Sunday, March 18, 2018

Week 10: Student Teaching

Oh no!  We have hit week 10, that means that this is slowly coming to an end :(  I don't really want this to end.  I absolutely love my school and my students and really wish I didn't have to leave them.  I am surprised how connected and attached to these students I have become in such a short amount of time.  Most of my students have started to realize that it will soon be time for me to say my goodbyes and they ask all the time if I actually have to go; when we still have 6 weeks together.  I try to not think about it because  I know we each have to move on from this experience and find our place where we fit in the puzzle of ag ed, so I am going to make sure that we have a ball together in the last few weeks of it!
One of the last meetings I will get to be a part of :( 
Now that the I had to be all sad and sappy, I need to talk about how this week went.  This week was filled with lots of hands on learning.  The students in building construction have advanced from their wiring boxes to wiring walls.  The students thought that wiring was pretty complicated when they had to complete the circuits on their boxes but now that we have made out way to the walls, they are telling me that it is a lot easier.  They have been flying through wiring all of the duplexes and lamps together and all they have to do now is to connect it to the breaker box and test! 

Working on our walls!! 
We also had a guest speaker come into the class this week to talk about masonry.  I was able to step back for a block and let him teach them whatever he wanted about the careers and what you do as a mason, to my surprise he actually brought mortar and block for the students to actually try laying block.  They instantly thought "Oh that easy" as they watched him smear some on a block but as they started to do it themselves, realized that it is not easy at all.  This was great because some of the students realized that this is not easy but also that it was kind of fun.  It was a nice break from their electricity projects and still had a great hands on application for them.
Micro lesson on masonry.  
The Ag Foundations classes have been digging deep into the plant science unit and this week we learned about germination, pollination and propagation.  We did a really fun activity to learn about pollination where student snacked on cheese balls through out the class the only rule was that they COULD NOT wipe off or lick their fingers.  Later in the lesson I had groups of kids be each kind of pollination: wind, water, animals, insects.  So the wind group could only remove the pollen (cheese ball dust) from their anthers (fingers) by blowing on their finger tips like wind blows pollen around.  The water group dangled their fingers in cups of water, the animal group quickly brushed their fingers across a paper towel like a bird quickly brushing by a flower, and finally the insect group were rubbing their fingers on a fluffy bath towel just like a bee covered in hair rubs against the anthers.  The kids loved this activity 1. Because they got to eat and 2. it really helped them to visualize and understand how each type of pollination works.
Going on location for class today; to the greenhouse! 
The freshman also finally got to get out of the classroom this week as we went to the greenhouse for our propagation lesson.  They each were able to get their hands in the soil and cut up different plants like potatoes, petunias and garlic.  All of the students really liked this but there were a few that this really sparked their interest in plants.  They found it so cool and amazing that you can get a plant from cutting the parent plant up and sticking it in soil.  Being in a new environment however meant that I had to think through exactly what I needed to tell the students before we transitioned to the greenhouse.  I had to make sure they knew what we were going to do, what safety precautions to follow, and that we are going to respect the equipment and plants out there.  I never realized how many directions and other details I needed to include in the lesson just because we were moving locations.
Propagation lesson was a success!! 

This upcoming week is going to be packed full with SLLC at the beginning of the week, a visit from Miss Becker and a day of PSU Ag Ed work at the end of the week.
This is a terrible picture, but I ended my week by attending the 
spring band concert where 8 of my students blew my socks off
with their talents!! 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Week 9: student teaching

