Monday, October 10, 2011

Workshop Exemplar

The workshop that helped me be immersed the most was the observation report.  The observation report helped me understand the characteristics of my learners.  I was immersed while I was observing teenagers because I tried to find patterns and understand what made those individuals excited and able to have fun.  I found that students like to do activities in group.  I have seen this in practice in my school districts.  When students work together in groups, some people are upset because they have to fill all the shoes for their teammates.  In other cases, people jump to the option of working together because they can collaborate and delegate the tasks.  I find that teachers need to be flexible when it comes to group work and that if a student will succeed at a high level by themselves that they should be allowed to work by themselves.  I also found out what boredom looks like in a teenager.  This experience also helped me because I now notice boredom in my students.  Right now, I hear many comments about how they do not understand the purpose of the class activities and are very bored.  I am keeping this in mind as I plan my units so that I try to come up with innovative ways to get content standards across.  Lastly, I feel as though my experience doing the observation report helped me understand the demographics of my students. Many of my students come from difficult situations at home.  This has helped me understand that I need to create a safe haven for my students.  

The blog entries that indicate my progress on my observation report are as follows: 

Thursday, August 4, 2011: Moving Forward with the Observation project 

Observation Workshop (Write-up) Who are my learners? Part II

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shadow Study

Shadow Study:

Schema activation: Engagement looks like paying attention to the teacher by:
1.     not talking with friends
2.     answering teacher’s questions
3.     keeping one’s head off the desk (not sleeping)
4.     not being disruptive through getting out of the seat or
5.     doing the classwork

Method for measuring student activation:
The purpose of this activity was to record a particular student’s engagement through their classes all day long.  The method that I used to collect data on being engaged/or disengaged was by indicating whether or not the student was engaged/disengaged and what evidence I had for my conclusion.  I collected data every 5 minutes and my chart of engagement looked like:

Time into class 
Not Engaged
What evidence did I use to make my conclusion
0-5 mins

5-10 mins

10-15 mins

15-20 mins

20-25 mins

25-30 mins

30-35 mins

35-40 mins

40-45 mins

45-50 mins

50-55 mins

Table 1: Data table used to collect data

The figure above is the data table that I used to collect data for each class hour of the day.  I would check a box for engaged or not engaged and then record what type of evidence I had for my conclusion.   I also would include a number on a scale from 1 to 5 to indicate how engaged or disengaged she was.   The scale went from 1 being very disengaged to 5 being very engaged.  Each class is around an hour in length. 

Information on the student I chose:
My student is an eighth grade girl who seems to be relatively engaged in the science course that I have her in.  She has science 1st hour and is always prepared for class with a pencil and does well on course assignments.  I chose her because I wanted to see if she was attentive in all of her classes or if it was just for science courses.  I also wanted to choose her so that I could see what attentiveness looked like in other course types.  My student’s schedule was as follows: 1st hour: 8th grade science, 2nd hour: Orchestra, 3rd hour: 8th grade history, 4th hour: Art, 5th hour: 8th grade English, 6th hour: 8th grade math. 

Reflection:  I found that my student was relatively engaged for each of her classes except 6th hour.   I also noticed that for the most part my student was relatively disengaged (2-3) during the first 10 minutes of class.  This could be a result of the teacher having to take care of attendance and other paperwork necessary for starting class.  Generally speaking, I found that after taking attendance, my student made sure not to talk with her friends and started to be engaged in her coursework.  There was a few times where I found that my student was disengaged. 

Evidence of engagement:
1.     completing the warm up in each of her classes
2.     listening to the teacher’s instruction and completing the group work (i.e. in art class she listened to the teacher’s instruction and then spent the rest of the class completing the activity for that class period)
3.     actively participating in the class (i.e. in orchestra she always had her violin ready to play and would stop when the teacher stopped)
4.     quietly sitting while the teacher talks
5.     answering questions that the teacher asks

Evidence of disengagement:
1.     talking with friends
2.     not completing the task at hand (for instance, I saw in her sixth hour course and she did not complete the task at hand and did not ask her teacher for help; this could have been a result of

Top 5 Things that I learned about engagement:

  • 1 When I first conducted this project, I thought of engagement of a student differently. I thought that if a student was not being disruptive, was not talking with their friends, and was not sleeping, it meant that they were engaged.  After completing this task and talking with other fellows, I realize that engagement means much more.   I also thought that engagement meant following the teacher’s instruction.  The main problem with this assumption that I had made is that even if a student writes down the directions to a lab experiment, if they do not understand the steps or why they are doing it, then they might just go through the motions to get the task done.  I saw this happen when my student was in art class. She was told to complete a worksheet but she did not understand how to complete it.  Instead of asking clarifying questions she tried her best to complete the activity.  I heard comments such as, “why are we doing this”, and “I don’t understand this”.   I realized after witnessing this, that it is very easy for teachers to think that their students are engaged when they are actually struggling and not understanding the task at hand.  
  •  Engagement means listening to the teacher’s instruction and synthesizing through the information to achieve understanding.  This is possibly the most important aspect of engagement.  Engagement needs to lead to “aha” moments and that the activity that they are completing could be completed on their own correctly without any help. 
  •  Engagement means asking good questions about the topic that is being covered in class.  Questions in class could be about the content being covered or how it is relevant.  The biggest struggle for teachers is to keep students engaged in the classroom.  Many students want to feel as if the information they are learning is going to help them in the future.  If they do not feel as though it is relevant than they will check out of the classroom and become disengaged.  I have seen this in my observations so far of my student in her science and math course.  
  • Sixth hour seems to be for whatever reason the hardest class hour to have students stay engaged for.  Many of these students have already checked out of the classroom and are thinking about the rest of their day.  A couple of ideas I have to help mitigate this are: 1.  have activities that last 15 minutes or less and then change the activity. If an activity lasts longer than 15 minutes, it is easy for students to become disengaged.; 2.  Try to incorporate hands-on activities so that students are minds-on, hands on.   
Overall, I think that being engaged in a classroom is much much more than just paying attention in a classroom and not causing problems.  It is about making the information relevant to themselves and asking the teacher questions to help clarify the information.