Friday, March 6, 2009

Superhero Lab #3

This lab was really fun. The group that ran the Superhero endless bucket did a really nice job with it and you could tell they put a lot of effort in with all the capes and symbols everywhere. The activity was well thought out and executed brilliantly, as you could see how much fun the kids were having with it. Our group played a car game where you had to stay on the lines in the gym and when Emmie called out a command, we had to do the corresponding activity. The kids (and I) seemed to enjoy it, especially the tagging portion. After that, we went downstairs for snacks with the 1st and 2nd graders. I played "mancala" with a few of the girls and they talked my ear off about animals. One girl exaggerated everything she said, claiming that her cousin owned 8 lions, 3 elephants, and 16 panda bears. I'm pretty sure she was trying to impress me but I was skeptical because she had cheated while playing mancala with another girl. Anyhow, after snack and games we went upstairs and played unorganized games of jump rope, basketball, and football. This seemed to work because we had so few kids and so many teachers. I played basketball with a 1st grade future MJ who was extremely good at dribbling and shooting and I was surprised at how fast he was. I'll be sure to get his autograph for when he becomes famous :) We ended with the electric slide and I have come to the conclusion that everyone should dance at least one time during the day. Until next time...

1. Observe the St. Mary’s student(s) as they participate in the activities. Describe the variability of the movement patterns you observed. Be sure to note with whom you worked, what grade they were in, and any differences in age, gender, or ability.

We observed kindergardeners and 1st graders participating in the Superhero endless bucket activity. I noticed that when told to leap, most of the kids just ran really fast. The girl that I was observing, Rowan, went at a slower pace and correctly leaped, but only after being shown how to do so. The boy I was observing, Anthony, had the basic concept of the leap down but could not distinguish the leap from running, as he didn't get both feet off the ground at the same time at any point. For the horizontal jump, Anthony was successful and showed proper form with his preparatory movements, he correctly forced his arms upward, took off and landing on both feet simultaneously, and brought his arms down during the landing. Rowan was successful in everything but extending her arms forward and upward over her head. Sliding came easy to almost every child, but I did notice that some had trouble turning completely sideways. Rowan was an example of this, as she was somewhat sideways but also somewhat turned to see what was in front of her. Anthony performed sliding very well. Another thing I observed was that many of the boys were faster with their movements than the girls, who tended to move slower but more gracefully. I also noticed a girl who could hoola-hoop for days and a boy who couldn't hoola-hoop at all, so most of my observations were of the majority, not on an individual basis. Generally, the kids were of the same ability except that the boys tended to move faster.

2. Describe “teaching strategies” that YOU used today towards connecting with the children. What were they? How did YOU use them? What was the effect? Were there any strategies that were more effective than others? If so, why?

I only got to teach for a few minutes until we had to move downstairs but what seemed to work was having the kids sit down in front of me while I gave them clear, concise directions. At one point I gave them a choice to pick their team name and that was a bad idea because they all disagreed. It is better to tell them what they are going to do and give them clear-cut directions instead of options because at that age, none of them will agree. During the car game, I participated in the activity with the kids and noticed that when they weren't sure which movement to do, they looked towards me or the other teachers doing the activity. This helped because instead of a bunch of kids verbally asking a question, all they had to do was look around quickly and find their answer. The Superhero group did a really great job with their activity as they had one designated speaker and one designated demonstrator. The other group members were there to make sure the kids were paying attention and to break up side conversations. We had a similar set up, as Emmie lead in the car game directions and the other teachers demonstrated the movements.

3. After being at St. Mary’s for these past weeks and observing and working with the students, can you briefly describe an effective strategy (or strategies) that you used to capture the children’s attention and keep them on task for your activity.

Having the kids sit in "criss-cross applesauce" is a good way to make sure they are all sitting and paying attention. Also, having a signal (hand raised high in the air) or clapping in a rhythm really gets their attention. Music can help too, as it is really fun to have in the background during an activity, and when it is stopped, the kids know too look and listen for directions. Having one designated leader clears up confusion about who to focus attention on. To keep kids on task, my group has found that by having a smaller difference in the ratio of teacher to student is beneficial. By having 6 teachers at each cone or area, we can make sure the kids are doing the activity right and be there to resolve conflicts or answer questions.

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