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Garrett Maternick

VPP Narrative
4/28/16
Topic
I have been student teaching full time at Holabird Middle School since the end of
January 2016. Since the start of my experience, I have gotten to know the
community, the students, and the school staff. I remember when I first found out
that I was student teaching at Holabird. My mom, who taught in Baltimore County
for over 10 years, said oh boy. If you can teach there, you can teach anywhere! At
first, I was taken aback by this. I was nervous to begin the student teaching
rotations and I thought that I might not have what it takes to be an effective teacher
in this area. This all has changed now that I am approaching the end of the
semester and inching towards graduation. I would not change nor trade my
experiences at Holabird Middle School for anything! I have left an impact on these
children academically and personally; but the impact I have made on them, does
not nearly amount to the impact that they have left on me. I love these students, I
love teaching, and I cannot express the excitement I have for entering the
education profession.
Holabird Middle School is located in a low-income area with minimal parent
involvement. These factors often contribute to low motivation levels and
underachieving students, but Holabird is a little different. I was surprised to find that
my 7th Grade world cultures classes were almost an even split between GT groups
and standard groups. Most of the GT students are high achieving with an
unparalleled motivation to learn. The standard classes on the other hand contain

about half challenging/struggling students and average achieving individuals. The


GT class that I used for my VPP contains around 32 students and is divided into 8
groups of around 4-5 students per group. Since it is a GT class, there are no IEPs for
students with behavioral issues. When I conducted my class profile, I was shocked
to find out how many exceptional students were in my class. Many students scored
way above grade level for both Math and Reading, and the rest of the class hovered
around average or just below average performance. Even though some of the kids
scored below average, their motivation to learn accommodated for their
performance level. With that said, I chose a variety of sources from which to teach
my class. I used the World History textbook (which has a reading level of 8 th grade),
a video, and a short reading on Athens and Sparta. The short reading the most
challenging of the readings with a reading level of 8 th and 9th grade.
Alignment Table & Short Discussion
This unit/series of lessons aligns with the overall curriculum standards. The
first lesson focuses on the physical geography Ancient Greece and the assessment
has the students implement what they have learned about the geography to
determine how Greeces location contributed to its ability to grow into a civilization
and eventually and world power. This aligns with the standard 7.3.B.1: Analyze
interrelationships among physical and human characteristics that shape the identity
of places and regions around the world. (In the lesson prior to beginning the VPP,
students analyzed the human geography of modern Greece). This activity and
standard also aligns with my objective: Students will analyze the physical
geography of Ancient Greece in order to evaluate the role that geography played in
the transition of Greece into a civilization. *Refer to my alignment table to see how

the rest of my lessons align with the standards, objectives, assessments, and
activities.*
Assessment Plan
If you refer to my alignment table, you will see how my pre and postassessment questions align with my objectives from each lesson. In my first lesson,
I used both formal and informal assessments. The informal assessment on day 1 is a
class discussion question that reads: How did Greeces location contribute to its
ability to grow into a civilization and eventually a world power? This helped
students reach my objective: Students will analyze the physical geography of
ancient Greece in order to evaluate the role that geography played in the transition
of Greece into a civilization, because students would take what they learned from
the activity about the geography of Greece and discuss how it shaped the region
into a civilization. The formal assessment in lesson 1 day 2 states: A highly
functioning society is one that can stand on its own, fulfill the needs of the
population, and withstand change from the inside and outside of its structure. A
highly functioning society is also called a civilization. Based on your findings, was
Ancient Greece a highly functioning society? Explain why you believe Ancient
Greece qualifies to be a civilization with support from your research. This helped
students reach my objective: Students will examine ancient Greece in order to
evaluate whether or not ancient Greece meets the criterion of a highly functioning
civilization because they would implement the learning from the activity/graphic
organizer about the criteria of a highly functioning civilization to explain how Greece
qualifies to be a civilization. In the second lesson I also used one informal and one
formal assessment strategy. The first day in the second lesson I assessed my class
with another class discussion question: Based on your research, what

