My teaching, units, lesson plans/planning, and experiences in my first student teaching placement at Mason City High School in Mason City, Iowa.
Theme of Growing Up – Notes - One of the major themes in House on Mango Street is growing up. As Esperanza grows up, she starts to realize things about herself and the adult world--hence why this is called a 'coming of age' novel!
Dear Sixth Grade Self - As my eighth graders discussed the theme of growing up in the novel House on Mango Street, I had them connect the idea to their own lives---How had they grown up? Especially in the transition from sixth to eighth grade?
Saying Goodbye to My Honors Classes - Friday was my last day at Mason City High School, bittersweet to say the least. Saying goodbye to my Honors 10 group was tough. I had become particularly fond of them.
Notes on My Students - As my first placement comes to a close, there's one thing I wanted to make sure to do before leaving: create a student note sheet for my cooperating teacher so that she knows a little about each student going back into full-time teaching.
Saying Goodbye to English 10 - Wow, where to start with this group? These students were mine from day one. They were my most challenging, but my most rewarding group. And they taught me a lot about being a tenth grader.
Saying Goodbye to My American Seminar Kids - Saying goodbye to my American Seminar students came first--this was the first class I gave back to Stanton, and while they were moving beyond The Scarlet Letter, I slaved over their grades in the back of the room. 😛
Unit Planning – Honors 10 - I was extremely nervous about teaching tenth grade Honors English at first, but once I started planning out what I was going to do, I felt a lot better.
Compare & Contrast – Tuesdays with Morrie Movie - My kids finished reading Tuesdays with Morrie! Yay! To complete the unit, I wanted the students to watch the movie and to compare the book and the movie--understanding literature through multiple lenses.
Who Is Morrie Now? - As a closing and wrap-up activity for Tuesdays with Morrie, I asked my students to take out their drawings from the beginning of the semester, there initial pictures of who Morrie was.
Journal – Community and Justice System - My sophomore Honors English students had just finished reading Part I of To Kill a Mockingbird, and as a transition activity, I had them journal for the first 10-15 minutes of class about these two topics: community influence and the country's justice system.
Unit Planning – American Seminar - Planning for classes became a daily, weekly, and monthly ritual as I started student teaching. As my first placement comes to a close, it's been exciting to see how far I've come from the first day and reflect on my curriculum planning.
My Kids Say the Darndest Things, Part 4 - Oh boy, being a high school student teacher at age twenty-two, while looking like a high schooler myself, has its challenges for sure! One of those is when a typical teenage boy writes something flirty on the white board for you to see after class.
My Kids Say the Darndest Things, Part 3 - Being a teacher means there's no shortage of laughs. This is the latest, written in a formal essay about Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. Sometimes you just have to laugh.
Unit Planning – English 10 - Planning for my English 10 classes was different--these periods, one and four, I was taking over from the start. I needed to have a plan from day one all the way to my final day, October 16th.
Quiz – Ch. 9 & 10 - Time for another pop quiz! This time it's over chapters 9 & 10 in TKAM.
Relationships in TKAM - "Who the heck is related to who?" This is what one of my students said to me as we reached one of the final chapters of Part II and were introduced to the Christmas scene. I took a pause out of my lecture/discussion and drew a goofy map on the board.
Discussion – Let’s Get Moving! - "How can I make teaching this book interesting?" I said to myself aloud, in the middle of the library, like a crazy person. It was a Sunday night and I was putting together my teaching plans for Monday. My Honors 10 students were just starting Part I of To Kill a Mockingbird and I wanted them to have fun. I needed some inspiration.
Parents Say the Darndest Things, Too! [ An Unexpected Conference] - Conferences are supposed to be this warm and fuzzy time where you talk to parents about their students, celebrate their successes, discuss areas for growth, and go over the activities and progress made since the first day of school...right? Well, in an ideal world.
Life Lessons From Morrie – Final Paper - For this assignment, students were to choose two aphorisms/quotes/life lessons and define them, define them as they were presented in the book, and relate them to their personal lives.
Peer Reading - Okay, I thought. We'll see how this goes. I stood at the front of the class. "Today we're going to finish the book. I'd like you to find a partner of your choice and read this final section, 'Afterward' aloud."
