Monday, April 30, 2012

Teaching P.E. in Paradise

AUSTRALIA!! To say the least, it is beautiful here. I live about 2 minutes from the beach and pacific ocean where the waves and sun sets are now apart of my daily life. For the first two weeks of being here, the 25 other New York students and I took a course with our supervisor here in Aussie to learn to culture and school 
systems. We traveled to the 10 different schools we would be teaching at along the coast. And we also learned much advice in how to adjust to living and being apart of the community here. We then went on a twelve day trip up to Magnetic Island, Cairnes, and a bit into the outback. It was absolutely life changing. I have never felt so blessed. It is gorgeous here and I have only been having a wonderful time. I start teaching on July 9 and I just cannot wait to begin this next part of the journey. Check out some of the pictures of where we took class, where we live, the beach, some of our trip, and just great memories already made!

Field Experience Day 17

St. Marys School - 5th grade

Topics: Reflection of Lesson

Within class today the students were in the lacrosse unit. This lesson reminded me of playing with the  same old fashion sticks when I was a student. In reality, there was no one gender who dominated this activity over the other. I thought it was great seeing how equal the skill levels were. My partner and I were able to lead an instant activity including some skills previously worked on in lacrosse. The warm up is called GB (Ground Ball) Frenzy. Students were handed a lacrosse stick and divided into two teams that were positioned at each end line of the gymnasium. Before we went any further with the instant activity we reviewed the safety rules of space awareness and the student’s responsibility of holding their lacrosse sticks. We wanted to make sure all students knew the rules and safety expectations before starting because otherwise it could get dangerous. We scattered the light weight balls used for this unit in the center of the gym. When the whistle blew the students would have to run to the balls picking up one ball at a time with their lacrosse stick, running back to their side and dropping them at their own ends barrel. The technique for picking up a ground ball with a lacrosse stick was demonstrated in a class prior to this lesson. The team that gathered the most balls in their barrel would win that round. Since my partner and I were ultimately counting the balls in the buckets, we made it so that each team won a round regardless of the outcome. 
After this instant activity our host teacher continued the lesson going more in depth with picking up and carrying the lacrosse balls. The students then got into pairs and practiced rolling the ball to their partner and on the receiving end they had to try to pick it up and carry it back over to the other side. As I watched and helped with management, it was fun for me to see different skill levels. Because I am not proficient in lacrosse, it was easy for me to help students in learning different techniques that may help them relating them to my own techniques that have helped me. The lesson ran smooth and I was happy to observe where the students stood for the next lesson. 

Field Experience Day 16

St. Marys School - Pre-K

TOPIC: Reflection of Lesson

Again, the students were privileged in going outside on the playground. The only thing different from today out compared to the other days on the play ground was a fire drill with this group of students. As the fire alarm went off the students lined up quietly at the gate and were checked for attendance.This procedure was very professional and impressed me. The safety of the students was highly emphasized during this drill. Not only was attendance checked more than once during the drill, the students were all very well behaved. The students are so young yet they all followed the directions without any disruptions. I believe seeing how the students and teachers react in a fire drill situations shows how important the safety of everyone really is. Because I am constantly learning about teaching, I thought it was a great experience to get the feel of a real school situation such as a fire drill. I was impressed with how all students of all grade levels followed instructions and am glad I got to experience this as well.

Field Experience Day 15

St. Marys School - 5th grade

TOPIC: Reflection of Lesson

Today the students were able to chose either to stay inside and perform run club or head outside for free time. Like any normal 5th grader, the students all chose to go outside. Seeing this re-occurring theme of heading outside truly bothers me. I have tried very hard to enhance learning by bringing ideas and plans, yet it seems as if the weather dictates what happens in class. If I had my own choice I would defiantly choose to be a different type of teacher than my host. I know going outside is a bit different at this school because the lack of a field. I believe if there were a field or some type of outside area other than the playground, my host teacher would be able to teach more efficiently. No matter what the weather is, I think it is a smarter decision to go through with plans already made rather than just give the students 'free time'. Although this makes the students happy and active, it really promotes no learning what so ever. Other than the basic warm up performed daily, the students were not working on anything related to physical education.

