Friday, September 17, 2010

My New Adventure @ the Ithaca Montessori School

My first day as the new Assistant Teacher for the Toddler After school Childcare Program was very pleasant and I took time to settle in and make observations. The program has about 8-10 toddlers and three teachers including myself. We have three main locations; on the playground, in the gym or in a classroom.

When I arrived at 2:30p, the toddler classes were finishing a nap and began to merge on the playground as the children woke up. I sat on a bench near the swings and J approached me soon after. While looking at his feet, he introduced himself and asked what my name was. I was surprised that he approached me however, his curiosity may have led him on and I was at his level sitting on the bench. Not all of the children are as vocal as J and many of them are bi-lingual. When talking to each child, especially when making a point about something, it is important to kneel down and speak in a soft but firm tone. This is a goal that I have set for myself. I have to make a conscious effort to lower my voice and slow things down for the children because I am used to teaching in either an enclosed pool or the gymnasium.

While on the playground it is important to locate the teachers around the equipment so all the children can be seen. Some minor safety concerns while on the playground include a step up/down while going to the area around the swings,roots from a tree, and a car slide. While observing one child prepared to go down the car slide and there was a child in another car at the bottom. There was a soft collision this time and should be monitored whenever outside to make sure only one child uses it at a time. The doors that lead out to the playground from the classrooms have a slightly inclined wooden ramp and the children are discouraged from running and bicycling on it. The Head After school Teacher C, used distraction to keep three little boys off of the ramp and away from the door. A simple distraction such as follow me to the swings or chasing worked well.

Some of the children stay until 4:30p and 5:30p and we provide a snack for those that stay late. A snack usually consists of one protein, one fruit, and one carbohydrate. Today they had grapes, cheese and crackers. They are encouraged to help in every step of the process including passing out materials, fine motor skill manipulation when using a utensil and taking turns. During clean up a compost bucket is used for all biodegradable materials used and scraps,so the children learn to be economically friendly.

After snack many of the children were signed out and picked up by their parents and caregivers. A few boys remained and played in the sand box for the duration of the day. While in the sand box fine and gross motor skills were used to manipulate the sand, dinosaurs and dump trucks around the perimeter.

My goals are set and I can't wait for what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

TC3 Waterbabies!!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Cayuga Heights Day #2

2. What did you learn about these students in all three domains?

In my perspective both classes I observed today were ran extremely well. The students at Cayuga Heights have a 45 minute Physical Education class twice a week. To build overall cardiovascular endurance for both classes, 15-20 minutes of the class time is spent with a large group activity in which students practice the various locomotor skills. Mr. Chase began with a yarn ball tag and Mr. Dumont began with a Rocketship tag using soft foam frisbees for the taggers to use. The locomotor skills were changed frequently and each game was played until every person had a chance to become a tagger. Both teachers then gave a brief introduction into the lesson and demonstration. Safety was emphasised by both teachers numerous times during the introduction and task.
I learned a great deal aobut the students abilities in each domain with in a short period of observation time. These large group activites go through a variety of locomotor skills and it was clear to see how students ranged in psychomotor ability and what skills needed improvement. I noticed that almost all students begin the skill either strong or began a completly different skill, and are needed a reminder from the teacher. After a brief perid, most students focus on the tagging aspect rather than the locomotor skill and resort to running. At this point both Mr. Chase and Mr. Dumont are good at pointing out a good boy/girl to demonstrate the skill before continuing the tag game. Mr. Dumont stated that at the K-1 grade levels it is important not to stress correct technique, but to provide as many demonstrations and opportunities to practice the skill as possible.
Mr. Chase chose yarn ball as a great lead up game for his introduction into the skill of setting the ball up in volleyball. After students were tagged they had to place both hands up high in the air and they had to get double hi-5's from another player, up high, to become un froze and begin playing again. After the game he talked about the proper form for setting and the importance of using two hands and pusing up and out, rather than straight out, because the ball will go into the net. He then gave time to practice with beach balls of various sizes on each side of a net. After setting was practiced for some time, the students practice the various ways allowed to hit the ball over the net including; underhand, overhand and hitting the ball with a single hand or both hands.
I was surprised at how much the students knew about the sport they were practicing cognitively. I learned to ask as many open ended questions as possible in order to assess what they already know and what needs to be reviewed. For example, Mr. Chase began the lesson asking what kind of net is up in the gym and review safety around the net. Volleyball? What do you know about the game of volleyball? The students were surprisingly able to give about 10 facts they already knew before Mr. Chase began teaching how to set properly. This also occured when Mr. Dumont introduced bowling. He asked a variety of questions about the sport and for this lesson only emphasised how to hold the ball and how to slide and release it down the line, he did not give them a variety of tasks to accomplish and only gave two deomonstrations. After the demonstration, the students are allowed to play in lanes and get as much practice as possible.
In both classes students were put into groups for the main task. I noticed that affectively, students prefered others based on sex, girls partnered with girls and boys with boys. The only affective implication I noticed used by the teachers, was that each student is allowed a chance to be "it" when playing tag and Mr. Chase used hi-5's as apart of his lesson on setting, but otherwise it is not stressed in a regular class.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

