Field Logs – Week One: Students and Learning Environment
Summary/Reflection: The day began by meeting my cooperating teacher, Mrs. Gilroy-Beck, who is the second grade teacher at Jack Mackenzie Elementary School. She gave me a quick tour of the staff room and her classroom. When the students arrived, they began to get ready for school and sit in their seats. O Canada was played on the intercom, and the teacher began announcements. She introduced Jesse Sawka and me as guests who would be joining them for several weeks, and they welcomed us warmly. Mrs. Gilroy-Beck wrote on the board “Welcome Miss Bannerman and Miss Sawka, who will be joining us every Tues. morning until April to learn about teaching.” She used this introduction to ask the students to point out where capital use was necessary.
After the introductions, we began what she calls “The Daily Five.” This is a series of reading exercises to help the students become stronger and more efficient readers. The students reviewed the reading rules and proper book selection for their reading levels. While the students were taking part in The Daily Five, Miss Sawka and I were instructed to do reading comprehension tests called Oral Running Records with students. Mrs. Gilroy-Beck sent us a couple of students and told us what level they were reading at, so that we had an idea of where to start.
Following this activity, we were asked to rejoin the class for story time. Mrs. Gilroy-Beck read to the students in the story time area and asked them questions as she went. They also discussed their nutrition lesson in this area. They reviewed what they had learned about the digestion system and what the phrase “good foods” meant. They then did Turn and Talk in partners to explain to each other this process and ask questions. By this time it was time for lunch and we were dismissed with an enthusiastic goodbye and several students hugging us and asking us to come back soon.
Core Questions: Who are your learners? What does their learning environment look like?
In this placement, my learners consist of approximately 24 Grade 2 students. They are also approximately seven to eight years old. While the students are similar in age, they come from diverse backgrounds, and we were told that one has behavioural issues, while another is extremely shy and has troubles dealing with the classroom setting. The teacher tries to include these students, while making sure not to put too much pressure on them in loud, rambunctious settings. In this class, there are more students with visible minority backgrounds than white students. The students’ families have come from many different cultures in this class, such as Asian and East Indian, to name a few. The teacher addresses these differences to teach the students, and an example was during the nutrition lesson. While discussing protein, she mentioned that some people do not eat meat or certain types of meat, talked about what they eat to replace that type of protein, and reminded the class that their some of their classmates are examples. From this, it was easy to see that the students were eager to learn about the diversity in their classroom, but also that they respected the differences between classmates.
This field day made me notice an important theme in this class: they were all eager to learn. It did not matter what activity the teacher gave them, the students were eager to do the lessons and show her what they had learned. This classroom played heavily on engaging the students through stimulating images. There were colourful posters and words written with lettering on the walls to promote reading and reading programs. Also displayed in the classroom and the nearby hallway were posters that the students had made for their nutrition class. Along one wall was a large bookshelf that had tubs with each of the students name on it and contained several books at their reading level. Above this shelf were extra books categorized by reading levels that anyone could use. The opposite wall had cupboards that had extra book work sheets and other materials for classwork. The area for story time has a large rug on the floor and a chair in the corner so that the students can gather around the teacher. The back of the classroom had cupboards for the students’ belongings. In front of it was a large counter where students could gather for group work. There were a couple of windows and bright lighting in the room. In addition, the desks are not in rows; instead, the desks are in groups of four or five and spread across the room so that the students can interact with each other easier. From these surroundings, it is obvious to see that the teacher promotes group learning in a setting that will engage and encourage the students.