Friday, March 20, 2009

Dissection Time

During the past two weeks, the students have been busy dissecting mussels, perch, and leopard frogs. This past week I began teaching and the fish and frog dissections were mine to instruct. On Wednesday, my cooperating teacher had to leave for an in-school meeting, which lasted the remainder of the day. For me to teach the class legally, the school needs to arrange for a substitute to come in and be there with me. So, I do all the teaching and they surf the net and get paid. Funny how that all works, isn't it?! :) Anyway, no one told the sub that we were dissecting frogs that day. So, I'm walking around to the different lab groups and asking if they need any help with anything--the usual routine. Then the sub comes up to me while I'm helping a group, interrupts us and says that she needs to step out for a moment. She didn't look too good. And before I knew it, she was out the door headed straight for the bathroom! She claims that the chemicals from the frogs made her queasy. Somehow I doubt it.

The mice have all been adopted and are living happily in their new homes.

I have one more week with Laconia. It has been a very fulfilling experience and I have learned a great deal from the teachers there, especially my cooperating teacher, Jodie. She has prepared me more than I could ask for and will be sending me away with some good advice, resources, and some all around good experience under my belt. Nonetheless, it will be good to experience new surroundings. I will most definitely miss many of my students--something I'm not looking forward to.

The dissections all went well, by the way. Pretty good for someone who actually hates dissecting animals and who has never dissected a fish nor a frog! It's all about the preparation, though. If you can prepare thoroughly and well, you will be better prepared than someone who has dissected before but who is unprepared or unorganized. And the key to teaching is be organized and let the students do most of the work... something I'm trying to teach my cooperating teacher about!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lock Down

Today we had a lock down, which means that either someone is being treated medically in the hallway, there was a fight, or the police are searching lockers or making an arrest. For the rest of us who aren't involved, it means that no one may leave the room he or she is currently in when the lock down is announced and all doors must be closed and all windows must be completely covered. Ok, not a big deal... until classes begin getting pushed back. Our lock down took place today during third period and three-quarters of fourth period. The students were really hungry when they finally arrived with only ten minutes of class left. They were supposed to take a test today. Oh well. So, what do you do? Have a review! Tomorrow, during fourth period, I was supposed to have my first student teacher observation... it will still happen; however, my professor will mostly observe me proctoring a test! Hopefully, he will decide to come during first hour, which actually seems to be on schedule!

The mice are doing ok. We are down to two now. Yesterday we tried to give them milk from a carton bought at the cafeteria--not the best idea since it was probably really bad for them! However, I think it did get the two of them through the night. We decided to try soy milk, which is what many scientists give mice when they've performed well during a test. They took to it very well so, I'm hopeing for the best tomorrow. I think they'll be fine if they can make it through this second week. We'll keep watching out for the mom in case she still is in the room somewhere.

Moodle is an online program through the school that allows teachers to write tests and quizes and reviews for students, which they can take on the computer at any time just by logging into the program. With this program, students are even able to take the quiz/review/test at home and they can see their scores right after they have submitted it! It's to a great advantage for them especially since many of them work late hours after school. However, it doesn't work very well when the site is down. Several of our classes today took the paper-based version of the test instead of the online version and they were not happy about it.

As I've said before, student teaching is like an on-the-job training. If this week is any indication--I feel I'm getting a very good experience and training with all that has happened just in the past three days!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Emergency Release!

