Thursday, April 24, 2014

Closing Reflections (15 16 17)

Through this course my identity as teacher continues to be solidified. I feel a shift in my thinking from student to teacher. The classes that have done that the most are Dr. Martin's classes. She teaches us how to make our student's better readers, writers and thinkers and in turn we are developed ourselves. Every semester I feel more confident in being able to run, teach and love on my own classroom. 

In that process my emotions and sometimes resolve wane with the discouragement of feeling like I will never make it to where I need/want to be. While learning about your self and new knowledge there is usually a state of dissonance between  the initial exposure and understanding. Is is easy to get frustrated at yourself; but what has encouraged me in my pursuit is that I am a child of God. All this work is to show God's love to his children who know him and to his children that do not know Him yet. 

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of he heavens and over every living thing hat moves on the earth."
Genesis 1:26-28

When Dr. Martin first said this scripture in class I imagined me holding up a mirror to a child and asking them, "What do you see?" I want to bring out who they are and see that they bear the image of God. Doing that will look different with every class and school; but the goal will always be there. I don't just want to lecture and tell them what to believe but to help them arrive to their own answers. 

I want to bring Heaven to Earth. I believe that is part of our mandate of subduing the Earth. What a commission!  What a mandate! Intimidating to be sure but I know God is leading me on this journey and looking forward to what is to come! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Room (5)

This is where they keep their "One Good Thing" journal, clipboards for when they "write" the room, and their homework folders. On the right is can that holds all their pointer sticks to help them "read" the room. 
THE TIGGER LIBRARY! This is where children can read for fun!

The Word Wall

Literacy is all over the classroom and it is saturated with personal meaning because it came with an experience.

An Interactive Writing showing a tally of individuals favorite book which resulted in a class favorite. 

KWL Chart

This room is filled with charts, poems, social contracts and more, all thought out as a class with the teacher being writer or interactive writing.  You see that writing is used to anchor their thinking with different mediums from recommending books to their "One Good Thing" journal. Their desks are actually three tables with a group at each table which is conductive to working in groups. In the corner of the room there is like a "closet" with hanging chart paper with poems that they wrote as a class. In one of the literacy centers there is a binder with a print out of all the poems so the students can read through them.  The chalkboards are used to display a word wall and a list of names with classroom duties. 

Classroom Management (7)

This is my biggest concern about having my own classroom. I love children. I have worked with them for years; however, management has not been my strength. I expect respect but I don't naturally facilitate structure in a group setting. 

I have loved watching how Ms. Bryce manages her classroom. I voiced a little of my concerns of classroom management and asked if it was a natural process for her or was it difficult. She told me it came more naturally because of her background; she was like a mom to her siblings so discipline came naturally. She went to a conference about Love and Logic and she already applied the same concepts in her classroom before reading the book or being trained in it. 

A piece of advise she gave me (I heard Dr. Martin say the same thing) was that go harder in the beginning. It is easier to loosen up than to apply structure later. 

From what I observed in numerous classes is that there is usually a quip to get the classes attention and Ms. Bryce's is: 

"1-2-3 eyes on me."

"1, 2 eyes on you." 

In Dr. Martin's Class she uses:



"Hands and Eyes." 

We will put our hands on our desks with full attention. She would explain a concept and we would discuss as a class. She will clap her hands, thrust her hands outwards and say:


We would mock her movements and say: 


I love that there is a way of getting attention without yelling at students. I have frequently seen yelling in a classroom and I don't think that is necessary and it can destroy trust if not dealt with the right way. You can be stern without yelling. I have seen Ms. Bryce be stern yet kind. She emphasizes choice. She will tell the students, "You can either choose to listen and stay seated or go to Ms. ---------- room and read. It is your choice." I have seen that the concept of Cambourne's choice does not only go with learning but with discipline. 

