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Field Notes

njohnson's picture

During a Curriculum and Pedagogy Seminar last semester we were required to teach a lesson in our field placement. I was placed in a first grade classroom at Bayside School with fifty first graders and two teachers. These are my field notes from that experience. 

Lesson Objectives: To teach students how to write a list, why lists are used, and to provide them with prompts to write lists of their own 

Number of students: Four

Four students gather at a table towards the back of the room while the rest of the class is split up into other stations that they will be working at for the next twenty minutes. Behind our table is the computer cluster where stuents are working quietly on reading and math activities. Next to us is a group of three students reading a large poetry picture book outloud to each other. There are not enough teachers for each station to have a supervisor so the computer cluster and the poetry cluster are working independently. On the other side of the room, two separate groups of students (about 6 kids each) work with each of the head teachers on writing and vocabulary. There is another group of four students in the library nook doing independent reading. 

I ask my students if they know what a list is. They say no. I explain that a list is when we have a topic and we write down things that relate to that topic. One student says "yea, like a grocery list." That is a perfect example of a list. I explain that lists can either be written vertically (shown on paper) or by separating individual items with a comma. Students decide what they would like to write a list about by hearing a list (ironic) of topics that I have decided on. Student A chooses favorite foods, Student B chooses favorite games, Student C chooses favorite animal names, and Student D does not want to choose a topic. I write on a dry erase board the sentence structure that student should use to start out their list. "My favorite __________ are _______, _______," etc. Students begin writing. I got to ask Student D what he would like to write his list about. He says he does not want to write a list. This continues for a while until eventually he decides that he will write a list about his favorite animals. Student B is distracted by the images on the computer screens behind him. He gets up to go help his classmates with one o the games. I ask him to please return to his seat and to continue writing. He returns to his seat but he does not write but instead keeps looking at the computer screen. Student A has to go to the bathroom. Student C asks me how to spell something. The students reading the poetry book keep calling other students over to look at this picture of fish kissing. Student D gets distracted and walks over to see. They all yell "ewwww look they're kissing!" I ask Student D to return to his seat and tell the poetry students to keep the book to themselves. Student B is out of his seat again and looking at the computer screen. I ask him to return to his seat again but he doesn't. One of the head teachers notices this and comes over and tells him that he has to listen to my instructions. He sits down, continues writing, and does not get up again for the remainder of the activity. He asks me how to spell the titles of certain video games. One of the students at the computer cluster has a non-functioning mouse and asks me very kindly to help. I can't find a solution to the problem so I call the teacher over. We both spend time looking for a working mouse. Eventually we find one and are able to return to our original stations. Student A returns from the bathroom. Student C tells me that she is finished. I read over her list and tell her to add punctuation. Three minutes of uninterrupted working. They all complete their lists but there is still five minutes left in the period. I tell them they can draw pictures of the items of their list. Student D is very proud of his picture of a jaguar.