Practicum Journal – Oct 2

2 October, 2014

Agenda:

1) Logistical Tasks – Somebody’s Gotta Do it

2) Roaring Twenties Powerpoint – Exercises in Exercising Class Management

3) Student Interviews & The Emotional Curriculum

After four weeks and eight days in the classroom, Kiefer and I—well, I’d best not speak for him—I have grown quite comfortable at Forest Hill and (I hope) the students enjoy my presence at the school. Though (for the grade 12 students) my Alma Mater has become a bit of a novelty, eliciting raucous cheers when I enter the classroom, there’s nothing particularly irreverent about their behaviour—or, if it is, it is an odd brand of respectful irreverence.

The grade 10s, being further separated from university, see me as more of an authority figure than the grade 12s. Ironically, a decrease in relative proximity vis-à-vis age correlates with an increase in unruly behaviour. From what I gather, the grade 12 students desire a more friendly relationship—they see me as a Western student more than a Teacher from York. That is not to say that the grade 10 students are exceedingly misbehaved—they behave as 15 year olds would with any teacher—sometimes chatty, sometimes wandering from their desks, but mostly intent to learn (when they can. More on that in future posts).

Today followed much the same structure as previous days—with Tim’s help, we’ve initiated a bit of a routine: I show up around 8:30; Kiefer at 9:10 (I’m an early riser, and I get anxious waiting at home). Tim briefs us on the lessons he intends for the grade 10 class and any other logistical, administrative, or other duties he intends for us and then Kiefer and I are pretty well free to exist within the school as we please (provided we complete the day’s tasks).

This particular Thursday we were given the opportunity to develop a lesson around the Roaring Twenties. We had intended to show a clip from a Charlie Chaplin film, but decided that the particularly “Dirty Thirties” nature of the film meant it would be better suited for a later lesson. Instead, we developed a slideshow gallery, maintaining the visual focus of this particular lesson and circumventing the Chaplin film.

We coupled the slideshow with this handout to elicit focus during a lesson that students often consider to be a free period. The slideshow featured over 20 images relating to Canada during the 1920s while the handout featured only 6 images. Students were required to caption those 6 photos based on information obtained in the lesson and their imaginations. A good Digital Humanist scholar (see Research tab), which I am, would have definitely cited sources for all of those photos, which I did, in a separate document…maybe.

Kiefer and I were also tasked with organizing the History Department’s movie shelf: a prolific collection of war films, war films, and Wall Street. We categorized the films based on subject area, disposed of broken materials, and then got the label maker working to categorize the shelves. And I’m certain now that the films will never be disorganized again…maybe. We did have one hang-up, that is, the label maker printed onto transparent labels that were illegible on the coffee-brown wood, but I’ve ordered some white labels to remedy the situation next week.

Back to the grade 10 lesson: the lesson centred around this slideshow and caption assignment for three main reasons: 1) The students need practice writing to prepare for the OSSLT and this task gives them some creative freedom to (hopefully) enjoy that writing practice; 2) Tim has a scrapbooking assignment prepared for the coming weeks, the bulk of which constitutes captioning photos from a period-appropriate perspective; 3) I conducted interviews with a pair of students during the lesson (which I will post here upon completion) for my history class and so we needed a lesson conducive to sporadic exit/entry.

Conducting these interviews might have been the most enjoyable task that I’ve completed to date. As noted above I sat down with a pair of students (sequentially, 1-on-1) to find out a little bit about their experience at Forest Hill, their lives and family history, and how those two things intersect and interact. I was (and still am) very interested in finding out firsthand how best to engage students in my classroom. Giving students the chance to talk to me about their interests, hobbies, opinions on school, goals and dreams &c. was overwhelmingly productive and positive for me, and I think for the students as well. The common theme between the pair of interviews was definitely a level of disinterestedness. These particular students want to like school, or seem to, but aren’t always occupied in such a way that their individual talents and strengths are fostered and, indeed, even welcomed in the classroom. My goal for the rest of my first practicum, especially during my block, is to interact with more students in the classroom more closely so that I can tailor assignments and tasks to suit their different styles and to entertain these kids with their assignments. Put plainly, I want my students to enjoy their assignments (as I’m enjoying producing this portfolio) to enhance learning—both in intrapersonal growth and external assignments.

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