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Running Head: Final Synthesis

Final Synthesis
Amanda Skowbo
Professor Sevensma
EDUC 202 C

During this fall semester, I have been blessed to visit Ms. Marks fourth grade classroom
at Amy Bell Charter Academy every Wednesday afternoon. I have had the joy to observe and get
to know Lucas, an African American male student in Ms. Marks classroom. It has been a
pleasure to learn about Lucas as a studentlearner, and has the observations have provided an
opportunity to apply connect what I see in the classroom to the material I have learned in class at
Calvin to my Education classthe situations occurring in the classroom that I have observed.
Lucas is a wonderful student, yet he has been defined in schools with a learning disability.
However, Lucas does however hashave strengths such as, his social skills with adults and his
peers, auditory listening, and his kind and friendly characteras well as sat being a . On the other
hand However, based on minimal observations, Lucas does seem to struggle deeply with reading
and writing in language and with attention in the classroom. The difficulties that he has within
the classroom make it evident as to why Lucas is defined with as learning disability within the
school system.
Context (classroom, neighborhood, school, home)
Amy Bell Charter Academy (ABCA) is located Grand Rapids, Michigan. The school is in
a residential area that has about three-fourths of the surrounding business for rent or for sale.
However, there is a construction project going on about a half mile down the road from the
school building for new offices. I question why there is a new construction project occurring
when so many vacant buildings around the construction site. The main street by the school has
sidewalks on both sides of the street and a Rapid bus stop right out the school. I have often
wondered if students walk to school or take the Rapid ever into school, instead of parents driving
thembeing dropped off with their parents. However, I am to believe that students may come

further than a walking distance from school based on the non-similaritydifferences between race
in school and in the surrounding neighborhood. The highest percent of race that livesmajority of
the population in the neighborhood around the school is White (about at about 90 percent),
however the schools percentages do not seem to match this statistic of thewhich is significantly
different from the demographics of the student body at ABCA (Community Institute Research:
Community Files, 2010). ABCA has 662 students, which 58% are African American, 26% White
non-Hispanic students, 10% Hispanic students, 3% Asian and Pacific Islander students, 0.5%
Native American/Alaskan Indian, and 3% students who identify with 2 or more races that make
up the student population (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2011). This makes about
60% of the student population African American. Therefore, I question and guess the statistics
confirm my interpretation that most of the students come outside this area, since the statistics do
not line up and that there is no transportation given to the students (Amy Bell Charter Academy
Website, 2014).
The school itself seems to be modern. I believe this because tThe school has no rusting
bricks and halls do not have dirt, or other features that would age the school. In addition, the
office and many of the classrooms have computers, televisions, and security systems in the
school. Base on observations and theThe website also statesing that it was built in 1998 (Amy
Belle Charter Academy, 2014)., I came to the belief that the school is modern (Amy Belle
Charter Academy, 2014). To enter into the school, you have to use the Lobby Guard program as
it signs you in with a picture and prints out an id that you wear around school. Amy Bell is a K5
to Grade 8 school that does have a dress code. However, most days I am observing that 2 to 3
students are not in code, making me believe that dress code is not heavily enforced.

Ms. Mark is a one of the 4th grade teacher and has 21 students in her actual
classroom/class roster. However, I know most of the 4th grade students, because Ms. Marks
classroom rotates for every class between the other two fourth grade classrooms. When I visit at
noon, I examine one math class of a mix of all the fourth grade classrooms. According to Ms.
Mark, they do this by math level and Ms. Mark has all the students in the medium track of
math. (Ms. Mark, 2014). After math, they switched back to their original classroom, and Ms.
Mark then teaches science to the students. I wonder whether all this switching helps students stay
more focused or causes more of a distraction. The majority of students in both classes appear
African American, including Lucas.
While watching the students during observation, I noticed that about 50 percent of
students were talking while Ms. Mark gave the lesson and at least one student was up and
walking around the room about every 5 minutes. Ms. Mark would raise her hand up in the air
with all five fingers up, and silently go down to zero. Other students would do this, and Ms.
Mark told the students that recess was going to be taken away if the students would not quiet
down. I question how often recess is actually taken away.? Ms. Mark seemed to relate to the
children well, but also had a hard time keeping some control, based on my observations on how
often the students in her classroom were talking. While watching the students there was a lot of
free time or what it seemed to be. Students were doing their own work out of a math book, or
just doing science vocabulary out of a textbook. This make me question when Ms. Mark teaches
the students. Because for the majority of the time that I observe, I only see the students really
teaching themselves. However, I am to believe that earlier that day, they learn the material and
then after lunch do work on their own and go over answers to see if have mastered. I came to this
conclusion based on Ms. Marks comment, Before lunch, I teach them the new concept and

