Week 16: May 7

Unity 4th Grade: 5 hours

Last week, and unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the kids display boards for Heritage Fair because the social studies teacher was out sick so they weren't working on them this week. 

I found out Heritage Fair is Friday May 26th....and I have to work that morning. I was kind of disappointed I really wanted to surprise the kids and go. 

LOTS of hugs goodbye from all the students on my last day, I think I made an impression on them...at least I hope I did. THANK YOU Lynda for this experience, I'm really going to miss going to Unity every week! Maybe I'll find a way to continue volunteering there.  

Week 15: Apr 30

Unity Elementary 4th Grade: 0 hours

I took the week off. I am so excited to go in tomorrow and see how much progress they have made on their presentation boards. I'll take pictures :)

Week 14: Apr 23

Unity 4th grade: 5 hours

This was a BUSY week! We decided Monday that I was going to teach on Thursday. She requested a lesson on design. The kids have been working on their Heritage Fair presentations. Heritage fair is a day that they present their chosen topic from Wisconsin, it can be a person who was born here, or an animal native to here, basically anything Wisconsin. They research their topic and write a paper. THEN they make a bi-fold presentation board that will be used to inform students and parents at the Heritage fair. The students just finished their papers and have been waiting to start their presentation boards.

That's were I came in. In years past she's struggled with the students "design" of their boards. They either write too big or too small. They have too many pictures or not enough. So she asked me to prepare a Powerpoint presentation and make "design" a board of my own. I got Gerogia O'Keeffe ( I didn't know she was born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.) SO I had 2 and a half days to make the power point presentation AND my heritage fair presentation board...I got it done!!

Teaching the lesson went a LOT better than I thought. I was nervous to just have a lecture. I was nervous that I wouldn't hold their attention or they wouldn't listen at all. And it turned out great! The lecture ended up being almost 12 minutes long, and they listened the entire time. I did loose them once, but was able to regain their focus. I asked questions throughout the lecture and was amazed at how many kids raised their hands, and the amount of kids who participated. It wasn't the same couple kids, it was almost everyone of them! I think they were excited to get started on their boards, and after the lecture they got to start sketching out their ideas. I don't think the teacher has ever asked them to do this step in years past. I really hope she sees an improvement this year in the students boards.

I was only able to lecture to one of the four social study classes so the teacher got to teach it to the other three classes. Then she's going to hold onto the Powerpoint for following years. Although I am technically done with all of my hours, and lessons requirements for our Practicum class, I plan on continuing going to 4th grade and helping the students with their boards (and attend the Heritage Fair if I can.) I can't wait to go in Monday and hear how the lecture went in the other three classes. I really do feel bad that I was only able to teach just the one, I know all the other students would have liked it too!  

Week 13: Apr 16

Unity 4th Grade: 5 hours

I think I am always going to remember this week!!  Mrs. S was having a hard time getting a student to read so she thought I could help him out. He had this book for over two month and always had excuses why he didn't read it. She hand picked this particular book for this student because she thought he could relate to it. It was about a fourth grade boy who had a three year old brother. The brother would always get into his stuff and he didn't like him one bit. Well this student was also a boy in fourth grade with a three year old brother who he didn't like one bit. She thought once he started reading it would suck him in and he would actually read a whole book cover to cover in her class....well it didn't happen like that. He said he read about three quarters  of the book but she really didn't know if he had. She thought maybe he was just moving his bookmark ahead. So she thought, maybe if he read this book to me. She would (1) know he was reading it, and (2) would hope that he enjoyed the book that he would see how much fun reading could be and all the fun stuff that goes with being a reader.

The student and I left the noisy classroom and went to the library and found a quiet corner to read. He read to me for almost 45 minutes. He read very well, he wasn't a slow reader and was able to pronounce most of the words. This surprised me, I guess I was assuming that he didn't like to read because he wasn't any good at it, but he was. It was nice listening to him read. And at the end of the class period he seemed to enjoy the book.

