Friday, May 11, 2012

Teaching Students with Special Needs

      Through my clinical experience so far, I have found that one of the most difficult aspects is to ensure that my students with special needs can perform the skills for the day. There are three different groups of special education students that come out at different times with mainstream classes. These students are not mainstreamed.

      One of the groups includes four girls who are adorable, very sweet and kind. I try to make sure that they always partner up with different people since they are so used to begin around the students in their class because they do everything together. Three of the girls have great psychomotor skills. Sometimes I have to break down the skill but they usually understand what to do after this. One of the other girls has very low cognitive comprehension which makes it difficult for her to perform a skill. With her I usually have to break down the skill to the most basic component and practice this first before going on further. She is timid when it comes to jumping and catching objects so I always try to be encouraging. 

      One of the other students who has help me become a better teacher is a student who has severe autism. He has great psychomotor movement but his language is very limited. I speak to him in very simple vocabulary such as “look” or “you try.” I mostly communicate with him through performing an act. I show what he is supposed to do and he copies me. 

      I have found it more difficult to integrate special needs students because I still want every student to receive feedback and perform their best. When I see that one my special education students is not being successful, I keep going back to him or her so I can help. Even though I think of modifications and accommodations, before the lesson, it is very different when it comes to actually doing it in real life. Sometimes the things I had thought would work don’t and I have to be flexible and adjust right away to ensure the student is successful.

      Even though it may be a challenge sometimes, I am so grateful to have these students come out with the other PE classes because they help me become a more effective teacher. When they are present I know I must clearly explain what I want the students to do so that everyone understands. I check for understanding and provide demonstrations. I try to do this anyway but I try to be more on my game when they are present. Also they help me in providing feedback. I go to every student including them to make sure that they are performing the skill correctly and spend a little extra time to make sure my students with special needs can perform the skill. I know that if they can do so, the other students should be able to do so as well. 

       When my special needs students are out with the rest of the class, my awareness of what is going on is even greater because I know that I need to make sure that the mainstream students are being successful and provide the necessary modifications for anyone that needs them to be successful. 

       I used to be intimidated about working with students with special needs before because I had never really interacted with them or go to know the student. However my experience in clinical practice has totally eradicated those feelings. I truly enjoy working with students who have special needs. These students are very smart in their own way and I love working with them to be successful. Having my girl student with low cognitive ability catch a ball after trying for five minutes to do and seeing the smile on her face is such a great reward. Although it might be challenging at times to ensure that I get to every student and provide them with the necessary feedback, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What I have learned, what I can improve on

With only about a month to go in my second clinical practice, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what I have learned so far and what I can do to become a more effective teacher.  I was very grateful this semester to have a great cooperating teacher who has a great knowledge and a vast amount of experience in elementary physical education. I have learned a lot but I know I still have a long way to go.

What I have learned:
-It is very important to mark where students should stand, charts for where to go, and cones for boundaries. If boundaries are not clearly marked, students will roam wherever they want! It poly spots are not placed, they stand too close to one another, and charts with numbers especially during stations let the students know where to go next. All these components help with reducing the managerial component of teaching to maximize learning time 

Lummi sticks. Courtesy of Music Together.
-The younger the students, the more literal they take the content that one says. In a past lesson that I was observing my teacher was teaching a lesson with lummi sticks to kindergartners. They were tapping away, so my teacher said to put the lummi sticks down. She meant for the students to put them down by their sides but the majority of the students put them down on the floor. My CT had to tell them that she meant to just put them by their side. She later told me that when speaking with young students, one really has to say things very clearly because they take content very literal. 

-Music provides a lot of motivation for students. Even some of the students who are not as excited to be in PE, get moving when someone request music to be played. It is such a simple thing to do for the students and generates great results so this is definitely something I will keep doing. One of my favorite things to teach and probably the students’ favorite activities is exercise stations. My teacher had pre-programmed music so that students are at each station for a minute and have a 10 second transition. This is great because then I do not have to worry about pausing the music, it does by itself. It works well for the routines because they know they must rotate after the music stops. 

What I need to work on:
-I think I need to be able to provide more specific, positive feedback. I think I do a good job of providing corrective feedback. I let the student know what they are performing correctly and then what they are performing incorrectly and how they can change that. However when I provide positive feedback, a lot of the times I catch myself saying, “good job” instead of being more specific. I think I might start keeping a log of how many times I provide positive versus specific, positive feedback so I can be more aware of what I say to the students. 