Instructional Accommodation (8, 9)

One of the children I have noticed (I will name him Juan) is definitely a struggling reader. I would see him go off to a specialist every time I visited the classroom but I also noticed his lack of engagement during independent reading time. Juan told me that he never reads. I would call on him would I would do my lessons and he would not want to participate. I watched him in a Guided Reading with Ms. Bryce and two other struggling readers. It was a book about a butterfly and had simple patterns for them to recognize. Ms. Bryce asked what are in flowers that attract insects and Juan quickly replied, "Nectar!" Ms. Bryce told him that she recognized that he made a connection to the Magic School Bus Video with the book that they were reading. I saw that Ms. Bryce challenged Juan with his reading but also had different mediums for learning. After they finished the book Ms. Bryce said since they read this book together and knew the words that this was a "just right" book and to put it in their book bags that that they keep in the room. 

I have not seen any audiovisual instruction. I have seen numerous dance breaks where Ms. Bryce would play the Just Dance video of a game from Youtube for the kids to get out their energy. I believe Ms. Bryce would be extremely purposeful with using videos or slides during her class time. I have seen many times where videos were not used effectively. Besides one Juan making a connection with the video they watched of the Magic School Bus I have not heard or seen any other audio visual instruction. 

April 22, 2014

My Last Observations of Ms. Bryce

The week before I was able to stay in Ms. Bryce's classroom for almost four hours so I was able to see a little more than just reading block but actually a little bit behind the scenes of being a teacher. When I arrived that morning Ms. Bryce made everybody Buddy Read, back to back in silence for twenty minutes. They would then read ten with their buddies and twenty more in silence. As they were starting to read she would started crumpling up papers from this big binder and throwing them on the floor. I started seeing her subtle frustration in doing so, she explained that she kept great records of her kid but only a couple of papers will kept for their 2nd grade year. She didn't know this and even the words they needed to put on their word wall changed during the year. She was looking forward to next year because she will have adjusted to this school system and go all the way with Balanced Literacy. She showed me the running records (Marie Clay) that was kept on each child and what her goals were for the next month until school was out. There were quite a few students she was nervous about not making it to the second grade level. Seeing their progress made sense with what I have noticed about the student's in class. 

I came into a wonderful reading of E. B. White's Charlotte's Web. Ms. Bryce was walking around the classroom while her students were sitting at their tables with individual copies of the book. (By the way, there is a character named Avery who is a boy... I thought I would remember that detail about Charlotte's Web... I did not.) She would monitor for meaning by asking questions about the text to help students develop comprehension. Not only was comprehension achieved but also social studies with the observation of characters reactions and responses. I saw an active participation of a girl who I have seen goof off most of the time and a boy who would usually never voluntarily participate answer questions and make observations. 

Instructional Methods (3,4)

From early on, I noticed instructional strategies that Ms. Bryce was implementing. 

"Chunking"- She would talk to the kids about chunking big words to find a familiar word within a word. For example the word "seeing", the word see can help you understand the word but also to remember how to spell it. 

"Clapping and Stretching"-you use clapping to find syllables and stretching to help sound out the world. 

"Does it look right and sound right?"-I would hear Dr. Martin model for this in our own class. The purpose of a Word Wall is create sight words, so the students can remember them immediately and eventually it becomes subconscious. This questions helps the students to process spelling decisions. 

"What resources can we use?'- If you can not think of an answer, what can we use to find it? I hear Ms. Bryce mention this frequently and when I taught a few lessons at least one student would raise their hand mentioning a resource they could use to find more information. This shows that Ms. Bryce works hard on creating independence in her students. 

Instructional Materials: 

To the left is some of the activities that Ms. Bryce uses for literacy centers. My favorite was the activity for sentences. Each part of the sentence has certain edges so you could only make correct sentences. 

There were also matching for rhyming words. 

I have not seen her instructional materials outside of teaching literacy. What I have seen is lots and lots of chart paper, books, and book bags to hold their "just right" books. 

Monday, April 14, 2014


"... I would like to beg you dear sir, as well as you can, to have patience with everything unresolved within your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language."   

