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RUNNING HEADER: Teacher Work Sample

Spring 2013 Teacher Work Sample A Unit on Life Science for Kindergarten Lindsey Blaine University of Alaska Southeast



This teacher work sample summarizes over a month of instruction and guidance on a unit for life science in the kindergarten classroom at Chapman Elementary School. Contextual factors, instructional design, teaching techniques, assessment, analysis of learning gains and an overall evaluation of the unit are included.


Contextual Factors
District, Community and School The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District covers a large geographical area that includes 44 schools and embraces the diversity of their schools. There are approximately 9,200 students district-wide in K-12. They maintain a teacher to pupil ratio of no more than 1:24 and an average year of teaching experience of 10 years. Approximately 24% of the overall student population is ethnically diverse. There are 15 small schools within this district, including Chapman Elementary School. Chapman Elementary School is a public K-8 school located in Anchor Point, Alaska. The local population is small, around 1,600 people. During strong economic times the population and school enrollment can grow drastically, though it has held relatively steady in the last 5 years. There is also a range of socio-economic factors that impact the community and school. The average yearly income in Anchor Point is around $30,000. 65% of the student population is considered low income. The school partakes in a breakfast, discounted lunch, and snack program to help provide well-rounded nutrition to students. The school can certainly be considered a central part of the community. It is used daily for community events in the evenings and other events like community celebrations and memorial services on the weekends. Because of this centrality to the community, most parents and community are strong supporters of the school community. A parent group also provides support to classrooms and staff. 28% of the students fall within special education parameters. Over 45% of the students at Chapman Elementary have an IEP. Chapman is a Title I school and has several intervention programs in place. The range of learners within the school is also evident within the Kindergarten classroom.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE Classroom A low teacher to student ratio (1:14) allows for greater specialized attention for students. There are 7 boys and 5 girls currently in the classroom. The classroom is welcoming, with student artwork at the forefront in the halls and within the room itself highlighting the large windows that light up the room. There is a loft for dramatic play, a science center area and a cozy reading area. A highlight of the room is a smartboard in the front of the circle area carpet and a set of 5 computers. Four child-height tables and chairs are arranged in the center of the classroom with

nametags, encouraging collaboration and friendship. 2 large tables, one at the front and the other at the back of the room, provide project and teacher space as well as another work area for students. Most of the larger furniture can be be moved quickly to open up the room or change configuration. Storage and a couple of adult sized chairs fit seamlessly into the classroom. A routine is posted in two places, supported with pictures, to help students follow their daily routine. There is an evident plan for rotation of centers as colored shapes match the tables and areas around the room. The wideopen alphabet circular rug sets a strong stage as the center and important area of the classroom. Parents are frequently in this room, especially at drop off time. A classroom mother helps with setting up parties and decorating doors. There is a warm and colorful feel to the room, felt strongly in the childrens faces. This classroom is well set-up and developmentally appropriate for a pre-K-1st grade classroom. While the school itself is an older building, there is frequent upkeep and work on the building. There are regular technology and building upgrades.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE Students There were 14 students in the class at the time this work sample began. Two moved during a 2-month period. About 50% of the students within this class attended pre-K prior to beginning Kindergarten. About 4-6 of the students are struggling learners and have been identified for special assistance. Only one child currently is in a special education program;

however, 5 others are in intervention programs and are being considered for special education. 4 students are higher-level learners and are excelling within the classroom. All students seem to be ready to move onto first grade. All of the students are English speaking, but there is a great variance of culture evident. The following graphs demonstrate a comparison of the ethnic and racial diversity within Chapman Elementary and the 2013 Kindergarten class.

