Tuesday, December 15, 2009


It's always nice to reflect on what you've done when you finish something.  The last lab at St. Mary's is over and I feel very grateful for what I have learned. Teaching at St. Mary's was one of the best experiences I have had yet with teaching.  It gave me a huge sense of accomplishment each Monday.  I always try to make the children have a better day than before I arrived at St. Mary's by giving compliments and hopefully teaching the children something new each day.  The best part of St. Mary's is that it reminded me every week of how much I can't wait to get out into the real world and begin my own programs and learning environments.  I appreciate all the time that I spent at St. Mary's and I will never forget all of the valuable things that I have learned there.  

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bring on the Circus !

This weeks lab was based on a circus theme.  All of the children were excited to see most of the costumes that the "college kids" had worn.  My group was assigned to do what every physical education teacher has to do on a day-to-day basis, which is cleaning and organizing equipment.  While most people would think that cleaning out closets and other rooms would be boring, I found it fun.  There is so much equipment that a teacher could easily forget that they have and once they see it, it could bring thoughts and ideas for new games!
Equipment that every teacher knows of, such as hula-hoops could spark a new creative idea.  During free time on monday the children were so creative that they made a "house" out of hula-hoops.  (How come I never thought of that !?).  They were so proud of their "homes" and they even let me join them inside!  What great imaginations these children have.  As a physical education major, I hope to use the children's ideas and make them into opportunities for the entire class to be part of.  
At the end of the day my group was assigned to come up with a closing song and dance.  
were supposed to do the Ho-key Po-key, but the CD player was broken.  We knew there was no need to panic though because there were songs on Prof. Yang's ipod and there were 5 of us to be creative and make up a dance.  We chose "Shake Out Your Sillies" by The Wiggles.  This song went perfect with out circus theme because it was so silly and spunky.  The children all participated in the song and seemed to have enjoyed it very much.  It was a lot of fun!  Song's and music have a great impact on the children in such a positive way.  Once you turn on the music it's like you're turning on their energy and eagerness to play.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pre-K Made My Day :)

When I stepped into St. Mary's Monday morning I had no idea what to expect.  I was so used to being in the gymnasium and outside with the students that it made me a bit nervous to think about being in a classroom with them.  I was assigned to the youngest group of pre-k children which so happened to be Prof. Yang's daughter, Lilly's class.  Lilly took charge right away and showed me where she hung up her jacket and her book bag.  She then brought me into her classroom and I introduced myself to her teacher Mrs. M.
As I worked with the children we colored and made "cookies" out of play-dough.  I interacted with most of the children but mostly Lilly, Mallory, and Jack who seemed like they had known me for years.  They kept telling me how other classmates of theirs weren't present because they were sick and had "throwed up".  The children were very concerned for their fellow classmates who were absent that day.  They seemed to be very careful about things, especially getting sick.  I'm guessing that they get this from their parents and teachers being so concerned about swine flu, etc.  Jack taught me that he is supposed to cough into his elbow because it spreads less germs.  This is a great concept that I hadn't learned until I was in middle school.  
Another healthy choice that the students made was to wash their hands after coloring and playing with the play-dough.  They even had a cute song from Barney that they sang to remind themselves how to thoroughly wash their hands. 

"Tops and bottoms
Tops and bottoms
In between
In between
All around your hands
All around your hands
Now they're clean
Now they're clean."