Thursday when I came back to school I asked him about the book. I was surprised to hear that he had read more since I last saw him. Mrs. S had us find our quiet spot in the library again and we read for almost an hour. And he FINISHED the book! He was so excited!!! I don't know for sure but I think it was one of the first "real" books he had ever read! You could tell he was proud and she was right about the choice of book, he LOVED it! He said that reading this book was a blast! Mrs. S was sooo proud of him, that she thought we needed to do something to make a big deal about this accomplishment so we made a poster together. He said what he wanted on his poster, and I drew it. Then he colored it in. He was so proud of it, and wanted her to hang it on the wall in the classroom. I like to think that I made a difference in the student's life, but even if I didn't I will always remember him.


Our poster :)

Our poster :)

Week 12: Apr 9

Unity 4th grade: 5 hours

It is such a different vibe in 4th grade compared to Kindergarten. In 4th grade, it feels more relaxed and seem to move at a pace that is set by the students. The give them an "extra" recess time before lunch if they feel they are being worked in the classes. I think the reason it's so different than Kindergarten is because well you know the famous saying "give someone an inch and they'll take a mile." I think the Kindergarteners need to stay on task, because if they get off task it is SO hard to get them back! It's much easier for them to check completely out where the older kids have the ability to bounce back from it easier. 

This week I got to do a lot of one on one time with a handful of students. I helped them with reading, math and science. 

I also got to go the HUGE closet of books! It is a room full of books that is the teacher's stash. The kids don't check these out like they do in the library; they just borrow them to read in school. They don't get to bring them home either. There are multiple copies of the same book so the kids can read the same book in groups if they want. It was fun to see them "argue" as a group on what book to pick. I got to teach a couple girls what the word compromise means...it was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be.  

Week 11: Apr 2

Unity 4th Grade: 5 hours

Monday morning after the kids got back from having a week off for Spring Break could have been rough time in Science class. But not today! Mrs. S planned a fun lesson to get them going and it was fun! They got 20 toothpicks, 10 gumdrops and 1 plate and was told to build a structure using all of the materials to hold up books. They were told if they wanted clues to help they could ask or they could try to figure it out on their own. The clues were "triangles are stronger than squares" .... I took pictures today because the kids were having so much fun, when I left the record was 16 books but she had more science classes in the afternoon.

Richard was so proud of his structure! It held 10 books!! 

Richard was so proud of his structure! It held 10 books!! 

Thursday was a much quieter day than Monday. They were testing so I made a couple of visual aid posters to help them in writing class. One was about Sequence of Events, and the other was about how to write a summary. She asked me to make them eye catching and colorful.  

Week 10: Mar 26

SPRNG BREAK for Unity this week! It was nice to take a break after spending my spring break at Unity. It was also the perfect time to transition for the kids. I ended my time in Kindergarten and will be starting in the 4th grade next week.  

Week 9: Mar 19

Unity School - Ms. Cara, Kindergarten & Mrs. V (TA in Elementary Art Room)-  18.5 hours

I took full advantage of my time off on Spring Break and spent 4 days at Unity. I moved around some this week. I started in my usual Miss Cara's class and ended my week in Mrs. V's Art Room. I also taught my lesson this week to Miss Cara's class. 

Monday: (3 hrs) Miss Cara's class. It was business as usual this week. They started a new unit on planets and the solar system. We had an interesting discussion about whether Pluto is a planet or not. Some of the books we read said there were 9 planets and some said 8. In my world, Pluto will always be a planet. 

Tuesday: (1.5 hrs) TEACHING DAY!!!! I was sooooo nervous about today and unfortunately I think my nerves got the best of me. I appreciate that we were thrown into our lessons without many pointers and tip because after teaching I could list multiple things I would have done differently. I know I learned a lot by experience!! My lesson was making 3D maps of imaginary planets. I was taking too much on with this project. I was so worried about teaching them the core information of planets, I kind of skimped on teaching them about clay. They ALL had a great time making their planets and I loved seeing how invested each kid was! They worked the entire work time, and all were proud of their finished planets.