FIGURE 1.1: PERCENTAGE OF ETHNIC DIVERSITY Alaska Native 10 9.5% 1 7.1% African American 0 0.0% 0 0.0% Asian Pacific Islander 3 2.9% 2 14.3% Multi Ethnic 11 10.5% 1 7.1% 14 Total Students 105

Caucasian Chapman Elementary 74 70.5% Kindergarten Class 9 64.3%

Hispanic 7 6.7% 1 7.1%


Chapman Elementary
Caucasian Alaska Na-ve Hispanic African American Asian Pacic Islander Mul- Ethnic

Kindergarten Class
Caucasian Alaska Na-ve Hispanic African American Asian Pacic Islander Mul- Ethnic

The kindergarten classroom is slightly more ethnically diverse than the school as a whole. The stronger influences in the classroom are the range in learning levels and the socio-economic factors that limit well-fitted clothing, shoes and outdoor clothing for some of the students. The majority of the students do well in a group-learning environment. Two of the students do not like to share within group, but allowing them extra think time helps provide them with the confidence to contribute. Due to the age of the students, classroom management and transitions affect how activities go. Including concepts like VARK (visual, auditory, reading and kinesthetic) help reach students with various learning styles. The more hands on and active a lesson, the more effective and smooth the lesson. To make lessons more hands on, technology was integrated within the Smartboard, items were brought in for first hand exploration, and projects were utilized frequently.

Instructional Implications The kindergarten curriculum is a time when students are learning about their families and communities as well as how they are changing and growing. The ethnic diversity in this class


allows for instruction to embrace a variety of cultures. Different beliefs and family values can be shared and enjoyed first-hand. It is also important for cultural styles to be recognized, for example, allowing additional processing time and differentiating public speaking for students from Alaska Native and Asian Pacific Islander cultures. The strongest factor that impacts the planning and implementation of lessons is the range in learning styles within the classroom. There are often additional aides or special education teachers in the classroom to work with specific students or groups of students, so room for additional adults and adjustment in schedule are needed to accommodate this. Students are often pulled-out, so the schedule must allow them to receive their core education within the classroom. Another factor is timing art and group activities so that all students can partake. To accommodate group learning in an environment with a large span of learners, differentiation is used at all stages of learning to ensure that education is individualized. This unit concentrated on life science, so in order to differentiate I had to assess often and adjust as needed. Sometimes this meant differentiating questions within group times; other times it meant adding in additional explanations or short projects during other times. Integration, differentiation and the ability to quickly adapt were key components to teaching this unit.

Understanding by Design Unit A benefit of designing a unit utilizing the UbD method is that the teacher is reviewing their overall goals and standards that need to be met then creating engaging lessons to meet these needs. This particular unit was designed to meet specific standards for the kindergarten classroom, helping to guide not only its purpose but its developmental appropriateness. By being active in the classroom prior to designing this unit, I was able to understand the level my students

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE were at and the teaching techniques that they responded to the most. The core of my teaching philosophy is that it is the one who is doing the work that is learning the most therefore, I designed many activities that were hands on. With this age group, the more they are actively participating the more engaged they are in a lesson, so each lesson and teaching technique involved kinesthetic, visual and auditory-based instruction to gain and hold attention. There were a couple of vocabulary terms and activities that were difficult for this agelevel, specifically words like adaptation or habitat. I believe that exposure to scientific terms is important and this initial introduction will help prepare them for learning in the future. I used

repetition and metaphors to relate the terms to things they already knew and kept reviewing them throughout the weeks to ensure they understood their concepts and definitions. Differentiation is key to providing a challenging yet rewarding environment for each child. I used differentiated my process of instruction by providing information in a variety of ways. I allowed students to differentiate their product by choosing ways to express their knowledge in certain projects. They could combine writing and drawing as well as giving a short presentation. They also worked in groups as well as individually. In assessment, I differentiated by adapting questions to the level of the student. I also used multiple assessments to allow students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways. This is developmentally appropriate, as well, because it allows students this age time to assimilate the information over time. I differentiated content by allowing students to select animals of their own choice in their reports, increasing engagement by encouraging students to follow their natural and personal interests. I also used examples of a wide variety to keep things interesting during instruction time. This unit allowed students to explore life around them. Growing real plants; observing and touching hair, antlers, skulls, claws and teeth from Alaskan animals; and then relating

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE information to themselves created a learning environment that had a purpose. The hands-on and technology added excitement throughout the unit, motivating and encouraging students.

A lot of information was included in this unit. To break it down and make it easier for the students, I broke things down into weekly parts. It was important for the students to have time to play and act through the new information they learned. The broad information allowed for students to recall and define, but more time should be spent on smaller chunks of information in order for the students to move through the depths of knowledge toward applying the information they learned.