Field Experience Day 14

St. Marys School - Kindergarten

TOPIC: Reflection of Lesson

The weather was beautiful and my host teacher decided to give the students an opportunity to play on the playground. Before we went outside the students performed the daily warm-up with jogging four laps, jumping jacks and sit-ups. While outside I noticed several students come up to my host teacher, my partner, or myself tattling about situations that were not considered severe at all. I found that this happens often with this grade level. Eventually, the large amount of tattling began to focus on one student in particular causing the problems. My host teacher pulled the student aside and spoke to him about why he was acting out.  No other mishaps occurred during the remainder of the class time.
While the management was handled well, I do believe the class was not efficient. The students had fun playing outside, but there was no learning going on. This has happened often times when weather is nice. I do not believe this is how physical education class should go. If anything, the students should play a specific game or activity while outside to ensure learning still occurs. If I were this physical education teacher I would do everything and anything to keep the kids actively learning. It is disappointing to see lack of teaching as often as I have.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Field Experience Day 13

St. Marys School - 2nd grade

TOPIC: Assessments of student learning

            Prior to teaching this lesson, my partner and I collected pre-assessment data on the cartwheel. We then took the results and planned accordingly to teach specific cues for the students to enhance this performance. In this class my partner and I used the same psycho-motor assessment checklist at the end of our lesson to see if learning occurred. We started the lesson off with a thorough explanation of the cartwheel including the cues and pictures step by step. I made sure they all knew that by the end we were going to assess them on their cartwheel and to pay close attention to each activity explained. From our pre-assessment data we split the students into two groups. Group 1 contained the students who could successfully perform the cartwheel, and group 2 held the students who needed more direction and practice. Group 1 went off with my partner to rotate through the other stations of the gymnastics unit. I took group 2 and we started off with some progressions of the cartwheel.

            What I started to notice was that the progressions I choose were too advanced for the level the students were starting at. It almost turned into a mess! I was very nervous for safety issues. The progressions I had planned in my lesson turned totally wrong during the class. I realized I should have started at the complete beginning for these students. I needed to go back to the very basics of a cartwheel in order to boost up the confidence levels of the students who were afraid to try. I tried to figure out how to fix the problem before any safety concerns occurred. I brought the group in and we re-explained the cues. In the moment it was difficult for me to think of smaller progressions to teach the students. I assumed my organization strategies would go as planned, which was not the case. My host teacher helped and we came up with a new task to focus on, ultimately giving the students a better understanding of the cartwheel. I wish the class time was longer so I could have continued teaching once I finally started the better progression.
            Reflecting back on this lesson, I recognize that I should have gone straight to a source who has taught young children progressions of a cartwheel. As a teacher, I do not think it is bad that my lesson went wrong; it actually has helped me in implementing a change in my teacher performance. It is important to always have a backup plan. Student learning will be the most significant part of my career. In the end, only two students went from a no to a yes on the checklist. However, a handful of students did improve in certain critical elements. When it comes to instructional goals I need to plan accordingly to the age I will be teaching. If I learned one thing from this lesson, it is that all students are defiantly at different levels, especially in an area such as gymnastics. I believe I was able to act quickly in order to gain control over the class and redirect them in a different task. I enjoy reflecting on each lesson in order for me to continue learning and growing as a teacher. The only way to get better is through practice. This lesson gave me determination to create better lessons for my students. 

Field Experience Day 12

St. Marys School - 2nd grade

TOPIC: Skill Themes and Student Abilities

This day was all about the skill theme transfer of weight. My partner and I were interested in seeing where the class was at for a specific transfer of weight skill the cartwheel. Our host teacher had mentioned that this class was particularly struggling in this area, mainly the male students. He really wanted us to see where they were in order for us to create an effective lesson plan to help them improve. We are in the gymnastics unit and have different stations set up. With what equipment the school has, it actually was not to bad. There were many mats, a balance beam, ropes to climb, and an incline mat as well. Rob and I decided to create a pre-assessment tool to study the students skill theme abilities on the cartwheel. We took one station, the blue mat, and the host teacher rotated the students throughout the other stations. Once a group of 5 came over, we had them perform cartwheels (or attempt to) down the large blue mat while we used our pre-assessment checklist with some critical elements on the side. I noticed that while there were a couple of girls who were proficient in this skill, most others had difficulty in all areas while performing. Watched the students try to transfer weight from their feet to their hands, some seemed fearful of trusting their own strength and really giving it a try. The critical elements we based our assessment on are: lunge, strong arms, legs above hips, and foot-foot. The students that could not transfer weight by performing a cartwheel commonly struggled in all 4 areas rather than just a specific one. Having strong arms (being locked out) and being able to get their legs above the hips were the two areas that all the students who could not perform the skill struggled in. Out of the class 10 students had difficulty with the skill, and 7 students were able to perform the cartwheel at a utilization level. This assessment truly helped in planning out which direction to take the students in to ensure learning occurs. Click HERE if you want to see the pre-assessment results.

Check out some pictures below of the gym we assessed in!!