on Monday, October 3, you will be handing in a series of "Observation
Reports." Keen observation of classroom events in not an easy task.
To help you get started, think in terms of three aspects of observation:
descriptions of what you see happening (data collection), interpretations
of what you see according to what you know about educational theory (analysis),
and, finally, your informed response to the observation.
Description refers to how the classrooms, students or teachers look, or to what the persons at the site are saying or doing. You might think of this as a report of the events as you see them. In addition to helping you learn how to record observations, one of the goals of these activities is to help you become aware of your own perceptual blinders or magnifying glasses. Thus, the phrase “as you see them” is an important phrase here. I want you to be aware that your own feelings and emotions about what you are observing will influence what you see and hear. These feelings and emotions will also cause you to pay attention to some things more than others. They will even color your descriptions or reporting. This means that tuning into your own feelings and subjectivities is very important if you are to become an informed, thoughtful, reflective observer.
Interpretation refers to using theories from our reading to explain what you have described. Generally speaking, the activities ask that you gather information about some aspect of classroom life and that you interpret or analyze the information you’ve collected, using your reading and class discussion. These observations reports must have both specific information from your classroom and explicit references to the text. Evidence that you are reading and reflecting on the readings is required.
Finally, you need to provide an informed response. What actions would you take as a teacher? How does using theory help you understand what you have seen? How has your thinking evolved or changed?
You need only write on four of these topics. You cannot repeat a topic. Always indicate the topic you are addressing in the header of your paper. After the first report, you can continue to write them as letters to me with the three parts described above.
Wednesday, October 12
Wednesday, October 19
Monday, October 24
Friday, November 4
You must hand in a completed rubric with each
(Avaliable as MSWord Document)
First Topic (No Choices)
The first observation report is slightly different from the others. I want you to write me a letter. In the letter, introduce me to your classroom—who is in the room? what does the room and school look like? Feel like? Discuss your initial responses to your first visits to the school. How does it feel to be there as an adult? A professional? What feels familiar? Different? Then, I want you to provide questions that you have about what you are seeing or experiencing. Remember this is not School and Society, so you don’t want to question whether the pledge of allegiance should be taught or what curriculum content is the best. You want your questions to address learning and teaching. Some examples are located at research questions. You might review the table of contents in your book if you are unsure of what areas you might questions. Then, explain why these questions intrigue you.
2: Vygotsky (Choose one of two)
1. Observe the classroom interactions for evidence of Vygotsky idea of
the zone of proximal development. Consider how you determine what a students
ability is and then how you, a peer or the teacher provided enough scaffolding
to improve the childs performance.
2. Write up an example of how the teacher provides a cognitive apprenticeship.
Explore the kinds of questions and statements that the teacher uses.
Chapter 2: Piaget
Observe a specific student for a period of time until you feel comfortable
understanding the children. Describe the child according to Piagets
stages of intellectual development. What stage was the childs intellectual
development? Be sure to include specific evidence. What challenges or
dilemmas occurred as you attempted this activity?
Chapter 3: Erickson
Apply Eriksons stages of psychosocial development to help you explain
the developmental factors that are influencing the behavior of one of
your students. Describe how a students schooling experience plays
an important role in several stages of a childs development and
what you and parents can do to help students positively resolve the conflicts
of each stage.
Chapter 4: Students (Choose one of two)
1. Make or obtain a class-seating chart. During a segment of a lesson,
put a check beside the name of a student each time s/he participates.
Answer the following questions:
a. Who talks the most? The least? Which students raise their hands and
get called on? Which students raise their hands and do not get recognized?
Which students never raise their hands and/or never get called on?
b. Then, consider one of the following:
* Describe any sex differences in participation that you notice.
* Describe any racial differences in participation that you notice.
* Describe how quiet students behave and how the teacher does or does
not engages the shy student.
* Describe how vocal students behave and how the teacher does or does
not engage the vocal student.
c. Describe any other patterns that you observe.
d. From your observations, what general statements can you make about
student participation in discussions?
2. Examine the classroom walls, resource materials, and library as well
as the hallways of the school. Whose culture is represented in what you
see? What students would identify with the culture and why? Which students
might not identify with the culture and why?
Chapter 6 Learning Processes (Choose one of two)
1. During a particular lesson, record the amount of wait the teacher allots
after each question and after each student answer, comment or question.
Is the amount of wait time consistent? When does it vary? Why might it
2. Identify ways that the teacher tries to promote meaningful learning,
organization, elaboration and/or visual imagery. What were the student
responses? What seemed to be the most effective? Least effective.
Chapter 7 Misconceptions
Listen carefully and make notes during a lesson the teacher is leading
or one you are leading. Make note of any misconceptions that the students
express about the lesson material. How do you interpret these misconceptions?
What would be an effective way to address them?
Chapter 8 Higher Level Thinking Skills
If the teacher has a lesson that encourages problem solving, make notes
during the lesson, especially in terms of the questions and comments the
teacher makes to students. What makes the lesson a "problem solving
lesson"? What strategies does the teacher use to encourage the students
to problem solve?
Chapter 9 Behavior (Choose one of two)
1. Choose a student in your class to observe. Choose one who has more
than a few social problems. Design and report your plan for using three
different behavioristic strategies for eliminating or altering the students
behaviors. Include in your report a discussion of the ethical issues around
using behaviorism in the classroom.
