S: STUDENT TEACHING: TELPOCHCALLI 2011
BC: Kimberly M. Howard Student Teaching Portfolio 2011
FC: STUDENT TEACHING | telpochcalli 2011
1: To be knowledgeable: engage all students, understand assessment, integrate cross-curricular content, incorporate diverse perspectives To create an interdisciplinary environment: differentiate instruction, motivate students, respect student differences and special needs To be responsive: connect to students' experiences and backgrounds, value diversity, believe in each and every student To be an advocate: manage the classroom effectively, promote a positive and inclusive classroom To practice collaboration: develop mutual respect, cooperation, and support among students, teachers, and the community | My Mission Statement:
2: My Pedagogy Learning is a complex process. Because of my personal and pedagogical connection between academic and athletic excellence, my pedagogy can best be framed as a metaphor. A basketball coach runs practice each day. At the beginning of the season, she knows the basics must be implemented: dribbling, passing, shooting, a basic offense, a basic defense, and some communication skills. Fully aware that these skills may not be fully developed before the first game, in the first months, or even maybe in the whole season, she recognizes that player development is essential. Each day, in limited gym space, with limited time and resources, she prepares her team for the first test: the big game. As the first game arrives, the coach has just a few minutes of pre-game to motivate her team. It is her responsibility to relieve nerves, to make sure everyone is properly attired, and to be the cheerleader for each player who doesn't have a parent in the gym. The coach is an advocate for each player and for the team as a whole. She is there on the bench to guide the team, but she, herself, cannot step onto the court. She trusts that her team can step onto the floor and implement three weeks of practice, instruction, and team-building. She provides the direction, the constructive criticism, and the celebration of small successes, but she is rendered helpless besides the guidance of a few timeout calls.
3: Based on team performance, the coach must then decide which areas her team struggled with most so she can prepare for practice the next day. She has the responsiveness to recognize weaknesses, the patience to review the basics, and the mindfulness to set and celebrate small goals. Learning is an interactive and collaborative process. A teacher can teach as much as she wants, but until she gives students the opportunity and freedom to “step foot onto the court,” the education in one-sided. Students learn better when they are active and engaged. A teacher must manage effectively, be an advocate for each student, and promote a positive environment, but the success of the classroom will rely most heavily on the students. This type of interactive learning will only be developed through collaboration: the development of mutual respect, the element of choice, and support among the students, the teacher, and the community. Through interaction and collaboration, a teacher can create an interdisciplinary environment where instruction is differentiated, students are motivated, and respect, value, and belief in each student are possible. In this way, education provides skills beyond mere understanding of classroom topics; rather, it encourages the development of well-rounded individuals prepared to overcome adversity on the path to prosperity.
4: hi | Goal: to develop basic knowledge and promote recognition of letters, numbers, and everyday concepts (calendar, weather, money) in an interactive and engaging way. El Mensaje de la Mañana Los Números Cuenten conmigo. ¿Cuál número sigue? (Escribe el número la pizzarón) Escribanlo en el aire. Bien GRANDE. Chiquito. Escribanlo en su pierna. Escribanlo en el piso con su pie. Escribanlo en la espalda de sus compañeros. Los Palitos Vamos a poner otro palito. (Escoge un/a estudiante.) ¿Cuántas centenas tenemos? ¿Cuántas decenas tenemos? ¿Cuántas unidades tenemos? ¿Cuántos palitos tenemos en total? Cuentenlos en español. Cuentenlos en inglés. Las Monedas Repaso de los monedas “¿Cómo se llama esta moneda? ¿Cuánto vale ___________?” Coin Song (hokey pokey – quarter, dime, nickel, penny) “You put the penny in, you put the penny out, you put the penny in and you shake it all about. You do the funny money and turn it all around. A penny is 1 cent.” “¡UN CENTAVO!” Velcro Chart Cuenten las monedas. Escribe el número la pizarra. | Morning Routine