achievements do you think had the greatest impact on the modern world? This
aligned with my objective: Students will investigate the achievements of ancient
Greece in order to explain the degree of impact these achievement have had on the
modern world because the class could use their completed graphic organizer of
Ancient Greek Achievements to explain the degree of impact these achievements
have had on the modern world. At the end of the second class period of my second
lesson, I gave my students a formative assessment in the form of an exit ticket. This
exit ticket asked the class what achievement of the Ancient Greeks do you feel is
most important? Use details and examples to justify your answer. This also aligned
with my objective because many of the most important Ancient Greek
achievements have influenced the modern world. At the end of the class period on
the third and final lesson, I gave my class a formative assessment that asked the
class: How do Platos and Lycurguss viewpoints reflect the ideals of Athens and
Sparta? Use information from the text and chart in order to justify your answer. It is
pretty self-explanatory how it aligns with my objective: Students will be able to
compare/contrast the values of ancient Athens and Sparta, in order to evaluate
which city best suites the views of famous Greek philosophers. (Students will be
expected to use evidence from the reading to support their answer). (TAKE INTO
CONSIDERATION THAT YOU NEVER ANSWERED MY EMAIL TO APPROVE THE
ALIGNMENT TABLE! I SENT MULTIPLE EMAILS!).
Student performance on the pre-assessment was very poor as expected. The
highest achieving student scored 56%, the lowest achieving students scored a 13%,
and the class average was 28%. This showed me that the class had very minimal
background knowledge of the content going into the unit. This affected my
instructional plans because I had to find activities and readings that would break

down the content to its core. In addition, I would have to scaffold my lessons to
draw higher level thinking from my students after they understood the basic
concepts.
Instruction
I started off the first day of the first lesson with the pre-assessment. This
introduced the students to the content that they should master by the end of the
unit. It was very difficult to explain to my students the purpose of taking the preassessment. Many of the students did not want to complete it because they were
embarrassed by what they did not know. It was like pulling teeth! Since the preassessment took almost half of the class period, the class was only able to complete
the Handout: Geography and the rise of Greece. In this activity, students will use
pages 229-230 in the World History textbook to answer the questions on the
handout. This handout/activity aligned perfectly with my objective because it was
scaffolded well. It started off by asking the students basic questions about the
physical geography of Greece, then, as they progressed to the last question, it
asked them an inference question: How do you think Greeces location on the
Mediterranean Sea affected its history as it began to grow into a world power? This
question aligns perfectly with my objective. Lastly, I ended the class with a
discussion question: How did Greeces location contribute to its ability to grow into
a civilization and eventually a world power? The class did an excellent job
answering this question. Many answers included: They had easy access to trade
routes through the Mediterranean Sea, they were protected by the mountains from
invaders, and the people of Greece were forced to specialize in professions. If
students were able to finish this handout before the end of the class, they were able
to begin their homework The Greek Poli.

On the second day of the first lesson, I had students recap what they had
learned the day before in the opening activity/drill. The drill read, In your own
words describe the physical geography of Ancient Greece. Almost the whole class
was able to answer this question with ease. Many answers included, Greece is a
mountainous peninsula with small areas of plains. After the drill, the class
completed the second activity in the lesson, Greek Civilization, Were they highly
functioning???? Most of the class performed well on the activity. They were given a
range of pages (228-282) to research the criteria for a civilization and everyone was
expected to record the evidence from the text in the corresponding chart. In
addition to this, I recommended that everyone list the page number from which
they located the information. I thought that this would practice good researching
strategies. This activity aligned with my objective: Students will examine ancient
Greece in order to evaluate whether or not ancient Greece meets the criterion of a
highly functioning civilization, because when the chart is completed, the students
can conclude that Greece is a highly functioning civilization.
Before I started the second lesson, I wanted to recap some of the civilization
lesson. I made the drill, List 3 criteria of a civilization. Every student in the class
completed the drill and proved to me that they retained the information from the
previous lesson. The first day of the second lesson focused on the achievements of
Ancient Greece. In this activity, students were required to use the textbook to
research achievements in the arts, architecture, writing, philosophy, mathematics,
and engineering. This text led to content learning because students were actively
reading. As they read the text, they recorded notes and collaborated with their
peers. I did this because it is proven that active reading strategies enhance
retention rates. In addition, when students are able to collaborate with their peers,

they reiterate the information again, which also increases their memory of the
content. This activity aligned with my objective: Students will investigate the
achievements of ancient Greece in order to explain the degree of impact these
achievement have had on the modern world, because many achievements of the
Ancient Greeks are still used and benefit us today. Students were able to make this
connection as they completed their chart. After everyone completed the chart, we
had a discussion about this. The class discussion question was, Based on your
research, what achievements do you think had the greatest impact on the modern
world? Answers to this question included: Drama and history are two major forms
of writing we read today! We still view education and the power of the mind to be
one of the most important values in our society Geometry is a major branch of
study in the mathematics field! We use geometry in building things! Columns are
still used to make our public buildings look impressive! Take The White House as an
example!
The second day of the second lesson served as a review day and a way to
catch the rest of the classes up to this GT class. Since this class is very high
performing, they tend to go through material a lot faster than the other classes. This
can make it difficult to plan. Therefore, relevant movies and short films partnered
with a short assessment are great ways to review while the rest of the classes catch
up. While students watched the film they were expected to complete the Ancient
Greece: Video Sheet handout. I stopped the film multiple times to review the
questions on the handout and to facilitate discussion to increase retention. The
video went over many achievements including the Parthenon, democracy, pottery,
engineering practices. This video did a great job relating these achievements to the
modern world and this is why is aligns with my objective of the lesson.

