Sunday, December 4, 2016

Field Blog

Intro to Education has given me a wonderful opportunity to observe a second grade classroom. However it was not just any second grade classroom, it was the very same classroom at Chippewa Elementary School with the very same teacher I had 11 years ago. As soon as these field hours were assigned I knew exactly where I wanted to go and who I wanted to observe. Ms. Clancy, a John Carroll alumni, has been in the field of early childhood education for many years now and I feel as if she is very good at what she does. She is good with working with the kids, being creative, disciplining when needed and so on. So from 9:30-11:30 each week I had the pleasure with working with Ms. Clancy.
From the very moment I walked into the classroom on October 28th I noted that the classroom was predominantly white with one asian, two indians, and no african americans. That is very typical of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights School District as it is predominantly white and suburban area. The classroom was filled with bright colors, crafts, and kids that were ready to learn. The students had a typical morning routine in which they would clean out their desks, listen to the morning announcements over the speaker and then start their learning. On this day Ms. Clancy started the class off with a Halloween-themed poetry activity, as Halloween was right around the corner. The students read along to each poem and all actively participated. Following poetry came math in their workbook. Ms. Clancy did a few problems with the class on the board and then had them try it on their own. Whenever the students had a question they would flag down either me or Ms. Clancy. Ms. Clancy put me to work from the very start of my time at Chippewa, but I really enjoyed having the opportunity to actually work with and connect with the kids. Following math class came music class with Mrs. Ferguson, my old music teacher from when I attended Chippewa. Mrs. Ferguson works very well with the kids because she is a very sweet lady who is very passionate about music and is able to connect with the kids. The kids all participated in Halloween music activities, listened to Halloween songs, and danced! It was a good way for them to let out all of their hyper energy and they even asked me to participate along with them. They were all very excited and got into the activities. Following music it was time to get ready for lunch, meaning that my time was up. However, from the moment that I walked into the classroom some of the young girls grew an immediate attachment to me. Throughout the day they would come up to me and hug me, give me compliments, ask me questions about myself and so on. So when it came time for me to leave these girls all came up and hugged me. I had a very good first day at Chippewa Elementary School and it made me glad that I chose to come back and do my field hours there.
Throughout my next four visits to Chippewa I noted the repetitive morning routine of cleaning out desks, listening to the morning announcements and going over their morning lesson. Everyday started out with either an english or math lesson. Occasionally the guidance counselor would come in and teach a lesson that dealt with being respectful of others. The lessons also gave the students an opportunity to move around and get out of their seats. They would look at pictures of different facial expressions and were asked to describe them, they would work with partners and would be given scenarios and had to work together to figure out how to handle them, and so on. Aside from these lessons the students were also given the opportunity to be creative in the classroom. Ms. Clancy had them participate in many different crafts, some of which I did when I was in her class 11 years ago. Around Thanksgiving time the students were working on a poem that they were going to recite for the first graders: “My Turkey Shot out of the Oven”. They were each given a line to the poem that they were going to say and even made festive turkey hats to wear during their presentation. They practiced the poem over and over again and really got into their line by adding a lot of expression. Each student is given a chance to be the “star of the week”. Every week one student is chosen to present on themselves and their interests. Sebastian was the star of the week that I got to hear about. Sebastian talked about where he lived, his favorite color, his favorite food, what he wants to be when he grows up, his family and so on. Following his talk the other students of the class had an opportunity to ask him follow-up questions. It amazed me how many questions that the students were able to come up with. It showed how interested they were and that they wanted to hear more about their classmate. I think that incorporating a star of the week in a classroom is a good idea because it gives each student a chance to be recognized. On my last day the students were given new seats. New seats meant new teams. Ms. Clancy has the desks arranged in groups of 4 or 5 and that would be considered their team. Each team had to think of a creative team name for themselves. They took some time and discussed interests that they shared about winter and turned it into a name. One name I recall was the “hot chocolate snow fort builders”. The students in this group all liked to drink hot chocolate and build snow forts. Ms. Clancy does a nice job of incorporating both education and creativity, as they work hand in hand at this age level. The kids were also given a chance to be creative in music class. Each week they would play music-related games, dance, and even had the chance to demonstrate their talents. Once every few weeks they have a talent day, in which a few students volunteer to show their musical ability to the class. Kids played the piano, sang, and danced for the class. One performance that stood out to me was one of the girls in the class, Whitney, played a rather complicated piece from “Beauty and the Beast” and it was phenomenal. I was in awe by her performance and she is going to grow up to become a talented musician if she sticks with it. On my last day there the students watched “The Nutcracker” in class. They all found a spot on the carpet to lay down and quietly watched the movie. I was very surprised by how quiet they were and how well they listened to the movie because this class is typically filled with movement and activities. In general throughout my time at Chippewa Elementary School I noted many different ways in which creativity was used in the classroom and I was very happy to see that.
