Rolling with the punches

I’ve learned that a vital part of being a good teacher is rolling with the punches! Each and every day, I make countless adjustments to my plans in order to best serve every one of my students – including two first grade students I currently serve.

Two of our first graders are receiving intensive interventions (recommended both through RTI and LPAC) in order to help them develop some basic phonological skills. We have been working through Heggerty’s phonological awareness curriculum, which consists of a series of 15-minute lessons targeting several skills. I meet with these particular students twice a day, four days a week.

These students’ first goal was to master phonological blending and segmenting. Through structured practice, they each got up to 90-100 percent accuracy with automaticity and no manipulatives. That was a really exciting day! Since they’ve mastered that, we have moved on to rhyming words. I discovered a significant weakness from both students in this area, so we had been working on Heggerty’s rhyming skills and had been generating our own lists of words that rhyme.

This Monday, I picked the students up from special areas for our intervention, as I always do. That day, however, they were total chatterboxes – it was Dr. Seuss week, and what kind of pajamas was I wearing for “The Sleep Book” Day? What day was Tuesday? Wednesday? Why were the eggs and ham green? Had I seen their Dr. Seuss drawings? I think they fit 30 questions into the short walk from PE to my room!

At that moment, I made a decision to totally shift my lesson plan. Instead of continuing with Heggerty’s lessons, we would theme our intervention week around Dr. Seuss! We opened Green Eggs and Ham and started looking for rhymes. We made lists of word families and discussed how they rhyme. We talked about how rhyming words often have the same endings. We generated words that rhymed with “box” and “ham”. The students’ engagement was through the roof!

Switching your plans at the last minute can definitely be nerve-wracking…but it also can definitely pay off! I am so pleased with how involved the students are and how they seem to be making real-world connections when it comes to their rhyming abilities.

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Making the most of push-in support time

Push-in support is such an interesting animal! I am entirely at the mercy of the classroom schedule and must balance my needs (intervening with the kids who really need it) with the needs of the teacher.

I really enjoy the interventions I am able to do in Mrs. Dobbs’ kindergarten classroom. I intervene during Daily 5 time, so her students are using the workshop model and are already doing differentiated activities. This makes it really easy to see what my students are struggling with and to help them in areas where they need to grow.

One of my students, B, is on her second go-around of kindergarten. She is doing a great job identifying and writing sight words, and I really want to build on the momentum she has there. I have also observed over the course of my semester with her that writing has gotten easier for her. Therefore, I added a new goal to the goal currently set in the front of her daily writing journal.

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Writing two sentences about the same thing proved tricky for B. After allowing her to practice independently, I realized that she was not really understanding the concept. I then taught a guided lesson, which I videoed.

I plan to continue working on this skill with B for the remainder of my time with her. However, because I placed a formal learning target in the front of her journal, everyone who writes with her now knows this is what she should be working toward. This will make transition for my mentor teacher much easier, I hope.

Prepositions and English Language Learners

One of my kindergarten friends has really been struggling with identifying and using prepositions correctly. He’s a wonderful reader, so he can read them – but he doesn’t really understand what they mean when used independently. We know this both through conversing with him and through OnlineIPT placement test results.

To strengthen this skill, I designed a lesson to help him activate prior learning about prepositions and to continue this learning. The lesson involved him using his prior learning to identify prepositions on an anchor chart he’d co-created. Then, we used a “we do/you do” strategy to write a book about prepositions with decreasing levels of scaffolding.

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As you can see, Z got some scaffolding in the first two pages. He was told which preposition to use and got a sentence starter, but he had to identify the preposition, transfer it to the bottom of the page, and model the preposition physically for me to take a picture of. Then, he finished the sentence. In later pages, Z came up with his own prepositions (which is why some of them are repeated), wrote sentences, identified prepositions, and modeled the preposition.

Now that he has finished the book, it is a part of his daily book baggie. He takes this book home and reads it to his mother nightly, allowing for increased exposure and practice identifying prepositions.

Here is the formal lesson plan I turned in:

Continue reading

Integrated Unit: Science and Texas History

Below is a lesson plan I wrote as part of a class about pedagogy and English language learners. This lesson plan was designed to connect a theme – Texas History – to all four core subject areas. Elsewhere on the portfolio, I have my math lesson plan. This one connects science to social studies.

Lesson Objective(s)/Performance Outcomes

Content

I will be able to measure and evaluate the environmental conditions in which a bluebonnet can grow.

Language

I can write about bluebonnets using grade-level vocabulary words.

