This was the final week of my placement. Monday I worked with my student and his partner on this poster about the different kinds of farming. It was heartbreaking to see that my special pal wasn’t contributing to the poster in any way because his partner wouldn’t let him. I suggested that my special pal draw the illustration to go along with the summary and his partner agreed, but made him draw the picture tiny in the corner of the poster. Once my pal was finished drawing the picture, his partner took the poster and drew his own huge picture. I thought this was very unfair to my special pal. Sometimes at lunch I will talk to my other special pal, but I didn’t see him. When we got back to class I asked him where he was and he sadly told me that he was sitting my himself, so on Wednesday I made sure to go sit and talk to him at recess. I didn’t think that my special pal would really care that Wednesday was my last day, but when I told him, he seemed kind of sad and kept asking me why I was leaving and when I would be coming back. Overall, this placement has been a very interesting experience. I have been so used to working with younger grades, that it was nice to be in a 6th grade classroom. I liked the special pals program. I think there a few kinks that need to be worked out, but the intentions of the program are great. I am already looking forward to volunteering next semester. The semester flew by!
So, my class went on another field trip on Monday. The class was gone the whole day, so stayed in the SDC and worked with another student. At first Melissa and I didn’t know what to do because both of our students were on field trips. One of the aids in the classroom said that she was going to put us with another student, so we sat there and waited for her to give us a responsibility. While we were sitting there one of the students, Destiny was working at her desk with an aid, and she told us to come over and work with her. I had a lot of fun working with her and helping her “get her three buttons” to earn a prize. On Wednesday, I didn’t really do anything but help my student with a vocabulary word crossword puzzle. It was really frustrating because my student clearly did not know the vocabulary words. He would read the definition and then point to a random word on the list and say, “Is this the word?” I would explain why it was the wrong choice. Then the next definition was the random word he pointed to and I explained, but he did not remember what I said about the word and picked another random word. I wish that his teacher gave them more exciting activities to learn the words, because obviously using a crossword puzzle is not a tool that works for everyone.
Monday was a great day with my special pals. First, I worked with both of them on a crossword puzzle that was supposed to give them extra practice on their vocabulary words. This crossword puzzle was not only frustrating for them, but for me as well, because the worksheet didn’t have enough boxes for many of the words and this confused the students. I tried to get them to skip those words, but both of them have to do their work in order of the questions. After we were done with the crossword puzzle (finally) we went back to the classroom for a science experiment. They are learning about clouds and how they form, so this experiment was supposed to be a simulation of a cloud forming. All you need is a liter soda bottle, paper towels, water, and matches. You pour a little water inside the bottle and then roll up a paper towel with a little bit sticking out the top. Next, you light the paper towel on fire and let it burn for a few seconds then you push the paper towel inside the bottle and quickly cap the bottle. The water and the smoke trapped inside the bottle created a “cloud”. The students bent the bottle in different directions to see how the air pressure affected the way the cloud looked. The students loved this science experiment mainly because it involved fire! A few minutes after we were finished with our experiments the fire alarm went off due to all of the smoke from our science experiment! I guess next time, the experiment should be done outside.
Wednesday was a short volunteering day. One of my special pals wanted to go to the library, so I went with him. He kept looking for drawing books and couldn’t find where they were. I encouraged him to ask the librarian for help, but he insisted he knew where the books were. I think he was too scared to ask for help. He finally found a book about explosions and was content with his choice.
Short post this week because, surprise! there was a 6th grade field trip on Monday. I wish that my teacher would have let me know because their field trip was to CSU Chico and I could’ve met up with my special pal and his class. Since my special pals weren’t there, I ended up hanging out with Melissa and her special pal. He was really sweet and gave us both pumpkins for Halloween! He originally had only one pumpkin for Melissa, but he felt bad for me and looked around the classroom for another one to give to me. He was really excited and felt special that he had two special pals for the day. On Wednesday my special pals were taking a standards test and so I sat there the entire time I was there facilitating the test and keeping them focused. I hope next week will be a little more exciting!
This week at my placement site, I helped my students catch up on their work from the previous week. My students do not like being pulled out of the classroom to work on their work. They feel really stressed out and overwhelmed that they are missing work in their mainstream classroom. One of my students kept talking about how concerned he was about missing his book group meeting. I felt bad because the teacher had told me that my special pals are not in her classroom during the book meetings. I wish that the students could be able to go during the book group meeting time because they don’t feel like they are a part of their mainstream classroom. I’m not sure how to react to the students when they make comments about not being included in the classroom. On a more positive note, one of my special pals has been better about playing games during recess instead of isolating themselves. On Monday we played basketball and then on Wednesday I got my special pal to join in a huge game of tag at recess with his other classmates. I had to ask the students in his class if he could join in because I could tell my special pal really wanted to play, but he was afraid to ask. I hope that as the weeks go on, he will become more confident and eventually ask to play in games himself.
This week Melissa and I focused on getting our students to play a different game at recess than they normally are used to. Melissa’s student likes to play this intense imaginary, fantasy game and my students like to play on the swing or walk around. On Monday we got to recess right as it started, which was perfect to get a game started with all of them. Melissa’s student wanted to play his fantasy game, but we explained to him that his game is something that we don’t really understand and we would like to play another game. He was really offended that we didn’t want to play his game anymore. With a lot of convincing and promising, we were able to get him to play basketball with us. My special pal on the other hand, was excited to play basketball with us. He asked a lot of questions about the rules. He kept saying that he only likes to dribble because he’s a bad shooter. I told him that he was probably better at shooting than I was, and that gave him a little confidence. I was proud that Melissa and I got a 2 on 2 basketball game going! Afterwards, my special pal said, “that was fun!” On Wednesday our plan was to try to get them to play again, but as always in the teaching world, things don’t go as planned. Melissa’s pal had gotten in trouble and had to sit out for recess, and one of my pals had was still eating his lunch because he missed the food line. That left my other special pal. There is a student in his mainstream class that sits next to him and he is always really friendly to my pal. I told my pal to ask his groupmate to play basketball with us to even out the teams, but he wouldn’t do it. I could tell that he really wanted to play with him, but he was nervous to ask. He kept making up excuses not to ask him to play. I think that next week, I will ask the student ahead of time if he will play with my pal, so my pal can see that he would be willing to play with him and he has nothing to be afraid of. Hopefully, next Melissa and I can get a big basketball game going, and eventually step out and just facilitate.
My placement went pretty smoothly this week. Melissa and I go to our placement at the same time and our pals are always at recess together. My student is always on the swings. As soon as he is excused for lunch, he goes straight towards to swings. I always ask him if wants to play a game together but he just prefers to swing for the whole duration of lunch. It’s hard to interact with him when he’s on the swing, so one day I swung on the swing next to him. During class I helped my special pals work on their early human posters. They were a little concerned why they were the only ones working on their poster. They had to outline their chart in black marker and one of my special pals outlined his chart in a very weird way. He didn’t do all the horizontal lines and then the vertical lines, he traced the lines in a staircase pathway. On Mondays one of special pals goes to speech. Observing this speech session was really interesting. The speech therapist did a great job of integrating games and working on sounds. We played a fun board game that focused on pronouncing “R’s”. In between turns the speech therapist had cards with pictures of words that had “R’s” and before he could roll the dice, he had to correctly pronounce the word. The speech session only lasted for 15 minutes, maybe even less. I know there’s only one speech therapist for the whole school, but I think that the student would benefit much more than just 15 minutes once a week.