seating arrangement might have actually caused more confusion than it did cut down on noise.

Because of STAAR Testing, my cooperating teacher had an extended lunch today. I used that time to create an example of the tissue paper landscape. While I didn’t finish, I still like to attempt the assignments that the students are given so that I know exactly what it’s like to do and so that I can give the students tips that I learned by doing the activity. If I do complete my example, I then have one for my own future classroom and to remind me of that lesson. I also spent a good amount of time cutting more tissue paper to refill the bins as the students today used up almost all of the blue and green paper.

After lunch, there were only two more classes, kindergarten and 4th grade.

I was amazed at how quickly the day seemed to go by!

Because the kindergarten students seem to complete their work so quickly, they were given a new assignment today. My cooperating teacher showed the students an image of a desert sunset with a silhouette of the land on the projector and talked about the colors that make up a sunset. She had me set out warm-colored crayons on the tables, only providing the students with reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, and purples. They also talked about the silhouette and how it looked like a shadow. The students could tell that there was grass, a cactus, and a jackrabbit, but the objects were completely black. The students were then given yellow paper and sent to their seats to create their own desert landscape.

My cooperating teacher gave each student a coffee can lid to trace to create a large, round sun somewhere on their paper and then explained that they should color half of the paper in sunset colors. Students seemed to really struggle with this concept as some students would color half of the paper in one color and think they were done, while some only colored a small strip at the top of the paper, and some didn’t even know what to do after tracing the sun. A few students even had trouble tracing the sun. It took a while for my cooperating teacher and myself to check with each student and explain the sunset concept to them. Once most students had completed their sunset, they were then given black paper and told to create their silhouette. This was another misunderstanding as students would draw directly on their sunsets and ignore the black paper, draw on the black paper and then glue it on to the sunset without cutting out the things they had drawn, or just glue the black paper onto the sunset without cutting or drawing on it. I had a few students glue the black paper right on top of the sunset-half of their paper, completely covering the sunset they had colored. It was difficult to try to explain to the students the correct technique.

Overall, I felt like this assignment was too advanced for the students. I know I said that last week, so maybe I’m wrong again, but we had few successes today and many students were confused. I feel that this assignment could be kept with the kindergarten students, but a demonstration would need to given. Perhaps if the students had seen the teacher color a sunset and then cut out silhouettes and glue them to the bottom of the page, they may have understood better. I’m interested to see how a demonstration could benefit this lesson.

At the end of the day, I was pretty happy. I feel that today went well and I enjoyed seeing new lessons or the continuation of last week’s lessons. Elementary is so different from secondary, in that students normally complete assignments within a day or two since they only have art about once a week. A day or two in elementary is literally a week or two. It’s definitely a different feel from secondary.

<< Friday, March 27, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Tuesday, March 28, 2015 >>

Today I had a rocky morning. I was up until midnight last night working on lesson plans and my Student Teaching reflections and was woken up at 4:40am with incredibly terrible abdominal pain. Thankfully I was able to get back to sleep, but when I woke up for Student Teaching, the pain was still there. My stomach area was hurting and I felt unable to eat. I also felt weak and had a bad headache. Unfortunately, because I have hypoglycemia, it is incredibly common for me to wake up weak, with a headache, unable to move. I could not figure out the abdominal pain, though. After waiting about 20 minutes for the pain to subside, I ate breakfast and, thankfully, felt much better. All of my symptoms began to subside, so my issues this morning may have simply been blood sugar-related. I finished preparing for Student Teaching and left my home.

When I got to the school I found out that it was a good thing that I had decided to come. A 3rd grade teacher and the gym teacher called in sick today and weren’t going to be in attendance. Because they called in this morning, the school was unable to get substitutes for them. Thankfully, as the day progressed a substitute was brought in for the 3rd grade teacher, but one was never called in for the gym teacher. That wasn’t ideal as today was Fitness Friday, the day where all music, library, and art classes are turned into gym classes. Because of the gym teacher’s absence, the music teacher ran the gym classes while my cooperating teacher and I assisted.

The schedule was the same today as it was last Friday. The morning began with a Friday assembly. I actually really like the Friday assemblies as they’re high energy and exciting. Loud, upbeat music is played during transition periods and the principal speaks about upcoming events, student accomplishments, and things to be excited about. She seems like a nice person and I like the way she interacts with the students. The next batch of P.R.I.D.E. Leaders received their badges and a music video was played to allow the students to dance and get hyped about the upcoming S.T.A.A.R. tests next week. Apparently, the S.T.A.A.R. tests will not affect our art classes.

Friday Assembly

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

After the assembly, the music teacher, my cooperating teacher, and I hosted a gym class for each grade level. The students were instructed to walk/run the track for about 7 minutes and were then allowed to play with the different gym stations, such as the mats, puzzles, and building supplies on the stage, basketballs, or wheeled vehicles. This was the schedule for every single class, and just like last Friday, it was quite boring and tiring. It’s so draining watching people have fun and having to address any issues that arise. I tend to monitor the stage area where the students can partake in gymnastics, and it’s always a chaotic mess. Students will be jumping and falling all over each other, moving the mats around, and not taking turns or giving each other space. No matter how many times I stopped all of the students and told them how to appropriately act, it would quickly become chaotic again.