They also had many other songs that were catchy and educational at the same time.  One was "Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up" and "Good morning" Where each student shook hands with the person next to them.  
Besides all of these songs, there was another factor that effected the atmosphere of the classroom in a positive way.  It was Mrs. M.  Just being in her classroom for one hour, I didn't want to leave because it's hard to find a room full of all happy people these days.  As a teacher, I plan to do what Mrs. M does.  She makes each student feel special and safe in her classroom.  She uses techniques that make things much easier.  She has a class leader which changes every day to be fair.  This student gets to be line leader and bring in ONE toy of their own for the day and show it during show and tell.  Mrs. M told me that she doesn't allow the students to bring their own toys into the classroom because then they become selfish and don't share.  The fact that the toys aren't theirs takes away the "mine" and "yours".  Each toy in the classroom belongs to Mrs. M and because she is sharing with the students, they know that they have to also share with one another.  
Mrs. M also uses physical techniques on the children to remind them how to act properly in the hallway.  While we were walking single file down the hall to wash our hands, the children were walking "quiet as a mouse".  Which meant that their hands were up near their heads in a cupped form looking like mouse ears.  This way the children were reminded to be quiet like a mouse, and they were keeping their hands to themselves.  When the children were in the classroom sitting in a circle and going over the date in English and Spanish, Mrs. M was using techniques to keep the children calm.  She had the children sit crisscross applesauce with their hands in their laps.  This kept their hands to themselves and also kept them from getting their fingers stepped on if someone was to walk by.  
Each student in Mrs. M's classroom is unique in their own way, but each and every one of them responded so well to her way of accomplishing things.  She had such positive reinforcement for each child.  From the moment a child walked into the room and was greeted with such passion, to the moment I left the classroom when Mrs. M still hadn't taken the smile off of her face, there was no time for any student to feel like they weren't special.  I wish there were more places like Mrs. M's classroom.  

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's Halloween, Let's Stay Lean!

During Monday's lab was the first time that our group worked with the pre-k children.  We observed leaping, horizontal jumping, and sliding.  It was interesting to me the large difference in ability from pre-k to just first grade.  Only two years between and the children advance so much.  The pre-k group was ready for any task that was thrown at them, but their responses to doing things such as horizontal jumping were extremely different than the responses of children slightly older than them. Their motor skills are not as advanced.  Although they were jumping and moving forward, they didn't thrust their arms or do anything extra to propel themselves.  This is what makes me realize how important it is to teach children from the youngest ages possible.  As a physical education teacher I will need to correct and strengthen the tiniest things because I don't want them to become habits that are hard to get rid of.  

As I was explaining to the children how to slide correctly I could see that they were very interested in what I was saying.  They want to do things and "show off" the things that they know how to do.  They love the attention and using positive comments after they finish a task is a great way to keep them motivated.  Although the children were very interested in what I was doing they were quickly distracted when Blaze, the Cortland Red Dragon's mascot came to visit.  He played with the children and just the costume had all of the children hyped up and ready to play!  This lab went very well and was extremely enjoyable!  It was amazing seeing the children's faces light up as Blaze walked into the gymnasium.  I'm so glad to be a part of this program, who would've thought that going to lab and working with these children could make my day and always put me in such a great mood?

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Hall of Shame"

