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Space Day

On March 14, 2016, the School of Education hosted Space Day


for Trace Crossings Elementary School fourth grade. Before going into
this day, I did not know exactly what to expect, but I did know that I
was excited to see these students on Samfords campus engaging with
our mini lessons and us. I was a part of the constellations room, which
was a stretch for me at the beginning. Constellations are things I do
not know a lot about which impacted how much I had to contribute to
the writing of our lesson. I always knew that constellations were
formations of stars in the sky, but that knowledge was mainly the
extent that it went. After doing some basic research and planning our
lesson, I had already gained a little more knowledge about
constellations. Because I was not fully knowledgeable about our topic,
it was fun to learn with the students.
When Space Day finally arrived, everything began to fall into
place. All of the decorations by the Sophomores looked great. The time
came for the students to arrive, and we had to buckle down and be
prepared for our lessons. When the first group of students came to our
classroom, we were prepared for what each person was going to do.
Did this go completely as planned? It did not, but that is to be
expected. I am learning more and more each day that being a teacher
means being extremely flexible and thinking on your toes. Our activity
involved marshmallows and toothpicks, which proved to be a little

messy. I had been responsible for purchasing the materials, and I did
not do the best job of estimating our supplies. Because we were short
on materials, we had to think on our toes and make the most of what
we had. All things worked out fine, but students were upset that they
could not eat the marshmallows.
Overall, I think there were many things I could take away from
Space Day. Planning is key when being a teacher. While plans may go
astray, a teacher needs to have potential structure for her classroom.
Having engaging activities and lessons for students is also important
for teaching. A teacher can give information to students all day long,
but this does not mean they will retain that information. Our students
watched a video that presented the information in an engaging way,
allowing the students to be more involved in the teaching. Not only
should things be engaging, but they should also be fulfilled to the
fullest. We had the students do a KWL chart. If we had more time, we
would have been able to have great discussion with the students about
their questions or what they learned. Because we were not able to truly
discuss this chart, I do not feel like it was utilized to its fullest effect.
Because Space Day creates such a fun atmosphere, I was able to enjoy
myself with my fellow peers and the students of Trace Crossings
Elementary.

Young Authors Conference

Going into the Young Authors Conference I did not know exactly
what to expect. By the end of the day, everything came together well,
things were accomplished, and students enjoyed their time. I was able
to participate in the group rotation for Rules. The group I was placed in
worked well together and accomplished our tasks efficiently.
Throughout our mini lesson for the students, we allowed them to share
rules that they hear every day in their lives. They were also able to
create rules of their own that they would like to make for their own
room. Hearing these students rules was entertaining, because many of
them are rules that have not changed over the years. While many of
the rules were traditional ones, some of them were rules that are not
usually heard when listing off rules. These rules all had a story behind
them and were very personal for each student. Overall, I think the
students enjoyed their time in each of the rotations while learning
about newer pieces of literature. Through this rotation time, I
recognized how important it is for teachers to encourage students to
read and love literature. Making the stories come to life and become
personal can influence students positively. Allowing the students to
come to Samford for this conference not only exposed them to new
books, but it also gave them idea as to what a college campus can be
like. Several of the students responded to the survey saying they want
to come to college one day, and I feel like that is something that is
very important for them to begin to think at such a young age. After we

finished the rotations, we all gathered together to listen to an author


speak about writing. This man was extremely animated and created an
atmosphere that allowed the students to enjoy their time. It was
interesting to hear everything he had to say about writing, because I
am beginning to realize how apprehensive I am towards teaching
reading or writing. It is not my favorite subject, nor is it my best
subject; therefore, I found some of his points interesting to listen to. He
encouraged the students to expand their thinking when writing stories.
If they were to write about what they observed from a tree, they could
not only talk about the appearance of the tree, but they could also
discuss the processes the tree undergoes. Overall, I think the students
enjoyed their time and hopefully got something out of the Young
Authors Conference. We Samford students put in effort today to make
this experience the best it could be for the students.

