Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Life Knowledge Reflection

On Monday, November 21st I was able to spend the day at Selinsgrove High School with Mrs. Fry and Mr. Swineford.  This was a great opportunity to get to talk with both of them about the fast approaching, spring semester that I will be spending with them but I also was able to finally get to teach a lesson to my future students!
Students working together to Save Sammy!  An activity that uses
a gummy worm, gummy ring, a cup and paper clips to promote
team work and problem solving skills. They had a lot of fun with this activity! 
 Our teaching lab task this week was to take one of the Life Knowledge lessons that National FFA offers and teach to at least one of the classes at our cooperating center.  The Life Knowledge lessons are a great guide to teach student skills that they will be able to utilize through out their life.  I liked parts of these lessons but I do feel as though they truly are a guide for lessons.  They are still high quality but they also give you the flexibility to add or subtract parts of the lesson or to adapt them to your type of teaching style. The lessons that I chose to use were both on problem solving.
Students working on a complex riddle/puzzle.  This activity was
to show students that every piece of the puzzle is crucial to the solution
just like a problem, you need to have all of the information to solve it. 
 These lessons tied in perfectly with what the class was currently learning in the class.  I taught the Ag Leadership class which is a combination of 13 students of differing grades.  They had just finished up with a unit and my lesson was the introduction to the problem solving unit.  The lesson was filled with all types of activities to get students thinking of what are the steps in solving a problem and how do we solve a problem effectively as a group.  Overall, I think the lesson went well and I personally feel that I was well received by the students, hopefully that feeling is right!  Below are some of the things that stuck out a gems from the lessons and some opportunities that I believe could have went better.
Students participating in a skit that showcased how a group might not
work well together.  They each said that they have been a part of a grou
that did not work well and had someone who didn't want to contribute.
They realized that these types of group members are only going to cause more problems.  
*I think I did a great job of using a large variety of teaching techniques through out the lesson.  There were group activities, open discussion, a skit, and a little bit of lecturing.
*I think I was able to keep most of the students' attention and kept them on their toes.
*I had a lot of thought provoking questions.
*Classroom management was pretty good could have been a little better but for most part I think I was able to keep students under control and on task.  (Will talk further in opps about this as well)
*My pacing was very good during this lesson!  I was able to teach bell to bell, fit in my bellwork and ticket out and still cover all of the aspects of the lesson.
*I always forget to post or write my objectives for the day!  I HAVE to remember to do this from here on out!
* I feel that I relied on my notes a little much for my liking but was told in my feedback that I did not use them excessively or make them distracting.  However, if I am going to use notes I need to stop laying them down and loosing them.     
*I needed to work on integrating technology better, especially since Selinsgrove is a one-to-one school where each student has technology readily available to them. This lesson didn't really lead itself to using technology at first glance but I should have thought of something to utilize it.  I definitely need to remember this for future lessons.
*I needed to keep all students engaged at all times.  I had one student who kind of checked out during part of the lesson and I didn't want to push my boundaries yet so I didn't push back too hard.  I should have asked questions that would have got the student engaged again.

I really do think that this lesson went well overall!  I can't wait until I get to teach this group and all the other classes at Selinsgrove here very soon.  Spending this day with the students, teaching and getting to talk more with Mrs.Fry and Mr. Swineford makes me wish I could start sooner! 
My cooperating teacher, Mrs. Valerie Fry and myself!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Macro Reflections on Micro Teaching