Learning Goals
The goals for this unit are based on the Alaska GLEs and Kenai Peninsula Borough School District standards. When designing this unit, an overall goal was for students to follow the depth of knowledge levels within their learning goals. In order to reach all students, I utilized multiple modes of instruction and assessment. Times of center-based learning were integrated to allow small group or one-on-one time with students needing more direct instruction.


Learning Goals
Students will explore living and non-living things: Students will know the difference between living and nonliving every living thing has basic needs all living things go through life cycles living things have identifiable structures that can be sorted /classify them

Pre Assessment Formative Assessment

Format of Assessment
Group discussion Group question/answer Pre-Test Rubric Class discussions Smartboard interactive sorting Center sorting activities Sorting project sheet Life Cycle worksheet Tear Art Project Post-Test Rubric Journal Small group discussion

Below level learners: Repeat question previously answered in group Additional instruction (video) added for review Above level learners: Sorting and drawing parts of flower (increased challenge center)



TEACHER WORK SAMPLE Learning Goals Assessments Pre Assessment Plants and animals look like where they came from. Formative Assessment Post-Assessment Self-Assessment Learning Goals Plants and animals have features that help them live in different kinds of places. Students will know: Parts of a plant Parts of an animal Vocabulary associated with plants How plants impact the environment Assessments Pre Assessment Format of Assessment Group discussion Smartboard interactive sorting Small group collaboration Center sorting activities Partner collaboration Format of Assessment Group discussion Group question/answer Pre-Test Rubric Class discussions Smartboard interactive sorting Center activities Small group collaboration Journal Writing Parts of plant worksheet Habitat workbook Animal report Post-test Rubric Animal research book with labeling Center activities Journal writing Adaptations Adaptations


Small groups were chosen to include students of varying learning levels so students could collaborate and peer teach

Additional time given for writing, including fast finisher activities Personal selection of animal to research Work with different peer students Assistance with writing as needed Additional practice through technology provided when needed

Formative Assessment



The goals for Kindergarten science are fairly generalized. These learning goals directly match specific state standards. At this age, the majority of the goals are level one based on the Depth of Knowledge (DOK) chart, focusing on recalling information and defining words. Specific questions were posed, as well as hands on activities created, to encourage students to work toward reaching higher DOK goals like using clues, investigating further, and applying their knowledge to new ideas and their own life.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE Two of the greatest barriers to learning for the students within this unit were classroom


management and time to assimilate knowledge. As is developmentally expected at this age, two of the male students could often disrupt the entire class. With a full and concise schedule, disruptions in class take time away from more detailed aspects of learning. Key components to management became to make expectations clear and restate them when needed, utilize movement at key times to break up sitting and activities, and to use brief transitions (clapping, class-yes, etc.) to keep things moving smoothly. Four weeks wasnt long enough to go detailed into this information. A month could have been spent on each habitat! Each of the students had a good introduction to many life science topics they will visit in the future. One of the highlights of working with this age is that the motivation level is high. This unit was fun, incorporating topics they enjoy and showing relevance between their lives and what they were learning. Allowing the students to have a say in the animal they researched was a good motivational and differentiation tool. This unit was a good example of my ability to develop engaging lessons that allowed students to develop skills and gain information at an individualized pace. To keep interest high, the science theme was often integrated into other activities and vice versa. The use of centers at times allowed students to work at their own levels and freed up my time to provide more direct instruction to students who required specific help. I varied group size to encourage peer student teaching and collaboration. I utilized many methods of instruction to keep things new and meet the learning styles of all the students. When needed, I provided additional time for students to complete their task.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE The integration of technology allowed me to present visually and auditory stimulating lessons on the interactive smartboard. Another benefit of this technology was the ability to


provide immediate feedback and correction to facilitate learning. On one slide I could model and on another slide students could immediately practice. This helped keep behavior positive and learning interactive. Group discussion time was a good ongoing assessment tool, review, and engagement activity as well. Throughout the unit I gauged my students level of knowledge and adjusted activities the following days/weeks to accommodate the class. Each student was successful and most importantly, the learning was fun.



