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. 

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.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

#AEE 412 Weekly Investment 6: Assessments

This week our readings were all about assessment!  This could not have come at a more perfect time as I have just received my first unit plan back with feedback in relation to assessments.  I only had planned for a summative unit assessment and had no formative assessments planned.  Through that feedback and the readings this week, I feel much more confident in making more assessments with less questions.  My unit assessment was a very long and complex test which I was worried would be too much for students but wasn't sure how else to check for understanding.  I now know that there are many, many ways that I am able to assess student learning.  I will definitely be going back and added more formative assessments to my unit such as quizzes, and task sheets at the completion of my lessons.

Assessments need to be directly related to lesson objectives and the information that was presented in the lessons.  I now know that I need to be testing my students on what they have actually learned and what they are able to perform.  It makes no sense to teach my students at a lower level of Bloom's Taxonomy and expect them to be tested at a high level.  Assessments need to be grounded on the level at which the information has been presented because you also don't want to do the opposite and test at a low level while teaching at a high level.  All assessments need to be fair to the students in the sense that they should not be tested on information or tasks that you know that they will not be able to complete successfully.

No one ever said that all assessments, both summative and formative, have to be in the form of a test.  For many classes the best way to assess what the student has learned is through presenting information gained or performing a task.  These are great for lessons such as welding, electricity, small gas engines and woodworking in an Ag Mechanics class.  This is also great to use for projects in animal and plant science classes by having students do projects on breeds or plants/livestock, types of greenhouses, and integrated pest management.  This assessment would be reflected through a rubric.  Rubrics are a great way for students to successfully show what they have learned!  You present a rubric to students at the beginning of the lesson and tell them that by the end they will need to be able to perform these tasks or present this information.  Students know from the start what they need to be working towards and are able to know exactly what you are expecting from them.  This helps cut down on situations like this : 

Instead, students are able to jump right into work with less confusion and ready to succeed.  
Below is a great info graphic that helped me to differentiate between the types of assessments.  It really helped me to understand what formative assessments are and how they can be used within the lesson. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

#AEE 412 Week Investment #6: Problem Solving Approach

This week we have been committed to learning about the problem solving approach of teaching.  I think thus far, this has been one of the hardest concepts to grasp.  It should be easy to understand, as the main idea of the problem solving approach is for students to in fact solve a problem however I realized that it is a bit more complex than that.

We have learned that there are four different strategies of problem solving approach: forked road, possibilities/factors, situation to be improved upon, and effect-cause.  I was having a hard time wrapping my head around these strategies and how to differentiate between each. It took me a while but I think I finally found a way to help guide me in the right direction when thinking about what each strategy is focused on.  I came up with an essential question that helps me to form the problems that are associated with each.  Below is an image of the strategies and the correlating question that I have found to help.

This image defiantly helps me to link what types of questions and problems to each types of strategy but I am still struggling a little with a different aspect of problem solving approach.  We have to write a lesson plan this week for this approach and I quickly was able to come up with my problem and was able to identify which strategy it fell under, however my problem now is I'm not sure how to fill the rest of the lesson.  

Can a problem solving approach lesson fill 90 minutes?  If so what kind of content to you build around it?  If you teach content around the problem solving, would it fall under an informative lesson instead of a managerial one?  I have learned so much yet I still have so many questions.  If anyone has any tips or great examples of how you use the problem solving approach in your classroom, I would LOVE to for you to comment about it below!!

Monday, September 25, 2017

First Unit Plan Reflection

I have recently prepared my first unit plan for the classes I will teach during student teaching.  This unit if for the Ag Foundations class which is a class that all ninth graders take at Selinsgrove High School.  All classes are block schedule and will be 90 minutes in length.  The Ag Foundations class is where students will be introduced to many different industries in Agriculture like Forestry, Food Science, Welding and Plant Sciences.  This unit plan is for my Animal Science unit where I will be going over main breeds of livestock of five species.  These species are chosen by students interest and also reflect the local industries that are strong in Snyder county.  I also included lessons about the basics of livestock judging, meat quality and proper injections.  Below I have listed some of my concerns for the lesson and some of the things I believe that I did well in the plan. 