5: El Tiempo “What's the weather like today, like today, like today? What's the weather like today, is it ________?” (Pon una carita.) “Today is a _______ day. Toot-toot! Today is a _______ day. Toot-toot! The ______ is ______-ing. The ______ is ______-ing. Today is a ______ day! TOOT! TOOT!” ¿Cuántos? “Enseñenme con sus dedos cuantos días ______________ hemos tenido.” Soleados Nublados Lluviosos Nevados (días de nieve) ¿Qué tipo de día hemos tenido más? ¿Qué tipo de día hemos tenido menos? El Calendario Macarana de los Meses “Estamos en el mes _______________. Todos digan: _________________.” “Contamos los días aquí.” “Ahora, el patrón.” Hoy es el ___dia____ de ____mes____. Escribanlo en el aire con la nariz. Escribanlo en el air con la lengua. Escribanlo en el aire con el codo. La Canción de los Días de la Semana domingo, lunes, martes, miercoles, jueves, viernes, sábado “Days of the week. (SNAP SNAP) Days of the week. (SNAP SNAP) There's Sunday and there's Monday. There's Tuesday and there's Wednesday. There's Thursday and there's Friday. And then there's Saturday. Days of the week. (SNAP SNAP) Days of the week. (SNAP SNAP) Days of the week. Days of the week. Days of the week.(SNAP SNAP)” “¿Qué día es hoy? ¿Qué día fue ayer? ¿Qué día será mañana?” La Marcha del Alfabeto
6: Classroom Management | The Traffic Light This classroom management system simply asks the students to self-monitor their level of noise. The adjustable red arrow reads, "Estamos" and each color of the Traffic Light gives a different noise level. Red = Calladitos Yellow = Susurrando Green = Hablando Each day, a special helper in proper police attire is in charge of adjusting the Traffic Light according to the teacher's commands.
8: Responsiveness | One young student, with no previous experience in a school setting, struggled greatly with the length of the school day. He cried each morning upon arrival, asked about the schedule constantly, and feared that nobody would come pick him up. This personalized schedule allowed him to mark off each activity during the day so he would know exactly when someone would come get him. The extra responsibility helped ease his mind during transitions.
9: Bulletin Board
10: LA BANDERA Bandera bella roja, verde, blanca honras mi corazon. Bandera de mi patria impartes el respeto a toda la nacion. Bandera tricolor bandera de mi amor me ilumina todo el corazon Bandera de mi patria das alegria y gloria, a través de tu aguilon. Eres de tres colores muy brillantes como tu representas la nacion. | M | Mexican Independence Day
14: Leer con un palito | Leer poemas y canciones
15: Leer libros grandes | Leer libros chiquitos | Leer nuestras oraciones | Jugar a la maestra | What to do in the Library
16: Each week, the children are presented with 3 examples of a sentence. Example: Corresponding with the book, La señora Laválotodo, students followed the template... A la tina fue _________________. (student name) Each day of the week, the class chorally reads the student-made sentences. The class practices ordering the words of 2-3 sentences in an interactive class activity where students physically move along with the words. At the end of the week, each student creates a page for the class book with his/her sentence. The student... ...cuts out the words of his/her sentence. ....puts the words in order to create the sentence. ...glues the sentence onto a large sheet of paper. ...writes his/her name for ownership. ...and draws a corresponding picture.
17: Interactive Writing
21: Art Strike | Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs at Telpochcalli School, Monday, October 3, 2011, during the "Art Strike," an interactive demonstration of professional artists.
22: Comparar las estaturas con objetos
23: Goal: To provide practice with comparing lengths Learning Objectives: Make a pictorial representation of class data Compare heights of objects Los Materiales: 30 notas amarillas 30 notas azules Una hoja grande de papel Marcadores La Preparación: Recoge los materiales. Dibuja una figura de palitos en la hoja grande de papel La Introducción: Explica que podemos usar las palabras “alto” y “bajo” cuando hablamos sobre longitudes. Muestra como buscar algo en el salón que sea más alto que la maestra y algo que sea más bajo. Alinea los extremos que mide. El objeto debería estar alineado con mis pies, al nivel del piso. Pregunta a los niños: ¿Soy más alta o más baja que la silla? La Actividad: Busca algo en el salón que sea más alto que tú. Dibuja el objeto más alto en la nota azul. Siéntate en la alfombra. Pon su nota en la hoja grande de papel (encima de la cabeza de la figura). Informa a la clase que es su objeto. Busca algo en el salón que sea más bajo que tú. Dibuja el objeto más bajo en la nota amarilla. Siéntate en la alfombra. Pon su nota en la hoja grande de papel (debajo de la cabeza de la figura). Informa a la clase que es su objeto. Pregunta a los estudiantes: ¿Quién me puede recomendar un título para la representación de los datos? Pregunta a los estudiantes: ¿ Quién me puede decir algunas oraciones explicativas para describir nuestro proyecto?
