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Wow, my first week of teaching at Balboa Academy was jammed packed and was a ton of fun! My cooperating teacher and I have decided we will split the teaching time between us so I have been getting a lot of experience teaching lessons on my own. Unfortunately, I do not think I will be able to cover everything I did because so much happened and my post would be endless. Instead I am going to write about the highlights of the week and about my favorite moments. The best part of teaching at Balboa academy is that their school day is scheduled differently than the school I am at back in Fort Worth. Back home one teacher teaches one subject and the classes rotate while down here at Balboa one teacher teaches all the subjects and keeps one class all day. I am glad I get to experience both scheduling types so I will know how to work within both when looking for a job in the future. Another huge difference between Balboa and my school back in Fort Worth is that they have so many specials to go to in one day here! They go to three different specials a day while back home they only go to one.
I was so blown away by how awesome the science class is at Balboa Academy. The teacher has her room set up to make it look like an actual science lab, not just some classroom that is the same as the others. The teacher has multiple dead animals, bugs, sea creatures, and even a human brain in jars with preservatives for the students to observe. I thought this was so awesome because I have never seen a science class have these things out for the students to look at, I have never even seen stuff like this in a high school class! The teacher also had a cool sedimentary rock display that had samples each rock type with descriptions on it. Even though these things might not be apart of the lesson, it makes for a cool classroom atmosphere and the students are always excited to go to science. Another cool display the teacher had was she had a bug specimen display with all sorts of bugs and their scientific name/regular name beside them. I truly do think if more science classes had this sort of atmosphere, students would enjoy the class much more and be more inspired to follow a field in science when they get older. I could use this entire post to talk about how awesome the class was set up but I want also highlight actually how awesome the class was!
This week the students were doing a lesson on the moon and sun. This lesson included the phases of the moon, position of the sun at different hours, and how the sun creates shadows. First I will talk about the sun part of the lesson because we did this part of the multiple times throughout the week. The students were tasked with going outside and track the the position of the sun at different hours throughout the day with a partner. While outside one partner would have to point in the direction of the sun while the other partner had to draw the position of their partners hand on a worksheet. I thought it was really awesome the students got to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather while also learning. The second part of the sun lesson was about how the sun can casts shadows and at different hours the size of a shadow can either grow or shrink. They learned that shadows change size based off the position of the sun. For their activity, my favorite part, they again got to go outside and instead of a worksheet they just had to draw the outline of their partners shadow with chalk on the sidewalk! To me the lesson seemed way more meaningful to the students because they actually enjoyed the lesson and got to see with their own eyes how shadows are made and how they can be different shapes. The funniest part of this activity was once everyone finished it looked like a giant murder scene with all the chalk outline of bodies! The students even wanted to do an outline of me to see if my shadow would be bigger or smaller than theirs.
The moon part of the lesson was equally as awesome as the sun portion of the lesson. In class they learned about how the moon goes through different phases and had to sketch which moon phase the moon was in for that night on their worksheet. They also learned that the moons phases goes through a cycle so you will see each phase of the moon every month. What made this lesson super awesome was the fact the school was having astronomy club on Friday after school. All of second, third, and fourth grade were welcome to come with their families because all those grades were doing a lesson on the moon. Astronomy club was so awesome because members of the Panamanian astronomy observatory came and brought their extremely powerful telescopes for the students to use to view the night sky. One of the telescopes was so powerful you could clearly see the craters on the moon, it looked like a photograph you would see on the internet! They also had awesome telescopes that showed us Venus, Mars, and the stars in the night sky. This was such an awesome learning experience that not only enhanced their lesson on the moon but their overall experience of being a student. Balboa does an amazing job of inspiring students to enjoy school and want to succeed by giving them amazing experiences and opportunities.
I will end the this post talking about our math class we had on Friday because I thought the lesson went really well for both the students and the teachers! On Fridays we do math stations and have a math specialist come in to work with the students. What was awesome about the math stations was that we were able to teach multiple lessons at the different stations and was able to get a lot covered. The math specialist was teaching a new lesson that we would be working on more the previous week, my cooperating teacher taught a review lesson of what we were covering this week, and I helped students with playing a math game on the iPads. The lesson the math specialist was working on was line segments, rays, lines, and angles. The review lesson and the game they were playing on the iPad was about decimals and place value. The reason why I really liked the math stations activity was that the students were able to experience three different teaching strategies and rotating helped in keeping them fresh. The iPads were also a nice change of pace for the students because doing work on endless worksheets can get mundane and make them lose their attention. Next week my cooperating teacher and I will switch roles and I will lead the review lesson while she helps the students with the iPads and make sure they are on task.