Stefanie Fleenor Child Study Term II October 21, 2011


Section A: When looking at Sean, I am often baffled by his demeanor. I have observed him for several weeks, and he always seems very disinterested in class; however, he makes very high grades, he answers questions, and he is usually one of the first ones finished with his work. He seems to have average behavior; he is not called down more than any of the other students. In fact, he is often called down less than most students. When looking at him from an outside perspective, one could very easily assume he is disinterested with school and would be one of the poorer students. Because this is not the case at all, my focusing question is, What exactly makes my child tick? Why does he do so well yet seem so bored? Is he not challenged enough? Is he forced to do well because of his parents? What is it that allows my child to come to school every day and perform very high but with seemingly minimal interest? I hope I can answer these questions by talking to Sean. Section B: Sean is an average boy for his age. He is of typical height. He is a slender, African America boy, with curly hair and lighter skin. He is nine years old and in the fourth grade at Sam Powel Elementary School. He displays many different gestures. One of his common gestures is that when he is asking a question, he will tap his pencil in his hand, not look one in the eye, and smile. It will take him several times to get the full question out, and he will always address the person he is speaking to with their proper name. This changes when he is just speaking to someone versus asking one a question. Another common gesture is that he will sit on his ankles on the rug or with his legs spread open out in front of the rest of his body. While sitting,


he will often play with his pencil. This changes when he has something he would like to say. For example, he will sit up straighter with his hand raised and will shake his hand in the air so as to draw the attention of the teacher. This method usually does work; however, I believe the teacher would call on Sean anyways because he normally has correct answers. As stated earlier, Sean is one of the first to be done with his work. His pace never varies. Whether he is working alone, silently, with a group, or while talking, he is always one of the fastest workers. When it comes to movement throughout the classroom and the school, he can be slow. He usually lingers at his desk or cubby before lunch and transitions. On the playground, I have observed him playing football. Here, he would run only when necessary. When the whistle was sounded to go back into the school, he was one of the last kids to line up and walk in. It happened to be raining this particular day; therefore, the weather did not seem to be a deterrent for his slow pace. Sean s voice is that of a typical boy who has yet to hit puberty. It is not extremely high; however, it has not matured. He does a great job being extremely expressive. For example, when explaining to him the process of this project, he would raise his voice with excitement when I informed him that he would not have to attend music. He also has a certain expression when he is asking a question; the tone of his voice implies that he is inquiring about something. This is also similar when he is making a comment in the form of a question. Because of the expressive nature to his voice, the questioning can be detected. Inflection is also seen in his questioning. Whenever there is something that Sean wants to do but knows he will


be denied, he raises his voice. An example here is when he asks to move his behavioral clip up. The behavioral clip is part of a system that keeps track of the students behavior for the day. There are 5 levels (new day, good thinking, class representative, fabulous, and out of this world). They higher up one is on the clip chart, the more rewards one receives for his/her behavior. Sean does not have great posture. He often slumps at his desk, especially in the morning during journal. As previously mentioned, he moves a lot. Often his movement is done with his hands. While at his desk, he enjoys his own personal space. I have never observed his personal belongings on anyone else s desk. In addition, he has been observed pushing other students belongings off of his desk. He takes up the most personal space while at the rug. He likes to sit with his legs spread out in front of him whenever a writing assignment is incorporated into rug time. This allows him to take up more space. While this may not seem like the best place for him, there are never any objections from the other teachers, and Sean still produces high grades on his assessments that take place on the rug. Section C: Sean s temperament is very nonchalant. He very rarely shows his excitement or his disliking for anything. I know that he strongly dislikes going to music class. Music class is a time where there is no structure and punishment comes in the form of hallow threats. This lack of structure creates a loud, chaotic classroom that many of the children dislike. I learned this after having a conversation with Sean and observing him while in music. This could not have been concluded based on his actions alone. I have seen him, however rare, ball his hand into a fist, pump it into


