Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lab 6 reflection of last day at St. Mary's lab: Easter Theme games

I have learned a great deal while I was at St. Mary’s for the past six weeks. I have learned that all children really want to do is just play and have fun; and their idea of play can be the simplest game in the world and they would have a blast with it. For instance, one child pulled me aside and asked if I could play “Two Square” with him; which is hitting a ball back and forth to one another like four square, just with two people. Another thing I learned about children is that they have a rather short attention span. The instant they feel confused, bored, or distracted, they are not going to want to participate or play that activity anymore. The activities that I felt were appropriate for the children were activities that kept the kids moving at all times because it kept them busy and involved in the game, resulting in them having fun. There were activities that were not appropriate, like those that resembled drills because they were repetitive and a lot of standing around for the kids when it wasn’t their turn.

Working with the PRE K students at St. Mary’s was much different than working with the older students there. The younger students tend to listen to all the directions and participate in the games more. When you ask the younger students to quiet down, they listen to the first set of directions; however with the older students it takes maybe three or four times for you to ask them to be quiet and listen to directions. It is easier for the older students to be distracted compared to the younger ones. I enjoyed working with both age groups, I love the challenge that the older students present, and however is it a lot more stressful working with the younger students.

The games that involved fine motor skills while working with the children in the cafeteria were Jenga, coloring, Checkers, Connect Four, and card games. The majority of these games involved using their fingers to color and to grasp the small pieces. I feel that working on fine motor skills is crucial in development in a child’s life; however I feel that it is not the most crucial skill that should be focused on in Physical Education.

I have learned a lot throughout my experience at St. Mary’s, especially about my teaching style and what I need to work on for the future as a teacher. I learned that being hands on with students, meaning, participating with the students and just being involved in the activity yourself, makes all the difference and it motivates the students to want to participate and have fun. I’ve learned that by being excited and enthusiastic about an activity really matters. If the students see that you are having fun, then they are going to want to join in on the fun. Also, I’ve learned what activities would be most appropriate for certain age levels. By relating to the children and really seeing the games in their point of view is a great way in determining what game to play and what’s appropriate. Children love games with creativity, constant movement, and imagination. My teaching style has definitely emerged based upon my experience at St. Mary’s. Before St. Mary’s I had experience working with children, however it never really occurred to me to use imagination and creativity in activities/games. While spending time at St. Mary’s I also go to observe others teach; so I experienced what was successful and what was not, which really helped.

Lab 5 reflection at St. Mary's: Dribble (b-ball) and kick

The activities/games that we prepared for the students at St. Mary’s, I feel, were more than appropriate. All the games we played focused on different motor skills and it was apparent on whether or not the children were able to perform the skill or not. I thought that all the skills that were incorporated in the games/activities were age appropriate for the children and they were all skills that were attainable to the students. Some students were not able to perform the skills as well as the other students, but that was known to happen, as everyone develops differently and no one child is the same. Another reason why I felt that the games were appropriate for the students was week by week we continued to see the kids having fun and participating. Had the activities not been appropriate, then the students would not have as much fun.

Some limitations to games or activities when using them in the process of assessing motor skills would be making sure that the game is age appropriate with all the students. Also, if a particular skill is being assessed then it can be difficult to choose a game pertaining just to that skill. For instance, if you are looking at kick as a skill, then you are limited to using games that only involve kicking or you can modify the game, but that can present a challenge sometimes.

Lab 4 reflection at St. Mary's: Catch and Throw

So far, my experience at St. Mary’s has been extremely beneficial in many different aspects; however there have been a few challenges and difficulties along the way. First challenge I faced while working with the children has been catching their attention and teaching them the correct way to do activities and different locomotor skills. While explaining directions to the children, some would still be talking, or not looking at you, and running around. It was definitely a challenge to adjust to all the chaos that the kids caused. Another challenge that was presented to us was the environment sometimes. We were not always placed in the gym for activities, which made it difficult to perform the games that we had planned for the children that day. For example, one day we had a game to lead for the kids and instead of doing the activity in the gymnasium, we were told that we had to do it in the cafeteria. This presented a challenge for us as we had to adjust to the new environment we were in since we had a smaller space to complete the game. Another challenged I found difficult was working within our lab groups at times. For instance, when we gave directions to the kids, sometimes we would all want to explain things at once and it would end up being three people talking at once, which made it difficult and confusing for the children to understand directions; causing them to concentrate and focus on multiple people instead of just one person.

