During my practicum, I had the opportunity to teach a Social Studies lesson to two 2nd grade classes. Within a unit on ancient Egypt, I taught a lesson on the Sphinx.
An image from my presentation
I was able to make the topic of Egypt much more relevant and personal for my students because I had recently visited Egypt. I began the lesson with a PowerPoint presentation which included pictures of my trip to Egypt and allowed the students to connect their world and the people they personally know with these ancient artifacts a world away.

After the presentation, students demonstrated their knowledge of ancient Egyptian burial practices and beliefs by drawing and writing about where they would choose to be buried if they were pharaoh and what type of sphinx would guard their tomb:
Where I would be buried if I were Pharaoh

As part of my student teaching experience, I taught a unit on Matter and Weather. Students learned about solids, liquids, and gasses by classifying various objects and substances by their state of matter. Students then acted out molecule configurations in each state by huddling close together to represent solid, moving around within the confines of a "jar" (the reading carpet) to represent liquid, and "floating" around the whole classroom to simulate gas. This activity gave the students the opportunity to move around the classroom and gave them a concrete experience to refer back to as we practiced drawing the configurations of molecules in different states.

Students conducted a class investigation of mass and volume. Students used a teacher-created Mass & Volume Lab worksheet to practice making predictions and recording the outcome of experiments. The students enjoyed the hands-on experimentation portion of the class and were extremely engaged by the lesson.

We also studied different types of storms as part of our Weather unit. Each student participated in the creation of their own "Interactive Notebook" by adding information, highlighting important facts, and illustrating different types of storms:
Pages on Storms from Interactive Notebook
This use of the Interactive Notebook encouraged student involvement by allowing them to exercise their creativity while they applied their knowledge. Students used their Interactive Notebooks to study for quizzes and tests, and will use them again in 3rd grade as they prepare to take SOL tests.

My Language Arts lessons were tailored to meet the school's close adherence to the Scott Foresman Reading series. While using the skills and concepts specified by the series, I was able to engage in varied instruction that used a lot of the available material but also supplemented it with outside sources. For example, spelling words were based on phonics patterns that students would be working with in the weekly Phonics Story and Main Selection. Each week I assigned students their spelling words by giving them a pre-test.
Spelling Pre-Test
After administering the pre-test, the class worked together to correctly spell all of the words as I typed their correct spelling suggestions into a Word document displayed on the projector. As we went through the list, students were invited to suggest similarities between words and use those to figure out what phonics patterns we would be studying. At the end of the activity, I printed out the document and posted the words for the week.

I conducted different activities for students based on what material we were focusing on that week. During the week that one of our phonics patterns was prefixes, I used this anchor chart as a starting point for whole group instruction:

After the whole group explanation, the class broke into small groups and used sets of notecards with different base words and prefixes on them to make as many words as they could. We went around the room with each group providing a new word and its definition based on the prefix added. Students were extremely engaged and learned a valuable comprehension skill while also expanding their vocabularies.

As an ongoing response to assessment and a formative activity, each morning students participated in a "Daily Edit" activity where each student copied down 2 teacher-created sentences with grammar and spelling mistakes and used red pen to correct each mistake. We went over the mistakes as a whole group, with students volunteering to instruct the teacher to make corrections:
This example of Daily Edit was conducted soon after students turned in a graded paragraph about their favorite stuffed animal. Drawing on mistakes seen while grading the paragraphs, I was able to reinforce specific concepts such as run-on sentences and capitalization of proper nouns. Each Daily Edit activity included mistakes recently seen in student writing as well as grammar concepts that students would soon be tested or quizzed upon.

In my last week of student teaching, my students began to do research for an original paragraph on a dinosaur of their choice. I introduced the idea of doing research in a small group setting, explaining to students that they would be using a "Fact Sheet"
Completed Fact Sheet
that I would give them and that for the only time in 2nd grade, they were not allowed to use full sentences! Students quickly caught on to the idea that not using full sentences prevented them from "stealing from books" and chose from a selection of dinosaurs. After each student had picked their dinosaur, I printed out a fact sheet for each student from Zoom Dinosaurs. Each student filled out as much as possible on their Fact Sheet using the printout, and when most students had filled in many of the facts, my cooperating teacher and I put out a display of books on dinosaurs with which students could do further research.

After students had completed their research, they continued the writing process by working on first drafts. My cooperating teacher supervised this step and subsequent steps of the process as she resumed teaching Language Arts, but I enjoyed guiding my students through the research process!

In Math, I taught a 3-week unit on Measurement. The unit began with a study of Linear Measurement, which included using a ruler to measure to the nearest inch and centimeter. Students engaged hands-on activities in which they measured actual objects with their rulers in both centimeters and inches and also practiced estimating length. After students had the opportunity to develop and practice hands-on skills, they took a measurement quiz which required them to measure a series of lines to the nearest centimeter and inch. Most students did exceptionally well on the quiz, with only 2 out of 36 students needing remediation. Below are the before and after results of remediation with one student who struggled with the idea of rounding to the nearest inch:
Original Quiz
After Remediation

The next topic we explored in our study of measurement was weight. The section on weight began with a hands-on activity where students learned what 1 pound felt like and practiced estimating and then checking weight using bucket balances. A few days later, students had the opportunity to handle a 1 kg weight and then practiced estimating whether objects were more, less, or about 1 kg.

After weight, we moved on to study capacity. As required by Math SOL 2.11, students learned to measure and convert liquid volume in units of cups, pints, quarts, gallons, and liters. Because many students have trouble conceptualizing these skills, it was essential to introduce each unit of volume and its relationship to the others through a concrete demonstration:
Cup, Pint, Quart

Proving that 2 qt. = 1 gal.

After "proving" the relationships between units of capacity, students constructed their own Gallon Man using a template. To further reinforce the connections between the demonstration and the figure, students colored their Gallon Men using the same colors I had used for each unit during demonstration (yellow for cups, blue for pints, red for quarts, and green for gallons). Students had worked on converting units as each was introduced, but with the introduction of Gallon Man students created a reference point for the whole system.

Students also learned to draw "Super G," which was revealed to be Mr. Gallon's brain.
A student drawing of Super G
Students practiced drawing Super G each day once they had learned it, and were provided with scratch paper to draw it for their use during a quiz. For students who needed a more kinesthetic approach to learning about capacity, I also taught the class the "Gallon Frog Song," which we sang each day at the beginning of class. The first few days that we sang the song, I used a projector to display the words. By the 3rd day, students had the song memorized and I even heard them singing it at recess! By the time students were quizzed, they had multiple ways to remember their conversion and nearly all scored 90% or better.

The different modalities of instruction were particularly important in teaching this unit because I had at least one student (in the other section I taught) who refused to participate in musical activities and resisted participating in group activities. This student had a diagnosis of ASD, which made the extra stimulation of the class singing particularly difficult for him to tolerate. However, he loves to draw and is a wonderful artist. He related much better to the Gallon Man activity and seemed to enjoy the artistic aspects!