There was one student in particular, today, who openly defied everything we told him to do. He did not join the other students in walking the track for 7 minutes and instead ran about the gym crawling on the storage bins, entering the storage room, dangling from the basketball hoop, or even starting to play with the gym stations. When he began riding one of the wheeled vehicles outside, many students started riding them, too, because they thought it was time to. While I was able to get the other students to go back to the track, I could not control the problem student no matter what I did. He would not listen to me and if I took something away from him, he would just run and get another one. Finally, the class was done walking the track and returned to the gym to begin the stations. The music teacher saw me trying to control the student and told me to just leave him alone.

At the end of class, this student was again not listening at all and wouldn’t put away the basketball that he was playing with. The music teacher was calling students who were well-behaved and had cleaned up to line up for recess. When the homeroom teachers walked into the gym to take the students to recess, this difficult student immediately put the basketball away and ran to the front of the line as the teachers took the line outside. Nothing seemed to be done with this student and he seemed to be able to do whatever he wanted without any real consequences. Even though all of the other students had to be well-behaved to get their rewards, such as lining up first, this student just ran to the front of the line and was the first one on the playground. I was upset by this unfairness.

Today was also a fire drill which caused some issues. The fire drill was held 15 minutes before school ended and we escorted all of the students outside. After the drill ended and we were allowed back inside, the music teacher told all of the students to run to a distant fence, come back, and then line up to go back to their homerooms. The students normally return to their homerooms 15 minutes before the bell rings, but because of the fire drill, two minutes before the bell was about to ring, we were still trying to line students up in the gym to return to their homerooms. There were even some students who were still returning from the fence, too out-of-breath to run. I was asked to escort the students back inside, and the bell rang while I was gathering them. Because of the fire drill, after-school dismissal was also pushed back a little as it took the teachers and students longer to get outside. I’m still not sure why the music teacher asked the students to run to the fence and back before lining up in the gym.

One major highlight of the day, though, was the fact that my cooperating teacher had an extended lunch period. We used this time to discuss next week’s plans, to come up with new lessons, and to just chat in general. I learned about how my teacher writes lessons, comes up with plans, how she fills time, and even how she grades. We talked a lot and I felt more comfortable afterwards. I’m really hoping that our relationship will continue to improve.

STAAR Test Funk

<< Thursday, March 26, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Monday, March 30, 2015 >>

Red Canna, Georgia O'Keeffe

Red Canna, Georgia O’Keeffe

Today was the last day of the week as far as art classes go because all art classes are replaced with gym class on Fridays. Thursdays are also a rotational day where my cooperating teacher will see 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes for the second time this week. These classes rotate every week, so that we will see a particular class twice in a week every three weeks. My cooperating teacher doesn’t exactly like this schedule as it makes some classes get ahead of other classes in weird ways.

Today I felt a lot better emotionally as I didn’t feel as stressed or unhappy, but I wasn’t feeling so well physically. All morning I felt dizzy, weak, nauseated and had a headache and stomachache. I ate snacks to take care of my blood sugar, but nothing seemed to help. I only started feeling better after lunch, so I’m not sure what was wrong with me. Thankfully, my cooperating teacher had an extended lunch today as the lunch I had prepared for today went bad. I had to eat lunch off-campus, and within the hour we had for lunch, I was even able to go home and spend 20 minutes taking a break before returning to the school for 3rd Grade Lunch Duty. It was interesting taking a small breather at home, and perhaps that’s what caused me to feel better.

It did help me to feel better when I tried to interact with the students and help them improve their artworks. Whenever I keep busy, I tend to start feeling better, probably because it keeps my mind off of how I feel and keeps it focused on something else. Today, I spent some time with some of the third grade students as they worked on their Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired paintings of large, close-up flowers. The students had begun to paint their drawings with watercolors and I decided to show some of the students how they could add extra contrast and value to their paintings. I showed several students how they could add a darker color to an already-painted area in order to show value and variety. Several of the students were amazed by the technique and began using it in their paintings. I loved the improvements they made as they added shadows behind petals, or simply added more colors to their flowers. It seems that the students are always so focused on finishing their pictures as quickly as they can that they don’t focus on how to make a successful image.

Today I was actually surprised by my cooperating teacher’s instruction with the kindergarten students because she acted a lot more excitable and childish than she usually does. It seemed more natural to me to see her act this way with the students rather than her usual, more stern and direct style. It made the class seem more light-hearted and and enjoyable, even to me. I still feel that this might be a better teaching style for the younger students as it seems to keep their attention and invoke responses from them. I’ll have to see if I can adopt a style similar to this in my own teaching.