Wednesday: (7 hours) TA Mrs. V's Elementary Art Room. It was an interesting week to choose to be in the art room because she set up all the classes a little different this week. Mrs V teaches the entire Elementary starting with preK all the way up to 5th graders. The classes are typically on a three day rotation, so the kids she saw today, she wont' see the rest of the week. Because this is the week before Spring Break, the kids often have a hard time focusing so adjusts her classroom for their behavior. She set up multiple stations(centers) around the classroom and divided each class up evenly. The kids got to rotate to every center, and do multiple activities. This helps with their short attention spans, because they get to move throughout the room multiple times(3 or 4). For the most part every grade was doing the same centers but we did make a couple of them different for the smaller kids. One station was making a circle drawing with oil pastels and then using their finger they got the blend the colors. Another station was playing art apps on the ipads. There were 5 different art apps to choose from that either had them draw or sculpt with their fingers. The last station was radial designs. Using a coffee filter as a base, they folded them 3 times and used markers to draw a design on two sides. After their filter was covered in color(ink) they got to use a sponge to get the filter damp. Then after unfolding their coffee filter they got to see their design bled together to make a radial pattern. All of the kids enjoyed each station, they were short enough exercises that impressed the kids! It also gave a chance to walk around the room and had multiple things I could talk to the kids about.

Thursday: (7 hrs) TA Mrs. V's Elementary Art Room. Since today was all new kids, we stuck with the same stations as yesterday. Today they were just as successful as yesterday. Another thing that was nice to see is every time a new class came in Mrs. V had to demo and describe each center. I got to see her demo the same projects 14 times!! There were things she forgot to say to some groups because she was thinking she already said it. It was nice to see that an experienced teacher still messes up. This was especially nice to see after teaching my lesson. I think I am so worried about everything being perfect, I need to just relax and let things flow naturally.

I also got a chance to go back to Miss Cara's for a half hour to paint their planets. I just used watercolors because they are experienced in watercolors so it was easier. I did prep them for the day and told them if they use less water, their colors will be brighter and if they do two coats it will be even darker. I also reminded them to use light colors first and work darker. They all enjoyed painting and the watercolors worked really well on the clay.  One thing we found out was we couldn't hang them on the wall. Because they used the extra clay to build up their planets, they were TOO heavy for the clips and the clips fell out. I told Mrs. V about my problem and she suggested that next time if I make a hold, I can hang them with wire. NOTED!! All in all, I think it was a good first lesson. I am glad I started with Kindergarteners because to them it was an awesome day, they have no idea I messed up. I think when I go to fourth grade, I will be better. 

Next week Unity has their Spring Break so I get to take a week off. I will start back Monday morning in fourth grade. Using the break will be a good way to transition for the kids. It will mark the beginning or the end for them mentally. 

This is the Unity Elementary Art Room 

This is the Unity Elementary Art Room 

Here are some example of the centers we did. The top being the example of oil pastel blending and the bottom being the coffee filter radial design. 

Here are some example of the centers we did. The top being the example of oil pastel blending and the bottom being the coffee filter radial design. 

Here is one Kindergartener in Miss Cara's class painting his planet. He had a huge volcano and had a long river of lava. 

Here is one Kindergartener in Miss Cara's class painting his planet. He had a huge volcano and had a long river of lava. 

Week 8: Mar 12

Unity School - Ms. Cara, Kindergarten -  5.5 hours

This week there was a new student who had Aspergers. I got to work with him one on one and it was really interesting because I had no personal experience before. It was amazing to see how he could be so focused on parts of lessons and completely distracted in others. Because I have a three year old I felt I able to understand some of his behavior because at times he acted like my three year old. I was able to say you're acting silly, and he knew that he had to re-direct his focus on the lesson. 