after they now apply what taught and work on own. (Ms. Mark, 2014). Is this the most
proficient way to teach the students the material, or if there is a better way to interact with and
In the classroom and around the school along the wall are posters and sayings on the wall
that hint towards signs of what the school values. For example, the hallway I have to walk down
to get to the classroom is lined with 40 different flags and 75 percent of them have students
pictures underneath them. When I asked Ms. Mark about this, she said, The students pictures
represent where each of them came from or where they have family ties to. It shows the vast
diversity of the school (Ms. Mark, 2014). I believe then that based on the display of cultures and
vast diversity, that the school must value it and want to value each of the students cultures
within the school as well. In Ms. Marks classroom, on the white board at the front of the room,
the upper left hand corner reads, Moral focus: wisdom to be careful and to do what is right. In
addition, to the right of the whiteboard is a bulletin board that has the acronym CHAMP
STARS which stands for: Conversation, Help, Activity, Movement, Participation, Success, Sit
up Straight, Track Speaker, Ask question, and Respect everyone. With all these up in the front of
classroom, it shows what the school values and how much respect they want the students to
show. I believe that most students have to hold some of these sayings and values with them,
because of the importance of them in their school and classroom, including Lucas.
Getting to know Lucas more as a student, I have learned a few things about his home life.
Lucas comes from a single mother home and has a younger brother in second grade that attends
Amy Belle as well. Looking into school records, Lucas has been absent 11 days so far out of the
year and been tardy to school 8 times (Amy Bell Charter Academy, 2014). I question why he
misses and if it is on certain days or just random days. He also received a scholarship from the

school and is part of the free/reduced lunch program the school has. On top ofto this, Lucas has
ADHD and a learning disability that requires many accommodations in the classroom; these
include to have tests read aloud to him, frequent breaks, small group test setting (not in the
classroom), and extended time on tests.
Race & Ethnicity
The hallway of flags seemed to hint me to believe how much Amy Belle Charter
Academy values the differences in race and ethnicity. It was also clear how much Ms. Mark
valued it within her classroom. I would consider Ms. Marks classroom to be diverse considering
African American, White, Asian, and Indian races that are represented. She appears to value
where each come from and wants to learn about them. Students were told for a Thanksgiving
project to share a tradition that comes from their families and share a dish they cook together.
They were making a cookbook that each student could have and everyone in the class then could
see and try the different kinds of food from different cultures. By using this project, Ms. Mark
was trying to include a multicultural curriculum, which incorporates the texts, stories, and beliefs
of different cultures (Delpit, 2006). I thought that this project was wonderful and made me
realize how much the school and classroom value the diversity they have. I wonder how often
activities and other multicultural curriculum is used within the classrooms?
Even though the school celebrates diversity, the communities where students live and the
media may teach them stereotypes to believe based on some conversations and test results.
According to school files, Lucas is African American like the majority of his classmates and
school. One day during a visit, they were taking an online state test in reading. Lucas had
accommodations with four other African American students, while two White females received
the highest scores on the test and the lowest scores went to two African American females. While

the test was going on Lucas and me talked in the hall about the test. He said, I do not care how I
do. All I care bout is bein tall for basketball and bein good at it like the black guys on my
block. Besides, people like me arent suppose to be good at school. Looking at the test and
Lucas comment, I think most of the students here believe in stereotypes; the widely held view
and simplified image for a type of person (Delpit, 2006). I do not like to think that this could be
from segregation, because after having conversations with the students, they majority love the
teachers at Amy Belle Charter Academy and have had an effect on them and how much I see the
school value the diversity and honor the ethnicities from where students are. However, there is
clearly something not right with how the test turned out and why Lucas and probably other
students feel. I question where they hear these things from and why they believe them, when they
are surrounded by such support. Overall, I think that the difference in race and ethnicity is
supported and valued for the diversity at Amy Belle Charter Academy.
Social Interactions
One of the greatest strength I see in Lucas is his social interactions between his peers,
teachers, and other adults. First off, students have told me that Lucas is the kindest friend and
gets along with everybody in the fourth grade. He does not let differences between others and
himself get in the way of this and is just friendly to all. Lucas seems always to be aware of his
surroundings and the atmosphere he is in because he is excellent at humor regulation and code
switching. Humor Regulation is the social language function that allows the ability to understand
humor and the right times to use it (Levine, 2002). Lucas is one of the funniest kids in the
classroom and always has children laughing at recess. He tells many jokes and knows how to
make someone feel better. However, when Ms. Mark is talking and teaching a lesson he knows
not to be silly and follows the classroom rules. Code Switching is the ability to change the way