The week of November 13th, was a new and fun experience for all the members of the PSUAgEd 2018 cohort.  We had the chance to go into a classroom and teach for three consecutive days.  Up to this point all of our experiences teaching was either in a mock classroom made up of our cohort members or in a workshop setting for only 2 hours.  This time we actually were able to teach a class of students for three days in a row.  My experience was at Bellwood-Antis High School with Mr. Webreck's classes.  I was starting the class on their new unit; the dairy industry.  Mr. Webreck told me I could go in any direction I wanted to with this.     
Monday, November 13th 
This was the first day of the process.  Monday was the day that I was able to just go and observe the class that I would be in charge of for the next few days.  The class that I taught was a class of eight sophomores.  They were wrapping up a lessons on how to use a compass this day and I was able to see each student's true personality while they were doing an activity outside.  I knew that weren't going to be too bad but definitely had a few students to keep an eye on for the rest of the week. 
Tuesday, November 14th 
This was it!  This was my first day of teaching this group of students that I knew nothing about.  Were they going to already know everything I was about to teach them?  Were they going act out the entire time or even worse were they going to just sit there like bumps on a log and not participate?  All of these thoughts flew through my head as the clock quickly ticked to 12:30.  Looking back now, I am not sure why these I was thinking these things because the class went really well.  They participated, they seemed engaged and willing to learn.  I did have one student who kept wanting to put his head down but  I feel like I did a good job of individually calling on him to answer a question which made him pick up his head and stay engaged.  One downfall of the day was that I went way too fast.  I flew through the material and the students ended up having 3-4 minutes at the end with nothing to do.  Pacing is always a thing I need to improve upon.
Wednesday, November 15th 
After noticing I had extra time the day before, I changed up my lesson for Wednesday hoping to have more for students to do and to teach bell to bell.  Unfortunately, I planned a little too much and was unable to get through everything; can't find the perfect balance yet.  During this class, though I really like the activities I had students do and put a lot of the responsibility on them.  I gave each student a step of the cheese making process that they had to capture information on through out a video they watched.  I put more of the work on them instead of me just lecturing them on the process.  Students seemed to like this activity.  I definitely was able to teach bell to bell this time but there was so much more that I wanted to cover.
Thursday, November 16th 
My final day of teaching at Bellwood- Antis!  This I think was my best day yet!  I had students think about what goes into marketing products and they each created a new flavor of ice cream.  I was able to get lots of student participation during the short lecture and then I had them up and moving to make their poster of their flavors.  I also rounded out the day with a short quiz on what they had learned in the past two days.  I gave them 10 minutes to complete this quiz and then I them one magical minute to use their notes they had captured earlier in the week. 
The BAHS students' poster of the new Berkey Creamery flavors!  

I had an absolute blast during my micro teaching experience at Bellwood-Antis High School.  I was able to learn a lot during this time like how to get my timing and pacing more accurate and how to manage a classroom of high school students.  At the end my experience, I asked students if they would give me some feedback and tell me how I had done.  I am pleased to say that all of the students were very satisfied with my teaching!  I was sad to walk away from the class at the end of three days, I feel like I was just starting to connect with the students and getting to know each of them.  This just makes me extra eager to start my student teaching in the spring!!
Ms. Becker and I leaving our last day of micro teaching!  

Friday, November 10, 2017

IBI Lesson Reflection

This week our task was to teach a lesson using inquiry based instruction.  With how much I was struggling to grasp what IBI was truly about last week, I feel like this lab did not go terrible.  I do feel that I could have done better but there is always something that we all can improve upon each week.

My lesson was about artificial insemination in cattle and how it differs from conventional breeding.  The students would be forming their own hypothesis and then testing as well as collecting data and forming a conclusion.  The experiment was that they would be constructing two reproductive tracks out of balloons, rubber bands and life saver mints.  Next they would try to pour sprinkles into one balloon and the other balloon they would pour the sprinkles down a straw that has been inserted.  Which balloon has more sprinkles that made it into the bottom?  That is the method that will result in a high conception rate as the sprinkles are bypassing trying to weave through the lifesavers and rubber bands.

I though this was a super fun lab and the students seemed to have lots of fun doing it but I still think there were some things I could have done differently or better.


  • Was a super fun, hands on lab for students 
  • Thought I had good enthusiasm 
  • Tried to make all of my questions opened and not just a yes/no answer like when asking who has questions instead of are there any questions


  • Should have had students label the balloons that 
  • I had an example balloon made up ahead of time and I completely forgot to pull it out and show students what it was to look like when they were questioning it.  
  • I need to stop using my go to filler word of UMM! I need to get better at this! 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

National Convention through the Eyes of Future Teacher!

National FFA Convention has come and gone for another year and I am finally coming back down to reality after a week packed full of fun!  I always love going to the National Convention and getting to engage in all of the tours and sessions that they offer.  This actually made my sixth Convention that I have attended and I have to say that it was one of the most best trips yet

This year I was able to travel with the Selinsgrove FFA chapter.  It was a small group of six students along with Mrs. Fry and myself.  This was the first time that I had made the long drive in a school van which was a great time for me to bond with my future students and with Mrs. Fry.  The best part was that these students were completely themselves around me.  I was really afraid that they were going to be stiff and not feel free to be relaxed around me but thankfully I was wrong.  This gives me a little bit of a confidence boost going into the spring as I now know six faces in the room who are going to act comfortable around me; hopefully the rest of the class will too! 
This trip allowed for me to see the Convention through a whole new set of eyes!  Once we arrived in Indianapolis, Mrs. Fry asked if I would like to go in and get our registration badges.  My first teacher task of the week!  I had heard about how difficult this was for other teachers earlier in the week and as I walked towards the registration room, panic set in.  "What if I end up standing in line for an hour, everyone is waiting in the van?"  "What if they need to know a number or information I don't know?"  Thankfully, I walked right through the doors and returned minutes later with 8 badges in my hand.  Even if there would have been a problem with the registration, I learned that the people behind the desk will get you what you need.  

