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Christina Slavin

February 23, 2016


TWC 2: Observing a Child and Collecting Work Samples
Introduction
I observed a child, whom I will call Tracy, during my student teaching experience. Tracy
is in Kindergarten. Over my period of observations of this child, I have learned about her
preferences, interests, and her style of learning. To get to know more about this student, I had her
draw illustrations of what she likes to do as she was talking. I had the opportunity to work with
her during center time as well which allowed me to observe her behavior as a student and look at
how she interacts with other students.
Part 1: The child
Section A: Activities, Preferences, and Interests
Throughout my observations and discussions with Tracy, I gained knowledge on her
preferences. I had asked Tracy to draw a picture of her favorite activity, and she drew a picture
of herself ice skating. While drawing the picture, she explained to me that she recently just
started ice skating with another boy in the class. She had a huge smile on her face when talking
about ice skating. This also led her to begin talking about her involvement with Girl Scouts.
During the writing block, she does always write and draw pictures about what she did in Girl
Scouts, so I know that she enjoys talking about it a lot. She is actively involved in the community
that she lives in and that is discussed in her writing pieces. For kid writing, students are
encouraged to create their own writing topics and it is evident that she chooses to write about her
activities outside of school.
Whenever she has a chance to share during morning meeting, she always uses that
opportunity to share about her family. She usually shares about her mom and baby cousin. She
also talks about her family attending her basketball events. Her passion and love for her family
is very evident. Looking through her writing journal, she writes about spending time with her
cousin, her mom watching her basketball games, going to her cousins house, spending time with
her sister, going ice skating, and traveling with her family. Tracy could write about anything she
wanted, but she always includes a sentence each day about her family.
In school, I have observed that Tracy is always engaged in the tasks that are presented to
her and she takes great pride in her work. Tracys work is always completed and she usually
finishes very quickly. She wants her work done correctly and the final product is very important
to her. A couple of class periods ago, she was told to draw her math picture more neatly so she
could differentiate between the pictures, and she began to cry. She wants her work to be perfect,
and she gets upset if she makes a mistake on an assignment. She calms down quickly with
encouragement and confidence from an adult.
Books grab Tracys attention and and literacy concepts in general interest her. Along with
listening to stories, Tracy also enjoys the coloring center when it is center time. She uses her
crayons to draw pictures and write sentences underneath her illustrations. She is always asking to
be sent to that center, and she enjoys using the crayons to record her thoughts and creativity. She
also takes that time during centers to socially interact with her friends in the class. Her friends
join her at the coloring center for the majority of the time. Her drawings are also very detailed in

her kid writing journal, which expresses that she takes great pride in her illustrations and
coloring. Her second favorite center would be at the computers. She listens to stories and plays
educational games on interactive websites. She prefers to put the headphones in and to listen to
the words being read to her.
I have learned a lot after observing Tracy, but I still would like to learn more about her as
an emerging writer. Looking through her writing journal, I observed that she does exhibit
challenges at some points with spacing her words, writing her letters, and fully stretching out her
sounds. I would like to delve deeper into the following questions: How can I increase
Tracys writing, spacing and organizational skills in her writing pieces? Also, how can I
help Tracy to continue to stretch out her words to help her spell during kid writing? I want
to research how I can be an aide to her during her writing time. I hope to model effective writing
skills to her to help her during the writing block.
Section B: Modes of Thinking and Learning
When talking with Tracy, she explained that she enjoys time during language arts and
centers the most. She drew a picture of her reading a book when I was talking with her to show
me that reading is her favorite activity to participate in at school. She is able to articulate her
words appropriately for her age. She explained that she likes to break apart the words and listen
to the words. During a read aloud, Tracy is always willing to respond to the text and is focused
on the text. Tracy is able to segment words, determine letter sounds, and manipulate sounds
easily during phonemic activities. She explained that she also enjoys math. Math does come
easily to Tracy, as she is always able to complete the independent practice sections with one
hundred percent accuracy independently. On the opposite end, a task that can come challenging
for Tracy is writing. During writing time, Tracy has difficulty with spacing out her letters and
forming her letters.
When given a direction, Tracy always follows it to the best of her ability. In a survey that
was completed by Tracys parents, they mentioned that Tracy hopes to be a teacher when she
grows up. That is evident in her leadership abilities. Tracy is the person at her table that explains
to her tablemates what to do. When it comes to taking in new information, she is very curious
and excited to learn about it. After a new task is presented to her, she remains focused on it for
the entire lesson and stays open minded. When I was reading a story by Jan Brett, I made a
comment about her illustrations. Tracy responded and said, Yeah, I was thinking that. I did
notice that too. She is always in tune with my teaching and following along closely with what is
being taught. She is intrinsically motivated to learn and participate.
When learning, Tracy relies on observation and memory. When talking with Tracy, she
drew a picture of me standing up in front of the classroom teaching. She explained that she
prefers to listen to information being presented to her. She likes when the teacher is at the front
of the classroom and she can listen to him or her explain the content. When I am teaching math, I
observe her process from the front of the classroom. While the others are working with the chips
while I am talking, she always has her eyes on me and is listening to the content that I am
presenting. She likes concepts to be taught in order and for the directions to be followed in order.
When talking with Tracy during centers time, I asked her about her homework. She
explained that she completes her homework everyday with her mom right after lunch. After
discussing the topic of homework, she described her excitement for it. She enjoys spending the
time working with her mom and showing her what we are learning. She is ready to learn at the

