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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Education
April 30, 2016

Canadian Excellence

A Year in the Life: TEC Blog

March 2010: Here we go! Week 1

The fiirst week of practicum was exciting and intimidating. Intimidating because I have three classes of grade eights that I have to get to know and build a rapport with and six weeks of material that I need to plan for. Now, I can hear all of you core French teachers out there snickering because you probably teach twice as many kids, but coming from grade 6, it's an "upgrade".

My first couple of lessons were very thoroughly planned, however, the timing piece was not quite right - they all took twice as long as I had thought. In the end, it was great that they took longer because I got to extend one week of planned lessons into two weeks! We were working on photo essays and I had the advantage of having ideas and plans to work with, but also the flexibility to make the lessons my own. My associate teacher was so very helpful and understanding - there with ideas and support when I needed it, but also was okay with me taking risks and trying out new ideas!

I first had students analyze photos, without context or captions. I collected some Annie Liebowitz pictures and showed them in a PowerPoint presentation. They all had trouble guessing what their "topic," "purpose," and "point" were.

Next, I gave them a photo from a newspaper. Actually, I scoured six different newspapers for interesting photos about global issues. In the end I found 30 unique articles to bring in. I cut out most of the text so that they weren't analyzing the entire article, just the photo. I laid all of the articles across a table and let each student select a photo that resonated with them. The students analyzed the photograph and tried to figure out how it complimented the article. Finally, the students had to do a self-assessment and I provided an assessment and some formative feedback. However, the lessons I learned from this first assignment was that a) getting students who were absent caught up is harder than anticipated, b) you will need to chase down some students to hand in assignments, and c) grade 8 students are very complimentary to themselves when doing a self assessment.

My second assignment that I was proud of was a photo essay analysis using the two different versions of K'naan's Waving Flag song. The original version of the song was played to a collection of photos about children in war and poverty. The second photo essay was played to the official 2010 World Cup version of Waving Flag and showed photos about soccer and Africa. The lesson I learned from this assignment was that it helps to have a laptop in the room at all times. Students who were absent or didn't complete the assignment on time had to watch this again and again during class work time to get caught up.

So, as you can probably tell, I really set myself up for a lot of marking in my first week. It was mostly formative, but it adds up quickly. Welcome to grade 8!

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