  • Do I have enough planned to fill 90 minutes 
  • Do I need to have more activities planned
  • Do I need to have more objectives for each lesson 
  • Do I need to add anything to the lesson/ remove from the lesson 
  • I really like the format I used to lay out my lessons, but might need to change format for rest of plan 
  • I really like the content that I am going to cover in the unit (Think I am covering some real fun/interesting topics) 
  • I really like my unit assessment, I made this test from scratch and think that it covers a lot of information from the unit 
  • I really like my reasoning for this unit  
Many of my successes and concerns were brought up in my feedback.  I actually had many people review my unit plan and give me feedback.  A lot of my feedback helped me with my length of lessons.  I think that as I learn more about pacing I will be able to better understand how much to plan for in each lesson.  I also think that some of my lessons may need a little extra added while other lessons are really full.  I think that I just need to shift some of my topics around to have it spread out well.  I had a lot of positive comments both on my layout as well as my assessment.  This makes me feel great because I put a lot of time into my assessment and making sure I am testing on the important information.  I think that as I go forward in planning units, I will only get better and learn more about how to effectively prepare a plan.  

Interesting points on my Interest Approach

This week our lab session was to demonstrate an interest approach.  I chose to do my interest approach for a lesson on the basics of livestock judging.  In livestock judging, you are usually presented with four animals that you then have judge.  This is exactly what I wanted my students to do in my interest approach but instead of showing them four animals, I gave them four oreos.  What I did was give each student 1 perfect regular Oreo, 1 regular Oreo that had half of the top cookie broken off, 1 min Oreo that had half of the top cookie broke off, and finally a regular Oreo that was only the bottom cookie.  I then asked the students to rank the cookies based on quality.  I asked them too look at the cookies and take notice if the entire cookie was there, were the cookies broken etc.  All of the students has placed the perfect Oreo first and the cookie that only had the bottom cookie last.  They two cookies in the middle though were different for each student depending on their taste.  You could truly rank these two cookies either regular over mint or mint over regular you would just need to defend it by saying that you "personally prefer one over the other because..."  That was a overview of my lesson altogether but below you will find a list of my gems and opps for the lesson.  I really like my interest approach and could find this working great in an actual class setting.  The added benefit is that at the end of the interest approach the students are free to eat the cookies!  Please feel free to leave any comments on how you think this would work in a class or if I should change anything up!! Thanks :)


  • Students were engaged and interested in what we were going to do with the cookies 
  • Students were able to rank the cookies as I hoped the would 
  • Feel that I dealt with issues well 

  • Bellwork took way too long -should have only had them do one type of species 
  • Time ran out before students were able to talk about why they ranked their cookies the way they did 
  •   Gave Students less time to judge the cookies 

#AEE412 Weekly Investment #5 Effective Questions

This week through the readings, I learned about effective questioning in the classroom.  Questioning your students is crucial to determining if they are absorbing the information you present to them during lectures and discussions.  I have always been a little worried about questioning though.  I never want to pose a question too hard that they feel dumb or can't answer but I also don't want to ask a question that is too simple or below their level.  Through the reading however, I have learned that either scenario isn't necessarily a bad thing.

When you pose a question to the class and there is no response, this could mean two different things.  1.  No one feels comfortable answering or 2. They did not learn the information required to answer.  Both solutions come back to you as a teacher and are able to fixed.  If no one feels comfortable answering, then  you as a teacher need to address the classroom atmosphere and get the students to help you understand what a more relaxed environment would be for them to feel as though they could feel confident in answering.  If they do not posses the information to answer the question, this probably means that you as the teacher had an off day and didn't do a good job teaching it.  Do not take it personally!  There is always going to be a time where you could have presented the information in a better or more clear way.  This just means that you are going to have to say "Okay guys, I did not do a good job of explaining this.  How about we go back and try this again?"  Does not mean that you as a teacher or them as students have failed, you just need to adjust and try again.

When you start to wonder if questions are too easy or basic, you just need to relate back to your objectives and the content that you had taught.  For each object for the day, you should easily be able to associate at least 2-3 questions that are able to be answered through the content.  If not, maybe you should re-evaluate your objectives or how you are teaching the lesson.  Also if you start to feel if you questions are too simple, maybe shift to a higher level open ended question.  If you usually ask questions in your class that are closed ended, meaning that they only have a right or wrong answer, shift your questions to more open ended; these have no right or wrong answer.  For example:  A closed ended question would be "What are the parts of the flower?"  This only has a right or wrong answer where students would need to list the parts of a flower.  An open ended question for the same content would be "What do you think the most important part of a flower and why?"  The students will still need to know what they parts of a flower are and how they work but it pushes the minds to the next level.

