These past weeks, I was able to gain some firsthand experience in things that I had only learned about in theory in classes and books until now. Before I arrived, the seventh grade social studies students were studying the slave trade. They were also learning about author’s purpose as part of the social studies department working with the English language arts department to promote crossover between content areas. My mentor teacher uses an online program the school district pays for called Actively Learn to assess students.
I was able to give the students a post assessment using this online tool. All students have laptops at this middle school. They are able to log in and submit questions as they move through the test. As the teacher, I can see all student progress and responses, and give feedback in real time. The students were very engaged, and eager to make any needed revisions based on the feedback I provided. The teacher dashboard allows you to compare the students pre-test scores to their post-test scores. This report can be done for individual students or the class as a whole. This is good for progress monitoring and collecting data to inform instruction.
Another way technology is utilized in the classroom is through an e-learning classroom called Canvas. Students submit daily classwork and assignments into this learning management system, which I was then able to grade on my laptop and post quickly to the online grade book. This allowed for a quick turnaround of feedback so that students could learn and make revisions to resubmit for a higher score.
There are two systems that are in place for giving positive reinforcement and feedback on a school-wide level at my school. One is to give students High Five slips. These are tickets that are given as a reward and can be redeemed for prizes during lunch. I had the opportunity to hand these out to students who were working hard in class. Students were very excited to receive one, and other students were quick to change their off-task behavior after seeing a peer being rewarded. An additional method that the school uses, which I absolutely love is postcards! When students do something good, teachers can look up the student’s address and fill out a postcard which the district then sends out in the mail. The postcard is colorful and features the school mascot. I had fun writing some postcards for students that were exceeding expectations in class. The postcards are something I want to do in my future classroom, even if it is not something used school-wide. I would have been really excited to get a compliment in the mail from a teacher when I was in middle school.
I have officially completed the first three weeks of my student teaching internship. It has been a positive and informative experience so far. In this short time, I have already learned a great deal, set personal goals, and made improvements. I am excited to continue to grow as an educator.