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Brianna Smith

Dr. Mary Monsour

May 2, 2016
Observational Self-Reflection Journal
For my observations in this course, ED227, I spent my 10 hours
observing and working with Mrs. Kim Chuey. Mrs. Chuey works with the
Intermediate Unit, and currently teaches English Language Learners in
South Central Elementary School and St. Patricks Elementary School,
both located in Canonsburg, Pa. I was able to spend time with Mrs.
Chuey, Friday April 15th and Friday April 22nd. Our first day together
started at 9:30am and went until roughly 3:15 in the afternoon. On the
22nd I was with her from 9:15am until 2:15 in the afternoon. Below is a
detailed description on what I was able to see and partake in during
my time with Mrs. Chuey, and how I met the learning objectives
required along with this particular assignment.
Prior to meeting Mrs. Chuey and her students, she was kind
enough to send me a brief email that allowed me to know a little bit
more about some of the students that she is working with currently.
She has a wide variety of children ranging in grade level and age from
Kindergarten up to 4th grade. They are also from all around the world
including Russia, Iraq, Slovakia, Mexico, Honduras, India, and China!
Many of them knew little to no English upon arrival, some knew more.

It all differs child-to-child. So, the children that I was observing and
working with were all on different proficiency levels, but had
exceptional social English, considering many of them are fairly new to
the country.
While observing and spending time with Mrs. Chuey in the
classroom setting, I was unable to actually teach a full lesson with the
students, however I did get to spend quite a bit of time working with
them hands on, one-on-one, and tutoring them in a way. For instance,
while at St. Patricks, I was working with one of Mrs. Chueys students
who recently moved here within the past 16 months from Slovakia,
who is currently in the 4th grade. One of the activities we did to review
some of his vocabulary terms, was to play a matching game with the
cards that he created earlier. Having one the definitions on green note
cards and the terms on white note cards allowed him to differentiate
between the two. Then, turning it into a game made it much more
intriguing and fun for the child, opposed to just having him memorize
the terms by sight. Another activity that I worked on with one of Mrs.
Chueys students from St. Patricks, who is in 3rd grade, was a Venn
Diagram. Recently, the boy read a short, informative booklet on the
History of the Olympic games. His task was to compare and contrast
the Modern Olympics to the Olympics of Ancient Greece using a Venn
Diagram. Him and I worked on this together, and it was interesting to
see what worked with him and what didnt work in terms of teaching

and assistance strategies. One of the most obvious aspects of this

activity that I would have changed, when going about this with S---was the fact that we were looking for similarities and differences all
throughout the book, and just pulling them out sporadically. If I would
have thought ahead, I would probably have had him look through the
book with me, in order, to better organize his thoughts on the subject,
opposed to just pulling the ideas from every which direction. Also, it
probably would have worked better to set him a limit on how many
similarities and differences he needed in each section, because he just
kept writing and writing, even after he had a sufficient amount, and
didnt seem to want to move on to his next task. Overall however,
completing the Venn Diagram with S---- seemed to go over very well,
and he was able to work independently with little to no assistance
much of the time. His findings in turn lead to a very well written
paragraph about the similarities and differences of the Modern and
Ancient Olympics. The only further assistance he needed was a small
reminder of how to start his sentences, ex: The Modern Olympics and
the Olympics of Ancient Greece are the same/different because
Overall, I would say that my one -on-one time with the children when I
was with Mrs. Chuey went very well. They seemed to be engaged in
the activities we were doing, attentively listening and following
directions, etc.

One thing that Mrs. Chuey mentioned was that most of her
students were working right now on their academic language
proficiency. As I spent more time with her I noticed more and more
modifications and adaptations being used for her ELLs to better
succeed with various activities. As I mentioned, one of her ELLs was
completing a graphic organizer, with myself, which is something that
we touched on quite a bit in class. Also, while working with her 1st
grade student from St. Patricks one of the things that I tried to really
use some Total Physical Response when given the opportunity to read
one-on-one with him. I believe that that really helped to get some of
the points and emotions across in the story better to him. He was
reading a cute fictional book about a classroom pet hamster, from its
perspective. When it talked about shivering, I shivered, or made animal
noises when talking about the other classroom pets. I really tried to get
into character, and I saw him grinning or laughing along as I read, so I
believe that that was a very effective strategy that I used. One of the
ways I as well as Mrs. Chuey were able to connect culture to the
learning of the students was by simply remembering to compare some
aspects to a her child's culture or background. This reminded me very
much of my original lesson plan that I made for this course regarding
Yeh-Shen and Cinderella, when I really wanted to focus on utilizing,
comparing, and appreciating all of the various cultures in my
classroom! While working on vocabulary words, one of her students

came across the word chamber and Mrs. Chuey mentioned how it
can be a word referring to politics and government, etc. Afterwards,
she asked the student if they knew much about the government in
their home country, and encouraged them to talk to their parents, or
do a little research on it for future reference when learning more about
the United States government, laws, etc. While working on our Venn
Diagram, S---- and I tried to think if anyone from his country that he
may have known about were in the Olympic Games, or if that was
something he had ever watched.
One way that I noticed Mrs. Chuey really employed the TESOL
standards in her teaching and using effective strategies, was the
simple fact that she included her teachings of the English Language in
everything that she did with the children, whether it was working on
Social Studies tests, going over different types of habitats, learning a
the Amish community, anything! She really held true to the idea of
having her students be able to communicate and learn effectively in
any subject, under multiple conditions. I loved that upon arrival, she
had her students formally introduce themselves to me, and each ask
me a question about myself. Even while sharing activities throughout
the day or speaking with one another, Mrs. Chuey was trying to
implement effective strategies to teach both informal and formal
English at all times, with the best interest of her students in mind.