Continue reading

Lesson Plan

I had my first observation on Friday, and it was a lot of fun! I designed a lesson for Z, a kindergartner whose L1 is Bengali. I decided to focus the lesson on inferencing emotions after reviewing Z’s Online IPT placement test (the district gives this to all entering ESL students) and noting that he had a “severe weakness” in this area.

Interestingly, Z doesn’t have very many weaknesses – let alone severe ones. He reads on an advanced reading level and routinely writes paragraphs in his morning journal. We pull Z daily not for intervention but for extension. I kept that in mind as I designed this lesson to strengthen his inferencing emotions weakness. For example, the lesson is designed around a 1st grade TEKS rather than a kindergarten one.

Subject Area: English/Language Arts

Relevant TEKS:

110.12.B(9)  Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Fiction. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to: (B)  describe characters in a story and the reasons for their actions and feelings.

Relevant ELPS:

(4)  Cross-curricular second language acquisition/reading. The ELL reads a variety of texts for a variety of purposes with an increasing level of comprehension in all content areas. ELLs may be at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, or advanced high stage of English language acquisition in reading. In order for the ELL to meet grade-level learning expectations across the foundation and enrichment curriculum, all instruction delivered in English must be linguistically accommodated (communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded) commensurate with the student’s level of English language proficiency. For Kindergarten and Grade 1, certain of these student expectations apply to text read aloud for students not yet at the stage of decoding written text. The student is expected to:  (J)  demonstrate English comprehension and expand reading skills by employing inferential skills such as predicting, making connections between ideas, drawing inferences and conclusions from text and graphic sources, and finding supporting text evidence commensurate with content area needs

 

Relevant CCRS:

II. A. 4. Draw and support complex inferences from text to summarize, draw conclusions, and distinguish facts from simple assertions and opinions.

 

Lesson Objective(s)/Performance Outcomes:

Content: I will be able to use my picture clues, words in my book, and the things I already know to make inferences.

Language: I will be able to make inferences about people’s feelings.

Timeline and Lesson:

Go over objectives and discuss real-world application.

Watch Brain Pop video about inferencing and check for understanding. https://jr.brainpop.com/readingandwriting/comprehension/makeinferences/

Tell Z, “Let’s play a game and try to infer how someone feels by looking at how they feel!” Show Z flashcards with pictures of children experiencing various emotions.

Introduce book “Jet is Naughty” with picture walk (for prediction). Pre-teach vocab words “naughty” and “helicopter.” Show video of helicopter on technology.

Read using previous comprehension goals of stopping at the end of each page and checking for comprehension “What is this page about?”. (“This page is about ____). Stop while reading and ask Z, “What can you infer about ____ “ on pgs. 5, 7, 11, 16. Focus on feelings, relationships, and story content when making inferences.

Transition into assessment.

Assess using below criteria.

Assessment:

Content And Language: I will show Z a flashcard with a picture of a person and a sentence that matches. Z will verbally compose a sentence about the feelings of the person in the picture and then write the sentence with support.

Measure of Success:

3 – Can verbally and in writing compose a reasonable sentence

2- Can verbally OR in writing compose a reasonable sentence

1 – Cannot verbally or in writing compose a reasonable sentence.

Z will also self-assess.

 

Materials and Resources

BrainPopJr video about inferencing

Objectives board

Emotions flashcards

book “Jet Is Naughty”

Z’s comprehension tools and book baggie

Flashcard

Paper

Pencil

Management of the Instructional Environment (strategies for engaging, motivating, and inspiring students): Write the learning targets out for reference and explicitly talk about why we learn what we are learning. One-on-one instruction and extension/intervention for Z. Student-led discussions, close proximity to students.

Technology Integration

 Show BrainPopJr video about inferencing to Z as well as visual for helicopter (vocabulary word in book) if needed.

Diversity and Equity

Language Adaptations/Modifications (for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students: Comprehension and vocabulary support; teaching inferencing; questioning; checking for understanding; pre-teaching vocabulary

Special Needs Modifications: Z is working with a first grade TEK to extend his kindergarten knowledge (EXPO).

 

Designing Assessment for ELLs

After two weeks of student teaching, I can say with the greatest confidence: data is EVERYTHING! Data is absolutely the key to providing effective instruction. After all, if you don’t where students are starting, how do you know what areas they need to grow in?

At McNair, I am actively involved in all sorts of assessment. Last week, I blogged about doing my first running record. This has been so helpful in seeing my students’ fluency and reading abilities grow. I’ve also been able to watch the administration of some ESL proficiency placement exams, and I’ve seen many, many different ways of assessing students as I’ve pushed in to classrooms to support our students.

