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!! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Student Teaching Reflection: Week 4

Even though it was a short week at school due to a snow day, this week was full of accomplishes, fun activities and a few new lessons learned by students and student teacher.  I have picked up another class this week and now teaching 5 different classes.  I now have 3 sections of Ag Foundations, my 1 section of Building Construction and 1 section of Ag Leadership.  Each of these classes this week pushed me to be creative and innovative with my lesson and I have to say, I am really impressed and happy by what the lessons I did this week.

Building Construction
We have officially started electricity and that means I had to face my biggest fear of student teaching; teaching electrical theory.  I never had any physics classes in high school or was very good at chemistry, so the idea of teaching kids about how electricity flows and where it comes from really scared me.  I knew I had to do this and I knew that once I succeed, it would feel great.  That is exactly what happened!  I did my homework, taught myself about electrical theory and then went in on Tuesday to try and deliver the information to my students.  We needed to go over the basics like what are electrons, build our way up to AC/DC current and finished the day learning about types of circuits. 
Starting to build our circuits!  
Once we knew what a circuit was and the two different types, I challenged students to use the materials supplied (aluminum foil, 9v batteries, Christmas lights, paper and scotch tape) to build their own series and parallel circuits.  This turned out AWESOME! Each student successfully build their circuits and it triggered them to think further and dive deeper.  They started to think, what happens if I add more lights or another battery?  How do you make a combination circuit?  I was so proud of them!! They were so interested and wanted to learn more! I had successfully made it through the first day of electrical theory AND they were actually learning!!!
And they work!!! 
Ag Foundations
I finally was able to get to my favorite lesson for these guys so far this week too!  We have been learning about the swine industry and this week we covered the steps of piglet processing; one of which is ear notching.  So this lead to a conversation about permanent and temporary identification and then students learned how to read ear notches.  We first did some practice with a worksheet but then I wanted to put them to the test.  Each student was assigned a litter number and pig number and was given an amazing pig hat (Thanks to the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau for these great hats btw!!).

They had to demonstrate how to correctly notch the ears and once everyone had their ears notched and hats on, they went around the room and read 8 of their classmates ears.  At the end of the class, they turned in pig hats and a list of who's ears they read and what their notches were.  The students loved this!! I think that it really helped them to learn how to read notches and it was super fun.  They even got to show off their skills to a few guests to the classroom when the superintendent came for a quick visit.  He seemed to think it was really cool and even posted a picture of our activity on the school website!!! (Was super excited when I saw the picture on the website)  This activity did take a good bit of time so I had to make sure we had time to complete it correctly and also had to have pretty good classroom management as the students were really excited and up moving around while doing this.
"Let me read your ears" 

Made it on the school Website!!! 
Ag Leadership
I picked up this class this week and first taught on Thursday.  We are starting off with a unit on Parli Pro and I am going to try and couch a team.   This is something that I had to pull back out of the closet from a long time ago.  With this class I learned that the more that I can connect back to a story I have or something that I have done similarly, the more interested they are.  I started the class just talking about why we need parli pro and what they believed it was.  I wanted to get into the content a good bit before they knew that I had a strong background in this area.  We then watching part of the final rounds for the national contest in October.  The students seemed stunned and shocked at what it really looked like to use parli pro like this.  "We can't do that, it's way too hard."  "No one can do that, you would need to be a genius robot to do this." 

This was when I saw the perfect opportunity to help build their confidence and to connect with them on a more personal level.  I told them of how I did all that and competed in this contest at the National level in 2010.  They wanted to know more about how far did we get, how long did we practice, and so on.  I ensured them that this is something that each of them can do and will do.  Once sharing a little about the ins and outs of the contest, we dove into the chart of motions and created a life size list of things we need to learn like motions, how to debate and duties of the chair.
Life size list of what we know and what we want to know!  

This week was a packed full, short week and a super fun week.  I did have a couple tough classes mixed in the week but I talked with Mrs. Fry and Mr. Swineford and they ensured me that I am still doing a great job, just need to keep pushing through and keep my head up.  There are going to be hard or bad days but that just made me want to make sure that the next block went off with a bang.  I can't believe I am now heading into the 5th week of this crazy, amazing ride!  Check back to see how my weekend at the ACES conference goes; happy weekend everyone!!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Student Teaching: Week 3

I have officially been teaching a week!  I never thought that I would actually get to say that I have finished a week of my student teaching but it has come and gone already!  This week was crazy and hectic but I loved every second of it!! We had two unplanned fire drills and a fundraiser delivery and lots of fun filled lessons.  With this week winding down and coming to a close, I'm walking away with two big lessons learned.

