Planning For Teaching

Over the course of my practicum semester, I had the opportunity to plan and teach a variety of lessons and units in preparation for my student teaching semester. These lessons and units were planned across the four core content areas of language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies in accordance to Virginia state and National Standards. Below are some links to my devised lessons, organized by content area.


Social Studies
As part of the course requirements form my Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction course, I worked with a team of three other pre-service
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Helping Students with their Map Review in the Computer Lab
teachers to create a comprehensive unit K-6 unit on Ancient Greece (please be patient when loading this file because it takes a long time to load). While working on this unit, I was responsible for researching and planning a primary level art lesson on Ancient Greek architecture, a series of artifact-based lessons on Ancient Greek art, and one fourth of the final justification for this unit. Planning this unit was great practice for any future curriculum development and/or modification I might take part in as part of my time as a full-time educator.

During my pre-service observations and student teaching experience, I also had the opportunity to plan and teach weekly and daily lessons covering a wide variety of Social Studies topics. The first of these lessons was an introductory lesson on Christopher Columbus that I tailored to meet the needs of my students and the state-mandated Standards of Learning. This lesson involves an interactive SmartBoard sort (featured in the link above) that allowed students to demonstrate their knowledge of what it means to be an explorer in the past and in the present through pictures. Prior to this lesson, my students and I began a KWL (Know, Want to Know, and What was Learned) chart so that I could see where my students needed the most scaffolding. Most of my students, especially the English Language Learners, did not know what an explorer was and many students thought that Christopher Columbus was one
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Community Ice Cream Cones

of our important presidents. The day after the lesson above, we completed the "What was Learned" section of our graphic organizer to check for student understanding.

Throughout my full ten weeks of student teaching, I taught a Social Studies unit on communities. I developed weekly plans, a map making assessment, and an "ice cream" community project to facilitate student understanding. In the unit on communities, students focused on the different communities they are a part of, the people that make those communities function, and a glimpse at community economics. I also created a SmartBoard Map Review (this is a SmartNotebook file and might not open unless you have SmartBoard software installed on your computer) that allowed students to demonstrate their understanding of the different components of maps and the communities they depict.

Science
Another component of both my pre-service observation experience and my student teaching involved collaborating on the creation of a variety of Science lessons and activities. As part of my foundational courses at William and Mary, I co-planned and co-taught a series of science
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That's A Plant Informal Assessment

lessons as part of a first grade unit on Seasonal Change. The outlined unit and accompanying lessons, artifacts, and resources allowed my fellow pre-service teachers and I to get a glimpse of how to best plan for hands-on, meaningful science activities. We even adjusted some of our lessons so that they applied to the second and fifth grade scope and sequence of the Life Sciences according to the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning as outlined in the 2010 Science Standards. It was very interesting to see the similarities and differences across the different grade levels and across different class populations.

The last unit that I taught in Science during my student teaching was an interdisciplinary unit that covered the physical structure of plants, plant life cycles, and a glimpse into the life of George Washington Carver. This lesson focused on connecting what students had already learned about this famous American as well as what they knew about the structure of a plant. Above is a sample of student work from this lesson. To accompany this unit, I wrote an original song on the structure and life cycle of plants to help all of my students, especially the English Language Learners and those with learning disabilities, remember important facts. I believe that music is an influential tool, especially in the lower grades, that can and should be used to enhance student learning. I know that my song, That’s a Plant, has the potential to stick out in a student's memory for years to come and, hopefully, when SOL testing comes around, it will still be with them. My university supervisor observed the lesson above and gave her feedback on my planning, my song, and my student's application of their knowledge.


Mathematics
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Display of Student Work with Measurement (Inches and Feet)

First grade is truly a foundational year during which students must develop their basic understanding of numeric facts and relationships. One such relationship is the concept of subtraction. In kindergarten, students are introduced to the idea of "taking away" numbers; however, it is not until first grade that they are expected to master number facts and compute simple equations without assistance. I had the pleasure of watching my students develop their understanding of fact families and negative numbers throughout the fall of 2010. I also planned and taught a lesson on collecting and graphing data so that students could begin to visualize and understand how mathematics can be applied to their daily lives.

During my student teaching, I had the opportunity to plan and teach an entire unit on money. According to the Virginia Department of Education's Standards of Learning first graders are expected to develop a measurable understanding of the values and names of the penny, the nickel, the dime, and the quarter. I really enjoyed planning hands-on lessons that allowed students to practice using money in real world applications. One such lesson involved connecting current events (in particular, the final four of the March Madness basketball tournament) in what I called March Madness Money. Students were divided into teams that traveled to four different stations throughout the room. Each individual received a Score Card in order to record their data from each of the stations. My university supervisor observed this lesson and noted that the different stations allowed students to demonstrate different applications of their knowledge of money.


Reading, Writing, & Language Arts
The Integrated Language Arts often dominate the elementary classroom because of the importance of reading, writing, and fluency in all
academic subject areas. In lower level elementary classrooms, it is especially important for teachers to have clearly outlined lesson plans so that they can address all of the crucial components of each day's lessons. During my student teaching, I made sure to plan all of my

whole group reading lessons around the district-mandated skills for that week as well as the particular focus for that unit. My lesson plan format breaks down each day's lesson into four, easy to follow, sections so that I can pace myself during the lesson, easily access points of reference, and remind myself of each day's focus.

In the video on the left, I am conducting a whole group read aloud focusing on the selected text, Once Upon a Banana by Jennifer Armstrong, and focus skills of the week: making predictions and understanding cause and effect relationships. I also helped students make connections to the text by reminding them of other experiences that might be relevant to the text. In this particular clip, I remind students of "The Lion Who Couldn't," a play they saw earlier in the week that was put on by the local high school drama department. This lesson also happened to be on Earth Day and students were able to make real world connections when they saw litter on the ground and not in the trash can.

Small group planning requires a more differentiated approach to learning in order to meet the specific needs of a diverse group of students. In my small group lesson plans, I break students up into four groups based on their assessment scores, informal running records, and informal observations. Once students are in these groups, I select weekly texts, vocabulary words, and mini lessons for for the entire week so that I can best address their needs. Students with the most trouble with reading, writing, and decoding meet daily for twenty minutes while students with a firmer grasp on the state-mandated literacy objectives have more independent practice and meet 2-3 times a week. My university supervisor observed my small group lessons in action and noted that my detailed plans helped me stay focused and organized on the groups I was working with while also monitoring students' independently working around the room.