<< Wednesday, March 25, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Friday, March 27, 2015 >>

Today was my first day instructing a class during my Student Teaching experienc eat Comal Independent School District’s Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School. After seeing my cooperating teacher begin a new lesson with the 1st grade students, I took the reigns as I introduced the lesson to this day’s class of 1st graders. The class began with my teacher introducing me as she had been out last Wednesday and hadn’t been able to before. Afterwards, she gave me the class and I started by reviewing the term, “landscape” which they’d been learning about before. The students were able to recall what a landscape was and the important features about one. I then showed an example of a landscape made from colored tissue paper and explained that they would be creating their own. I explained that the students would be using multiple colors in their grass and sky, then asked the students about what I had just explained.

“Can your sky be just one color?”


“Can your grass be just one color?”


I felt that the students understood the assignment and were ready to begin when I sent them to their seats. Before the students could begin, we needed to create the 3-dimensional tree from the brown paper lunch sack. Each student received a bag and I instructed them to open their bags and set them on their tables.

“Where should you set your bag?”

“On the table!”

After all the bags had been opened, I showed the students how to cut the corner of the bag to create a small hole, and then showed them how to put the scissors in the hole and cut the bottom from the bag. After the bottoms of the bags had been cut off, I demonstrated how to cut the vertical strips, and then how to twist the trunk and the branches. The demonstration seemed to run efficiently, however, I found it incredibly difficult to gain the attention of students who weren’t giving me their focus. Without knowing their names it was difficult to get their attention. “I need Red Table’s attention!” I would call out. “Red Table, there’s still some students not giving me their eyes. I need everyone to look at me. This is important.” My cooperating teacher agreed that it’s hard to manage the class without knowing names. She said that her first year was incredibly difficult until she mastered the names.

The rest of my class seemed to go pretty well. The students followed my directions for the most part, understood the concepts, and worked until the end of class. After the class ended, my cooperating teacher noted my success and I agreed that things seemed to go well. I still feel nervous about teaching at the elementary level, but at least I know that I’m not terrible at it.

Today, I decided to create a teacher-made example alongside the students. Although all of the students were starting new assignments this week, my cooperating teacher did allow her 5th grade students to finish their Aboriginal Australian Animal drawings since so many of them had not finished and because 5th grade students have art class twice a week every three weeks. With all of the Sharpies, colored pencils, gluesticks, and a papers out, I was too enticed and decided to make an artwork, myself. I love depicting animals and the Australian Aboriginal style intrigues me with its simplistic and stylized variety. I decided to create a kangaroo, an Australian classic, and began sketching on brown paper.

In my cooperating teacher’s lesson, students drew an animal on a small sheet of colored paper. After outlining the drawing in Sharpie and decorating around the animal, they then glued the colored sheet of paper to a white sheet of paper. On that paper, they added a decorative, patterned border in Sharpie. After finishing that, they then glued that onto a larger tan paper and added another decorative, patterned border in Sharpie. This created a decorative, layered look and really enhanced the piece.

I decided to draw my kangaroo on a brown sheet of paper to keep with a natural theme. As I was working on my piece, I found it challenging to stylize my animal in a way that kept it recognizable and detailed. I also really struggled to keep within the fine boundaries of overworking my piece and adding just enough pattern and variety. It took me a while to figure out what to do around my kangaroo in the extra brown space and I ended up changing my mind several times. In the end, I was pleased with my piece and really enjoyed creating it. I feel that this is a neat lesson.

Today I ended up staying about an hour after school ended to help my teacher change out the display cases in the hallways. After dismissal duty my teacher announced that she’d be changing the cases.

“Do you need any help?” I asked.

“Well, no, not really. I’ve got a system, I don’t really need anyone else…I guess you can come along to see how I do it,” my cooperating teacher replied.

Again, I felt that she had everything so organized that she simply didn’t need me, but I took her offer and followed her into the hallways. She showed me how this school has high quality frames in the hallways that showcase the artwork in a beautiful and safe way that is still easy to manage and exchange. She opened a case and took the artworks off of the backing. After pulling the tape from the backs of the artworks, she applied new tape to the new artworks and hung those up before closing the glass door and moving on to the next frame. My cooperating teacher has a wheeled cart that makes this process extremely efficient.

“How about I take all the artworks down, and you hang the new ones up?” I suggested.

“Oh, I guess that would work.”

It felt like we had finished hanging all of the work in no time at all. I really like the frames that this school has and so does my cooperating teacher. She noted that she would have to find out what kind of frames they are if she changed schools to see if she could get them into a school that didn’t have them. I also liked that she had the cart. It made things much simpler as we stored the art on it and rolled down the hallway. There wasn’t any bending over to pick things up off the floor and our arms weren’t full. My teacher definitely has a system for everything and she seems to have everything figured out.

<< Tuesday, March 24, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Thursday, March 26, 2015 >>