Yesterday was my first day observing at PS 24- Andrew Jackson School in Flushing, Queens. Immediately upon my entrance into the school I was greeted with an abundance of warm welcomes from the teachers and principal. Everyone was extremely accommodating, especially my mentor teacher, Ms. G. Ms. G is the kindergarten/1st grade special education teacher. In the class there are 9 kindergarten/1st grade students ranging in academic levels from mid year pre-k to mid-year 1st grade. There is one special education teacher and 3 para-assistants, one of whom is a translator for a Korean student in the class. The first thing I noticed when entering into the classroom was its size. I had never been in a classroom so small in my entire life, however the teacher seemed to make it work. There was one long table in the classroom where all of the children sat, a miniature couch, and lots of cubbies/ shelves that stored all of the manipulates and tools for each subject station. The classroom walls were neatly decorated with student work and multiple motivational signs. I noticed that there were no classroom rules posted anywhere, which led to a discussion with Ms. G and I at the end of the day. I told her this was the first class I had ever been in that didn't have class rules clearly posted somewhere and she responded by saying that in her classroom there are no rules. She continued by saying how her primary goal was to make this room a place of safety and comfort for her students and giving them rules would not be beneficial. Her students are extremely well behaved and she said the reason for this is she spent the first month of school building their trust and respect and in return they have grown to show her the same trust and respect. Although it was only my first day observing with Ms. G I already feel like I learned so much from her positive attitude and strong desire to help her students achieve progress, no matter how big or small.
This past week I was able to observe the management style of the teacher in different ways. In the classroom she seems to have an authoritative style. The students sit in rows, they also have to raise their hand before they are allowed to move anywhere, or do anything within the classroom. She has a card board with each students name and a red yellow and green card. Each day the students start on green, if they need to be spoken to they get a warning which is the yellow card, if they receive multiple warning she flips their cards to red, which then means they lose the opportunity to participate in an upcoming activity. There are about 5 students in the class who receive a yellow card everyday. They laugh and thinks its funny when another student receives a yellow card, or when someone is moved to another class. The teacher doesn't seem to address these behaviors, and when she does she yells, or simply sends the student to another classroom.
One of the days the students got to sit in the auditorium and watch rehearsals of the talent show. The teacher had them sit with two chairs between each student, and when they had to go to another row they skipped 2 rows. The assistant principal then came into the auditorium and moved the students to the front and all sitting next to each other. I don't agree with how the teacher sat them, but by the principal moving them after the teacher had sat them made it look as though the teacher had no authority.
Over the next few weeks I look forward to seeing if the teachers strategies change with the coming of the end of the year, and warmer weather.
I began my observation hours today, June 9. I have been a participant-observer at Gotham Avenue Elementary School in Elmont in the fall and spring semesters and I am now continuing my hours for this course in the same classroom and with the same mentor teacher. I can remember my very first day observing at Gotham and feeling the overwhelming enthusiasm, encouragement, and positive attitudes within the school building, and especially within the classroom I was placed. The school building is very welcoming, where student work and bulletin boards nicely decorated outside classrooms. I am observing a second grade classroom. There are twenty-two students in the class, where four English Language Learners, two students with an IEP, and four students who receive AIS (academic intervention services). The classroom is a very diverse and culturally engaging class, with many students from other countries and bringing with them many different cultural background and values. My mentor teacher has been teaching elementary education for over twenty years now and brings with many different teaching practices and resources. Since I have gotten to know the students on a more personal level from being with them since the beginning of the school year, my observations for this course would also include times where I have gotten the chance to teach and instruct the students. The classroom is arranged with four tables, each having five or six students at each table. There are two students whose desks have been moved from the tables and set by themselves, due to constant behavioral issues all year long. The student's work is displayed throughout the classroom, on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. There is a smart board and two computers within the classroom. The teacher's desk is placed in the back of the classroom along with a reading carpet for the students to gather on during class read-alouds, and during DEAR (drop everything and read) time. Written on the board each day is the "I can"statements.
Today on June 9, I observed basically the whole day. The students were already engaged in literacy when I entered the classroom. The students were working independently in their reader, in which they had to pick a character from the story and find adjectives to describe the character. The teacher, Mrs.F, gathered the students as a whole and began the read-aloud to the students. The literacy program this year is from the Common Core and is a whole new program to the school. The students sit in their desks and look at pictures displayed on the smart board, while the teacher reads the script she is given. The students are never given an opportunity to read or follow along, besides from the pictures. Listening comprehension is tested here. The two students whose desks have been moved since the beginning of the school year are stopped several times by the teacher for talking and not paying attention. These students have been given numerous chances to earn their spot back at the table, but fail to do so. One of the students has signed a written behavioral contract from the assistant principle back in February and has the contract taped to her desk to remind of her what she should be doing. Another student, who never does his homework and is constantly being asked to focus and listen is serving an in school suspension and is placed in a third grade classroom for the day. Like I said, I have been with this class since September and know each child's behavior and unfortunately, this same child lost the privilege of attending field day, a field trip coming up, and cannot attend the two class end of the year parties. All this has been decided by the assistant principle of discipline. The students went off to lunch and recess and then returned to do mathematics in the afternoon. I had the chance to teach the math to the students until the students went off to a special. At the end of each day, students are given a number and must write their number on their behavioral chart. Students have the chance during the day to improve on their number, a one being the best and a four being the worst. Students who have five ones in a row get to receive a prize from the toy boxes. The students returned from their special and packed up to go home for the day.
