Teaching Skills


Reading and Language Arts

Planning for the Reading and Language Arts time block requires a variety of instructional strategies and lessons. Since students are at different reading levels, much differentiation is required to meet the needs of each individual student. Reading groups are created at the beginning of the year based on students Rigby scores from the previous year. In my class, we have four reading groups formed on ability level. The groups are divided fairly evenly with 5 students in one group and 4 students in the other three groups. Reading groups are called to meet with me and complete the Phonics Story and the Main reading story each week. There are also follow up activities differentiated for each group. For example, there are great reading skill worksheets provided in the Scott Foresman curriculum the school uses to help follow up with the main reading story. The lowest group, three of whom leave the classroom for reading recovery, complete the below grade level reading skill worksheet for the story. The two middle groups complete the on grade level reading skill worksheet, while the top group completes the challenge reading skill worksheet. This provides all students with a comprehension follow-up for the story that is appropriate for his/her ability level. Other activities throughout the reading block are differentiated as well to provide instruction for individual differences in students learning, which can be viewed in the lessons below.



Mathematics

In order to motivate students to have good behavior throughout the day while learning, many positive strategies are implemented in the classroom. Students are able to earn money at the end of each day based on what color his/her clothespin is on: green - 5 cents, yellow - 1 cent, red - no money. Students are in charge of keeping track of his/her money. Throughout the week, students are provided with opportunities to exchange his/her money to review these skills. At the end of each month, students visit the class store and can buy items such as notebooks, pencils, small puzzles, etc. Students know that different items cost different amount of money so they must behave, participate, and be a good friend each day in order to earn the money. This motivates my class to help one another, be respectful, and get his/her work done during the day. Below is a picture of the behavior chart that shows how much money each student earns.
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It is also important to make math engaging and exciting for students, just as with any subject. To introduce addition to students, I had them create number lines outside on the blacktop, just like the ones they used in the classroom. This provided students with an opportunity to fully grasp the concept of the number line and make addition fun. They were able to move their entire body to figure out the answer to the math problem. The picture below demonstrates this activity.
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Science

In order to actively engage students in science, I strive to have authentic materials for students to interact with regularly. This gives students a sense of ownership of his/her learning and promotes higher level thinking. During a lesson on pushes and pulls, students worked with a partner and were given a magnet and a bag of items including some that were magnetic and some that were not magnetic. They had to explore the items to determine which items were attracted and which items repelled. Students were then instructed to explore the classroom and find other items that were magnetic based on the characteristics of magnets discussed in class. I was constantly monitoring and questioning the students during the exploration to get them thinking about why something was or was not magnetic. Through these instructional strategies, I was able to gauge student learning and promote higher level thinking from the students that was appropriate for each individual.



Social Studies

There are many great instructional strategies that are implemented in my classroom. It is important to teach to all types of students and use strategies that will allow each individual to reach his/her potential. In a unit I taught on symbols, students were taught using a variety of these methods and strategies. To learn about the Washington Monument, students viewed a powerpoint with facts about the Washington Monument. They each recorded one different fact about the monument to share with the class while building a Washington Monument replica. This provided students with kinesthetic instruction as well as utilizing technology. To learn about the American flag, direct instruction was used to introduce students to the current flag as well as the original flag. Students were then able to color both flags to include in his/her symbol folder. For the lesson on the Statue of Liberty, students viewed a Scholastic picture book about the statue and discussed the various parts that are important: crown, torch, and tablet. Students then got to create his/her own crown and torch. Incorporating the arts into lessons provides students with a creative outlet during the day. Finally, for a lesson on the bald eagle, students learned about how the bald eagle is America's national symbol. Students then created his/her own national symbol and shared it with the class. This provided relevance to the students own personal life and allowed each individual to express him/herself. Through the use of informational texts, students were also provided with background information prior to exploring each symbol in various ways throughout the unit.