1. Never Under Estimate Anything!
For my building construction class this week, we were learning about how to be safe in the shop and how to respond to emergency situations.  Part of the unit was where students learned about what injuries can happen in the shop and what should we do when an injury occurs.  We also learned some basic first aid skills with this lesson that way if students ever are working at there home or once they graduate and go into the field they will know not to panic and how to help in the situation.  We did two activities with this lesson. 
Learning how to correctly
remove "dirty" gloves.  
The first one was where students learned how to properly take off a pair of non-latex gloves.  I first demonstrated how this is to be done then students practiced a few times on their own.  After mastering the skill, students put their gloves on and I asked them to take them off one last time however this time their gloves were covered in shaving cream.  They had to coat the front and back of their gloved hands with shaving cream and then removed them correctly with out getting the shaving cream on their skin.  The second activity was learning how to bandage a cut simply using a roll of gauze.  Again I demonstrated to do this skill, then in pairs one person would play the role of in injured and the other would bandage them.  Once they showed me their correct bandaging skills, they switched roles and did it again.
How to properly
bandage a wound.  
I knew that if these activities were going to be fun for the students and also was a great way for them to learn these basic skills that are done wrong all the time.  Now this building construction class is a small class of only 10 students but they are all juniors and senior and only one is female.  The rest is teenage boys.  They have been really good for me and hoped that they could make it through the activities but part of me went into the lesson thinking that I was going to have to pull the plug.  I was just waiting for one of them to take that hand covered in shaving cream and smack one of the others or to smear it all over each other.  I also feared that they would try to tie each other up with the gauze or who knows what with it. 
However these guys did great!  They made it through the how class and were very mature but still had fun with it just like I hoped.  That's when I realized that I should never under estimate students.  They will always come out of no where and surprise you in what they know or how they can act.  I am going to make sure that I do a lot more fun activities with this class as they have proven to me that they can handle it!  Great job!!

2. One word ......PACING!
This has been my problem all along.  Even when we would do our teaching labs back on campus, I would have problems with my pacing.  I always take so much longer than I think it will take.  This week I had a super fun activity planned for the Ag Foundations class but we were unable to get to it this week because I took way to long to cover other things during class.  Thankfully we are still going to be able to do it this week so I'm not going to tell you what it is now but you can hear all about it next week :)
I have to start getting a little better at my pacing of the class.  I guess the one good thing is that I never run out of things for the students to do during class, but next week we are going to have to be one point to fit everything in and not slow the class down.  I know that this is something that can take a while to get perfect and really know how to do but I at least acknowledge that it is something that I need to keep an eye on for myself.  I feel like I have my planning down and do a great job of switching up teaching methods but I have got to get a little better at my pacing that way we are able to get to these great things I have planned!

 Going into this week, I am definitely going to work on my pacing and we ARE going to get to do this fun activity that I have had planned for weeks.  Look for my blog next week to see how week 4 went and what kind of adventures we got into at Selinsgrove!!!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Student Teaching: Week 2

And just like that, another week has flown by!  I can't believe I am already at the end of my second week of this experience; time sure does fly when you're having fun!  This week was short for us at Selinsgrove as we had Monday off in reflection of Martin Luther King Day, on Tuesday we had an early dismissal due to weather, and Wednesday we had a snow day.  So we really only had two days of classes this whole week since Tuesday was filled with Keystone Testing before we were left out early, however these were the BEST two days for me! 

I taught for the very first time in these two days.  On Thursday, I taught one class of Ag Foundations and on Friday I taught one class of Building Construction and two classes of Ag Foundations.  This was the most nervous, excited, happy and exhilarated feeling I've ever had and it only makes me want it more!  I wish I could tell you about every second of each of these days but my post would be 10 pages long, so below  I am going to talk about some of the themes I took away from the week and what happened to inspire these themes.

Teachable Moments 
On Thursday, I was going over my classroom procedures, consequences and expectations and I was having the students doing an activity with my expectations poster.  My major expectation of the students is that they always be RESPECTFUL and on my poster each of the letter of respectful stand for another word like responsible, engaged, safe, etc.  I wanted the students to work with their group to use words or pictures to tell me what they think each of those words mean or look like to them. 
Halfway through the activity, one of the students pointed out to me that there was a spelling mistake.  I thought no way, my posters had to be checked off by one of my college professors and I had 3 others of the #PSUAGED18 cohort look at it before I had them printed; no way is there a mistake on them.  Sure enough I look up and instead it says to always be RESECTFUL; there is NO P!
When your students point out your first 
For a second, I felt dumb as a rock in front of these kids but then I just went with it.  I had the students then brainstorm of what they think a good word would be in regards to respect that starts with a P.  They came up with  a lot of good ideas like Patience, Personality, Pace, and Place (there's a time and a place for everything).  Was not at all how I originally intended for that to go but it actually kind of worked really well.  

