One thing I noticed from today was the layout of Mrs. Sopko’s room.
First of all, she has a ‘Week At a Glance’ calendar that shows what each grade—sixth and eighth—will be doing every day of the week. For this past week specifically, the calendar talks about how sixth graders will be doing a mini research project on the Civil Rights Movement on Monday/Wednesday, Iowa Assessment on Tuesday/Thursday, and the presentation of their Civil Rights Projects on Friday. The eighth graders will be identifying pros/cons and work on note-taking strategies on Monday, Notes/Project overview and decide topic on Tuesday, research/notes on Wednesday and Thursday, and an introduction to online data bases on Friday.
What I really like about this overview calendar is that it serves as a useful organization tool for both the teacher and students. For lesson planning on the teacher’s part, it helps to connect the days of the week together and helps string lessons to build off one another. For the students, it helps to preview the next day’s activities and can get them thinking towards an end goal.
Mrs. Sopko also has a ‘Learning Target’ poster on the wall underneath the calendar. I thought this was useful because it overtly states the lesson/activity goal in order to direct student learning. I find this useful from a teacher’s point of view because it helps to make lessons that are clear and focused.
For the sixth graders in first hour, the main activity was to finish up their presentations in order to present to the class. During this time I helped by walking around and giving feedback on their presentations. The students then presented to the class. One thing I noticed from the presentations was the lack of spell-check, proofreading, practice, or reading out loud before the presentation. A lot of the words were misspelled, completely incorrect, or the students were unable to even say them correctly. A few of the slides were copied off the internet, too! Students weren’t even sure, at times, what they meant.
This presentation lasted no longer than 2 minutes per group, but I was shocked by the quality. Even though the presentations were informal, I would think that correct spelling and understanding would be key. I think that this is an area where I could be of influence. Perhaps, next time, I could help by having the students read their presentation out loud to me before going up in front of the class. Maybe this would help to self-correct some of those errors and allow students time to practice saying/pronouncing difficult words.
In third hour, with the eighth graders, today started with an introduction to databases and learning how to find correct, valid websites for reference. Mrs. Sopko referenced the ‘CRAP Test,’ which is a test that students can use to verify a website’s usefulness in their research papers. In the CRAP Test, C stands for Current, R Reliable, A authority, and P Purpose/Point of View. When using this test, students can look for .org websites, or other websites that are official. They can also look for websites that have been recently published, published by someone of authority, and are not forums or blogs. I thought this was useful.
For the remainder of the period, I walked around and helped students with their research notes. They were taking notes on a sheet that outlined their 2 claims, 3 defending reasons, and 3 facts/examples. This was a great organization tool and it was helpful for me to see how they were constructing their thoughts/making sense of their research.