Not everything was always smooth sailing in the classroom of Ms. Clancy. Second graders are still young and have a lot of energy. One student, Lydia, grew an immediate attachment to me. Throughout the class time she would get up to hug me or compliment me and I would have to tell her nicely to take her seat. Lydia also had a tendency to act up in class. She would talk out loud without raising her hand and not listen to instructions frequently. I feel as if teacher will almost always have a student (or students) like this and it is important to know how to handle them. Ms. Clancy does a very good job with it because she is stern, yet nice. Lydia has received many behavior warnings during my field hours. However she wasn’t the only one who received warnings. Sometimes the whole class would get one because none of them would follow directions. One example I recall was during the time that they had to move desks. They had to physically move their entire desk, so Ms. Clancy asked them to do it one person at a time in order to avoid chaos. That did not work out the way she hoped it would as the students immediately grew eager and started moving their desks all at one. Ms. Clancy had to get pretty stern with them to get them to stop, but they listened after that moment. In general, sometimes the class would get pretty loud and could not sit still during the lesson and it is important to know how to handle it.
Ms. Clancy put me to work right away during my field hours. She started me off with going around the room and answering questions when needed. I did this a lot during their math lesson since they were learning subtraction and seemed to have a hard time grasping the concept. I felt that once it was explained to them they were able to understand it. There were occasions when a few of the students got every (or almost every) question wrong on their math homework. When that would happen, Ms. Clancy would have me pull them out into the hallway individually and work with them. I really enjoyed doing this because I felt as if I was actually helping them and teaching them how to subtract, so I found it to be very rewarding. However it was not always easy. As stated earlier sometimes it was hard to get their attention and they would get off topic. I had to redirect them on multiple occasions to work on what they were supposed to be doing. Once they got back on track and focused on the problems, it clicked for them and they flew through it. They were able to go back into the classroom happy with their progress. Ms. Clancy also had me take the all of the girls out into the hallway and read them a story. I had to pause reading multiple times to regain their attention. They would get upset when other girls took their seat or if they couldn’t see the illustrations in the story. Getting through the story took a long time but each time I feel as if I did a pretty good job with redirecting their attention. Working with the students and being able to help them out was a very rewarding feeling and I am glad that she had me participating throughout the lesson.
My field hours reflected on what we learned in Intro to Education. In class we have talked about different school environments such as inner-city and suburban. I have always pictured myself working at a suburban school, like Chippewa, because I feel as if I would have an easier time relating to those students. We have done field hours in class in more inner-city areas and although I enjoyed it, it did not feel right to me. Going back to Chippewa reassured me that that is the type of setting I can see myself in. Another thing that we discussed in class is a student’s home life. If a child is acting out in class, it is important to talk to them and not just jump to conclusions about them. It is possible that they are going through a rough time at home. This reminded me of Lydia. Lydia frequently acted out in class and it made me wonder if there was something going on that I did not know about. These things are very important to know as they need to be handled properly. Another important thing that we talked about was the greatness in teaching. I feel as if there are many different aspects that come into play when describing its greatness. From a personal standpoint the most important aspect to me would be building relationships between the students and the teachers. Ms. Clancy has developed a great relationship with her class. She knows about the things going on in their home life, she knows their interests, and she knows how to communicate with them. These are some of the qualities that make her such a great teacher. I admire her teaching style and connection with her students. Chapter 3 in our book asked the question “why teach?” After doing these field hours I got a better idea of how to answer this question. I believe that adding creativity into the classroom is essential as learning should be fun. I know that I want to go into early childhood education and students are still forming in their personalities and behaviors at this point. I want to be able to have a positive impact on students. I want one of my students to come back to my classroom 11 years later and ask me if they can do field hours in my classroom, as I did with Ms. Clancy. I can see myself fulfilling a career in early childhood education and teachers like Ms. Clancy are role models to me.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Field Post 8

