Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Successful Observation!!!

Hi everyone! I told you earlier that I was planning a Skippyjon Jones week for my first week of teaching Language Arts. Little did I know that my professor, Professor A, would decide to schedule her first observation on my very first day of teaching something! I was so, so nervous... especially considering the fact that my last observation at the preschool didn't go so well.

I talked to Mrs. Eagle about how nervous I was, and about some of the things that Professor A criticized me about at my last observation. She suggested some ways that I could make sure to manage certain kids' troublesome behavior... :;cough cough Rosella cough cough:: and gave me some last minute hints. She also suggested that we would talk ahead of time about what the kids should do afterwards, so I could successfully transition them to their next activity at the end of the lesson. And finally, I decided to bring stickers. These kids are suckers for stickers!

Professor A showed up, and the kids greeted her exuberantly. There were only six kids, because Jay is still sick from when he went home early the day of our field trip, and Martin went home early today after ralphing in the garbage can in front of the whole class. (Of course the kids told Professor A that story right after they told her their names!)

I asked them all to go to the carpet for Language Arts. Rosella started acting up and refusing to sit down, but I took Mrs. Eagle's advice and started praising all the kids who were sitting down, and Rosella took her spot! I introduced Skippyjon Jones. I read it to the kids with as much feeling as I could muster. When I came to the Spanish words, I stopped and asked the Spanish speakers in the room (Rosella and Kite) what the words meant, and they were proud to translate.

My lesson plan was on using context clues. So I had used highlighter tape to mark some of the tougher words in the book, and I had made corresponding word cards. Throughout the book, when I got to a hard word, I would stop and ask the kids what it meant. I tried to model using context clues to figure out what a word meant. For instance I would say, "Skippyjon is wearing a mask because he wants to be incognito. What does that mean? If you're wearing a mask, do you want people to know who you are?"

After finishing the book, I had the kids take turns picking a word card. We would then find the word in the book, I would reread the passage, and they were supposed to figure out what the word meant. This was extremely hard for them, even though we had already talked about the meanings of every word. I had thought looking at the pictures might jog their memories. But it was very tough. For instance Oriole thought "enraged" meant "beans," just because he saw the word "beans" on the same page. I tried to give them multiple choices, such as, "If someone has stolen your beans, how do you feel? Glad, or angry?"

Finally, I transitioned them by showing them the mini-book they were supposed to make, giving them their stickers, and sending them to their desks.

By that time, my mind had gone blank! I was just surviving minute by minute! But Professor A was smiling as she asked me to go to the teacher's lounge with her.

There, she actually complimented me! She said that she loved my lesson plan. She said she loved the way I read the book, and that my love for the story really came through... that even Mrs. Eagle and the aides were leaning forward in their seats and listening to the story! She said, "You must have a really strong background in children's literature!" (Uh,,, I took the one children's literature class the university requires, just like everyone else... but thanks!) She said that I seemed very happy and that the children seemed happy too. She said, "I think you're really coming into your own here!"

This from the lady who, three weeks ago, said that my chances of ever getting a job interview were slim and that I might do better as an aide.

I'm reading all five of the picture book Skippyjon books this week. Next week I'm doing St. Patrick's books. The week after that I am doing books that were made into movies... I found out that Shrek, Night At The Museum, and Mars Needs Moms were all originally picture books, as well as the obligatory Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and Where The Wild Things Are. One thing I wanted to ask you guys is for language arts activities that can be done while kids are sitting down, like during a story time. We have comprehension spinners, which I've used a few times already. I've also planned in  two Venn Diagrams, a character mind map, a story map, some sequencing cards, a KWL chart, and a discussion on whether a legend about St. Patrick is true or false. Are there other activities you can do that don't involve worksheets? We don't have a smart board. I do have a small white board to use by the story area, and I can make some things as well. Any suggestions? I need to plan five more weeks of Language Arts activities!

I look forward to hearing from you! You all always have great ideas!


  1. Unfortunately I don't have any ideas to share :( My only experience is with high school social studies and science. But I wanted to say congrats on such a great observation!

  2. Have your tried teachig your students the three ways to read a book? The first day your read the words, the second you read the picture, the third you retell the story, and the the fourth day you have the students tell the story to you. This is great fun when you read multiple versions of the same story. You can then pull this into a writing assignment by having the students create their own version of the story. Do a little craft and wa la - a week worth of lesson plans and a cute bulletin board too!

    Think, Wonder, & Teach

  3. Do you have big books you can read from or individual marker boards?

    My kiddos always love activities where they have to find a partner. This could be finding rhyming words, words beginning or ending with the same sound/letter, opposites, etc. We also have a Letter Snatcher that visits the classroom and leaves us messages and word puzzles to complete. You can see some examples of that on my blog.

    I would love to help more if I can. Congrats on the great observation. I still get nervous when I am observed and I have been teaching for 12 years.

    I am your newest follower. I would love for you to come visit me if you get the chance. =)

    Heather's Heart


Do you have something to share with the class?