I have published the following assignments from my internship: a write-up of the classroom schedule, a write-up of the transition/management techniques, profiles of several students in the class, an interview with Mrs. Shapiro about discipline, and a write-up of my observation in Mr. Foster’s class.
The activities that occur in the classroom follow somewhat of a weekly pattern. There is a weekly theme or “unit activity” taught in the classroom, and a new letter is taught to the class every week. The students are taught how to write that letter, are read a story with introduces them to words that begin with that letter, and are asked to create paper collages each week with newspaper clippings of items that begin with that letter. There is always at least one story read daily to each child in the classroom, and there are weekly extracurricular activities that the students attend on a regular basis.
The extracurricular activities that the students attend that are not in the classroom (or “specials”) are: Library, Gym, Computer, Art, and Music. Computer, Library and Art time are 30 minutes long. Gym time is 15 minutes long, and Music time is 20 minutes long. During Library time, they are given the opportunity to check out a book, which they are allowed to keep for one week.
The schedule is not entirely routine, however. There are special days where special events happen. Here are a few of those special days that occurred in October:
Career Day: Students are asked to dress up as the person they want to be when they grow up, and have their picture taken with their costume.
Picture Day: Students get their pictures taken individually and as a class.
Grade Shows: Mr. Liederlassen, the music teacher, creates a performance, or show, that is then performed by each specific grade in front of the rest of the school. October 19th was the day of the 4th grade show.
Examples of unit activities are: friendship, the tooth fairy, firemen, apples, and things that I like. Future activities involve dinosaurs, birds, fish, and the Earth. Mrs. Shapiro has also scheduled for the students to have reading buddies—students from Ms. Birdson’s 3rd grade class who work individually with a kindergartner for an art project or a reading project—come every Thursday morning.
In most lessons, the students are challenged to read letters, numbers, their names, and basic words. Not much mathematics is done in the classroom, but each lesson teaches the students how to follow directions, as many lessons involve fine motor skills, such as the ability to write and cut paper with child-friendly scissors.
At least one story is read to the class each day of school.
Each week the students are asked to write the letter of the week, with a handwriting sheet that shows them how to write the capital letter, and then a lower-case letter during a second lesson. Each student is also required each Thursday to bring in a collage of newspaper clippings they have glued on a sheet of construction paper that show things that begin with the letter of the week.
There are a series of “jobs” that are given to each student that change weekly. Every week each student is given a different job, and that student’s job changes week by week. The jobs range from line leader to paper passer, to snack person, to bell ringer.
Every morning, there is an arrival routine that occurs in the class: Mrs. Shapiro welcomes the students and the child with the job of “calendar person” sticks the current date on the calendar. Then another student colors in a box with states what day of school it is in the year. Another student takes the temperature outside and records it on a bar chart, and a fourth student tallies how many days of school there have been in a given month. The students who perform these operations change weekly.
On Day 7, Mrs. Shapiro gave me a list of the names of the assistants that regularly come into the classroom, even though I have written about their functions in the classroom in another essay.
Mrs. Jensen and Mrs. Choi are both occupational therapists who come and observe the students to see if they have issues or trouble in the classroom. If they do, they can be addressed in a future IEP.
Mrs. Kogan is a learning specialist who works with gifted students in the classroom, and she periodically comes to the class to teach lessons which evaluate their cognitive functioning.
Mrs. Sullivan is a traveling teacher’s assistant who comes to assist the kindergarten teachers daily for 30 minutes, and the teachers of higher grades for 30 minutes every other day.
Mr. Hupp is a technical assistant who comes and maintains the computers—on Day 8, he came to see if they were properly wired to the Internet.
Mrs. Michaels is a specialist working for NSSED who was assigned to assist Roger with his handwriting.
Mrs. Holmbeck is a speech and language evaluator who is assigned to evaluate each student’s ability to read and write.
Finally, every day a parent is asked to volunteer in the classroom during scheduled free time. Parents do not always come in each day, but Mrs. Shapiro’s hope is to have a parent come to the class daily.