I began observing in Ms. S’s EGC fourth grade class on May 29th 2014. There are twenty-eight students in the class separated into four rows. Ms. S’s desk is front and center in the room and connects the two sets of rows. Though I have only been with the class for a single day, I have already observed some learning behaviors and patterns taking place. Ms. S had me grade a math test during prep period. I noticed that many of the students seemed to be struggling on similar questions. During extended day, she took those problems and rephrased them so that the students would get a second chance to work them through with her and I guiding the instruction. She also handed back the homework from this past weekend while I was there. She told the students how disappointed she was with their work and that it was by far the most poorly completed math homework she has seen all year. Instead of moving ahead to the lesson she had planned for today, Ms. S took the math period to work on the homework and re-teach the lesson. It was evident that the class struggled, so she took the time out to back track in order to make sure the students had a solid foundation for the material coming ahead.
It is interesting to note that none of the students in Ms. S’s class have an IEP or are English Language Learners. From my observations, I was able notice the flow through class work that was evidently established by the teacher. For example, Ms. S had a clear structure and protocol for group work as well as individual work. The students knew what was expected of them, and when rules were not followed, Ms. S called them out on it right away.
During one of my observations I had the opportunity to plan and teach a lesson on ecosystems. I informed the class that today, they were going to be ecologists. I had the students break down the word ecologist on the board into two parts “ECO” and “LOGIST.” I explained “eco” is a prefix for describing the environment, habitat or surroundings. “Logist” is the suffix used when describing a person who studies or is an expert in the related “ology.” I asked the students, “What do you think we will be studying if we are ecologists?” We study the interactions of organisms and their environments. I then had the students watch a scholastic study jams video about the parts of an ecosystem. As they watched I handed out a graphic organizer. After teaching the lesson, I thought that I should have been more interactive with the students while playing the video. I should have paused the clip whenever a new vocabulary word was explained and used it as a springboard for a discussion once it was over before they completed their group work. I then divided the students into groups of four. I distributed an image of an ecosystem to each group. The students were given twenty minutes to complete the first portion of the graphic organizer with their group. I noticed at this point, many of the groups had questions. I should have better explained before I broke the class apart. After I looked over their work, the students were instructed to complete the second half of the sheet on their own. In order to ensure the students learned what I had set out for them to learn, the last question, “How and why have certain plants and animals adapted in your ecosystem pictured?” was to be completed individually and finished and looked over for homework. While teaching the lesson I was making mental notes in my head as I was observing the students reactions. I noticed that the reason they had so many questions was because I needed to explain the information in a clearer way and scaffold the activities more clearly.
On this day I took notice of some of my mentor teacher’s management strategies. I asked her if she had any tips for me. She told me how much she liked having a class website for the parents and students to stay up to date. She also told me about she has a note home pad with carbon copy paper which allows her to have records of all communication with individual parents. Ms. S told me how important it was to keep a routine with the class and to be their teacher, not their friend. She told me how she thinks students learn math the best in math groups. The groups are flexible and allow students to work on problems that are at their level and what they need most help with. Also, working with peers is a great way for students to learn new problem solving techniques that they might have not been able to think of on their own. She said that another option that students see to be responsive too is peer tutoring during lunch. Struggling math students will come to the classroom along with students who are excelling. The students who know the concepts well tutor the other students. This benefits both parties because not only are the weaker students learning, but also the stronger students are reviewing as well and get to feel accomplished knowing that they are helping others.
During lunch Ms. S told me of a recent problem occurring with a group of girls in the class. She said that they were ganging up on the other girls and she had to stop it immediately. She said it was the third time calling all three of their parents and her next option was to split the girls up into different classes. For me, it was interesting to hear her opinion on discipline after reading Kohn’s unique viewpoint. It made me think if there was anything she could be doing differently.
My third day of observations had to be done in a Talented and Gifted second grade classroom because the fourth graders were taking their state science exam. Mr. C’s classroom emphasizes student centered learning. There are thirty students in the class separated into six tables. The room was missing a teacher’s desk, but that appeared to work well because Mr. C spends most of his time circling the room in order to keep up the positive energy. Upon arrival each morning Mr. C told me he holds a briefing so that the students are aware of the expectations and plan for the day ahead. He spoke to them as mini-adults, and they seem to be respond quite well to it. He has implemented a points system for the tables in effort to encourage stellar behavior and emphasizes what it means to be a great student. It is evident that the students in the classroom are gifted. The class as a whole is extremely observant and inquisitive. They are a creative bunch that enjoys independent reading and class projects. Mr. C told me that his students must remain engaged and challenged each day. He leads daily stretching breaks and brings various lessons over to the carpet, in order for the students to get a chance to move around. It is unfortunate that they only attend gym once a week and all other specials are held within the classroom. Mr. C has high expectations for his students. He has a method of work hard, play hard. If the students display exemplary work they are rewarded with more opportunities within the classroom. This year, Mr. C had planned several field trips to a local fitness center in order for the class to learn about health and to take a zumba class. He has sent out permission slips for neighborhood walks in order to teach the students about the area they live in as well as giving them a chance to explore nature.
I myself, admire how Mr. C runs his classroom. He puts a heavy emphasis on art and individuality, which I believe is extremely important for children. He treats his students with respect and in return they respect him. I also think Mr. C’s relationship with the students parents is something every teacher can emulate. He sends home frequent newsletters and individually tends to each child’s homework folder every day in order to keep track of which parents are actually checking their child’s folder. Mr. C encourages parents to volunteer within his classroom as frequently as possible. He believes that parent involvement is a key to a child’s academic success.
