Tuesday, April 7, 2009

St. Mary's School Lab 6

Upon observing and interacting with the St. Mary’s students I have found that the students were much more fun than I ever thought they would be. The majority of them were really interested in the games and activities that you had to offer and they all wanted to be involved. While setting up the games and activities and observing the students, I found that many of them were at a much higher skill level than I ever thought they would be at. It was very interesting to see the variety of skill levels as well. I found that if you take the students aside and show them one on one how to properly perform the skill many were able to greatly improve the skill they were working on. If there is no demonstration and no one showing the students how to perform the activity then they all performed it how they were comfortable doing it. 

My experience working with the Pre K students at St. Mary’s school was a very positive experience. I really enjoyed working with the students. They were one of my favorite age groups to work and interact with. They just wanted to have fun and were really interested in your activities. They were so excited to have us there and just wanted all of our attention especially in the classroom setting. It made me feel really good about working and interacting with them. It was a lot of fun and a very rewarding experience in my eyes. Working with the Pre K students was much different than working with the older students in many ways. First off, you really have to guide them through every activity. They want to just run off and do the activity instead of listening to the directions. You need to be able to get their attention and explain the rules before you let them go play. Even once you have started the activity, you constantly have to work with them and remind them what activity or skill they need to be doing. As well as getting their attention and working with them, one of the major things you need to think about is whether the activity is appropriate for their skill level or not. You need to make sure that the skills and activities that you are trying to work on with them are developmentally appropriate for their group.  That could mean modifying the activity for the entire group or modifying it for just one or two students. Either way, you want the entire group to feel successful.

There are many things that I have learned while working with the students at St. Mary’s. I have found that every activity does not work for each age group. You need to be willing and able to make changes to your activity on the fly in order to adjust to the student’s skill level. I have also found you need to be able to think of variations and keep the students moving, not only physically, but mentally as well.  I think that all of these things will definitely be able to help me in the future with teaching. Coming into this class I though that I could come to the school with just a few games prepared and I would be all set. I quickly learned that those games would not last long. I have learned that you need many ideas and tricks up your sleeve in order to keep the kids interested. Another major observation that I found was that being enthusiastic about what you are doing only makes everything better and more fun. If you are having fun then your students are most likely having fun. It is important to keep a positive attitude and even if something goes wrong, just do what you need to do to fix it and move one. This class has really helped my teaching style emerge in many ways. I have a much more positive outlook on teaching younger students and I have really learned how to work and interact with them. You have a much different interaction with an elementary setting than you do with a high school setting. I have learned so much about students and what it is like to teach such a young age. From this experience I feel that I have the ability to work with the younger students and not just a middle or high school level. It was a very positive experience and something that I would enjoy doing much more of in the future!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

St. Mary's School Lab 5

I have found throughout the labs, that most of the games, with modifications, have been appropriate for the students at St. Mary’s. The different things that I have found is that you need to keep as many people active as possible. When the students are not active in the game they become bored with it and start fooling around and wanting the do something different. I feel that for the most part the games have worked pretty well. If they are not working out, the groups need to be able to make modifications on the fly. They need to be able to change it up so you have a lot of kids active, interested and involved. The games need to be modified so the students are able to do the activity, but at the same time you need to make sure they are having fun and are engaged in the game as well.

When assessing different motor skills of children, you may have to set some limitations on the activities or games that you are giving them. You want to make sure that the students are trying to do the skills properly. In that case, you do not want to rush them through the activity or skill they are trying to achieve. So if you are trying to get them to dribble a basketball properly, you may limit the class to a walking pace only and no faster than that. You want to slow the activity down and make sure everyone is properly doing the skills before you speed it up. Another limitation you may set on the students is the type of ball they use for their activities. You want to make sure the balls you are using are appropriate for their size and skill level. If the kids are working on an overhand throw, you do not want to give them a kickball. You want to give them something light that is easy for them to handle. You may give them a tennis ball or a wiffle ball. You want to make sure that the equipment is appropriate and something the students are able to easily handle.

