Doing service with Little Friends for Peace was fun, calming, and enjoyable. Painting the walls of the school nearby was an amazing team-bonding experience that required communication, positivity, and determination. Although the mural we painted was a variation of contrasting colors, they all seamlessly blended together in the perfect ratios. Working with Little Friends for Peace taught me the simplicity in action that can promote and establish even a small amount of peace and serenity in a turbulent world.
Observing Ms. Keo's class of 7th grade was a starkly different experience than our first Teach with the 8th grade class. She had notified me ahead of time that the 7th grade class I was observing was a rowdy bunch. Ms. Keo had trouble managing this particular class but still utilized some great attention getters and ways of focusing their attention. The lesson she was teaching was on genetics and Mendel’s punnett square. She began the lesson with a very thought-provoking image of two fraternal twins that look nothing alike that got the students thinking. To regain their attention, she (on more than one occasion) counted down. “5..4..3..2..” until they would be quiet. Unlike what I had expected or thought to do in that situation, she often stops talking until they are quiet. She also makes sure to let them know she is waiting for them to be quiet and she will not speak until they do. Overall, despite the students being the rowdiest bunch of kids she has taught, she handled the challenge with patience and poise, although she was completely drained after. It was nice to see methods I could incorporate in teaching when I have a particular difficult set of students.
Although we taught a double lesson, our second lesson heavily involved technology. They were very eager to begin the lesson with the laptops at first and I had thought they would actively participate in the lesson. However, we were thrown a curve-ball once the laptops began to act up. Almost half of the laptops were not working or responding. Because of this, our lesson got delayed way more than we would have expected. Also because of this, some of the students decided to get rowdy and do other things. An important thing I learned teaching middle school students in general is that if you give them any time to do anything outside of the work, they will take it upon themselves to do whatever they want. Additionally, once the students actually began working on the laptops that showed Newton’s laws, we had to frequently monitor them to make sure they were following the module and not goofing off. It was difficult to get the students to focus on the task at hand and complete the worksheet, which was why it was important for us to have someone monitoring them. Although Ms. Keo mentioned we could have rotated around more, monitoring them proved to be effective. We also should have prepared a backup lesson if technology was not working, which we did not do because we were also preoccupied with the other lesson we taught to the 7th graders. That would have really made the lesson run smoother so when the laptops started working, they could begin work. However, the module did help them visualize Newton’s laws and it was not too hard for them to piece together what the law states after completing the module.
While observing Mr. Nelson's class to prepare for our first teach we met with some students and they were as excited as we were to begin teaching them. Although Mr. Nelson mentioned that his class was particularly difficult to manage, he used effective attention-getters, and repeated instructions to keep them on track.
I am confident that this last teach was our best lesson yet for Step 1. The difference from the pre and post assessment for the students was great and watching them complete questions with us on the board was worthwhile. We told the students we gave them a gift - the gift of knowledge. Although that was not what they were expecting, they were as sad to see us go as we were.
After this lesson, I learned how important student engagement and participation is. Although we did not get to complete our whole lesson, students were eager to complete the explore portion of our lesson plan. Because most students already knew the material we were teaching, I think the fact that they were familiar with what we were presenting was comforting to them. I would revise my questioning in the explore, however, to be more thought-provoking. We were not aware of how much the students would know so we were not prepared when they answered most of the questions fairly easily. As mentioned by Ms. Choi, it would have been more opportune to have a backup assessment for them to complete if they finished early. Particularly in my section of the explore, I could have seen what would happen if they did the loop while exploring potential energy, or have them construct it themselves. Part of me thinks I controlled the explore more than was necessary, and should have been more open to them exploring it in their own way. If they had been more hands on with it, then maybe the concept would have been enhanced. Our lesson seemed to be cut short as was the first one. What I am primarily starting to learn is that getting through the entire lesson is not always guaranteed despite how much you prepare for the lesson. All you can do is accommodate and ensure that the students leave the class with more knowledge they had before.
As Ms. Keo had told us, teaching middle school was quite different than teaching elementary school kids. However, the lesson consisting of Acids and Bases was engaging to the students. The Engage portion of our teach got the students thinking and even though some of them did not get the right answer, the purpose of the Engage - to get the students thinking - was successful. The Explore section was exciting for the students, however the material could have been handled better. Overall, I learned what it takes to keep the students engaged and learned that students need to be put to a task at all minutes or they will wander off in their own world.
After painting the walls of Walker Jones Education Campus, I began to appreciate the sole root of education. It is not only about the knowledge you gain from acquiring an education, but is equally important to have a comforting, safe, and inclusive environment to grow up in. Because students spend most of their hours in school, it is crucial to make the most out of time there, and interactions with others and the school atmosphere make a huge part in their childhood. I was excited to see how the children would react to their new paintings!