Teaching Reflection

In my lesson, I had 2 primary questions that I wanted us to discuss: What story do maps tell and How do maps reflect history, politics, and economics? While some aspects of my lesson worked better than expected, other portions of the instruction could have been better.

In terms of the positives regarding my teaching, I felt I did a good job with clear instructions and directions. This is something I struggle with quite a bit in my actual teaching placement. I tend to struggle to get the class under control while simultaneously giving proper guidance and directions to guide the lesson while working at my high school; being able to focus solely on giving directions rather than dividing my attention onto classroom management while teaching my peers made life a lot easier in this department.

The “draw the world activity” and the initial focus question activity were very effective at setting up the themes of the class and getting engagement from my students. The conversations they had and their contributions to the class were near perfect for me to segway into the next portion of my instruction, and while it is unlikely I would have gotten such constructive responses during the focus activity from my class at high school, the “draw the world” activity would have engaged everyone in the class and served as a perfect segway into the final stretch of the instruction.

My end activity, where we compared our maps to the map of China, could have gone better. However, aspects of this activity were still positive. There were clear connections between the ways in which the students created their maps to how the cartographers of china created theirs, and while I was able to bridge these connections at times, I could have done a much better job at relating the two activities. Some pre-thought guiding questions would have helped me substantially, as I was essentially scrambling while teaching at this part as I didn’t have the foresight to think to create these guiding questions for this portion. And finally, the weakest part was definitely the ending to my lesson. Essentially, I had no planned conclusive ending. I had a good idea in the activity that I created, as well as the flow of the lesson, but I had no ending activity that would have helped to sum up the activities of the day. Perhaps an exit slip or a google forum would have been a perfect ending, but I failed to include such an activity.

While I was satisfied with my workflow and delivery (other than the final activity), I feel my timing can still use a lot of work. The activities, especially at the end, felt a little rushed. I also felt the initial conversation could have benefited from using more time. While I have 91 minutes to work with at my high school, I need to be able to scale down and scale up the amount and duration of activities I plan so they properly fit within the time limits I am given.

From my experience, I learned that my timing still has quite a bit of work, and I need to experiment with effective ways to end my lessons. Many positive things I tried out also worked, such as my directions being written on the smartboard, using the document camera, and working alongside my students. I’m excited to put what I’ve learned into my next lesson plan, and I hope to learn just as much as I did this time.

Consumerism in the 1920’s – Reflection

In some aspects I feel like I completed parts of my goals in this lesson on consumerism in the 1920’s. Going into the lesson, I wanted the students to be able to recognize how the common features and such of advertising that we still see and notice today started in the 1920’s after the first war. I wanted students to recognize how specific elements that commercials had that allowed us to remember them, such as the targeted audience, aspect of focus, and the overall message, still carry over today. I especially wanted them to also notice how the advertising game changed with the inclusion of both TV and radio. I felt like the students in the lesson were able to see that as they were able to connect to commercials from their childhoods that appealed because of these same characteristics. 

         I also feel like the goals weren’t met at the same time because I wasn’t able to be as focused on the specific aspects of consumerism and the specific examples of the characteristics. I also needed to be more organized and give proper preparation time and instructions to be able to get to everything in the lesson and to fully touch the important parts. This is the aspects that didn’t go as well. 

         What I learned that I could do is to be more specific and detailed on what I want to touch in order to better get to the main takeaway and message that I want to convey based on my lesson title. So, in the case of consumerism, my commercial example and what I asked the students to produce didn’t touch directly on specifically consumerism in the 1920’s. As a result, I can pick two or three themes from the era that you wanted to teach about later, maybe the role of women, the culture of youth, how the automobile was transforming America, and show, use, and teach/explain using these examples. I can also have given students the task of bringing in their videos of their commercials so we can be able to get the most out of that aspect of the lesson and to be able to get to the rest of the lesson to ensure its best effect. 

         In terms of my timing, it was kind of off and on, with parts being more on track than other parts. I feel like during the intro discussion of their commercials and their experiences, I was able to foster good discussion and the flow and timing was on track. The timing got a little off when I asked them to send in their own videos to my email, when I wasn’t prepared to do it and it showed when I scrambled to get my email and organize the gathering, opening, and playing of the videos. I feel like the timing and flow and delivery was awkward during the sharing and discussion of the videos. The timing and flow returned during showing the video on the 1920’s and having the discussion afterwards. Overall, even with the timing off, the workflow seemed pretty decent as student’s were on track and we got to the next thing. It just wasn’t great because we didn’t get to the last aspect of the lesson plan. 

Postcards from the Past – Reflection

The postcard activity was pretty successful in my high school classroom, so I felt confident presenting it to our Methods class. Having examples of the finished product helped students visualize the project and imagine what their completed postcard might look like. Overall I think it’s a great way for students to explore primary texts, perform some analysis, while also giving them the freedom to express themselves.

It’s hit or miss getting students to cite their sources. I think providing a clear example of how and where to cite the source would be helpful. Perhaps doing the citation in class would give me the opportunity to monitor their progress. Giving students the ability to hand-draw their postcards was somewhat time consuming; perhaps doing a lesson on how to use adobe spark would be helpful in the future.

Overall, my goal was to get students to engage with a primary text, and see the importance of “individual perspective” in examining source material. Giving students the ability to express themselves seemed to make the lesson more engaging and personal. I was impressed by the variety of responses I received, not to mention the detail and care that went into the postcards themselves.

Reflection on Virtual Reality Mini-Lesson

The virtual reality tour of Salem, Massachusetts I did for this mini-lesson seemed like a success and was a great experience to learn how I can better improve the use of this technology in my future virtual reality lessons. Fortunately, I had some experience using the headsets in a classroom before using them in the mini-lesson, but I learned how to feel more confident in teaching with the technology due to the improvised approach of not guiding participants through their tour from the central iPad (since I couldn’t get a stable connection). Of course the audience for my mini-lesson was a much more controlled and participatory group than almost any group of students I would eventually do this lesson with, but I was still impressed by the group’s ability to understand how material can be learned through relevant images in virtual reality.

One of the challenges in my mini-lesson, which has also been a challenge when using the VR in my classroom, is the timing and pacing required to get through everything important while accounting for technical difficulties that will detract from available instruction time. Although the mini-lesson did not go the full 25 minutes, I also left out nearly half the information planned for a full lesson and only got through ~2/3rds of the tour itself. Since the tour and accompanying information are planned for a 50-minute lesson, I would have expected to get through either much more of the tour in 25 minutes or at least go into a substantial amount more detail.

In general, I think I accomplished the goal I had with this mini-lesson, which was to get more experience teaching with the virtual reality and receive feedback on how I could improve my approach for when I do similar lessons in the future. Timing and pacing is what I learned to still be an area that needs attention, but perhaps this is a factor that will “work itself out” as I practice each tour over the course of time!