Learning how to rephrase questions and the difference between closed ended and open ended questions makes me think back to when we learned about Bloom's Taxonomy.  Through effective questioning you can easily take your students from the lower level of knowledge to advancing to the higher levels of applying and analyzing.  I found a very helpful resource that connects questioning to Bloom's that I will share in the resources listed below.  It helped me to realize that by pairing effective questions with clear objectives should lead to the success of a lesson!


Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence. (2015). Using Effective Questions. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

AEE 412 Weekly Investment #4: Teaching to a group!

This week's reading have lead us to dive deeper into thinking about how to approach an informational lesson which lines up perfectly as this week we are tasked with writing our first informative lesson.  As I sat and brainstormed this weekend about what information I would like to cover in this lesson, I noticed that a lot of the lesson was going to consist of me just presenting the information to the students.  I don't want for me to just be dumping information onto the students so thankfully the readings were able to help me think a little deeper and gave me some great ideas.  As I read, I also couldn't help but think back over my education over the years and realized that most of my teachers used some of these techniques at some point or another.  When students hear the word group work, we usually think of it as a punishment but now I see that the teachers put us into these groups only to help us learn the content much better.  If they would have just stood in the front of the room and talked about it instead of making us think about the information and work together to understand it, I would have just tuned them and not have learned anything.  I hope that I am able to help my students absorb content more efficiently by incorporating collaborative learning into my classroom by utilizing many of the ideas listed within our readings this week.

Our other reading this week talked about effective objectives for students and the importance of having objectives for every lesson.  I need to make sure that I as the teacher am make clear, concise objectives that my students are able to achieve.  Objectives need to be measurable and contain an action verb in the actual objective.  Student learning, written objectives and teaching all need to be on the same level of achievement as well.  Don't  write a high level objective and teach at a low level.  This would be like trying to reach for a book on the top shelf with out having access to a ladder.  Students will become frustrated and just give up.  No teacher wants their student to just give up on anything.  The video I found about objectives helped lay out the same idea just in a little different fashion.  Everyone has heard of SMART goals, well this laid out objectives in the same way.  Teachers need to have SMART objectives; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relative, and Targeted.  If I am ever struggling with writing objectives, I know that I can always look back on these resources.

Groseta, K.J. & Myers, B.E. (2006). Using cooperative learning in formal and nonformal educationView in a new window. Retrieved from

Newcomb, L.H., McCracken, J.D., Warmbrod, J.R., & Whittington, M.S. (1993). Methods of teaching agriculture. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Whittington, M.S. (2005). Writing objectives in secondary agriculture courses that challenge students to thinkView in a new window. Agriculture Education Magazine. Retrieved from

backgrounds in agriculture or interns in crop consulting  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Final Thoughts of my First Day Lesson

My lesson that was focused on the first day of class went well I feel.    In this lesson we were to introduce ourselves to the class, let the class introduce themselves, discuss the expectations, procedure and consequence of our classroom, and whatever else we could fit into 10 minutes.  I have listed below some of the things I think were successful and also some things I need to work on. 


  • Greeted students at the door and introduced myself to them quickly. 
  • Was able to get to know the students through example bell-work 
  • Loved the idea of my time capsule and think that it would work great in an actual classroom!  
  • Expectations, procedures and consequences were well organized and numbered.  
Opportunities for Improvement! 
  • Was nervous
  • Talked so fast, need to slow down majorly 
  • Need to make my expectations, procedures, and consequences posters more colorful and different from each other. 
  • Think I need to carry my lesson plan with me to help remind me of my prompts to ask students
Over all I think it was a successful but very informative experience and I am excited to see what next week's lab brings and how I am able to succeed or improve then.  I also am interested to play with other types of lesson plan formats this week and hope to find the one that fits me best!  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Home of the Seals!

