Tuesday, March 3, 2009

St. Mary's Labs

So far I have been to St. Mary's three times to participate in lab. My group..."Jumping Jack and the Thriving Five" have been going through a lot of learning experiences when it comes to teaching, and especially teaching elementary level children. In the past three weeks I have learned enough about physical education to last a lifetime, and I'm so excited to be able to continue learning.

Lab #1: In Lab 1 my group was placed with the pre-k level students and we were assigned to play with them in their classrooms. There was a lot of concentration placed on developing their fine motor skills such as coloring and cutting paper. We were also asked to try to get the children to conversate with us as much as possible in order to develop their speaking skills. It was an interesting experience to just be thrown into the situation with working with the children, but I think it was a good way to learn. I quickly sat down with some children at the table and we colored pictures of dinosaurs. They all impressed me with their ability to recite colors, shapes, as well as numbers easily. After playing with the Pre-K level children, we moved into the gym and it was extremely hectic. Everyone was pretty much all over the place, and I feel that lab 1 was just trying to get us acclamated to the situations that we would be involved in throughout the semester.

Lab #2: Prior to lab 2 we met in one of the gyms to practice the activities that we would be teaching the children in lab and everything seemed to run smoothely when we ran through it with our classmates. The theme for lab 2 was animals and our game was called barnyard craze. It involved a huge parachute along with cards with baby animals on them as well as buckets and 5 stations with the mother animals. Feeling confident going into lab, I tried to lead the children the activity. I explained that the baby animals needed to get back to their mothers before the rainstorm came to ruin the barn. The problem with running our activity came when a huge chunk of our group all attempted to add and explain different parts of the game which didn't allow for one clear leader to be shown which can tend to be confusing for children. It was also very difficult because the parachute made the kids go nuts. They were very distracted by the fact that they had the parachute to play with, and when we told them to grab onto it all hell broke loose, for lack of a better term. It took us about five minutes, but what felt like an hour to get them settled enough to begin the game. In the game there was one farmer designated to either gallop, hop, or run around the parachute and when we stopped the music, the "farmer" picked a spot and the two students on either side would go under the parachute, take a baby animal card and place it with the proper mother animal. The problem with this lab was that not all of the students were participating at once, and it caused a lot of standing around and boredom. Also children would complain that they didn't get a chance, and that they refused to participate in the next activity because they were upset that they didnt get a chance. All in all, I feel that Lab 2 was definitely a learning experience that I will never forget, and I think the mistakes we made as a group, and the ones that I made personally will help me throughout my career as a physical educator for years to come.

Lab #3: The theme for Lab 3 was "Superheros" and my group was assigned to teach the activity called "Endless Bucket". As a group we met for a long time on Sunday in order to truly be prepared for what we had to come for the next day. We thought long and hard about what tasks we wanted the kids to complete, and tried for a long time to think of tasks that pertain to superheroes. We decided that it would be a good idea for us to turn "Endless Bucket" into a Superhero Training Camp because Spiderman, Batman, and Superman were on vacation. We also spent a lot of time on creating props for the activity including: creating and laminating task cards with color construction paper, making capes for ourselves as well as wearing superman and spiderman logos on our shirts. The fact that we dressed up like superheros really allowed the children's imaginations to run wild and they truly felt that we were superheroes there to train them. All of the tasks pertained to certain activities that superheroes would do including flying like superman, crawling through the bat cave, throwing balls at common villains, sliding around the edge of a building (using mats standing up) and other activities as well. The kids responded so well to everything that we explained to them and it made the day so much fun. The feeling of being completely prepared and really having the children grasp the task and participate with all of their hearts was the most rewarding feeling in the world. My group truly came together to make everything perfect and I am so proud of all of us. At the end of the lab Ashley and I led the children in the "Cha-Cha Slide" in a huge circle and it was a lot of fun. Even the other college students got into it and it was a great ending to the day. Lab 3 really made me realize why I am a physical education major, and why I want to be a part of my students life. The responsiveness of the children was the most rewarding experience I have ever had, and I hope to continue to feel this way for my entire career.

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