Week 9 of student teaching has taught me a very big lesson; you always have to be on your toes!  You never really know what could happen in a day so as a teacher you should always be on your toes and prepared to roll with the punches of the day.  This could be many different thins from exciting news, equipment malfunctions and just everyday surprises.  This week was sure to deliver!  When I started into this week, I knew we would be doing fun things in class and lots of activities but I had no idea what the week all would hold for me. Monday was a day full of electrical wiring, flower dissections and mock meetings; pretty regular day.  
Surprise!  Not exactly what you want to walk into on a Tuesday morning; water everywhere! 
Well Tuesday was sure to hold something special for us.  When Mrs. Fry and I arrived to school Tuesday morning, she opened the classroom door to an enormous puddle of water on the floor.  We quickly realized that the fish tank in the back of the classroom, that was home to our growing finger length Brook trout, had pumped about 40 gallon of water onto the floor overnight!  Thankfully not all of the water pumped out of the tank so the fish were still swimming around in about 3-4 inches of water however now all of that water now needed to be cleaned off the floor.   So Mr. Swineford, Mrs. Fry, one of our dedicated custodians, one of our tech ed teachers and myself quickly got to work to clean it up before our first class came in. With two mops, two shop vacs, and two giant fans it didn't take us too long to get it cleaned up and dry but definitely was not something we had planned to start our morning off with.  
Such a good clean up crew
Thursday was an exciting day for many of the members of the Selinsgrove FFA.  It was the SUN Area public speaking contest.  Mrs. Fry had been working with many of the members on their prepared speeches and our creed speaker.  My task leading up to the contest was to teach and couch the Parliamentary Procedure team.  This was the very first parli pro team that I have couched and I was very anxious the day of the contest.  I knew that they had been working hard and had came a long way since our first practice but I still knew that this was their first contest and my first time couching; wasn't sure we were completely ready to be honest.  After their presentation, they told me how terrible they did and how they knew that they were not going to do well.  Finally at the end of the day we go the results of all of the contest and the results were great!  We have two Senior Prepared speakers, two Conservation speakers, one Extemporaneous speaker and a creed speaker all qualified to go to the Regional Level.  All we had left to hear was the Parli Pro results and out of three teams, the Selinsgrove team took FIRST place!! I was so excited and proud of my students!!!
My very first Parli Pro Team!! 

The moment you learn that you just place 1st in Parli Pro! 

All of the Selinsgrove FFA Public Speaking Contestants!  

There were also many times throughout the week when students were able to surprise themselves.  I had one student who at first thought he would never be able to figure out how to do all of the wiring projects for electricity and this week he was the first of his classmates to finish them all!  Not only did his light bulb light up when we tried his 3-way switch but he face did too!  I also had a student this week who has really dug deep into our plant science unit and everyday I get to see his face when he has his Ahh - ha moments.  I curious to see what surprises this week holds for us in the classroom!
The Ag Foundations classes learned about how 
plant cells and animal cells are different this week 
and built their own models of plant cells out of 
different shaped pasta!  

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Week 8: Student Teaching

Plants, Parli Pro and Pacing; that is what surrounded this week of student teaching.  This past week flew by and I mean really flew.  Seems like just yesterday was Monday and I was introducing the freshman to plant science by going out to tap trees and now we are at the end of the week where they are able to tell me the parts of the flower and building models of them; it's crazy!

The 3 Ag foundations classes as I just say have moved on from animal science and now we are diving deep into plant science.  We are collecting sap from the sugar maples out front of the school and each day a pair of students are responsible for emptying the buckets.  Once we get around 55 gallons of sap we will be taking a day to boil our sap and turn it into syrup.  This of course leads to them asking me everyday, "Do we have enough now?"  I simply ask them "Now do you think that these two buckets are 55 gallons?"

Tap that tree!  Mrs. Fry helps to show what angle 
to drill the hole at for the tap.  
It's great to see them so excited about this project and the are so interested in plants.  They had a great Ah-ha moment the other day when we were learning about the xylem and phloem of a plant.  When the realized that the phloem carried the food of the plant which is sugar, I saw 13 faces light up and say "Oh so that's the sap we are collecting, it's coming from the phloem of the tree!"  I was so super proud that they were beginning to think deeper than Oh the phloem carries food and connecting it all together!  Next week we are going to go one step further and talk about photosynthesis and how the trees and plants get that sugar in the first place.

The freshman classes aren't the only ones who are hard at work learning about plants.  I have started teaching the horticulture class as well and we are in full greenhouse production mode this week.  We spent the week transplanting seedlings like tomatoes, impatients and  herbs into trays of 6 packs and by the end of the week we had 800 petunia plugs arrive that we needed to transplant into hanging baskets.  Each of the students were definitely getting lots of hands on learning having those hands covered in soil!
Poke hole, put in plug, fill in with soil, REPEAT!  Working hard to 
get all of the petunia plugs planted.  

From Plants to Parli Pro.  My week was also packed full of parliamentary procedure which is the rules that are set forth that should be followed during a meeting.  My Ag Leadership class is going to be wrapping up their unit on Parli Pro this upcoming week.  During class we have being learning the basics of what it is and how we use but we also get to have a lot of fun by having mock meetings which gives students the chance to show what they have learned and have some friendly debate. I also have been practicing everyday this week with our Parli Pro Team. 

