Friday, February 28, 2014

Sub Adventures #4: 9th and 10th grade Health/Physical Education in the Bronx

Yes, you read that correctly. I was covering health and gym classes today. Pure torture.

9th/10th graders + health/phys ed busy work + half of the teachers and students gone on a trip = 

The students were out of control, even more so at the end of the day. I didn't have a class until the third hour (10:30a). The teacher had wanted me to read a chapter in the textbook with the students aloud and then they were supposed to complete some questions. However, the students were unwilling to read aloud. I don't know why--I've always found contraceptives absolutely fascinating! *rolls eyes

So, I gave up, told them to read silently and complete the task, and sat back. The students spent the entire time talking--loudly. And the potty mouths on these young people, my goodness! I ignored the talking for the most part--until period 7 that is. They were out of control and the volume was ear-splitting. I got sick of it finally and demanded utter silence for the 15 minutes that were left of the period. If I hear a single word, I told them, I'm calling a dean in here immediately. And they shut up. For a little while anyway.

My last two periods were gym, which I was secretly looking forward to. However, they moved the gym classes to the health classroom. So, I ended up with 10 students in 8th period and 4 students in 9th period as the rest of the students decided not to show. And I was perfectly okay with that. 

At 4:30, I dragged my butt home, exhausted after 8.5 hours of subbing.

Week one of substitute teaching: SURVIVED!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sub Adventures #3: 6th Science in Brooklyn

Today was another half day assignment covering 6th grade science, again. I'm not sure what's going on with the 6th grade science teachers around the city, but three in a row seems like more than coincidence.

The students weren't the most pleasant and downright insubordinate at some points of the day, but the dean of the school was pretty darn scary and was extremely helpful to me in dealing with the students. After making sure that I knew that she was just a phone call away, I threw her name around as a threat whenever the kids were too rowdy or noisy.

Picking the students up from lunch and taking them to their Mandarin class (Mandarin! How cool is that?!) was a total chore. After walking a small group up, I explain to the dean that the rest of them were running amuck.

When I picked them up from Mandarin to take them to science, I threatened to walk by the dean's office to drop a few of them off if they couldn't be quietly line up and remain silent during walk back to classroom. They shut up so quickly, I'm sure I heard some teeth clink. If only, I could have half of the dean's scare power.

At the end of the day, she came in and gave the class a riot act. She even asked me to point out who was in the group I walked up. Everyone who wasn't . . . was pulled from the class and suspended. Woah! Even I was terrified of this woman, but I guess that's what makes her a dean.

On a more positive note, the school is absolutely gorgeous! I mean, stunning. It's such a colorful and welcoming place and I don't think the students realize or appreciate how special that is. I went to schools with barf-green paint that shouldn't be sold, let alone put on walls. Seeing a school where every inch of wall, it seemed, was covered with posters, student projects, motivational quotes, and more was heartening to see. I even discovered a reading nook in the stairway, in between the 2nd and 3rd floors. A reading nook, I say! 

On another positive note, my travels in Brooklyn were a lot more pleasant today. Google navigation took perfect care of me and the train station and school were easily found. No more getting lost for me. I hope.

Well, that's my adventure for today. Tomorrow I'm off to cover 9th and 10th grade Health/P.E. in the Bronx!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sub Adventures #2: 6th Grade Science in Washington Heights

Once again, I was a sub for 6th grade science. This time, it was only a half day. As the school was located in Washington Heights, it was a much shorter commute for me.

The kids were pretty pleasant. A few of them did try to test me a little, but as soon as I informed them that I knew about "restitutions" and they could still serve detention the next day, they settled down. I appreciated the teacher's preparation of not only student work to complete, but seating charts and disciplinary system of the school. It was extremely helpful.

A great benefit of substitute teaching in general is the chance to visit different school and classrooms and receiving a quick glimpse of how they do things. It's an excellent way for an inexperienced teacher like myself to collect great ideas.

The teacher for today's assignment has a great classroom. It's well-organized and comfortable. I loved it so much that I might have crossed a line and snapped a few pics. There were a few great classroom ideas that I would love to potentially implement in my own future classroom.

My fave is this large pocket hanging organizer to store a month's worth of handouts/student work. I mean, how useful is that! It'll be a great way to plan/prepare work ahead of time as well as provide students with a place to find assignments from long ago.

The classroom has what's called a "Peace Corner." I'm assuming it's for disruptive students to be able to step away and calm down before returning to their seats and to work. I also got a kick out of the painted tree curtain to give the area the necessary peaceful feeling.

Lastly, the teacher writes the essential questions for a particular unit on a wall to remain up for the entirety of the unit. I think that's a great way to ensure students remain focused and continuously consider the essential questions.