It was certainly a “culture shock” moving from the fourth graders to the second graders. It was interesting to note the differences between how each set of students interacted with their teachers and with one another. Mr. C was extremely welcoming and I enjoyed the new environment. I hope to work with him again on
I continued my observation hours today June 11. Upon entering the class, I realized my mentor teacher was absent for the duration of the morning work and there was a substitute teacher in the room. Since the substitute is a teacher at Gotham, many of the students knew the substitute and likewise she knew many of the students and their behaviors as well. The class was engaged in the literacy read-aloud when I got there. I immediately noticed that the substitute was conducting the classroom in a whole different way than Mrs. F conducts the classroom. I extremely liked how she had one boy, who sits in the front of the class and constantly struggles with listening and sitting down, become actively involved and engaged within the read-aloud. To keep him focused and get him to remain in his seat, she had him be in charge of changing the slides on the smart board after she read the story. It worked very well as a classroom management technique. Mrs. F would sit in the back of the classroom facing the computers while reading the read-aloud, so that she was able to read and and change the slides, this substitute positioned herself in the front of the classroom and put a student in charge of the slides. By positioning herself in the front of the classroom, she was better able to manage the class. This connects with what we discussed in the classroom management book by Marzano when he talks about "withitness." The substitute was able to be aware of all the parts of the classroom at all times since she had great body and eye position with each student in the room. The read-aloud was on human body and the different tissues. The substitute was able to relate the material to the student's own life and had the students move parts of their body to understand the information. Having the students stand up and become physically engaged in the lesson will not only help them remember it better, but changes the instruction of just sitting down and instead gets the students actively learning. Transitioning from the read-aloud to having the students take out their notebook to answer questions independently did not flow as smooth as it does with Mrs. F. I felt that the students felt it was "free time" for them to get up and start talking to their neighbor, especially with a substitute in the room. I have to say there were only about two students who the substitute constantly had to remind to sit down and do the work, but other than that the respect the students showed the substitute was the same they show Mrs. F. This reflects the classroom management strategies and rules that Mrs. F has implemented since day one onto the students and that the students know to treat any teacher with respect. It was evident that the students were struggling with answering the questions, so the substitute decided to have me work with a small group of students, while she worked with the rest of the students. This instructional strategy of breaking the students up into small groups allows the students to receive more hands-on attention from the teacher in order to comprehend the material. The students were better behaved and more focused when in the smaller groups as well. The substitute addressed classroom issues immediately and would ask the students if they know what they did wrong and how they could fix it. For instance, two students were bickering in the back of the classroom and the substitute confronted the two sides off to the side and asked the students what the problem was. Obviously, each student has his side of the story and the substitute allowed the students to work out the conflict and apologize to each other before returning to work. The rest of the morning was spent on answering the questions. Once students finished the questions, they were asked to return to their desk and quietly begin working in their skills and reader books. The teacher made sure to monitor each student's work by walking throughout the classroom and checking in on students she felt were struggling. The students transitioned well from the group work to individual work. Even though the overall classroom strategies and management techniques differed a little from Mrs. F, the students were able to respond in a productive and effective way because of the way Mrs. F has managed her classroom from the very start of the school year. It was interesting to see how one teacher managed a classroom in the morning and then going back to how Mrs. F manages the classroom in the afternoon.
This week I started my observation hours in the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary school. This school is located in Oyster Bay and are for grades k to 2. I will be observing five different classes. My first day I observed Mrs. C. second grade class. She has twenty three students and five of them have IEPs. There was an assistant, Mrs. S, that work with this 5 students. Mrs. C told me that she has been teaching for 21 years. She shared with me that her best classroom management strategy is the classification of books in her room. She labeled each book with a color dot according to the reading level. Before the first day of class Mrs. C. go over each student reading level and make an index card with their reading level dot. She never tells the student what reading level they are because she doesn't want to create a competition among them. Then she placed books in bins labeled by genre and color dots. Each student pick their corresponding color dot book and read in class and placed them in a zip lock to take it home. Mrs. C. told me that the first week of class she goes over the classroom rules and how to use the book bins. This technique facilitates Mrs. C. classroom management because her students are able to find a book (in their reading level) by themselves and read while she does other things. In her class their is a big constitution poster that reminds all the classroom rules.
On June 6th I observed in Ms. G's k/1 special education classroom. Today I was able to see how Ms. G interacted with the other kindergarten teachers and students while they had a full grade rehearsal for the kindergarten graduation play. Ms. G's class of 9 students, along with the para-assistants, Ms. G and myself made our way to the wing of the school that housed the other 3 kindergarten classes. In total there were over 80 kindergarten students with about 8 teachers crammed into one hallway. Regardless of the chaos and crowdedness, Ms. G immediately took control of the group. While many of the other kindergarten teachers sat back and had minimal involvement in the rehearsal other than to scold students, Ms. G led the rehearsal with great enthusiasm. I was shocked to see the lack of involvement from the other teachers as well as their lack of patience towards the children. Ms. G is a very firm believe in allowing students to provide feedback about their opinions and preferences. She allowed the children to determine in what order the songs would be rehearsed and even allowed several students to assist her in leading the rehearsal and creating dance moves. Ms. G displays a lot of great qualities that meet the standards of being an effective teacher, according to Wong, by displaying organization and having positive expectations of her students.
