Friday, February 10, 2012

Week Four At Tully Elementary

Monday - 2/6/12
Today I got the opportunity to attend a faculty meeting, and I was unsure what to expect. As we entered the cafeteria the room was set up in a circle so everyone could see each other, and I soon got to find out why. A group of teachers had attended training the week prior and they were going to present some of the things they had learned at the “responsive classroom training”.  We did some activities that I honestly felt were a waste of a time, but I can see how they may work much better in a classroom setting than PE.  The highlight of the meeting for me was at the end, when principle Suddaby asked if anyone had comments one of the teachers said “I would like to say the PE dept with their minute to win it unit is great, my students are loving it, and are always excited to come in to check their scores In the halls. They can’t stop talking about it and it’s exactly what this school needs!” Other teachers also chimed in about their classes loving it as well and it made me feel great to know my hard work was working out so well. It was also great to hear the classroom teachers supporting it as well, many of them will stop in the hallway and check the scores with their classes to show some involvement. Today showed me that when you go the extra mile teachers start to talk, and getting the teachers to back you can make your unit even stronger.

Tuesday – 2/7/12
Today was the longest day so far as I put in fourteen hours! It was a long day of classes to begin with as we prepared for our new stations tomorrow and then I had an away game for basketball. Since we travel with the 8th grade team, we have to stay and watch their game after ours is done which adds an extra hour and a half, but on top of that today was the “once a season” stop at McDonalds.  The girls were all excited and brought their money with them to the game, but I couldn’t help but think what are we teaching our athletes by doing this? I understand everyone (for the most part) likes fast food, especially McDonalds, but to add to that McDonalds also offers free meals to the coaches who bring their teams in. Is this the right thing for our athletes? From my exercise physiology class I understand after competition it’s important to get some form of food back into your system to recover but I feel that we shouldn’t be having our athletes eating McDonald’s. We should be encouraging them to go home and eat a healthy variety of food. I guess overall it’s not horrible if they go once a season, but teams that frequently stop should consider the impact it is having on their team.

Wednesday – 2/8/12
Today was the start of our new stations and I was lucky enough to over sleep my first alarm this morning. As I rushed to get ready I did in fact leave late and get to school later than I had hoped to set everything up. I was lucky enough to finish setting up right as the first class walked in to get changed but it has taught me a valuable lesson.  I was smart enough the day before to set the equipment for today aside, which let me quickly pull it all out into the gym instead of having to search through the closet to find it all.  Overall the day went smooth after set up.

Thursday – 2/9/12
Today I am very proud of my 1st grade class. This is my class that has __, my ape student with CP. Our new stations are a little more difficult than the last set and I didn’t even think about modifications for him. As we got started I didn’t even have to modifications because the students in his group assisted him and made things easier so he could also do them. For example we had a station “fish sticks” where you had to get the fish from your boat to house otherwise the fish would swim away. The poly spots I had put out were too far for him, but I had extra poly spots on the side. A student in his group simply took another poly spot and put it closer so he could be successful. It was at the perfect spot as he did miss and also made a few in. It was a great to see how students help him out without even being asked and he was smiling and laughing with them as they took turns. Today showed me students can surprise you with their intelligence. I never thought students would help him out like that today, and it was great to see I can trust his group to help him out in class.

Friday - 2/10/12
Today was only a half day, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. This week has flown by and I needed a day to just catch up and get prepared for next week. Overall the week has gone very well, and I’m pleased with the work my students have been doing. It’s been great to see everyone coming in and working as hard as possible. As I reflect on things that have gone well I can’t help but continue to think why students are so in love with the xavix step counter. From my own observation I think the reason students are so addicted to it is because of the instant feedback. Students are able to track their progress quickly and continue to challenge themselves each and every time they get a turn. I believe the feedback paired with the human beings desire for competition is what is keeping students so attracted to the xavix. If this is correct it’s a great lesson learned. I think finding a way to give students that instant feedback in PE is a great way to keep kids excited for class, but how would to do it is the question.

Week Three At Tully Elementary

Monday – 1/30/2012
As Wednesday approaches with the start of the unit I had a lot of work to do this weekend. Since the plans had been drawn up and I had crazy idea’s to go above the normal for my students by bringing in music and competition, I had my work cut out for me. I had decided I was going to make team posters since a bulletin board wasn’t available but I never realized how much time that would take. For five classes it took me the majority of my afternoon on Sunday, but this didn’t even include the start of my score sheets for each day and each challenge. As I sit here Monday night and reflect on what I still have to do and how much time I have already put into this unit it’s easy to see that work goes beyond the classroom. Teachers are often criticized for having summers off, and vacations, but after this weekend I can only imagine what teachers actually do during these vacations. I would assume they do spend time relaxing but with that they also spend time getting ahead on work, planning lessons and catching up on things that may have been put off. Bottom of the line, teaching is time consuming and without dedication students may not get the education they deserve.

