“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning."-Gloria Steinem

Me Poster.jpgOne of the most important skills for a teacher to master is effective planning for instruction for both the long and short term. Dedication to aligning lesson plans to Virginia state standards is so important for effective time management and to fit all necessary content into the span of a year. Being able to set up a long-term pacing guide is also extremely important, which is most effective when conglomerating ideas and creativity on a team. I believe that I have built effective planning skills this year, both as an individual and as a collaborator. In the fall, I spent over 100 practicum hours observing grade levels K through 5 in math, social studies, science, language arts, P.E., music, and art. During my practicum experience, I planned numerous lessons for each of the core content subjects, and taught at least one lesson in math, social studies, science, and language arts. On my mid-term evaluation from my University Supervisor, I was given an "Exceeds Expectations" for creating lesson plans that aligned with the state standards. While planning lessons on a variety of subjects, I realize how much I value lessons that begin with whole group instruction to establish a common background and foundation with the content, followed by small group or partner work with hands on activities to make the experience tangible and memorable for the students. Below are samples of some of the lessons that I planned during my Fall semester before student teaching.

Reading and Language Arts

I believe that part of being an effective Reading and Language Arts teacher is being familiar with the five pillars of a balanced literacy program; students need a range of exposure to phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. While most of my preparation has focused on lesson plans for upper elementary content, I have had practice planning for reading and language arts instruction in the primary grades as well by creating phonemic awareness and phonics lessons. Here are lesson plans from each of the five pillars of literacy:

1) Phonemic Awareness Lesson Plan: This is a lesson that I planned for first grade focusing on SOLs 1.4a: The student will orally identify, produce, and manipulate various unites of speech sounds within words by rhyming words and 4.b: The student will add or delete phonemes orally to change words. Students will gain the skills to detect and produce rhymes with a read aloud of Billy & Milly, Short and Silly by Eve B. Feldman, as well as play a "See you Later Alligator" world sort activity.
Click here to view lesson: Phonemic Awareness Lesson Plan

2) Phonics Lesson Plan: This is a lesson that I planned for first grade that focuses on SOLs 1.6e and f: The student will apply phonetic principles using word patterns to decode unfamiliar words and the student will blend beginning, middle, and ends sounds to recognize and read words. Students will collaboratively use a word sort and create charts with as many words as they can think of from a to z that end in the VCE pattern "-ate."
Click here to view lesson: Phonics Lesson Plan
Students work in collaborative teams and try to think of as many words as they can in two minutes that begin with the prefix "RE" during a prefix and suffixes lesson.

3) Fluency Lesson Plan: This is a lesson that I planned for fourth grade that focuses on SOLs 4.2d and 4.5l: The student will make and listen to oral presentations using language and style appropriate to the audience, topic, and purpose and the student will read and demonstrate comprehension of fictional texts, narrative nonfiction texts, and poetry, reading with fluency and accuracy. In this lesson plan, students are introduced to a variety of poems with expressive dialogue by Shel Silverstein. They will practice their own prosody by repeated reading--specifically echo and choral reading, and engage in a Reader's Theatre, referring to the "Favorable Fluency Tips" that they learned in class.
Click here to view lesson: Fluency Lesson Plan

4) Vocabulary Lesson Plan: This is a lesson plan that I planned for fourth grade that uses SOL 4.4 a & d: The student will expand vocabulary when reading, using context to clarify meanings of unfamiliar word and develop vocabulary by listening to and reading a of texts. In this lesson, students learn Tier 2 words by having the teacher fast map the words as they are read in context. Students will use flashcards to play a "Describe and Guess" game to emphasize the meanings of the learned words, and then will write a reflection for homework summarizing an important chapter from Muggie Maggie using at least five of the targeted words from the lesson.
Click here to view lesson: Vocabulary Lesson Plan
An excellent resource that I planned to use for an Alliteration Lesson. It contains 64 alliterative words begin with the same sound.

5) Comprehension Lesson Plan: This is a lesson plan on making Inferences, which is one of the most difficult comprehension strategies for fourth graders. In this lesson, I target SOL 4.5 a and b: Students will read and demonstrate comprehension of fictional texts, narrative nonfiction texts, and poetry by explaining the author's purpose and describing how the choice of language, setting, characters, and information contributes to the author's purpose. In this lesson, students will distinguish literal facts from indirect suggestions by listening to a read aloud of Tommy dePaola's Legend of the Hidden Paintbrush. As they are read the story, students will fill in a graphic organizer, analyzing small passages and sentences, underlining "clue" words, and making an inference about the author's intent in writing the passage. They will work in partners for part of the lesson and then individually. As an extension, students will infer meaning from small excerpts from books that they have never read, focusing on the feelings of the character and mood of the setting.
Click here to view lesson: Comprehension Lesson Plan