I want to share an assessment I designed and conducted in the spring of 2016. This assessment tested the reading, writing, speaking, and listening proficiency of an English-language learner from Honduras. I completely designed and administered this exam; I also provided an interpretation of the results. Click on the link below to see my results. Continue reading

The first weeks of student teaching

Woohoo! How great it feels to be doing something you love!

I truly feel that teaching is my calling, so it is so exciting to finally be student teaching. My first rotation is with Lindsey Davidson, the ESL Interventionist at McNair Elementary and EP Rayzor Elementary here in Denton. My master’s degree is in ESL Elementary Education, so I am delighted to be getting such great experience to one day apply in my classroom. I am a huge believer in teaching and advocating for ALL students, so I feel very lucky to be gaining the skills I’ll need to teach and advocate for an ever-growing population.

I’m only in my second week, and I have already learned so much! Some days I think my brain might overflow. I’ve been officially trained on LPACs and been able to sit in on one, observed oral proficiency tests, attended two Response to Intervention sessions, helped plan a station for the third grade reading festival, and learned all about blue folders and the other official paperwork that goes in to making sure all kiddos are being served in the best possible way.

And that’s just in our spare time: Mrs. Davidson and I spend about 95 percent of our time actively serving students! We’re pushing in and pulling out, and I’m starting to take the lead, especially when we’re pushing in to mainstream classes to serve our students. We serve kids grades K-5 every day, and I have really enjoyed getting to work with so many teaching and learning styles. Forget learning something new every day – I feel like I’m learning something new every single minute!

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Here’s one of those new things: taking a running record! Running records are vital for assessing students’ fluency and accuracy when reading a book. This is the first running record I completed by myself (math removed to make sure nothing is identifiable!). I love data and can see how this is such a valuable tool for all students, not just ESL students. This provides the data I need to target instruction for this student and allowed me to see that she was ready to move up a guided reading level. Mrs. Davidson and I then allowed the student to select new books on her level that she was excited about. Had she not been such a rock star, we would have had data to analyze common mistakes and have been able to hone our instruction in on exactly what this student needed. We also could have provided the data to the homeroom teacher, who could show it to an RtI committee if needed.

I can’t wait to see what I learn next!

Picking Up STEAM With Younger Elementary

One of the biggest perks to working at my former elementary school was that I already knew many people on staff there! This meant that I frequently was volunteering in classrooms, so when I heard that two teachers I knew planned to start a K-1 after-school Engineering Club, I knew I wanted to be a part of it – even before I was on staff.

I started 2015-2016 volunteering in the first grade section of Engineering Club before I even knew the library aide position would be available. I’ve always loved science, but it wasn’t a big part of my elementary curriculum growing up. Because of this, I’m fascinated by early childhood STEM activities, so I asked the leader (a friend of mine) if she would mind if I came to help out.

Engineering Club was a blast…but it was exhausting. Ashleigh and I had 35 VERY talkative and opinionated first grade friends in one classroom at one time, and trying to meet their needs in a fun, hands-on way was definitely a challenge. We quickly learned the value of organization and small groups! Our kiddos engineered elaborate houses to withstand earthquakes, bridges out of scraps, boats that could hold hundreds of pennies, and so much more. Their imagination was amazing to watch, and the way they retained the engineering principles from meeting to meeting was such a testament to the importance of STEM education. We knew we wanted to expand our little club into something more students could benefit from.

By the end of the 2015-2016 school year, I was a full-time staff member at Wilson, so I became part of the leadership team for the club. We decided the 2016-2017 club would serve K-2 students in much smaller numbers – we settled on two groups of 12 per grade level – and we expanded the focus to be on STEAM. Adding art into the mix better reflected what we were already doing, so we changed the name to STEAM Club.

I partnered up with Mrs. Cheek, an experienced kindergarten teacher who let me really take the reigns so that I could get more teaching experience. The three kindergarten leaders co-planned the first semester of club, but they generously let me plan the second semester so that I could really get good practice in writing lesson plans.

I love my kindergarten buddies! We learned about perseverance and engineering design principles…

We helped save the Gingerbread Man…

And right before Christmas, we introduced coding through Kibo, Dash and Dot, and Beebot robots.

Planning and teaching lessons start to finish in this way made me so excited to have my own classroom. I also was able to do a lot of reflecting, and when something didn’t work the way I expected it to, I was able to think through what I did and how I could improve, innovate, or adapt to best meet everyone’s needs. What an incredible experience!