I was able to explore my cooperating center and learn all about the program, the instruction areas, and the FFA chapter.  I can't wait to begin my experience and learn even more about the students, school and community.  Check out all the cool things I have learned so far! 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mindset: Final Reflection

My reading has come to an end.  I have finished my book on Mindset and I am excited to take
everything that I have gained and learned from these readings and use it to shape me as a teacher with growth mindset.  In the last leg of the book, it discussed a lot of the ways that parents, coaches and teachers not only guide children on the path of mindsets but it also talked about how they themselves need to have a growth mindset.  If you are a teacher who is of fixed mindset but are only trying to have a growth mindset when around your students, they are going to know that it is a fake front and the encouragement that you are trying give them will be wasted time.  Children need the encouragement and praise to be as genuine as possible and the best way to do that is to have a growth mindset from the beginning.  This can be hard! 

As the book goes on further, it talks about how most people are a mix of the two mindsets.  That all of us have a fixed mindset about something and they found that it was usually ourselves.  As teachers or parents, we have growth mindsets when it comes to our children and we are always trying to get them to also have a growth mindset.  We push them and encourage them to keep trying even in the face of failure.  However, when the parents or teachers fail themselves or feel as it they have failed, they will turn to the small part of fixed mindset that they have.  The most important thing to remember in these times is to "Practice what you preach".  You need to listen to yourself and know that it is ok if a lesson didn't go as planned or that every student didn't get a 100% on the last quiz. 

This is something that I particularly hope that I can remind myself of daily when I begin my student teaching.  It is easy for us to be hard on ourselves but encouraging to others who are in the same situation.  Part of growth mindset is that we have to learn from our mistakes and appreciate those moments when we do fail for those are the times of exponential growth.  By no means should we go out of our way to fail, but remember that sometimes the failure is even more powerful than the success!  I know that not every lesson I am about to teach in the spring is not going to go as planned or that I have planned an activity that was not able to meet the objectives of the day.  It is going to very easy for me to think that I am a failure and that I should give up and only conduct lessons that are simple and boring.  However, by reading this book, I hope that I am able to use many of the things I have learned and help keep myself out of these "Poor me" spirals of mindset death.  I need to remember that those will be the times where both myself and students will learn and grow together.  It doesn't mean that any of us have failed; we just need to go back to the drawing board and see how it could have went better. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is going into education but more importantly I would recommend it to anyone!  This book can be beneficial to anyone who wants to change their out look on life or wants to become a more positive person because as I mentioned in earlier reflections, living with a fixed mindset will start to effect your interpersonal relations.  There are countless suggestions within the book on how to start to change your mindset or how to strengthen an already growth mindset.  The most important thing to keep in mind though, is that this is a process.  You can't change your mindset overnight, it will take time and effort to help keep yourself on track to change! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

#AEE412 Weekly Investment Reflection 2

This week we are diving in head first and learning about the part that we all fear the most about student teaching; lesson planning.  This has been on each of our minds within my cohort and it is always one of the first things we have questions about when someone asks "What questions do you have?"  Well this week's reading may help settle at least my mind some.  I was able to take away that sometimes you need to come at a lesson from a different angle.  Our readings specifically talked about started with your desired end result and build you lesson backwards, leading up to developing your objectives.  You could start with a great activity and build off of that or think of a great interest approach and think of  lesson that goes with it; just keep Bloom's Taxonomy in mind.  Doing so will help to ensure that objectives are clear, well stated, and action oriented.
The "right" way to write a lesson plan!

I have had to write a few simple lessons in the past and have indeed had to include objectives in these lessons.  I always thought that the best objectives were those that were lengthy and had elaborate, scholarly wording.  When in fact these objectives are not incorrect, but are not as efficient as those that are clear and easily state what is expected of the students.  I now know that it doesn't matter how elaborate my objectives and not to be as afraid of lesson planning.  I am learning that as long as I keep calm, keep my end results in mind, and utilize the methods and techniques I learn along the way, I will have well written objectives and an overall effective lesson plan. 