A few simple suggestions or strategies I would use to resolve the difficulties and challenges faced while at St. Mary’s would be to have more patience with the children when they do not understand or are unable to perform an activity or locomotor skill. By working with the children just for two minutes longer and not giving up on them could be crucial in their physical development because within those two minutes the child could understand an activity or skill and perform it correctly. Another adjustment that could be made while teaching the students how to play a game would be, if they do not understand the set of the directions or the concepts of the different skills, then to approach the activity in a different way; or simply explain the directions differently. Introducing new directions or ways to complete a skill can make a difference to one student or ten students; as many children learn and understand differently than others. A way to resolve the challenges faced by the different environments we were placed in week by week is to simply not get frustrated or stressed out by the sudden change and to just adjust; find new ways to go about completely the same skills or tasks, just in a different way than what you would in a gymnasium based environment. To overcome the challenge I faced with working within my lab group would be for one week assign one person to teach and give directions just for that week; and then the following week, assign a different person. By assigning one person to teach, it eliminates the confusion of three people talking at once, or one person saying one thing and then the other person saying the opposite.

Lab 3 reflection at St. Mary's: Leap, Jump, and Slide

In today's lab, Cortland students were to observe specifically the locomotors skills of leap, horizontal jump, and slide. We were all assigned two students to observe, which were Anthony and Rowan. Anthony and Rowan are both in kindergarten and are the same age 6; the only difference is Anthony is a male, while Rowan is a female. Both the students were similar in their ability to accomplish the locomotor skills. However, where they differed was in the slide. Anthony understood that while doing the slide your body needs to be turned sideways, which he did, but Rowan struggled with this. The slide also requires a step sideways with the lead foot, followed by a slide with the trail foot, which Rowan accomplished, but Anthony didn’t. Rowan had a difficult time with getting both her feet off the floor for a short period of time, while Anthony was able to. Both Anthony and Rowan could not slide in both directions; if one was able to slide to the left, the other could not and if one was able to slide to the right, the other could not. Both students had a difficult time with mastering the slide. With this particular locomotor skill, it was clear that gender did not have an effect on whether they could do the skill or not; as it was shown that they both struggled.

Today, we worked with the older students at St. Mary’s. I particularly enjoy working with this age group because you can be a little competitive with this group, and they understand directions better. However, it can be sometimes difficult to motivate these students to participate and as a result it can be frustrating at times and it requires a lot of energy and encouragement to try and get students to participate. As a group we decided that Kickball would be a great game to play with this age group since they are able to handle the competiveness that this game creates and they mostly know the rules of this game. We explained the rules, and once the game started, the kids were all very much into it. By getting the kids all involved, we decided to get really active and participate and just have fun with the game. Once kids see that other people are having fun, especially older adults, that usually makes them want to join in on the fun. To make sure that they were paying attention and involved in the game, I asked things like “Alright guys how many outs do we have or where should the next play be?” When someone made a good play, I would be positive and say, “Awesome job or great play!” Being positive with the kids was the most successful strategy used; it really made the kids feel good about themselves and what they just accomplished, making them want to do it again.

An effective strategy that I feel captures the children’s attention and keeps them on task with my activity is getting them involved. A great and effective strategy that I use often is “If you can hear me touch your nose, touch your head, now touch your mouth;” Not only does it quiet the children down; it draws them in and captures their attention. I also believe that by asking the students questions after explaining an activity is an effective strategy to not only capture their attention, but by keeping them on task as well. When they know the answer, it makes them feel good and reminds them of what needs to be done.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lab 2 reflection of St. Mary's lab: run, gallop, hop

Our second day back at St. Mary's was chaotic. All of the children seemed to not want to listen or follow directions. Although it was difficult at first to grasp the kids attention, eventually we completed the activities we planned for them and all and all everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. My group, the Spectacular 6, first started off in the gym, observing two of the St. Mary's students, Shamus and Casey, on their run, gallop, and hop. while observing both of the students, I came to the conclusion that both of them are cable of performing each activity; however, Shamus was, in general, a better mover than Casey. He was able to perform different locomotor skills with the correct movements more than Casey was. For instance, Shamus’s arms were bent and at waist level while he was galloping, while Casey’s were not. Once we observed both students, my group then prepared our game and played it with the kids. The game we played with the kids was Stinky Letter Stew and they LOVED it. Every child was participating and really trying to do all of the different locomotor skills. This game was not only great for performing different skills, but the kids were constantly moving and at the same time they were working on their literacy with having to identify all the different letters. Even though the day was off to a rough start, by the end of the lab, everyone had enjoyed themselves, learned something new and was smiling, which is all that matters.