I hope that I haven't breached any privacy with this post/pictures. I tried to make sure to capture the pictures in a way that wouldn't reveal the identity of either the teacher or any students. If I've missed something, please mention it in the comments.

Sub Adventures #1: 6th and 7th Grade Science in Brooklyn (2/25/2014)

I don't know if I've mentioned yet, but I've started substitute teaching work with a temp agency in New York called School Professionals. Yesterday, I had my first assignment covering 6th and 7th grade science in Brooklyn.

I arrived super early, which was great thinking on my part, as I circled blocks a few times trying to find the school. After arriving, I introduced myself and waited until one of the principals came in.

My greatest fear went unrealized as the teacher left very clear plans. The day started with a bit of a hiccup as the teacher had sent the wrong Notebook file, but with the principal's help everything worked out.

One surprise was that I worked with a co-sub as each class in the school has two teachers. That was interesting. I felt as if I ended up pulling most of the weight, which I don't mind. I'll never say no to gaining more experience and learning new things.

The students weren't complete monsters, but they weren't very polite either. The 6th graders were sweet and mostly returned to task when I put my foot down a little. However, the 7th graders were quite rude. I ignored it when I felt it was appropriate as I could tell that they were a very confrontational group and I didn't want to get into it with them. Although, I made it very clear that their teachers had specific instructions and expectations for the amount of work to be completed.

After the school day was over, I realized I had a message from the agency. I returned the call to learn of a leave replacement for 8th grade English in Queen. Jackpot! However, by the time I came home, looked up directions, and talked to my parents about it, the assignment had already been accepted by someone else. Bummer!

Oh, and have I mentioned that I have a strong dislike for traveling to Brooklyn? For some reason, I always get lost! I was near York St. and the Manhattan Bridge. With the darn bridge dividing streets, navigating was difficult and I couldn't find the F-train station on my way home. Not to mention that Brooklyn blocks seem to be miles long. I ran into some tourists, who were just as lost as I was. I could see the F-train going by before entering a tunnel underground, but couldn't figure out where the subway entrance was. Google Maps was useless as it indicated that I was right on top of the station, but obviously I wasn't! And to make it worse, I'm that person who hates asking for directions. My solution? Wandering around, circling blocks, and turning random corners until the universe eventually guided me to where I needed to go. Seeing as I'm typing this up from home . . . I finally found that train station.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Unit/Lesson Plan: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I am absolute fan of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ever since I first read it during the summer after I graduated high school. So, when asked to choose a novel for which to create a unit plan, lesson plan, and culminating project in my English Methods Class, I easily decided on Frankenstein for a 10th grade class.

Here is my entire Frankenstein unit plan, which is a 6 week plan during which students would explore many of the themes of the novel, such as individual responsibility, scientific advancement, relationship between God and Man, and nature versus nurture. 



The Big Ideas for this unit:

  • When we don't take responsibility for our actions, we can impact others, possibly even on a global level.
  • Scientific advancement can help us learn and prolong our lives, but when it clashes with moral issues and compromises our principles and our humanity, it is harmful.
  • This novel can be a seen as metaphor for man's relationship to God, in which case, God is indifferent at best and cruel at worst. 
  • The relationship between nature and nurture is complex and research shows both to be important in determining various aspects of humanity.

The Essential Questions for this unit:

  • What consequences do we face when we don't take responsibility for our actions?
  • How can scientific advancement and exploration be both good and bad?
  • What is the relationship and responsibility between creator and creation? 
  • What is the relationship between nature and nurture? Which is more influential? 

Assessments/Evidence of Learning include:

  • Webquest (Scientific Journal)
  • Screenplay Treatment and Performance
  • Vocab Quizzes
  • Final Thematic Letter
  • Dialogue Journals
  • Book Study Guide Questions (see link below with lesson plan materials)
  • Class Discussions
  • Do Now's
  • Peer Review

The Culminating Task for this unit is the Thematic Letter:

Frankenstein Introduction Lesson Plan:

In addition to the unit plan, we were asked to create a single lesson plan (with accompanying materials) from our unit. I chose to create a lesson plan to introduce students to our unit on Frankenstein. I begin with a Do Now to ascertain students' prior knowledge of the story of Frankenstein. Next, students are shown a slide of images related to the novel. They have 30 seconds for each image to jot down any words that come to mind about the image. After this activity, they share with a partner. Next, students complete an anticipation guide individually and then share with a partner. Lastly, we read "Meet Mary Shelley" and "Introducing the Novel" aloud as a class. The assigned homework asks students to make predictions about the novel using the photo essay, anticipation guide, and readings.