25: Usar bloques geométricos | Goal: To introduce pattern blocks Learning Objectives: Identify and describe shapes Explore pattern blocks Los Materiales: Pegatinas de bloques geométricas Stenciles de bloques geométricas Bloques geométricas Papeles con formas para bloques geométricas La Preparación: Recojan los materiales. Pongan los materiales en lugares diferentes. La Introducción: Hemos jugado con los bloques geométricas. Hoy vamos a continuar nuestro exploración de los bloques geométricas. Tenemos algunos centros diferentes para jugar con los bloques. En la alfombra, pueden jugar con los bloques geométricas en los papeles con formas. En las tres mesas, pueden jugar con las pegatinas. En las otras mesas, pueden jugar con los stenciles. Como nuestros centros al final de día, hay algunas reglas. - Tienen que limpiar un lugar antes de salir. - No puedan caminar por el salón. - Si vea un trabajo con los bloques geométricas muy bonito, voy a sacar una foto. La Actividad: Los niños juegan en los centros de bloques geométricas. Las maestras hablan con los niños sobre sus trabajos. Las maestras sacan fotos y preservan los trabajos.
26: Los números en nuestro mundo Goal: To enlarge and enrich children's awareness of numbers and their uses in a variety of contexts. Learning Objectives: Explore, recognize, and identify numbers Practice reading numerals Los Materiales: Tableros (Clipboards) papel lapices La Preparación: Recojan los materiales. La Introducción: Hemos hablado cada día sobre los números en la clase de matemáticas. Pida a los niños: ¿Ustedes piensen que solo podemos usar los números en la clase de matemáticas? Usamos los números en muchísimas cosas cada día. Su edad es un número. La hora de sus programas de TV favoritos es un número. También, su numero de teléfono es unos números. Hay muchos números en nuestra escuela: ¿Creen que ustedes pueden buscar números por todo nuestra escuela? La Explicación: Vamos a hacer un PASEO DE NÚMEROS por toda la escuela. Primero, tenemos que hablar sobre las reglas. ¿Quien me puede decir algunas reglas de caminar en el pasillo? - Estamos calladitos. - Manos en nuestros lados. - ¡Camina! ¡No corras! - Quédense juntos y con la maestra.
27: Estamos buscando números, entonces tenemos que usar tableros. - No vamos a pelear con los tableros. - No vamos a jugar con el “clip” porque es peligroso. Vamos a buscar los números en los carteles, relojes, calendarios, puertas, y más. Si veas un numero en el paseo, tienes que escribirlo en su tablero. Si su número esté en un reloj, también puede dibujar un reloj como un recuerdo. Si no podamos caminar bien formados y calladitos en el pasillo, vamos a regresar al salón. Instrucciones: 1. Agarren sus tableros y lapices. 2. Caminen bien formados. 3. Busquen los números en el pasillo. 4. Escriban los números que ven. La Actividad: Los estudiantes caminan por el pasillo buscando y escribiendo los números. La maestra muestra donde están algunos números. Cuando regresen al salón, hablen sobre donde estaban los números. Anime a los niños a compartir y comentar lo que observan.
