Saturday, August 22, 2009

Courses: science, math, and history/social studies methods

So far on the steps towards becoming a certified teacher in California, I've talked about regular college, the CBEST and CSET exams, experience working with children, the nightmare joy of fingerprinting, choosing a teacher preparation program, and pedagogy courses.

That's a lot right? Oh, there is still so far to go.

Besides pedagogy, most teacher preparation programs make the follow methods courses mandatory (all are one semester worth, unless otherwise stated):

~ Language and Literacy (2 semesters)
~ Science
~ Math
~ History/Social Studies
~ Technology
~ Visual and Performing Arts
~ Physical Education
~ Health Sciences (including CPR certification)

I was going to lump them all in this one post, but now that I think about it, the first item and the latter four items on this list need to be addressed separately. Which I will do at a later date.

Although I didn't take these classes first, I'm going to address them here first because they are the most straight forward to explain. My science, math, and history/social studies methods courses all followed pretty much the same formula:

A) Get acquainted with K-6 CA standards as well as educational law/policy that specifically pertain to each subject.
B) Get acquainted with various resources and curricula materials.
C) Get acquainted with various past and present research on teaching these subjects.
D) Get field experience teaching these subjects - mainly done through student teaching, but we also held fairs at our teaching school for science and social studies.
E) Pick a topic in each subject and create a unit's worth of lesson plans - this is done in groups for the purpose of the fairs mostly. In math, our units were for the PACT.

Note: I've mentioned the PACT before, but I'll explain that in depth later. Coincidentally, now is a good time to comment on how much more stuff pre-service teachers get embroiled into the further they travel on this road to being credentialed. It doesn't end, it truly doesn't end.

But my methods courses were fun. I'm biased, but I did enjoy the math methods course a smidgen more than the others. These courses really ignited a determination to make my lessons fun and exciting for my students. Certainly not all the time - I don't have that kind of stamina yet. But I'll start with at least one fun lesson each week for each subject and add on from there.

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