This team will be competing at the area contest this week and we are trying to get in as many practices as possible!  This is a new team who are new to Parli Pro but have come a long way in the short amount of time that I have been coaching them.  Several of them have already told me that they will be happy with however they place, they are just happy that they know more about Parli Pro and how to use it.  "Now I know what I can do at a meeting and how to do it properly!" was what one of my students and team members told me on Friday. 
My new up and coming Parli Pro team just getting ready to practice. 

I am glad that this has sparked an interest for them.  Parli pro can be a very intimidating thing for many students.  There's a lot of rules to remembers and you have to know exactly how you can make a motion but once you learn the basics it is actually very fun!  While teaching them about it and helping the team to practice, I can't help but think back to my days on the Parli Pro team and how much fun it was for me.  I love being about to share stories about my days of competing at the National Convention in Parli Pro and the students really love hearing about it!  

Finally this week, I have went back to my old ways and not in a good way.  The past few weeks I finally felt like I was getting better at my pacing but this week was like I took 2 giant steps backwards.  The students still learned a lot and had a lot of fun but I just wish that I would have done a better job of my pacing this week.  Part of it was that we got into a really great discussion which is always a great reason to be off track but other times I just didn't push them enough so that we could move on. 

I have learned that, it can take them a very long time to write down just a few simple sentences and I am always waiting on them to finish writing.  I don't want to give them super simple notes where they don't have to do anything, I also don't want to move on and them not have the notes they need but I have to find a way to make this go quicker because we are spending too much times just waiting on people to finish writing.  I am open to any ideas of how to make this go smoother.
The building construction students are always
working hard to complete their projects.  

This week is going to be so exciting with having the Public speaking contest and seeing how the members do at it.  I also am eager to see how much sap we will collect on Monday after the weekend and to see our plants in the greenhouse to pop up through the soil and grow bigger.  My building construction class is getting better and better each day with their wiring projects and I can tell that we will soon be putting up the walls and moving to the more advanced wirings.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Student Teaching: Week 7 Reflection

This week was crazy and was over before I even knew it.  This past week was National FFA Week and we had lots of activities planned that I was excited to see!  However, I was unable to be a part of two of the days this week as I had to take my first sick days.  I knew that while I was ill in bed there were fun things happening at school but thankfully I was able to get better and be a part of the big events at the end of the week.
Schedule of events from FFA Week!!
On Thursday, the Officers and a few of the Ag Leadership students came in early to prepare a breakfast for the school staff!  This was a token of appreciation and gratitude from the students to the teachers for supporting the FFA chapter and the members.  We also had an emblem scavenger hunt throughout the day.  We hid 15 FFA emblems around the school and as students found them, they could bring the emblem to the Ag shop to receive a prize. 

Thursday night was also school open house, where students and parents could come to the Ag shop to talk about what we are doing in class and student success.  In conjunction with open house, the interviews for the new officer team were held.  There was a great turnout of members who decided that they wanted to serve their chapter as a leader for the upcoming year.  It was really interesting to see how Selinsgrove does their officer interviews and be able to compare and contrast it with what I had gone through as a student at my home chapter, Captain Jack FFA.
State FFA Sentinel, Justin Kurtz came to be a part 
of our pep rally along with State FFA President, Nate Moyer.  
They helped to demo the relay race! 
 Friday was the exciting end to the school week and there was much anxiousness in the air.  Friday afternoon was the FFA Pep Rally in the gym and we had to get everything set up and ready to go.  During the pep rally, there was a relay race where one team of students competed against a team of teachers.  The race had 5 stations that each of the three teammates had to complete.  They started with apply bobbing, then a stick horse race, followed by the needle in a haystack search (we used a SUN area degree pin instead of a needle), watermelon eating and finally the tire roll.  The rest of the student body really enjoyed seeing their peers and teachers hustle to complete each task and in the end the student team won by just seconds! 

While all of this was going on, in the middle of the gym floor there was a tarp with a rabbit perched upon it.  All week the officers were selling bingo square spots for $1.00 each.  Students would pay $1.00 and pick any number they wanted between 1 and 100, this was for the Rabbit Poo Bingo.  We used a tarp and made a giant bingo board and we placed a rabbit in the middle of the board to let him hop around.  The winner would be decided by the rabbit and whichever square he decided to poo on!  Unfortunately, I think the rabbit was too into the relay race as well because he never did poo so we had State FFA President, Nate Moyer close his eyes and toss a SUN Area degree pin onto the board instead. 
Rabbit Poo Bingo!! 