Point of View Paper - To change up activities for To Kill a Mockingbird, I had the students write the scene at the Radley House (where Jem, Scout, and Dill try to peer through the window and Jem loses his pants) through the eyes of one of the characters.
Pop Quiz – Ch. 3-4 - Four chapters in to the book? Pop quiz time! Call me a mean teacher, but I wanted to check that my students were reading, so I gave them a quiz over chapters 3 and 4 in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Weekly Reflection #6 – Finding a Plan for Late Work - A lot happened this week: first round of conferences, introducing To Kill a Mockingbird, finishing up The Scarlet Letter, final activities for Tuesdays with Morrie, gathering and grading assignments--I was busy! One thing I've taken away from this week's craziness, however, is that I need to establish a better system for late work.
“Graduation” and “Conclusion” Scaffolded Notes - After reading aloud and realizing that my students were struggling with comprehension, I decided to create a set of scaffolded notes for them to take home over the weekend and complete while reading.
Today’s Goals - In my classroom, I have my "I Can" board which states the classroom standards and 'I Can' statements pertaining to those standards. However, I wanted to branch out from the classroom standards and make something specific, for each day. So I created "Today's Goals".
Planning My Last Few Days - As my first placement at Mason City High School comes to a close, there are a few things I've done to keep myself organized. One is to make a plan of my classes.
Modern-Day Scarlet Letters - I truly believe that students learn best when they are asked to relate content to their personal lives. That was my goal with this ending, fun activity–Modern-Day Scarlet Letters–applying the theme of hidden vs. exposed sin to students’ own lives.
Journal 4 – The “Nightline” Show - As I begin to wrap up Tuesdays with Morrie in my English 10 classes, I wanted to give students the opportunity to form an opinion. Some of my students love the book. Some don't. I wanted to get them working on opinion-based narrative writing, dip into persuasive writing, and most importantly, make arguments and back them up with support!
TKAM – Ch. 1 & 2 - There's a lot going on in the first few chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird. To help my students with their comprehension and understanding, I had them use a study guide to help with note-taking.
12th Tuesday Comprehension Questions - Something I started doing with my sophomore English students was read aloud from Tuesdays with Morrie. This began as an idea to help my ESL student and other struggling readers, but then it became a necessary tool to keep all students on track with their reading.
The Scarlet Letter Final Essay - Every good unit ends with a paper (says every English teacher in the world!). And for The Scarlet Letter, I couldn't agree more!
Finishing The Scarlet Letter - As my American Seminar students read The Scarlet Letter, we had some great whole-class discussions. Wrapping up the book was no different.
MCHS Conferences – Round 1! - At Mason City High School, conferences are split into two days, two Tuesdays. The first night was October 6th, and I was thrilled to be a part of it!
Vocab Terms: Part I - Vocabulary in To Kill a Mockingbird is difficult! Even as a college grad, I found myself struggling not only to understand some words, but even how to pronounce them!
TKAM – Character Maps - To Kill a Mockingbird can be a challenging text, just due to the fact that there are so many characters! I wanted to help my students organize and keep the characters straight, so I created a character map.
Reincarnation Activity - Today my students are taking their 5th-9th Tuesday Quiz, but after that, I wanted them to have a little fun.
My 504 Writing Student - From the beginning of my student teaching placement, I've had experience with and learned about 504 plans. It wasn't until my final week, however, that I received the official documentation of one of my student's 504 Plans. This document really helped me to see and understand how 504 accommodations worked in a classroom.
An Eye-Opening Experience - My student teaching experience at Mason City High School has so far been an incredibly eye-opening experience. If I could name the one, most important thing that I'm pulling away from my time here, is that students come from such varied, different, and often difficult backgrounds.
5th-8th Tuesday, Study Guides and Quiz - After reading the 5th-8th Tuesdays both independently and as a class, I wanted to give my students a quiz. This time, however, I wanted a more challenging quiz, as my students had done very well on the last, multiple choice and true-false quiz.