Monday, March 23, 2009

St. Mary's School Lab 4

Reflecting on my experience so far at St Mary’s, there have been some difficulties or challenges I have faced. One challenge that I faced today was trying to get the kids attention with only my voice. One of the problems is that the gym is so big and with everyone running around and yelling it is difficult to yell above everybody to get the kids attention. Another problem that I feel like I have faced is that the kids are so rowdy after school and they just want to run around and do what they want instead of playing the games you have to offer. The last difficulty that I feel that we have faced is that the kids relize that we are not actual teachers and I feel like some of the older ones know that they do not have to listen to us and do not have to do the activities that we present to them. 

There are a few ways that some of these problems could be resolved. I think one way to be able to get the kids attention is to use something loud that they can all hear to get their attention to stop their activity and listen. You could use something such as a whistle for their attention. Once you have their attention with the whistle, then you can use your voice for further instruction, but you must make sure to project your voice so every student in the room is able to hear you. Next difficulty that we face is the energy in the kids and getting them to settle down and listen. I think a good way to get their attention is to have an activity right away. Keep them sitting as little as possible and give short quick directions to get them moving and get them to release their energy. The last issue that I have faced is getting kids to do something that they don’t want to do because they feel they don’t have to. The only thing you can do is encourage them as much as possible. Really sell the activity that you are presenting and try and negotiate with them. Tell them to try one round and then if they don’t have fun they don’t have to play. But it’s your job to do whatever you can to get the kids moving and engaged in the activity that is going on. They may think that they do not want to do it, but once they start playing, they realize how much fun they are having and forget that they didn’t want to play. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

St. Mary's School Lab 3

In todays teaching lesson, we used a superhero theme. The games which we played all had to do with acting like superheros. During the lab today, I was able to carefully observe Rowan and Anthony. They are both age six and in kindergarten. I found that throughout the sills we observed today, leaping, horizontal jumping and sliding, at least one of them did not have every skill mastered. When I observed their leap, both of them had the basic concept. Rowan was able to leap properly, fully using her arms and legs and was able to take off on one foot and land on the other. When observing Anthony, he was able to complete all of the skill, except he was turning the leap into a run. His feet were only off the ground for a split second. He was not dividing a leap from a run. For the horizontal jump, Anthony had no problem doing it. He used his arms and legs, he took off and landed on both feet at the same time and he had the correct arm motion. When Rowan was working on her horizontal jump, she was able to complete the skill, but she was not using her arms to the fullest extent. She barely even moved them. She should have been extending them fully upward and reaching above her head. Lastly with the slide, they both were able to do it very well. Both Anthony and Rowan had the proper technique with their feet and they were able to slide to the left and to the right. The only thing that I found is that when Rowan was sliding, she was sideways, but also facing and looking in the direction that she was moving instead of looking straight ahead and being turned fully sideways. 

Throughout the past few weeks teaching, I have observed teaching strategies that work and do not work. One teaching strategy that I found very effective was demonstrating an activity or skill before allowing the kids to participate in them. I used this when we were playing individually with the kids. I was watching Autumn leap during an activity that we were doing and she had trouble doing it. So I went over to her and demonstrated to her how to do it and how to use her arms and legs to keep her off the ground longer because she was just running when she was doing it on her own. Once I demonstrated this to her, she was able to do it and she was actually leaping instead of just running. I also tested something else out today. When I was talking to the kids, I did not ask if they wanted to play or not. Instead I told them exactly what we were doing and tried to be as enthusiastic as I could be about game or activity. I found that a lot more kids wanted to participate in the games or activities that I was setting up. There were still a few kids that did not want to participate, but I felt like there were a lot more kids that were actually interested in the activity that I put together than when I asked who wanted to play a game or if they thought a certain game was fun.

