life as a mentor teacher, part two

So I never posted about my experience visiting first grade and teaching a math lesson to that class of wigglers….

Last Thursday, after having demonstrated an interactive read-aloud to my peers at a meeting before school, I left the meeting early and went to first grade, where I talked to the teacher about the lesson to be sure I understood what I was supposed to do.  Next I rushed to my classroom, where I greeted my kids and got them sent off to art class.  Then I had a few minutes to prepare for the math lesson. 

I saw the assistant principal in the hall and grabbed her.  “Could you take a look at this?  Is this a lesson objective, or am I merely describing the activity?”  We had talked about it at our mentors’ meeting the day before, and I wanted to be sure I was modeling my lesson objective correctly.  The AP and I stared at the document on my computer screen and then figured out how to strengthen what I had written.  I hit print and raced off to first grade.

It went well.  I had already placed three lines of tape on the floor, having noticed that in a large circle, many of the wigglers were not facing their teacher and weren’t willing to make the effort to turn their heads and pay attention.  The kids were pretty interested in the change, and sat down in three nice rows for me. 

Next change:  I passed out trays, paper, and pencils, so that they could work sitting right there in the meeting area.  (On my previous visit I noticed that once the kids were at the tables, the screen was too far away for them to pay attention.)  Trays are awesome.  I have been using former airline meal trays for about 13 years.  In preK they can be used as a writing surface, the way I used them in first grade, but they are also great as a workspace.  (At our lego table, no one is allowed to touch anyone else’s tray — let alone take someone’s legos.)

Third change — I used a document camera.  The teacher was accustomed to using an overhead projector, but in order to beam the image onto the screen, the o.p. had to be on a cart right in the middle of the meeting area, making it impossible for the kids to sit there.  Doc cams are great, as they can be over on the side.  I used it to share my lesson objectives (“by the end of the lesson, you will be able to…”), and then to model the activity. 

K-5 is using Investigations this year, which I am not familiar with, as preK uses a different curriculum for math, but I hear good things from my fellow teachers (unlike the bad old days when we had Everyday Math, which Everyone Hated).  In this lesson, I showed the children a shape for 5 seconds, and then hit the a/v mute button so the screen went blank, and asked them to draw the shape from memory.  It was surprisingly challenging for them, and some really struggled (and a few really wiggled), but by and large, I had their attention, and we made it through together.

This week, I notice that the three lines are still on the floor, and the teacher is still using the document camera.  So I smile a little to myself and hope that I was helpful.

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