To round out the pep rally, we had teacher karaoke!  All week students were voting on which teachers and students they wanted to see sing karaoke by placing food items in assigned boxes.  All of the food that we were able to raise all week is going to the Meals for Seals program that Selinsgrove has which is the Backpack Lunch program.  The students loved seeing their teachers sing along to popular songs of all genres including the great sing a long song Sweet Caroline!  The pep rally was a huge hit and the FFA officers did a great job of planning everything out!  

Yesterday was the very last day of FFA week and we had FFA members volunteer to sell FFA emblems at Tractor Supply and help shoppers in the store.  On top of everything we had going on for FFA week this week, I also gave my first unit test in Ag Foundations on the Animal Science Unit.  That means that next week we start in on Plant Science!  This unit has a lot of fun labs and activities packed into it so I can't wait to start!  Check back in to see what kinds of adventures we get into this week!!
All of the food that was raised for the Meals for Seals, we were able to 
collect 439 items for the Backpack program! 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Student Teaching: Week 6

This past week was an easy yet hard week all at once! This week I had to be out of class for two
Learning about types of
injections by giving 
bananas shots.  
different days which meant I needed to leave substitute teacher plans.  I figured that these would be easy to do however I learned that they are a little more complex than I had thought.  I wanted to keep my classes on track and still meet the objectives that I originally had planned.  This made me think outside the box a little to try and come up with activities that the students could do on their own.

For example, the Ag Foundations class was to be learning about the major breeds of the beef industry.  I left instructions for them to create their own flash cards with a picture of the breed on one side and then information about the breed as well as the name on the other side.  While writing out the directions for the activity, I realized how hard it is to write out instructions that are clear and concise enough for someone else to explain it.  It was easy for me to map out what the steps were in completing this task, but having to write them out made me think through how to write them so that anyone could follow what my thoughts were. 

The second day that I had to leave sub plans, I knew that both Mrs. Fry and Mr. Swineford would be coving my content.  I still had to leave detailed plans and go over with them what I wanted to occur while I was gone, but it did seem easier that they knew my teaching style and knew me a little to know how I would go through the lesson if I was there.  It was much harder leaving a lesson for someone I had never met or knowing how they teach or their background knowledge.
Selinsgrove Ag Mechanics team at the SUN area contest.  
I now know that when you aren't going to be in class, leaving sub plans can be much harder than just teaching the class myself.  You have to think through and make sure that students will actually be gaining something from the class and that it can be achieved while you are not there.  I in no way am doubting the ability of a substitute teacher.  They have a hard job too, just walking into any classroom they are assigned and having to build relationships with students continuously.  However, I do realize that as Ag Teachers we have a large knowledge base that not everyone else has a strong background in.  This being said it would be unfair to expect any one to walk into my classroom and teacher it just as I would.  That must be why it is so important for Ag teachers to find a substitute that they can use on a regular basis since they tend to miss a few days here and there.  If you have a great sub back at school who you know can get through what you have left, it eases the stress on the teacher.
Selinsgrove Small Gas Engines team, first place!  

Saying all that, this was a very fun week for me as a teacher.  We had several activities in class where I got to see students push themselves and ask some great "Why" questions.  We also had the state officers come visit all of our classes this past week.  I was able to see several students step outside their comfort zones and really step up as leaders within their classes and help their teams rise to victory in the activities the state officers had them perform.  I was also able to travel with the FFA members to the SUN area CDE day.  We had a team compete in each of the CDEs that day; milk quality and products, ag mechanics and small gas engines.  Our teams did a great job in each of their contests and it was a great feeling watching them succeed and the pride they had in the work they had done.  I rounded out the week by heading back to State College to spend some well needed, quality time with the rest of #PSUAGED18 and my Penn State Teach Ag Family!  It was great to finally get to see my cohort members and hear about their experiences in the past 6 weeks.
Selinsgrove Milk Quality and Products Team.  
Heading into week 7, I know that it is going to be a fun and exciting week as it coincides with National FFA Week!  Look for me to share out what unique and fun ways that Selinsgrove FFA celebrates the week and would love to hear how other chapters across the state are celebrating the wonderful week!  
Students getting the "Toxic Popcorn" from one bucket to the other 
without touching it or reaching in the circle.  This was just one of 
the great team building activities the State Officers did!  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Week 5: Student Teaching

And with that, I am already 1/3 of the way done with student teaching!  This makes me so sad and kind of happy all at the same time.  It saddens me to know that we are getting closer to the end of this experience and that it truly is going by so fast.  It does make me excited however, that I indeed have made it this far and now I can look back and see how much I have truly grown from that first day in the classroom to the week 5 mark; I've come so far!

