This week we began to study our last unit: verbs. I planned a lesson plan that is a little bit different from my own usual style: this time I did not use a Power Point presentation to explain the whole lesson or part of it. I choose to not use technology this time in order to create a more kinesthetic learning environment. This lesson plan has more movement and game time and less technology and “screen time”. Here is the lesson plan: Verbs Lesson Plan
I gave them a pre-assessment instrument before beginning the verbs lesson plan. I realized that they know the definition of a verb, but they need help to apply it in a sentence. They also need help understanding what a mental action verb is, and understanding what a verb tense is and how to distinguish them.
For explaining the verb tenses, I went with them to the basketball court of the school. I brought several kind of balls: a basketball ball, a tennis ball and a soccer ball. I wrote several regular verbs in a portable whiteboard: play, kick, dribble, bounce… and explained each tense through asking them to do the action of each verb with the ball they choose. The past tense should be used when the action already happened, the present tense should be using when the action is happening, and the future tense should be used when the action is going to happen. They got it quite fast. I avoided to use irregular verbs because they are not expected to know that yet, but they suggested to practice the verb tenses while using the balls with the verb “throw”. Although it was not in the lesson plan, I needed to explain the definition of irregular verbs and then let them use the verb “throw”. I will ask the definition of irregular verbs as a bonus in the test.
There was another tricky issue while teaching this. My plan was teaching them the simple verb tenses only: the simple past, the simple present and the simple future. However, when I asked them to tell me the verb in “present”, most of the times they told the verb in present progressive, not in simple present. That required to teach the difference between the progressive verb tenses and the simple verb tenses, although that was not planned neither.
On Wednesday I was evaluated by my teaching practicum supervisor professor. I did some minor mistakes, but despite them the class was quite good. I integrated the enduring understanding (why our actions are important), I helped the students to recapitulate what was taught in the previous days, I created a verb spinner for the students, so they could demonstrate that they know how to apply what has been taught while playing with the spinner, and I let them explain me the simple verb tense and how to distinguish each verb tense. The verb spinner thing was so fun for them that the students that were not able to participate due lack of time asked me to let them do it in the next class. The grade of this evaluation was higher than the first one.
I prepared a review handout for the students, for helping them to prepare for next week’s test, and a test announcement, so their parents could know when checking the notebooks that their kids have a test. Here are the image of the review handout and the test announcement:
I learned some lessons during this week. One of them is that a teacher must be flexible with the schedules, so I should not get frustrated due not being able to follow the “expected schedule” because my class time must be moved of period, or because I finish my class a few minutes late, or because a student required to be given extra time to finish a work, or because I needed more time to complete a document properly. The class calendar is a necessary guide, but it is not written in stone. It must be flexible enough to give everyone the chance to teach and learn properly, but without losing its discipline. Another very important lesson is that students can really surprise you if you give them the chance to show you what they can do better, you just need to give them the opportunity. Other important lesson was learning to offer help only if the student wanted it, because if they don’t want it, they may feel that they are not allowed to do things by their own. I apologized to the student that explained me that he felt I was not letting him to do things by his own when I asked him if he needed help from a classmate. He surprised me with his thought because he usually is a very shy boy. I believe in asking and giving help, but only when it is needed, without interfering with each one’s capacity of independence. Everyone must be allowed to do what is able to do by his or her own. A final lesson was that it is especially important to give some space to exceptional students to do things in their own way, because you may cause a crisis if you try to force them to follow a specific pattern that is unfitted to them. Giving some space doesn’t mean to allow them to not follow the same rules than others. It means letting them to do in their own way what others do with a different method. Everyone is following the same system, but through different methods. I call this “methodological flexibility.”
Fourth grade had a very heart-warming activity for teachers this week. In their math class they made a very particular exercise: they estimated and calculated how much time each teacher spent for teaching them. After calculating those hours, they planned an activity for saying “thank you” to the teachers for all the time dedicated to them. In their activity they offered the teachers, including the student teachers, a hand massage with smelly creams. They also offered us coffee, a cheese-and-fruits healthy snack and a handmade bookmark. They even had nice background music while giving the hand massage! The teachers truly enjoyed and appreciated it.
The “what-do-you-do-best medals” that we did during the ceramics workshop are already fired. I spent some time in the arts workshop painting them with yellow glaze because for me yellow is the color of joy. They should be ready for next week final activity. I can’t believe I am almost saying “good bye” to these kids. All the time spent teaching them had been a very joyful time for me. It had been a gift and a blessing learning how to helping them to be, to do, to grow and to radiate as the best person they could be and become.
Let’s keep growing!