Jodi thought the Thanksgiving KWL went very well; I was definitely able to learn about what the students knew as well as what they wanted to know. The second lesson in this mini-unit that I taught was "Thankful Thoughts." Overall, she really liked the lesson and believed the students thought it was fun and exciting. She thought that I was very organized and had everything planned and laid out. The kids seemed to have plenty to do at their seats, and she said I did a nice job of making sure of that. After the bulletin board was made, she commented about how nice it looked.
She also provided me with a few suggestions and things to keep in mind that either my supervisor or myself had also come up with. She emphasized that it was a lesson that required extra help. Whether that help be another teacher, a parent, some older students, it wouldnÕt matter, but there is no way one person could do this on his or her own. I agree. She also suggested that I watch and monitor the entire room the entire time, especially when I am in the back making the prints with two of the students. Again, I agree. Perhaps I could have another volunteer be in charge of this "station" while I monitor and help students as they write. Jodi commented about how I wrote this sentence on the board,
I am thankful for _______ because __________________.
but never told them to model after it. She was right. I completely forgot. Overall, like I said, she felt positively about it.
Summary of comments made by my supervisor, Karleen Manchanda: KarleenÕs comments and suggestions were along the same lines as JodiÕs. Karleen shared with me that this was a challenging lesson to manage and that she was fairly surprised that I would choose this as one of my evaluations. Even so, she told me that I really did do a nice job.
Karleen complimented that I was well-prepared and well-organized, and she thought that my lesson and bulletin board were great ideas. She said I was very clear about my expectations of the students and that I had thought carefully about what they should do when finished. She believed the lesson plan to be very thorough, but questioned the correspondence between my objectives and evaluations. One suggestion that I find to be very important relates to my reading of the book. First of all, she feels that it was an excellent choice (as do I!), but it really would have had so much more meaning if I would have taken a few minutes afterwards to reflect upon and discuss it with the students. They could have shared their thoughts and feelings, or even any questions. Karleen also gave me the entire Thanksgiving journal idea and opened my eyes to different ways of using a KWL chart, both of which I decided to include in my final versions of the mini-unit lessons. When discussing management, she commented that over time I continue to grow in my firmness and follow through. She too suggested that during this lesson or in similar situations I take a minute to stop and walk around the room to continue to monitor the class while working with a couple students in the back. There were a few other suggestions she had when we conferenced that dealt mostly with mechanics and when to do what. For the most part, I believe she felt positively about this Thankful Thoughts lesson as well.
My Evaluations, Reflections, and Revisions:
As far as any revisions needed, I feel that I would have liked to have written lesson plans for some of the neat activity ideas in section VIII. I think that the ones I made are all adequate. However, while writing them, I more or less felt an obligation to address the ones that represent major and essential themes that I view as necessary to teach. This is why I ended up putting the "Other Activity Ideas" section in. Anyway, I am very excited about all the information I have collected. I truly feel that the more I add to and the more I fine tune this mini-unit, the better it will become. I have truly grown to become excited to teach it, EVERY YEAR!
I was unable to teach all of my lessons, and this is something I regret. In fact, I only taught two. However, Jodi's class did get to take part in a few of the "other activities" I had discussed, and they went really well. I guess that for a while I felt a little unsure about teaching such a touchy issue to a class that was not mine and that I was not really responsible for. I was somewhat uncertain about what to present to Jodi's class as far as content, and so I took the easy route and stuck with the basic theme about being thankful. I also used a lot of time working thoughts and issues out in my mind and trying to prepare this to the best of my abilities. Whenever I teach something, I learn so much about what works, and what, surprisingly, just does not work. This is where my only regrets stem from.
Overall, I am very pleased with how this mini-unit turned out. It is very satisfying to have been given such a challenge and have for the most part, come out on top. I look at the instruction of Thanksgiving in an entirely new light now, and if that were all that came out of this, I would still be pleased.
An ideal Thanksgiving mini-unit in my eyes should focus mainly on the autumn season, beautiful harvesting festivals, central themes of compassion and sharing and the true history of what the inhabitants of our country faced. It should expose the students to the two cultures who were united for a time with open arms and helpful hands and then separated for reasons of land ownership and power. It should also provide the students with an accurate glimpse of what probably occurred on the first Thanksgiving in a little bit of a watered down way. The question will always arise: Just how honest and informative can, should, and do we have the right to be with the children in our classrooms?
The theme of Thanksgiving has truth and integrity far and beyond what has been made of it. That should be the true goal when teaching this topic. I have come to believe that.