Today was my fifth and final visit to Chippewa Elementary School as my 10 hours came to an end. Once again, the day started out with the morning routine of desk organization and announcements. At the conclusion of the announcements Ms. Clancy stated that it was time to get new seats. She went around the room and told each kid where they would now be sitting. However, instead of moving their items from inside their desks, the students had to physically move their desks to their new location. New seats also meant new teams. Ms. Clancy has the desks in groups of 4 or 5, and those are considered to be teams. Now, each team had to have its own team name and since it is winter time, the theme had to be revolved around that. The class took about 10 minute to compare their similar and different interests about winter and with that they were able to create a name for their group. One name I noted was the "Hot Chocolate Snowball Fighters". I also noted how long it took each group to find a name that everybody agreed on, but once it was all unanimous it was time to move on in the day (We did the exact same thing when I was in Ms. Clancy's class 11 years ago). Next, it was time to do rotating station activities. I did not get to observe this since Ms. Clancy had me doing other things. There were two students in the class that got every single problem wrong on their subtraction homework, so she had me take them out into the hallway and go through the problems one by one. The two students, Ellery and Mario, caught onto the subtraction almost instantly. I believe that when they went home to do their homework they took the easy way out and did not think to regroup the problems. We walked through each problem and they got the concept down pretty well. I just told them that they had to be careful with these types of problems and note when you have to regroup. They understood and went back to the classroom. Next, Ms. Clancy had me take out another two students, Christian and Owen, to work on them with subtraction as well. They did not get every problem wrong on the homework but there was a fair amount. I gave them different subtraction problems and had them write them down and work through them on their white boards. Owen and Christian are good friends and easily got off topic and got into different conversations, drawing on each other's boards and stating that they did not want to do this. Multiple times I had to get their attention back but I think I handled it pretty well. At this age group there will be students like this and it is important to know how to deal with them. We wrapped up our white board lesson and got ready for music class. The students lined up and walked down the hallway. Today in music the students started watching the movie, "The Nutcracker". The students were laying down and covering every inch of the floor and they were all engaged by the movie. Mrs. Ferguson did not once have to ask them to be quiet since they seemed to really enjoy the movie. That wrapped up music class and it was time for me to leave. It hit me that this was my last day doing field hours with Ms. Clancy and it actually made me sad. I really enjoyed working with her and her class and the students all really grew on me by the end of my field hours. These field hours helped reassure me that I am passionate about this field and that this is what I want to do with my life. Overall I had a very positive experience.

Monday, November 28, 2016

This I Believe Proposal

This I Believe Proposal:
Chloe Backman
Intro to Education
This I Believe

There is so much pressure put on students today to perform well on standardized tests. It is taking away from much of the time in and out of the classroom. But what about those students who are not necessarily the best test takers? Is their grades in school and extracurricular activities taken into account? According to my research these things do not matter as much as a score on a standardized test. The preparation is also starting as such a young age. Kids have started to prep for these tests that will pretty much predict their future. I believe that the focus should be drifted away from standardized tests and there should be more of an emphasis on using creativity in the classroom.
Months on end are spent studying and preparing for yet another standardized test and the scores have such an impact on a student. At a young level, children are forced to receive an education that is geared towards preparation for standardized test and they do not have many opportunities to explore outside of their text books. Many schools are also starting to cut back on things such as recess, art, music, physical education and anything creative or anything that will let a student relax. By the time a student hits high school they have to start taking tests such as the ACT or SAT. Those who score better are more likely to get into better universities and get more scholarship, despite their other activities and grades. This type of system does not accurately depict how well a student is going to do in life since some kids are simply better test takers than others. Creativity, perseverance, collaboration, and vision I feel are also just as important.