Familiarity with Materials and Resources: Being an avid reader as a child, I am familiar with children's books of all grade levels. Proper preparation for teaching does not solely reside in lesson plans; teachers should have a familiarity with a variety of children's books in order to choose the "cream of the crop." In my Curriculum and Readin Instruction course, we were required to create an Annotated Bibliography on thirty books over the course of the semester. The books had to range over several genres, grade levels, and incorporate the five pillars of literacy.
Click here to see my Annotated Bibliography
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A homemade worksheet that I planned for a class on making inferences

Differentiated Small Group Reading Instruction: During my practice experience, I had the opportunity to lead a small group of students on a 5.0 reading level. During this lesson, I worked on reading comprehension strategies--specifically making inferences on Pedro's Journal: A Voyage with Christopher Columbs by Pam Conrad. Making inferences is the comprehension strategy that my students have had the most difficulty with this year, so I wanted to reinforce my first whole group lesson by practicing this skill again with their small reading group book. This lesson had students making inferences about the characters in the book that they have read about up until the last three chapters (which they have not yet read.) Students will read these last three chapters together (which is only six pages total) and after each chapter, they will brainstorm with one another to see if the inferences that they have made have changed or if they wish to make new inferences. Students are provided with graphic organizers, and this lesson uses "Think-pair-share."
Click here to view lesson: Small Group Lesson on Making Inferences In order to give students adequate practice with making inferences, part of my planning for teaching was creating homemade worksheets with examples of sentences from their specific reading book that would promote student reactions or judgements about what was happening in the book.


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Part of effective planning is being prepared with many visuals and materials
During my Curriculum and Instruction Science methods course, I learned to construct a variety of lesson plan styles, including the "5 E" model and a "Science circus" with stations. I also learned how to incorporate a variety of hands-on activities into my lessons. Overall, Science has become my favorite subject to plan for and teach because of the plethora of ways to involve students in hands on activities that engages them and makes them ask the question "why.
One of the first lessons that I planned was a fifth grade lesson on Frequency and Pitch using the "5 E" model. To Engage the students I was teaching, I began the lesson by placing a different stringed instrument on each of the four clusters of desks (ex: violin, lute, ukelele, and banjo.) Each of these produces a very different sound, so I had students listen to the sounds that each made. To Explore, I had students create their own "stringed instrument" with strings of different materials and width and had students compare and contrast the sounds that each string made. To Explain, I discussed how strings vibrate at a specific frequency or pitch, and that length, thickness, tension and density all impact a frequency or pitch. To Extend, I ask students where they have heard objects with high or low frequency in their own lives. To Evaluate, I will check their written observations on their handouts as well as their homework responses the next day. Click here to view my 5E template: Frequency and Pitch 5E lesson.

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In this ecosystems stations, students matched animals with corresponding items that would appear in its habitat
I used the same "5 E" when teaching a lesson on Photosynthesis and Dormancy. I engaged the students at the beginning of the lesson by showing them leaves of a variety of colors and textures. Students described the similarities and differences between the colors, textures, and consistencies of green leaves (still containing chlorophyll) red and yellow leaves, (still alive but losing chlorophyll,) and brown leaves (dormant). Students scratched the back of the leaves to see which had moisture and made predictions as to why these leaves were different from one another. I used this as my anticipatory set or "hook" to lead them into a lesson on photosynthesis and dormancy.Click here to view my Photosynthesis and Dormancy 5 E lesson: Photosynthesis and Dormancy 5 E Lesson Plan.
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A poster that I made to help students remember the different between waxing and waning when learning the Phases of the Moon
I also learned how to create a

"Science Circus" with learning stations following the "5 E" model.
The science circus lesson that I co-taught with another student teacher was a closure lesson that reviewed all important parts of the Living Systems Sol 4.5. Each station addressed one of the following topics: a) plant and animal adaptations; b) organization of populations, communities, and ecosystems and how they interrelate; c) flow of energy through food webs; d) habitats and niches; e) changes in an organism’s niche at various stages in its life cycle; and f) influences of human activity on ecosystems. The station correlating with SOL 4.5a was called "Adaptation Sensation," 4.5b and c was entitled "Food Webs," 4.5d was "Match your Habitat," 4.5e was "Guess Who?" and 4.5 f was called "Human Effects."

Click here to view our 5 E Ecosystem "Science Circus" Lesson Plan: 5 E Science Circus Ecosystems Lesson Plan

Here is a video documenting our Science Circus! Ecosystems Science Circus

Students analyzed a variety of healthy chlorophyll-filled leaves, leaves changing with the Fall season, and dormant leaves, analyzing the differences in color and texture.