Pre-assessment was performed not only to evaluate what they knew, but to allow me to make modifications to the lessons. Therefore, I pre-assessed the week before to allow the weekend to make changes as needed. I also took ongoing assessment into practice throughout teaching and incorporated review, reminders, and more details as needed. I could integrate small parts of my unit into other lessons. For example, I could show a short video on classifying animals during snack time or a life cycle of plants video as students prepared to go home for the day. In order to accommodate all learners, multiple forms of assessment were used. Projects allowed students to add their own creativity and ideas while group discussions allowed scaffolding and review when needed. Assessment was ongoing throughout the unit. It allowed me to ensure students were learning and growing. Ongoing assessment was tracked through pictures, daily work and an e-portfolio. Summative assessment was tracked according to completeness and correct answers. Rubrics allowed me to measure learning, as grades are not appropriate at this age. Assessment has to be developmentally appropriate and serve several purposes. In this case, it allowed me to adjust instruction on following days when needed to assure all students progressed. It allows me to demonstrate that learning occurred over time. At this age it is difficult to have formal assessments, so formative assessments must also meet the requirements of learning goals. One of the biggest challenges in the kindergarten classroom is designing pre-and postassessments that are both valid and authentic. At this age, ongoing formative assessment is crucial for development. There are also many learning goals in kindergarten that are designed to

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE prepare students for future schooling, such as following directions and asking questions.


Summative assessments are much more difficult to attach to a unit of study and I found a rubric that combined both self-assessment from the student and summative assessment from myself to be the best overall plan. I used information from group discussions, observations, interactions and art/writing/worksheets to guide my ratings on the rubrics. In this way, even the summative assessments took a holistic view of what each individual student demonstrated in their learning. This differentiated assessment because it was authentic, accurate look at each individual. It was also seamlessly integrated because assessment was a quiet part of each lesson. If I determined through work sessions or discussion that students required re-teaching I would integrate review and re-teaching into future lessons or other subject times. When I gave the students the pre- and post-assessment, I sat with them individually. This allowed me to help them read the question if they needed it. I would ask them how they felt and to circle the smiley face that matched. Some were fairly accurate on this, but most just circled the smiley face. I used this time to ask them questions. If I hadnt seen their diagram on a flower, for example, I would have them tell or show me the parts right then. These assessments were generally done during center times when the rest of the class was engaged in their own work. The post assessment also allowed me to see what they remembered from things covered a month previous. I generally rated their performance/knowledge while they were there and would explain why I thought theyd earned a one, two or three. This unit covered a lot of information. All students showed learning gains as demonstrated on their post-assessment. I feel the post-assessment was the most accurate assessment because students had to recall and relate to information that they may have learned a month previous. It was more accurate than an assessment or project graded right after theyd

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE learned the concept. The rubric style also allowed me to differentiate their assessment and take learning styles into consideration. Some students could name off parts of a plant while others


demonstrated their learning to me while looking at a picture of a plant or even arranging a puzzle of the pieces.



Design for Instruction

The majority of this unit was designed based on the Alaska science standards for kindergarten. The results of the pre-assessment showed that the majority of students had been introduced to some of the ideas prior to this unit. Ongoing formative assessments were used constantly in this unit to allow me to adjust, re-teach or review as needed. Each project was created to be developmentally appropriate for the kindergarten level. The lessons were aligned with state GLEs and had clear objectives. My personal goal was to vary activities to keep the students engaged and allow them to show me their knowledge in a variety of ways. I also wanted to integrate the unit into other subjects and vice versa as much as possible to maximize the amount of time the students had with the topics. Unit Overview Upon completion of the unit, students will be able to use their learning to investigate the world around them, exploring living things and habitats. They will understand that our environment is made up of living and non-living things, organisms have different and similar characteristics that allow us to classify/sort them, every living thing has basic needs, and that animals and plants live in different habitats and have features that allow them to survive in their habitat. Student will relate the information to their own lives, considering how they live in their own environment and how they grow and change over time. In order to create an environment that met the needs of various learners, I created several performance tasks that both taught and provided formative assessment opportunities. The first performance task, Leo the Late Bloomer, integrated a book and reading from the Houghton Mifflin required curriculum, social studies in relation to students reflecting on how theyve learned and grown, science about baby animals, writing and drawing as a self-reflection and



formative assessment and finally art as a fun hands-on completion of the task. Students answered verbally and through writing questions about how theyve changed how they look different, things they can do now, etc. after a group shared reading of the book Leo the Late Bloomer. Students brainstormed together and we used a class graphical organizer to record our results. The students work example demonstrates the wide variance of student levels in the classroom. Higher-level students were asked to write more and use details. Below-level learners were assisted in their writing as needed. FIGURE 3.1: SAMPLE OF STUDENT WORK HOW WEVE BLOOMED