Lesson plan: Social Studies & Math

In my M.Ed. program, we spend a lot of time writing lesson plans. I’ve really enjoyed this aspect of the program and love thinking through how I can support different types of learners. Below is an example of a lesson plan I wrote in my Instructional Methods in Language Arts and Social Studies class.

Lesson Objective(s)/Performance Outcomes

Content

I can determine and draw acute, obtuse, right, and adjacent angles with a protractor in Texas symbols.

Language

I will be able to orally describe the different types of angles with a partner.

Assessment of Objectives (Description and Criteria)

Content

Informal assessment can be done in whole-group settings as the teacher observes student engagement with and understanding of angles and Texas symbols. Additional assessment can be done as students work in groups to identify angles. The teacher can assess through observations as the groups work, informal conversations, and, more formally, can assess understanding by grading the finished Doceri presentation.

Language

Once students are walked through the definitions of the different types of angles, they will have the opportunity to talk with a partner and describe their interpretation of the angles. To assess the students’ language objective, the teacher can observe the students’ interactions and discussions with their partner and step in if there is a problem. Formal assessments can be performed by grading their final presentation on the correctness of the angles.

Materials and Resources

iPads with cameras and Doceri app

Texas history realia (e.g., flag, Alamo models, bluebonnets)

Texas history books

Protractors

Math journals

Pencils

Anchor chart

Management of the Instructional Environment (strategies for engaging, motivating, and inspiring students)

The use of Texas realia will help give students a more dynamic and creative way of measuring angles. Starting in a whole-group setting, the teacher will draw the different angles with the students and give helpful tips and tricks to differentiate between the different angles. When the class breaks off into partners, the teacher will be hands-on throughout the entire lesson to encourage students and be available to answer questions.

Technology Integration

After the initial whole-group introduction, the lesson will use iPads. The students will take pictures of angles found in real life and will place these pictures into a Doceri (app) presentation. Students will be allowed to use the internet for reference on angles.

A document camera will be used to model writing in the math journal.

Students will share their Doceri presentations (once exported) in Seesaw.

Language Adaptations/Modifications (for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students

According to the ELPS, advanced ELLs in the 4th grade may mispronounce words or make errors that interfere with complex grammar structures. The teacher will start the lesson defining and identifying the angles with the students. The lesson will include collaborative questioning throughout the beginning in order to ensure students understand how to pronounce and use the different angle names in sentences.

Special Needs Modifications

Visual aids will be used to ensure the comprehension of angles. There will also be a creation of an anchor chart that will include visual and verbal descriptions of the angles the students can refer back to while measuring their realia.

Activities/Procedures (Include timeline and grouping configurations)

 

  • Teacher will share content and language objective.
  • Students will sit at desks and get out math journals; teacher will open her math journal and put it on document camera.
  • Students will discuss what an angle is and will come up with a definition of an angle.
  • Students will discuss what a protractor is, what it measures, and how to use it. Students will practice measuring angles found in their desk area; this will be modeled by the teacher using the document camera.
  • Students and teacher will then define right, acute, obtuse, and adjacent angles using collaborative questioning.
  • Students will “sketch journal” a definition of each term in their math journal. They will be allowed to use a combination of pictures and words to help them remember what each term means. Students will sketch journal for ten minutes.
  • Students will then turn to a partner and discuss ways that they can remember the angles and problems they think they might run into identifying the angles. Students will discuss for about five minutes.
  • As a whole group, the class will develop an anchor chart to be hung in the classroom. The chart will include visual and verbal descriptions of the angles and helpful hints to remember which angle is which. These hints will be based on the feedback provided from students’ conversations about ways they can remember and problems they might have.
  • Students will be split into pairs; when possible, ELLs will be paired with native English speakers.
  • The teacher will explain to the group that they are to find three of each type of angle in Texas symbols. They will be allowed to use realia and other resources in the room and will also be allowed to travel in partners to other areas of the school where symbols might be found (e.g., front office, library). Students must use a protractor to measure angles in the symbols. Once they have determined that the symbol does contain one of the four types of angles, they must take a picture of the angle with the protractor using the iPad.
  • Students complete assignment for the remainder of the class period. Teacher monitors for understanding and assists with any questions. Students will be permitted to finish up the assignment on the next day if they are unable to find all angles on the first day.
  • Once students have found all of the angles, they will return to the classroom with the iPad and import each picture into Doceri. They will use the pen tool in Doceri to highlight the angle in each picture. Students will take about half an hour to complete this part of the assignment.