Here is a video documenting our Science Circus! Ecosystems Science Circus

To model rotation verus revolution and the axial tilt during the seasons, I used this helpful model and had students create their own in class
Planning a unit and pacing guide
I also learned how to create a module during my Science methods course, which helped build my long-term planning skills of creating a unit over time and helped me become more familiar with developing a pacing schedule. The module that I created was on the fourth grade Life Processes SOL 4.4. I created a week long unit covering the entirety of the SOL, with detailed lesson plans for each day that I would be teaching.
Click here to view my module: Nature in your Neighborhood Module.

I also planned an entire unit on the Solar System SOL 4.8, the Earth, Moon, and Sun relations during my student teaching experience. While it was a successful unit, I relied on using many teaching models and visuals to help students understand more difficult concepts.

Social Studies

In my opinion, Social Studies is an extremely large responsibility to teach; a teacher must adequately sample the most important content to cover over a wide range of history as well as teach students about how our government works and how to become active citizens. During my practica experience, I learned a variety of lesson plans that helped me present history in an engaging and effective way. Whether it was the Madeline Hunter Model or an Inquiry Based lesson, I learned how to help students learn history and relate it to their own lives. The term "Social Studies" covers a wide range of skills and content, and I feel that my Curriculum and Instruction course helped me develop planning skills covering many of the important components of social studies:

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Virginia Studies and Geography:

To prepare for teaching Virginia Studies in fourth grade, I created a Maps and Globes lesson plan covering VS.1 and VS.2, where students learn Virginia's history, physical geography, and native peoples. In this lesson, students use the "Five finger rule" to learn about three historic Native American tribes in the five regions of Virginia:
Click here to view my Virginia Studies Maps and Globes Lesson Plan: Virginia Studies Maps and Globes Lesson

Melding HIstory and the Arts:

Part of teaching social studies involves instructing a history lesson that incorporates the arts and culture of a time period or group of people. I created a lesson plan that taught students about the Civil Rights Movement by having them analyze the lyrics to songs and anthems characteristic of that time period. It is important to incorporate the arts into social studies instruction because they help students to understand not only history but the entire cultural experience. Art forms such as music can make these cultural experiences relatable. This lesson would be a good way to embellish history instruction during a Civil Rights Unit.
Click here to view my Civil Rights Anthem Lesson Plan: Civil Rights Anthems

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Students use the artwork of Rousseau to learn an SOL-related topic in class.


I believe that Social Studies instruction is the perfect time to teach content through multiple subjects. One of the lessons of which I am most proud is a lesson I made that combined education on civic engagement, history of Massive Resistance, and a Language Arts persuasive writing SOL all into one. Students learned about Massive Resistance by studying Barbara Johns, a 16-year old heroine from Farmville, Virginia who led a student strike that aimed at gaining educational equality during a time of racial segregation and discrimination. Her actions helped inspire the Brown vs. Board of Education case that later declared segregation unconstitutional. This history lesson was combined with teaching students about responsible citizenship. Students were asked what constitutes a hero and what it means to be civically engaged. They then practiced a writing SOL by creating a persuasive argument for why Barbara Johns was a hero.
Click here to view my Barbara Johns Lesson plan: Barbara Johns Lesson Plan

Connecting Timeless Issues:

When planning for Social Studies, it is important for students to recognize themes that occur across cultures and time periods. Making connections between the past and present is extremely important for student growth and learning. Creating this lesson plan helped me frame a lesson that addressed the theme of segregation and discrimination, showing its occurrence and reoccurrence across time. In this "Inquiry" less model, my catalyst was showing a clip of one of Nelson Mandela's anti-apartheid speeches in 1990. Students were able to make the connection that discrimination has still been a present issue in the United States. Students practiced their Language Arts inferencing reading strategy by reading speeches from famous Civil Rights activists such as Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and Fannie Lou Hamer and inferring their meaning.
Click here to view my Inquiry Lesson plan: Inquiry Lesson Plan Model

Civic Engagement:

Part of effective Social Studies planning should include lessons that inform students about our government and political students. In order for students to grow up to function effectively in society, they need to be familiar with the United States democracy and know their rights as citizens. When the Presidential Elections were occurring in November, I planned a lesson on the Electoral College and taught a lesson on the history of its creation, how the system worked, and had students participate in an electoral college vote. Click here to view my Electoral College Lesson Plan: Electoral College Lesson Plan