I have also found throughout the week, ways which keep the kids attention and ways in which the kids do not pay attention and are not attentive. One thing that I have noticed is that you have to speak very loud and assertively in order to get the kids attention. Not from personal experience because I am able to project my voice pretty well, but watching others who speak a little softer, I feel like since the kids cannot hear them they are uninterested and start talking amongst each other or doing something else like rolling around on the floor. Through observing the past three classes, I have found that you need to be loud and assertive to keep the kids attention. I’ve also found that having a signal for attention really helps. I like the idea of having the kids clap if they can hear your or some way for them to do or say something in order to get their attention. I think that works really well and gets them all in a group and ready to listen to the teacher together. Lastly I have also found that the more people you have to help and keep the kids on task, the easier it is. If you are dividing the kids into groups if there is a teacher in each group it really helps to keep them focused and on task. It also helps the kids if they have questions about the activity or what they are supposed to be doing.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

St. Mary's School Lab 2

During today's lab, there were many observations, which I saw during the activities that were being performed. I found that for each of the students, running was the easiest skill for them to perform. Many of the kids had proper mechanics for the most part and were able to run properly. Later on in the lab when I was working with the Pre-K students I found that some of them were not able to do this as well. They were a little more awkward. Some of the were scuffing along, while others were running with straighter legs and not bending their knees as much as they should. Also, some of them were not using their arms to help propel them selves forward. I found this especially in Theresa. At two years old, I though she did really well trying to keep up with some of the other students that were a little bit older than her. The next skill where I saw a few variations was the gallop. I found that the older kids seemed to do this pretty well. The younger 1st and 2nd graders had a more difficult time with it. I found some of them switching feet and many of them were not getting their feet off the ground. They were scuffing along. I also found that some of the kids, who did know how to properly gallop, were only using one foot in front. It seemed to be the foot that they were more comfortable with that foot in front. If they switched their feet I am not sure if they were able to do it or not. The last skill that I observed was the hop. This was interesting. There were some kids who did this very well and some kids who could barely perform it. The one thing I did observe is that I did not see any kids who really tried to use their arms to propel them selves forward. They were all relying on their legs to do the work. Because they were relying on their legs many of them did not get very far off the ground and many of them also did not get a lot of distance. With the younger kids, I also observed that it was very difficult for them to balance on one foot and hop. Some of them stopped frequently and switched to the other foot, while others would take off on one foot and land on two feet. Throughout the lab, I saw a wide variety of the skills. I saw some of the skills performed really well and some of them were not performed as well as others and need some work. 

It was very difficult to get the kids attention today. It was the Monday back from vacation and they all seemed to have a lot of energy built up in them and they were ready to let it all loose. Our group led the Zany Zoo game. We decided to place a person at each of the cones and with each of the groups in order to help the kids out. Then we had one speaker in the middle to give directions to the game. First we randomly split the entire group into the four separate groups and then sent them to their corner with their group leader. I found this extremely effective because while I was giving directions, the kids were divided up, not necessarily with their friends and they were with a group leader, so it was much easier to keep them all quiet. We also had the group leaders holding the cards and reading to the kids what skill and animal they needed to act our. This was great because the leaders were able to keep all their kids under control and also, the cards were not being passed around and distracting the kids. I think that this had a very positive effect on the kids because they were able to stay focused in order to have fun and they could get to know their group leader. It made for a very positive environment because we were not just sending the kids off on their own to play the game, we were all involved, having fun with the kids and making sure that everything was running smoothly at the same time.

In the Barnyard Chase game, I felt that the group had a very difficult time getting the kids under control. Before they even described the game they let the kids sit around the parachute. All the kids wanted to do was touch the parachute and shake it. This made it very difficult to gain control and gain the attention of the students. I think they would have been more successful if they had explained the game first, then told the students that the parachute was a sizzling hot pancake on the stove and to stay five steps back and not to touch the pancake until it cools down (when the instructor says).

