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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Grouch Still Gets it Done

     I remember sitting in front of my TV when I'd get home from Pre-K and Kindergarten and being captivated by the likes of Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, and the rest of the gang on Sesame Street.  I would have never thought that it would have the same effect on kids of today's generations which are all about computer animation and high tech graphics.  I was wrong.  However, it did not look like I would be at first.
     This week the PE 3; Luke, Kyle, and I, were assigned the task of coming up with games and activities to play with the Kindergartners and first graders that would test their overhand throw and catching abilities  While we were instructing, the rest of the students from our 201 class would grade one or two students on their form in each of these categories.  Thinking about how important it is to catch the interest of the students in order to get their full participation, I needed something clever, so I went out on a limb and picked a game that had to do with Sesame Street, not sure if kids today even still watched it.
     When the kids we were working with came in the gym and settled down after their normal ,"Aw man! Not the college kids!" routine, I sat down with them and asked what they thought about Sesame Street.  A few heads turned, but most of them shrugged their shoulders with no interest and a few even piped up and told me, "That's for babies!"  These are Kindergartners remind you.  Well that had me quite nervous in the fact that my whole first game was predicated around Oscar the Grouch, and "feeding him" by overhand throwing the yarn balls and gator balls into the "garbage can" of panel mats I had set up.  I went to Lowes, K-Mart, and Wal-Mart all in hopes of snagging a large refrigerator box that I could paint to look like a garbage can, but in the end I had to settle on the mats which still worked out well.  
    When it was time to start I did an instant activity, temple tag, just to get the students moving around, their hearts beating, and their minds in the state to be active and participate.  After about five or so minutes of that, it was time to see if Oscar the Grouch could still capture minds like he did when I was young.  I started explaining the game and pulled out a picture of Oscar the Grouch, asking the students if they knew who he was.  It was a resounding, "OSCAR!!!" with much excitement, causing me exhale a big sigh of relief.  After I explained the rest of the game, and told them to "put on their gloves," they were already racing to the center of the gym where the gator-skin and yarn balls were. 
     Unlike the last lab in which there were very few participants, and those that were participating were quite rebellious, everyone seemed to want to play this game which felt great is the instructor.  I had to keep pushing the students back behind the 5 yard perimeter I set up with cones to ensure they were throwing correctly and not placing the ball into the garbage can, but other than that it went smoothly.  
     After about six or seven minutes of that, I modified the game to have Kyle and Luke waive their Oscar heads back and forth like a pendulum and for the kids to try and hit Oscar.  Originally I was going to place a panel mat across the top of the other mats and have bowling pins to knock off to "free" Oscar, but I was not sure the panel mats were sturdy enough to endure a beating like that and I figured a target practice was a better test of throwing anyway.
     While viewing how the game was being run, I got plenty of tips on how to be an effective teacher.  With help from Dr. Yang, I circled the perimeters of the game, always with my back to the wall (or sideline) and always with all the students in front of me.  I also would randomly praise a student if he or she was showing correct form, or I would try and help a student if they seemed to be off task or struggling.  It was great to add even more knowledge to how to be an effective teacher.

     After that it was Kyle, and then Luke's turn, and both of them did very good as well.  We then went outside on the playground and go to just run around and play with the kids in a non-organized setting which was super fun to do.  I played star wars with one of the kids pretty much the whole time, as he would not let me do otherwise.  It was great to make such a strong connection in a teacher role, but also as more of a mentor since I am not yet seen as a grown up in their eyes.  At the end of the day we were given the task of collaborating a whole program game, and an end of the day song to dance to.  We were not aware of this beforehand but adapted quickly and with Dr. Yang's help was able to configure a "bulldozers and builders" game, as well as danced to "the wheels on the bus."  It was great to succeed as a group after being put in an adverse situation 
     I would say the lab was as close to perfect as you could get.  And it's safe to say that Oscar's still got it.  Check out my Lab 4 report, and stay funky everyone.

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