UNIT: Breathing Life into Essays (Lucy Calkins) Adapted by Lindsay Shumaker Unit Reflection Planning, assessing, and

teaching this unit have allowed me to reflect in a number of ways. I have been reflective in my planning based on the students’ performance on assessments. I have been reflective in my teaching. I have been reflective in my feedback for my students. And now, I have reflected on the unit as a whole. When assessing what my students learned, I used a summative assessment rubric. The rubric was compiled by using the Michigan GLCEs, a pre-existing rubric from the Lucy Calkins unit, and a rubric my CT had created to align with the Ann Arbor report card. The rubric allowed me to see what individuals had learned, and also what the class as a whole had mastered. Also, at the end of the unit, I asked the students to write to me telling me at least one thing they learned, one thing they enjoyed, and one thing they would change for next time. I found that throughout the unit the students learned the steps of the writing process. They learned to make observations about the world around them, and turn those observations into ideas. They learned to use their ideas to formulate a thesis with supporting topic sentences. They learned the structure of an essay (in this case, an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion). They learned how to include information from outside sources, how to tell supportive mini stories, and how to incorporate lists, details, and other things to strengthen their writing. Many of the students wrote in their notes to me that they learned what essays were, a new genre. They also learned the importance of being productive and work well independently, because in this unit, it was easy to fall behind. When considering ideas for revision, there were a few things that came to mind. One of the challenges I faced was dealing with how to catch up students who had been absent or pulled from the room during writing workshop. This unit was not at all flexible and each day had a very specific isolated lesson. It was difficult for students to catch up when absent because they would have missed an entire mini-lesson followed by forty-five minutes of independent writing. During my three way meeting with my CT, my FI, and myself it was suggested that I teach four lessons a week, as opposed to five. If I were to teach lessons Monday through Thursday, I could dedicate Friday as a catch up day. During Friday’s writing workshop, I could catch up students who were gone, and spend additional time with any other students who may be in need of more support. Another idea for revision arose when considering differentiation. This

UNIT: Breathing Life into Essays (Lucy Calkins) Adapted by Lindsay Shumaker unit was very difficult for me to teach effectively when it came to trying to differentiate. I constantly battled the challenge of spending time with individuals who needed a lot of support versus spending time circulating the class and checking in with everyone. I also encountered a great deal of difficulty when facing the language barrier with my ESL students. I was able to utilize Susan as a resource with my students that needed additional help. She worked in a small group with them and gave them a great deal of support. I think that using a catch-up day each week will, in the future, afford me the opportunity to give those students the support that they need. I have also considered using parent volunteers to help me during individual writing time. As far as my students that write above grade level, I found that they often finished their writing early. It was suggested in the three way meeting that in the future, I allow those students to write additional paragraphs, and not limit them to three body paragraphs. The assessment rubric seemed to be another area in need of revision. I found that it was not fair to assess each student with the same expectations. Although my ESL students and some of my lower leveled writers did not succeed in every area of the rubric, they did make tremendous progress for themselves. The rubric for assessment did not show their progress nor did it praise their individual accomplishments. I will keep working toward revising the rubric so that it can assess each individual’s progress and successes. When reflecting, it is also crucial to considered insights I have learned throughout the unit. As previously stated, I learned the difficulty of balancing individual attention with whole class circulation. I learned that students work at different paces, and this needs to be accounted for. I also learned not to expect the same outcome from all of my students. I learned that feedback is labor intensive. The feedback via sticky notes seemed reasonable until I was lead teaching. It became obvious very quickly that it was not feasible to respond to each student every other day. Periodic individual conferences served as a way to give specific feedback without having to do it so frequently. Most importantly, I learned that flexibility and adaptability are crucial. My CT runs her classroom under the mentality that you must always “monitor and adjust.” I envy her flexibility and have realized, in this unit and student teaching as a whole, that it is imperative to having a successful classroom.

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