Blog 3- technology
The use of technology is prominent in today's society. I was extremely impressed by the amount of technological resources accessible to the students at PS 24, especially in comparison to other schools I have observed at. Every classroom in PS 24 is provided with a desktop Mac computer in addition to a SmartBoard. Furthermore, many classrooms are provided with laptop carts that hold between 15-25 MacBook laptops for the students to use. In fact, several of the classrooms recently got upgraded to the latest MacBook Air laptops this past school year. As well as several classroom teachers whom have been given iPads for their classroom use. As great as it is that the school provides so much technology it wouldn't be as significant if the teachers didn't incorporate it into their classroom in useful and productive ways. I was fortunate enough to see the use of technology in full force on Wednesday June 11 when I was observing in the second grade ICT class with ms. Y. The class recently finished their unit on living and non living things so they were given an assignment to expand upon what they already had learned. Students were assigned partners and each group was given a laptop to complete the necessary research to meet the assignment requirements. Students were assigned to ask 3 questions about any animal of their choice and to research the answers to fill in their graphic organizers. Great emphasis was placed on the fact that students were choosing the animal as well as the information they desired to know. Ms. Y explained to students at the beginning of the lesson that if they couldn't cooperate with one another and use the computer appropriately they would have the laptop taken away and would not be able to do the assignment during that time. Students seemed to have a lot of respect towards Ms. Y and all very willingly cooperated to complete the assignment. Ms. Y walked around the classroom to ensure the appropriate research was being done while the para-assistant sat with two of the children with special needs to assist them. Overall this lesson went extremely well and it was evident that Ms. Y trusted her students to be responsible and in return they respected her. Ms. Y's display of positive expectations of her students was one the qualities identified for being an effective teacher by theorist Wong.
On June 13, 2014 I observed once again in the second grade classroom. In the morning, the students were heading to an assembly so they unpacked their book bags and began working on their Father’s Day cards. Before the class headed to the assembly, my mentor teacher asked the students how they think they should behave during the assembly. She reminded the students of the proper behavior during a school assembly. The assembly lasted about one hour. During the assembly, my mentor teacher had to separate two young boys who were sitting next to each other because of their constant talking and fooling around. Once the students got back from the assembly, she asked to see the two boys in the back of the classroom. She talked with them about what they did wrong and how their behavior was not respectful for an assembly. The principal came into the classroom just a few minutes after the assembly. The principal asked the students to sit down and listen to what he had to say. The day before the students had attended a class field trip to the farm. There were many behavioral issues during the field trip. Several boys were being extremely rude and disrespectful to the lady speaking on the field trip. In fact, my mentor teacher was asked by the lady running the field trip to remove two boys from the group because of how disturbing and disrespectful they were being. My teacher was not happy one bit with the behavior that happened on the trip. The principal asked the second grade teachers how the students were and my teacher informed him of their behavior. So he came into the classroom today to talk to them about the misbehavior. He was not happy one bit either. He asked the students first how they thought they behaved and if any students thought they could have behaved better on the trip. He asked the students if they knew what respect looked like and how they did not show respect to the lady on the field trip. I thought the way the principal handled the student’s misbehavior was very effective. I liked how he asked the students first if they thought they misbehaved and if they thought they could have behaved better. I especially liked how he asked them if they knew what respect looked like. He did not just immediately start yelling at the students and punishing them for their actions. He explained to them and talked to them. I liked how he listened to them. The students spent the rest of the morning working on their father’s day cards. After lunch, the lunch aid had trouble with two students at recess and brought it to my mentor teacher’s attention. My mentor teacher asked to speak with each student individually to hear their side of the story and then brought the two students together. She had the students apologize to each other. I really liked how she talked with each student separately first and then brought the students together. I feel like speaking to each student individually allows the student to give his/her side of the story without the pressure of their peer standing over their shoulder. The rest of the afternoon the students worked on mathematics and then wrote retirement cards for the assistant principal. My mentor teacher allowed students to come to the smart board and write different adjectives, sayings, and nouns that they thought of when they thought about the assistant principal. She had the students write the words they would use in their letter because she did not want the letter to be written by her, but she wanted the letters to be truly from the students. Having the students use the smart board during the lesson was engaging and fun for the students and was a way for the students to really express their feelings about the assistant principal.
This week i was able to see the students and the teacher in a different way. Usually they are preparing for state exams, or tests given by the school. However this week I saw the students working together at field day, and for their invention projects. During field day I saw the class come together, including the teacher. It was a great way for the teacher to have fun with her students and be in an environment other than learning. For the remainder of the school year students are working on an invention project. Students were put into groups of 3 and told to come up with their own invention. Of course there were guidelines, and the students had to come up with a way to market their inventions. I continuously observed the teacher motivating her students through good praise, and smiles. I also saw her question students as to how their invention was actually going to work, or if it was really practical. The way the teacher posed her questions the students didn't seem to be offended or insulted, but rather they understood why she was asking the questions, and they asked in return what they could do better. I think that by the teacher interacting in an activity like this she was able to create a fun environment for the class.
During this week of my observations there were many aspects of classroom management that I was able to see. On Thursday June 12th the class went on a field trip to Old Bethpage Restoration Village. This was one of my favorite field trips as a student myself, and I was excited to share this experience with students who had never been to the village. My expectations were high, but unfortunately they were short lived. The teacher threatened to leave students behind before the trip even began that morning. She repeated these threats about four times throughout the morning (a thirty minute period). The students continued to misbehave, and be loud, and not listen to anything the teacher was saying. Once at the village the teacher paired the students up in two's so that no one would get lost. this pairing system lasted a total of maybe twenty minutes before the students were running around behind the teacher. She wanted the students in two lines behind her; I may have had the students in a group around, or with me so that students could ask questions and I could danseur them. The trip was tiring, and the teacher continually had to yell at students, and at one point she even responded to the students behaviors as being an embarrassment. The field trip was definitely an experience, and a way to see the students in a different environment. I could tell that they were excited, and just wanted to see everything there was, however the teacher responded negatively to everything and anything the students did. She even raised her eyebrows in surprise when a student answered a question correctly. I was saddened by the students behaviors, but I was even more confused by the teachers expressions and ways of dealing with the students. I saw many opportunities for learning and exploring while the teacher saw obnoxiousness, and embarrassment from the students.