Physical education can be dangerous at times.  After all, it is physical.  When then again... What isn't dangerous at times.  As I am becoming more familiar with teaching and education I am realizing how much thought needs to go into each and every class.  One game that has been thought over many times is dodgeball.  It has even been banned from some schools.  It has become part of the "Physical Education Hall of Shame" because of its unsafe atmosphere and the fact that many students aren't comfortable playing it.  Students can also get through an entire game without using any physical activity at all.  The game will go on even if only a few of the class members are playing it while the others stand in the back and avoid being involved.  
Although "dodgeball" is in the "Hall of Shame" It is still played.  Many students do enjoy the game, therefore I believe that it should still be played.  There is nothing better than playing a game that most of your students enjoy.  In order to incorporate dodgeball into a days lesson, I have a new game that is very similar, called "Medic".  
In order to begin medic you have to start off with two teams.  Each of these teams begin on opposite baselines of the basketball court.  There are six balls on the center line of the court (Only six in order to be more safe and keep aware of where each ball is located).  On the blow of the whistle, each team races to the center and tries to grab as many balls as possible.  As soon as the balls are in your hand you're ready to launch it.  You're only allowed to aim below the waist (For safety precautions).  This means that if you are hit in any other area of the body it does NOT count.  If you are hit you must sit down and the one person who is secretly selected as the "medic" has the power to touch you and help "heal you" so that you can get back in the game.  The "medic" wants to be as protected as they can be from getting hit with the balls because they are the only way to get the team members who have already been hit back besides if they catch the ball.  After being hit, while the people who have been hit are sitting on the floor, they have the opportunity to catch the balls that the opposing team is throwing.  If they catch a ball, the person who threw it has to sit and they are back in the game.  Other members of the team who have not been hit are also allowed to catch balls that have been thrown and get the thrower to have to sit down.  The winner is the team that gets the medic out along with the rest of the opposing team.  
This game is much more efficient than regular dodgeball.  It includes everyone in the class, whether they just want to try to catch the ball or protect the medic (if they don't like to throw), If they want to be the medic and use dodging skills, etc.  In this game there is no point where the students have to sit out because they have been hit.  It is not dangerous. Especially if you are using foam balls and sticking to the (below the waist) rules.  With only six balls it limits the chances that a student would get hit by an unexpected ball, and even if they do, it shouldn't hurt.  The "medic" is a great way to have someone volunteer to be the "target" instead of having students in the class be targeted because of their lack of experience or skills.  
I don't see why having a modified and supervised game of "dodgeball" wouldn't be considered a great way for children to further their physical education.  They are learning teamwork, dodging, throwing, catching, space awareness, endurance, and concentration.  In doing this they are getting a great workout and their heart rates up.  Lets turn some more "Hall of Shame" games into fun activities for students.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Superhero Extravaganza!!!

Superhero Extravaganza!

Monday's lab was based on a superhero theme. It was very interesting for me to walk into lab and see all of my peers wearing costumes. For the children it was even more exciting! Their eyes lit up as they asked what some of my peers were and they weren't shy to question why some of us were dressed the way that we were. I was asked by a 1st grader why I had a Superman shirt on because I am a girl. Haha! It's a lot of fun to teach children new games that they enjoy, but it's also nice to see how creative they can get with games that they already know. During "free time" a few of the children got a group together and began to play Duck Duck Goose. Instead of the ducks they decided to name people whatever popped in their minds first. It was amazing to see their eyes light up as they laughed at each others wondering and creative imaginations. They each payed attention to what one another said and they began to copy the funniest names and laugh harder with each time it was used. Frank (a peer of mine) became "cheese" and I became "carrots" because of my hair. It was a great experience for me to see what a great time these children had just by using their imaginations. It began with them imagining some of us as actual superheroes, instead of "the college kids". It ended with them laughing and smiling at their own silly twists that they added to each game.
believe that by us dressing up and showing the students that we care, it captured their attention much faster than on a normal lab day. A wise teacher once told me that "They don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." Ever since I heard this, I realize how true it is and how much I can do little by little each day to prove to the children that I care about them. Every little bit counts!

Monday, October 12, 2009

St Mary's Week one

This was the first lab that we began to teach actual games to the students at St. Mary's after school program.  I always knew that I was very good at communicating to children one on one, but trying to get a large amount of children to listen to you at once is a harder task than I imagined.  I figured that the students would love to learn new games and play them until they had no more energy, but at lab I realized it's much more complicated than that.  It's a challenge to get the children to listen to you, but once you realize how to get their attention, by showing how excited you are about the game you're trying to teach.  If we don't show that we are interested in the game, the students aren't going to want to learn it.  Once the game started the children were interested to see what was inside the buckets during "The endless bucket" game.  After they accomplished one or two cards, they became bored with the game.  One student Nicholas was quick to get bored and he had other students follow him to find a new task.  It seemed as though these boys were trying to show off.  They wanted individual attention on the things they were doing and creating themselves.  I think it's a great thing that they wanted to be creative, but with a gymnasium full of children and one teacher, it wont be safe in the future.  From now on I am going to focus on ways to get each and every student involved in the activities I am teaching.  I need to figure out how to make each game exciting and challenging enough for everyone.  While doing this I also need to make sure that each student is capable of the tasks I am challenging them with.  Im up for anything !