28: Usar monedas en una bolsa del tacto Goal: To develop number sense and counting skills through an oral counting game Learning Objectives: Count numbers in sequence Represent numbers with claps or taps Los Materiales: Monedas 18 Quarters, 18 Dimes, 18 Nickels, 18 Pennies 7 bolsas del tacto Tarjetas de números La Preparación: Recojan los materiales. Coloque 4 monedas (Quarter, Dime, Nickel, Penny) en 7 bolsas del tacto. Pon 4 monedas (Quarter, Dime, Nickel, Penny)en el lado de la bolsa. La Actividad (con un compañero): Un compañero dice que saque una moneda de ________ (cualquier descripción) usando palabras descriptivas. - El tamaño - Las marcas - La forma que se sienten al tacto El otro mete la mano y busca la moneda sin mirar. Los dos estudiantes comparan las dos monedas a ver si es la misma. Después de buscar cada moneda, los compañeros cambian papeles. Instrucciones: 1. Mete las manos en la bolsa sin mirar. 2. Escuchan las descripciones de su compañero. “una moneda pequeña o una moneda con bordes ásperos” 3. Saquen la moneda que corresponde. 4. Comparen a ver si es la misma. 5. Repitan (usando descripciones diferentes). Cuando no hay mas monedas, cambien papeles.
29: Pumpkin Math
31: Tony de la Tierra ¿Cómo crecen las semillas? Los Materiales: 5 calcetines (stockings) 5 jarras (Baby Food Jars) Agua Tierra Semillas de césped/pasto/zacate) Tela (fabric) Ojos (Googly Eyes) Botones Corbatas Decoraciones La Preparación: Recojan los materiales. Haz un “Tony de la Tierra” para mostrar a los estudiantes. Pon la tela alrededor de las jarras (como una camiseta) La Introducción: Aquí tengo mi amigo, Tony de la Tierra. A Tony le gustan el sol, el agua, y el aire. Mi amigo, Tony, tiene pelo de césped. Aquí en su cabeza, hay semillas de césped. Por eso, cada día su pelo crece más y más. Esta semana, estamos leyendo el libro grande: Las semillas crecen. ¿Quién me puede decir algunas cosas que necesitan las semillas para crecer? - El agua - Calor - Aire - El sol Hay una otra cosa que le gusta muchísimo a Tony. A Tony le gustan los amigos. Cada día, Tony está esperando un amigo quien puede leer con él. ¿Saben que las plantas crecen mejor cuando tienen amigos? ¿A Quién de ustedes le gustaría ser un/a amigo/a de Tony? Vamos a hacer 5 más Tony's... un Tony por cada mesa.
32: Tony de la Tierra ¿Cómo crecen las semillas? Instrucciones: 1. Pon un cucharadita de las semillas en el calcetín. 2. Pon un puñado de tierra en el calcetín. 3. Haz un nudo en el calcetín. 4. Mete todo el calcetín en el agua. 5. Escoge una jarra para el cuerpo. 6. Pon los botones, corbata, y otras decoraciones en la jarra. 7. Pon agua en la jarra. 8. Pon la cabeza encima de la jarra. 9. Pega los ojos. Centros: 1. Hagan su Tony de la Tierra. Mesa 1 2. Dibujen Tony de la Tierra. Mesa 3 3. Lean libros de las semillas. La biblioteca 4. Jueguen con las semillas en patrones. La alfombra 5. Escojan un nombre para su planta y hagan la partida de nacimiento. Mesa 4 La Reunión: Todos hicieron plantas muy bonitas. Estoy emocionada ver como crecen nuestras plantas. ¿Alguien puede adivinar que va a pasar en las cabezas de nuestras plantas? Mas tarde, vamos a mostrar nuestras plantas a todos nuestros amigos.
33: School Environment
35: Read to | Self
36: Readers' Theater
41: The Farm
42: Dramatic Play | Camera | Self-Selected Centers
43: Magnetic Letters | Dry-Erase Boards | Play-Dough | Puzzles
44: Blocks | Legos | My Essential Question: Can the “element of choice” provide students opportunities to set and achieve goals?
