Community Context: The school is in Olentangy City Schools which is a semi-rural school district. The school itself is in a suburban area as new housing developments are being put up constantly but many students come from a rural setting where the housing developments have not begun to expand yet. Olentangy is in very good standing from a financial standpoint and a lot of wealth is connected with Olentangy schools. Walking around the school, especially during lunch time, a lot of kids already have cell phones and iPads and other technological devices. It seems like these kids get what they want and money isn’t too much of an issue. Not every kid in the school is well off financially but a vast majority of the students are (according to the ODE school report card). A lot of these students are involved in extracurricular activities as well (which is connected to the wealth). Whether it be sports or music or clubs or anything else, most of the kids are involved in some sort of extracurricular activity outside of school. All of this information potentially impacts future learning of the students. Being that the students are involved in things outside of school that tells me that they are motivated. They have made a commitment to something else other than going to school and to maintain that commitment you have to be motivated to show up, get work done, and be consistent in doing so. The same thing can be expected of them in the classroom and the gym that they will be motivated to show up and do what they are asked to do (and some motivation will come from the teacher that will be pre-planned for each lesson). The students having cell phones and iPads tells me that they get what they want and what they need. This is good news for me because it shows me that the parents care and will do what it takes to provide for their child (not that a cell phone or an iPad is necessary in elementary school). I will be able to coordinate with parents to get extra support at home for the students to emphasize concepts being taught in class. This will be very helpful for behavior management with the younger ones to have the parents reinforcing personal behavior at home. It will all help to make the flow of the class go much smoother.
School Context: As mentioned above, Freedom Trail is an Elementary School in the Olentangy school district. The building is relatively new as it was opened only four years ago. The school has a brand new gymnasium with a pretty loaded equipment room. There is a cafeteria next to the gymnasium that is almost identical in size (relatively big). The hallways of the school are long and open with classrooms on either side. There are not too many hallways because the design of the building in pretty simple but the overall layout is very open. There are parking lots in the front and back of the building as well as on the side. The parking lots in front and back are fairly large and the one on the side is narrow and really only used as a pathway from front to back and overflow parking. The school does not have any tennis courts or official sports fields with the exception of a large open field next to the school that doesn’t seem to be utilized frequently by the school. Freedom trail is host to 80% students who are Caucasian in ethnicity (according to ODE school report card) with the other 20% being made up of students who are Hispanic in ethnicity, students who are African American in ethnicity, and students who are Asian in ethnicity. Looking at the school population from a gender perspective it is almost even with 55% female students and 45% male students. The school works in conjunction with the Olentangy Youth Athletics Association promoting different athletic opportunities around the community. There are honors programs for students who qualify in different subject areas such as math and science. My cooperating teacher has given me free rein to teach whatever subject that I want to teach that aligns with the state standards so the only restrictions to what I teach will be guided by the ODE. There is one state assessment that will be included as part of my teaching unit (kicking) and that will be the kicking assessment for grade band K-2 via the ODE and that data will be recorded sent to the ODE at the end of the school year by my cooperating teacher. During the unit we will be in the gymnasium the entire time baring any sort of unexpected change such as a snow day or a last second assembly. It is a good thing that my co-op teacher is expecting me to follow along the lines of the state requirements because that will make me plan according to state standards and give me experience teaching for student learning that is guided by the state standards. It also gives me some concrete goals and objectives to set for myself and the students. Since the students will be in a gymnasium the entire time there are a lot of factors that can affect learning. I will need to plan to always have my back to the wall when instructing so that there is nothing behind me distracting the students. The less distracted they are the higher chance for student learning to occur. The gym is pretty well lit so I don’t see there being an issue with lighting and students having trouble from a visibility standpoint. A lot of times students will be next to one another doing activities in the gym and that can hinder student learning if the proper steps aren’t take to ensure a least restrictive environment. I will need to plan to have predetermined groups and places where groups will go to on the floor that are already marked out so there is no confusion. By doing this the students know where to stand and I can control student safety at least a little bit by putting them in a spot where they aren’t in a direct line to get hit with a ball or get run into by one of their classmates. Since this school is an elementary school that will impact my planning as well. My class that I am working with is a kindergarten class and they will require a lot of visual learning and tactile/kinesthetic learning. They will need a lot of demonstration to show them what to do instead of hearing someone tell them what to do which would stimulate their auditory learning style. The kids will need a lot of feedback to scaffold their learning. Piaget says that elementary aged children are in a concrete operational stage where they can think with higher reason but still can’t quite tackle problem and feedback is the perfect prescription to help students think more critically and progress in their learning. Forms of feedback in the gym are positive and negative with an emphasis on the positive and they can be specific, general, specific skill, specific behavior, general behavior, and general skill. Kohlberg says that elementary aged kids are in a pre-conventional phase where they are very obedient and punishment driven meaning they do things based on what is perceived as right and wrong. This will be taken into account as my instruction will need to highlight behaviors to either reinforce good behaviors or discourage bad behaviors. With these theories in mind I must also consider Erikson’s theory that elementary aged kids are in a phase know as industry vs inferiority where students are coping with new social norms (especially in kindergarten being their first year away from mom and dad for a big chunk of the day) and success leads to the feeling of competency and failure leads to the feeling of inferiority. I will need to structure lessons to put students in a position for success as much as possible while trying to avoid failure in the early goings.
