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Field Notes #5

Lchase's picture


Field Notes #5

Today the students were working on their grammar worksheets when I came in.

I walked around the classroom and helped each student with any help they needed.

  • Usually this is where they work on worksheets that they had not finished in the past. So every student is at a different place.
  • Some students walk around and help each other with their work (if they finish early). I am not sure how helpful this is because on numerous occasions I saw the helping students just give their peers the answers or copy their worksheets.
  • Whenever I see this I tell the student to go sit down (not sure if I’m actually supposed to do this but Ms. G. never notices) and lecture them for a little. I don’t try to be mean or anything because I could see how much they are affected when Ms. G. disciplines them (and it’s not my place. I also don’t like disciplining kids) I just try to show them how they do not benefit from simply copying answers.

I worked with Michael on a bit of grammar. He was supposed to circle the adjectives in each sentence and write the sentence in a different tense after.

  • Michael did not need much help but I sat next to him for support and to watch over his work.

After, Ms. G brought the students to their bathroom break/ water fountain break.

  • Every time I have been to my PRAXIS at least one student complains that they need to use the restroom to Ms. G. in which she tells them they know they can’t go to the bathroom (along with repeating how this is told to them every day yet some student always asks to go).
  • Sometimes the students are so fidgety because they are obviously uncomfortable with a full bladder. I have a lot of feelings about this rule at Oakley Elementary School. I just do not think it is very moral (for lack of words) to regulate their bathroom breaks. What if one kid has an accident because they were not allowed to go to the bathroom? (*It seems like there are only two bathrooms in which the students can use. One for the girls and one for the boys. They are downstairs in the basement*) It is very unhealthy for a person to hold in their bathroom urges. I just don’t think it is healthy. But then again, elementary school students especially like to use the bathroom as an excuse to run around and leave the class.

I read with Sasha while in line for the bathroom like I usually do. I think her reading skills are getting a bit better. She is a lot more confident. She even asks me questions about words or the story itself, which she did not do in the past.

After the bathroom break the students read a story with Ms. G.

  • Ms. G uses her smart board during all stories which is really cool and interactive. She uses different colors and sometimes brings up quizzes.

The story they read today was about bats. They had started it the day before therefore they were about half way into the story.

  • Ms. G. was stopping in between the story to explain vocabulary (or rather ask each student the definition of the vocabulary word since their quizzed on the vocab each Friday). She also asked students if they had any questions.

Since Marcus was sitting next to me (he still sits next to the easel next to where I sit when I am not working with students or walking around—I rarely sit at the table) I was helping him read the story.

Marcus had very specific questions that had nothing to do with the story rather mere curiosity about vampire bats. Ms. G. dismissed his questions in which Marcus was a not upset about.

After reading the story each student was then told to create a chart that outlines main ideas of the story. Ms. G. wants them to learn how to outline before they write essays. She is preparing her students for the PSSA exams which start next week.

  • Ms. G. gives the students an example: Main idea—bats are nocturnal and then she gave a specific quote from the story that shows that bats are awake at night and sleep during the day under her evidence box. Each main idea needed three quotes for evidence. They also needed three main ideas.
  • Ms. G told the students they could use her example but she would like it if they didn’t. I think everyone of her students used her example.

While I walked around the classroom I noticed the students struggled in developing main ideas since it requires the students to take the book and critically think about it to come up with ideas. A few students added direct quotes for their main ideas. I went around and explained to each student how to come up with main ideas.

  • The students were amazing at finding supporting evidence but they struggled with formulating their own ideas.
  • I think they struggled with the main idea part because they were used to copy and paste answers. I had seen this throughout the semester. Usually when they are working out of their workbooks answering questions about readings the answers are almost always direct quotes from the book.

I went around the room helping the students take their evidence and create their own ideas, but this was very difficult. Instead, the students chose to listen to my conversations with other students and copied the ideas their peers created with my help. Eventually, almost all students had the same concepts and I am still unsure if they fully understand how to take a text and analyze it to form an argument for a paper.

After working on the chart outlines they were given worksheets about the book.

  • The students did very well on all of the assigned pages (they had 4 assigned) but the struggled with the last page.

The last page was more critical thinking! The students needed to summarize the whole book (which is about 12 pages) into four sentences. The first sentence was completed for them as an example. I was constantly asked by various students to help them with the page because “the book doesn’t say that!” They were referring to the example sentence which summarized the first three pages.

  • I worked with each student by showing them exactly where in the book each part of the sentence summarized. It was something along the line of “the little bat woke up, stretched its wings, and flew off.” The students were confused and uncomfortable. I had to go at this point so I do not know if everyone got through the worksheet.

Today raised various questions. It shows how much the student’s critical thinking skills are hindered by direct teaching and copy and paste answers. I think this is correlated with how much the school enforces state testing. Ironically, enforcing state testing is setting behind the students because they struggle coming up with main arguments for essays.