The third and final lesson of the VPP project was the main literacy-related
lesson. At the start of the lesson, before the reading, the class completed the drill,
Anticipation activity about Athens and Sparta. After students completed the drill,
they received a stamp. This drill read, Your father, a wandering trader, has decided
it is time to settle down, He offers the family a choice between two cities. In one
city, everyone want to be athletic, tough, and strong. Theyre good at enduring
hardships and following orders. The other city is different. There, youd be admired
if you could think deeply and speak persuasively, if you knew a lot about astronomy
or history, or if you sang and played beautiful music. Which city would you
choose? Justify your answer. This drill was a great opening to the reading activity
because it engaged the class and introduced them to the topic. They had no idea
that they would be choosing to live in either Athens or Sparta based on the
explanation of each city. After the reading, many of the students wanted to change
their answer on the anticipation guide, especially the girls when they found out that
they would have more rights in Sparta than in Athens. The reading, Athens and
Sparta, was about the government, military, education, role of women, and social
classes of both Athens and Sparta. The first paragraph under each section was
about Sparta, and the second was about Athens. This made it easy for the students
to compare/contrast the information from each city-state. As the students read, they
filled out the graphic organizer Comparing Athens to Sparta. In addition to the
Graphic organizer, students were encouraged to underline/highlight the reading.
The last section of the graphic organizer synthesized the reading with
comprehension. In this section, students were required to make an inference on the
values of each city-state. After 20-25 minutes, we quickly reviewed the handout,
went over vocabulary, and focused on the values of each city-state. This lesson led

to content learning because students were actively reading. As they read the text,
they recorded notes and collaborated with their peers. It is proven that active
reading strategies enhance retention rates. In addition, when students are able to
collaborate with their peers, they reiterate the information again, which also
increases their memory of the content. This activity aligned with my objective:
Students will be able to use information from the text to compare/contrast the
values of ancient Athens and Sparta, in order to evaluate which city best suites the
views of famous Greek philosophers, because after the chart was complete, they
could make an inference on the values of each city-state and compare them to the
views of famous Greek philosophers in their assessment. This text was particularly
used to challenge this group of high achieving individuals. Even though some
students in the class did not have the reading level equal to the text, they were able
to successfully complete the activity because of group collaboration. For example,
Thorne, who has the lowest reading level in the class, received a 12/12 on the
activity and a 4/4 on the assessment. His group held excellent discussions and I
instructed him to annotate as he read. I believe that these two things contributed to
his success in the lesson.
Analysis, Reflection, and Self Evaluation
As I graded my informal and formal assessments, I was proud to see that
most of my students demonstrated success in meeting my learning objectives.
Mostly everyone was able to successfully participate in class discussions and score
a 4/4 on the daily assessments. Very few students were unsuccessful. This failure
can be attributed to the seating arrangement of the class. Table 5, which consists of
extremely chatty girls, had the lowest performance. This indicates that my mentor
and I will need to reconfigure the seating chart of this class.

If you refer to my assessment analysis, you can blatantly see that the
majority of the class mastered the objectives. Students scored a class average of
28% on the pre-assessment and increased that score to 97% on the postassessment. This shows a percent increase of 69%. With this data, you can clearly
conclude that I was an effective teacher.
I believe that I was an effective teacher because I focused my lessons on
student centered learning and collaboration. These strategies are effective because
they focus on retention and application of the content being learned. The only part
of my instruction that I think was relatively unsuccessful was introducing the preassessment. I need to do a better job in the future of explaining the importance of
the pre-assessment to the students. The students could not grasp the fact that I
would use the scores and missing content knowledge from the pre-assessment to
navigate my instruction of unit.
For future instruction, I will use my VPP data analysis to show my class the
importance of the pre-assessment and how I use it to gauge my effectiveness as a
teacher. In addition, my other learning goal is to differentiate the methods of
research used in these activities. Although the text is a great resource, I believe that
more resources will broaden their content knowledge. In conclusion, this
assessment proves that I am an effective 7th grade world cultures teacher!