you are speaking to fit the people and environment you are in (Levine, 2002). Lucas will speak
African American Vernacular English around his friends and with daily conversations. However,
when asking Ms. Mark a question or presenting something more formal in the classroom, he then
uses Standard English to communicate. These skills show he has a great understanding and is
aware of social cues and what is appropriate.
Lucas is also aware of the classroom rule and social norms that are around them and
follows them. For example, when he has a question in class he raises his hand, when having a
one on one conversation he keeps good eye contact with you, apologizes when has done wrong,
and respects and follows the directions Ms. Mark gives him to do. I question, if his attention
problems get in the way of having such good social interactions. Lucas is good at other social
skills with his peers. He shows great collaboration, conflict resolution, and complimenting skills.
Collaboration is the ability to work with others in a team effort (Levine, 2002). When working
on a science experiment, Lucas was the one to find peoples strengths and recognize his
weakness to work together and make it the best project. Conflict resolution is the ability to
resolve a conflict with others that does not include aggression (Levine, 2002). At recess, Lucas
was playing basketball and accidently pushed over another student. Instead of getting in a
fistfight, he called a foul on himself and backed up as he apologized. Complimenting is the
ability to praise another student (Levine, 2002). Lucas said good job to another student when she
got a good grade on a test. These are just a few examples, but Lucas has excellent
communication skills that makes him have a great strength in social interactions with others.
In Ms. Mark classroom, I typically hear two different languages spoken. It is either
African American Vernacular Language or Standard English. Academic language includes

phrases in math and science classes such as long division, place value, base ten, population, and
non-renewable resources. African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is a variety of English
spoken mostly by the African Americans in America (Sevensma, 2014a). Ms. Mark uses the
Standard English with the students, but basic conversation within the classroom is most often
AAVE. Lucas uses AAVE and this may contribute to his struggle with Standard English
moprhemesmorphemes, but struggles with academic language and morphemes. On one
Wednesday, I heard Lucas talking to another student saying, I tooked it from him. This
comment along with others makes me believe that Lucas struggles with morphemes. Morphemes
is the smallest bit of meaning (Levine, 2002, p. 134). He has a hard time hearing sounds and
then writing those sounds and words. I looked at his spelling test from the week before one
Wednesday, in which he scored zero out of 10. He got none of the spelling words correct and
most of the words were not even close to the spelling that it is. I wonder if Lucas was trying to
spell it in African American Vernacular English, or struggles with a learning disability that makes
spelling and reading a daily struggle.
In addition, when Lucas tries to read a sentence aloud in class it takes him at least twice
as long to read a sentence compared to his peers in the classroom. Between his selling test and
the time it takes to read, it made me question whether or not he knows the alphabet or not. I
worked with Lucas in the hallway on some of the spelling words that were given that week to
practice saying. When looking at the words he could not give me the correct sound for the letter.
I then tried giving him the sound to write the letter down, and Lucas could not do it. However,
Lucas could say the sound when I verbally gave him the letter. I am to believe that Lucas
struggles with Sound to Symbol Correspondence, which is the understanding of the sound that is
represented by the letter in the alphabet (Light, McNaughton, n.d.). Another reading struggle I