the air several times while saying Yesssss! whenever something very out of the ordinary happens, such as no homework. Only on these rare occasions does Sean show excitement. In addition, he has missed recess for bathroom breaks several times, and I have never seen him angry or disrespectful during this time. He simply accepts his punishment and sits quietly. He is the most interesting child to me because of this, and this is solely the source of my focusing question What makes this kid tick? What excites him, angers him, scares him, and saddens him? Section D: Sean would appear to be very popular in the regards that I have not observed him having any problems with any of the other students. His best friend is also in the fourth grade; however, he is in the other class. Whenever the two classes are together, Sean and his best friend can be seen sitting together on the rug. The two of them will whisper quietly to one another during teacher instruction. On the field trip that was taken to the Free Library of Mantua, Sean and his best friend were seen together most of the time. They sat together during the reading, and the two of them went to the same section of books. There was one day where his best friend was absent, and Sean did not have an agenda for whom to sit beside of on the rug. In math, math groups have been established. These groups consist of a stronger student paired with a weaker student. Whenever students are released to work with their partner, Sean seems to work quietly on his own work. After speaking with the classroom teacher, I know that Sean is the stronger of the two students in his group. Because of this, one could conclude that he does not need the help of a partner, but rather could benefit from teaching the material to his partner.


Once both students are done working, they are eligible to play a math game of some sort. This is the time where Sean can be seen conversing with his partner. Furthermore, in science, the children are split up into groups of four. Experiments are conducted between these four students. Sean asks more questions and is more talkative during this time. I know that he is interested in Science; however, I would attribute his sense of social skills to the fact that science is the last subject of the day; there is usually only 30 minutes before school lets out. This is an exciting time for most of the children, and most of the children are restless at this time. Therefore, the fact that Sean is more talkative is not unusual considering most of the children are more talkative at this time. Sean is very aware of the adults in the classroom. When addressing an adult for a question or comment, he always uses their proper title of Teacher (insert name). He never calls out to an adult, and he is always very proper with his questions and comments. When it comes to his interaction with me, he is more informal because we have worked together on several interviews. I feel that he is more comfortable with me because I have taken the time to get to know him on a very personal level. Section E: Sean s preferred activities involve playing sports. He is very active, and he loves to play football. On the playground, he can be observed playing football. In the classroom, Sean loves math. He loves the challenge of multiplication, and he even chose to do his test without using a calculator. He told me that, Math is my favorite subject. Adding is too easy and I m not good with division. Multiplying is kinda hard


but I like the challenge. That s why I didn t do my test with the calculator. I believe that math and football have much in common. One would need to calculate how hard to throw a ball to reach another player. Also, one would need to know how fast to run in order to dodge a member of the other team. Sean s interests range anywhere from physical sports to math to science to art. One of his favorite activities during the week is art, which takes place on Fridays. This is also translated into his literacy skills. He prefers to read books which have pictures, and he prefers to draw a picture in his journal to illustrate a certain event as opposed to writing in detail about that specific event. As previously stated, painting and drawing capture Sean s attention the most. In math, however, he was very intrigued by the idea of using manipulatives, which came in the form of tiles. I observed him wanting to try and use them for most of the problems he was asked to work. However, he was very unfamiliar with them and became overwhelmed quickly with the idea. I know this because I have oberserved that in math class, no manipulatives are used. The classroom teacher informed me that there simply is not time to get out the manipulatives for simple adding and subtracting. In science, he is very struck by the visual learning that takes place. For example, when conducting my science interview, Sean and I began to talk about muscles and tendons. He asked me if I could show him what I was referring to by looking at a book. We used a book of the body found in the classroom library. He loved being able to visualize what I was telling him. Section F:


Sean has a very positive attitude about learning. When going over the interviews, which were seemingly new to him, he was very open-minded and willing to help me. He spoke to me a great deal about the influence of his mother in his education. I know that she is very involved in his education and homework. This can be concluded based on the words of Sean and by the amount of letters and small notes that his mother attaches to Sean s nightly homework sheet. Because of this, it seems that Sean does not have a choice to be anything other than a good student. His thought process has been honed by his mother s constant aid. As a result, Sean is a very inquisitive little guy. He asks many questions and is never afraid to tell the teacher when information is unclear to him. He is a deep thinker, often asking questions that one would not normally think to ask. Sean prefers math and science. I believe this is because he is a very curious child. With science, his curiosities can be tested. Reading and writing are not items that motivate him. If writing were incorporated into math, he would not be a fan of math anymore. Because he is such a brilliant thinker, no subject really seems to be difficult for him. He has told me that in past grades he has received B s and C s in certain subjects; however, after observing him, he seems very advanced for his age when it comes to thinking outside of the box. Literacy in 4th Grade: See Appendix A and B Sean is a bright fourth grade student in reading group three at Powel Elementary School. Being in group three means that Sean did exceptionally well on his initial running record and is reading Creeps, which is on a fifth grade reading


level where as Sean is only in the fourth grade. I have witnessed Sean in his reading group several times, and he always has a great deal to say about what he has read. He is able to relate to certain characters in his book, and he is more than willing to openly discuss how he feels about what was going on in the book. When asked about reading, Sean told me that, I used to make my mom read to me at night. I don t anymore because I m too big for that. He is interested in books that have pictures. For example, he is reading Good Morning, Gorillas. This book has both words and pictures. According to Pahl and Rowsell (2005), these multimodal texts that incorporate several different forms of media are great for young readers. They suggest that we should not forget about graphic novel, which is one of the form of literature that motivates Sean to read. He told me he also likes books about sports and specific athletes. I asked him if he would read a book about Barbie and he said, Only if I had to. After talking about Sean s preferred books, I asked him how he felt about writing. He told me he hated writing. Last year I used to make C s all the time because of my paragraphs. I complimented his great sense of spelling and asked how he gained such knowledge. My mom always tells me how to spell stuff, and I just remember it. I had previously corrected the word awesome in his journals and asked him to correctly spell it for me. A-W-E-S-O-M-E, he said. His memory is wonderful. He reads about three times a week outside of school reading, but chooses to never write at home. In the mornings at Powel, the first 30 minutes are dedicated to journal writing. Sean showed me his journal, which is full of his


retelling of his nights and weekends. He also informed me that he reads, faster in my mind. I chose to read a chapter from the book 4th Grade Rats by Jerry Spanelli. I chose to do this because I knew that Sean s reading level was above that of picture book reading. He read aloud to me the first chapter (six pages). I printed out the first page, which was 85 words. While he read, I kept a running record of his reading (Appendix A). He read 85 words in less than a minute. The atmosphere was slightly loud; this is important because he stuttered over several words. One of the most noteworthy items that I noticed in his reading was when he came to the word im. He tried reading it as I m; however, he knew that this made no sense. He asked me what the word was, so I explained to him that it was missing the h for the word him. I continued to explain that people will do this with their writing to show a more conversational style writing. He was still confused after this explanation. Overall, his reading was fluent, with slight choppiness at times. He reads relatively fast and has a great sense of comprehension. Here comprehension is defined as an outcome, according to Aukerman (2008). After we read, I asked him comprehensive questions about the text he just read. He was able to answer all of them. I asked him questions that would allow him to relate to the characters of the book. He was able to do this, as well. I asked him if he was worried about going to fifth grade and being the youngest in the school again (this is in relation to the chapter he read). He told me he was not worried. He empathized more with the character of the story that was worried about his image.


