My Teaching Experience To Date

My associate teacher, whom I can't say enough great things about, has started me off teaching science to her classroom, as we have to start off at 25% teaching time and move up to 75% by the end of the block. We decided on science, together, because it is my specialty and we felt that it would make for an easier start if I started off teaching the subjects that I'm strongest and most confident in.
Meet George! We'll be using him later in the unit :)

For the last two weeks I've been teaching the human organ systems unit to the grade fives I am with. Other than the occasional "this is gross!" comment, I think it is going exceptionally well!

I always start my lessons off with something motivational to get the children excited and more interested in what they are about to learn. We've done the cracker challenge (try to eat six crackers in under a minute) to start off the digestive system, we've learned that holding one hand in the air can make your hands two different colours, and we've played a game to show how the nervous system sends messages from the brain, through the spinal cord, through the nerves and to its final destination.

We've been filling out a class table with all of the systems we have learned. At the end of every lesson, for the lesson consolidation, I ask them what the main function of the system is based on what they have learned about it during the core lesson. Afterwards, I ask them what the major parts and/or organs of the system are. This is how my lessons have gone so far.

This coming week we will be adding on gym and art. I'm excited for both of these subjects because, although I am a science specialist, I have also been a baseball coach for eight years and a trumpet and piano player for many years. For my final week, we will be adding on math. At the moment the children are learning measurement, so most likely I'll be continuing with this unit. Teaching math is a bit of a daunting prospect for me because I know that it is such an important subject and, for some students, a difficult one. However, I have been intently watching my associate teacher teach math for weeks now and I am confident that I can model her teaching style and hopefully add a bit of my own personal style to it :)

My First Block Placement

I'm officially half way through my first block placement and so I felt like I should tell everyone a little bit about it. I've been placed in a fifth grade class at Prince of Wales Elementary (POW). POW is a brand new (build in 2008) inner city school located right next to Ivor Wynne Stadium.

As an inner city school, POW has some problems that are associated with the area. To aid children who come from lower income families, POW offers a free breakfast program, a milk program, and free backpacks and shoes to students who are in need of them.

POW also boasts some of the most up to date technology in nearly every single classroom. This includes SMART Boards, First Class audio systems, Livescribe pens (although in limited supply), and a document camera (which is a bit mysterious in nature, as it apparently exists but no one knows where it is).

Say hello to my first block placement!

As I previously mentioned, I've been placed in a fifth grade class. I was a bit worried at first, to be completely honest, when I first learned I had been placed in a class filled with 10 year old children. Most of my experience has been with youths between the ages of 13-19. So you can imagine that I was a little apprehensive. However, I was also excited. As I said, I hadn't worked with children this young before and I imagined it would fun and a great opportunity for experience. 

I'm happy to say that I was right! Not only am I having a great time but I am learning more than I ever could have hoped to have learned sitting in a classroom at the university (no offense to BrockU of course). Every single one of my fears, doubts and concerns have melted away into a confidence that I wasn't sure I had before I stepped into the classroom. I am excited to see what the rest of the placement brings me :)

The Best Way of Teaching in the World.... of Warcraft?

Any person who has a long enough conversation with me knows that I am an avid video game player and have been for many, many years. Currently, I'm an active player of World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Call of Duty, various Nintendo Wii and DS games, and any old RPG I can get my hands on. In fact, I like to consider myself a bit of a collector when it comes to video games and video game paraphernalia. I still own a Super Scope in the original box!

When I first heard that Microsoft had jumped on the "give Cohort D free tech stuff" bandwagon I was ecstatic! Can you imagine using video games to teach a concept? I would have done a whole lot more homework as a child if it had been in the form of a video game because, to be honest, I was usually too busy playing games to be bothered with homework!

Check out this article in Science!

This article focuses on using video games as a teaching tool in the science, technology, engineering and math subjects (the so called "STEM" subjects). They describe how video games provide an interactive environment in which students can learn at their own pace and, in well designed games, receive points, levels, or even magic swords for achievements that leave them with a feeling of self accomplishment. A great point that Mayo (the author) makes is that:

Games also simultaneously present information in multiple visual and auditory modes, which capitalizes on different learning styles

For me, this addresses one of the key points we had hammered into our heads last week when discussing diversity: differentiated instruction. Video games are audio, visual and tactile, and by using video games as a teaching tool, the teacher has the opportunity to touch all three learning styles.

As a final thought, I want to bring an important point to everyone's attention to the advertisement on the right:

12 million players... 12 MILLION PLAYERS! The reach of some video games is so expansive today. How many kids go home after school and play World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Starcraft, Minecraft or Plants vs. Zombies? If kids are going home and playing video games instead of doing their homework, why fight it? I say embrace it! Find a video game that is both enjoyable and has the educational content you want to convey and assign that for homework. You know what they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.