Name: Andrea Hinojosa Date: November 2, 2018
Mentor Teacher’s Name: Gary Nelson Grade Level: 5th
1) Briefly describe the context of the lesson observed.
The context of the lesson observed was operations on whole numbers and decimals expressed in word problems. In the worksheet provided to the students, it stated the objective repeatedly: “SWBAT solve word problems involving, adding, subtracting, and multiplying decimals.” Mr. Gary Nelson emphasized in the development of comprehending word problems involving whole numbers and decimals in any form of operation by asking the students to retell the context of the word problems in their own words and properly labeling the units of the answers to the word problems (pounds, miles, seconds, etc.)
2) Observe your Mentor Teacher’s use of questioning. What kinds of questions does s/he use to assess students’ knowledge during the lesson?
Mr. Nelson didn’t ask questions that target to access students’ knowledge during the lesson. He asked students that target to access students’ attention and understanding of the instructions during the lesson such as “What am I expecting from you?” and “Do you understand what you have to do?”
3) Were the questions you saw directed at the whole class, groups of students, or individual students (by name)? Imagine you are a student — how might each of these different modes of questioning affect your experience with the lesson?
The questions I saw were directed at the whole class. If I imagined myself as a student, I believe that the questions would pressure me to understand the lesson on the first hearing. Mr. Nelson will, at times, ask straightforward statements as he seemed to be irritated by students’ distraction that was drawing them away from the lesson presented in the classroom such as “Why do I have to repeat myself?”
4) Describe a specific question interaction you saw. Record the question, explain who it was directed to, and describe how the student/s responded. What was your impression of this exchange?
A specific question I saw that intrigued me was “What am I expecting from you?” This question was directed to the whole classroom and Mr. Nelson would ask this question every time he was explaining the instructions for each assignment in the worksheet. The students responded by either repeating/retelling the instructions to Mr. Nelson or simply with silence. My impression of this exchange was shocking. I know this question may be simple, but Mr. Nelson’s authoritative aura can shift the atmosphere of the classroom. Since all students vary in learning levels, disciplining the behavior of the students can, at times, seem more important to him than their learning process. Yet Mr. Nelson assures his students that it’s always important to input their best.
5) Based on the experience of and feedback from your first teaching experience, what were you more aware of during this second observation? How will this help you plan for your second and third teaching experience?
Based on the experience and feedback from my first teaching experience, I was more aware of the students’ various learning levels, discipline, and assignments. It was shocking how all his students come from every section of the learning spectrum whether they are advanced or behind in the learning process as a 5th grader. The advanced students would be the first people to finish their assignments and read a book while the non-advanced students would the last people to finish their assignments and need aid such as multiplication tables or teacher assistants (in this observation, it was our GWTeach group). The students can roam freely in the classroom when working on assignments such some students were working in different places and position such as standing up from their desk, sitting on bean bags, or laying down on the floor. The assignments are organized and straightforward as there are different sections with the same objectives and quotes presented on each page such as: Do Now – “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle
I believe this awareness will help me when planning for my second and third teaching experience by incorporating objectives that will be clearly stated throughout our lessons for students to understand what is expected from each other in the classroom as well as establishing a calming, yet assertive aura for students to understand that we are teachers who want to be able to teach the lesson without fallbacks.
6) Other comments or questions you have:
Intisar Diwani, Avani Gandhi, and I were asked to help Mr. Nelson assist any student who needed help with the worksheet they were working in class. Even though the context of the lesson was to solve operations on whole numbers and decimals in word problems, students still struggle in identifying what the word problems are asking them to solve. They need to review context words/phrases/clues such as “the difference between” means the operation is subtraction. We asked Mr. Nelson how he helps students who need more aid than others and he said that he tutors them during reading breaks.
It was a challenge to observe any questions that target students’ knowledge during the lesson because they weren’t in depth or they were straightforward commands for students to do their work. Mr. Nelson has told us before that this class is different and challenging from his previous years and he plans to keep working for a balance.
