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. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

#AEE412 Weekly Investment 8: Individual Teaching Techniques

This week we are finally getting to read about individual teaching techniques!  We learned about group teaching a few weeks ago and then our readings took us down a short path about problem solving approaches and assessments but now we have came back around to find out what individual teaching looks like. 

After reading, I have realized that individual teaching is just as important as group teaching.  This type of technique helps students learn how to evaluate and analyze information presented to them as well as promoting independent working strategies.  Individual teaching is also a great way to add variability to your lessons because as we know, group work is fun most of the time but you can only do so much with group work until you just need to go back to individual work. That way students are able to show what they personally know and don't have to rely on others to help them to convey it.  There are 5 categories of individual teaching techniques that you as the teacher can implement to an entire class or to a select student(s).  These 5 categories are: Supervised Study, Independent Study, Experiments, Notebooks, and Sheets (Informational, Assignment, or Skill).  Below I am going to reflect on each type a litter deeper and talk about how I would implement each type in my classroom.

Supervised Study: This is a way for students to learn the basic steps in how to use reference materials.  They are using resources around them to find the information instead of the teacher "spoon feeding" the students all the information needed to complete the assignment.  This is a great way to give both the teacher and the students a break from lecturing.  I find it much more fun to find information on my own then to have someone tell me what I need to be learning.  If I am able to explore the subject and the content on my own, I will be able to spark an interest much faster then if I am going to be lectured on the information.  This would be a great way for students to research types of milking facilities, which fertilizers should be applied to corn, or what is the best breed of cattle to milk for the most butterfat content in milk?  

Experiment:  Experiments are always a great way for students to learn weather in groups or individually.  With experiments there is a high degree of real involvement and hence interest. Students who are actually involved in their learning learn more and better.  I think that there are endless opportunities for experiments in an ag program.  You could see how animals react to different supplements in feed, you could apply different amounts of fertilizer to plants in the greenhouse and record the growth rates, you could even do experiments in the leadership classes about how self confidence and a great first impression make a difference.   

Independent Study: Independent Study is simply where the research and work is being done by an individual student on their own.  Both supervised studies and experiments can be turned into an independent study very easily.  It is also easy to look to a student who has completed all other work for the class session or lesson and assign them an independent study.  This is time for the student to pull from their own interests and research further into that interest using intrinsic motivators; they want to learn about it because they like it.  This truly could be anything since it is student driven.  

Notebooks:  Notebooks can be a great teaching tool but also a headache.  If students use the notebooks effectively and efficiently then they should work great.  Students are able to keep them organized, write down important notes from the lesson, or any questions they may have that can be addressed later if need be.  A well kept notebook could also be utilized by students later in the class like during a test if the teacher provides a 2 minute window of time to use the notes on the test.  When students don't write anything down, don't keep them organized or if the teacher is not presenting information in a way that students are able to easily capture notes then the notebook is pointless.  We use notebook now as college students in our AEE 412 class and I find them extremely helpful.  It gives me enough space to write out as many notes as I need or I have space to draw pictures/symbols to help me remember.  I also like that each page is dated so that I am able to go back and reference what we discussed on a specific date.  

Sheets:  There are 3 different kinds of sheets that can be used in a classroom; informational, assignment and skills.  I think all of these are extremely important and helpful during instruction.  Informational sheets are great when you would like for students to read over the sheet provided and then answer a few questions about what they read or this could be a sheet that has a picture of a pig and all the names of the body parts.  Anything that is providing information to students that can later be used.  Assignment sheets could be used as homework or could be a sheet of questions that need to be answered as students watch a video.  Finally skill sheets are huge in activities that are hands on.  These would be utilized in a shop setting where students need to be able to complete the skills on the sheet by a certain time period.  I can see myself using all three types very much in the future.  

In the end you as a teacher can use all of these techniques or just stick to one that you really like.  The important thing is that your students are able to gain skills and confidence in working independently and when they are finally able to apply those skills and confidence; you feel on top of the world!  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Solving the Problem with Problem Solving Approach

We have been learning all about the Problem Solving Approach in our classes the last few weeks and had the chance to show what we have learned by teaching a 20 minute lesson.  We have only been teaching for a max of 10 minutes up to this point so this was already a huge change for us.  Before, I was never able to accomplish all that I wanted in 10 minutes so I though that with 20 minutes it would be easy to fit everything in.  I was wrong.  I still felt like I was running through my lesson just to fit everything in.  Part of this is because we were teaching with the Problem Solving Approach so we had to leave enough time for students to be given a question or problem to work through and then also for them to actually work through the problem.

My problem solving approach lesson was focused on a problem that would arise in a Horticulture Class.  The question that I posed to students was "Which plants do we grow for the spring plant sale?"  This is a question that fits into the Possibilities/Factors type of Problem Solving. 

I went into the lesson feeling extremely nervous because I still wasn't sure if my lesson fit into Problem Solving.  I was nervous but I went into it thinking "It's okay because I am not suppose to be a master of this yet.  If I get it completely wrong, it's still going to be just fine I will just have to try harder the next time."  After it was all over I felt like it went okay.  I knew it wasn't perfect but I knew that I tried my hardest and it wasn't a complete fail.  I think that this lesson was a huge step in the right direction for me and I know that there will only be more to come in the upcoming weeks.  I can't wait to see where we will beheaded next in our PSU TeachAg Journeys! 

Below are listed some of my gems and opps for this lesson. 


  • Really like the idea of my problem for the students of which plants we should grow for the plant sale.  
  • Also love that this was a real life problem that can be applied in many ag programs across the nation.  
  • I think I did a good job of making sure to talk to every student through out the lesson.  
  • I need to remember to watch and check the time more often while teaching so that I am better able to gauge where myself and the students are in the lesson.
  • I also need to remember to read the bell work out loud.  This is not something we have to do but I feel that it is better to read to the students as a sign that they need to prepare for the class.  

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 ...