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Field Notes 2/26/13

ellenv's picture

Field Notes 2/26/2013


Today is the “Book Publishing Party” that Teacher A has been talking about for the past couple weeks. This book publishing party is the culmination of their research project that they have been working on for the entire time that I have been here. Teacher A announces that the book publishing party will be happening at the beginning of class, but before the class gets to celebrate, they have to spend first period doing standardized test prep.


During the test prep period, Teacher A has me work with two students who have worked with before, but separately. While this is a 6th grade class, these students are doing the test prep for the 4rth grade level. Teacher A has written a note for me indicating which sections in the packet the students should have complete and asks me to go over the answers to the multiple choice questions for these sections. Teacher A does not have an answer key for the tests and so she gives me a few minutes to read through the sections, the questions, and attempt to answer the questions. While many of the questions were pretty straight forward, there were a few that I felt like were open to interpretation.


When we first start going through the questions, one student shouts out the answers quickly. Before they started the activity, I could see that this student did not have any questions answered and no notes on the reading passages (which had been the homework for the previous night). After getting the first few answers wrong, this student starting stating “make him [the other student] answer” or  “what do you think the answer is teacher Ellen?” We are sitting in a circle of two desks and a large, comfy chair. This means that after my first glance at this student’s packet, I cannot catch another glimpse of what they are marking down on the page. They change their sitting position to be facing me face-to-face so that their answers are obscured. After discussing all of the answers for the first reading passage, this student exclaims: “teacher Ellen I got ALL of them right! All of them!”


During this activity, the other student started out sitting facing into our little circle, but after a few questions, they stopped giving answers and turned inwards towards their desk covering up their page (which I had seen was actually filled out prior to starting).


After finishing this activity, Teacher A comes over and asks how they did on the activities. When I indicate that one student had not completed the homework and then stated that they got all of the answers correct, teacher A explained that this was not the first time that had happened, and in the last week, neither of the two students I had worked with had gotten any of the answers right on the test prep activities they had been doing.


What I found interesting from this interaction was the difference I noticed in the behavior and movements of the students I was working with as compared with the previous times that I had worked with them. The more withdrawn student had been a lot more open with his stance, sitting facing me and making eye contact the last time that I worked with him. This time, this student would not make eye contact and turned away from the group when we were working. After we had finished the activity however, this student returned to their open stance, making eye contact and facing me and asking questions like “what blood type are you teacher Ellen, I’m O, do you know about that blood type?”

While none of the student were particularly active in this test prep activity from what I could see of their behavior (staring into space, doodling on their pages, talking with their friends), it was a particularly stark contrast between behavior with this student who went from really withdrawn to chatty and open in a matter of seconds.