When planning for math lessons, it is important to focus on each of the five objectives from the National Council of Teacher Mathematics standards: problem solving, communicating, reasoning, connections, and estimation. When I think about planning for math, I always immediately think of what manipulatives or visuals I can use to augment students' understanding of concepts. Manipulatives can be used in teaching a wide variety of topics in mathematics. Hands-on, tactile experiences are especially helpful for building understanding in specific mathematical concepts. For example, dienes blocks are extremely helpful for place value and borrowing, while Geoboards are good to use for area and perimeter. Pattern blocks and Cuisenaire rods are wonderful for fractions. One important philosophy that I believe in when it comes to planning math lessons is to choose scenarios in word problems or real life that make the numbers and concepts learned relatable to the child's experience. Children should not solely learn how to estimate. They should learn why being able to estimate is important. It is important for children to know that they will need to be able to estimate to see if they can buy their favorite toy when they only have a certain amount of money in their pocket and have to include tax in the payment. It is important for students to know that every time that they eat out at a restaurant when they are older, they will have to know how to use decimals and fractions to calculate a tip for their meal. I aim to make my math classes more than calculating numbers; my students will always know the benefit of what they are learning to their lives.

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Part of effective mathematics instruction is looking to appropriate resources. During my practica experiences,where I observed all grade levels at Matoaka, I was introduced to resources that have been helpful to lesson planning and creation of problems. Click here to see my top five favorite online web resources that I utilized at the beginning of my practica experience.

Part of my planning for math instruction was researching articles on students with disabilities to differentiate instruction. This assignment reflects a wonderful experience I had went I learned creative ways and crafts to teach students Order of Operations as well as providing me an opportunity to research articles on Students with disabilities and accommodating them in the classroom as well as finding creative ways to incorporate technology in the classroom.
Click here to read my Institute Reflection and Research Article Reviews on Differentiation.

This semester, I had to either create or locate several problems and administer these problems to students. I enjoyed this problem, because there are so many ways to reach the answer, and students utilized many strategies to find the answer, including drawing pictures, pre-algebra, and a number line. I would use this problem again in my fourth grade classroom.

While planning for teaching math, I had a problem solving log where I practiced creating problems and worked with students in a small group who attempted to solve them. Watching different students use different strategies to solve the problems I created helped me see how it is important to teach a concept in multiple ways so that it makes sense to each child. Also, watching where students made errors helped me plan for specific skills that I wished to target. It also helped me see when I needed to rephrase math problems to clarify them. Click here to see my Problem Solving Log. It is a compilation of the three different problems that I administered to a group of fourth grade students that helped me with planning for actual lessons. One problem involved area and perimeter, one number concepts, and one fractions.

The first lesson that I ever student taught was a Transformations lesson on Reflections, Rotations, and Translations. I used colored paper and cut out identically sized shapes, having students paste them to graph paper and model reflection, rotation, and translation. At the end of the lesson, students performed the "Cha Cha slide," which incorporates all of these movements when saying "reverse" "slide" and "one hop." When students danced to the "Cha cha slide," they had to shout out which movement they were doing--whether it was a reflection, rotation or translation. I believe that visuals, manipulatives, and interactive activities help bring math to life for students. Click here to view my Transformations Lesson Plan.


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There are so many ways that technology can enhance education, but using it takes effective planning and coordination. I believe that PowerPoint presentations can be very effective for certain lesson plans, especially if students need to view images one after another. When students needed to view planets during the Solar System unit, I found PowerPoint presentations to be very effective for instruction. I also value Type to Learn, which enhances students' comfortability with the computer and typing efficiently. I think that being able to type well is essential to functioning effectively in present society. Technology is also great to promote student reading. While I notice that certain students have difficulty focusing or lack interest in reading during our fifteen minute silent sustained reading period, they love to listen to audiobooks on Playaways. This helps students engage with reading in a different way, and promotes Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, catering to auditory learners. I believe that Playaways help with student fluency, because students are hearing dialogue with prosody, and hear how expressions and inflections in vocal tones are supposed to sound. I also am familiar with and support the use of Vbrick Systems, which can livestream news to each classroom at the beginning of every day. This classrooms connected to one another and provides a connection between the administrators and the classroom. The Vbrick System helps spread school news quickly, keeping everyone informed. Our Vbrick System even announced birthdays to the entire school, which fosters a sense of community that each person is special and worthy of recognition. Other programs that I support are the "Accelerated Reader" or A.R. quizzes that students can take in less than five minutes on a computer during free time. Accelerated Reader Quizzes promote students to read books on their own that are on grade level. Almost any book that they own has an "A.R." quizz on the website, and students take quizzes assessing their comprehension of the book. In my current student teaching classroom, students have to take four A.R. tests per semester. These quizzes promote constant, careful reading, and I would like to continue this tradition. Finally, websites that believe to be educational are Education City, Math Blaster, IXL, and Study Island. Another website that has been extremely helpful for planning is Reading A-Z , which has short leveled reading books across all genres and helps reinforce concepts that I am teaching, especially with Comprehension. Finally, if I were ever to incorporate music into teaching an SOL related subject, I could use Finale or Sibelius music notation software to put lyrics to music and incorporate them into a lesson plan.