noticed was that during a test Lucas is somewhere else having the test read aloud to him (Ms.
Mark, 2014). With all this evidence, I believe that Lucas struggles with reading and writtening
language and understanding the sound to symbol correspondence. However, he does haves
strengths in spoken and auditory language.
Auditory language is the learning style in which a student learns through listening
(Sevensma, 2014a). When Lucas has anything given to him verbally, he can solve the problem,
repeat the information that was taught back to Ms. Mark, and understand the concepts behind a
reading passage. This is a huge strength for Lucas. He does have an accommodation to have a
test read aloud to him, and with this help, his test scores went up a great present showing he
understands the material by having it read to him (Ms. Mark, 2014). Lucas is also good with
However, when doing academic language in written and reading, he struggles.spoken language
because when talking with him and having a common conversation, he can carry a conversation
well with Ms. Mark, his peers, and me. Usually, this is in AAVE, but you can easily understand
him, and he is wonderful at responding to questions and telling stories.
Based upon my observations, one of Lucas weakest points within the classroom based
upon observations has to do with attention. First off, according to school records, Lucas has
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that affects him (Ms. Mark, 2014). According
to Ms. Mark, there are some days in which he forgets his medicine and makes it harder on him
to keep his attention. (2014). I wonder if Lucas does not want to take the medicine, forgets it,
or things at the home make him forget or not have the medicine. Before knowing this about
Lucas, occurrences within the classroom led me to believe that Lucas did struggle with ADHD.
During a math test one Wednesday afternoon, Lucas was the very first student to finish the entire

test within about 20 minutes, while the rest of the class finished in about 45 minutes. I then
looked over his test and compared it to the answer key, in which he got about of the questions
wrong. Ms. Mark said to talk to him and see if he wants another chance; but Lucas was certain
he got all the answers correct and did not want to look over it again. Based on this experience, I
saw that Lucas struggles with pace control and quality control. Pace control is being able to do
activities and tasks at the best and most appropriate speed (Levine, 2002, p.80). Quality control
is being able to know how things went or are going (Levine, 2002). Another example of Lucas
struggle with attention was watching him during math and science, where he could not stop
moving. After he finished the math test, he kept moving around the classroom; for about 5
minutes he was at the computers and then spent 7 minutes at the audio reading center, and he got
up and went to the compmuters again for about 4 minutes, and then was back at the audio center.
In addition, during science, he stood up, then sat down, then stood back up, and flipped and
tapped his pencil; Lucas than span around in his chair and got up to sharpen his pencil all within
about 10 minutes of each other. All of this fidgeting and movement makes me believe that Lucas
is overly high in alertness control. Alertness control is being able to have enough energy to
concentrate without feeling tired, and to show the excess energy is within all the movement
(Levine, 2002, p.59).
However, I did notice a strength with attention in Lucas just when Ms. Mark reminds him
what he should be doing. When Lucas stood up and sat down and wondered around the room,
Ms. Mark just had to say Lucas, find one spot and then sit and Lucas than got right back to
work and focused his attention where it should have been after that small reminder that Ms.
Mark. I see that his mind can easily be brought back to what needs to be done which I believe
could be signs of mental effort control or consistency control. Mental effort control is the ability

to get mind work done (Sevensma, 2014c). Consistency control is the being able to keep up
steady work each day (Sevensma, 2014c). With only fifteen hours of observation, I am not
certain what attention control Lucas has strengths in, but the fact he can regain attention and then
keep it lead to believe that it is either consistency or mental effort. I question if there are other
possible attention strengths and if Lucas shows any attention strengths or weaknesses at home as
I have noticed in observations that Lucas has difficulty with two other kinds of attention:
span and selection control. Span control is being able to concentrate for the right amount of time
(Levine, 2002, p.73). Selection control is being able to pay attention to what is most important at
that time (Levine, 2002, p.64). I concluded that Lucas struggles with span control because about
nine minutes into Ms. Marks science lecture, with little distractions occurring and Lucas head
pointing towards the direction of Ms. Mark and the board, Lucas was called to answer a question
twice and had no idea what going on or where the class was in the discussion. I concluded that
Lucas has difficulty with selection control, as well, because when small noises occur within
classroom discussions, his attention then turns there. For example, when a child coughs behind
him or the air vent behind him goes on, his head turns around and stays at that direction for about
3 minutes, and then his head turns back towards the front and pencil back down on paper. In
addition, according to Ms. Mark, Lucas needs accommodations in the classroom such as frequent
breaks, small group test settings for fewer distractions, and extended time on certain things
(2014). I question why extended time is needed when he is the first to finish the test. Maybe for
math he can read just fine, but the reading and spelling tests are what the extended time is for?
Yet, these accommodations also give hints towards the things that deal with Lucas struggle with
attention. All these observations makes me believe that Lucas has difficulty with attention, yet, it