45: Imagine... You walk into your kindergarten class on the fourth day of school. This is your first time in an organized classroom or, better stated, in an organized setting outside of your home. After your paper-bagged breakfast, you sit down on your designated spot on the carpet and get ready for the morning message. By now, you have already learned all of the fun, new songs your teacher has sang to you each day (the month macarena, the alphabet march, and the coin hokey-pokey). You scream the lyrics at the top of your lungs as you do all of the dance movements. Your teacher reads you a Big Book, and you still can't believe how BIG those books are! Math class follows, and you wonder what sort of hands-on activity you will do next. As the day continues, you wait to hear if you will FINALLY be the Student of the Day so all of the other students can interview you and then draw pictures of you. You can't wait to go up and sit in the teacher's big chair for that! What's next... LUNCH TIME! After lunch, a quick read aloud of No, David makes you and all of your classmates giggle nonstop. Then, it's the best part of the day – Recess! You and your friends (it didn't take very long to learn the names of all of your classmates and make new friends) run out to the park and run around like wild animals. After recess, you head straight to your special for that day: art class. Your art teacher asks you to draw a self-portrait with as many colors as you can. You decide to make every part of your body a different color. To wind up the day, you head back to your own classroom. By now, it's your sanctuary. You have your OWN spot at a table, your OWN chair, your OWN square on the carpet, and your OWN cubby hole. You take a seat on your carpet and desperately wait for that moment when your name is called to choose your center. That's right; you get to choose your OWN center. You hear your name called, hop up, and grab your labeled clothespin. You walk up to the centers chart and weigh the options for the day. Puzzles Writing Center Reading Center Play like you're the Teacher Play-dough Blocks Which do you choose?
46: A question is essential when it: causes genuine inquiry into big ideas provokes deep thought, relevant and lively discussion, and more questions requires consideration of alternatives, further support of ideas, and justification of “answers” stimulates rethinking sparks meaningful connections with prior experiences; recurs and transfers Evolution of the Question What does it mean to be “student-centered”? have opportunities to set and re-set their own goals set goals, define strategies and identify indicators of success think about their own performance develop meta-cognitive behaviors become better at asking questions (of learning, or content, and of themselves) Is student-centered teaching realistic for the primary grades? Can primary students set their own goals, develop meta-cognitive behaviors, and ask questions of themselves? How can I provide enough opportunities for my students to set and achieve goals through self-selected activities?
47: Practice Inquiry As I entered the kindergarten classroom, I was amazed with the level of organization that my cooperating teacher, Becky, had established. I wondered how she could have ever gotten to that point. With a very open curriculum (the only requirements being mathematics and assessments), Becky had been free to fill the school day with whatever practices she found most important. The kindergarten scheduled was filled with Calendar Routines, ESL, Phonics, Word Wall, Literacy, Shared Reading, Interactive Writing, Writing Workshop, Everyday Mathematics, and Science. Somehow, Becky still fit play into this schedule. At the end of each day, the students were given 30 minutes of self-selected centers. I have always believed that play is one of the most significant aspects of early education, but I had never been exposed to this method of play. I was impressed with the approach to centers that Becky used that instilled “free” play in a structured environment. I became immediately intrigued in observing the way students approached and reacted to this type of self-selected play. From the very first day of school, the students were exposed to Becky's center system that provided choice. As each student was called, he/she would be able to select from a handful of open centers for that day. I watched on as certain students gravitated towards the library, others towards the blocks, some towards legos, and even a few towards the writing center. I reflected on that same morning when only 2 or 3 students could actually trace their names. I wondered why those were not the students at the writing center. These beginning questions led to my essential question and line of inquiry. After a few discussions with Becky and other professionals, I became informed that research on Self-Selected Centers has shown that students are drawn to the center that holds the activity/skill with which they are currently struggling. For example, a child with fine-motor skills might gravitate towards the legos or drawing centers. This concept was very intriguing to me. I began indirect observation of my students to see if this concept could even slightly hold true in my own classroom. I began noticing more and more examples of this phenomena occurring. Partly because more centers were opened each day and partly because I was becoming more familiar with the students. Impressed with my informal findings, I began discussing my observations with my cooperating teacher and others. I was shocked and disappointed when I heard that center time or “play time” is often discredited and rejected from curriculum. With this line of thinking, I decided to place my research on this very topic. I told myself that one day, when I have my own classroom, I will be able to counter this false perception with the evidence found in my guided inquiry. Throughout this participatory action research project, I have to demonstrate the significance of the “element of choice” in the classroom. When students are provided the freedom of choice, they will take advantage of the opportunity to set and achieve personal goals, even if they cannot express the goal at the time.