Thursday was a day filled with moments where I was learning how to be an effective teacher and advisor at National Convention.  We started the day by attending the Opening Session.  I think that if you are taking students all the way to National Convention you need to have student go to at least one session, if you have the change go to more!  The feeling in the room during the sessions is like electricity, all those students there because they are passionate about agriculture!  After the session had ended, I talked with the students a little about what they thought about session and what did they take away from the keynote speaker.  Reflection for students is always best so that they are able to think about what they are seeing and how it is impacting them.  It doesn't have to be anything formal but just asking "Hey how did you like it, what was your favorite part?"  is a great way for them to reflect about what they had just seen.
Off to Career Show and Expo Hall!  This was where my mind was about to be blown.  We spent two days in the career show, which in my mind you need to.  That place is so big and filled with so many different stands, you could never do it all in one afternoon!  Between the two days, Selinsgrove students had to attend at least one of the workshops offered for FFA members.  I will definitely use this in the future.  It is important for the members to engage in some professional development for themselves and they get to meet some new people from across the nation!  I feel like the Career show is like Christmas for teachers!  There are tons of stands just waiting to give you curriculum and free samples.  I came home with bags FULL of new ideas and resources that I can use for the rest of my career!  If you are able, teachers should also take full advantage of the workshops offered!  Again, really great ideas and resources come out of those workshops; all for free!  

The Career Success Tours offered through National FFA are great!  Our tour was of CNH which is the parts and service depot for all Case and New Holland tractors and equipment.  This was the first time I had went on a tour that was offered by National FFA and it was so interesting!  As a future teacher, I will not only try to get a Career Success tour but I will also take advantage of all the other tours and attractions that city has to offer.  There are so many places around Indianapolis to visit but there are also a lot of great places to tour and visit on the drive to and from Pennsylvania.  Things fill up fast, so I realize that planning ahead is vital.  Something for me to keep in mind is to make sure that the kids are picking at least one thing that they are interested in touring or doing on the trip.  The amount of student ownership will sky rocket and they will want the trip to be super successful if they have a hand in helping to plan it. 

With a good night's sleep and a full tank of gas, we headed back to Pennsylvania with memories of the week whirling in our heads.  It had came and gone so fast!  This National Convention is one that I will always remember because it was the first experience that I was able to have with my students and as a true part of Selinsgrove!  I came away from the week feeling like I was ready to take on the world and wanted so badly to be able to go back to Selinsgrove and start teaching.  I can't thank Mrs. Fry and the Selinsgrove FFA enough for letting me tag along for this adventure!  I "feel like a seal" and am super excited to see what other adventures and events I will be able to experience with Selinsgrove on my journey!  

Week Investment 10: Managing my Classroom

As I prepare to begin my student teaching experience, I realize that my success is going to ride on a few very important factors.  One of those factors is classroom management!  You can create the most interesting and unique lesson but if you have poor classroom management, it will never work out the way that you planned.  Having clear classroom expectations, keeping students engaged in an exciting lesson, and being consistent will help keep your classroom in tip top shape.

One of our very first assignments of the semester was to create our own classroom expectations and a list of consequences.  I have learned that these need to presented on the very first day and each student needs to completely understand what each one means.  You can easily refer back to those expectations when a behavior arises.  Simply telling students "Let's look back at our classroom expectations, are you being respectful of everyone right now?"  This is a good way to remind them and all students of what everyone is expected to do in your classroom.  The second part is consequences.  Usually a warning or referral back to the expectations would be a good first consequence but after that they will need to line up with school rules unless your school gives you the freedom to have your own consequences in your room.  Either way, an important thing to remember is that consequences are not meant to show how harsh of punishment you as a teacher can give.   With both expectations and consequences presented very clear and right at the beginning will help the rest of year run much more smooth.

Another great way to keep a class under control is to have exciting and engaging lessons.  If the students are so interested in what they are learning, then there should not be many issues with students acting out.  We all know that if we our attention is focused on something really fun and interesting, we are less likely to think about things such as how can I act out in class.  

When my students are too engaged to misbehave!