Comfortable in the Classroom
I feel that I definitely am comfortable of being in the classroom and moving about the classroom.  My very first day, I stood in one place the whole time and by two I had already had enough of that and now I think I am only in the front of the classroom when I am giving directions or at the very beginning of class.  I also believe that I am much more comfortable around the students.  I am able to joke with students and nerd out about certain topics around them and they actually joke and nerd out with me.  I am starting to feel that it actually is my classroom!
Students in Ag Foundations doing an Egg Dissection lab to learn 
the parts of an egg.  
The first time we had a fire drill, it ended up cutting ten minutes of time out of my lesson that was planned to take up to the last second of class.  I was thinking "Oh no!  This class is going to be behind and we will have to find time to make it up somewhere!  I don't know how we are going to get back on track!"  Now I am so used to delayed schedules or class interruptions, that we just roll with the punches and I ensure the kids we will get to that next time.  I don't get worked up now when I hear that a kid needs to go down to the office or that there is going to be an assembly during first block, I can't stop if from happening so might as well just learn to work with it.
The dairy foods team practicing the off flavors of milk for their upcoming contest.  

I think I am finally starting to get this pacing thing down a little.  I definitely no where near close to being perfect with it yet but I am getting better for sure!  The first day of teaching I ended up taking twice as long with an activity than I had planned or that it took.  Now I block out the time for lecture and activities and make sure I stick to it that way we can get everything done and so that students aren't doing one thing for too long.
Students making their own total mixed rations
to learn about why each part is essential.  

I know that I still have a long way to go yet but I feel like these past 5 weeks has been a great period of growth for myself.  I can't wait to see what knowledge and skills I gain over the next 9 weeks!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

ACES from the eyes of teacher!

During the weekend of February 3rd, I attended the ACES conference with Mrs. Fry and 8 students from the Selinsgrove FFA chapter.  Going into the weekend, I knew what the kids would be doing
since I had gone all four years with my home chapter while in high school.  However, this time was completely different.  The students asked me in the van, "Miss Fisher what are we going to be doing at ACES?"  I was able to answer this with confidence and I ensured them that they were going to have a great time but as I was answering their questions, I found myself thinking the same thing.  What would I be doing during ACES?  I had never really thought about what the teachers do while the students go off to leadership workshops; I was about to find out! 

Professional Development 
There is always a workshop available for teacher to take part in that counts as professional development.  This year the workshop was offered up by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  They wanted to inform teachers about the opportunities for students to learn about the watersheds in Pennsylvania and how the Bay Foundation can be used as a stepping stone for students to get involved with local sustainability.  We also go to do a hands on portion where we tested waters from local waterways to determine the health of that stream.  

This weekend was a great opportunity for teachers to network with other teachers from across the
state.  In other words, we had time to catch up and chat with other teachers that we might not get to see all the time or talk to them about unique aspects of their programs.  I was able to sit and talk with many veteran teachers about my experience thus far and get tips on how to continue.  

Connecting with Students 
This was the biggest take away that I had from the weekend!  Since we took a relativity small group,
I was able to connect with each student better on a personal level.  I know that this was beneficial!  Since we have been back, I already can see a difference in the relationships that I have with those students and how we are able to connect even more in the classroom.  This also could be because they have a one up on other students since they go to see their student teacher be apart of the teacher karaoke!  Thankfully I knew the song I had to sing and they were able to get a good laugh from it.  

The ACES conference was always one of my all time favorites when I was a FFA member and now as a teacher I can say the same!  This was a absolutely great weekend and the way I was able to connect to other teachers, my cooperating teacher and most importantly my students cannot be replicated in any other way!! 

Week 10: Student Teaching

Oh no!  We have hit week 10, that means that this is slowly coming to an end :(  I don't really want this to end.  I absolutely love my ...