is good that his attention can be brought back easily by Ms. Mark and small comments or
reminders from her.
Memory & Motor
Even though attention may not be the greatest strength for Lucas, he does have strengths
in memory and motor skills. Lucas has excellent long-term and short-term memory. Although he
struggles remembering sounds of each letter, he has a good long-term memory. Long-term
memory is the permeant part of the memory that stores huge amounts of information (Sevensma,
2014b). Some examples of Lucas showing how well his long term memory includes
remembering my name and college after a week goes by without seeing him, the
knowing/memorization of his multiplication facts, and remembering the topic and comments
from Ms. Marks lesson the past week. Short-term memory is the temporary memory that only
keeps the information long enough to figure out the problem at hand (Sevensma, 2014b).
Examples of Lucas showing this are following multiple directions and performing them in order,
and answering a question about a passage just read by Ms. Mark. I do not have enough
information to determine how well his active memory (the place where short term and long term
memory come to work together and organizes the task working on) is to determine if it is also a
strength with the short and long term memory (Sevensma, 2014b). I question though, if his
memory has any effect by his attention at all. I wonder whether or not his memory may not
always be fully working because of his attention or if his active working memory suffers a little
more because of attention.
Lucas also has strengths in his motor skills. I began to see small signs of Gross motor,
oromotor, graphomotor, and fine motor. Gross motor is the involvement of the larger muscles
making the actions of larger physical movements possible (Levine, 2002). Some examples of

Lucas gross motor skills are seen with his skills in basketball, tag games, and tetherball. Is Lucas
only good at these recess games or are his gross motor skills so strong that he is good and
plays other sports? Oromotor is the muscular activity involved within the mouth that help with
eating and speaking (Levine, 2002). Lucas skills with communication and all the social
interactions he has shown me that he has well developed oromotor skills. Graphomotor is the
muscles needed for writing (Levine, 2002). Lucas may not be the best at spelling. However, he
has excellent penmanship and writes straight across on the line. I wonder if there were no lines
on the paper would he write as clear? Fine motor is the small muscles needed to do smaller tasks
that usually involved the moment of hands and fingers (Levine, 2002). Many of the students tell
me how good Lucas is at drawing. I saw an art drawing of his and it was well done with a lot of
Overall, I see that Lucas has strengths in motor and memory. However, I would need
some more time to make solid judgments about these and these are just the beginning
observations I began to see.
Connections and Conclusion
After my observations of Lucas within the classroom, I am beginning to see connection
between multiple areas that may affect one another. I find that even though Lucas may struggle
with reading and writing, the strengths then outshine it with how well he speaks and listens.
Problems with reading and writing could come from the possible attention span problems,
language problems, and even possible race and the community he is raised in. In addition, his
memory may help with some of his social interactions, like knowing names. After all the
observations, I feel as if attention and language are the biggest impacts on all Lucas does within
in and out of the classroom. However, clearly whether it is in his strengths or weakness I believe

that his environment he is surrounded by and the people who he surrounds himself with tis what
make him the wonderful student he his and his character I witnessed.
After the observations within Ms. Marks classroom, I am thankful for being able to get
some classroom experience and getting to know Lucas. He was a great student and I was amazed
that even with observing for only the few 15 hours, I was able to watch him grow and learn.
However, I would need much more time in the classroom to make better connections and
observations about Lucas as a student. The observations I made were only to the best of my
knowledge. As a future teacher, I am now more aware of the small accounts and actions that I
might see in my classroom and then can use to help each student learn better. I must also find the
strengths of each student and let that shine over any weakness the student may have. In addition,
I learned that in order to teach you, I must know you (Delpit, 2006, p.183).
Reference Page
Community Research Institute. (2002-2014) Grand Rapids Townships, Kent County, MI [Data
file]. Retrieved from
Delpit, L. D. (2006). Other people's children. New York: The New Press.
Levine, M. D. (2002). A mind at a time. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Light, J., & McNaughton, D. (n.d.). Letter Sound Correspondence. In ACC & Literacy.
Retrieved from
Nation Center for Education Statistics. (2011-2012) U.S. Department of Education Institute of
Education Sciences National Center for Education Statistics [Data file]. Retrieved from
Park Ridge Charter Academy (2014). NHA: Grand Rapids Michigan. [Data file]. Retrieved from

**Note: In Study used Amy Belle Charter Academy (ABCA)
Sevensma, K. (2014a). Language. [Lecture].
Sevensma, K. (2014b). Memory. [Lecture].
Sevensma, K. (2014c). Neurodevelopment Attention Controls. [Lecture].