I feel fortunate to have completed my school-based practicum at Elgin Park Secondary School, under the mentorship of two experienced and supportive school associates (SAs).
I completed a short, two week, practicum from October to November 2012. During my short practicum, I taught a two lessons to a Grade 10 Honours class on creative writing with Othello by William Shakespeare and two lessons sonnets related to Hamlet, also by Shakespeare.I have included a sample of the creative writing with Othello lesson here and samples of the students work – unedited, as it was handed in to me, below. The provided lesson plan includes all prescribed learning outcomes, objectives, activities, materials and additional context required should a teacher decide to test out a similar lesson in his/her classroom.
“His most dear friend had surrendered to illness (much to soon, for sure – he was only twenty-eight), but now the expectations that emerged from the tragedy weren’t being fulfilled, and Iago’s blood boiled with fury. Thinking of what his companion had to endure, and especially now that he was gone for good, this was certainly not what he deserved in his honour. The pebbles that flew from Iago’s hot arm shattered against the ground as files played black in his mind.”
– An excerpt from a student’s opening paragraph from the creative writing with Othello lesson (Grade 10).
In this lesson plan, I challenged the students’ interdisciplinary understanding of history, creative writing, English, and fine arts.
I often try to incorporate an interdisciplinary perspective in class activities and assignments.
After the success of my short practicum, I returned to Elgin Park in January 2013, when I acquired to blocks of Grade 10. To these blocks, I taught a unit on Romeo and Juliet and short narratives. Prior to my practicum, I outlined unit and individual lesson plans for these classes and shared them with my SAs for their input. Based on the feedback of my SAs, I had an opportunity to improve my lesson plans before I put them into practice.
On my first day of practicum, I realized that the majority of my Grade 10 students were English as an Addition Language (EAL) learners and my school associates and I agreed that a more differentiated instruction style would be necessary. I needed to further adapt my lessons on Romeo and Juliet to support these learners. To support the EAL students, I included more audio/visual representations – including a film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet produced by the Globe Theatre – and collaborative activities and met with much success!
I also completed a unit on short narratives with my Grade 10 classes, and one of my lessons involved the students creating a comic strip from a short story they had read in class – I included a sample from two of my many talented artists in the class!
Halfway through my practicum, I added a block on Grade 12 to my teaching load. To the Grade 12 students, I taught a unit of poetry. (To see the students responses to the unit, please visit the Student Feedback page.)
I believe in providing students with choice on assignments and projects, so that they can better illustrate their individual strengths rather than limitations.
Whenever I teach a lesson to my students, I believe in checking for understanding prior to and after each activity. I also include regular formative assessment, which is as important to the students knowledge of their progress in a course as to the teacher.
Assessment is not just for teacher, but for students, parents and administration – therefore, the more regularly the formative and summative assessments are carried out, the more accurate the assigned grade with be at the end of a course.
Likewise, I do not believe in deducting late marks rather, if a student fails to complete a homework assignment, they may make up incomplete work at lunch, after school or by making an appointment with the teacher. It is my belief that late marks do not reflect a student’s ability in a course, but a work habit – and should be reported as a work habit in the student’s report card, not a grade.
SCHOOL COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
During my time at Elgin Park, I involved myself in the school community by taking part in the Grad Council – helping with events such as bake sales and chaperoning school dances – and the Nail Art Club, which enabled me to interact with students outside the classroom. During my short practicum, I was also fortunate enough to have the chance to supervise the Halloween Dance and help with the Valentine’s Day Bake Sale.