No only was this week filled with changing up schedules due to testing and snow, I also had to think on my feet and adapt as I went.  The point that sticks out the most of this however would have been when I had to completely remake 80 terminology cards for the Ag Foundations class.  I did an activity with the one class on Thursday where I had general terms associated with the livestock industry on sticky notes around the room.  I grouped students and assigned them a specific species of livestock that they had to find all the terms they believed went with that animal. 
The activity went great and at the end of class I was talking with a student when another student asked if she could help me clean them all up.  I told "Thanks that would be great" and kept talking with the student who was asking me questions.  Well somewhere in all that she must have asked me if she could throw all of the sticky notes away and not thinking I told her yep that would be fine; completely forgetting that I needed those exact cards to do the same activity twice the next day.  The best part was that I didn't even realize the mistake until I was on my way into school the next morning. 
Trying to redo everything for class
in only 20 minutes!  
I made it to school and had 20 minutes before my first block started to remake all 80 of these sticky notes.  At this point I realized I had 10 sticky notes left at my desk.  So I simply had to make little slips of paper with the terms on and they were laid around the room instead of stuck up with sticky notes.  The students never even knew that they had a slightly different activity but I was surprised that I was able to pull it off in time for class and that it all still ran smoothly.  

I was in the middle of an ice breaker game with my last new group of students for the week on Friday afternoon when one of my students raises his hand.  I acknowledged him and asked what he would like to share.  He looked up at me and said "Miss. Fisher I can tell that you are going to be a really good student teacher.  Other student teachers that we have had in our other classes usually just stand at the back of the room, really awkwardly and can't ever really talk to us.  You aren't afraid to get up in front of us and really talk to us, not above us but really want to know us so I think that you are going to do good and have fun."
This was exactly what I needed to hear at this point in the week because I had just did my first day lesson with four classes, none of which I was able to do the exact same way with, and wasn't sure how the students were taking me so far.  Mrs. Fry and Mr. Swineford were letting me know that I was really doing a good job so far but hearing from one of the students just really made me feel like I was doing a good job and that I am going to be able to do this!
When you get your first teaching compliment from your students 
and you try to keep your composure.  

I hope I can keep up the good work and continue to gain the respect from the students!  I truly think that my first week went really well and think that together, the students and I have a lot of fun and interesting weeks ahead of us!  Tune in next week to hear how lessons on shop safety, dairy cattle and the swine industry go over with the students at Selinsgrove :)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Student Teaching Reflection: Week One

I can't believe that week one is already over!  Everyone told me that the time was going to fly by and they sure were right.  This week was full of field trips, observations and new experiences.

Officially part of 
Selinsgrove now!
Two different days this week, I traveled to the Pennsylvania Farm Show with the chapter.  If you would like to read more about my day spend there, please feel free to read my blog

The rest of the week, I was able to be in Mrs. Fry's and Mr. Swineford's classrooms and start to get a feel for the kids and their teaching styles.  This week was a bit crazy though.  There was Keystone testing everyday, which meant that the students were on a modified schedule for the rest of the day.  The nice part about that was that each day, the students who weren't testing were sent to their assigned classroom for about 2 hours in the morning. 

This was a great time for me to really get to know and connect with the classes that I will be starting to teach this week.  I was able to sit down, get to know the students on a personal level, and see them in their natural state.  I really don't want student to act any different just because I am now teaching.  So I think this time will be very beneficial in the long run.

With it being the end of the marking period, all of Mrs. Fry's classes are working on finishing up their projects and presentations.  I have been able to see so many cool things with the Vet Science class like how to give a ferret a bath, how to trim a hamster's toenails and how to tattoo a rabbit.  Each of the students in this class had to either record and show a video of a skill demonstration or they have the option to bring their pet in and showcase the skill live.

One of the live demonstrations; 
tattooing a rabbit.  
I was also able to listen to the freshman classes do speech presentations.  Each student had the option to either do a 3-5 minute speech or to do the creed.  Hearing the kids do the creed, took me all the way back to when I competed in the Creed contest.  I wasn't able to advance past the county area but I still was able to step into these students' shoes as they talked about how hard it was to memorize it.

I am curious to see if the week will go as fast as this past one did.  I am super excited to start the week as I will be starting two different classes.  On Wednesday, I start with the Ag Foundations classes which are all freshman.  I get to teach 3 different groups of students in this class and we will be starting the Animal Science Unit. 

Then on Thursday, I will start the with the new class of Building Construction Students.  I get to start with this group on their very first day of the class and I will teach them everyday while the Ag Foundations class is every other day.  I am nervous but anxious all at the same time and can't wait to tell you how it goes!  Look for my next blog to hear how my first day of teaching goes!!!

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...