YAC Diversity Questions


A. Commitment to students and their learning
During each rotation, we asked the students questions at the
beginning of the lesson to engage them and relate the content to their
lives. We also allowed the students to share what rules they added to
their door hanger they were able to make during the rotation. All of
these questions and sharing allowed the students to be involved
throughout the duration of the rotation. As the students were creating

their door hangers, I and several other Samford students walked


around the room to foster conversations with the students. We affirmed
them in the rules they created and encouraged them to continue
thinking of more. The students were required to be responsible for their
belongings and to respect the teachers and their peers. When having
group discussion, they were able to hear everyones opinions when
listening attentively. The differing opinions or rules allowed the
students to see other sides of the story or differing lifestyles. They
were expected to respond with a positive and respectful attitude, and
all of the students behaved well in this matter. There were many
moments the students could have been disrespectful while messing
with the materials in the room or not listening to the teachers, but
overall the students did very well with listening attentively to
instructions. The students were able to watch a book trailer at the
beginning of the lesson, discuss what the book Rules was about, and
create their own door hanger with rules listed across it. Overall, I feel
like any students diversity was well able to be included in this book
talk and activity, because all students experience rules at some point
in their lives. Whether they experience rules at school or at home, they
are able to relate to the idea of rules in their life.

B. Knowledge of the subject(s) taught and of best


methods/principles to teach

During this lesson, student engagement was highly present.


Students were able to participate through answering questions and
sharing their thinking. They were able to collaborate together on ideas
and opinions. Not only was this class discussion collaborative, but it
also allowed the students to relate the information back to their own
lives. Text-to-self connections were able to be made, which assisted the
students to make connections to the story. Students were able engage
in the lesson through the use of technology as well. They were able to
apply what they learned from the video to what was discussed as a
class. The technology assisted instruction while also engaging the
students.

C. Responsibility for managing and monitoring student


learning
When the students entered the room, they were directed to find
a seat at tables that had paper on them. With the direction of 4 adults
in the room, the students knew what was expected of them and overall
listened very well. They were asked to raise their hand when they had
an answer, question, or comment. Materials were passed out at the
appropriate time to minimize distraction. When we as a group saw that
something needed to be adjusted for times sake, we would talk on the
side with another Samford student to make the decision. All of these

time changes were noticed before they needed to take place, allowing
us to have smooth transitions and flexibility. In one rotation there was a
student who could not write in English, but he could speak English. One
of the Samford students assisted him individually on the craft while the
rest of us continued to walk around the room having conversations
with the students and assisting them in any way needed.

D. Systematic thinking about practice and learning from


experience
When preparing what we wanted to do with the students during
the rotations, we had decided we wanted to give them a small piece of
candy that went along with the book. Through misunderstanding, we
did not have enough of the candy on the day of. Because of this lack in
candy, we decided not to add this small part to the lesson at all, which
was an easy adjustment. We were all understanding of our lack in
communication. Each rotation proved to pan out differently every time.
While the first rotation was timed perfectly, the second rotation had
some extra time we had to fill. We put our brains together and thought
of engagement games we could use with the students. Because we
were able to work together, things went smoothly throughout our time
together even with adjustments being made.

E. Engagement into learning community


Because our group was able to collaborate, we were able to
produce a more efficient lesson and accomplish tasks at a quicker
pace. When designing the door decoration, we all contributed to a
different part of the decoration. Dividing and conquering the
decoration allowed us to complete the task at a quick pace. When
discussing how we wanted to execute what was given to us to
accomplish, we discussed the ideas together. This discussion allowed
us to hear all possibilities and decide which one was more efficient.
While one person gave the actual book talk, we all had other roles
throughout the lesson that allowed it to run smoothly. Collaboration is
key to having large events run efficiently. By working together as
teammates, we were able to get along well and make Young Authors
Conference a success.

