When planning any lesson, activity, or long-term instructional unit I always approach it by using a ground-up approach, in which I start with the national and state standards that are to be covered. After having a firm understanding of the national and state standards, I then narrow my focus to pay particular attention to both the district's and school's designated curriculum map and framework. With the standards in mind I then determine the learning activities and assessments to use in the lesson. While planning these learning activities and choosing the most effective learning strategies, I narrow my focus farther to the level of my individual students, examining their interests, ability levels, and learning styles.

My 3rd Grade team plans weekly as a cohort, "plugging" lessons for Science, Social Studies, Reading, and Mathematics into our weekly planning books and sharing materials with one another to make planning and teaching as effective as possible. We plan out units of study and individual lessons, using both short-term and long-term approaches to planning. My cooperating teacher and I then meet to go over and further develop our plan for the week. Due to the individualized nature of Reading and Intervention/Enrichment, we may teach the same comprehension strategy or address a similar area of remediation as the team, however we do so in a manner that best suits the needs of our individual students. On the same token, we might plan as a team to teach "Comparing Fractions" but the implementation of the lesson and teaching strategies included in the lesson will vary from classroom to classroom given the nature of differentiation and diverse needs of the students in our distinct classrooms.

Reading: At the beginning of each day, we have a large block set aside for a reading workshop, which includes mini-reading lesson (whole group), guided reading groups (small group), and independent reading and assignment completion. The whole group mini lesson incorporates a read-aloud, comprehension strategy or story element, and SOL content focus. For instance, I recently finished a unit on folktales (VA SOL 3.5), in which each day the mini lesson focused on a different category of folktale.
On the day we studied myths, I commenced the lesson with a short comprehensions strategy page on "Cause and Effect" in the SOL test practice book prepared by the reading team. After the short strategy page, I then read a Greek myth, entitled Prometheus, and interwove other strategies into the read aloud by asking students "According to the myth, why do we have earthquakes?" and "Who can summarize the tale?". The lesson reflects my long range planning goals through incorporation of SOL preparation, as well as short range planning objectives involving the study of folktales.
During my reading methods course I prepared and taught a guided reading lesson (VA SOL K.5 and K.7) for a mid-range ability group of Kindergarteners. While student teaching in my own classroom, I prepared and taught lessons for two literature circles and three guided reading groups. The literature circles acted similarly to book clubs and were comprised of students in the highest ability group in terms of reading ability. The lowest ability group consisted of one student who was much farther behind the rest of the students in the class. For one lesson I had the student read aloud to practice fluency and go on a compound word hunt. I had control over one of the average reading groups for approximately three weeks and was able to plan lessons based on two books, Cracking Up-A Story About Erosion and Animals of the Ice and Snow.

Math: As part of IMG_2246.JPGmy mathematics methods course I planned and taught a lesson on rounding to the nearest thousand (VA Math SOL 3.2). Prior to teaching the lesson, I effectively integrated technology into the lesson, making sure that the activity types chosen would increase student engagement and understanding. At the end of the lesson students applied their rounding skills and took turns playing an online rounding game involving sharks. Therefore, the lesson incorporated a variety of teaching techniques and resources (rounding manipulative, paper and pencil practice, and online computer game).

During student teaching I collaborated with the math specialist at Stonehouse to plan and teach a lesson on decimals greater than one (VA Math SOL 3.7). The lesson incorporated whole group instruction to introduce the topic, a parallel co-teaching model implemented during small group work, and independent practice to assess student learning. The small groups were ability wise grouped such and students needing more time with manipulatives were given that opportunity.

Science: In my science methods course I planned a two-week long unit on the study of oceans (NSES D; VA Science 5.1 & 5.6) for 5th Grade along with two other pre-service teachers. With these two colleagues I also planned a discovery circus focused on the study of the three types of rocks (igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary). The circus included five stations through which students rotated and at each station they were tasked with higher order thinking questions as they examined rocks. At one of the stations students were asked to think about the job of a coal miner and better understand the hardships they endured.
During student teaching I prepared and taught lessons as part of a Soil Unit (VA Science SOL 3.7), incorporating powerpoint presentations, interactive notes, textbook reading, demonstrations, authentic materials, and inquiry-based soil study to meet the diverse learning styles of my class. For a lesson on conservation and nutrients in soil, I planned to perform an Apple Earth activity to demonstrate the importance of conserving soil. Later on as part of the unit I also planned a lesson about earthworms in which I displayed a wriggling earthworm under the document camera, read Diary of an Earthworm, held a class discussion on the importance of earthworms.

Social Studies:
As part of my social studies methods course I collaborated with three other pre-service teachers to create a teaching unit on the civilization of Ancient Mali. The teaching unit includes four lessons and artifacts to engage students in the study of Ancient Mali. I specifically crafted the lesson on bogolans in which students would make their own bogolans out of clay and cloth after first listening to a read aloud, learning about the use of bogolans, and exploring online. I then created my own bogolan as a sample to present to my group of pre-service teachers. Additionally, during the social studies methods course I prepared a lesson on Explorer Jacques Cartier (VA SOL ) which effectively integrated technology using blabberize.com. Over the course of student teaching I taught social studies lessons on Famous Americans, Ancient Greece, and even Ancient Rome. As part of the Famous Americans unit, I planned a lesson on George Washington (VA Social Studies SOL 3.11), in which I included a powerpoint to further elucidate key events in Washington's life and class discussion to describe the ways he defended the three basic principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. During the unit on Ancient Greece I planned a lesson on the human characteristics and adaptations these Greeks made due to their environment and another lesson on the location and physical characteristics of Ancient Greece with accompanying power point slides to further demonstrate the location of Greece.