After reading, we talked more about grammar and writing. Sean told me that he has had spelling tests in the past. I noticed in his journal that he switches between cursive and print writing. I asked him about it, and he told me, I use cursive writing when I am bored or when I am not trying to be fast. I use print-type writing when I am trying to hurry up. It seems that print writing is more easily done for him than cursive. At this point in the year, the students are actually taking home sheets that help them hone their cursive writing skills. My 40-minute interview with Sean gave me great insight into his writing and reading abilities. Like most young readings, Sean wants to read books that interest him. He loves funny, picture, chapter books. I asked him about his ability to create a mental picture when reading. He told me, Hey, that s what we had to do last year. I don t do that no more though, because I don t have to. I would believe this is why Sean prefers to read books that have pictures. However, his ability to recall stories and comprehend them without pictures would lead me to assume that he is subconsciously drawing these pictures in his mind. When it comes to teaching Sean, I would continue to assign him books that challenge him. He is capable of reading and comprehending a level above fourth grade. I would also give him spelling words. Because his memory is so good, I would give him a list of words for a reference when writing in his journal. As far as writing is concerned, I would work in building his confidence. He has neat handwriting and can write lengthy, detailed journal entries (Example Appendix B). If he were given interesting prompts and word of encouragement, he could learn to love writing, instead of loathe it.


Mathematics in 4th Grade: See Appendix c Mathematics in fourth grade takes the form of many different mathematical skills. For example, at Powel Elementary School, fourth graders are using Everyday Math for the first time. They have been introduced to many different geometrical terms, compasses, and new methods for addition and subtraction. While all of these methods are new and intriguing to many of the fourth graders, Sean has grasped the concepts nicely. When interviewing Sean about his opinions on math, he said, I think it is a fun subject. Math is easy for me. I asked him what his favorite part of math is, and his response was multiplication. Sean views simple mathematical operations, such as addition and subtraction, as being very easy; however, he told me he enjoys the challenge. To illustrate this point, Sean told me, that s why I didn t use a calculator during that test. I wanted to be challenged and see if I could do it. Furthermore, Math doesn t have writing and I hate writing, Sean explained to me. With a strong idea that Sean likes math, I conducted the math interview. The interview started with number relationships. Mentally, Sean did all of the addition and subtraction problems correctly. I asked him how he figured each problem out after he delivered the proper or improper answer. For the problem what is ten more than 128? he told me I knew that 100 plus 28 is 128, and adding 10 more is 138. He had similar responses for the rest of the problems in the section. Analyzing his answers, I would say that Sean has an understanding of addition and subtraction computations. He knows the place value, in that he knew where to add the ten and from where to subtract the 11 in another problem. In the last problem


of this section, the answer was 1,047. He read this to me as one thousand and forty seven. I asked him why he did not say ten forty seven after he told me that eight plus two was ten. His response was, because one thousand is actually not ten. He has an understanding of place value to the extent that he knows what eight plus two is, but also knows that 800 plus 200 is not said like ten hundred, but one thousand. The following question read, How many groups of ten are in 84? He immediately told me eight because he knew that eight times ten is 80. This represents his understanding of base ten. He would tell me he knew these problems easy and also told me, I hate when my mom be asking me that because I be trying to think of a way to explain how I got it, but I just did. The next section interviewed was multiplication sequences. He knew that three times four was 12. When asked how he knew the answer, he told me, three is in groups of four. This demonstrates his understanding that three times four is really three groupings of four objects. However, when asked to tell me a problem that would illustrate this concept, Sean could not do so accurately. I gave him an example problem. He then tried to model it, but was incorrect in his wording. His problem: Sean has three apples. He has four friends. There are three friends. Each three of them gets four apples. How many apples do they each have? This is evidence that Sean understands multiplication is about equal groups. He also knows that there are two different factors in multiplication. For example, in his problem, the two different factors were friends and apples. However, when it comes to asking the correct question, he falls short. Therefore, I conclude he has a basic