Name: Andrea Hinojosa Date: November 2, 2018
Your Name: Andrea Hinojosa Mentor Teacher: Gary Nelson
Date of Teach: October 19, 2018 Elementary School: DC Prep-EMS
Teaching Partner(s): Intisar Diwani Grade: 5th
1. Rate your confidence level going in to teach Lesson 1 on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 indicates that you were terrified and 5 indicates that you were very confident. How did your confidence level change throughout the lesson, if it did? What factors contributed to your level of confidence?
On a scale from 1 to 5, my confidence level was 3 when I was going in to Teach 1. The score 3 indicates that I had a balance between fear and confidence. Before I was heading my way to Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station to meet my teaching team, I was terrified yet excited to teach. I was warm and sweating from nervousness and bursts of anxiety and hyperactivity kept occupying my mind from relaxing. When I met with my teaching partners, I felt more at peace when they mentioned that they had their feelings of uncertainty because I didn’t want to be the only one who was losing control of their fear. When we were riding on DC Metro from Foggy Bottom-GWU to Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood, we reviewed our lesson plan and practiced on our walk to DC Prep-EMS. When we arrived at the middle school, I realized that my face was flushed and sweaty from the anxiety I was experiencing. But then my confidence levels changed when we began to teach Mr. Gary Nelson’s 5th grade math class.
Throughout the lesson, my confidence level did change from 3 to 4. The factor that contributed to my level of confidence was the focus and engagement of the students. From the start of the engagement section of our lesson plan, the students automatically wanted to participate by raising their hands to tell us what the order of their morning routines that correlated with our topic: GEMDAS or order of operations. When we handed out the physics problem, they solve the equation with determination and didn’t give up on finding the right answer to the problem. Our beach ball activity did ignite a spark of interest on the students and even though they were a bit too rowdy when they were passing the ball to each other, they paid attention to our attention grabbers and listen to our instructions of the activities presented to them. I had such a wonderful time teaching the students with my teaching partners and I hope to achieve a confidence level with the score of 5 to improve my teaching skills and assure learning in the classroom.
2. Give specific examples of how students responded to your lesson. How did that change as you progressed through the engage, explore, explain, etc.?
In Teach 1, the students were engaging and responsive to our lesson from start to finish. In the beginning of our lesson, we engaged with the students by asking them about their morning routines to give them real-life examples of order to connect with our lesson about order of operations. When we asked what their morning routines to detect order, many hands were raised up immediately to answer our questions and seemed eager to participate. After making our connections with morning routines to order, we explored order of operations by asking the students to help us solve our “physics problem” to allow students to figure what our lesson is about without revealing the content right away. First, the students worked on the problem individually then shared their answers with a partner. Most of the students knew the answer immediately and those who didn’t know the answer weren’t intimidated to ask for help and review the problem in class. After solving our physics problem, we explained to the students about our lesson and revealed our subject: order of operations. Students were a bit confused of what the order of operations in terms of the acronym “GEMDAS” as they were barely learning about it the week before. When we asked them what GEMDAS stands for, they weren’t shy to guess and some students figured it out on their own and shared their answers to the class. After explaining and reviewing the order of operations, we elaborated the topic by playing a game of Catch with a beachball written in mathematical expressions that can be solved through GEMDAS. The students were eccentric about the activity to the point when the beachball hit a few objects in the classroom, but the students solved the expressions with ease and even created their own expressions for the class to solve. After playing the game, we evaluated the class by giving the students an exit ticket to fill out. The students knew how to solve simple expressions while most students need more practice in solving complex expressions.
3. Now that you have taught, describe one success and one area you would like to improve in.
One success was the elaboration portion of our lesson because the students enjoyed playing the game of Catch while solving expressions and equations as a class. We were able to combine educational and adventurous learning into our lesson and even though they were a bit rowdy, the students paid attention every time they needed to work on a problem in class. One area that I would like to improve is adding challenging content to our lesson such as including complex expressions and equations to teach students how to solve them before expecting them to solve a complex problem without given any information before the evaluation portion (giving students the exit ticket).
4. Describe how what you learned from Teach 1 will help you to design your second lesson.
I learned from Teach 1 that we should state our objectives for students to understand what we expect to accomplish in our lesson. During activities, we should expect to plan activities that present simple to complex math problems for students to learn how to solve. We have to create an atmosphere where the students can respect us as teachers such as establishing an authoritative presence as discipline varies from each student.
