Sunday, May 07, 2006

Qu'ai-je appris?

Grades were posted and here are mine.

Mathematics Methods For Elementary Teachers: A
Classroom Management, Grades EC-4: A
Reading I: Learning To Read: A
Science Methods For Elementary Teachers: A


What have I learned this past semester?

Unlike my thicker fellow students, I did not learn any mathematics in Math Methods (which is as it should be, since it's a course on how to teach math concepts for elementary teachers!). But I did learn some interesting ways to present mathematical ideas, and I was reminded of the importance of a multi-sensory approach: integrating abstract principles, hands-on, visual, verbal, and real-world situations into the lesson. This was my favorite course.

Classroom Management was probably my least helpful course. I learned a few of the principles of the cult of Love and Logic, though my experience with children has taught me most of the more common-sense approaches already, and I don't agree with all of the Love and Logic way. Harry Wong is a much better teacher of managing the classroom through procedures and routine, but I got a lot of that material from American Public Schools last semester. I used a few of the discipline tricks I gleaned in the course at work, with adequate but not wonderful results. I suppose that this class gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect on the EC-4 PPR test; we shall see the accuracy of that supposition in June.

Reading I taught me some of the basic facts on phonemic awareness, phonics, the alphabetic principle, and teaching vocabulary. I learned some good tips on building a word wall and how to use it as an interactive tool, not just a poster with letters on it. I have years of experience in reading to children and getting them to think about what they've heard, so that side of the course wasn't very applicable to me. But familiarity with text, interactive reading, and knowing how to ask good questions are all very desirable traits in elementary teachers; if anything, Reading I should have offered more opportunities for practicing these skills.

Science Methods was a fun course. I enjoyed a lot of the experiments and investigations. This course taught me that science at this level is primarily about doing, not about getting facts from books or replicating results or thinking in terms of objective principles. Elementary science can actually be a creative discipline, which a lot of people forget. This is important, because American students aren't as strong in science as they could be, and girls especially are, without reason, turned off by it. They turn to the fields where they feel their voices can be heard: drama, writing, music, art. But if science teachers push the processes --- experimenting, inferring, predicting, observing, recording --- and minimize the emphasis on procedural formulae and replicating results, kids can be reminded of what a personal exploration science can be. I hope, as a teacher, to have a lot more live caterpillars and cups of soil and prisms and baking soda and vinegar than I have textbook tasks in the science classroom.

1 comment:

Andy Land said...

Congrats on the grades! I'd have failed EVERYTHING on your list...and been mighty proud of it.