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My Final PPA Reflection

June 17, 2011

For my final PPA, the lesson I presented, Sudden Illness On the Trail, was part of our class Oregon Trail journey.  The Smith family (one of our wagon families) suddenly, over night, developed Cholera.  Our wagon train was denied entrance into Fort Laramie because of the illness and therefore, our wagon train (the class) had to decide how our community needed to handle the critical incident.  This social studies lesson, integrated history, reading, and communication EALRs.  The multiage learning community (2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades) researched Cholera, presented facts about Cholera, wrote a reflection about their trail characters’ reaction to the illness, and as a community, came to a conclusion about how the wagon train should handle the issue.

Throughout the lesson, students needed to work cooperatively within their wagon train (each table of four students).   At the beginning of the lesson, I walked the class through our behavior standards (show respect, make good decisions, solve problems) and what those look like when working with our trail families.  I randomly called on students using their trail family name and seat number to share their response.  During the lesson, two tables did have challenges working cooperatively on the lesson.   I frequently visited with them to informally assess their progress with the current task and their effectiveness in working as a community.  As needed, I redirected them back to the task and reminded them of their role within their cooperative family.

The lesson began at 9:20AM.  At 10:30AM students left for their specialist hour.  When they returned at 11:30AM, we completed the lesson.  Students wrote their reflections and shared their family statements about what we should do as a community and about the Smith family illness. 

I am enjoying my lessons about the Oregon Trail and my students are too.  Having all learners assume the role of a pioneer character, and being a part of a wagon train, has made the teaching and learning experiences more meaningful to all of us.  Teaching a social studies unit is challenging in a multiage community.  However, by making each lesson cooperative in nature, all students can experience the lesson at their academic level.  For example, within the lesson each table needed to research and write facts about Cholera.  The Cholera information was assigned to and read by students who could read the information fluently to their partner.  Then, together they identified eight to ten facts about Cholera.

Overall, I felt my lesson went well, and my students met their learning objectives (based on the assessment of their fact sheets, character reflections, and their wagons response at our wagon train meeting).  However, it still feels uncomfortable to be formally evaluated by both your mentor teacher and internship supervisor.  The areas that I can continue to develop as a teacher is “wait time” (I count in my head) and checking for task instruction comprehension within the cooperative environment.  Instead of telling students again and again what my expectations are, I can tell them once and then use my students to communicate the information again, checking for understanding as they do so. 

I look forward to receiving feedback about my lesson.

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