beginning of each subject throughout the day. Her homework is turned in every day, and she
keeps her homework folder organized with all of her papers in it.
Tracy is a concrete thinker. She prefers to listen to information, get examples from the
teacher, and complete the task. She likes to know what the expectations are and what she is
learning about so she can shape her questions in her mind. With her passion for literacy and
letters, she definitely also has a gift for imagery. Although she does have challenges with her
writing, her illustrations are always very detailed. As mentioned above, Tracy is always in tune
with what is going on in the class, and is always focused on the content. From the days I have
observed her, she has never had to get a yellow ticket to be reminded to stay on task. During
activities, Tracy is always the first volunteer to raise her hand for a question or to help out a
friend in the classroom. Her mother volunteers for kid writing and is one of the homeroom
moms. When her mom comes in the classroom to help out, Tracy still participates and focuses on
her school work.
One can learn a lot about how a child has developmentally grown by looking at the
childs assessments throughout the year. After looking at some of Tracys previous assessments,
I have learned that she scores high on the majority of her assessments. She came into
Kindergarten knowing the concepts of print (parts of a book, letter, word, etc.) which shows she
had strong background knowledge when entering Kindergarten. She continues to score high on
her math assessments and her phonics test, above a 90% on her past three assessments. This
shows that she responds well to the teaching styles and the classroom setting. It also shows that
she is following directions for the tasks presented to her, and she is developmentally keeping up
with the content being presented.
Section C: Reflection
After reviewing Tracys interest and preferences, I have learned a lot about her as a
learner. I discovered her true passion for literacy, her passion for her family, and her passion for
her education. It allowed me to see how I can help her learn to the best of her ability. By taking
time to talk with Tracy and to have her draw me pictures of what she prefers to do, it helped me
to understand what she enjoys doing in and outside of the classroom. Since she is only in
Kindergarten, I was not going to give her a survey to fill out or have a formal interview. I wanted
to get to know more about her as a learner through a conversational tone, so that is why I decided
to do it mostly during centers time.
Understanding a childs preferences and needs can help an educator differentiate and
make appropriate lessons for his or her students. My plan is to continue to research ideas on how
to help Tracy increase her writing skills. I also want to discover how I can tailor my lessons to
reach the need of her auditory/visual learning style preference, but also reach the needs of the
tactile learners in the classroom. When reflecting back on the lessons I have got to teach, I recall
Tracy participating the majority of the time I realized how much knowledge I can gain on a child
just by reading their writing pieces. Tracys writings and illustrations really told me a lot about
her as a person.. My goal is to continue to shape my activities and assessments around the needs
the different learners in my cooperating teachers classroom.