Unlike my many other observations in the classroom that include high levels of stress and constant preparation for upcoming tests, today was very different. The students attended yet another assembly in the morning. Then the students spent the better half of the morning making retirement cards for the assistant principal and three other teachers in the school building. The students brainstormed words and phrases that they wished to write in their cards. The teacher encouraged the students to be creative, thoughtful, and genuine. The students were very motivated and excited to create a retirement letter for one of the kindergarten teachers, since many of the students had this teacher when they were in that grade. The students were very into making their cards that you could hear a pin drop at times, which is very different from when the students are engaged in the common core read-aloud literacy program. It was funny to hear the silence and quietness within the classroom when the students were writing their letters. So for the better part of the morning, I did not see many areas of classroom management strategies, due to the fact that the students were not engaged in academic material. However, there were two students who continued to sit in their seats and not work on their cards at all. After several reminders to get working on the cards and to talk less, the students still did not listen. Finally, after those several reminders to work, my mentor teacher had to separate the two students. Before separating the two students, she talked about self-control to the students and how this type of behavior will not be tolerated in third grade next year. She asked the students why they chose not to do their cards and one of the students said it was boring for him. My mentor teacher immediately found a scholastic weekly reader for this student and he worked on the reader for the morning, instead of the cards. My mentor teacher was very flexible with the students, allowing them to talk quietly amongst themselves, while she played music for them. Many of the students really enjoyed listening to the music while working. In the afternoon, I taught the students the mathematics lesson on bar graphs. My mentor teacher and I have noticed that the students thoroughly enjoy this chapter of the book and are doing very well on the material. It was a student in the class' birthday, so we sung to her and had cupcakes. Of course, the students love birthday celebrations because they get to have a little treat and chat with their friends for a little. By now, the students should know and be aware of the proper behavior during a birthday celebration, since this is not the first time. However, there was one table whose behavior was not what it should be and my mentor teacher was very disappointed that still in June she has to address behavior during a birthday celebration. She asked the table if they think they are behaving like second, almost third graders. However, after only addressing this issue once with the students, the students fixed their poor behavior and she did not have to speak to them again, which really showed me how her classroom management strategies have worked since implementing them consistency throughout the school year. Lastly, there are three students who are not allowed to join the class at the breakfast party on Wednesday because of their behavior on the field trip. My mentor teacher pulled those three students aside this morning and reminded the students that they are not attending on Wednesday, but giving the students the chance to prove her wrong and show her that they can act like third graders and that the behavior they showed on the field trip will never be displayed again. Today was seen as a catch-up day and was a very relaxed day for the students.
On June 2nd was my first day observations. I was very excited to observe at Lakeside elementary school in Merrick because it was my elementary school. I got placed in an inclusion 5th grade class. When I first walked into the 5th grade classroom I was observing in the class was very organized. The students desks were organized in rows. There is a library in the back of the room. The students also have a laptop cart for when they need to use the computer. During the class the students actively participated and enjoy class. The students are really enjoying their unit on poetry. They have their choice on what to write about and they choose different poems to read. When students are done with their unit projects, their projects are on the walls in the room and outside in the hall. The class has a very good relationship. When the students share their poems all the students compliment on each others work. It is great to see the students smile from compliments from their classmates. The classroom is an inclusion classroom. The classroom environment does not show this at all. All the students get along. There are two teachers in the classroom and one TA. It is great to watch the general education teacher and the special education teacher work very well together. When one teacher speaks the other teacher just goes off of the other teacher. They get along very well. I believe this is a great way to keep the class managed.
On my second day of observations I felt like I really belonged in the school. I walked into the building and the person sitting by the door put on a big smile and said hi Melanie how are you? When I was being noticed I felt important in the school. As I was walking through the halls, I saw my old classrooms and teachers. I couldn't believe I was back to help others and wasn't a student. When I walked into the class Mrs. M was telling her students about a new project they would be starting. I was excited to hear all about it. The students had to make books about different countries the incoming 5th graders would be learning. All the book's made by the students would be shown to the new children coming to 5th grade. The students had to research a country that was choosing by the teacher. I would allow the students to choose a country they were interested in. The students were so excited to go through different books and use their laptops to research. The students all got blank books to create their stories. It was great to see how the students interacted during the research project. The students were comparing their countries together. One student in the class has a reading and speech disability. It was great to see she had a program on the computer to help her with her writing. This showed me the teachers were able to accommodate their student. During the project the teachers all walked around to help all the students. It was great to see the connection between the teachers and students. I also sat in a reading group with the special education teacher. It was interesting to see how it would work because all the students had different abilities. Four students had a chance to read. The students did the best they could and read with expression. It was interesting to see that the students made mistakes and had some difficulties but the teacher would just help the student and not get annoyed with them. The other students just sat there while the student who was struggling was getting help.