2. Obsevre the student behavior in the classroom. What behavior(s) is
the teacher trying to achieve explicitly? What strategies does the teacher
use to reinforce the behavior? What behaviors does the teacher inadvertently
encourage? How does the teacher do that?
Chapter 10 Social Cognition
Keep notes of times when students imitate the behavior or actions of another
student. When did these imitations take place? What were the conditions?
Discuss why you think the students were imitating. How successful were
the imitations in contributing the student imitators learning?
11 and 12 Motivation (Choose one of two)
1. Discuss whether the teacher encourages intrinsic and/or extrinsic motivation.
Use specific examples of what the teacher says or strategies the teacher
2. Consider Maslows hierarchy. Discuss examples of student behavior
that help explain the hieracrhy and discuss ways in which the teacher
did and then could respond.
Chapter 13 Instructional Stretegies
Think of a lesson as a sequence of events with a beginning, a middle and
an end. List the sequence of events that took place during a particular
lesson (Provide the date and time) indicating the approximate length of
time for each event and what seem to be important aspects of each event.
You might want to address some of the following questions:
1. What were the teachers goal(s)/objective(s) for the lesson?
2. What was the teacher doing during each event?
2. What were the students doing during each event?
3. What resources were utilized?
4. What was the noise level?
5. What regions of the classroom were used?
6. What was the concentration level generally for the students?
How would you evaluate the lesson taking into account the goal(s) of the
Chapter 14 Classroom Environment (Choose one of three)
1. Describe the classroom procedures for every day tasks (turning in work,
using the rest room). Ask the teacher how these procedures were taught.
How does the teacher reinforce the procedures? What happens to children
who do not follow the procedures? How effective are the procedures? Are
2. What are the explicit classroom rules for student behavior? How are
the explicit rules present in the classrooms (i.e. in writing on a poster,
on a chart, etc.)? How do students learn the classroom rules (you may
need to ask the teacher)? What are the consequences for the students who
follow the rules? Who do not follow the rules? Are there any classroom
rules that have not been explicitly stated but which students adhere to?
How did you discover these rules? Why do you think the implicit rules
were not made explicit?
3. Describe how each area of the classroom is used during the day. For
this observation, youll want to make observations about the physical
environment of the classroom. Youll want to collect enough information
to develop some broad claims about the relationship between the physical
environment and teaching and learning. It will be helpful to sketch the
room and include the sketch with your writing. The following questions
are provided to give you an idea of the details you need to collect.
How the room is decorated? What colors are used in the classroom? How
is the furniture arranged in the room? What traffic arrangements are created
by the room arrangement? What do the traffic patterns tell you about classroom
activities? What is on the walls? What images are represented? What is
the focus or foci of the classroom (In other words, what draws your attention?)
In your opinion, is the space in the room adequately utilized? Does it
limit movement? Does it limit the type of classroom teaching and learning?
Consider how classrooms in this school different from the classrooms where
you went to elementary school.
What is your general impression of the room in terms of teaching and learning?
Chapters 15 and 16
Grading and testing procedures are difficult subjects for even the most
experienced teachers. Ask the teacher in the classroom you are observing
about the challenges s/he faces regarding testing and evaluation. You
may use the following questions as a guide.
1. What would you say is the overall philosophy that guides your evaluation
and grading program?
2. Describe the assessment techniques and evaluation procedures that you
3. What aspects of grading do you find most difficult?
4. How much of what you do in testing and grading is influenced by school
wide or district policies? Can you share some examples?
5. Since you have been teaching, have you observed any changes in attitudes
and procedures associated with testing and grading? How about students
have their attitudes changed? Have parents attitudes changed?
6. Have specific procedures in your school changed?
7. If you had a magic wand and could make anything happen, what would
you decree in regard to student evaluation and testing?
8. Why would you choose these actions?
After you have reflected on the answers given by your teacher, answer
the following questions about your own thoughts and feelings:
a. List the evaluation and grading practices which you think are beneficial
to students and their learning.
b. List the practices which you think are not beneficial.
c. What is the evaluation program you would choose?
d. What do you foresee as the major impediments to implementing the program
you would choose.
A Well Remembered Event (WRE)
A WRE has three parts. The first part is the story of an event that you
observed or experienced during your fieldwork on a specific day. The event
could have lasted a few minutes, an hour or a few hours. But, the event
is important to your understanding of teaching. It could be well-remembered
because it conflicted with a belief you hold about teaching or because
it touched you in a particular way or because it confused you or because
it raised question for you.
When you write the WRE, you want the story to be complete, so it should
include when, where, and who was involved. You want to capture as many
details as you can about the actions that occurred--so you can describe
them--and the dialogues and monologues--so that you can quote what you
heard. Like any good story, it should create a picture in the readers
In the second part of the WRE, discuss how Ormond helps you understand
the event or help you raise questions about the event. What would Ormond
say about what you saw? In this section of the WRE, you want to relate
your more "academic" knowledge of teaching with your "experiential"
knowledge of teaching.
In the final part of the WRE, discuss what you have learned and/or what
you need to learn more about.