Practicum, Day One in Chaos

Oh. My. Word.

Well, I finally got to go to my daughter’s classroom and volunteer/observe today.  When I went in, the students were all on the rug getting ready to start a math lesson, and playing a math game.  They each had a card on which one side read “I have 8, and the other side said, Who has 15?” and the like.  They seemed to have a hard time concentrating and staying focused, but eventually got into a rhythm with it.  After they got to 1 again, the game was over and they moved on to a math lesson.  The teacher used the smart board that was attached to a laptop to go through a unit on measuring length, in this case measuring pencils with cube trains.  She went through the screens and asked different students to answer questions posed by the lesson and her own questions.  A lot of time was spent keeping order. While the students seemed to know what they were supposed to be doing (and not doing), they are kindergarteners (enough said).

After the math lesson, the teacher lay down on the floor so the students could measure her with cube trains.  They each had a cube train consisting of five cubes (the pencil in the lesson measured 5 cubes).  They took turns attaching their cube trains starting at the teacher’s head and when they had each put their trains with the rest, the teacher had them count by 5 to see how many cubes she measured (85, but who’s counting).  After this, she had three tables set up with activities and the computers, making 4 stations (or centers).  I was in charge of the Pop the Numbers game. The other two tables were measuring things on worksheets with paperclips or cubes.  After a set amount of time, the kids would rotate tables, though some stayed if they hadn’t finished their task at the center they were currently at. I spent some time telling kids to sit down, not to peek, and to follow the basic rules.  As in, do not flick your game pieces (gumballs on cardboard discs) across the table, do not take more than 2 gumballs when it’s your turn.  They all had played the game many times, and all tried to avoid the Pop! discs, which meant the student had to put all their discs back in the box. The object was to have the most discs when the timer buzzed, but obviously there was no skill involved in winning, so I had them telling me their numbers, and counting by 2, and learning strategies to help avoid sneaking peeks.

After that was all done, they had snack and lined up to go outside.  This meant all their things were packed up so that when they got back they could go out to the buses or to the parent pick-up room.

I am writing this now, right after doing it, and yet I’m sure more will occur to me later.

I think I can remember all their names…which is good as I’ll be there quite often over the next few weeks (I have 4 more hours scheduled for this week, which will bring me up to 6. Then I have more scheduled for next week as well). There is an interesting dynamic in this classroom, as the teacher in the morning is different from the teacher in the afternoon.  She told me they still treat her like a sub, and one student did say she wasn’t their teacher, their teacher was there in the morning.  I corrected her, but you can tell it’s confusing and difficult for these little guys to fully grasp. When I told the teacher what the student said (right after she said they treat her like a sub), she seemed both surprised at it, and disgusted by the arrangement in general.

At this point, I am not sure what a literacy event will look like.  I have plenty to think about.

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2 thoughts on “Practicum, Day One in Chaos

  1. Sarah–

    All I can say is good luck with that one. It would seem the setting for your practicum is going to have some slightly different challenges than most of us are facing. The setting you have chosen also makes me wonder how you will be addressing a number of issues involved, such as:

    1. Student permission for participation in the practicum, especially considering they are minors who cannot give consent themselves. I’m assuming you will be using your daughter as the subject?

    2. Are you specifically attending class during writing instruction based assignments, or are you there throughout the day during other subject lessons like mathematics as well?

    3. Will you be constructing your practicum through a sociocultural lens because of the nature of the setting for your practicum?

    • To address your legitimate concerns:

      1. I will be using my daughter for the literacy event. All others will remain anonymous.

      2. I am specifically planning to attend during literacy lessons (in the a.m.) for the last four hours of my practicum, as the afternoons I’ve been there have been focused mainly on math.

      3. I am not entirely sure what lens I am going to use. Technically the school is classed as high poverty (at least that’s what the teacher says online where she sets up a page for people to make donations for school supplies), so the economic part is fairly equal. I was considering looking at gender (the room is mostly boys), but finding a lens is difficult as I can’t exactly ask a lot of questions I would like to ask such as, “what kind of early literacy did you experience?”, “were you read to a lot as a baby?”, “do your parents read a lot, and if so, what kinds of things do they read?”…you get the point. I may ask the teacher for some demographics, but I suspect she won’t be able to give them to me.

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