The 2nd grade class I observed with just completed reading "James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl. Much to my surprise the teachers had been reading the book aloud to the class for the last two weeks rather than children reading it on their own. In the other school I observed in this year I was informed by a classmate how her 2nd graders were reading Charlotte's Web individually and that the book was extremely challenging for many of them. I asked the teacher why they decided to read it as a full class instead of individually and then have group discussions and she said that her and her co-teacher agreed the book was too complex for them to read individually but since the principal wanted them to incorporate it into the curriculum they did what they felt was best for the students. I respected and agreed with their idea because the students were still attaining the necessary information just in a different approach. At the closing of the book the teachers turned to the students and told them to take out ehri thinking maps and add in any new and important information they felt was necessary. As i walked around the room I noticed students had a variety of different style maps in their notebooks. When i asked one student about it she explained that at the beginning of the unit the teachers reintroduced them to the various thinking maps and allowed students to use whichever they felt would best help them to organize their ideas. The different maps students could choose from included bubble map, circle map, multi-flow map, free map and a flow map. The only map students weren't permitted to use at the beginning of this unit was the double bubble map because that was to be used at a later time.
As a reward for being so cooperative and hard working the last several weeks the teachers allowed the students to watch the movie of James and the Giant Peach last Friday afternoon. This is where the double bubble map came into play. The purpose of the double bubble map is to compare and contrast two ideas. In the center of the chart students wrote the title of topic which was James and the Giant Peach. Stemming from the topic bubble on each side they drew two more bubbles: one labelled movie and the other labelled book. Throughout the viewing of the movie students were encouraged to write down similarities and differences found between the two. The teachers paused the movie at various points to discuss with students any observations they had made thus far.
People often have a hard time adapting to change. Children with special needs often have an even harder time adapting to changes. During my last day of observing at PS 24 both the co-teachers had to attend a meeting with the assistant principal for the first 2 periods of the day. The teachers explained this to the students upon their arrival into school and encouraged them to remain on their best behavior for the substitute teacher. Throughout their explanation of the schedule for the day, I observed a glimpse of positive reinforcement inspired by Skinner's theory. The teachers planned to celebrate the summer birthdays later that afternoon. This was an example of positive reinforcement because the teachers explained that in order for the students to receive the cupcakes they needed to be on their best behavior. After the teachers finished their discussion and the children continued to unpack one of the teachers spoke one on one with Student K, who has behavioral issues and a learning disability. She emphasized the importance of good behavior in order to receive a reward but he seemed to be unaware of what was actually expected of him. When the substitute teacher arrived, Student K was very disruptive. At one point he began to cry out of nowhere and shouted that he wanted Ms. Y to come back to the classroom. The substitute teacher reminded him that if he did not control his behavior he would't get a cupcake but he continued to cry anyway. Upon Ms. Y's return to the classroom, Student K calmed down and was calm for the remainder of the day. It was evident that he did not like change and had an extremely hard time adjusting to it. Both Ms. Y and her coteacher were well aware of Student K's inability to adjust to change and displayed extra patience with him for the remainder of the day because they knew he was a bit disheveled from the earlier day experiences.
On my last day observing at Gotham Avenue, the students were very excited because it was the class pajama/breakfast party. The students were told about this party in September and being young children they certainly did not forget during the school year. I remember during my observations in the spring, the students were talking about the party. I liked how my mentor teacher explained the two end of the year parties in the beginning of the school year, as it was a way to motivate the students and show students how their hard work and effort can pay off in the end. Of the 22 students in the classroom, there was only one student who was not allowed to attend the party because the principal felt he did not deserve it. The students enjoyed wearing their pajamas, watching a movie, and eating delicious pancakes, bacon, and eggs. However, my mentor teacher informed me that of the 14 years she has been doing this party with her class, she has never seen such poor behavior and children who did not listen and who were actually running and throwing food around the room. The students she caught throwing food were immediately pulled aside and reprimanded for their inappropriate behavior. My mentor teacher felt that it was not fair to stop the movie and party for the other students because of the select students who did not want to follow the rules. To my surprise, my mentor teacher pulled out mathematics worksheets and had the students who were throwing food to sit in the back of the room and silently work on the worksheets. I was very shocked that she had worksheets on her in case something like this happened, however I really liked this management technique. Why take away the party for the students who behaving because of a select few? The party lasted the whole morning and then the students went off to lunch. After lunch/recess, the students once again work on retirement cards for teachers in the school building. My teacher played music for the students. For the most part, the students were well-behaved and pretty quiet. Usually the students come back from recess and are very hyper, however I think the party tired them out. At the end of the day, my teacher called the one student who was not allowed to attend the party to the back of the room to talk to him. She asked him how he felt that he missed the party. She then had a dialogue with the student and made a deal with the student. She said if he behaved perfectly on Thursday, and in the morning on Friday, that meant staying in his seat, raising his hand, not disturbing the other students, and not fighting with his peers that he would be allowed to participate in the ice cream party on Friday afternoon. She said she usually does not do this to students who get parties taken away, yet she felt that this past week he has been working hard and improving on his behavior and she simply felt bad for him because the principal took away the field trip, recess for the rest of the school year, and the pajama party. I agree with what my mentor teacher and I liked how she said she was going to speak with the principal about this deal with the student, since the principal did take the party away from him and she wanted to be on the same page with the principal.
My fourth day of observations turned out to be family fun day at P.S. 176. This meant that the parents of all students were invited in the morning to play games and participate in activities until about lunch time. When I arrived, the students were already outside with my mentor teacher along with a handful of other classes from the upper grades, their teachers and the gym teacher. It appeared that the station activities were to be run by each teacher as they rotated. The blowup obstacle course was the only station the gym teacher was solely assigned to. The school yard looked like mass chaos as students were running from one game to another. The handful of parents that came to the event stood off to the side and chatted with one another. They were not encouraged to participate in the games which I thought was quite unfortunate.