Peer Editing - Peer editing is a wonderful tool...if done effectively. When students read one another's work, they are able to see and fix errors in their peer's papers, as well as translate those changes to their own papers. They also are able to take a critical eye and put themselves in a teacher's seat for a moment, hopefully looking at their work from a flipped perspective.
My Kids Say the Darndest Things, Pt. 2 - Being a teacher means you're constantly surrounded by kiddos---and some of them are going to make you laugh out loud. In my American Seminar class, I had an essay question as part of our Mid-Book Quest (Quiz-Test) and here's something one of my kids wrote that made me chuckle.
Poetry Workshop - To connect on a deeper, more personal level to Tuesdays with Morrie, I had my students write poems about their 'Morries', the influential people in their lives.
Forest Scene Story - Okay, I'll admit it...sometimes reading The Scarlet Letter and its Old English can be difficult, and a little dry. I wanted my students to take a break for a minute and do something creative!
Intro to To Kill a Mockingbird - I haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird in ages. But I knew I loved the book and I wanted my students to feel the same. To begin working with the novel, I set up a classroom activity. I split the class into groups with several topics to help preview some of the essential background information.
7th Tuesday Reading Quiz - Want to check that your students are reading? Here's a simple quiz you can give them over the "Seventh Tuesday".
Scarlet Letter Discussion Groups - My American Seminar students have read up through chapter 18 in The Scarlet Letter. This point in the novel is filled with important themes, changes, symbols, and relationships, and to make sure my students were noticing and understanding these, I made a group discussion activity for them.
Who’s My Morrie? - I wanted to switch up activities in my English 10 classes and instead of having them write another journal or essay-type of response, I decided to have them write two poems. These would be about people who influenced them positively--their 'Morries'.
Journal 3 – Family - To help my students connect their lives to the story, Tuesdays with Morrie, I wanted them to write about themselves--right now, in this moment.
Emailing with Parents - In one of my English 10 classes, I have a student with a 504 Plan. He struggles, and sometimes I'm worried that he isn't grasping concepts, despite me working one-on-one with him during class time as much as I can.
5th Tuesday – Tuesdays with Morrie - The "Fifth Tuesday" in Tuesdays with Morrie is important because it talks about relationships, family, and family that goes beyond blood. These were important points I wanted my students to grasp, so I made worksheets and study guides to help with their learner development.
Even the Best Plans May Fail - Well, I thought my ideas/lesson on Anne Bradstreet poetry were awesome. And I thought the students would hit the small-group presentations on Bradstreet poetry right out of the park! I was wrong.
Anne Bradstreet Poetry - In my American Seminar classes, the advanced 11th grade course on American literature, I did a mini-unit on Anne Bradstreet poetry.
Tuesdays with Morrie, Mid-Book Quest - I needed to asses my students' comprehension. It wasn't enough to read their worksheets or to peek over their shoulders during individual work time. I needed to know exactly what my students had learned, so I decided to make a Tuesdays with Morrie Mid-Book Quest.
My Grading/Planning System - Being a teacher can be difficult at times. There's typically 2084305 thoughts going on in your head at once--sometimes it's near impossible to keep it all straight!
Old Man and the Sea Outline - My Honors kids have been struggling with thesis statements. They have great ideas, they just aren't articulating them into arguments. And thus their papers (and grades) are suffering. So I decided to do something a little different for their Old Man and the Sea papers. I wanted to help them out.
Scarlet Letter Quiz - Tests and quizzes are great for making sure students have read and for assessing their comprehension. Across my classes, I've done plenty of formative assessments, but for my American Seminar class specifically, I needed to mix in a summative assessment to see how much the students had actually retained from reading and discussion and to see what parts of the book I needed to discuss.
Old Man and the Sea Thesis Statements - The next objective for my Honors 10 students was to write a thesis statement. In the class before, they had (on their own) brainstormed topics to write their research papers on. Now they were told to pick a topic/question and bring a thesis statement to class.
Old Man and the Sea – Paper Topics - Now that my students have presented on the Old Man and the Sea, their next objective was to write a paper on the book...but just like with the projects, I wanted the students to have ownership--they were going to pick their own topics.