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE A second example of a performance task was What Plants Need to Grow. This was a very constructivist-based lesson where the students planted their own seeds in soil filled cups


then observed which plants grew. The teachers plant didnt get water. A second teachers plant didnt get sunlight. It was also a comparison to some lima bean seeds that we sprouted with just water and sunlight. Students then worked in small groups and a class group to talk about what plants need to grow. Keeping multiple intelligences in mind, I incorporated music and movement while students practiced being sprouted seeds. Smartboard lessons incorporated technology as students could interact with diagrams and move parts of plants and lifecycles around on the board. One of the largest parts of this unit was an integrated writing assignment for reports. Students not only did a research report but then also summarized their findings into a report. I differentiated to increase interest by allowing students to select their animal of choice. Students worked independently then shared their work. The research report helped students organize their thoughts and research the animal. The report demonstrated their retained knowledge and allowed for an excellent rubric assessed writing selection. A much more detailed explanation of the unit is included within the unit itself. The following two figures are examples of the students excellent work. At this time of the year the students are encouraged to correctly spell sight words and then use their best sounds to spell other words. They are referred to the 6+1 traits of writing when writing the research report portion. This includes a title, big point, tell me more, and a conclusion.






Instructional Decision Making

Throughout this unit it was necessary to constantly assess student knowledge. The final week where we concentrated on habitats and adaptations was on the higher-end of the learning goals difficulty-wise. I talked about adaptations and habitats regularly throughout the day and would ask students to recall information during other activities. During the first day it became clear that several students werent understanding what an adaptation was, so that afternoon I found a short video on BrainPop Jr. to show the class the following day. I felt a 5-minute video would add some details and present information in a different way from how I already had. I also considered that it was important to get the students to define the word in their own way. A similar challenge occurred with the concept of habitat. We were covering several habitats, one a day, that really could take a entire month to cover. My goal was for them to understand that different habitats exist and be able to describe just one or two features of each. After the second day of instruction it became clear I needed to relate the idea of habitat to their lives. This allowed me to integrate further into social studies as we talked and acted out the things they need to live (also a review from the beginning of the unit on living things needs) and then I asked them to name things in their own habitat their house. A lot of information at this age needs to happen at the recall phase. I found myself adlibbing a lot of little things to keep the unit fresh in their minds. For example, when getting ready to transition or walk in the hall, Id ask them to walk like a certain animal, show me how a polar bear walks, as he lumbers across the ice, slow and quiet. This kept transitions fun but also managed to get students thinking about adaptations. I added in a lot of movement in other areas of the unit, as well. I would have students act out being a seed and growing into a plant. I found a couple short poem-based songs on the



Internet and wed sing and move along with them. What made this unit unique is that it was truly integrated into the required curriculum, into transitions, into playtime (the class own doing), into art and more. During report research we would all share neat facts we learned. I would pull up short videos from national geographic and wed read or watch the video clip. Kids love animals and I kept their enthusiasm strong by having real-life examples, technology, hands on projects and adding in clips of things based on the students interests.



Analysis of Student Learning

All students increased their knowledge and scores on this unit. The classs average gain score was over 67%. Having not previously taught kindergarten, I did not have a score goal or prediction of where the students would score. While standardized tests, such as the reading and math, have benchmarks, those dont exist for science. 67% is a high gain score and this is likely due to the amount of information covered in the unit and the younger age students have less prior knowledge. Table 4.1 and Figure 4.1 show the assessment scores of the students and demonstrate the range of ability in the classroom. The range for the learning gain score was from 45% to 94% At this age, and after working with these particular students, the range of levels was expected.

