Assignment 5: Observation Summary
Summary of Observation in Mr. Foster’s 2nd Grade Class
Before observing in Mr. Foster’s room, Mr. Foster had already given me a word of wisdom when I asked to observe: “The second graders will tire you out if you do not keep them busy.” He also said that I was welcome to work in his classroom if I wanted to, and said that the classroom could use a young soul every once in a while.
I entered the room while the students were busying completing an assignment in the classroom. I planted myself at the back of the classroom at an unused table.
After the students had completed their assignments, Mr. Foster announced that she was going to introduce to the students the tall young man who had entered the class. I went to the front of the classroom and introduced myself as James Williams. I also explained to them that some of the students already knew me from the KidZone, and the students who knew me from the KidZone identified themselves. Other students whom I had known from the playground while I was looking after Jessica also identified themselves—students I had not even interacted with on the playground. I explained to the students that I would be here to observe until lunch. Mr. Foster invited me to eat lunch with the students, but I declined because I did not want to get in trouble with anyone. When I explained to the students that I was observing them for a high school class, I did not have to. Kim Bearson, a student who knew me from the YMCA, interrupted me and said, “I know. You’re in high school.”
Interestingly, I had not even told Kim that I was in Child Development, and her mother did not know either.
The second graders did not seem to have any larger of an attention span than the kindergartners. Despite the formality of second grade with individual desks, tests, and homework assignments, the students still had their quirks like the kindergartners. They would sometimes get very noisy, and would not always stop when Mr. Foster told them to be quiet.
During the day, Mr. Foster showed them their spelling tests from the past week, and showed them that they had all done a good job. Then he assigned them to straighten out their desks, and informed me that he does that to teach them to be prepared for school. “The secret to success in 2nd grade is to make sure they are prepared,” Mr. Foster told me while the students were straightening out their desks.
When the students were done straightening out their desks Mr. Foster assigned them to make name tags so they could wear them so a guest speaker could call them by name when she came to the class that afternoon. Once a student finished drawing their name tag and their name, and tied it to their neck with a “square knot,” they were assigned to complete six workbook pages in their reading workbooks.
Once each student completed their reading workbooks, Mr. Foster taught them about the lessons they had learned in their workbooks. He then read off a list of words and asked them if they began with a soft “C” sound or a hard “C” sound.
Mr. Foster continued by answering with the class the daily math problem—a problem that was deliberately too hard for them to teach them what they would be expected to learn in the 3rd grade or later grades.
Then he discussed with the students what an opinion was—a person’s thoughts about something—and asked students to tell them what their opinions were on various issues. After half the class gave an opinion on an issue, Mr. Foster told them that opinions could contradict, or people could believe differently about some things. He gave three examples—that you could either think hot chocolate tasted good or bad, or that sledding was fun or dangerous, or fun and dangerous.
After the opinion lesson, Mr. Foster taught them about long and short vowel sounds, and gave them examples of words with long and short vowel sounds. Then he introduced them to two consonant clusters—“tr” and “sw,” and showed them words that began with those consonants.
His final lesson before lunchtime was a spelling test, or a pre-test, to introduce the students to what their spelling words were for that week. But the students did not write the words down on paper. Rather, Mr. Foster spelled out the words for the class and it was the class’s job to see if he was right or not. Sometimes he was right, sometimes he was wrong. Once he was done, it was lunchtime, and I said goodbye to the class and to Mr. Foster, and headed home.
Second grade is similar to kindergarten in that there still seem to be problems with attention span that occur in the kindergarten room. The second graders don’t always stop when they are asked to, and don’t always follow instructions properly. But there are subjects in second grade that do not appear in kindergarten—one of them being mathematics, something I have yet to see Mrs. Shapiro formally reach.
Unlike kindergarten, second grade has the formal elements of grade school—desks, lunch and recess. Unlike kindergarten, second grade is not half-day. While reading is also emphasized in the kindergarten classroom, and students learn how to read basic words and the alphabet, now students are taught how to read more complex sentences and phrases. Reading is taught, and must be taught to the second grader (unless you are an exceptional case the way I was, who taught myself how to read at the age of three, but struggled with language and communication).
During this class, there was one student who stood out from the other students. She would be considered the class “brain”—not because she knew everything, but because she raised her hand more than any other student, and answered more questions correctly than any other student. She was also very talkative when called on. Her name was Kim Bearson, who I have known from the KidZone. She interrupted me three consecutive times when I was asked questions about myself. First, when I was formally introduced. Second, when I was asked if there was homework in high school, and she said “Yes. A lot,” before I was going to say the same thing. Knowing she had an older sister in high school, I asked her if her older sister was in child development. She said she did not know, and I explained to her that this observation was for child development. The third time was when a student asked me what I was doing and she told that student to return to his desk because I was doing my “guest stuff.”
Kim also was very open about her opinions during the opinion lesson. She gave the opinion that she liked school. Another student promptly raised her hand and said that she did not like school as a counterpoint. She is one of those students who may not always give the right answer for a question, but is very open, very articulate for her age, and may have to learn when she should give other students a turn to answer a question in class.
Spelling Words for This Week: long, other, again, soon, upon, house, because, mother, father, brother, bother, morning, live, color, pretty, write, right, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
Daily Math Challenge: 333 + 427 + 569 + 899 + 221 = 3049