As a teacher I don't want to be afraid of a little mystery and I don't want to be in hurry to give answers away so easily. When we ask Dr. Martin questions she usually responds, "Why would you, why wouldn't you?" She will let us explore a little bit; and we usually arrive to an answer once we process our question aloud. Then not only do we have an answer but we own it.

Dr. Martin is exceptionally knowledgable in her area of expertise; but when we come to unknown answer, instead of just looking up an answer quickly, we dive in together to find a possible solution. 

We see many opportunities of what mini lesson would like in an elementary classroom by what we experience in Reading Methods. When looking at a text with a class, like a Shared Reading, there will be unknown answers to the students and maybe even the teacher. What a perfect chance to help the students to look at a problem, see what their background knowledge says and make a prediction. 

What I have loved is seeing modeling of this aspect with Dr. Martin and Ms. Bryce. When we have questions Dr. Martin will say, "Why would you, why wouldn't you?" With  Ms. Bryce she will ask them how they come up with answers that they give. 

Let's love questions! Let's see unknown as adventure and fear of failure as a chance to learn no matter what the outcome may be. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Color Blue (1, 2, 12)

 February 13, 2014

I came in Ms. Bryce's class on Tuesday morning feeling the drag of the early morning start. I debated whether to come in twice this week or to make up the hours later in the semester. I walked into the classroom at the beginning of a Read Aloud. My mood quickly changed seeing the interactions between Ms. Bryce and her students. They were engaged in making predictions and looking at the book with not just an audience perspective but through an author's. 

The book was: 

A moment that stuck out clear as day was this page of city dog in the winter. Leading up to this page was a story of city dog and country frog becoming friends. Right before winter, country frog left and city dog had no idea where he was. 

Ms. Bryce asked, "Why did the author include this page? It has no words on it! What makes this page important?" 

The students kept replying that "City dog is sad! City dog is sad!"

"What makes you say that?" 

Student's pointed out that he was alone and it look like his head was down. There are two students I see that give insightful responses and they pointed out the colors of the scenery. Ms. Bryce and her students discussed how the picture with its colors and layout shows what City Dog was feeling.

"Classrooms That Work" say for the students to learn how to think while they are reading they need to be able to: 

1. To quickly identify almost all the words.
2. Have sufficient background knowledge that you can connect to the new information. 
3. Be familiar with the type of text and be able to see how the author has organized ideas.
4. Have a mindset that reading is thinking and know how        to apply your thinking in comprehension strategies. 

Following these steps for a First Grade classroom requires ample modeling and support from the teacher. A Read Aloud is a perfect time to model comprehension at a deeper level than what students can with reading at their individual reading levels. I am learning how to provoke and lead thoughtful discussion and to create independence in students. It was wonderful to witness that in a class room, as it is happening. 

I discussed the Read Aloud With Ms. Bryce's when the students were participating in centers. The conversation went from the Read Aloud, to some of the obstacle with creating a community in the classroom. Most of the students come from rough home lives, one recently has no home. 

The color blue can show sadness but also depth and even a deep sense of peace. Dr. Martin asked us to pick a color that we would use to describe the classroom we were observing. I picked blue-I feel like Ms. Bryce creates an atmosphere where students can come and feel safe. She helps them process and to find peace. It is evident that Ms. Bryce has respect for her students and they have respect for her. 

Instructional Conversation is the medium, the occasion, the instrument for rousing minds to life." 
Tharpe and Gallimore 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thoughts of Teaching

"The 'Little House' books are stories of long ago. Today our way of living and our schools are much different; so many things have made living and learning easier. But the real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with the simple pleasures; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."                                                          
                                                               -Laura Ingalls Wilder 

A Second Impression (4,5, 10)

Two weeks ago I started my first observation of Ms. Bryce's 1st Grade class at McAuliffe Elementary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My classmate Becky and I began our trek to the school with a fresh fallen inch of snow. 

