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					                                                     Field Experience I   1


           Field Experience I at Bedminster Elementary School

                             In APA Style

                           Jennifer Thibault

                              May 1, 2009

                   EDUC 6824.91 Field Experience I

                          Dr. Carol Karpinski
                                                                     Field Experience I     2

       My field experience took place at the Bedminster Elementary School in

Bedminster, NJ from April 20th to April 27th where I observed Mrs. Formus third grade

class. Let me first start off by explaining Mrs. Formus’s classroom. Her classroom

functions as a successful learning environment. Her classroom was very organized by

dividing the room into distinct areas for specific activities and supplies. All the materials

needed for a classroom such as scissors, pencils, markers, paper, crayons, etc. had its own

distinct location where students knew where to find them.

       Mrs. Formus has learned how to use proactive discipline to create a happy,

healthy classroom setting. Her students feel comfortable and safe. Both Mrs. Formus

and her students experience few surprises during the day. She has established daily

routines for nearly every task that allows the students to know what they are expected to

do when they come into class. For example, when the students arrive in the morning they

know to unpack their backpacks, sign in on the smart board for attendance, and to place

their homework in the appropriate boxes. According to Cummings (2000) “Students find

comfort and security in traditions and routines. Use routines to establish traditions in

your classroom—traditions that can help you connect with students and their families”

(p.19). Mrs. Formus always has her students take home their graded tests for the parents

to review and sign for acknowledgement of the student’s grades. Mrs. Formus likes to do

this to maintain communication with the parents as well as keeping the parents updated

on their child’s academic progress.

       I realized Mrs. Formus is very proactive. She is always prepared and in control.

Mrs. Formus has great preparation that gives her time to be proactive. When observing

her class, I never saw her have to scramble between periods to set up materials, printing
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copies, and hurriedly writing instructions on the board. Instead, because she has handled

these details earlier, she is standing outside her classroom, welcoming each of her

students as they arrive at her door. Mrs. Formus learned to be proactive when she did her

student teaching. Her cooperating teacher instructed her have all her lessons planned a

week ahead. Sometimes she would have to tweak a few lessons depending on how far

she was able to get. Brophy (1983) says, “In turn, this prevention is accomplished

primarily by good planning, curriculum pacing, and instruction that keeps students

profitably engaged in appropriate activities.”

       Even though Mrs. Formus is a proactive teacher, she still faces discipline

problems with her students. I noticed it happened when it’s time for the students to

switch gears or begin a new task. Mrs. Formus focuses on the behavior she wants from

the very beginning, without trying to draw attention to the misbehavior. She would often

say to Dylan, “Dylan, the rest of the class is working quietly now. You need to turn

around and get going with your assignment, too.” Dylan doesn’t have a lot to challenge

when Mrs. Formus handles the situation that way. He doesn’t feel threatened, but is

reminded on what he needs to be doing.

       Cummings (2000) talks about how children don’t listen like they used to.

Children today are less able to effectively listen and process verbal material when

compared to children 20 or 30 years ago. The passive listening associated with the 25-28

hours a week children spend in front of the television contributes to the problem. While

observing Mrs. Forums third grade class I noticed a lot of the students’ having to ask the

question, “Huh, what are we supposed to do?” or “where are we supposed to put our

completed work?” This is a huge problem in my opinion since students spend more time
                                                                     Field Experience I       4

listening in school each day than any other kind of activity. Teaching students how to

listen should be taught the first month of school and to continue enforcing it throughout

the year. Mrs. Forums tries to enforce this in her classroom by letting her students know

that if they were paying attention they wouldn’t have to ask her this question and now

will have to get the answer from one of their classmates. This shows the students’ that

their classmates are listening and that it’s very important. One day in math class Mrs.

Formus gave a multiplication pop quiz. She informed her students’ several times that she

will only repeat the multiplication problem once to enforce the importance of listening.

         Mrs. Formus also seems to have the issue of her students forgetting to write their

name on their homework. When this happens, Mrs. Formus lets the student know that

again, they forgot to write their name on their paper so their homework is going in the

garbage. Mrs. Formus feels this will eliminate the number of missing names on

homework and lets her students know that this will not be tolerated next year in fourth


         Another very important classroom management strategy is bonding and

connecting with your students. Bonding and connecting with your students with a one-

on-one connection is what Cummings (2000) suggests. Connecting begins before school

starts in the fall. Mrs. Formus does this by sending each student a letter that welcomes

them back to school and into the third grade. Mrs. Formus also tries to keep her students

parents informed at all times. She also encourages her students’ parents to subscribe to

her website for any E-Alerts. In the event of any changes to homework or information,

she will send them out as soon as she can via an E-Alert. This is part of what Cummings

suggest which is networking to build a community. She tries to keep the parent up to
                                                                       Field Experience I        5

date and involved as much as possible by inviting parent participation: invitations to

participate, letters home to both parents and students, and E-Alerts.

         When her students start to get too loud or side tracked, Mrs. Formus will often

say, “Hands up and eyes over here” or “It’s your recess, I will just take time away.”