48: Contextual Analysis Telpochcalli is a unique school in a unique setting. The community-based school offers its own school community. The school itself is established on the foundation of a community of professionals, where all teachers are given a voice and are respectfully listened to. Professional development is emphasized and practiced consistently. Within this community of professionals, the principal, the teachers, the parents, and the students are all treated as equals. Respect is emphasized at all levels. The principal is an individual who supports teachers, parents, and students; who respects teachers as professionals; who supports learning on all levels and recognizes the significance of learning in all facets, including play. The teachers are individuals whom collaborate often and effectively; who compare and discuss practices; who strive to improve both as individuals and as members of a community. The parents are individuals who views teachers as individuals; who support the teacher's practices and decisions; who invest themselves greatly in their child's education. The students are individuals from both monolingual and bilingual backgrounds who may speak only English or only Spanish; who find ways to overcome language barriers every day; who are passionate about their education. The environment is rich with resources; with a colorful and welcoming building; with a positive influence and connection to the community. The school is an extension of a culturally rich community. The vibrant Mexican-American influence in Little Village is directly reflected in the collages covering the school walls. As you enter Little Village, you are greeted with a gateway reading, “Bienvenidos a Little Village.” The Spanish language is evident throughout the community and throughout the school. The emphasis on language and the maintenance of the culture cannot be overlooked. Driving through the neighborhood each day took me back to my time in Costa Rica; the days of taquerias, superercados, and other Latin American influences that I so strongly miss helped me to feel back at home. The entire Telpochcalli community and many others came to celebrate Mexican Independence Day at the school hosted parade; just another example of the tie between the culturally rich community and school. Highlighting the particular aspects of the school that are “unique” is an impossibility. The entire school and the surrounding community are remarkable in their uniqueness. My greatest fear in teaching is that I will never be able to find a school that is as distinctive, as original, and as extraordinary as Telpochcalli.
49: Evidence Discussion As I continued my research into self-selected centers, I began taking notes on the centers that students were selecting. Although some students tended to select whichever center was newly opened each week, many students consistently chose specific centers. I began to focus in on the students that chose only a few centers and consistently worked and played in these areas. I began to notice which students were choosing centers in areas with which they were struggling. I noticed these center-selections directly reflected the areas that needed to be explored/worked out by that particular student. Case 1: Martin On the first day of school, Martin was provided with a marker and a paper with his name written three times in dots. He was asked to trace his name. Martin sat at his desk and did not know how to open the marker. After observing other students, Martin took the cap off of his marker and then looked around. He sat quietly and made no effort to draw on his paper. When the teacher came over and traced the M as an example, Martin avoided eye contact and continued sitting still. Eventually, he began to scribble over the letters. He missed several letters and drew in areas that had no letters. On his first opportunity to choose centers, Martin chose the Writing Center. He sat at the writing center and scribbled on papers with markers only. He did not attempt to use the pencils, pens, or crayons provided. Martin continued to choose the Writing Center. He was often the only student who selected this center. He continued using markers, but began using the scrap paper more effectively. He would color inside lines and sometimes trace figures. On the second week of centers, I sat down at the Writing Center with Martin. Without speaking, I pulled out one of the colored pencils and began coloring one of the coloring pages. Martin took a colored pencil and began coloring on the same page and smiled at me. The following day, Martin used several colored pencils to color a picture. He brought the picture to me after center time and handed it to me with a smile. Martin consistently chose the Writing Center and great improvements became evident in his work. He began tracing his name, then writing it while looking, and eventually writing it without any assistance. He made all of this progress in 10 weeks. Martin can now draw people, objects, and write several letters that are not in his name. As progress was made in his writing and he caught up to the other students, he began to test out more centers. In my last weeks at Telpochcalli, he began selecting the puzzle center, the imaginative play center, and occasionally the play dough center.
