The peer teaching lesson I created was on graphing through problem solving in an inquiry-based environment. I had a broad idea of what I wanted to accomplish, and with the help of my professor, peers, and host teacher I was able to create the lesson that accomplished the concept I wanted to sharpen. My host teacher gave me some ideas to keep the students engaged, because she was afraid if there was a lot of wait time that the students would get out of hand. My professor gave me the idea of showing pictures of charts and graphs, whereas my peers strengthened my overall lesson.
With weeks of trial and error, I was able to create the graphing lesson that had all the aspects | wanted and zoomed in on the idea of graphing through problem solving. My lesson started out with an engaging introductory lesson that would give us data to eventually chart and graph. I gave the students three minutes to create the longest paper chain after I modeled what a paper chain look like. As the clock was counting down, the students were getting more anxious and nervous. Once the three minutes was up, I asked them to count their loops, write the number on the index card I gave them, and pass it to the end of their row.
I had a big poster board hanging on the chalk board and I asked the person at the end of the rows to shout out numbers. While they were shouting out their numbers, I wrote the numbers in an unorganized manner. The numbers were all over the place, some were big, and some were small. Afterwards, I asked the students which numbers were the boys, which numbers were the girls, which number was Student V’s, and which number was on the board the most. A lot of the students guessed, but when asked to prove their answer the student couldn’t do so.
We discussed how unorganized the data was and how we could get the data more organized. The students responded with charts, T-Charts, and other suggestions. With their suggestions, I asked if a tally chart would be okay to use and they agreed. In our next step, we organized the data into the tally chart, which had the numbers on one side and tallies of how many occurrences the number was on the poster board. My next step was where the magic really happened. I had painters tape already on the board in an L-shape. This showed a prominent x-axis and y-axis.
I asked the students to write their name on the sticky note that was given to them. Afterwards, I asked the person with the lowest number on the tally chart to come up. Once the student was up there I taped their paper chain on the board and had them place their name below their chain. This continued until all the paper chains were on the board going from the lowest to the highest number of loops on their chains. Afterwards, I asked the students what this looked like because it looks really familiar. The students shouted with excitement that it was a bar graph, and that really made the lesson become real.
I had gotten to the point where we created the graph without them knowing and it was such a surprise to the students. Then, I asked them if one of the other fourth grade classes came into the classroom, do you think they would be able to read the graph and understand what we measured? The students started to say yes, but hesitated. This is when I asked them what a graph needs in order to become a functional graph, meaning with labels and a title. We discussed some names and label for the graph, and I placed them on the board along with the graph.
Looking at what the class created, I was very excited and pleased with the job the students had done. My closing activity was a worksheet I created on graphing and labeling Starburst squares. The worksheet had a graph with the four Starburst colors on the bottom. The students needed to organize their cup of Starburst into the four colors and shade in the number of each that they had. After they were finished, the students needed to label the x-axis and y-axis and give the whole graph a title. The students were excited that they would be able to eat the candy when they were finished.
However, I stressed that they could not eat the candy until I saw their worksheet was completed. Overall, I think my lesson went better than I expected in the classroom environment. Like I stated earlier, it was a lot of trial and error before I was at the place where I felt confident enough to teach the lesson to the fourth grade class | was placed in. The strength of the lesson was definitely the responses I received throughout the lesson. My expectations of their answers and ideas was not at all what happened in the classroom. I thought I would have to pry the answer of a chart out of them to organize that data.
However, they shocked me with a variety of suggestions and answers to how we can organize the data and put in into a table or chart. The other strength was their ability to realize that we have to label and title the graph in order to get the full effect of a functional graph. If another fourth grade class came into the classroom, they would be able to read the data and explain what the graph is about. The last strength of the lesson, I believe, was my ability to maintain the classroom. At some points they got a little rowdy and talkative, but I was able to redirect their attention back to the lesson.
For example, during the questioning portion of the unorganized data, I saw a lot of the students were distracted by their paper chains. So, I told them to put their chains under their chair and we would come back to them later. Even though my lesson went better than expected, there were some weaknesses and things that I would change. In my introductory activity, I think I would stress that this isn’t a competition. The students just need to do their best and see how far they can get when creating their paper chains. They don’t need to be nervous or anxious, they only need to have fun and try their best.
The next weakness is explaining that when I need them to shout out the numbers the end row has, to only read the numbers that are on the index cards. At one point, one of the students shouted the number seven. Once I began calling the numbers up I started with the lowest number, which was seven, and nobody came up. So we discussed for about five minutes who had the number seven and we counted all the loops on the chains; not one person had seven. My weakness in this portion of the lesson was my inability to clearly state instructions.
I forget that I need to come down a few levels and clearly state the directions and have them repeat it back to me so I know that they understand what they need to do. Lastly, I felt I over-prepared for this lesson. I have tally charts already made and the labels of the graph already named and put together. I think I should have left that to the students and went ahead with their ideas. I felt | robbed them of their learning a little bit because I had all of that prepared and ready to go. This will be something that I change when I teach the lesson again. I can have these pieces set up as a “Plan B” if needed.
Nonetheless, my lesson went so much better than I expected it would be. The students understood the concepts I was presenting and they learned this concept through problem solving. This type of activity gave the students a real-world situation to solve. They understood that the graph needed more detail in order for other students and staff to read the graph. I was really impressed by the students’ responses, ideas, and suggestions when solving the problem. I think that was a strength to my lesson. Furthermore, my weaknesses can in the lesson were noticed, but they can and will be fixed the next time I plan and teach this lesson.