Class Context: My kindergarten class has 11 boys and 8 girls. They are a well behaved group of students. As I have observed them some of the theories have shown to be true. Erikson’s theory has stuck out the most with regard to student success and student failure. Often times during student activity if a student fails at something they get very discouraged and sometimes need encouragement from the teacher to continue trying. When the students have success they get very excited and put more energy and motivation into what they are doing. Piaget’s theory that students can think more logically and can reason but still aren’t at a level where they can tackle problems from a systematic approach has shown true for this class as well. During a battleship activity the goal for students was to knock over cones that were on a mat being defended by other classmates. They would throw the ball at the cone and their classmates would block the ball and the cone would remain standing. One student accidentally hit the wall behind the students and the ball bounced off the wall and hit the cone behind them. Once that happened, other students put “two and two together” and realized if they throw the ball at the cones from the front then it will get blocked but if they bounce it off the wall they have a better shot of hitting the cone. This is a great example of logical thinking that the students were capable of doing. However, the students were not able to systematically approach the problem by thinking if they threw one ball to the left of the cone making the defender move to block that ball and then they threw another ball immediately after while the defender was out of position, then they could knock the cone down. That type of thinking with anticipation was not present in this class. At this age kindergarteners also have pretty low level body control. They are still figuring out how to move their body in different ways as well as staying balanced. I observed numerous occasions where students would be falling down during drills not because they were trying to be funny but because they had a lack of body control. Due to the lack of body/core control they will be limited in the amount of skillful movements that they can perform. Most of the kindergartners are high level runners with contralateral arm swing, feet off the floor, knees at 90 degrees and they do enter a flight phase in their running. The class is mixed with the different levels of throwing. Some kids are using a contralateral step with a follow through, some are still using a ipsilateral step, some are still “slamming the door” closed, and some still have a real choppy throw from high to low like a stage one thrower. Most of the students are limited kickers (according to ODE kicking assessments) and have a hard time kicking a moving ball coming at them with either the inside of their foot or the top of their foot. With that being said, the state assessments are to be achieved be the end of grade two so that is not a huge concern. These factors will influence teaching in the planning stage and planning for low level tasks. There will of course be modifications for higher level performers and lower level performers but the base of the task progressions will start low as most of the class seems to be at a low skill level. The class has access to heart rate monitors, pedometers, stopwatches and projectors for possible video instruction or PowerPoint presentations. This will be helpful to give students hands on learning experiences to stimulate the visual and tactile/kinesthetic learning styles that were mentioned above. My co-op teacher does use music pretty frequently and the students enjoy that as well so that will be another consideration to be included in lesson plans to help with transitions and stop/start signals. There are no identified English language learners in this class. There are no students with IEPs in this class. Although there are no identified students with special needs in this class that doesn’t mean that there aren’t students with special needs. Sometimes a student can slip through the cracks and not get formally identified with a disability so that they can receive the proper help to work with their needs. With that in mind I will need to pay attention to student behavior and student patterns to make sure that students are in a least restrictive environment and that I am not asking of them more than they can do.
Individual Student Context: I chose a boy for my high performing student. He is very active and plays multiple sports outside of school. From a motor development standpoint he is a high level performer in most gross motor skills such as running, skipping, and jumping. He is a high level thrower meaning he uses a contralateral step with a full wind up and a follow through (he plays baseball outside of school). He is a high level kicker placing his non-kicking leg next to the ball and strikes the ball in the middle with either the inside of his foot or the top of his foot. I chose a girl for my low performing student. She is energetic and always puts effort in during class time. From a motor development standpoint she is a lower performer in gross motor movements. She is a low level thrower meaning she uses a chopping motion from high to low, sometimes with an ipsilateral step. She is a low level kicker because she struggles to place her non-kicking foot next to the ball and sometimes she uses the inside of her kicking foot to strike the ball and sometimes she stands next to the ball and taps the ball with the outside part of her foot. My high level performer was chosen because he is the most advanced in the class. My low level performer was chosen because she resembles a few students that are at the bottom of the development chart that are right underneath the average skill level of the rest of the class. My high performer will affect my teaching because I will need to plan modifications that challenge him as well as others who feel they are ready to move to the next level. He experiences a lot of success and I will need to plan to consistently aid that success as well as the success of the rest of the class. My low performer will affect my teaching because I need to plan for very basic instruction with a lot of demonstration. These students are mostly visual and tactile leaners and kids this age tend to be and I will need to demonstrate everything as well as provide a lot of positive feedback to help move her along progressions as well as the rest of the class. The physical needs of this class will include a lot of activity time. Kindergarteners do not have a very long attention span as they are still getting used to social norms and new behavior patterns so I will need to keep them active for as long as possible during class. Cognitively I will need to be very visual with instruction. They will need a lot of demonstration as well as a lot of cognitive checks. What I mean by cognitive checks are checks for understanding to informally test their knowledge as we go along. Affectively they will need a lot of feedback with an emphasis on the positive. Since they feel inferior when they fail I will need to give them a lot of positive feedback to induce a feeling of success which will give them a sense of competence. Positive feedback can be used for correction as well by pointing out what you liked that they did so they will internalize that and continue performing that behavior and getting rid of the behaviors that you did not highlight.