understanding of multiplication, but simply does not know how to properly word his question. In the following question, Sean was asked to draw a picture of what three times four looks like. His picture looked like this: ooo x oooo= oooooooooooo (Appendix C). According to Fosnot et. al (2001) Sean is making sense of the numbers by using mathematical notations. He has enough circles which show his understanding of one to one correspondence. However, he does not draw an accurate picture to illustrate the actual problem of three times four. When looking at this, I would conclude that Sean does not have a concept of the groupings. However, when asked to write an addition problem, Sean came up with three+three+three+three. Therefore, I know that he does have an understating of groupings. He possibly did not understand my question about drawing a picture. I asked Sean a harder problem (eight times seven). He had problems with this. Trying to use manipulatives, he became overwhelmed with the amount of tiles he had and simply spat out an incorrect answer. Manipluatives seemed like a foreign concept to Sean. I feel they may have caused him to give up due to the fact they were unfamiliar to him. The next section was contextual problems. Sean had no problem with these problems. He could conclude from the wording of problems whether it was a subtraction or addition problem. He used numerical reasoning to answer many of the problems. For example, one problem states, There were 51 geese. 28 flew away. How many are left? His method for problem solving was to do 50 minus 20 which gave him 30. He then did 1 minus 8 and got negative 7. Adding 30 to negative 7 gave


him the answer of 23. He understands that adding a negative number is the same as subtracting that number. In another problem, he was aware that it was a multiplication problem asking for 12 x 5. He told me he reversed the problem to 5 x 12. I m real good with my 5 s, so I knew that 5 times ten is 50, and plus two more 5 s is 60. He really did not need to reverse the five and twelve; however, it made sense to him to do so. This would illustrate his understanding that multiplication is communicative. In his next problem, he used direct modeling. However, he once again was stumped with the manipulatives. By counting out the wrong number, he came up with the wrong answer. He knew how to separate them into different, equal groups. But because he seemed very uneasy with the tiles, he came up with a wrong answer. I would suggest that if he had more experience with manipulatives, he would come to a correct answer. One thing that I noticed when working with Sean is that when he became very discouraged with a problem, he would simply make educated guesses. It was as if he was done working and struggling with the problem, so he would just say something. I asked him how he came to these answers, and he would smile and say, educated guess! I could conclude that when something is too difficult for Sean, he shuts down. However, his educated guesses were usually close or correct. Therefore, I would assume he has some general understanding on which to base his educated guess. In the final section, mental math was interviewed. He had a problem with remembering the problems that I gave him. I would have to repeat the numbers to him several times. He showed his frustration by saying, Oh my gosh! I m getting


everything messed up! He would tell me an answer that was close to the correct answer, would walk me through how he got this answer, and would then revise his incorrect answer to the correct answer after talking me through it. It seems that if he was able to talk about it out loud, he was capable of coming up with a correct answer. I would believe that mental math is not the most fun for him simply because he gets very confused. By having a math interview with Sean, I was able to see how he works through many different types of problems. He has a decent grasp on place value and grouping. He willing admits that he does not like division because he is not the best at it. His final conclusion on why he likes math is because there is no writing in math; writing is his least favorite subject because he struggles with it. While he likes to be challenged, he also likes to make good grades. He becomes discouraged with bad grades, and math is a subject in which he receives high marks. Future work that could be done with Sean would be to help him with manipulatives. The idea that a tangible object can be counted to help Sean figure out answers to simple division and multiplication seems alien and overwhelming to Sean. If he had more time and experience, he would not be missing basic problems. I would also work with Sean on his multiplication tables. Because he was not able to draw a picture depicting three times four, I would work with him on understanding what three times four actually looks like. Furthermore, Sean told me that he is not strong in division. Because he is able to do simple multiplication, I believe he could do simple division if the concepts were explained to him. Social Studies in 4th Grade:


See Appendix D and E At Powel Elementary School, Social Studies is supposed to be taught twice a week in the fourth grade; however, because of time constraints and lack of teacher interest, Social Studies is not taught. A study on the Amish is planned around the time that our students will be taking a field trip to Lancaster. Most of the Social Studies that takes place in the fourth grade at Powel comes in the form of social interactions between students. Sean, an average nine year old boy, is one of the students who learns about Social Studies via social interactions. To observe Sean, one would conclude that he is a very shy boy. He has a best friend in the other fourth grade class, which he can be seen sitting with at rug time. Whenever he is allowed to work with others during class, he does so quietly. Usually he will do his work, and only talk once he is finished with his work. For example, students are given math partners for two weeks, and then the partners are switched. During math group time, Sean can be seen sitting next to his partner working quietly. Once group work is done, most groups are given the option to play math games. It is only at this point that Sean can be seen talking to his partner. I think that Sean understands the idea that the classroom is a quiet place for working. Outside of class, Sean has a quiet demeanor. In music class, which is a time when all students act psychotic, Sean still sat quietly and did not pay attention (Appendix E). On this specific day, he picked at his elbow a lot. On the playground, he seems to play with the boys, which is normal. He is never seen hanging around with many girls. I would attribute this to the age of Sean. Most of the boys in fourth grade do not choose to be seen with many girls. Using this example, I believe that


Sean is under the impression that in fourth grade the world is divided between the boys and the girls. When on the playground, Sean chose to play football, which is one of his favorite sports. He never seemed to get in a hurry despite loving the sport. He would only run whenever it was necessary. Furthermore, when observing him on the playground, he did not raise his voice and yell like most of the other boys. Because of observations, I conclude that Sean s social interactions mostly take place with boys, and most of his interactions do not consist of much verbal interaction. Sean has a great understanding of authority. Whenever speaking to one of the teachers, he always uses the proper title of Teacher (insert name). He never calls out to the teachers, nor does he ever act defiant towards his teachers. For example, there have been several incidents where Sean has missed recess due to bathroom breaks; however, he never seems angry or rude at these times. He will simply sit quietly and accept the repercussion of his actions. Using this same example, Sean is aware that the world works with rules and punishments. He knows that whenever he breaks a rule, he must accept his punishment. I believe that Sean would enjoy history lessons on the famous athletes that he idolizes. He is very into football and basketball. Because his father is in prison, I feel that he could benefit from looking at positive male role models. In addition, because he is seemingly quiet during most classroom activities, I would create hands-on social studies lessons that force him to interact socially with others. This could force him out of his comfort zone; however, it will help him develop better social skills for the future.


Fourth grade at Powel Elementary School is a cooperative learning environment. This means that the two fourth grade classrooms are together for half of the day, and apart for the other half of the day. Much of their lessons are taught while students are sitting on the rug (Appendix D). There is never a point where students are forced to actually sit at their desks, with the one exception of journal time in the morning. Because of this, Sean is on the move a lot. However, he chooses to sit at his desk when the option is available. This is perhaps because he has a harder time concentrating when on the rug. For example, Sean can be seen playing with his pencil while on the rug. In addition, at any given time on the rug, Sean never seems comfortable. He has been observed moving from sitting on his ankles to sitting with his legs spread out in front of him. This is a constant readjustment that he makes between the two. His desk is seemingly neat. He treats most of his books, notebooks, folders, pencils, and etc. with respect. I believe that this is due to his mother. For example, when school supplies were brought in at the beginning of the year, Sean s mom was very concerned about whether he would be getting his notebooks and folders back at the end of the year. Because his mom is concerned about his personal items, Sean is as well. Science in 4th Grade: See Appendix F At Powel Elementary School, Science is a regular part of the fourth grade classroom. At this point in the year, students are learning about the water cycle and erosion. When it comes to nine year old Sean, Science is a subject of which he is very