50: Case 2: Kevin Kevin came into the classroom as one of the most advanced students. He can read beyond the fourth grade level, shares random facts he reads about animals (his primary interest), and rationalizes situations at a level far beyond what is developmentally appropriate. Kevin topped out the reading assessments and is the first student to answer questions in class. Regardless of his intellect, Kevin struggles with his fine-motor skills. He has the ability to think of wonderful stories and the letter and word knowledge to spell them out, but his motor skills hold him back. On his first opportunity to select centers, Kevin chose legos. He continually chose legos until the block center was opened. Once the block center was opened, Kevin chose to play at this center every single day. Eventually, the playdough center was opened and he selected that center, as well. Kevin consistently played with legos, blocks, and playdough throughout my 10 weeks of observation. He began to build more developed structures throughout his time working with these different resources. With the legos, he began to build structures such as cars, airplanes, and spaceships. With the blocks, he could stack tall towers. With the playdough, he often formed the animals that he had read about the night before. Kevin made great strides in his motor skills in the time that I was observing. Since he had been so advanced in his reading skills, I had fully anticipated that he would spend his time at the library center. I was wrong. Instead of following his strength, he found his weakness and continually worked on it.
51: Case 3: James From the first day of classes, I knew that James was going to be a handful. He was one of those little boys that seemed to be going a million miles per minute. James was often found making high pitch screeching noises, putting his amazingly flexible legs over his head, or spinning around in circles. James struggled greatly with the structured learning time. Although extremely intelligent, James did not yet understand that sometimes other children should have a turn to answer questions. Sitting and standing on cue were not something he was interested in doing. The idea of “personal space” was way outside his threshold. As soon as the center was opened, James selected the center -“Play like the teacher.” He would always demand to be the teacher and ask the other students at the center to be the students. If they were not seated properly, he would tell them that it is a rule to sit nicely. He would yell at them to take turns, to sit nicely, to not shout out, and to not touch other students. With the same rules and regulations that he heard every day and could not seem to follow, he was the first to criticize the other students. James continually chose this center. I decided to test James a little bit. I began to go to this center, as well. I would sit down and reciprocate the same behaviors that James had exhibited early. He would state, often verbatim, the same directions that the teacher had provided him with earlier in the day. It was evident that James was listening to and taking in what the teacher had been saying to him. He could observe these behaviors and provide guidance to others. We were just waiting for James to realize that these practices needed to be practiced by himself, as well. Although it was still a work in progress, James began showing signs of understanding. He would have several good days where he would sit nicely and wait his turn. James was continuing to choose this center through my last week of observation.
52: Analysis and Conclusion With just three examples, it becomes evident that students can set and achieve goals using self-selected play. Although it is not developmentally appropriate for these students to voice their educational goals, each student gravitated towards his area of need. Each student was working towards personal improvement, regardless of their personal recognition of this goal. With the right people observing, these students will gain the practice and attention they need in these particular areas. Through this element of choice, students have the opportunity to voice their needs in a way that is developmentally appropriate. What a beautiful thing it would be if students were provided the element of choice at all levels of education. With the knowledge and evidence developed throughout this project, I can guide my future teaching opportunities in a similar way. Through this experience, I have recognized the significance of choice in education. Centers are just one example of how a student can be provided a choice in his/her education. I fully intend to extend this practice of choice in the classroom. When students are allowed to make the “difficult decisions” about their own education, teachers can begin to spend more of their time observing, talking to, and learning about each individual student. At any age level, students are going to struggle to express their educational goals. Whether it is developmentally inappropriate, overly complex, or just “uncool,” children and adolescents will be more capable of showing what they need than saying it. Is this not also true of adults? We recognize how difficult it is to voice goals in our own teaching, so why would we not give students this same consideration? In my student teaching experience, I noted several other teachers who reluctantly write up goals for lesson plans, for professional development, for benchmarks, or for whatever else is expected of teachers besides teaching. All of these teachers consistently noted that they knew what their goals were, so why would they have to write them up for somebody else? How true this is. In my future choices of student support, I will take these concepts to heart. I have been moved even deeper and further into my essential question. I NEED to provide the “element of choice” in every classroom that I teach in. Whether decisions are made about centers in kindergarten, group selection in middle school, or unit plan suggestions in high school, the “element of choice” must be a large part of my pedagogy.