5. When you think about teaching using inquiry (for example, 5E lesson planning design), what is your biggest concern at this time?
When I think about teaching using inquiry, my biggest concern at this time is how detailed do we have to be when writing the 5E in our lesson plans. I lean to be as detailed yet simple in the lesson plan as I don’t want to complicate the team from accomplishing our goals in the lesson plan. The engage and explore portion of a lesson plan are the most challenging steps in a lesson plan because we want to grasp students’ attention from beginning to end. I also trying to figure out when should we mention the objective of a lesson without rushing the content to the students since students seem more engaged when activity comes before content.
6. Reflect on the planning and implementation of Teach #1. Did your teaching team adhere to the group contract? Was the work equally shared between you and your partner(s)? Discuss what needs to change (if anything) in order for future planning and teaching to go more smoothly.
My teaching team did adhere to the group contact such we fulfilled our tasks. Avani Gandhi regularly contacted Mr. Gary Nelson (Mentor Teacher) by sending the lesson plan and confirming dates as well as updated Google calendar with field experience dates. Intisar Diwani shared lesson plan drafts with instructors via Google Docs, uploaded final lesson plans and Mentor Feedback to Blackboard, and coordinated transportation to and from the school with the group. I requested, picked up lesson materials, and transported supplies to the school as well as transported supplies back to GW in order to return lesson materials after our teach. We can improve on setting up practice dates before our teaching dates in order to be prepared as well as planning out what supplies we need for our lesson at least a few days before requesting.
Name: Andrea Hinojosa Date: September 21, 2018
Mentor Teacher’s Name: Gary Nelson Grade Level: 5th
School: DC Prep-Edgewood Middle Campus
Questions for reflection
Describe the class that you are observing today. What do you notice? (Consider the classroom diversity in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, language, student interests, etc.)
The class is a 5th grade math class instructed by Mr. Gary Nelson at DC Prep-Edgewood Middle Campus. The teacher advised my group that this year’s class has more academic needs than last year’s class. The class consists a total of 23 students with a classroom diversity that varies in age, gender, ethnicity, language, student interests, etc. In terms of age, the students are either the age of 10-11 years old. In terms of gender, there are 13 male students and 10 female students, resulting in a ratio of boy to girl of 13:10. In terms of ethnicity, there are 20 Black/African American students and 3 Hispanic/Latino students according to assumption. In terms of language, all students speak to each other in American English, but some students may know more than one language. In terms of student interests, students are interested in conversation that may be distracting for the class. My team and I plan to ask for a rubric of students and academic needs that we should take into consideration.
Describe the lesson and your impression of the classroom.
The lesson was about decimal place value. According to research, the decimal place value is “a positional system of notation in which the position of a number with respect to a point determines its value.” (Enhanced Learning). The decimal place value system, also known as the base ten system, calculates the value of the digits based on the number ten. Since the end of middle school, I had to recap my knowledge of decimal place value by observing the lesson and researching the topic myself. It was a challenge when Mr. Nelson asked my team and I to help students with the classwork as we didn’t fully recover previous knowledge of the subject, but my teammates were able to interact with the class as they have teaching experience through tutoring, volunteering, etc. My impression of the classroom was that Mr. Gary Nelson focuses on catching up his students and keeping them on track with lesson content through time management. Throughout the lesson, Mr. Nelson approached to teaching his class with step-to-step explanation with answering the questions in the handouts, setting time intervals of 5-10 minutes with a timer for students to finish activities, walking around the classroom to help students if needed, assuring that understanding the content is more important than finishing assignments, and assigning exit tickets to be filled out at the end of class. I believe that Mr. Nelson wants to set a standard of discipline with his class by using a timer to enforce focus in working and explaining instructions only once or twice. Mr. Nelson said that he didn’t want my team and I to get distracted by students wanting to talk with us about personal lives because they want to make sure that they see as teachers, not friends. I believe that Mr. Nelson cares about his students very much and wants the best for them to succeed in the class, him and his class need some time to bond. My impression was unsure of his techniques, but pleasantly surprised when he reminded them that learning the content is more important than finishing the work because he understands that his class have more academic needs and doesn’t want to stress them out on only focusing on finding the right answers.