This week was originally supposed to be busy... now it's just chaotic!
  • Yesterday we had an emergency release day meaning that something happened to cause the district supervisor to release the students from school for the day. That something would actually be two things: a busted heater and a broken water pump. We had about three hours of school and then students were called down alphabetically to call home and get permission to leave school for the day. In the mean while, since the bathrooms were out of order, students could travel by bus load to the next school over to use their bathrooms. Once the students had permission to leave, all students were released at approximately 11am. Oh, did I mention that not only did staff need to stay but our rooms froze and we had to travel to either Subway or the gas station down the road to use the bathroom? The heater wasn't as big of a problem as was the pump, which was only roughly three years old! A replacement and parts had to be sent in from somewhere in IL! As of last night, the district wasn't sure if they could have school or not today! But they did and everything worked as it did before!
  • Sad news: the mother mouse of the babies went missing sometime between Friday night and Saturday night. We thought it would have to be somewhere in the room because she was still in her cage when we taped the bottom of the door just in case one did get out! But, alas!, we didn't even hear her last night at parent-teacher conferences! We are hoping that one of the females who seems to be trying to feed them is lactating. She actually looks pregnant herself, but we'll see. It's sad and puzzling at the same time... it's almost as if she just disappeared! Other sad mice news: we started off with ~12 babies and we're now down to three. Every day now will be a struggle for them now that their mother is gone.
  • On another note, I take over the class next Friday (which just happens to be Friday the 13th!). Eek! It's going so fast! But I'm really looking forward to it and it should be a lot of fun for the students... I'll keep you updated!
  • I noticed at our emergency staff meeting yesterday that teacher tendencies don't really differ that much from student tendencies. For example, we all walked into the room we were meeting in and immediately the men sat on one side of the room and the women on the other. There was no mixing! In my seven classes, there are about five instances where a girl and boy are sitting at the same table together. That's it.
  • On Thursday, both my teacher and I will be observed by different people! My supervising professor will be visiting for my first observation--hopefully it will be a piece of cake! Jodie will be observed by W. Weber, the school principal. He's planning on coming to observe me as well in another week or so.
  • On Friday, I will be traveling to Milwaukee with my teacher to go to the Wisconsin State Science Teacher's Conference (WSST). It should be fun and I'm hoping to collect some really good resources and materials!
  • Toward the end of this week sometime, Bill Volkert from the Horicon DNR will be letting me know if he can come in and do a presentation on Wisconsin's Birds my last day. He said today that he should be able to do it. I don't want to get my hopes up though--it would be really great if he could!
  • Next week sometime my advisor for my next placement (English) wants to visit and observe me in the classroom. I guess certain aspects of teaching are the same all across the board!
Phew! I told you it's been busy! :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Here's a shout-out to a friend and fellow education student also going through the student teaching experience now. He is currently teaching German to sixth-grade students and has two classes, in particular, of 30-some-odd students. Thus, he's beginning to make the observation that one possible difference between high school and middle school is the amount of classroom management needed. Obviously, you would tend to use more in a middle school than in a high school setting--but that isn't always the case. :) I've always thought food was a good motivator to learn. In one of my middle school French classes, my teacher brought around a tray of jelly beans. We were able to have a few if we could correctly say the colors we wanted. That was a start.

It's hard to believe that only five weeks ago we started student teaching! Tomorrow I will assist in parent-teacher conferences for the first time. I'm sure it will be more of an opportunity to observe for me, but nonetheless, it will be more 'on-the-job' training for me.

The AP students are either beginning to get very excited or very nervous about running their mice in next week's race as it represents the culmination of their research and work throughout the past few weeks. I have included a few more pictures and a few videos. In one video, a spotted mouse-Dotty-successfully runs the maze. In another video, a tan mouse-Bernard-doesn't do so hot in the maze. Finally, of the last videos, one consists of the new babies now a week old and growing fuzz! The other is a funny video I took of Iron Hide trying to get out of her new cage after finding her freedom over night and devouring part of a bag of mice food! She was a naughty mouse to say the least... and she doesn't like to be in her own cage alone. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Points of Reference

A lot has happened since I began student teaching way back in January. I am now in the middle of my fifth week and my students are still calling me things that seem to rhyme with my name like Mrs. 'Frosty' and 'Defrosty' and so on. I can't really blame them, though, I can't seem to remember about 30 of their names, even though they only need to remember one. Here are some things that have occurred of which I will look back on and draw from when working with other students in the future.

1. The other day, I was very impressed by how quickly a group of boys in my basic (special needs) biology class were completing a rather challenging activity--the same activity that seemed to stump and slow-up my regular biology class groups. So, naturally I expressed how happy I was with their work by saying that they had finished it correctly quicker than any of the other groups I had given that particular puzzle to the day before. The boys were pleased to hear that and smiled and one boy said, "And we're in the basic class!" I was taken aback when I heard that because I had not complemented them on the basis that they were in the 'basic' class and the others were in, what they consider, a class for higher-intelligences. I frowned and told them that it didn't really matter because they were learning the same exact curriculum that the other classes were. But it made me think. People, especially kids, don't necessarily define the labels they are given in life before they receive them. Sometimes, people become those labels after being made to believe that is who they are and that is what defines them. So now I wonder... are those kids in the basic class really acting to their fullest possible potential or are they working to define the label they were given before they even had the chance to find out what their potential was?

2. Today I had some interesting conversations with the special ed. team at school during my prep period. We talked about a particular boy I have in my basic class and I inquired about his interests. I also inquired about why he seemed so unambitious and so unmotivated in anything we had him do. Needless to say none of us could come up with a reason for this in our conversation. Then we started talking about what became of students like these after they graduate or don't graduate and are nevertheless on their own. The conversation ended and it seemed that no one knew.

3. In other news... we have been keeping seven mice (four females and three males) in separate cages according to sex for the Advanced Placement students to use for a neurology unit and to run in a maze. Well, one of them, the control mouse, looked a little... lumpy around the midsection so I began thinking that she might be pregnant. Well, low and behold over the weekend she had roughly eleven babies they call pinkies. Yay! I have included a few pictures of both the mice and the babies.

4. Each day of student teaching gets better. I have learned that in this case especially, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. So far the days that I have taken over for have been the best. I have also learned that it's more fun to teach than to observe!