A personal example of my topic would be me. When it comes to testing I do not perform well. No matter how hard I study or how much preparation I do my score is simply never good enough to me. I took the ACT four times and my score barely moved. This has always been so frustrating to me because I do so well inside and outside of the classroom. My senior year I got consecutive 4.2’s on my report card. My extracurricular activities and leadership positions went on and on. Regardless of how well I did on anything else, it all came down to my standardized test when applying to college. That depicted how much money I would get or what schools I could get into. For my classmates that did well on the ACT they breezed through getting into any university that they wanted to. But for those who struggled had it harder. I believe that universities should look at other factors besides tests because there are so many other things that define a person. Placing so much emphasis on these tests can have such a negative impact.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Field Post 7

I went back to Chippewa Elementary School the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break. I walked in the classroom at 9:30 to see the students preparing to recite the poem for the first graders that they were working on last time I was there: "My Turkey Shot Out of the Oven". The morning began with the class making a turkey hat to wear to their performance later in the afternoon and even I got to participate. Not only that, but I also made the same turkey hat 11 years ago and still have it! Many of the students had troubles with folding and cutting the pieces of paper, and they also used an excessive amount of glue, creating a mess. The whole process took up a big chunk of the morning, as it was tedious work for these second graders. After crafting, it was time to present their star of the week. Star of the week is when one student is chosen a week to present all about them and have the other students ask questions. The students go crazy for this because it gives them a chance to feel special and explain to the class what they are like. The boy presenting that week talked about his family, favorite color, favorite food, favorite activity, where he lived, what he wants to do when he grew up and so on. Following this nearly every kid in the class had their hand up to ask their star a question. It amazed me how curious kids are at this age and how many questions they had. It made me think that at an older age such as high school there would not have been this many questions. This is why I admire this age group--they are curious about everything. After star of the week ended, it was time to get back to work on their poem recital. Ms. Clancy gave each of the 22 students a line in the poem to read. She asked them to line up in order and they practiced the poem three times through. Once the students felt confident Ms. Clancy took them down to the office to recite the poem to the workers there. The principal took a picture of me and the class wearing our turkey hats after the rehearsal, and then we headed back to the classroom to get ready for the library. Each student was asked to pick out a book to take home and start reading it silently while they waited for the others to finish. They found every single chair and every single little nook and corner of the library to sit in and read. After everyone was finished they were asked to reconvene in the center of the library on the "reading carpet" to have a short lesson. Shortly after Ms. Clancy came to pick the class up and it was also time for me to leave. Each time that I say my goodbyes to the class more and more students come up to hug me and I have always been fascinated by this after each of my visits. These kids have really started to grow on me and I believe that I have grown on them.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Field Post 6

  • On Friday, November 18th I went back to Chippewa Elementary School for the third time. Once again they started off with their typical Friday routine of morning announcements and desk organization. Following that they started off their lesson with reading Thanksgiving-themed poetry. They read out loud as a class and all actively participated. The last poem that they did was called "My Turkey Shot out of the Oven" and it is one that I remember reciting when I was in second grade. Each year on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break Ms. Clancy's class recites this poem to the first graders, again, an activity that I did. After poetry Mrs. Clapper came in once again for another guidance counselor lesson, only this time the lesson was focused on body language. As this was going on Ms. Clancy put me to work. She had me grading papers and putting grades in the grade book. When the guidance lesson concluded Ms. Clancy explained the instructions for a station rotation activity that they would be doing. As this lesson was occurring she had me pull aside the student who were having a hard time with the subtraction problems they worked on last time I was there. I pulled them aside one by one and went through the steps on the problems that they needed help with. I found this to be a good way to get involved with the class. Following this it was once again time for music class. On this day they were doing music activities that related to Thanksgiving. One of the activities was a game called "Turkey Trot", which I also did when I attended Chippewa. It was a hit with the students and everyone had fun with it. At 11:30 Ms. Clancy picked up the class for lunch and I said my goodbyes. Only this time even more students hugged me as a left, even a couple of boys. I have really enjoyed working with these students as they are all great kids.

