Educational Forays

Jan Andrea
EDUC 900: Internship
18 September 1997
Journal Reflection #2

What about my inexperience? Yes, we learn from experience... but what about the kids that have to deal with it, too? There are things this past week that I've wanted to try, despite Xxx's reticence, and it turns out that she's really been right in some of those situations. For instance, as a cooperation-learning game, she had them thumb wrestle, telling them that for each time they won, they would get an M& M. It was a great activity, and some pairs realized that if they took turns winning, they could both get many more M& Ms than if they really battled it out; but the problem came in passing out the rewards: they were just talking and talking for the five minutes it took to count out each person's candies. I thought that perhaps one of us could pass them out while the other went over the point of the activity, but Xxx was hesitant, and I soon found out why: apparently they talk over food no matter what else is going on, and I really had to fight for their attention. It was a struggle, and I ended up kind of yelling at them, which I really disliked, and I think it probably soured the experience for them, too, and all because I didn't know how they tend to behave socially. Then again, there have been a couple of instances where my ignorance has been possibly good: I did get to rearrange the desks so that no one is facing away from the board, and it does seem to have lessened the chatting somewhat. Xxx was again hesitant to try this, but it's working out well so far. But that's what this is all about -- experimentation is key -- but sometimes I do worry about disturbing their educational experiences with mine.


Differences, differences! How do I cope with differences? I have been overwhelmed by differences this week: differences between the behaviours of boys and girls, seventh and eighth graders, coded kids and non-coded ones, good days and bad, kids in the hallways and kids in classrooms, teachers in meetings and teachers in classrooms.... There's really been a lot to take in, and I'm still trying to sort them all out. Mostly I've noticed how different the seventh and eighth graders are -- they don't seem to have as much personality as a quantity in seventh grade, or at least as much of a well- defined sense of themselves. What kind of difference does this make when they're learning? What should I be aware of in teaching them -- how much will "stick" for each group, and how will they react differently to the same stimulus? This will be interesting to look out for in the future. And how do I take this into account when making and enforcing rules? So many questions... hopefully enough time :)


Blessed Agenda Books! I've really been amused at the dependence these kids have developed for their agenda books -- I must find out how long they're been provided for this group. They seemed quite lost without them, yet didn't seem to know how to do it by themselves -- they knew they should be writing things down, but without the book handed out by the school, they seemed unwilling to take the time to do it. Strangely enough, it's the eighth graders as well as the seventh; I would've expected them to have internalized it a bit more. Conditioning at work? If so, what happens when they get to high school and find out that they have to sort it out for themselves? Do the lessons stick, or do they sink into an oblivion of disorganization once they're no longer provided with a book? I suppose only time will tell.


The Mystery Lab I observed for this week the sixth grade science/language arts class of Xxxx Xxxxxxx. They were doing the "mystery lab" in which their teacher had lain out an ecclectic assortment of objects -- bones, petrified wood, physics toys, and the like -- and asked them to identify or otherwise explain the phenomena they encompassed. The kids were having a blast doing it, and it was really a joy to watch them -- some of the questions were challenging, others relatively simple; all levels of understanding seemed to be addressed, and everyone was full of hypotheses, which they would argue with abandon. This activity really seems as though it would be easily adaptable for any grade level and science subject -- while we apparently can't do it in the 7th/8th grades (since these students have all done it in the 6th grade), I will certainly keep it in mind for my future students. (Although the argument that it can't be repeated seems a little shallow -- after all, there are still a lot of mysteries to be solved in each area of science... but there'll be plenty of time this year to weasel it in somewhere.

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