fond. When observing him in his science group, he is always very eager to do the experiments. When informing him that we would be doing a science experiment, he became extremely excited and asked about it for several days before the experiment took place. Because Sean was aware that we would be doing a science experiment together, I decided to do this before his interview. I brought in eight items. Before choosing my objects, I asked Sean if he was curious if any items would sink or float. He told me he would be interested to see if paper sinks or floats. In my eight items, paper was one of them, along with a boat key chain, a rock, a glass cup, a metal spoon, a rubber ear plug, aluminum foil, and a rubber band. The boat keychain was chosen because it is expected to float in order to keep keys from sinking on a lake. The rubber ear plug was chosen because it was designed for swimmer s use. The glass cup was chosen because the material is heavy, which would lead one to assume it would sink effortlessly. The rest of the items were chosen because they were familiar to Sean. Before the experiment, Sean was asked to name and tell what made up each item. He was able to correctly do this. He also predicted if the items would sink or float. For an example of this process, see Appendix F. Most of his predictions were based on whether the item was heavy and whether the item had air in it. For example, he believed that the cup would sink because it was heavy, but concluded that the keychain would float because it had a pocket of air. When it was time to put the object in the water, Sean was not gentle about this at all. He loved the splash that the object made when it hit the water. He would


also be very disappointed if he got one of his predictions wrong, but he was curious as to why he got it wrong. For example, he found that the cup floated when gently placed in the water. He asked me why. I showed him the air space in the cup, but then told him to push the cup to the bottom of the container. When he realized that the cup sank once filled with water, he was filled with excitement. He asked me why this was the case, so I asked him where the air space was now. He then realized that because the air was gone and the cup was now full of water, the object would sink. He loved watching the bubbles come from the cup when we filled it with water. The other item that fascinated him was the idea that paper would float initially, but once pushed to the bottom it would not rise again. We watched as bubbles would attach to the paper once it was at the bottom. He loved the visual aspect of seeing the air spaces leave the objects when they would sink. The cup and paper were the only items that both sank and floated. The rock and spoon sank, while the keychain, earplug, foil, and rubber band all floated. Several of Sean s predictions were incorrect, but we discussed why he was initially wrong. I believe that Sean had a general understanding that light objects would float and heavier objects would sink. This is why he felt the heavy glass cup would sink. He also believed that the rubber band would float because it was light, but it ended up sinking. On the other hand, he knew that foil would float because it was seemingly light. As stated previously, he learned the concept of airspaces in objects and how that correlates to the object floating or sinking. Similar to the core ideas mentioned in Chapter 4 of the K-12 science website, Sean began to see patterns in the objects that would sink and float which inevitably raised questions.


The second half of the interview, I asked Sean questions about his life which related to science. He told me that he has two pets, a dog and cat. He helps to feed them and has noticed that the dog can eat anything, but the cat must eat a special diet. This is because the cat is prone to get hairballs. He has also visited the zoo. He told me he remembers seeing the lions. I asked him what he noticed about the habitat of the lions, and he told me, They were in an African environment, but not in Africa. There was like trees and rocks and grass. I guess that is what they is used to in Africa. We also talked about the fact that Sean plays sports. I asked him if he ever gets out of breathe or sweats when he runs while playing football. He told me, yeah I get tired sometimes but I dunno if I sweat. I also asked him about plants. He told me he planted a tree once and fed it, but it died. I asked him to tell me what exactly trees did eat, and he told me, dirt and water. I began to explain that all of these things were science related. We got on the topic of muscles and tendons, and he asked if I would show him these in a book. When we looked at the muscles in the body book found in the classroom library, he flipped to the pregnancy page. I was nervous about this at first, but he was extremely inquisitive about the process, asking can someone have a baby and not have a big stomach like this? (points to picture) I explained that yes, bellies only get larger as the baby grows. He was so fascinated by the process of a baby growing inside of another human. Because of my last encounter with Sean (pregnancy talk) I realized that he is very inquisitive and wants to know as much about a subject as he possibly can. Because he wanted to see the muscles and tendons, I conclude that he is more of a


