Reflection: Federal Govt Revenue and the Deficit

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Source

Last week, I presented a lesson: Federal Government Revenue and the Deficit. I presented a PowerPoint with graphics, and background information, to give context to the featured Robert Reich video and text. For the most part, I believe I accomplished my goal. I felt at ease during the presentation and was able to cover the intended material. I did accidentally overlook the Reich biographical background commentary, however. In the future, I would perhaps make a note in the PowerPoint, so this is not overlooked. 

The teaching tools, e.g. the close reading guiding questions, were well received. I heard great feedback on the content of the lesson. It was new and interesting information for the class. I also heard some constructive criticism on the graphics. For example, it was suggested that my graphic on the rate history of the top income taxpayers could have been an entire slide. It could have not only been more prominently featured in the presentation, I could have spent more time pointing out the details of the graphic. I agreed. I was slightly concerned about time, so I would also suggest that I could have spent more time engaging the students on the close reading questions for the first Robert Reich video.  

Overall, I learned about putting together a lesson, finding thematic ties for the narrative, and recognizing the constraints of presentation without review. It is great to have this opportunity to hear from my fellow students and receive feedback.

Salem Witch Trials Mini-Lesson Reflection

After the delivery of this lesson, I was very pleased that generally it seemed like all of my participants enjoyed the activity. This makes me very hopeful for the potential success of this lesson if I were to implement this into my future classroom. There are definitely things that I added from my previous lesson that I felt made the whole activity a lot more streamlined. One example of this is that in this activity I added guiding questions for participants to ask one another in order to find out who the witch(es) were in the classroom. I felt as though this was useful for people to start a conversation with their peers and investigate who among them was not a “pure Puritan.”

I also thought that my personal goal for the lesson – to have students get a feel for the social climate of the time and connect that to themes of modern day – came across very well. I was happy to see at the end of my activity that my participants were a little surprised at the fact that no one in the class was a witch, because that is exactly the sort of reaction I want students to have when I use this lesson in my future classroom. I felt as though this really emphasized to participants that the Witch Trials were largely fueled by fear and paranoia. This I felt helped build a stronger connection between this time and history and the present.

This was further emphasized in my close on the mini-lesson since I attempted to have participants connect this paranoia that was rampant at the time of the Salem Witch Trials and connect it to events happening in modern day. My peers did a wonderful job connecting past events with the present, since they offered many great examples of people that have been or are persecuted due to fear, including: immigrants, the LGBTQA+ community, and police brutality against Black citizens. This did exactly what I hoped and had my participants see that persecution based off of fear is by no means something that we as a community have left in the past. With that being said, in my future classroom I want this closure of the lesson to encourage students to show empathy to these marginalized groups since they made these connections of past and present through the activity. Therefore, all in all I think my second mini-lesson was a very successful one and I hope my students get as much enjoyment out of it as my classmates did.

Symbolism in the Lion King Review

I feel like I did end up achieving pretty much the goals that I was striving for the most part. I was trying to allow the students the space for them to be able to see and understand how symbolism appears in text, video, and other sorts of medium. My goal was to be able to give students a practical model/example of how they can discover, work, and find symbolism in a variety of objects, ideas, actions, or such that show up in their media of choice. I also wanted it to be a more engaging and accessible way for students to be able to find, engage, and work with symbolism, which as will be seen in my what went well section, was something that was accomplished. I guess what didn’t go exactly to plan was having students work specifically with the Lion King. Not everyone had seen the Lion King or knew enough about it in order to properly and most deeply engage in the practice. Overall, I felt like it was successful in reaching the levels of achievement the lesson/activity was meant to.

There are quite a bit of different elements and things that went well as part of the carrying out of this lesson plan. The first thing that went well was that the model, the specific 3-sentence structure I had for the students to be able to follow to bring out the examples of symbolism was effective and as instruction it gave a great example for students to build on. A second aspect that was good was that there was a video and it gave the fact that there was an illustration and the fact that it indirectly gave an example of what was being done in class. On that similar topic, it was received well that I had the class talk about what symbolism is as a class before showing the video that told the students exactly what symbolism is. The final good thing that stood out was that the way the lesson was set up, planned, and carried out allowed taking a topic that was out of reach, especially with middle school, and made it more approachable and applicable to the student’s life and applying it to previous life.

Something that I could work on and improve on myself and which I learned was to be clearer and more specific on the instructions, especially due to the fact that this lesson wasn’t given as much time as properly needed to completely needed. I could have helped by saying the 3 sentences where they copied the same 3 sentences above, filling in the symbolism term, didn’t have to be the exact same structure. Instead, I could have highlighted how it could have varied slightly in word structure or arrangement of words to better fit the term and it’s part of speech, tense, or etc. What would be important to point out is that the main structure and idea of the sentence would need to be the same.

In terms of my timing, delivery, and workflow, I feel like it all went pretty smoothly and there didn’t exist any major hiccups or of that sort. I was able to get right into the lesson and start the discussion about symbolism. There was a little pause and disruption when I had to exit out of the powerpoint to play the video. Next time, as from experience this is the second time that this has happened, I should open the browser before I start and have the video up and ready to play. Other than that, I was able to transition right into the example and into student’s work time while walking around to help them. The sharing of their examples went way better because I had the email address more clearly shown.

Teaching Reflection #2

In my lesson, my students and I examined the question How do Artists Construct Political Cartoons to Convey a Message? Learning from the constructive feedback from my last lesson, the “Political Cartoon Activity” lesson went much more smoothly than my first lesson I presented, especially in the second half portion of the class.

The biggest positive from this lesson occurred in the final activity, as the lesson wrapped up in a conclusive and definitive manner. As opposed to last time where I didn’t have a clear ending to our lesson, there was a hard stop time, where the students presented their political cartoons for the entire class. Another positive to this class was that I was a more adaptive in my lesson, as when I realized during the lesson that we were running short on time, I decided to make the final activity a group activity to speed up the pace of the class.

A part of my teaching that can use quite a deal more refinement, which I’ve noticed from the delivery of this lesson and my time working at my high school, is modeling my directions for key activities. While deconstructing the political cartoon at the beginning of class in a sense was a model for how to construct a political cartoon, I could have clarified the creation of political cartoons activity by making one myself and using it as an example.

Although this activity was designed for only 25 minutes, I can easily imagine scaling it to the 91 minute period lessons I use for my high school students. Making it an individual activity would slow down the pace substantially, and the biggest positive to having a longer time period would be the ability to talk about the political cartoons afterwords, as many students created clever cartoons that sparked discussion questions.