Office Hours- worked on things for the welcome packet, responded to emails, etc.
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.
HA Ward 7 Training: Catherine went over behavior management techniques in order to better prepare mentors for our first days back. It was well organized and she had prepared for training very thoroughly. Personally, while I have worked with kids in the past, I'm glad she went over this because Higher Achievement has specific behavior management protocols that they want mentors to use. Also Higher Achievement uses MVPT (Movement, Voice, Participation, and Time) when giving all their instructions to the scholars. I found this really helpful and will probably continue to use it outside of Higher Achievement.