Is Love Rational or Irrational? [Part 2] - This lesson is a follow-up to Is Love Rational or Irrational? [Part 1], which is primarily focused on the question of love being rational or not.
Is Love Rational or Irrational? [Part 1] - Today I started my English 10 class in a very strange way. I sat at a chair in the front of the room, and for the first five minutes, stayed absolutely silent.
Journal #2 – Being Your Age - September 21: By this time, my English 10 students are up to page 60 in Tuesdays with Morrie. Perfect time to assign another journal.
My ELL Student - Having a student that struggles with English is difficult, even frustrating at times. But so incredibly rewarding to see him/her succeed!
504 Plans in My Classroom - What is a 504 Plan? A 504 Plan is for individuals that do not qualify for special education or specialized instruction, but still need accommodations for a disability that hinders their learning.
Old Man and the Sea Projects - For today's lesson, I wanted to spice things up a bit. Over the past few days, the students in my Honors 10 classes had read The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. The book is small, easy to read, but packed with symbolism and author influences. I wanted to see how much the students had comprehended, but I also wanted to challenge them to think deeply about the book--going beyond the simple plot line.
Connecting to Tuesdays with Morrie – Making Bucket Lists! - Today was a shortened day because of Homecoming. Classes were only twenty minutes, but I still wanted my students to do something pertaining to Tuesdays with Morrie, while being fun! So I had them make their own Bucket Lists!
Homecoming and Pep Rally! - Mason City Homecoming Week: This was my first time experiencing high school Homecoming out of high school. It was a strange and nostalgic week.
Tension of Opposites - One of the major themes early in Tuesdays with Morrie is tension, or 'Tension of Opposites,' as Morrie himself names it. I wanted my students to understand this, but I wanted to see how much they understood independently. So I made a worksheet.
Task List/Work Day - What's the solution to disruptive, easily-distracted students while not taking anything away from productive, doing-what-they're-supposed-to students? For me, and for my English 10 classes, the solution was a Task List/Work Day.
Who Am I/My Culture Paper - For one of the first major writing assignments in my English 10 classroom, I decided to have the students write a paper about three items that define them, 'Who Am I/My Culture Paper'. This began as an assignment/mini-speech [to read more about that, click here].
Who Am I/My Culture Assignment - To dig a little deeper and connect my Tuesdays with Morrie unit to Narrative writing, which my students have and will be doing for the remainder of the year, I decided to create a 'Who Am I/My Culture' Assignment.
What’s Wrong with My Summer Essay? - Okay, this sounds a lot harsher than it actually was...sort of.
Tuesdays with Morrie – Quiz 1 - After going through the book for several days as a class and having short Journal assignments and discussion, I decided to have a reading pop-quiz.
ALS Web Quest - Sometimes to understand a concept fully, students need to research and learn about the concept outside of the classroom discussion. This I've learned with Tuesdays with Morrie and his condition ALS [Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis].
Back to School Night - Tonight was Back to School Night, a night for parents to visit with teachers, walk student schedules, learn a little about classes, and share information about their children.
Employability Skills - What are 'Employability Skills'? According to MCHS and the rest of the district, Employability Skills are a set of standards that meet criteria such as responsibility, thinking creatively and critically, or being a self-directed learner, just to name a few.
Journal 1 – Connecting Student Lives to Tuesdays with Morrie - Students connect with a text when they are able to relate the content to their personal lives and make deeper, more personal connections.
Tuesdays With Morrie – Online Text - Let's face it. Students aren't always going to follow directions and bring their books to class, despite our best efforts to remind them. It's the sad reality about being a teacher.
Who Is Morrie Schwartz? - To introduce my students to the book, Tuesday with Morrie, and the main characters, I had my students close their eyes and listen as I read aloud.
Data Teams - Mason City High School has Data Teams, which are essentially groups of teachers within the same discipline that work together throughout the year to better their teaching, create challenging assessments and classroom activities, meet standards, collaborate, and motivate one another.
Connecting Lessons to Real-Life: The Ice-Bucket Challenge [and more!] - As an intro activity to my English 10 class' first major reading, Tuesdays with Morrie, I wanted to talk about ALS and the complications of that disease since the main character, Morrie, struggles with ALS.