I would love to hear how everyone approaches lesson planning as I begin the task of writing my first lesson plans for student teaching!  Please feel free to comment below some of your favorite tips and tricks or ask me any questions you may have! Thanks for reading! (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
 Chapter 5, Planning for Instruction (26 pages

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Closer Look at SAE's

Supervised Agricultural Experience otherwise known as SAE is a vital part of agriculture education.  It serves as the opportunity where students are able to apply and showcase skills that they have learned both in the classroom and in FFA activities through a project of any type.  There is a way to turn almost anything you do into an SAE whether it be raising a livestock project for the fair, working at a local business, or even volunteering in your community.  There are endless opportunities to turn your students experiences and interests into an SAE. Through SAE, students are also able to discover what self-directed learning is.  They are able to take learning into their own hands and dig deeper into the things that interest them.  All of this being said, I was able to see some really interesting SAE while visiting some of the students of Selinsgrove High School.
I started my day off with Mrs. Fry by going to visit Kaitlin Shaffer.  Kaitlin is an incoming freshman
Free stall barn at
Kaitlin's Dairy Farm
to the Selinsgrove Ag Department and is just starting her SAE.  Thankfully her older sister has just graduated from the program and is helping her with small questions she has along the way. Kaitlin has two SAEs right now; swine finishing and on farm employment.  She is raising two market hogs for her local fair and has been keeping records of feed expenses, rate of gain, and once she shows them she will record how they placed and what they sold for. This is a very popular type of SAE with ag students.  In fact, most of my SAE's growing up were finishing projects that were exhibited at the fair. As I said before, Kaitlin also has an on farm employment SAE as well.  She lives and works on her family's dairy farm where they have robotic milkers.  She is able to log her hours and describe her duties on the farm in her records.  Since they have robotic milkers, none of her hours are dedicated to actually milking.  She spends most of her time during this project, helping with  feeding and keeping the milking facilities clean.  Being a dairy girl myself, I was very interested and curious about how things differ at a robotic farm versus traditional milk parlors. 
Jacob working on
the grill of his current
Next we went to visit Jacob Dock who serves as the FFA chapter's President.  His SAE was very interesting and was new to me.  Jacob does vehicle restoration as his SAE.  He has always had an interest in old cars and trucks and loved working on them in his free time.  So why not turn it into an SAE?  This was definitely new for me.  I knew that SAE's could be very unique but I never knew or thought about having a student have an SAE like this.  Jacob is currently working on two different vehicles.  One is completely tore apart in his garage as he is replacing the grill and various other parts on the truck.  The other is a project that he was working on and took for a test run.  Unfortunately, the test run didn't go very well so he is headed back to the drawing board to see what went wrong.  In his SAE, Jacob not only has to find vehicles to work on and then find parts to fix them but he also does a lot of fabrication.  On one of his finished projects, he replace the fenders and the bed of an old truck but he made it all on his own using the welding skills that he was able to learn in Mr. Swineford's classes at school.  Jacob was even a member of the 2nd place Ag Mechanics team at the Pennsylvania State FFA convention in June.  The team will be competing at the Big E in September.
Our last visit of the day was with Darrah Yerger.  Darrah also serves on the FFA
These are Darrah's Dutch Belted heifers
and her Belted Galloway bull calf. 
chapter's officer team as Secretary.  While driving to see Darrah, Mrs. Fry told me that Darrah had a little bit of everything at her place and I learned that she definitely does.  As we pulled up, I saw sheep, horses, chickens, beef cattle as well as produce fields and fruit orchards.  Darrah helps with all of the aspects of her families farm but her SAE's and focus is on the produce and fruit production as well as her small her of Dutch Belted cattle.  She has two heifers and one bull calf.  I actually learned from Darrah that she has Dutch Belted heifers which can be milked and are more like a dairy breed.  Her bull calf is a Belted Galloway which is the beef breed and get a lot more hair on them. Darrah also helps her dad with the produce and fruit production.  They grow tomatoes, green beans, peaches and apples.  Darrah helps her dad with planting, managing pests, harvesting and selling.  They are able to set up a produce stand at the Farmer's Market in Harrisburg and sell their fruits and veggies. 
Not only did Mrs. Fry just visit with her students and check to see how the SAE's were progressing but also on every visit she had the students pull up their record books and helped them with any questions or problems they were having.  We were able to show Kaitlin how to manage her breeding stock and where to enter the calves that were born.  Jacob had a few questions on how could he apply for a proficiency award and Darrah was curious where she entered experiences that related to her FFA office. 
I had a great day visiting with these Selinsgrove students and can't wait until I get to go on more visits.  I was able to see a variety of projects just in one day and I am curious to see what other unique SAE's are found within the program! 

All Good Things Must Come To An End!

I've been sitting here the past two days working on wrapping up my assignments and getting ready to head back to Penn State to be with m...