I have already had the chance to touch on some of the

instructional strategies that I used with some of Mrs. Chueys students,
but I would like to go a little more in depth with a few that I had the
chance to try out, use, or observe. First off, again when working with
S---- I really allowed and encouraged him to share his findings
throughout the text and tell me about what he was learning and
findings, not vice versa. That is one of the great reading strategies that
I remember discussing on my Weebly page in week three for reading
strategies. I wanted the student to independently learn and be able to
tell me about it, I wanted him to make meaningful connections with the
text, not to have me lecture and give him unimportant information,
that he would likely not remember. One thing that Mrs. Chuey did, that
I absolutely loved, was to have the children look for important terms or
phrases while reading, that may be included in the vocabulary list or
be a part of a question that the students need to answer. If they found
a part of the question, or their proof for an answer in the text, they
were to highlight it, to aid in picking it out and writing it down. That is
definitely a strategy that I could see myself using in the classroom for
all students as well as my ELLs. Another great strategy that Mrs. Chuey
and myself had the chance to use was to allow the students to use
sentence starters or frames. This is huge when working with ELLs and
definitely something that we have touched on in this semester. Both
while working at South Central Elementary with her older children, and

while I was working with her 3rd Grader at St. Patricks we used
sentence starters. I already mentioned how S---- used sentence
starters comparing and contrasting the Olympic Games, but Mrs.
Chuey also used them numerous times with her children at South
Central. She would write them on the board, and say them out loud for
the students before they began writing independently, and that
seemed to work really well. Another great teaching strategy that I
observed that works well, with all students, was how Mrs. Chuey used
everything from illustrations, the title, the back page of a book,
information about the author or illustrator, etc. to have the children
think a little deeper and make inferences about the text that they are
about to read. That really allowed them to grasp some bigger ideas
and thoughts before diving head first into a text or passage. Overall,
there were a ton of great strategies and other teaching implements
that I was thankfully able to either take part in or observe, and I just
could not name them all, those are just a few that stood out to me.
While spending time with all of the wonderful students at St.
Patricks and South Central Elementary, and getting to speak a little bit
more one-on-one with Mrs. Chuey, I also got to learn a ton about the
different needs of the students in this program with the Intermediate
Unit as well as the needs of their families. I think that Mrs. Chuey does
a great job with meeting the needs of her students to the best of her
ability both academically and emotionally. She really truly cares for her

children, and you can see that as she teaches. I love that to meet some
social and family needs, they also have family parties in the evenings
to invite all of the families involved with the Intermediate Unit to feel
more in tune with their childs education, and like they fit in with the
community together. However, one thing that is out of Mrs. Chueys
hands as an educator, is when a child necessarily tests out of their
program. Typically a child is in the program for roughly 3 years, unless
they are entering the program at an older age, it can take a little bit
longer to get them to the proficiency level that they need to be at.
Anyway, she sadly admitted to me that in some cases a child way test
out of the program, but in having that child over the years, she knows
that in some cases they may not be ready to test out then and there.
Sometimes, they may benefit from being involved with the program
longer, but she doesnt always get a say in that. And testing out, and
completing the program, is typically a big deal for these kids. Its like
graduation and they even get a celebration for it, so testing out a child
prematurely and then having them re-enter the program at a later
time, can be detrimental to their progress and willingness to learn.
Another struggle that Mrs. Chuey sees with her families, is that many
times, the father's work, the children are going to school to learn
English, and the mothers are left at home knowing little to no English,
or anyone in the community around them. That can be stressful! In my
opinion, I think that for one, the U.S. could definitely think of a more

effective, and possibly less stressful and tedious way for testing
children into and out different ESL programs like the Intermediate Unit.
I dont know what the proper way to go about the testing should be
exactly, but there has to be a better way to do so that will more
positively affect the students as well as the teachers. And the idea of
having a student needing to re-enter a program that they supposedly
already completed is just saddening to me. There has to be a better
way out there to be more observant overall of the students progress,
and to make sure that they are ready to move on with their learning of
the English Language independently. The second thing that I definitely
think that the United States could somehow incorporate into bettering
the life and experience of their incoming ELL students is to somehow
find a way to offer more open assistance, and transitional programs for
the family as a whole. It is great that we have different things in place
to help the students in school, and various programs for them, but how
do we help them to continue acquiring this new language at home?
How do we know that there isnt a huge communication barrier
between home and school? I can definitely see that with different laws,
articles, and acts in place like No Child Left Behind, The Elementary
and Secondary Education Act, and the more recent Every Student
Succeeds Act that our country is making changes, growing and
heading in the right direction, with the growing ELL community in our
schools, it is my hope that someday we can get to that point where we

are confident that we are doing all that we can as future educators,
and as a country to embrace these differences in our students and to
do all that we can for them through the government, through their
families, in the classroom, and on a personal level. All of them should
have every right and every opportunity to succeed, have the same
abilities to learn, and to feel just as comfortable in the classroom as
their fellow English-speaking peers do.
Overall, my time with Mrs. Chuey and her students was very well
spent. It may have only been 10 hours, over the course of 2 days, but I
truly got to see and experience so much. I saw and took part in
effective teaching strategies, which I had only read about in text
before. I experienced, first hand, what it is like to work with a variety of
students from totally different backgrounds. I loved having the
opportunity to interview and talk one-on-one with an ESL educator who
has genuine experience and seems to genuinely enjoy her career.
Overall, There is not one thing I can think of negatively about this
experience, except for the fact that I did not have more time to
observe and work with Mrs. Chuey! Doing this observational/ practicum
work has really opened up my mind and even got me thinking about
the opportunity of getting my ESL certifications some day.