Field Post 5

  • On Friday, November 11th I went back for day two of my field hours. Once again the class started out with their desk organizations and morning announcements at 9:30. Following their morning routine the class started off with learning long subtraction problems, which Ms. Clancy mentioned to me was like pulling teeth since every year the students have a hard time grasping the concept. On top of that, the class was rowdier on this day and had a hard time sitting still. Ms. Clancy told them that she didn't "want a repeat of yesterday". Despite the fact that they were rowdy they still participated in the lesson and asked many questions about the subtraction. Ms. Clancy did a few problems on the board with them and then had them try it on their own. Once again, we would walk around the classroom and answer any questions that they might have. It was a good way to get me involved in the classroom and work with the kids. However, the lesson had to be put to a halt because the guidance counselor, Mrs. Clapper, came in to do a lesson. That particular lesson was about being respectful to others, and she had the students up and moving during the activity and they all had fun with it--I even got to participate! A half an hour later their lesson ended and the class transitioned into reading, where Ms. Clancy once again got me involved. She took the boys into the reading circle in the classroom while I took the girls into the rocking reading lounge in the main lobby and we each read them a different story from their book. The girls had a hard time sitting still and would get upset if other girls took their seat. I had to stop multiple times throughout the story to get their attention back and get them to stop talking or giving each other attitude over silly reasons. However, we were still able to finish the book just in time for music class with Mrs. Ferguson. The kids started out the class by dancing to a song about fall with colorful scarfs and then they had talent day. Two girls played the piano for there class: one girl played a quick song that she wrote herself while the other played a song from "Beauty and the Beast" and it sounded phenomenal for a second grader. I was an awe by how good she sounded for being so young and she is going to grow up to be a very talented musician. Music class ended and the students once again got ready for lunch. As I was leaving even more girls came up to me and gave me hugs, and once again it made me feel as if I did a nice job connecting with the students.

Field Post 4

On Friday, October 28th I walked into the halls of Chippewa Elementary School for the first time in many years, for I was once a student at this school. These field hours have given me the opportunity to go back and shadow my old second grade teacher, Ms. Clancy, who is also a John Carroll alum. I chose to go back and shadow her because she had such an impact on me. She is an incredible teacher and does a great job connecting with her students, and that is something that I remember from 11 years ago when I was in her very classroom. I arrived at 9:30 which is the start of their school day. I said my hello's to Ms. Clancy and a few other staff members as the kids organized and cleaned out their desks before their morning announcements. One of the first things I noticed was that the class was predominantly white. There was one asian, two indians, and no african americans. That is very typical of the Brecksville School District as it is a predominantly white community. From the moment I walked into the classroom one of the students, Lydia, grew an immediate attachment to me. As I would walk around the room she would randomly come up and hug me, she would ask me questions about myself, compliment my outfit and so on. Ms. Clancy mentioned that she is more of a troubled student, as she has a tendency to talk out loud and not raise her hand, get out of her seat and not listen to instructions. As a teacher you will get students like this and it is very important to know how to handle them properly. Since Halloween was right around the corner the students started their lesson with a Halloween poetry activity. All of the students read along to the poems and actively participated. After that they transitioned into doing problems in their math books. Ms. Clancy did a few problems with the students on the smart board and then had them try it on their own, and if they had any questions to flag down either me or Ms. Clancy. From the very start Ms. Clancy had me working hard and helping the students but I really enjoyed it and felt as if I did a nice job answering any questions and connecting with the kids. Following math was the start of music class with Mrs. Ferguson, my old music teacher. Mrs. Ferguson is a very sweet lady who is passionate about music and is also able to connect with the kids very well. The kids all participated in Halloween music activities and listened to halloween songs and danced! It was a good way for them to let out all of their hyper energy in an appropriate way. They were all very excited and got into the activities. After music class the kids headed back to the classroom and got ready for lunch, meaning that my time was up. As I was leaving a couple of the girls came up and gave me hugs (Lydia included) and it made me feel as if they really looked up to me. I had a very good first day doing my field hours and I am glad that I chose to come back to Chippewa Elementary School. Some of the things that I noted were that all of the teachers that I have ever worked with in this school do an incredible job with connecting with the students, getting to know them, and make them feel heard and I feel as if these things are vital. I also noted that all of the students were eager to get involved with all of the activities and lessons and they cared about what they were learning.That is part of the reason why I want to go into this field at this age level--I admire the administrations passion for the students, and the students passion for learning.