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Observation #1- Third Grade Classroom The role that the environment plays in a childs learning is so essential to the

education process. Many underestimate or overlook that role, but with an environment a teacher can engage children, have a more controlled classroom, and have greater success in teaching children. Someone who is observing a classroom environment can often tell a great deal about the teacher, the children, and what goes on in the classroom from day to day. I was able to complete my first classroom observation for this assignment at Wilbur Wright Elementary School in New Castle, Indiana. I observed a third grade classroom that contains 22 students. Observing an elementary classroom is much different than observing a classroom in a daycare or preschool facility. It does not have as many distinct centers or areas within it. Upon entering the classroom, I felt like it was very welcoming. I particularly liked that there were two closets right at the entrance, one for the boys and one for the girls, for all the students to put their items in. Each students desk was labeled with his or her name and contained his or her materials. I felt like the area containing the students desks was very small and cramped. I could see how it might be hard for children to stay focused on the teacher because they were so close to each other. I imagine the students probably have trouble not talking while the teacher is leading the class in activities. Along the back wall of the classroom was a row of counters and shelves that contained materials for the various subjects. Most of these materials were either books or manipulatives. I did not see many games or activities sitting out for the students to use independently. Hanging above those counters were three bulletin boards: one with a math word wall, one with a writing

theme and one with the students wow work. I particularly liked the wow work wall. The teacher would give the students assignments that met their common core standards, which were on a poster next to the wow work wall, and the students posted those assignments once they were completed. I felt like this kept the teacher accountable for teaching according to the standards, but it also made the children excited about displaying their work. One area that I really liked was the library area. The teacher had organized a large variety of books by topic and reading level. Each student was able to find a book that was on their AR level and was of interest to them. She had a large variety of topics available for the children. Even though the children have the opportunity to go to the school library twice a week, I thought the convenience of having a high quality classroom library was very beneficial. As a whole, I thought the teacher had done the best she could with the space she had been given. The room was very organized and items were neatly occupying their appropriate areas of the classroom. I did notice a few improvements, however, that I would make in the classroom if it were my own. First of all, I saw no evidence of unique ways of teaching in the classroom, such as project based learning. It seemed from the materials that were out and the lessons that I was able to observe, that the classroom is overwhelmingly run with lectures and question/answer times. Projects, games, and activities might just be a rare exception than usual occurrences in the classroom. Projects can be so beneficial to a students learning. They can help children become more engaged in the topic, connect the topic to their lives, and retain more information about the topic (Larner 2010). This classroom would be more engaging if the lessons shifted away from so much routine and incorporated project based learning.

In addition to project based learning, it would be beneficial to view the classroom environment according to the Reggio approach. Using this approach will allow the teacher to make a balance of individual, small group and large group activities (Melcher n.d.). I feel like this understanding would also help bring some variety to the lesson times throughout the day. The teacher mentioned that she had some difficulty with students completing their worksheets. Incorporating this approach could help bring some other activities to the children that are still valuable to their learning, but do not have the monotony of worksheets. Lastly, I feel that all of the individual areas, math, science, social studies, and literacy, need more activities and materials available for the children. I realize in an elementary school, there is a high demand right now for teachers to ensure that their students do well on regular assessments. The classroom, however, still does not have to become a routine and boring place for the children to learn. All of the centers contained books and very few materials. I saw no fun activities or objects readily available for the students to interact with. I feel that throwing out a worksheet is not nearly as effective as real life experiences and activities can be. Each center would be more effective if the teacher would incorporate more to the center than books alone. I found this experience of observing this elementary classroom to be a very enlightening and valuable one. I was able to see clear cut examples of successful and lacking aspects of the classroom environments. It inspired me to think of concepts I would incorporate into my own classroom and ones that I would not want. I feel like this observation has been very beneficial to my view of the importance of the classroom environment.

References Larner, J. (2010, September 1). Educational Leadership:Giving Students Meaningful Work:Seven Essentials for Project-Based Learning. Membership, policy, and professional development for educators - ASCD. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/sept10/vol68/num01/Seven_Ess entials_for_Project-Based_Learning.aspx Melcher, E. (n.d.). What is the Reggio Emilia Approach? | Child Discovery Center. Child Discovery Center | A Reggio Emilia School in Grand Rapids. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from http://childdiscoverycenter.org/non-traditional-classroom/what-is-the-reggioemilia-approach/