Intro to the Scarlet Letter - So how do you start teaching The Scarlet Letter? Where do you begin?
What Is My America? - One of my first assignments for my 11th grade American Literature class was called 'What Is My America?'.
Pre-Planning the Tuesdays with Morrie Unit - This is what I call the Novel-in-a-Notebook, a way to pre-plan for your lessons by having all of the pages of your text copied into your notebook for easy access, reference, and smart note-taking.
Weekly Goal #1 - My goal with my English 10 students, specifically, is to find ways to get them engaged in the material. Perhaps small group work, or with having them write something than share it will be more effective in getting them to speak up and share independently.
Classroom Organization – Computer Cards - In the week before classes began, I made these handy-dandy mini-binders what would be a great way to organize my class periods and computer information.
Name Tags! - One of the first activities I had my new students do is make name tags. Okay, sounds a little elementary, right? Wrong. Even though making name tags on the first day might be something done back in Kindergarten, there’s a way to make it relevant for even secondary students. [Or at least somewhat!] And that’s by making it a name activity rather than just a tag.
New Mohawk Day - Today was my first official day of teaching! Yay! I survived! 🙂 No, but in actuality today was New Mohawk Day, a day dedicated to freshmen (and only freshmen) to get them acquainted with faculty, staff, offices, classrooms, buildings, schedules, passing periods, lockers, etc. This is my planning for that first day experience.
Easy-Peasy Jeopardy Game - Today was New Mohawk Day at MCHS, a day where freshmen students get acquainted with school policies, such as reading the handbook...but I thought this was suuuuper boring! I wanted to spice things up! So I decided to create a jeopardy game of all the main points from the handbook!
Introductory Letter to Parents - Being a new teacher this year, there were a few things I wanted to do from the start.
Classroom Website - My goal today was to create a classroom website that my students could use to easily access classes, homework assignments, and announcements.
Professional Development, Continued - There's a lot for new teachers to soak up in the weeks before school starts--this I've learned in my PD/Inservice (Professional Development) Days.
Dealing with Diverse Learners – A Student with Hearing Loss - I attended a meeting yesterday for a student in one of my Honors classes. This student (named Student A for confidentiality purposes) is in the moderate range for hearing loss.
‘I Can’ Bulletin Board - To prepare for my classroom, I decided I wanted to make a bulletin board. And since this bad boy was picked up for only $1, I thought it would be perfect to recycle, revamp, and decorate for my 10th and 11th graders!
Starting Professional Development at MCHS - People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This was the opening premise and strongest point I took away from today's Professional Development at Mason City High School (MCHS).
Welcome to My Classroom - I don't like the phrase 'classroom rules'. I prefer 'classroom expectations,' so that's what I implemented and talked about my first day of my first placement at Mason City High School.
Pre-Placement Meeting: Round 1 - Today I met with my first placement cooperating teacher, Mrs. Stanton. She's a wonderful lady, and last fall I was able to have clinical hours with her on Fridays, so I was already comfortable with her and her teaching style--I was eager to start!
Developing Introductions – Narrative Short Story Lesson - For my Narrative Unit [with my Mason City High School sophomores], I had them first create a narrative 'Day in the Life' Comic, and then work on taking their comic and creating a short [1-2 paragraph] narrative story based on it.
Narrative Writing: From Comic to Short Story - For my Narrative Unit [with Mason City High School sophomores], I had them create a ‘Day in the Life’ Comic, documenting, in first-person, and using the elements of narrative, a day in their personal lives.
A Day in the Life – Narrative Comic: Student Examples - Fall 2014: As a part of my Narrative/Self-Writing Unit with my Mason City High School 10th graders, I wanted students to be comfortable writing about themselves, so I decided to create a comic activity, one that would bridge the gap between writing and drawing, while also bringing in some creativity. Below is a sample brainstorming […]
A Day in the Life Comic - Fall 2014: As a part of my Narrative/Self-Writing Unit with my Mason City High School 10th graders, I wanted students to be comfortable writing about themselves, so I decided to create a comic activity, one that would bridge the gap between writing and drawing, while also bringing in some creativity.