Week 7: Mar 5

Unity School - Ms. Cara, Kindergarten -  5.5 hours

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DR. SEUSS!!! We read a LOT of Dr. Seuss this week and on Thursday the Cat in a Hat visited our classroom and read us Horton Hatches an Egg. It was just a high school student wearing a cat in the hat costume but the kids LOVED it!! They listened really well, and all got their picture taken after. It was fun for me because I haven't read that book since I was in Kindergarten, I didn't realize how heavy the story is. I remember his books being fun and rhyming, but I didn't remember that he can tell a GOOD story too! 

I got to go to art class again this week, where they were finishing up a drawing they did last class. They drew a fish in a fishbowl, and outlined everything in marker and colored some of it with crayons. This week they got to paint it with watercolor. They did really well with the watercolors, they listened to instructions and were excited to get started. It was obviously not the first time they used the watercolors, because they didn't have a lot of questions. Everyone was proud of their finished paintings. And I was able to set up a shadowing for part three of this class's requirements. I am going to go in and shadow the Elementary Art Teacher for two full days during spring break. I look forward to see the variety of students she teaches and what exactly is a day in the life as an Elementary Art Teacher.

Week 6: Feb 26

Unity School - Ms. Cara, Kindergarten -  2.5 hours

No school Monday for President's day, so I just got to go Thursday. We went to music class where they were working on their Starwars unit. The force was strong this week, no signs of the dark side.

Then the kids got three new books to read, two were easy and one was hard. They had to read their books to me quietly in the corner of the classroom, I could tell they were all intimidated by the "hard" book and saved that one for last. But everyone of them read all three books with no problems!! They are smarter than they give themselves credit for. 

I think most of the kids were hoping for a snow day Friday, and Cara did do somethings Thursday just incase they did. I imagine she had a tough day Friday when they were all disappointed they had to go to school after all. But Friday was dress up in your best clothes day so I'm sure they had fun with that.  

Week 5: Feb 19

Unity School - Ms. Cara, Kindergarten -  5.5 hours

This week I got to go to art class with the kids. They rotate between music, library, physical education and art. I haven't been there on an art day yet so I was so excited to finally see it. The classroom was huge, with big tables and lots of space for the kids to work. Unfortunately the art teacher wasn't feeling well and had a sub on their way to take over the class. She had a coloring project for the kids to do. They got to draw a planet and alien on a piece of black paper. The kids had a LOT of fun thinking of what their alien was going to look like. Some drew multiple heads, arms and legs. I didn't get a chance to talk with the art teacher which was kind of disappointing because I had so many questions I wanted to ask her. Hopefully I won't have to wait so long to get back into art.

Ms. Cara did a drawing in class this week. She paired the kids up and they had to draw portraits of their partner. They had to draw what they saw. We helped them get started by drawing the heads and then they got to take over. They really got into it. They had never done drawings like this before so it was fun to watch them. Some got really detailed. Then they had to trace their pencil lines with a black sharpie marker. That was another exciting thing because most of them said their parents won't let them use sharpie markers. We assured them their parents wouldn't mind for this project. Then next day, Ms. Cara had them color their portraits with watercolors. I really wish I could be there everyday because I miss out on so much. Time goes by SO fast while I'm there!

They don't have school next Monday for Presidents Day, so next week I'll only be there Thursday.    

Week 4: Feb 12

Unity School - Ms. Cara, Kindergarten -  5.5 hours

This week we learned the importance of washing your hands! Illness took over the classroom this week. There were so many kids out sick, it was hard to keep to the lesson plan of teaching because Ms. Cara didn't want to do too much and have so many kids fall behind. And it was unusually hard to keep the kids that were in class focussed because to them the classroom felt off. They thought they could just have fun and had a hard time listening. Ms. Cara said it's almost worse having a smaller classroom because they're more behaved when everyone is there. It's not a huge class to begin with, only 12, and by the end of the day Monday there were only 6 kids in class. 