Students will export their Doceri presentation and put it in the Seesaw app for the teacher to download and assess.

Relevant TEKS:

  • 111.6.b.7

(7)  Geometry and measurement. The student applies mathematical process standards to solve problems involving angles less than or equal to 180 degrees. The student is expected to:

(A)  illustrate the measure of an angle as the part of a circle whose center is at the vertex of the angle that is “cut out” by the rays of the angle. Angle measures are limited to whole numbers;

(B)  illustrate degrees as the units used to measure an angle, where 1/360 of any circle is one degree and an angle that “cuts” n/360 out of any circle whose center is at the angle’s vertex has a measure of n degrees. Angle measures are limited to whole numbers;

(C)  determine the approximate measures of angles in degrees to the nearest whole number using a protractor;

(D)  draw an angle with a given measure; and

(E)  determine the measure of an unknown angle formed by two non-overlapping adjacent angles given one or both angle measures.

  • 113.15.b.16

16)  Citizenship. The student understands important customs, symbols, and celebrations of Texas. The student is expected to:

(A)  explain the meaning of various patriotic symbols and landmarks of Texas, including the six flags that flew over Texas, the San Jacinto Monument, the Alamo, and various missions

Relevant ELPS:

  • 74.4.c.2.A-I

(A)  distinguish sounds and intonation patterns of English with increasing ease;

(B)  recognize elements of the English sound system in newly acquired vocabulary such as long and short vowels, silent letters, and consonant clusters;

(C)  learn new language structures, expressions, and basic and academic vocabulary heard during classroom instruction and interactions;

(D)  monitor understanding of spoken language during classroom instruction and interactions and seek clarification as needed;

(E)  use visual, contextual, and linguistic support to enhance and confirm understanding of increasingly complex and elaborated spoken language;

(F)  listen to and derive meaning from a variety of media such as audio tape, video, DVD, and CD ROM to build and reinforce concept and language attainment;

(G)  understand the general meaning, main points, and important details of spoken language ranging from situations in which topics, language, and contexts are familiar to unfamiliar;

(H)  understand implicit ideas and information in increasingly complex spoken language commensurate with grade-level learning expectations; and

(I)  demonstrate listening comprehension of increasingly complex spoken English by following directions, retelling or summarizing spoken messages, responding to questions and requests, collaborating with peers, and taking notes commensurate with content and grade-level needs.

 

  • 74.4.d.2.C

(C)  Advanced. Advanced ELLs have the ability to speak using grade-appropriate English, with second language acquisition support, in academic and social settings. These students:

(i)  are able to participate comfortably in most conversations and academic discussions on familiar topics, with some pauses to restate, repeat, or search for words and phrases to clarify meaning;

(ii)  discuss familiar academic topics using content-based terms and common abstract vocabulary; can usually speak in some detail on familiar topics;

(iii)  have a grasp of basic grammar features, including a basic ability to narrate and describe in present, past, and future tenses; have an emerging ability to use complex sentences and complex grammar features;

(iv)  make errors that interfere somewhat with communication when using complex grammar structures, long sentences, and less familiar words and expressions; and

(v)  may mispronounce words, but use pronunciation that can usually be understood by people not accustomed to interacting with ELLs.

Upper elementary digital citizenship: copyright

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Not the most exciting topic in the world, right?

Think again! Anything can be exciting if you try.

My learning target for this lesson was based on the TEKS “(B)  comply with acceptable digital safety rules, fair use guidelines, and copyright laws; and (C)  practice the responsible use of digital information regarding intellectual property, including software, text, images, audio, and video.” I told students that our goal was to understand these complicated laws in order to be responsible media producers and consumers, and we broke that down even further.

We started this unit by watching this awesome video from Common Sense media.  It does a really good job of explaining copyright and Fair Use laws, and I found that the kids grasped these huge concepts a lot more quickly when I showed this video.

After reviewing the concepts from this video, I showed them a series of videos and asked them to decide why they fell under Fair Use or not. The ones that didn’t fall under were too closely identified with what they were “parodying” or didn’t add any original thought or work to the video. I don’t want to post them here because they were clearly student productions, and I choose to believe that they have learned from their mistakes now!

One of the great things about kids is how familiar they all are with YouTube…and how easy they are to impress. We determined that the following videos were okay through Fair Use laws, and the kids cracked up. Many of them came up to me afterward with examples about other things they’d seen that fell under Fair Use.

This is a complicated area to be sure, but I was excited to see that the students were starting to make connections and learn.