Once the whistle blew, my mentor teacher rounded up the class and marched them up to the classroom. When we got back, my teacher had decided to ditch her plan book and allowed the students to work on their fourth grade memories. Students who had finished early were tasked to pack up the classroom books which was something they all enjoyed doing. The teacher encouraged me to walk down the hall to see the recently displayed work. It was fun to read all of the students’ fondest memories from the past year. One thing stood out to me the most, many of the students included a tribute to their teacher, even the students who were in trouble on a daily basis! This made me think that the students have tougher skin than I gave them credit for. They appreciated their teacher and clearly respected her. Another cool board I saw was made up of mini post cards that each displayed only three words. The students were tasked to come up with just three words to sum up their school year. They could go about the blank card any way they wanted. The finished projects were fantastic. They reflected growth, memories, and lessons.
My final day with my fourth graders was extremely sad after spending six months with them. I had grown attached to many of the students. One of my favorite parts of the day was when one of the boys came to me and told me that I was his favorite science teacher. I think he had the impression that that was all I taught and what I was going to school for. Another student brought in a certificate she had made at home, decorated with the words, World’s Best Student Teacher. She even signed and dated it. That day during lunch the girls who regularly come up to tutor decided to show me a dance they had been working on. It felt great to see how excited they were to show me! At first I was nervous Ms. S would scold them as she normally did when they got off task, but instead she encouraged them to preform and even cheered on as she watched along with me. This had me thinking, since dancing is also a hobby of mine, I would definitely like to incorporate it some way into my future classroom. I feel that the kinesthetics would be beneficial for all ages and could possibly help with my classroom management. When the rest of the class came back after lunch, some of the boys and girls left for chorus practice. Instead of moving on and teaching a new math lesson, she decided to allow the students to work on completely unfinished work. Those who had completed everything were allowed to help file as I graded some tests and papers. It is evident that the students love to help out in the classroom. They love the responsibility they are given and take their jobs very seriously. Over the past few months, I also noticed many of the students are extremely self-reflective when it comes to personal time management. They do not wait for their teacher to tell them to work on something; instead they take the initiative to work on it when possible. I feel that this was definitely instilled in them at the beginning of the year, especially since Ms. S had looped with them from third grade. Overall, my experience in the fourth grade was extremely positive. I had the opportunity to work with a veteran teacher who was eager to share her experiences both positive and negative with different forms of classroom management.
On my second day was send to the self- contained classroom. Ms. C was not in the class when I arrived. She was integrating student A, a kindergarten student with mild Autism, with morning routines in a mainstream kindergarten class. In this self-contained classroom there were 5 students with different Autism spectrum disorder, ages 5 to 7 years old. Only one student was not verbal. Each student has a paraprofessional working with them. Ms. C told me that each morning the first thing they all do is physical prompting. Each paraprofessional will physical prompt the student to unzip the backpack, take out the lunch bag, put each one in their place and hang in their coats in their cubbies. Ms. C emphasize that there is no speaking during this daily routine. I found amazing not to say a word while trying to teach. She use ABA system and repetition activities with a reward system. Each student has a different reward depending on their interests and preferences. For example, one student has an Ipad time as a reward, another student has toy as a reward. All students were been pulled out for the services they need for example, speech, occupational therapy etc. They all participate in a half moon table were they interact with the smart board. The instruction included videos, songs, writing and reading. I was surprised to see how well they understood the lesson. Technology was a big part of the lesson as well as supported websites for them to practice. The students that want an Ipad as a reward they were able to play educational games.
Last week I was with the students for 2 days. They were continuing to work on their invention projects with the understanding that they would be presenting them at the end of the week. (Thursday and Friday) Unfortunately when Thursday cam the teacher never followed through with the plan of presenting their project to the other fifth grade classes. The students seemed to be upset, so the teacher told them that they could present their inventions to our class as a "practice run" for tomorrow( Friday) when they would really present their inventions. The students did a great job presenting, and I though that their inventions were clever, and appropriate for 11 year olds. The whole time the students were presenting other students were talking with their neighbors, and the teacher was outside in the hallway talking with other teachers. I was insulted for the presenters. I didn't know what to do, so I simply tried to calm those students who were talking by asking them if they would like it if people were talking while they presented. I tried to make the presentations as meaningful as possible, but i was just as disappointed as the students were with their teacher. I was unable to attend their "real" presentations that Friday, and am curious to see how it went. My prediction is that it didn't happen. To some students they felt that they worked so hard, and they were excited to present what they had done, i could only imagine how they felt if they never got the chance to do it, or if they did do it, but their peers were rude, and the teachers didn't care.
Students need routine, or some sense of structure. If you tell students to be ready to present a project you as the teacher should be ready to listen to what they have to say. For the students who are shy and those who were nervous about presenting, you could really have put them through a great deal of anxiety by not having them present, or by having them present when people are being rude. These students also had a due date for their projects, the way that this project was handled was unprofessional and students at this young age can now have the idea that there really isn't a due date, or that any future project is a joke. It really is sad that some of these students worked so hard and they may not have even been recognized for it.
On my third day of observations the students came in wanting to do more of their research project. The students are enjoying taking their laptops and getting information on their country. I noticed some students have some difficulties finding information. Some students told the teachers and I that there was no information. When this happened I sat with the children to show them that their are other ways to search information. It was interesting to see the students who only wanted to use a book to research the information. Student C has ADHD and is always wondering around and talking. When Mrs. M sees this during class time she tells Student C to go walk to the office and get the mail. This helps Student C get into control and come back more relaxed. Also during the day the students did an activity in their story works magazine. I never saw this before. It was very interesting. The students read the story as a class. They all took turns reading if they wanted to read out loud.I like how they had a choose to read to the class. Sometimes students do not like reading out loud and get very over whelmed. After the story was finished, the students got into groups to answer a packet of questions. It seemed like the students had a fun time with this story. They were complaining because there were too many questions! They ended up finishing the questions and the class went over all the answers. The students seemed to have a good day in school.