I think that it is more effective if you can divide your students and explain the game before you give them any types of props and equipment to touch. As soon as they see and object, all they want to do with play with it at that age. Once they have the object in hand and start playing, it is very difficult to get their attention back and get them focused again. 

overall, the lab went really well and was a lot of fun. Our group had the opportunity to work with the Pre-K students. It was a lot of fun and much different than working the some of the older kids. The Pre-K students need things to be a little more simplified for them. We put together an obstacle course for them to go through and they really seemed to like that. Then we proceeded to play a game of Fish and Frog Tag and lastly played a game of Follow the Leader. Follow the Leader seemed to be a great game. The all wanted to participate and it was a way for us to incorporate in the skills of the day that we were assessing. Overall, the lab went really well and I learned a lot on where different students are with their skill and age level.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

St. Mary's School Lab 1

During lab at St. Mary’s School in Cortland, I had the opportunity to work with the third and fourth graders. I found that they were very enthusiastic and outspoken about their thoughts and ideas. To begin with, I had the fortune to work with and observe them in the cafeteria while they ate their snack and played games. I found that this was a nice way to meet and learn about each of their different personalities. During their snack, many of them were very outspoken about their state of mind about school and physical education. I found that in the cafeteria that they were all fairly calm, much more apt to listen to you and to each other rather than when they were in they gym. Once we entered the gym, it seemed as though all of their energy was being released. It took a loud voice and much effort to round them all up in order to begin an activity or game. I had a game of Blob Tag in mind for all of them. Everyone knew how to play and it seemed as though almost all of them wanted to play. After that game, there was not much more planned. We decided to ask the kids what they would like to play. From this we got a variety of answers. I found that the boys wanted to play more sport related games such as soccer and basketball, whereas the girls wanted to play games like “What Time is it Mr. Fox?” and “Red Rover”. From this, we decided to divide the group into two different games in order to make the most amount of kids happy as possible. I thought this was a good idea because it gave the kids a choice, it motivated them to play and you were not forcing anyone to play a game they really did not want to. Although the kids had a short attention span and got bored of a game quick, I found this was a good way to keep their attention by playing something they liked. After about ten minutes these games fell apart and our group definitely found out that we needed to come to class prepared with a number of games in order to keep the kids interested and occupied for any length of time. I found that at this age group, most of the kids had similar motor behavior and skills as the others in their own age group. Socially, they seemed a little shy at first when I was talking to them, but they soon warmed up and instead of me asking all of the questions, they began to interact with me and ask me some questions. Among each other, for the most part, I found that they boys were more social with each other and the girls were more social with each other. They preferred to play and interact with their own gender. I also found that the students had their own friends and they seemed to stay and play with those same friends throughout the entire time. They did not mix up and play with all different kids.  

While watching the students at St. Mary’s, I found that many of them had much better skills than I thought they would. At one point we decided to divide our group into two different activities. At this time, one of the groups went and played “Knock Out” with the basketballs. During this, I though that the kids would have to move up in order to throw the ball. I did not think they would have the strength to get the ball to the basket from the free throw line. To my surprise, every single one of them was able to. They either hit the rim of the basket or the backboard. On the other hand, I found that during this activity, many of them were not throwing the ball properly and had to use all of their might to just get the ball there. When they moved closer though, after they missed their shot, every kid was able to make a basket at some point. I was very impressed with their skill during this. During another activity, the girls had a stick out with a string and a ball attached to it. They would spin it around and you had to jump over it. I was impressed with this as well. They were all able to jump over the moving rope. Some of the kids were spinning the rope faster than others, but no matter how fast it was going, they all were able to jump over it at least once. Within the third and fourth grade group, I found that the fine motor activities and abilities between the students were very similar and they were all around the same skill level. I did notice a huge difference once the Pre-K kids entered the gym. I was watching some of them play catch, and there was a big difference there, some of them were able to throw and catch the ball, while others were barely able to even catch the ball. Once they came in I saw a big difference in the levels. Other than that, I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed working with the students. I am looking forward to working with the different age levels and seeing how their development differs from each age.