Part 2: Work Samples


Section A: The Tasks
Three of Tracys work samples were collected from this month to help understand her
skills and challenges in the classroom. The first task that I looked at was a Quick Check for topic
8-3. The Quick Checks are given right after a topic is taught. In this case, Tracy just listened to a
lesson on comparing. For the first problem, she had to determine how many more white counters
there were than gray counters. For the second problem, Tracy had to write the number that told
us how many fewer saucers there were than tea cups. Concerning the performance expectations,
the students were given one point if they answered the problem correctly. If the student got the
question partially correct, it would be counted as wrong. There is no rubric or scoring guide for
this particular task.
The second work sample that I collected was a writing piece from her kid writing journal.
Tracy was directed to write in her journal and to focus on sounding out her words to help her
spell. After the she finished writing, she was assessed on her letter formation, spacing, and
phonetic representations of the words. It helps the teacher understand what stage of writing she is
in and moving towards. The students do not usually get a score in their kid writing journals;
however, the teachers in the classroom walk around and talk one-on-one with the students about
his or her writing. It is a time for the teacher to record the correct spelling and spacing of words.
There is no specific performance expectations or rubrics for the writing, except knowing the
difference stages of writing.
The final work sample that I collected is another writing piece and it tied in recalling
characters from the story that was read aloud. The students were read aloud The Mitten by Jan
Brett and then asked to chose one of the characters from the story and write why it may have
crawled into their mitten. The expectation was that the students choose an animal from the story
and write a logical explanation of why it crawled into their mitten. The student was expected to
complete the sentence. After the students completed the sentence, they could draw their mitten
and the animal inside of it. The students received a check plus if they completed the sentence and
drew an appropriate illustration. They were given a check minus if they did not choose an animal
from the story. The detailed guidelines are attached to the work sample.
Section B: The Childs Work
Looking at the first piece of work that was collected of Tracys, it seems that she knew
the exact steps to follow for the first problem. She showed her work, which was not an
expectation that was stated to the entire class That shows me that she understands the process of
the comparing. She knew she had to pair one white disk with one grey disk. Looking at number
2, it seems as though she changed her answer. Again, she showed me her process by pairing up
the saucers with the tea cups. She first wrote down her answer as four, which shows me that
probably just counted the total number of pairs. I am assuming she went back to check her work,
and realized there was one tea cup without a partner, so that was her final answer. This work
sample shows that she knows how to show her work and check her answers for math problems.
She is able to count and compare two groups as well. The knowledge from the math curriculum,
Pearson Envisions, guides the students thinking. Also, the explicit modeling that is done by
myself and my cooperating teacher aid in her achievement. She used the strategy that I presented

to the class during my lesson, which shows she benefits from my modeling and is an
auditory/visual learner.
Looking at the second piece of work that was collected of Tracys, it can be assumed that
she cannot appropriately space out her words. Looking closely at her handwriting, she does not
extend her handwriting to fit into the entire line. She seems to be in the initial/final sounds stage
of writing which means she focuses in on the sounds she hears at the beginning and end of
words. Her work reveals her knowledge of consonant letter sounds. She capitalizes words
appropriately as well. Handwriting practice during morning work helps her guide her
achievement in writing her letters successfully. Her alphabetic strip that has all of the letters on it
can also serve as a guide for her when she is sounding out words. It looks like determining vowel
sounds in words can be a challenge for her as well. A lot of times, the handwriting pages are
completed independently. Since she does benefit from visual displays, I may need to model
handwriting pages more often so she begins to write her letters appropriately.
Reflecting upon the third piece of work that was collected of Tracys, it can be assumed
that she was able to recall a character from the story. She also spent a lot of time on her mitten. It
was full of color and the rabbit is peaking out from the mitten. She chose to write about a rabbit
that crawled into her mitten, and that is one of the animals mentioned in the story. I was able to
conference with her after her writing was completed to discuss what she wrote. This work
sample shows her knowledge of her consonant sounds and beginning sounds. It also revels her
challenges with spacing and handwriting. She wrote her letter p backwards. She was able to
sound out the letters when conferencing with an adult. The modeling that is done before the
students begin to write guided her success in writing an appropriate sentence. She also traced her
hand just as I did up at the interactive white board to help her draw her mitten. Overall, I gained
a lot of knowledge on Tracy as a learner from reviewing the three work samples above.