Today was a regular school day but the students were able to go to a science fair. The science fair was where the 6th grade students made posters about a science experiment. Every sixth grader made their own project. Each grade had certain time slots to come and visit the science fair. The science fair took place in the gym. The room was organized by different classes. When it was our turn to go to the science fair, the students were very excited. They were telling stories when their siblings did this when they were in sixth grade. They couldn't believe next year they would be able to do this because they will be in sixth grade. As we walk to the gym the students were unorganized in the line. We had to stop a few times to get them back in the line. As we walk into the gym they ran over to all the different projects. I noticed they were asking questions and wanted to know more. I saw the sixth graders enjoyed when they asked questions. There was one sixth grader they keep on saying why is no one coming to my project. I thought maybe the school could of organized a way they each student can see each project or groups of students were assigned to a group of projects. I can see some students being upset if no one walked over to their project. If this was my school this is how I would organize the science fair. I do think this was pretty cool.
Well, shocker they never presented their invention projects last week as they were told they would. Today (Tuesday) I came into the class and asked how the presentations went, and the teacher replied with a laugh saying "Yeah, like they're ready to present something!" I was taken back, because I thought that it would have been done already, and I was upset when I found out that they still had yet to present what they had worked so hard on. So needless to say later that day the students went to another teachers classroom, and watched that class present their inventions, and then that class came to our classroom to watch us present. One of the students in the other class created an "Anti Bully Bot", and it looked fantastic. The two students created a life size looking robot out of cardboard, and plastic; it was also able to stand on its own. My mouth was wide open during the entire presentation in awe, and somewhat curiosity as to why this student would create such a character to help "fend off" bullies. I asked his teacher if she had asked him deeper questions regarding his invention, and she said no. This invention really made me want to ask this student many questions, although not my place, I kept my questions to myself.
I felt disappointed for the students because their presentations were taken as a joke, and half the time the teachers were talking with each other, and not even paying attention to the students. This type of project could have been so great for the students, but instead it was turned more into a joke.
Overall my observing experience was beneficial, in a way that i wouldn't have initially expected. I was able to see what not to do as a teacher, and how sometimes you really need to listen to what a student is telling you, and not just take what they are saying for face value. I was pleased with the outcome, although i didn't necessarily see anything that I would use in the classroom, but I was able to see how certain things work, and don't work for a teacher.
On my last day of observations, my students had to present their social issues project. I was not there for the beginning of the project so I asked the teacher what this was about. Mrs. M explained to me that this project was based on different groups but each student had their own responsibility. Each group pick a topic they would want to research. A couple of examples were cancer, bullying, and students with disabilities. I was excited to see all their projects being presented. The students with disabilities group made a play. This play showed how important it was not to make fun of students who are different. I was most shocked to see when students ask questions at the end. Some students were asking questions about learning disabilities and it surprised me because the students who asked had learning disabilities. It seemed to me that they did not know and they were in 5th grade. One group did cancer and one girl mentioned her grandmother died from cancer and she wanted to find a cure. It was really nice to see these projects and how these students wanted to change the issues. I really enjoyed working with this class. The teachers and students accepted me that I have been their since day 1. I was only there for 3 weeks and I felt like I belong like any other teacher.
In enjoyed observing Ms. P in her resource room. She will go to each class and pick up each student. (Push Out) She had a 40 minutes lesson. The first thing that she did was to go over the class rules with all her students. The day that I observed her lessons she had four stations ready to use in her class. She wanted to support reading to each student so she will work with one student while the others will be in the centers. The centers were, computer, leapfrog with sight words, ipad practicing writing the letters and numbers. Ms. P told me that the next day they will be singing a book so they need to practice on the computer. It was kind of a Karaoke but instead of reading lyrics of a song they were reading a book. I couldn't be part of that event.
On my third day I had to observed a replacement teacher in a first grade class. She told me that that day was her third day in the classroom because the classroom teacher had a baby. I could see that the previous teacher had a morning routine established in the classroom. Each knew what to do, take homework out, put back pack away and work on a worksheet in their seats. In this class there where three students with IEP's and one ESL student. There was a teacher aid that worked with this students in the crescent table on the side of the room. All students where listening the lesson sitting down on the carpet. Then they will go to their tables and start working on a worksheet. The TA will call the four kids to her table and start re-explaining the directions to do the worksheet and help them completing the task. I realized that there was not teacher's desk in the classroom. She will use a computer from the computer station located at the side of the room. I didn't see any use of them when I was there. The teacher will always threat misbehavior with recess off time. The student will also have a way to get it back by doing following the rules. Her lessons were too long and after ten minutes children will lost interest. She uses a marble jar as a reward system for the whole class. She will also give each student a piece of a puzzle each day and the table that get the most pieces will get a reward from the treasure box.
On my last day I went back to the self-contained classroom half a day and the other half day to the resource room. I was amazed that autistic children can have an interactive lesson. Ms. C was great engaging them with things that interested them. For example, she will use as an example Brown, Brown bear book for students to learn colors. She also use songs in her instruction as well as Elmo counting in a video. All students will interact on the smart board and trace the letter and word of the day. I also had the chance to observe the Occupational Therapist working with one of the student. I think I will apply some of the activities I observed with some students in the after school that need fine motor skill support.