Dr. Seuss Week


The weeks leading up to Dr. Seuss week were full of planning and
preparation. While I was not on the Dr. Seuss committee, I still played a
part in helping prepare for this week. I spent time volunteering at the
beginning of decorating the hallways. I helped die cut letters, sort the
words, and make some of the large staple decorations that were to be
hung on the walls. When assisting with these projects, I began to

realize how easy it is to underestimate how long it will take to


complete certain tasks. It took a very long time to die cut letters, which
is something I did not expect to happen. Every time I participate in an
event, I am able to learn something from it. While setting up for Dr.
Seuss week, I learned how important it is to plan the organization of
decorating when working in large groups. If there is not organization,
there will be people standing around and time wasted. Being organized
will also allow you to have a plan and make the most of your time
when creating everything that is needed to fulfill the task. I believe my
peers who worked the most on Dr. Seuss did a good job with dividing
tasks.
This Dr. Seuss day was the first Dr. Seuss day I have ever
participated in before. My elementary school never went into such
detail to celebrate all of the important pieces of literature and meaning
he brought into the world. Seeing all of the teachers and students
dress up for this day was very exciting to watch. It brought such joy
and excitement into all of their attitudes as they walked the halls
during this day. Participating in this assembly was interesting as well,
because I began to wonder what students were thinking during this
time. Listening to a Dr. Seuss book being read, watching a short
theater performance, and listening to some students read their
creative writing pieces all led to an appreciation of what Dr. Seuss
brought to the education world.

Overall, participating in Dr. Seuss week allowed me to


understand the amount of work that goes in to large school wide
events. A lot of planning, preparation, time, and effort all go into these
events. I believe as teachers we have to decide what is going to
benefit our students the most and what is going to create a lasting
excitement in these students. Dr. Seuss week strives to make reading
fun and exciting.

Google 20%
For our Google 20% project, we created a Boat Launcher for
Trace Crossings Elementary Schools Maker Week. Our goal for this
project was to unite Trace Crossings in a STEAM initiative. Because of
this, we wanted to include as many elements of STEAM into this one
project as possible. We believed that this would engage students in a
cross-curricular, hands-on learning experience. We wanted to design an
activity that students across all grade levels could participate in and
gain knowledge from.
The boat launching activity was designed to incorporate many
aspects of STEAM. The week before Maker Week, the students used
materials provided to design and create a boat. For the older grades,
the students were presented with a challenge to create a boat that
would travel as fast as possible down a ramp and make it to the edge
of the pool without sinking. This challenge was simplified for the

younger students who wanted their boats to float and make it to the
edge of the pool. The materials provided for the students were all
recycled materials. The base of the boats were milk cartons, primarily
coming from the breakfasts and lunches the students had. This design
challenge incorporated science, engineering, and art, which were
aligned to grade level standards.
During Maker Week, the students completed their boats and
were able to launch them. Each time the students boats were
launched they were timed. If they did not make it down the ramp, the
students went through a scientific process of asking why and how they
could improve their boat before retesting. Math was incorporated to
this project when the students recorded their data on one of the
graphs.
Through this project, we saw students were truly engaged and
enjoyed testing their boats. It was extremely successful. We would love
to incorporate something like this into our classroom or school one day.
From this experience, we realized how practical it could be to
incorporate something like this into teaching. This project was created
with little cost. Much of the material was recycled and donated. It
provided students with a meaningful learning experience that
extended beyond one subject. If we were to do this project again, we
think it would be great to provide teachers with extension activities for

the classroom. This way, it applies to work done in the classroom, and
meaningful discussion could occur.
Because of the nature of the project, it was hard to collect data
from every student. To measure our success of this project, we looked
at student participation and engagement. Each class participated in
this project, which was a huge success. The students were all very
excited to launch their boats to test their results. We also asked
students what they took away from this experience. One student said,
I really like how we got to build our boat however we wanted. And we
could make changes if it didnt work. Another student said, I wish we
could do this more! Finally, another one said, This doesnt feel like
school or learning science. I really like it! Overall, we saw students
unite as a school and gain a deeper love for the STEAM initiative.