Thursday when I was there most of the kids had returned healthy and ready to go. Right now they are learning about their 5 senses so today they were learning about taste. Ms. Cara brought in different foods to eat with different flavors. She gave them a lemon for sour, most of the kids didn't like it. Then she had pretzels for salty. And chocolate. They were SO excited for the chocolate, they wanted the biggest piece. She told them they couldn't eat it right away, they needed to wait and smell it first. When it was time to eat they couldn't get it in their mouths fast enough. I was scanning the room watching all the kids and immediately I noticed them all making the WORST faces. I was confused and asked dark chocolate? Nope! She gave them baking chocolate so they could experience bitter! It was hilarious! They were all running to the trash cans spitting it out! Then she gave them all a piece of real chocolate to wash the taste down. I'm sure none of them will forget that day! I know I won't! 

Week 3: Feb 5

Unity School - Ms. Cara, Kindergarten -  5.5 hours

Lots of copying and pasting this week! The student use this method to learn a lot of different things. We made skeletons to learn their bones and also use it to learn spelling words. They are surprisingly good at it, with very minimal messes!

I got to witness something (I found) very interesting this week. In PE class they're in their swimming unit. This school is very fortunate to have a swimming pool at the school for the kids to use. There is a full size pool and a kiddie pool that's only a few feet deep. I didn't join them in the water, I sat on the bench trying to stay dry from splashing. There was one boy who hasn't brought a swimming suit to school since the swimming unit started. His mother sent a note this week that said he keeps forgetting his suit because he is afraid of the water. The PE teacher had an extra suit for the boy to wear and asked him if he wanted to swim. He did, and he didn't act afraid of the water. He was jumping in the big pool and swimming as well as the best of them. To us (me and the PE teacher) it seemed like maybe the mother was afraid of the water and not the child. This makes me think of the bigger picture...to me the teacher did not do anything bad for this child, but did she go against the parent's wishes? As a teacher do you find yourself in situations where your gut instinct may conflict with parents wishes? And could situations like this get you in trouble? Or is it okay, as long as the child isn't put in harms way? Are there policies for situations like this? I image the boy came home from school and told his mother he went swimming when he told her about his day. I hope the PE teacher doesn't get any grief for this action, because to me the boy was very happy and LOVED his time in the pool!  

WEEK 2: Jan 29

Unity School - Ms. Cara, Kindergarten -  4 hours

I got to work one on one with a student this week and I found it to be very rewarding. I thought we developed a great bond and were able to joke while getting our work done. This student needs a little extra attention so Ms. Cara thought I would be perfect for him. He needed help not using too much glue and friendly reminders to slow down when writing so it doesn't look like chicken scratch. I was able to keep him on task without him feeling frustrated so I considered it a success.

In my short time spent in the classroom I have heard the kids practicing singing the Star Bangle Banner for their BIG performance singing before the Boy's Varsity Basketball game this Friday night. They were so excited and took it very serious. I had the pleasure of attending the game to see them sing and it was so much fun to watch! They did an amazing job! As I was driving home I thought I should have taken a picture, I guess I was too into the moment. Sorry! 


WEEK 1: Jan 22

Unity School - Ms. Cara, Kindergarten -  2.5 hours

Today was my first day in Ms. Cara's Kindergarten class at Unity School. Going back to Kindergarten was fun, but wasn’t what I remembered. I thought all they did was nap, snack and color but these kids were reading, writing and spelling! I have a three year-old daughter and she’s my inspiration to teach but so far she’s the only child I have really spent an extended amount of time with. I know where she’s at mentally, and I can’t believe what she’s going to be doing in just two short years.

I am so excited to help and get to know these kids. I am excited to teach them a lesson that opens up their artistic creativity.

One thing that I noticed right away is I need to ask questions about what they already know. Some of the kids were asking me questions and I didn’t know if I should just tell them the answer or help them figure it out. Ms. Cara warned me that some of the kids are going to try to get me to do their work, so be careful and answer their questions with a question.