-When the students are being disruptive, I usually wait for the students who are following directions to tell the rest of the class to quiet down. Sometimes this works well but sometimes it feels as if I am wasting too much time and with only 30 minutes per class, I cannot afford to miss too much time. I need to think of a better way to get the students attention.

I am really looking forward for the next month. We will be stating a unit on track and field and finish off the year with a lesson with the parachute and another with field day. I can’t wait!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Does technology in PE enhance or increase the time available to engage in physical activity?"

I was reading the latest JOPERD (Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance) and this question was posed for people to discuss in the upcoming issue. I thought it was a very intriguing question since one of our classes this semester focused on incorporating technology.
My viewpoint is that I do not think that technology can necessarily increase or enhance physical activity. Physical activity is defined as any physical activity done to improve health and wellness. One can perform physical activity without being in an physical education class and engaging in physical activity, does not mean one is learning. In that sense, I do not think technology is necessary to be physically active.

I do not think that technology necessarily enhances physical activity; however I do think it promotes learning which should be the main focus of any class. In PE, we want students to learn, just as much as we want them engaged in psychomotor activity that contributes to their learning. So if incorporating technology means that the students will learn, that is great but one has to find that balance between teaching cognitive content and psychomotor content. If teachers are teaching students how to navigate a site to type a report on a concept, then that is taking away from being engaged in physical activity.

There is a fine balance between incorporating technology in PE. I believe it should be well integrated to help students in the learning but not take away from their physical activity. One example could be having heart rate monitors for the students to track their exercise intensity or pedometer to track their steps. The teacher can help them analyze this data at the end of class. Students can also complete a video showing their understanding of different concepts. Instead of working on it during PE class, students can work on it after school.

Technology solely does not improve or enhance physical activity. I think it has to be well embedded to allow students to learn without compensating their physical activity. If while incorporating technology students are learning and are active in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 50% of the class time, then the teacher is being successful.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Twitter Chat Reflection: #ellchat

       About a week ago I engaged in my second twitter chat. The chat I engaged in was #ellchat and it was primarily different teachers chatting with regards to English language learning students.  The topic for this particular chat was how to get ELL students to think critically. My goal for the chat was to be involved and try to share my experiences, as well as learn new ways to teach students how to think critically.
Going into this chat, I thought this would be a great topic to discuss because it is something that we have gone over in class a lot. Some of the other teachers and I brought up using Bloom’s Taxanomy to provide questions that would prompt students to think critically. I thought this was great because it reinforced something that I had already learned. I do not prompt my students to think critically much since a lot of what we do regards the psychomotor domain, but now I know that this is a great resource used by many to generate higher order thinking. 

      While in the first chat, I was chatting with people that I did not know, during this chat, Karina and Lauren happened to be present. It was a little less intimidating knowing that there were others there that I knew. I was able to chat briefly with Karina and she mentioned that she used Bloom’s Taxanomy in her class to get her students thinking. Lauren also provided an insightful comment saying that probably one of the best ways to get students to think critically was to just allow them to question and probe them with different types of questions. I think this is where Bloom’s Taxanomy plays a great role.

      Like in my previous chat, the teachers in this chat also provided us with a lot of different resources. I added these to my diigo so I can keep them for future reference. I thought one of the best ones was a website called Colorin Colorado it provided a description on what critical thinking is and provided different activities that one can use with students. 

      Another great resource provided by one of the teachers was a site called ESL Techies on how to use ipdas to teach ELL students.  The site provides other resources such as sites and ideas that are helpful. I thought this was great because even though we have learned about integrating technology, it never crossed my mind to incorporate technology to teach ELL students. Now I realize that it is possible and there are a lot of sites that provide ideas on how this can be accomplished. 

