Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Service Learning-3

My service learning experience was a really positive one and I am glad that I was able to participate in the Many Villages program at Fairfax Elementary School.  Mrs. Petty who is the third grade teacher I was helping was awesome.  When I was not working with Nakleb I was able to observe her teaching the whole class and she does such an excellent job with her students.  It seems as though she really cares about her students and wants to help all of them learn.

During our last day of service the students were doing some activities as a class and I was able to interact with all the students rather than just Nakleb who I usually give more individual help to.  They were playing a game with a partner to help them practice their multiplication skills.  It was nice being able to walk around and also to see the students learning in a different way.  The students were working well together for the most part and staying on task as well.  Considering how much energy these students usually have I was a bit surprised how focused they were.  I may have been surprised but it was a pleasant surprise all the same.  Another activity they did on that day was a science experiment.  They were making their own composts and over the next few weeks were going to watch some apple peels, banana slices turn into compost.  I really liked watching the kids enthusiasm about this project and I think that they will like the process as well.

Mrs. Petty informed us that all of the extra activities that she does with her students is funded by herself.  The school gives them a bit of money to use but Mrs. Petty shared that she probably spends about $1000 a year on various things with her classroom.  I think this is awesome that she is still willing to spend her own money so her students may learn in different ways but also sad that she has to spend all of her own money.  I just found it all very interesting.

I enjoyed my service from this semester and am actually considering continuing with the service at this site next semester as well.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Service Learning-2

The past several weeks I have been continuing my service with Many Villages at Fairfax Elementary school where I work with a young boy in the third grade.  Working with Nakalub has been very interesting, not only in the skills he displays academically but with the items about his home life that I have learned about.  A week ago he had a cast on his right arm and he then proceeded to tell me how he broke his pinkie finger the day before.  I asked how it was done and he said that he had been hit by a car.  He said it without a care in the world and as though this is a normal thing that goes on.  I did not find this normal and was a bit taken aback by what had happened.  It is just interesting to hear about a third grader getting hit by a car, I do not know if he was playing when a car came ad did not see him or what really happened other than his pinkie being broken from a car hitting him.

Yesterday he had a real cast on (earlier was just a temporary one) that was green and he wanted me to sign it.  We were working on graphing data that the students had collected for homework so I made him a deal that we had to complete our work before I would consider signing his cast.  It is funny how adamant a kid can be about something as little as a name on a cast.  I actually was touched that he wanted me to sign it considering I meet with him once a week to help with work and I don't even know if he remembers that I will be back again in the future.

Another part of the service to follow up on is his reading level that I had previously noticed was really low for a third grader.  I was asked to give him a reading test where he read a book out loud to me and I was to write down any words that he missed or that I needed to help him with.  The book contained 71 words and he only missed 7 which was pretty good.  He then works with his teacher reading that same book each day and has flash cards made of the words he missed.  After giving him the test I asked the teacher a little more about it and the book we had just read was a kindergarten level book.  She shared with me that it would be really hard to get him to a third grade reading level by the end of the year but she was hoping to have him up to a second grade level.  I really have been enjoying this experience and learning a lot about this classroom's particular culture and trying to let everything soak into my mind.


The "prop" chosen to represent what was read in the chapter 9 was a journal.  On page 369 they are talking about how to most benefit the school culture and one way that seems like it would be good is those "who have the willingness, skills, and opportunities to continuously examine every aspect of their teaching"  I thought that what better way to reflect and examine than through writing.  I know that personally by writing things down it helps me to release my thoughts and then allows me to go back and evaluate where I have been, what I want to change or have been working on improving.  This strategy could definitely be applied to teaching and allowing them to be critically reflective in the work that is done in the classroom.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Timeline Event: Standardized Testing

One event that has made a historical marking and has also influenced my desire to be a teacher is Standardized testing.  In chapter 6 of Teaching to Change the World, assessments are discussed where they address standardized testing.  This form of testing has occurred for a long time and I am not sure if I agree with the reasons behind the tests.  On page 223 there is a statement that reads, "the test reports, not what or how much a student actually knows, but how ell the student did in relation to the performance of other students"  I understand the general concept of wanting a general form so that students may be measured equally--or what they feel is equal-- to judge the learning that is occurring in a classroom.  Perhaps I am a bit biased since I have never been good at taking these sort of tests so I do not feel they properly measure knowledge or growth in a student.  This subject has influenced my desire to be a teacher in some way so that I may teach not solely so my students perform well on these tests but so they are able to grow with their learning.  I think it would be a shame for someone to only teach so they can boast about the results their students spit out on standardized tests, though this may be important in certain realms I do not feel it should be all that a teacher is concerned about.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Teaching and Teacher Education"

Questions/Statements in response to the article:

1. The article discusses Carla's study in Kenya, how can the experience be separated between the exotic place and the disruptions that may occur?

2. Does the knowledge of diversity have to be experienced, or could it just be understood through observations or knowledge from others?

3. The experiences that are shared all seem to have really touched each individual.  I wonder if more teachers participated in these sort of experiences if they would be more passionate about teaching.

4.  I wonder if there are some people who go through an experience like those discussed in the article and want to remain in a different country for the remainder of  their teaching career.

5. I really like the line from the introduction that says, "We emphasize that repositioning the learning in service learning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Service Learning-1

The service I will be participating in this semester is called Many Villages.  This past week I did not attend the site but was given an orientation on campus about the program.  From what I have gathered we will be interacting with students and teachers.  The students grades range from kindergarten to third grade and we are supposed to be placed with a teacher in order to help out in the classroom.

I am excited to begin this experience and interact with the students.  I have not done much service in the past with younger children, so I look forward to the new challenge.  During the orientation we were told that we may encounter views or situations that we do not agree with but it is our job to not let these things get to us.  It would be great if this did not happen but I am going into service with an open mind as to not let my opinions dictate the experience.  I am curious about the interaction we will be having with not only the students at Many Villages but also the teachers.  I hope to learn about the teacher's experiences with their career and the students that they have worked with over their years of teaching.