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Rachel Cason Seminar Reflection Log Library

Mrs. Farnlacher, the librarian at Trace Crossings Elementary School, spoke to all the Samford interns about the school library and the roles of librarians. She began by reading the picture book Tadpoles Promise by Jeanne Willis. This story does not have a happy ending, and Mrs. Farnlacher says she uses it with third and fourth graders to show them that picture books are not just for babies. This also encourages students to make their writing original and unexpected. According to Mrs. Farnlacher, a librarians job is not to be a reading teacher. Her job is to foster a love of reading, help students find books that are appropriate for their interests and reading levels, and support classroom teachers. One important part of her job is to stay up-to-date on current childrens literature. This way, she can recommend books to students that will get them excited about reading. She can also suggest these books to teachers to use in their lesson plans or as read-alouds. Some current favorites are the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and books by Mo Willems. During library sessions, which last 30 minutes once a week for each class, the librarian might do a book talk, introduce them to technology and the setup of the library, or use books to teach them life lessons. The librarian is also in charge of buying books to stock the library. Mrs. Farnlacher buys books based on what the students and teachers need. Common Core requires that 50% of reading in the classroom be from non-fiction sources, so she has recently been purchasing many non-fiction books. She also buys current popular literature that students ask for. Mrs. Farnlacher has also written reviews for childrens literature. When reading reviews, she encourages teachers to think about what the book might be best used for. Although a book might get bad reviews, that doesnt necessarily mean it couldnt be useful for something. Mrs. Farnlacher also encourages teachers to get involved in writing reviews or going to American Library Association conferences to get more familiar with childrens literature.

Rachel Cason Seminar Reflection: Mrs. Stone

Mrs. Stone spoke to our class about safety and technology at Trace Crossings. When a Code Yellow is called, class may continue, but the windows must be covered and students must be very quiet as class proceeds. No one is allowed to leave their classrooms. Code Yellow might be called if there is a chemical spill in the science lab, a suspicious person in the hallway, or an accident within the vicinity of the school. A Code Red is more serious. This code would be called if someone or something identified as dangerous was found in the school. In this case, students must huddle in the corner of the room, away from windows and doors. The windows must be covered, and the teacher and students must be completely silent. Trace Crossings usually has one drill for Code Yellow and one for Code Red each month, in addition to one fire drill and one tornado drill each month. Trace Crossings is working to incorporate more technology into classroom instruction and school-wide events. Every third and fourth grader has access to a Nook, and there is a bring your own device policy for this age group as well. This means that students can bring in personal iPads, Kindles, or other electronic devices to use in the classroom. In second grade and below, students usually do not being their own devices, but teachers have access to iPads and iPods to share among their students. Mrs. Stone emphasized that technology is not meant to be used as a tool for drilling skills. Instead, it should be used to reach higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy. Students are encouraged to use technology for creating presentations, videos, or books that require them to think critically and creatively. The school currently focuses on five main areas of technology, the first being augmented reality resources such as Aurasma and Layer. Students also use Google apps, such as Google docs and Google forms, to share information or take tests. Teachers and students can create apps using programs like Blipit, iBuild Apps, and Yaps. Students create movies using websites, apps, or iMovie, and finally, they can use any of these resources to create presentations.

Rachel Cason Seminar Reflection: Mrs. Puchta

Mrs. Puchta spoke to our class about ways to keep students engaged during math lessons. It is important for teachers to know whether their students are checked in or checked out, and if they are checked out, they need to determine the cause of their wandering attention. Usually students stop paying attention because the lesson is either too easy for them or too difficult. If the lesson is too easy, students will tune out because they already understand the concept, and if it is too difficult, students will stop trying. There will always be both types of students in any class. Teachers must find a balance in their lessons to keep everyone engaged, and they must also differentiate their instruction to reach various levels of ability. Mrs. Puchta suggests that one way to keep students engaged is to create an environment that is open to sharing. Studies have shown that the average wait time in the classroom is only three seconds. As a result, students learn that they can avoid answering questions simply by waiting three seconds. It is important for teachers to allow plenty of time for students to think and respond, even if the silence feels awkward at first. Mrs. Puchta also reminded to always have high expectations for all students, even the ones who are disengaged because of a difficult home life. If we excuse them every time they are disengaged, they will remain this way, but holding them to high standards encourages them to reach their highest potential. Mrs. Puchta then suggested a few math games and strategies that are engaging for students. Number talks encourage students to share in class and develop their problem-solving skills. Teachers could also use a game called Knock Out to teach addition and subtraction, in addition to another game called Close to 100 to teach subtraction through 100. Although some students might learn by completing worksheets, students will be more engaged if they use fun activities, and then they are also more likely to remember what they are taught.

Rachel Cason Seminar: Mrs. Smith

Mrs. Smith, the counselor at Trace Crossings, told us about the responsibilities of being a school counselor at many different school levels. She has served as a counselor at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and she was also a classroom teacher. Although the state does not require school counselors to have prior experience as teachers, Mrs. Smith feels that teaching gives counselors more empathy. They can better understand the issues that both teachers and students face. Whether or not they have a teaching certificate, counselors must have a Masters degree in school counseling and take a Praxis test. The main role of the school counselor is to support teachers and students. The state plan for guidance and counseling outlines three needs that school counselors should meet: social/emotional, academic, and career-related. During the school day, the counselor might meet with a whole class of students, a small group, or an individual. Each class has one session per week of classroom guidance, but students who need additional support meet in smaller groups to work on their major concerns. For example, students who have trouble regulating their emotions meet together in what they call Friendship Groups. These groups help the students form strong, positive relationships. Other groups include a grief group and a group for students who struggle with basic social skills. Mrs. Smith pointed out that classroom teachers are counselors on a daily basis as well. Teachers must deal with each students abilities and limitations in order to differentiate instruction and make class time run smoothly. However, if a situation arises that the teacher does not have the expertise to handle, the counselor must be called. Teachers are required to be mandatory reporters. If a student tells a teacher about personal problems or dangerous situations, the teacher should not try to investigate the situation. Instead, he or she should report the incident to the school counselor. The counselor and DHR, if necessary, can then determine what is really going on.