       Engaging in a second chat was very insightful. I really like how everyone collaborates and comes together to talk about topics that they are very passionate about. I am able to learn and get ideas and resources from professionals with a lot of experience.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Digital Reflection Project

Part 1: Introduction and Expanding my PLN

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Part 2: How I will keep incorporating technology Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Twitter Chat Reflection: #1stchat

            On Sunday I participated in my first twitter chat ever. I can definitely say it was a great experience and I look forward to participating in more.
The chat I took part in was #1stchat which is primarily 1st grade teachers discussing different topics.  We first discussed curriculum that teachers were currently doing, then the chat evolved to discuss that teachers do for fun in the last couple of weeks of school. Although we jumped from topic to topic, I took away a lot of important information.
One of the teachers mentioned she has a 26 day countdown for the last days of school. For each day, the teacher focuses on a letter of the alphabet beginning with ‘A’ and has a theme each day. I thought this was brilliant! From my clinical experience I have learned that elementary students really enjoy themes in their learning, so having a theme for each day would be fun for the students. I also took away another idea. A lot of us mentioned that our schools engage in field day at the end of the school year, including myself. One of the teachers mentioned that they do a Dr. Seuss themed field day. I thought this was also very brilliant! Since my cooperating teacher and I will be doing a lot of the planning, I will make sure to bring this idea up.
Some of the teachers also mentioned different things that struck my mind. Since I am only teaching PE, we do a lot of psychomotor activities. We do not have the students engage in reading or writing since we only see them once per week for 30 minutes. From engaging in the chat, teachers mentioned that they had their students read different stories and reflect. I thought that 1st graders might be too young to do this, but from what teachers were posting it seems that it is a concept that they do a lot. So it was good to know that I can have the option of having students reflect on their actions in PE.
Another teacher mentioned that she was going to use ipads to have her students create picture books. I also thought that using technology such as ipads and give them the freedom to create something for 1st graders was a little too advanced but again I was glad to know that they are very capable to engage in such activities.
Participating in the chat was very eye opening in that one can learn so much from others just by communicating. I was amazed that I was chatting with people from all over the US. I got so many ideas in one hour, I couldn’t believe it. Now some of the people I chatted with are following me on twitter and I am following them. I think I am getting a better understating of the power of developing my PLN.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tinikling: Traditional Dance from the Philippines

Traditional tinikling dancing.
While Wednesday's storm might not have had a great impact on many teachers, it definitely had an impact on my cooperating teacher and I. The storm left the grass field flooded and the blacktop pretty wet, so our original plan of exercise stations and volleyball on the grass was out the window. Good thing we had a lot of time on Thursday morning because of STAR testing to plan a lesson for the day. While we looked at my cooperating teacher's shed full of equipment, she saw the tinikling movement bands. I had never heard of tinikling. She explained that it was a type of dance from the Philippines and showed me some diagrams and moves. I thought it looked like Chinese jump rope. She said it was similar and we got to planning. I definitely learned a lot throughout the process.

I learned that tinikling is a traditional dance from the Philippines. There are people called the workers who handle the bamboo sticks and hit them on the ground and together to create beats. The dancers jump in and out of the sticks as seen in this picture. The dancers usually perform the dances with a three or four count beat. The workers must also stay on beat so the dancers do not get hit with the sticks.  Here is a link to a youtube video on dancers performing a tinikling dance.

However, we wouldn't actually use bamboo in our PE class, instead we used elastic bands. When we were planning the lesson, my cooperating teacher warned me that it is definitely a difficult lesson because it was many components, the workers, the dancers, standing on beat and cooperation.

I realized it definitely took a lot of instruction and scaffolding of information. We first had the students perform the basic steps, of jumping inside with two feet twice, then jumping out with both feet, twice. This was not difficult. Then we had the students practice the worker part of hitting the bands together twice, then apart twice. This was not difficult. The difficult part was putting it all together. The dancers must perform the opposite of what the workers perform. If the workers are hitting the sticks/ bands to the outside, the dancers must jump on the inside and vice versa. Also, the workers then put the bands around their ankles and jump in and out.
Tinikling in PE. Courtesy of Great Lakes Sports.

The students definitely had some difficulty with the dance at first but once they received positive and corrective  feedback they were able to perform the steps better and they were actually enjoying. I thought it was a great activity because all the students enjoyed it. Some of the 5th graders were even able to perform a more difficult step of in with right foot, in with left foot, out right foot, hop on right foot. Another highlight moment was when two students with special needs were able to perform the sequence. These students usually have a lot of trouble with their psycho-motor skills, but they were very successful with this activity.

While it is a difficult activity for some, it is definitely engaging for everyone. Everyone was excited to learn a new activity. I believe this can also be done at the middle and high school levels. I can't wait to learn more steps!