A. Grace Martin

Author, Student Teacher, Optimist and Promoter of Self-Empowerment

Course Outline

Unit A Sample:

Class 1: Science 10 Introduction, WHMIS, Safety, Properties of Matter

Learning Strategies

Find out your learning preferences using VARK http://vark-learn.com

Visual preference: uses symbolism and different formats, fonts and colors to emphasize important points. It does not include video and pictures that show real images and it is not Visual merely because it is shown on a screen.

Auditory preference: is for information that is spoken or heard and the use of questioning is an important part of a learning strategy for those with this preference.

Read/write preference: uses the printed word as the most important way to convey and receive information.

Kinesthetic preference: uses your experiences and the things that are real even when they are shown in pictures and on screens.


Project-Based Learning

Unit A Chemistry History Project

(Students research models of matter and how chemistry historically met people's needs, such as in ancient FNMI communities)

Unit B Energy Transfer Project

(Student choice of 3 projects: Design a Rube Goldberg Machine, Aboriginal Heat Transfer Technologies research from online resources, or Historical Engine Technologies explanation from textbook)

Unit C Organelles Project

(Students create an analogy or mnemonic to learn and remember the structure and function of animal cell organelles)

Unit D Biomes Project

(Students research different biomes individually, then come together as partners to collaborate on global issues caused by climate change)


Sample Reflections

Grace Martin’s personal reflections on teaching quality and performance

Day 1: September 1st, 2015


Today my first 3 hour class at CCH went smoothly. I observed that my students are extremely quiet in the class. Only two students seemed to enjoy answering questions in front of the large group. I think that I will utilize a lot of small group work throughout this course. I feel as though classroom management was a breeze today because my students are so attentive and quiet.


Successes:

  • Students loved the brain break in which they stood back-to-back and held up a number of fingers, then turned and had to add up all of the fingers held by both people

  • The “find the unsafe lab procedure” picture activity went well

  • Students said that the pace of going through safety procedures was good

  • I feel that I got to know students fairly well as a large group and that they settled into the classroom well. I’m very glad that today was not rushed because I think that my grade 10 students needed some time to settle in.

  • I over-prepared, which meant that I had enough material in case the students worked more quickly than expected.

  • I kept a good eye on the time and was aware of when the break and end of class were close.

  • I gave closure to the class and ended my instructional time with them before the bell rang. The last few minutes were free to students to complete homework or relax at the end of a long first day.

  • The chemistry pre-test was a very good idea as it showed students a lot of areas of weakness in their knowledge from previous chemistry courses.

  • I was good at getting students out of their desks on a regular basis, even if it was just to pick up a piece of paper from the front. I think that physical movement is important in a 3 hour class.


Areas for future improvement:

  • Distributing both a learner preference quiz and a multiple intelligence quiz was too time-consuming and redundant for my students. In the future, I would only begin the class with one or the other. The learner preference self-test is perhaps more valuable in a science classroom. I noticed that several students decided to take the “study without tears” information sheet based upon their learning style strengths. Therefore, I feel that the VARK (visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic) questionnaire was valuable to an introductory science class, but the MI (multiple intelligence) test was a bit much.

  • Cutting out the MI test would have given me more time on Chemistry-related material and covering objectives.

  • Student engagement in whole-class discussion is low, so I will need more small group work

  • I do not currently feel that I know if students understand material or not because my formative assessment was whole-class based.



Day 2: September 2nd, 2015

Technology can be an issue. I am SO glad that I requested students to arrive to class by 11:45am during their Flex Block because it took some of them 10-20 minutes to login to their computers and into moodle. One new student did not even have a username or password. Students were unable to enroll in my course on moodle and I was starting to feel frustrated and wondered how I was going to adapt and change up my lesson if technology failed. I am very grateful that I had the help of my mentor today. My mentor took some quiet time in the chapel to pray and when he returned the students were able to enroll and login! Thank you Lord! I am so grateful for this help because I was setting up two new students in my classroom, answering homework questions, referring waiting students to their assignment, and explaining small things all over the place. I’d even uploaded the wrong resource to moodle and had to upload the updated file before students needed access to it.


When all of my students were finally present (some were actually late to my 12:06 class even though I told them to arrive at 11:45), we had a moment of pause. I got the full attention of all of my students, told them the full agenda for the day with specific instructions of what to do, and took a long moment to pray. I am very glad that I chose to read a passage from the New Testament before the prayer, as the topic was completely unrelated to productivity and enabled me to calm down and focus again. My choice in passage calmed me down so much because it reminded me of why I am teaching: to help young individuals learn and grow as good human beings. I read John 8 (3-7) in which Jesus says whoever has not sinned, cast the first stone against a woman who committed adultery. I told the students to reflect upon this as a message to not judge others. We then prayer for forgiveness and asked for help not to pass judgement. I may not have been raised Catholic, but I am so grateful to be in the Catholic school system so that I could share these important life lessons with my students. I’ve never taught with prayer before, but I don’t know where the lesson would have gone without that time to calm down and refocus. Thankfully, not much class time was wasted because most of the craziness occurred in the Flex Block time.


Then the rest of the day was a breeze! My mentor got another laptop cart (note to self: the carts only have 18 laptops) and students worked avidly on their projects. I circulated and helped students whenever I could, but I think that the assignment was straight-forward enough that they did not need very much guidance for their project-based learning. I suppose I will find out how much material they retained when I quiz them tomorrow.


What did I learn today?

1. Always accommodate for extra time and have a backup plan when using technology.

2. Take advantage of the opportunity to pray with my students while I am in a Catholic school environment.

3. Even if we are busy, it is important to take a step back, pause, breathe, and refocus in order to be more productive.

4. Be happy for the successes! My well-planned project-based learning was designed to guide students and the differentiation of product allowed flexibility and choice of student expression :)

End of Quarter Student Feedback

Today I gave students feedback forms about the course and my teaching. The comments that I got back were very interesting and helpful. I want to explain to my students that I treated them like they were more mature than they felt because it gave them the opportunity to rise to the occasion--and they did! I’m so proud of them for their dedication and perseverance through this course.


What did you like about Mrs M’s teaching?

  • lesson plans at the beginning of class, memes, study guides, limited note taking

  • study guides were helpful and working with partners was cool too

  • partner work and study guides

  • she’s fun and entertaining

  • good speed

  • the way she’d say “so close” to incorrect answers

  • I liked that I could ask a lot of questions. I liked how we had brain breaks. I liked quotes on the board during tests so when I was stuck I could give my head a break and look up there. 

  • brain breaks

  • organization and good lesson plans

  • you helped me to settle into high school life and gave me confidence in myself 

  • funny

  • you didn’t use the boring textbook often and always had an organized plan for the day + you were chill + no seating plan + always trying new ways to help us understand

  • your teaching improved from beginning to end

  • it’s great, makes sense

  • she’s good at what she does only problem is she talks too fast

  • I liked how she made it so we can interact, such as having us read. I also liked the kinesthetic activities

  • kahoot it!

  • Thank you for everything, and not giving up on me. Including helping me catch up! 

  • group discussions

  • brain breaks were good--maybe not all the activities we had to do in them, just give us 2 minutes to talk

  • she brought up everything we learned for daily review

  • always fully explained things and high energy

  • she gave us organized note booklets, which were easy, and she explained a whole lot of things very clearly

  • I like and dislike the memes, funny but distracting

  • You were a fun teacher!
  • Thanks for the fun quarter!

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