What strategy does your Mentor Teacher use to get the students’ attention?
Mr. Gary Nelson used strategies to get the students’ attention that I divided into two categories: silence strategies and preparation strategies. The silence strategies were used when the classroom would distract themselves from the lesson and become hyperactive, Mr. Nelson would silence the classroom from distractions by saying “hush” or “shush” to the class, snapping and pointing his fingers at the student(s) creating distractions, and looking at their students with a serious face until they quiet down. His silence strategies placed a sense of authority in the class and the students were responsive of his techniques. The preparation strategies were used when Mr. Nelson prepares the classroom to move on from one activity to the next by saying “pencil in hand” to expect student preparation, setting up a timer before starting activities, and asking students for questions. His preparation strategies placed a sense of readiness for his students to understand that time is of the essence and create a habit of moving forward with the lesson without setbacks.
How are student desks arranged in the classroom? Are they in rows? Are they in groups? Ask your Mentor Teacher how s/he determines which students should be placed together in a group.
Students are arranged by group seating and individual seating in three rows. In the classroom, there are 5 group desks/tables and 5 individual desks. The group seating consists of 4-5 students in each table and are in the front and middle row of the classroom. The individual seating consists of 1 student in each desk and are in the back row of the classroom. My team and I couldn’t ask Mr. Gary Nelson for his reasoning of seating arrangement due to miscommunication of timing, but I have my assumptions. The students arranged in individual seating focus more when working alone, can reach out to Mr. Nelson without the distraction of a group, and have the option to seat however they want (seating on a chair or standing up). The students arranged in group seating are closer to Mr. Nelson for closer supervision, can converse among each other for help, and may focus more if they’re in front of the class with the materials presented clearly to them.
What resources are available for students in the classroom (for example, scissors, whiteboards, computers, document camera)?
My observation of resources provided for students in the classroom are divided in three categories: lesson materials, general materials, and personal materials. Mr. Gary Nelson provided materials that each student needed to proceed with the lesson of the decimal place value such as: white-colored paper lesson handouts, green-colored laminated decimal place value charts, multicolored dry-erase markers, dry-erase erasers, whiteboards, and pencils. Mr. Nelson’s classroom consisted of general materials that every student and faculty may use during class time at any moment such as: computers (Google Chrome laptops), sharpeners, paper clips, 5th grade-level book collection (Corner Library), scales, whiteboards, timers, colored pencils, pencils, pens, markers, posters, etc. Students provided themselves and the class with resources to be prepared for every class of the day such as: notebooks, binders, folders, and checklist surveys (students/faculty).
Other comments or questions you have:
Questions: (1) Are students provided with computers/laptops by DC Prep-EMS that they can take home to work on homework assignments and other educational needs? (2) What is Mr. Gary Nelson’s lesson planning? (3) What are the academic needs of the students? (4) How can I motivate students to improve their math skills? (5) Do students have access to tutoring? (6) What do students and faculty use the survey checklists for? (6) Is there a proper way to keep focus in a classroom of 5th graders? (7) Does my race/ethnicity intimidate students?
Comments: (1) I believe that my race/ethnicity may be intimidating for students because DC Prep-EMS has a minority-majority population of ethnicities such as Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino students. Even though I am a Mexican American woman, I understand that people can perceive me as a White/Caucasian American woman as I have a light complexion and students may feel like they can’t connect with me due to cultural and racial differences. (2) I was shy and nervous when interacting with the students by offering help because I didn’t know the lesson content as I thought that I remembered my prior knowledge of 5th grade math. I plan to review what Mr. Nelson will teach to be prepare for every classroom observation. (3) At first, I was bothered when Mr. Nelson was continuously using the timer because it seemed like students felt too pressured when finishing with activities, but later I understood that he was displaying discipline and trying to keep his students on track. It scared me a bit, but I believe that it took by surprise since college is such a different teaching atmosphere.