Tuesday – 1/31/2012
In continuation with yesterday’s entry, preparing for the unit today was time consuming. As I prepare to take on a full day of classes and a newly created unit I can feel the pressure beginning set in. I read through my notes and constantly find new things I need to finish or tweak which causes me to go back or scramble to get things together. Mrs. Drumm has been great in helping me out finding equipment, supplies, and coming up with the specifics for each challenge. I know that first year teachers have a mentor and I now understand why! The final strands are beginning to come together and my excitement is peaking with the increased pressure. I really hope the students will enjoy the unit for the amount of time I have put into it.

Wednesday – 2/1/2012
Today was my first day teaching all six classes and the start of our new Minute to Win It, fitness challenge unit. For the last week I was preparing for the unit, and today as it approached I was so nervous if I could pull it off and the students would enjoy it. First period went off with a hit and was a complete success, students were sweating, working hard, cheering on their teammates, captains came out in the groups (which wasn’t even thought of) and after reviewing the results the students that we thought would be weaker, were actually the students doing the best! In the fast feet challenge, I had students breaking records and a Kindergartner get 86 steps in 10 seconds… it was so unbelievable and impressive we decided to submit his name into the morning announcements with the 5th and 6th grade teams. Overall the teams were even and worked out in all my classes today. Behavioral problems were minimal to the point Mrs. Drumm commented, “This is almost scary, how well everyone is working together and actually working hard”. Overall today was amazing, it felt great to know my hard work came together and worked out!

Thursday – 2/2/2012
Day 2, today again everything went very smooth. Students again were working hard and helping each other out. Mrs. Drumm took a half day to go to the doctor, so I was on my own for the last 2 classes, my K and 3rd grade classes. My Kindergarten class made me very nervous because we have turn taking problems and a student who tends to act out. I went into it with a positive mind until the class came, and the classroom teacher said “Mr.P we need to talk for a minute” my gut dropped as she told me ___, a student who acts out a lot is in her moving transition since she is moving to a new district. She told me she had already thrown a chair, and hit another student. She had been in the office for a good amount of time but was going to come down to PE. I just smiled and said, “We will keep an eye on her”. It was great when I got to report back to the teacher that she came into class and was great. She worked well with everyone, tried her best, and helped reset the hockey pucks for other students to have their turn. What this showed me was PE is a great escape for students and with the right environment students attitudes can completely change.

Week Two At Tully Elementary

Monday – 1/23/2012
Today I was able to attend a request for special services meeting. This meeting was called for one of my second grade students by my host teacher and the student’s classroom teacher. In physical education class it’s easily noticeable that this student runs awkwardly and in the classroom the student often complains of back pain and stomach pressure. The student’s parents have also noted the same instances when the child is at home and had also contacted her teachers. Today the teachers gathered to discuss the need to evaluate the student for special services or at least figure out what maybe the underlying causes to these issues. It was great to see how the parents and the teachers could come together to get on board with each other in this request. From my understanding the process can be a long one in order to fight for the extra services but the teachers and parents are in it to seek what is best for the child. It was a great learning experience that has taught me that although parents can sometimes be a pain to deal with they are ultimately looking out for what is best for their child.
Tuesday – 1/24/2012
Today we incorporated new basketball stations for the third and fourth grade students. Since they have been working on their skills rather than game play we decided it would be the appropriate time to add in a small 2v2 or 3v3 game play station with myself as the referee. For the majority of the students this was their first experience playing a “basketball game” and they seemed to pick up on the game pretty quickly. We did have to modify the game, allowing for 1pt if they hit the hoop or backboard, and 2 pts if they actually got it in but either way students enjoyed playing. For the groups that didn’t understand the concept of playing defense as well playing together as a team, I just had to modify the game slightly so they would at least get the opportunity to get the ball back. With the transition to the new stations, I was able to learn today that modification is key. At the beginning of each new unit or activity there is always the possibility that students will not understand or will not enjoy the game. At that point its important to be able to think on your feet and either scratch the idea for later classes or modify to fit their needs.
Wednesday – 1/25/12
Today while doing fire stations with the kindergarten, first grade and second grade classes I realized that students at those levels have dramatically varying ability. I had students in Kindergarten struggling to get onto the cargo net, but also other students who could jump on and quickly maneuver their way up to the top of the net. This varying ability spanned across all three grade levels, as I had some second graders also struggling to move on the net and other flying up to the top and back down the rope with ease. All in all each and every student did try their best each opportunity they had, and I even had one student first struggle to get on the net but then in his last attempt get on and cross the net completely to the rope. Today’s lesson learned is that students skill level will also vary across units, some stronger with other skills and weaker in the new skills. The bottom line is as the educator its best to push a student to try to improve but only to their comfort level. If the student is able to achieve success it will persuade them to try to go further each time.
Thursday – 1/26/2012
Today was the big day, as Mrs. Drumm and I planned out the units ideas for all of February. We have decided to go with a “Minute To Win It” theme for a fitness unit with the goal to have students be assessed, then have some time to work on their fitness skills through mini challenge’s, and then reassess the students before break. The idea came about because no student willingly loves fitness units, so we are hoping they will focus more on the challenges rather than the fact that they are working on their fitness skills for the post-assessment. If this unit can go well, it will be a great learning experience for myself as well as Mrs. Drumm because she finds fitness units to be so hard to motivate her students. If the students enjoy the unit it will be one Mrs. Drumm can use year after year and myself if I find a school of my own.
Friday – 1/27/2012
Today we were asked by the custodial staff to clean out the closet that we currently share with them. Due to the constant moving of our schedule from the “cafeteria-gym” to the playroom we have just bombarded the closet with equipment which has spread all over. Since we had just prepared our Unit yesterday we decided it would be the appropriate time to clean all three closets to round up the equipment we were going to need starting Wednesday of next week. What I took out of today was the fact that as a physical educator it’s a difficult battle to keep equipment organized when you’re forced to constantly change class environments, and class set ups. Mrs. Drumm said “the hardest part is always trying to find the equipment I need, and if I don’t have it in the correct closet then, I’m stranded without if I needed it during a class.” She said the best thing you can do in a situation like this is just over prepare and have all the equipment you think you might need and then some extra stuff just in case.