Informing students that it’s a privilege to have recess and if you are misbehaving and not

respecting your classmates and teacher then the recess can easily be taken away.

         In third grade students can easily get distracted and to prevent further distraction,

Mrs. Formus doesn’t allow students to have a supply box in their desk because it’s a

distraction and takes up way to much space. The students are only allowed to have two

pencils, one red pen, and one eraser in their desk

         Mrs. Formus allows her students to have two bathroom breaks with one bathroom

emergency per day to prevent the students from leaving class too frequently. She has this

rule because she doesn’t want her students to leave class and miss any important

instructions to a lesson. Students always need to ask permission for their bathroom


         Mrs. Formus implements a supervisory process that ensures that the aligned,

board-adopted curriculum is taught in every subject that she teaches. Mrs. Formus

receives meaningful feedback from her principal or supervisors and uses it to strengthen

and sustain instruction. She makes sure that all her lesson plans are aligned with the

curriculum and the NJCCCS and are reviewed each week by her principle or supervisor

and that principle or supervisor provides her with feedback on lesson design and

implementation. Mrs. Formus also makes sure to always analyze student work to

determine if instruction is aligned with the curriculum.
                                                                       Field Experience I       6

       The Bedminster Elementary School has a gifted and talented program at all grade

levels in the district. The district uses multiple measures to identify gifted and talented

students at all grade levels in the district. The district provides appropriate educational

services for identified students at all grade levels. The district requires and verifies that

instruction for gifted and talented students reflects adaptations in content, product,

process and learning environment. All the adaptations are communicated to all teachers.

       Mrs. Formus has one student, Olivia that is in the gifted and talented program.

Olivia leaves Mrs. Formus classroom once a week during guided reading. The week I

observed, Olivia forgot and Mrs. Formus said it is your responsibility to remember. She

encourages her students to take responsibility of the things they need to do. Mrs. Formus

is trying to have them not have to always rely on her to remind them if they need to go to

the gifted and talented program or speech class.

       Mrs. Formus focus on the essentials when she teaches. Her instruction is

organized around the major theme that runs through a subject area. She feels this helps

her students make the connections between concepts and learn to use higher order

thinking skills. In social studies she uses problem solution effect and success of group

effects is related to motivation, leadership, resources, and capability.

       When possible Mrs. Formus tries to use thematic instruction, instructional units

combined subject’s areas to make themes and essential ideas more apparent and

meaningful. Mrs. Formus will do this by her lessons and assignments so they can be

integrated or coordinated across each subject area.

       Another instructional strategy that Mrs. Formus uses is making linkage obvious

and explicit to her students. She gets students to do this by connecting new information
                                                                      Field Experience I     7

or skills to what students have already learned. She will ask students questions to prompt

them to recall relevant prior knowledge. She will have them make comparisons between

the new concepts and things students already know. An example of when she used this

strategy was in math class when she was going over shapes and wanted to teach students

the math vocabulary words of slide, flip, and turn. She went over how each shape was

moving on the smart board and asked her students to determine whether it was a slide,

flip, and turn. Once the students had that down she introduced three new vocabulary

words of translation, reflection, and rotation. She reviewed those words on the smart

board and had each student make a flip card that had the three new vocabulary words of

translation, reflection, and rotation on the outside and on the flip side had the students

write the definition down. I felt the flip card was a great idea because the students can

review the definitions while doing their homework at home.

       During my classroom observation, I came across several things that surprised me.

First, I was amazed at how quickly each period passed. Mrs. Formus was always aware

of the time and made sure she stays on task to complete each lesson in the allotted time.

       Second, Mrs. Formus has a guided reading period were the class is divided into

several groups depending on their reading level. Each group would read a book that is

relevant for their reading level. The small groups allow Mrs. Formus to be able to

address the needs of individual students. During guided reading, Mrs. Formus would

have the students give a summary of what the previous chapter was about and then have

the students take turns reading out loud. After each student had a turn to read out loud,

the students would finish reading the chapter on their own. Once all the students

completed the chapter, Mrs. Formus would ask several questions regarding what they had
                                                                    Field Experience I     8

just read and would provide some kind of handout for them to complete before she meets

with the group again. I felt this was very helpful because it allows the teacher to make

sure all of her students are reading at their own reading level.

       Overall I learned a lot from this field experience. It was very informative,

helpful, and educational. I was able to witness many instructional strategies and

classroom management skills by observing Mrs. Formus third grade class. I also was

able to see the direct correlation between the instructional strategies and classroom

management skills to the NJCCCS and the NJPST. I believe Mrs. Formus has done a

great job with setting up her classroom that aligns these approaches to classroom

management to her lessons and instructional strategies while making sure they are

aligned with the NJCCCS and the NJPST.
                                                            Field Experience I    9


Brophy, J. (1983). Classroom Organization and Management. The Elementary School

   Journal, 83 (4). University of Chicago.

Cummings, C. (2002). Winning Strategies for Classroom Management. ASCD. ISBN #