TABLE 4.1: LEARNING GAIN SCORE FOR LIFE SCIENCE UNIT Student # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pre Assessment Score 43% 50% 30% 60% 37% 40% 50% 53% 43% 37% 50% 43% Group Average Gain Score Post Assessment Score 83% 74% 67% 93% 74% 67% 97% 97% 73% 83% 97% 70% Actual Potential Gain Score Gain Score 0.4 0.24 0.37 0.33 0.37 0.27 0.47 0.44 0.3 0.46 0.47 0.27 0.57 0.5 0.7 0.4 0.63 0.6 0.5 0.47 0.57 0.63 0.5 0.57 Learning Gain Score 70.2% 48.0% 52.9% 82.5% 58.7% 45.0% 94.0% 93.6% 52.6% 73.0% 94.0% 47.4% 67.7%




Comparison of Pre and Post Scores

100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Student Number

Pre Assessment Score Post Assessment Score

Figure 4.2 compares the actual gain scores between the pre-and post-assessment. Students 2, 6, 9 and 12 showed the least amount of gain, but they also began with quite a bit of knowledge on the subject. These four students all attended pre-school, which shows that they were able to apply schema learned in a previous grade. FIGURE 4.2 ACTUAL GAIN SCORES FOR CLASS

Actual Gain Score

0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE Students 10 and 11 had very similar gain scores but quite different pre-assessments. Student 10 was one of the lower scoring students on the pre-test. This student is pulled at least twice daily, and up to three times, for intervention in different subjects so it didnt surprise me that she would start on the lower end. She worked very hard and is a diligent student. Her


enthusiasm was evident, and hard work followed, through every step of this unit. It was exciting to see her grasp and remember this information. Student 11 was one of the higher scoring on the pre-test. She has a strong family home-life and is often toward the upper-end of the class. She has a passion for animals and was also quite excited throughout this unit. She showed strong gains in the areas she wasnt previously familiar with, such as plants and habitats. Figure 4.3 shows all areas of the assessment data between a lower-level learner (graph color blue, student 3, male, Alaska Native), an on-target learner (graph color green, student 8, male, Caucasian), and an above-level learner (graph color red, student 4, female, Asian Pacific Islander). The pre-assessment scores correlate with the amount of knowledge the students have coming into kindergarten. We often notice that the higher-level learners have a broader schema than the lower-level learners at this age. In this case, the lower-level learner is often absent from school and did not attend preschool. All three students made significant gains. The on-target learner showed the highest post-assessment score and overall learning gain.



Comparisons Between 3 Students

120% 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% Pre Assessment Score Post Assessment Score Actual Gain Score Poten-al Gain Score Learning Gain Score

The lower-level student (blue) was more engaged in the hands on activities and focused more on this unit than he often does in other areas of study. The differentiation of process (utilizing movies, the interactive board, movement, projects and real life manipulatives) helped him learn. The differentiation of product (allowing him to move puzzle pieces to show me the parts of the plant for example) helped him score higher than if Id had him write the names on a diagram. There was a significant writing portion in this unit that he received assistance on for his writing, but those scores were not considered in this learning gain calculation. The on-target level learner (green) is generally a good and upbeat student. He can get off task and has a lot of energy, so the transitions and breaks were helpful for him. He, too, enjoyed the hands on projects. He learned more about the needs of plants as he was physically planting seeds. He was very engaged in viewing and handling the animal discoverables. This type of hands on exploration seems to be important for all of the students and certainly falls into a

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE constructivist way of teaching by having them take this knowledge and build from it. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much he had retained throughout this unit. The above-level learner (red) is a very detail-oriented student. She is generally


meticulous in her written work. She did very well during center time and manipulating puzzles or aligning parts of the plants. She participates in group activities but does not like to be called on. Often she will pass or say she doesnt know an answer. She demonstrated this during her assessment, as well, shrugging or saying she didnt know an answer. She could quickly write the parts of the plant on a diagram, label a picture of animals and other tasks. With time and prompting she could and would answer questions that are more in-depth. Think time and some translation time seem to help her. While she speaks English, her mother at home does not, so I think that some cultural issues affect her choices. She also demonstrated that she learned a lot, mostly on the plants section. I would have liked to see her retain more knowledge about habitats but was happy to see her genuine interest in plants.