Week One At Tully Elementary

Wednesday – 1/18/2012
Today was my first day at Tully elementary, and it was a long one. Today we had six classes with alternating grades and units, so we were constantly tearing down the gym equipment and re setting up new equipment. For the month of January we also do not have access to the gymnasium for class so we must utilize the “gym/cafeteria” area as well as a “playroom” (Multi-purpose room).  It’s amazing to see how the physical educators must utilize every space possible in order to insure student learning. My host teacher Ms. Drumm welcomed me right away this morning but we quickly had to prepare for the first class. Today for the majority of the time I just observed how she interacts with the students and how the students interact with each other. Ms. Drumm has shown me that if you give respect, respect will be given back. Students understand that the more they goof around the less time they have to get out into the gym and be active. With that said I also noticed a difference between grades in their respect. The younger students K-2 had to be reminded to sit down and focus, where as the older kids 3-6 had to be reminded to sit, not talk, and to not play with the equipment while directions are being given. The important lesson to take from today is to not let students get away with too much off task behavior during the instructional portion of the lesson, because if it is allowed the amount of behavior will just continually escalate. 

Thursday - 1/19/2012
Today I was approved to assistant coach 7th grade girl’s basketball. Coach V, the school psychologist has been coaching the team for several years and is a basketball expert. Not knowing basketball past the recreational level I was nervous to be assisting the team. Coach V assured me that any knowledge of the game I had would be of help to the girls as only four had ever played basketball before.  Practice went well and I was asked to run a drill, as well as jump in to make even numbers for a passing drill. At the end of the day it made me notice how a teacher or school worker in general can wear many hats during the day. Coach V works with students during the day to help them work out troubles at home, as well as seek out extra assistance for those students who potentially have an impairment or disability. After school Mr. V switches roles to Coach V, and a mentor. Since Mr. V works in the Elementary school the majority of the girls have grown up around him. The girls have become so comfortable with him, they are always asking him for advice with high school questions and other outside school situations. This opportunity to work with Mr. Vis going to be an excellent chance to see how to transition from different roles and still keep that professional and friendly relationship with students.

Friday – 1/20/2012
Today was my first day with ___ in APE. He is a kindergartener with cerebral palsy, who receives one on one APE twice a week. When he rolled into the classroom in his wheelchair and spotted me he got a gigantic smile on his face and said Hello! As he was assisted out of his chair so he could maneuver around the activities I got to talk to him for a few minutes.  Ms. Drumm told me how he is only allowed to participate in PE when he is in APE and that in class he has to sit there for 40 minutes and watch the rest of his classmates participate. He in turn began to talk stating “yea, I don’t understand why I have to sit there and watch class; all I want to do is go out there and have some fun like everyone else!” This in turn made me laugh at how cute he was, but at the same time made me realize how much it really affects him. When students come to PE they look forward to having the chance to get out of the classroom and have some fun learning with their classmates. It gives them the opportunity to express themselves through movement and interaction with their classmates, as well as a chance to show off some of their skills. Although he cannot run or walk as well as most students, his throwing ability is wonderful and I would say up to pare with the other kindergarten classes we have. Today has really shown me how much students look forward to PE but some just take it for granted. There are plenty of students who come in and do anything not to participate, where as He would do anything to come into a general PE class and participate with everyone else.