Posted in Miscellaneous

“The Words We Speak”

ImageAs many of you know, we had a great General Conference over the past weekend. And if you don’t know what General Conference is, it is a conference given to the world by inspired leaders of the LDS church. There were so many wonderful talks, but the one I want to highlight is by Rosemary Wixom who is the Primary General President. She talked about how the words we say have a profound impact on the children whose lives we come in contact with. She counseled that we should use our words to lift children up. This talk is so great for parents, teachers, and really anybody who works with children. This talk is very inspiring and I feel I wouldn’t do it justice by simply paraphrasing what Sister Wixom taught. I will post a link to the talk, but I also want to share a few of my favorite quotes.

“One of the greatest influences a person can have in this world is to influence a child. Children’s beliefs and self-worth are shaped early in their lives.”

 

“How we speak to our children and the words we use can encourage and uplift them and strengthen their faith to stay on the path back to Heavenly Father. They come to this earth ready to listen.”

“To speak to a child’s heart, we must know a child’s needs. If we pray to know those needs, the very words we say may have the power to reach into their hearts.”

There are so many wonderful points in this talk. I think it is a great resource for everyone but especially for teachers who develop such close relationships with children everyday.

Here is the link to her full talk.

 

Posted in Miscellaneous

Technology

ImageAs time goes by, our students have more and more access to technology. So, it makes sense that classrooms across the nation are incorporating more technology into learning.

There is some debate as to how much technology use is too much in the classroom. Personally, I do think that there is great value to hands-on learning in the classroom without technology but I also think incorporating technology in teaching can create a more efficient and effective lesson.

One technology I have become very familiar with is the Promethean board. This allows videos to be used within a slideshow that helps children to learn. I also love this technology because the students can use the special pen (pen for the Pro board) to write on the board during various activities. I also have experience in a classroom where the students are at computers for 15 minutes a day working on reading comprehension in an interactive and fun manner. I think this use of technology is very beneficial for the child not just because they are working on reading comprehension but also because they are learning computer skills that are becoming more vital for success as the years go by.

I do really support technology in the classroom but I also think it should be mixed in with more traditional teaching to add variability to the class schedule. I think that both of these teaching styles/strategies are very beneficial in their own way but students reach optimal learning when both are integrated throughout the school year.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Management

ImageI took the Classroom Management course last semester and thought I learned so much that I would have no problem managing a class. Fast forward to this semester where I am in a classroom on a regular basis and classroom management is not as easy as I once anticipated. I think part of this is that in Classroom Management I learned many different ways to manage a classroom. I learned strategies in the high, medium, and low control arenas which I absolutely loved learning because it really felt like applicable information… and it really is. However, I have learned these past couple of weeks that you have to find what works for the individual kids in your classroom.

Children are motivated differently and as a teacher you have to find the one way to motivate most of your children and then find other strategies that may work for the rest of the students. One strategy we talked a lot about in Classroom Management was using some sort of points system where the children earn points either individually or as a class for good behavior and/or good work. I think a base system like this will work in almost any classroom because kids are always motivated by any sort of prize, even if as a teacher, you don’t see the prize as a big deal. For example, if the class gets to 50 points in a month (or whatever the allotted points and time frame is) then they get to eat lunch with the teacher in the classroom or they get to listen to a story by the teacher.

In addition to the points system, I have learned positive reinforcement works wonders. When I have pointed out one student doing something great I almost always have at least a few more students remember what they are supposed to be doing or how they are expected to be acting and change their behavior.

Some children just need a private conversation so they realize that you see them and how they are behaving poorly and you don’t appreciate it. This was difficult at the beginning because I didn’t want the kids to think I was being mean, but I learned quickly that they understand you are the teacher and they don’t take offense very easily.

Overall, I think kids can really benefit from management but as teachers we need to remember that each student is different and needs to be managed differently. However, I have found in my classroom experience that these strategies generally work great!

Posted in Miscellaneous

Literacy Assessment (K-2)

Image Currently, I am in a literacy course that focuses on literacy in grades K-2. I’m learning a ton about how to incorporate literacy into the classroom and how much time in a day should be scheduled for teaching literacy. There is so much I could say about this class, but for this post I want to focus on assessment.

In my class, we learn about a bunch of different assessments that can be used for young readers and writers. We read about and practiced the Early Names Test, Sentence Dictation, Concepts about Print, and many other assessments. However, practicing these tests on classmates is not real-life elementary experience, so we went to an elementary school and practiced these assessments with children in grades K-2. At the school we did two tests for each grade and worked with just one student from each grade, with the exception of first grade where we worked with two students. Below, I will give a brief description of which assessments we did with each grade and what each test assesses.

Kindergarten:
Letter Identification Task: This task was fairly simple; the girl I worked with completed it without a problem. Basically, you have a paper with all of the upper and lower case letters on it and you ask the student what each letter is. They get a point for each one they correctly name, make the sound for, or say a word that starts with that letter.
Concepts about Print: For this task (and most of the tests) we used Marie Clay’s work. She is a researcher and author who wrote a few books that make it easier to test a child’s knowledge of the various concepts of print.

First Grade
Running Record: The running record was one of the tasks I was most nervous about performing because you assess the child’s reading and all of the mistakes they make while they read. This was difficult because some children read pretty quickly. I did this test with two different first graders, and luckily they didn’t read too fast. This is also a good test because you can analyze the errors and self-corrections and find the rate at which the student self corrects and also their overall accuracy rate. This informs the teacher as to whether or not the text is too advanced for the student to read independently. Image
Sentence Dictation: This task is also taken from Marie Clay’s book. She gives some pre-scored sentences that I read to just one child and as I read the sentence, the student wrote it down. Then to score it, I looked at how many of the pre-designated points she earned from the sounds she heard and recorded.

Second Grade
Primary Spelling Inventory: I used the “Words their Way” book to conduct The Primary Spelling Inventory. This is a spelling test where you give the student one word at a time for them to spell, and the words gradually become more difficult. The test is then scored by the total amount they spell correctly, and then they are each analyzed for the “features” that are in the words. Some of these features include the initial and final consonant, consonant blends, etc. This helps the teacher identify the spelling level the student is currently at and what they can work on to move on to the next level.
Early Names Test: This test requires students to read off a fake class roll. While they read off the names, I check which ones they pronounce right and record what they say for ones pronounced wrong. Then the errors are recorded based on what they mispronounced like a short vowel for a long vowel, etc. This helps the teacher to see what types of speech the child is struggling with and then work to improve those.

These assessments are helpful to use for children in the classroom because they can inform the teaching that takes place. I learned through my experience giving these assessments that they are not too difficult and the teacher can have some really valuable one-on-one time with her students.