visual learner or that he gains more from seeing the images. From the fact that Sean was so curious and mature about pregnancy, I would conclude that he is capable of understanding more complex science issues such as reproduction. When working with Sean, teachers could, however, become discouraged if he continuously asks questions and never focuses on the topic at hand. If I were to plan a biological unit for this child, because he was so interested in the baby growing inside a woman, I would focus on the subject of reproduction in plants and the fact that all living things reproduce in some way. For a physical science unit, I would have him do a lesson on sports and basic physics. He is very interested in his football team, and I believe he would love to learn about the laws of motion and gravity, and the idea of a ball arching when it is thrown. He was very shocked to learn that these concepts were scientific; therefore, I feel he would enjoy learning more. Response to Focusing Question: My focusing question revolved around what exactly made Sean tick. He is a very smart child, but he never seemed to be interested in the material being presented. It often appeared as if he could sit and not pay attention but still knew the answers. After talking with Sean and conducting many different interviews, I know that Sean is interested in much of the material being taught. He seems very into science and math. After speaking with him further, he has a very strong support system at home from his mother. She pushes Sean to do his homework every night, she checks over it, tells him how to spell words, and reads to him nightly when he allows it. Because of this strong presence, I concluded that Sean is positively pushed


to do well by his mother. It is unacceptable for Sean to bring home less than his best. His mother invests much of her time into his learning, as well as into the learning of his older siblings. She is known to send in notes on most of his homework sheets, and she is even attending a field trip that the fourth grade will be taking in November. Because of her strong, positive presence in her son s life, Sean produces very good grades. He is quiet because that is what is expected of him. If he comes home with a bad report, or if she is called, Sean knows he will be punished. He has learned all of this from past experience, and knowing what is expected of him in the home. By producing the proper outcome his mother expects, Sean is an excellent student who is well liked by all of his teachers. When coming to this conclusion, I was struck by the idea of authentic caring versus aesthetic caring. I spoke with the classroom teacher who enjoys Sean as a student. However, I question whether he authentically cares or simply aesthetically cares. Gay discusses this in several chapters. Because Sean is a good student, head teachers may value the ease of teaching him, but forget to authentically care if he is engaged at all times. His mother, I would argue, authentically cares because Sean is her son, and because she puts forth so much effort into his learning. Final Reflection: When tackling this project, I was extremely apprehensive because I felt that a boy in the fourth grade would not be willing to forfeit any of his time to work with me. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, not only was Sean willing to work with me, but he was excited about it. I believe that doing this very personal and interactive interview was an excellent way to learn how students work and learn. If


it were possible to do this with every child, it would be extremely beneficial. By simply interviewing one child, however, a teacher gains insight into the fact that children have different strengths and weaknesses. Teachers should be able to observe their children at different points in the day and gather similar information, but on a smaller scale. Because of this project, Sean is very comfortable with me as a teacher and as a friend. He asks me questions and will always talk to me whenever possible. The strong relationship that this project has allowed me to build is one that can never be shaken. When listening to myself on my recordings, I found that I often gave very little feedback and support. I would simply say, okay, and ask how he came to an answer, and would then move on. I would like to be more encouraging as an educator. I also found that I did much of the talking at first. I hated hearing myself speak so much. I feel that if I had held off, Sean would have been able to tell me more about himself. The final aspect that I learned from this project is that thinking on your feet is a must, but is hard. Sean would ask me the most random questions and because I was not prepared to answer them, I found myself stumbling through a response. This lack of confidence could sway a child from feeling secure in the classroom. As an educator, I would like to work on my immediate thinking and reaction to such random questions.


Bibliography Aukerman, M. (2008). In praise of wiggle room: Locating comprehension in unlikely places. Language Arts, 86(1), 52- 60. Board on Science Education. (2001). A Framework for k-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (Chapter 4). Washington DC: The National Academy Press.

Fosnot, C.T. & Dolk, M. (2001). Young Mathematicians at work: constructing number sense, addition, and subtraction. Portsmouth, ME: Heinemann.

Gay, S. (2010). Culturally Responsive Teaching, Theory, Research, and Practice. New York: Teachers College.

Pahl, K, & Rowsell, J. (2005). The New Literacy Studies and teaching literacy: Where we are and where we are going. In Literacy and education: Understanding the New Literacy Studies in the classroom (Chapter 2). London: Paul Chapman.


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