Finally, we as teachers need to make sure that we are completely consistent when we do enforce our consequences.  Students will never respect you if you let one person off for a behavior that someone else did earlier and go in trouble for.  We have all seen this happen at one point in our lives.  Where the "bad kid" of the class will do something and get sent to the office for it but if a "good student" did the exact same thing, they just get a warning.  The first time that you let this happen as a teacher, your students immediately realize that the expectations and consequences mean nothing.  Set your rules and stick to them!  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Weekly Investment 9:Inquiring about Inquiry Based Instruction

As I travel on this journey,  I keep learning about new and different methods and techniques of teaching.  The past few weeks I have felt like a sponge just absorbing up all of the information being presented to us and the gears in my head start to turn thinking about how I am not only going to be using these methods and techniques in the spring as I student teach but also how I will use them down the road as the educator in my own classroom. 
So far we have learned about things that I know I will end up using more than other techniques such as lecturing, in class discussions, both forked road and effect/cause problem solving approach, and all types of sheets but I know that I need to stretch myself and reach to use other techniques to help my student grow as learners.  A great way to add variety to the class and to really help develop students' critical thinking skills is through inquiry based instruction (IBI). 
This week were are really digging deep into inquiry based instruction and I have to admit that thus, far I am kind of confused about it.  I have only one experience using IBI prior to this week was a lesson that a group of the cohort members taught while we were on the Penn State Teach Ag Domestic Study Away to Wisconsin this past summer.  It was a time for us to get our feet wet and to really just touch the tip of the huge iceberg when it come to IBI. 
We also did problem solving approach a few weeks ago and in my mind I though that inquiry was going to be almost identical to problem solving, the only thing different being that inquiry does not have a set in stone correct answer.  I though that inquiry was when you pose a question to students that could end up having a variety of correct answers as long as you have the evidence to support your answer. 
That being said, this week's readings have  my mind kind of flip upside down.  As I went through the readings and the way that they organized the information, I am now having a hard time differentiating IBI from an experiment.  I know that  they must different however I am hoping that by the end of the week I will be better able to categorize exactly what makes IBI different from both experiments and problem solving approach. 
All teachers start to become comfortable with a few techniques that they used over and over.  I want to be a teacher who can always pull the tray out of my toolbox and find something new and interesting that will engage my students. It might take me a little to completely understand and be able to successfully utilize IBI but I know at some point, I will be able to reach down into my toolbox of methods and pull out an amazing lesson that is completely IBI centered. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Surprise! It's reflection time!

This week our lab was a little different than what we have been doing.  This week was our Surprise Lab!  We knew we were going to have lab, we just didn't know what we had to teach until Monday morning.  We each were given a set of AFNR standards that we had to formulate a lesson around in it in about 30 hours.  Then we taught the lesson in a 10-15 minute chunk of time.  This lab was very similar to what we had to do our very first week where we were given a topic on Monday and taught it on Wednesday.  I think this time was so much easier than the first time we taught!  The very first week, it took me until the second I taught to have my lesson finalized and still felt like I wasn't ready to teach the subject.  I also felt like I had to teach everything so fast and felt like students weren't able to learn anything in the first lab but now that we have been working on all of these skills over the past several weeks, this lab was much more simple to put together.  This lab was a great way for us as students to realize that sometimes things are going to pop up for us to do that were not planned and we will just have to go with the flow and still get everything prepared.  Not everything in life is going to go as planned and as teachers we need to be able to adapt to so many different things like a new student adding the class, a snow day, a class assembly, etc.  I think this lab was extremely beneficial to us so that we can do exactly that and start to learn to work on our toes as well as it serving as a great way for us to reflect on how far we have come in such a short amount of time.

Below are some of my gems and opps from this week's lesson: 


  • I think I am becoming really creative with my interest approaches.  I could be wrong but I feel like I have some unique and creative ways to introduce my content and get students interested in what they are about to learn.  
  • I was not stressed or freaked out by the actual surprise.  I knew that it was going to challenge us but I also knew that this was going to be similar to what we had already done early on in the semester.  
  • I was able to create a satisfactory lesson plan in a short amount of time.  
  • I was really strong in the content area so I was confident in what I was about to teach the students.  

  • I post the objectives on the board but I never verbal told the class what we would be going over. 
  • I should not have asked the question about if everyone had a home because some students might not. 

Life Knowledge Reflection

On Monday, November 21st I was able to spend the day at Selinsgrove High School with Mrs. Fry and Mr. Swineford.  This was a great opportuni...