Narrative, classroom student interests Class Assignemtn

4. Narrative: Classroom
The classroom I have been a part of is a 4th and 5th grade classroom that is located in the
modulars off the main building. This class is very unique because it consists of a very large
difference in learning abilities. The class consists of 25 students; it is made up of 11 ELL
students with a wide range of proficiency levels. There are 4 tag students and 5 students who
are on the watch list, there are also 2 students who are on speech IEPs and 3 students who are
on academic IEPs; 2 students have previously tested, but do not qualify due to their IQ. Two are
in the process of being tested for Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D), and behavior problems,
and one needs to be tested for academics. So far I have experienced the difficulties in planning
lessons to meet the various and diverse needs of each and every one of these students. Being in
this classroom has given me a scope of what teaching will be like.
As a way to get to know my students I did a lot of observations and asking questions but
I still felt I needed more information so I had them take a student Interest Survey as well as a
How Many Ways Are You Smart survey. For my interest survey I found out that 13 out of 25
students are very musical oriented, 21 out of 25 students enjoy working in groups and 9 out of
25 also enjoy working by themselves. 7 out of 25 enjoy working with animals and nature and
also 7 out of 25 prefer writing as a means of expressing themselves. 6 out of 25 enjoy numbers,
brainteasers and patters. Finally the last two areas where I tend to focus a lot of my attention 6
out of 25 enjoy having visuals and 5 out of 25 are hands-on students. From the results of the
survey I plan to have lessons that are correlated to their interest and perhaps having choices to
multiple interests students have.
The Interest survey let me know the different hobbies and things students find as
significance to their daily lives. A large majority of the students are involved in sports during
recess or as an organization outside of school. Students participate in soccer, football,
swimming, dancing, basketball, volleyball and skateboarding. A large majority is also taking
piano lessons or likes singing as a hobby. Many of the students also showed interest in Art. A
great majority show an inclination towards video games and computers. As a teacher knowing
the students interests is very important to know because you can use it as a way to engage
their attention towards learning. I can use their interest to make story problems for math they
can relate to or have lessons that integrate technology into them. I could also use music notes
to teach about fractions since a large majority of students are taking music lessons. Besides
using their interests to our advantage, getting to know the students is what is important to
better address their learning need.
From talking to my mentor teacher I found out that 12 out of 25 students are above
grade level for literacy and 9 out of 25 are above grade level for math, 4 out of 25 are on grade
level for literacy and 4 out of 25 are on grade level for math, and 9 out of 25 are below grade
level for literacy and 12 out of 25 are below grade level for math. This tells me as a teacher that
there are different levels of learners in my class that will need extra time and different
strategies to learn. I will have to allow extra time for students who are below grade level and
plan an extension for students who will finish early. There will also be need for interventions
for students who are falling behind. I feel it is important to get to know students to learn about
them and their learning styles to teach them the way they will better learn.
There are two native languages in the classroom which is the reason why scaffolding
and sheltering instruction is a priority in our class. As a teacher, we need to value both
languages and culture and let the students know we value them. A great way of expressing this
is by providing as many Spanish books as English books to be available for students use. Also
letting parents know important information in their native language and providing translators
when needed. A much needed place for translators is during meetings; especially school board
meetings, Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and conferences. Having translators is a way of
making everyone feel like their thoughts and input matter.
Another way for parents to feel a sense of belonging is the opportunity to volunteer in
the classroom. Our classroom receives instruction support from a parent of one of the students
in our class. This parent volunteers once a week for about 2-3 hours. During her volunteer
time she helps an English-Only classroom with a reading group. Support that is available
explicitly for our classroom is a reading specialist which helps 6 students read at their level.
Students are there for 1 hour a day. There is also an instructional assistant that comes daily for
1 hour to help with behavior or ELL literacy.
The classroom in my opinion is a bit tiny for so many students. There is limited space for
any type of group work and because we are in modulars the hallway is not an option to work in.