The crisp, winter air  greeted us with severity. Not the most pleasant of greetings but the young boys who helped direct cars with a teacher made the scene more endearing. I couldn't help but think of the traditional quip where grandparents would say, "Well I used to walk miles to get to school! in the snow! with no shoes!" Well... I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's books when I was in elementary school so I would pass the blame to her for leaving me with a romanticized view of walking to school.... for miles.... with no shoes... on a beautiful, spring day. 

I suddenly feel like a giant as I enter a world made for those with an average height of 57.35 inches. As I sign in and walk down the hall I notice the street signs that would designate each hallway. The street signs were placed at the perfect height that each sign almost grazed my head.  I headed down "Make a Plan Parkway" and arrived to a surprisingly, quiet classroom. 

With announcements playing I started thinking of my purpose of observing this classroom. This observation or practicum is for my Reading Methods class and I am thankful for the opportunity to take what I learn from lecture and apply it. Dr. Martin is my professor for Reading Methods at Oral Roberts University. Initially we learn about a variety of other methods, but what our main focus is "Balanced Literacy." When this concept was first introduced to me a year ago it changed how I saw teaching. I love kids; I want to teach; and Balanced Literacy is the vehicle to connect my passion for children with the discipline of teaching. It is more than just a forced time in a room for six hours but a community that uses literacy as a tool for obtaining knowledge.

My first practicum was my Spring semester of 2013, the same semester as my first class with Dr. Martin. I observed a 2nd grade classroom at a Title 1 school. I fell in love. I have been raised with schools that have more funding. First a private Christian school then I went to a public high school with highly ranked academics. The difference was refreshing but also gave me more purpose. And that purpose is to make an impact that goes beyond the mind and into the heart.

With McAuliffle being the second Title I elementary school I am observing, I have a second time to have an opportunity for these kids, this classroom to leave an impression on my heart and my mind. I want to always be willing to allow people to leave that everlasting impression. 

What I noticed: 

      In the first hour I observed their literacy centers and a shared reading. 

     Loud exclamations follow when Ms. Bryce's starts the time for literacy centers. I believe the implementing of Cambourne's ideas of choice into the classroom helps bring the enthusiasm out in students. Like I mentioned above, the classroom should not be time where we feel like we are forced into a room for seven hours; and I saw the students enjoy each other and their activities. Some choices they had at certain centers is what book they wanted to read. Each student have a bag filled with their own choices of books. Ms. Bryce has her own method to matching text with readers, so there is definitely a watchful eye to make sure there is growth in midst of the student's choices. 

     Ms. Bryce encouraged students to read in different voices. There is a mouse voice, a raspy voice, a pleasant voice (-insert any adjective one might desire- voice), a manly voice... I saw later that in one center there were two boys reading their school's mandate in their manliest voices with arms angled, swinging in and out. (4) 

     There are three different tables where the students sit in groups. Having desks in chairs encourage group work and discussions which is more beneficial in creating a community of learners. (5) 

    Shared Reading is having an excerpt of a book, poem, magazine in an enlarged form where there is a "shared support in the reading process." The whole class with Ms. Bryce read the poem about bees. Ms. Bryce asked students to come up and circle all the vowels and all the consonants. This poem was read many times and every student who wanted to participate was able to do so. When a word or situation in the text needs to be addressed I have seen it done where the word is written  with a Magna Doodle to emphasize what to focus on and to share insights about the word. Examples would be a word that doesn't follow the tradition rules like the word "rough", the way it sounds make it seems it should be spelled "ruff." With a Magna Doodle you could right the two words and discuss the differences.  Shared Readings are a great time to discuss grammar, reading and comprehension strategies. In this example teaching and learning you are able to see the student's process and address obstacles when the information would be relevant. 

I look at the schedule on the wall and I see that literature plays a vital role everyday (10): 

Most of the day is teaching straight literacy. Ms. Bryce says for her it has been hard doing straight Balanced Literacy but next year it will be all day, every day. 

I will be teaching three lessons this semester! So I am looking forward to the opportunities to practice the theories I have been learning; but I mostly look forward to getting to know the kids in this class. I am praying for everlasting impressions.