Evaluation and Reflection

This was a long unit and the learning goals were broken down into smaller sections when being taught. There were two overall learning goals that stood out in this unit. The first was goal one: students will explore living and non-living things. All of the students did a great job demonstrating that they had learned a lot in this area. About half of the students had an idea about living/non-living when beginning the unit, but the other half did not. By the end of the section, all students were able to give many examples and sort living and non-living things. They could tell what a plant needed to live and what an animal needed to live. They also were wellversed in the life cycle of plants, butterflies and frogs. At the end of the unit, several weeks later, almost all of the students still remembered these key things. I was pleasantly surprised when several students remembered chrysalis when sharing the life cycle of a butterfly. There was a lot of repetition combined with music and multiple modes of teaching the same information that led the success of this learning goal. Repetition is developmentally appropriate for this age, but I strived to provide repetition in a way that was a little different each time so students remained engaged. Learning goal three: plants and animals have features that help them live in different kinds of places, was a much more in-depth goal than goal 1. I would consider it the least successful simply because there wasnt enough time to teach it to the degree that students could start applying higher depth of knowledge goals to the information they learned. Many of the students could tell you about adaptations if prompted but its not at a point where its a natural conversation yet. For this age, it was a big subject to cover. If I was teaching all year, I would continue to discuss it. The idea of adapting could be integrated into other topics and revisited, allowing the students more time to relate to the subject. At this age, they tend to only understand



information they can relate to personally. I dont think Id necessarily change the unit any, other than to extend it and cover each habitat by the week instead of by the day. Id also add in a few weeks on Alaska animals in a different unit, but still integrate adaptations into the learning. I feel confident on my planning and implementation. My strongest teaching attributes are my enthusiasm and preparedness. I would put extensive planning into my lessons, developing technology to go along with them and gathering supplies ahead of time. Then I would reap the rewards in the classroom when the students were the ones working and learning and I was simply the facilitator. The amount of knowledge learned by the students was greater this way. I also always had my supplies at hand, helping to better manage the classroom. After working in the classroom, I feel that I have two areas that I would benefit greatly from further professional development. The vast scope of classroom management, especially transitions, is something that I feel will become stronger for me with time. Each teacher has their own way of managing a class, and trying to develop your own way while also following a host teachers lead can be extra challenging. I look forward to substitute teaching and observing in a variety of classrooms so I can get the feel for more styles and options for management. My skill level in this area changed drastically during my time in the classroom as it was. The second area of professional development for me is unrelated directly to this unit, but is important for integration. I continue to be amazed by the additional teaching techniques used by my host teacher for teaching reading, specifically phonics and phonetics. Having primarily taught 3-8 grade prior to this teaching experience, I realized that while I could follow a curriculum book, there are many styles of teaching these key skills that I have yet to learn. I plan to look for some workshops for teaching emergent readers to develop higher skills and practice in this area. I already worked with an interventionist to become more familiar with the Sonday

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE program they were using, which did lend more insight into activities teachers can use to help


young readers. From here my biggest goal is to simply gain more practice through volunteering, substitute teaching and hopefully soon, running a classroom of my own. Looking back on the student teaching process as a whole, this has been a phenomenal experience. My host teacher was amazing, both in her dedication to her students and her willingness to help me. I will cherish the relationships that grew between the students of this class and myself for years to come. They were also amazing teachers to me. I felt supported by all of the teachers and staff within the school; they were gracious to have me observe them work and often shared fun stories and experiences with me. I learned a lot about teachers and the profession from my colleagues. They also made me further appreciate the school as a whole. In the beginning of this paper I referred to the community in which this school exists. In truth, the school itself is really the heart of the community. From the dedicated teachers and staff that work together to not only teach the students, but guide them in making good decisions to the parents and support groups that plan extracurricular activities, this school is the very core of Anchor Point. It is where the children learn about what a community is and then grow and find their place in that community. With every day I taught, these students matched me smile for smile. They tried and succeeded. Ive always believed that learning should be fun; I stick by this core value, but I can add to it now: teaching should be fun, as well. I hope that these young students have as much pride in their accomplishments this semester as I have in them.




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