There is also limited space to display student work and if there is any displayed it is way too
high for anyone to really see it because there is no wall space due to 6 large windows. Student
art work is often displayed in the main building next to the library away from our class and our
classroom parents and visitors. There is also limited amount for storage which makes the room
seem cluttered and unorganized. A downfall to our class is the very little room for groups to
work there isn’t any designated group areas other than their tables which are almost
impossible to do work activity due to student tables being arranged in rows. There are 3 rows
on the right side of the room with a small walking space that divides the other 3 rows of tables
on the left of the class, which are pushed right up onto one of the white boards. The desks
arranged in rows limits the amount of group work students can do but it helps keep the focus
on the teacher during teaching. The resources available for the teacher are a projector, a
laptop which is available when needed, two computers for student use, and three white boards
but two are obstructed by students’ desks and the other by the two computers. Because our
classroom is away from the main building our class comes equipped with a bathroom which at
times can be distracting because students tend to use it whenever instruction is taking place. A
plus and negative is that there is another classroom that is connected to our classroom and can
be accessed by opening a door. This can be distracting a lot of the times because students walk
in and out of our classroom all the time but it can be great team teaching due to the closeness
of teachers which is the positive.
The subgroup that will be the focus of this mini work sample will be my 4 fifth grade
ELLs. According to the English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA) these students range
from Beginning to Advanced. 3 of the 4 students are below average academically and 1 is right
at 5th grade level for both literacy and math. There are no behavior problems. These students
are all of Hispanic background. They are from low socio-economic families.
From being in the classroom and getting to know these students I know what I want to
do during my work sample to help these students be successful and enjoy the lessons. I know
that E.B. works better in groups where she can talk about her learning and where collaboration
is taking place. It helps her be more confident when she has an opportunity to share her
thinking and hear another person’s thinking too, it will give her confidence to share in group
settings. She doesn’t like complete silence which is another reason why groups are a match for
her. From her survey I found out that she is most confident in writing, art and PE, so for my
work sample writing or sketching as a way to explain or analyze something would be great
activities for her to thrive in.
M.G. is a very energetic and bodily kinesthetic student which can become disruptive at
times when tasks are too rigid, stay in your seat tasks. When M.G. is doing tasks that are
meaningful to him he will stay focused throughout the lesson. He is very artistic. He also shows
a confidence in math skills which were explained in his interest survey. MG works well in
groups, and doesn’t like it silent when doing work. Enjoys writing to explain things and write
stories. Because I know how much MG loves art and how great and focused he becomes when
he applies himself with these assignments I would love to have an assignment that is visual
spacial. I would also have him working in groups which I would plan out. I would have him
working with a group of students who are focused and can keep him on track if he decided to
wander off.
R.R is a very social and likable boy, he has many friends and seems to enjoy working in
groups a lot, however, because he is social he tend to forget his assignment and can influence
groups to forget their work also. If group work is assigned groups must be selected before hand
to assure he is in a group that will maintain focused. From his survey I found out that he enjoys
soccer and math.
V.T is a student who I constantly have to check for understanding during lessons. She is
not the type who will come when she has questions or who will raise hand when in doubt. One
of the surveys l gave let me know she enjoys working in group but can still work alone. For my
lessons I would prefer her working in groups in case she has question, she might be more
willing to ask a friend than a teacher. V.T. also likes writing. Perhaps a strategy that might work
for her could be writing questions that come up in a journal and then turning it in or finding the
answers later with a partner.
The focus of this mini works sample for the individual section will be focused on an ELL
boy. He is a very motivated and very active student. He struggles to get work done at times for
the reason that he is a recent arrival to the United States; he is at the Beginning stage of
learning English. It has been easy to get to know the student because he is very vocal and will
seek help when needed. This student has been previously tested for IEP but did not qualify due
to IQ scores.
J.R. is energetic student who has been moved several times to find a spot for his energy
he is definitely a bodily kinesthetic learner. J.R need to always have something to do for him
not to become destructive. J.R. will also start wandering and start bothering students when he
is unsure of what he is suppose to be doing or is done with his assignments. He likes working in
groups and will work great in groups when there is a task for him to do. Because he is at the
Beginning stage of learning English it is important for J.R. to work in groups. For my lessons I
will try to include movement into my lessons as well as group work.