EDU 355 Reflection Day #1

1. What happened during the lesson that excited or concerned you? What did you learn from your observation and experience?
3. Are you aware of any students with special needs? How are they helped to learn?

This semester I am taking EDU 355. We have 18 field experience hours to fulfill and I have been placed at Cayuga Heights Elementary in Ithaca. My first day was Monday February 2nd from 12:15 to 1p with Mr. Chase and 1:05 to 1:45p with Mr. Dumont.
When I arrived to the first class, I was informed that the students began the year with a circus unit which was followed with gymnastics; they were in the middle of a bowling unit when I arrived and would be working on volleyball next. There were 15 students, 1 aid and myself. Students have two physical education classes per week and each are for 45minutes.
Small groups were divided by large mats which served as bumbers of the bowling lanes; 6 lanes with 3-4 students each. Students had worked on forming triangles and had previously worked on making triangles with just 3 pins and then 6 pins and today the full 10 pins. This helps students understand spacial presentation of the pins, points of a triangle and the rules of bowling were also covered. Students took turns setting up and bowling down the pins. No emphasis was made on technique at this level, including arm swing and approach. Mr. Chase used the freeze signal to initiate clean up. He emphasised staying quiet, picking up two pins at a time and sitting behind the cones set up at the beginning of the lanes. Can you do those things? Then he repeated the three small tasks. When students were seated he was able to explain and demonstrate the next game.
One girl and one boy were picked to be the taggers in the X's and I's tag game. Before they began the students were asked to show 5 good jumping jacks or X's and I's. Safety was stressed, no collisions, when you were tagged you had to complete 5 good jumping jacks to get back into the game. Taggers were rotated often and were always allowed to run. The students were stopped many times to give a small recovery time and to demonstrate the next locomotor skill which was often changed.
Two students in this class have special needs. One has autism and the aid in the class is there to help remind him of tasks and perform activities. The other is a young girl who has delayed physical development for her age and is tempermental. She works with the aid also, and has a system of happy and sad faces. This is used also in the class room which has shown some success in managing her behavior. I was concerned with how these students have been included into the classroom and if they were pinpointed by there peers. While playing X's and I's tag, one student tagged the male student who has autism, and he didn't stop to complete his X's and I's. The student continued to tag him more aggressivly into a push before going to Mr. Chase to complain that he wasn't following the rules of the game. The aid then stepped in remind him to complete his X's and I's. Other students are aware that that aid is present for those two students specifically and while playing tag, they would often chase after the aid when they got tired of chasing their peers. A few times, peers refused to stop after they had been tagged. I can determine if my concern for their inclusion is high or if this is an incident which may or may not continue throughout my observation.

A point of concern which arose during Mr. Dumont's first grade class was the way student's which were apart of the ski club, were dismissed from his class. Around 1:30p an announcement was given over the loud speaker and 5-8 students went running from his classroom, and about 50 students total from other classrooms. He showed concern because he was not told who was and who was not apart of the ski club. Fifty plus students run from their classrooms into the halls and to a door to get on a ski bus. What if one of those students decided to walk out one of the doors. After they leave the classroom who is responsible for them? Who would be considered liable for those students if something was to happen, Mr. Dumont has his students until 1:55p?

I learned alot about the routines, rules and signals of attention used in our learning environment during my first observation. For example, when students enter the gymnasium they are to sit along a specific wall until given further direction which is usually to sit around the center circle. A brief discussion or review and introduction of the first warm up game is given. A line leader is usually picked everyday in the classroom and that is used also when lining up after class. Everything is developmentally appropriate and safety is stressed multiple times not just once at the beginning. The freeze signal usually works after being repeated 3 or 4 times, maybe a new signal of attention can be introduced and used by my partner and I to reduce the reaction time, Mr. Dumont uses a special kind of whistle that I do not know how to reproduce.
The students have off next week so I am looking forward to going back to observe in two weeks. After the break, Mr. Dumont's first graders will be doing a bowling unit and Mr. Chase's kindergarden class will be working on volleyball.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010