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Weekly Field Experiences February March, 2013

MacNeill School

ECS100

M. Gryschuk 200277642

ECS 100 Winter 2013

MacNeill School
Weekly Logs:
1. School and Community 2. Teachers 3. Students 4. Curriculum 5. Inclusion 6. Diversity 7. Powerful Influences
Each log will include a summary of the experiences I noticed during the given week, as well as thoughts about each topic.

MacNeill School is located in the North end of Regina. The faculty and students are friendly, helpful, and genuinely care about the community the school has created in itself. The motto of the school is Be the best you can be & Do the best you can do and it resonates throughout the school. The students are out every day for safety patrol to help students cross the street, the students in the classrooms generally look out for one another, and the teachers want the students to succeed now and in the future. I looked forward to my times in the classroom. I am studying Middle Years Education, so it was a different experience in the third grade in comparison to the sixth grade.

Note: No images of the students in this class were used in this project. However, some artwork was photographed and integrated.

M. Gryschuk

ECS 100 Winter 2013

Week 1: School and Community


Week one consisted of examining the school and the community. Our focus was the physical context in which the school operates.
My first impression of the community is an upper class or working class community with large, maintained houses, and newer vehicles. This leads me to believe that there is no immediate financial need for the students in attendance. My previous experience has been mainly in community schools, where there is a financial need in most households in the community surrounding it, and this has been present through programs including snacks and lunches for those who cannot afford it at home, or another factor is preventing them from proper nutrition. I did not notice a program like this in the classroom, and probably the school, I am in. The students brought a packed lunch, or went home for lunch, and there was no snack time in the morning, leading me to believe at first glance that the students are not in need of the program. I was introduced to a few of the staff members in the staff room during recess. The secretary is a happy, older woman, and the rest of the staff seemed to be in a good mood about the morning. I learned that the school has a new janitor and he is well-liked among the staff members. I noticed that the staff is often very helpful among their colleagues and are willing to help out when needed. For example, one teacher needed a classroom for a few of her students to be in while the rest went swimming, and there was no hesitation for a few of the teachers to offer to help out. The environment of the school seems to go along with the motto of the school, Be the best you can be. There is an aura of positivity throughout the school and it is a great feeling.

Be the best you can be & do the best you can do


2

M. Gryschuk

ECS 100 Winter 2013

Week two consisted of observing the teachers in our placement school. Our focus was on the teachers roles, functions, responsibilities, and behaviours.

Week 2: Teachers

The teachers in my school seem to have a firm understanding of their responsibilities inside and outside of the classroom. Each week there are responsibilities in the staff room, or outside, that are distributed among the teachers. There is also an understanding of the students. The teachers talk about issues with students and offer suggestions for change. In the classroom, the teachers have several responsibilities. One of which, and is important in a third grade classroom, is keeping the students interested in the topic at hand and keeping them on task. There will not be much learning if the students are distracted by other students or objects, so the teacher must provide a reason to pay attention. I also noticed the level of organization that is entailed. The students work and extras (if someone finishes work early, for example) must be where the students can find it easily and without disrupting others. The teacher must also have a day plan so the students can work, and will not be disruptive to other classes or students. In the case of a substitute, which my teacher employed during the past week, the teacher must ensure there is a plan for the substitute to teach in the absence of the classroom teacher. Lastly, I noticed that the teacher must be a role model in all ways. I noticed, especially this day, that the teacher must continuously encourage students to do their best. I worked with Logan, and he needed constant monitoring to stay on task. But he finished his work with the encouragement from me, his teacher, and even a few of the students in the classroom. I also noticed that there was consistency in the students problemsolving among different teachers. If there was a conflict in the hallway or in the playground, the teachers often controlled the students problems the same way, or if was a new solution, the teachers would communicate the problems and solutions for consistency.

Counting

Learning Multiplication In Grade Three

When learning two, three, four, and five times tables, the students were able to learn the factors by counting by that number. Twos are easy as I was told by several students. Fours were a little more difficult according to my observation.

Using Hands

The nines are the best example for using hands to learn the multiples of nine. Holding both hands out, students would count to the number being multiplied by nine on each finger from left to right. For example, 9x6: count from the left pinky to the right thumb, fold the left thumb (sixth finger). The fingers to the left represent the number of tens, and to the right of the folded finger are the ones. In this case, 9x6=5 tens + 4 ones; so, 9x6=54.

Phrases

7x8 is tough to remember. A good way to memorize factors is to have a phrase. In this case, 7x8=56: the students would remember this because 5-6-7-8!

M. Gryschuk

ECS 100 Winter 2013

Week 3: Students
Week three consisted of observing the students in their learning environments. We were to focus on how students engage in learning, and how they interact with their peers and teachers.
The third grade students in the classroom I observe are little gems. Studying Middle Years, I was almost hesitant to be in a third grade classroom. I am very glad that my attitude has changed. The learners in this class are so different from one another. There are three students in particular that have difficulties in class, in regards to working with the rest of the class. Logan, Ben, and Noah are the three students, and even though they have been known to disrupt class or not complete their work on time, they clearly have immense intelligence and great personalities. Although they cannot always get their answers down on paper, they know the answers and how to get there. Noah is a student that frequently receives outside help. He is pulled away from the regular classroom to work on any classwork or anything else he needs help with. The other learners in the classroom can be described as regular learners; there are fast learners, slow learners, and everything in between. Its easy to see that the students, for the most part, get along with one another and are willing to help each other out when needed. The class has a helping hands system, in which each student gets a turn at helping hand out assignments, books, and more. I have yet to see someone that is not eager to help out in any way. When the fastlearning students finish their work, they are often asked to help another classmate finish their work. During the learning of multiplication, students are often allowed to work with a partner to practice each of their times tables. I have found that the students work well with one another, but they often partner with the same few people. A day in the life of a student in this classroom consists of a familiar routine, on Monday mornings at least. Agenda messages, Daily Language Review, and mathematics are on Monday mornings. The past two weeks have also included French in the mornings. The students seem to have a firm grasp of the systems in the classroom.

M. Gryschuk

ECS 100 Winter 2013

Week 4: Curriculum

Week four consisted of looking at the curriculum. We were to focus on the materials used, instructional practices, and engagement of students in the content.
The curriculum learned in the classroom consists of explicit and hidden, among others. My focus is on the explicit and hidden this week: the students learn the proper behaviours in the classroom, including listening while someone is talking, printing neatly, even how to respond by raising the hand, and more. These mannerisms have been around for decades, and many teachers use these strategies to keep order in the classroom. Some of the things Ive discovered in the third grade curriculum specifically include language arts and math. During my observation, I have noticed that the students have been learning cursive writing, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. They do a Daily Language Review in which they have to correct sentences, changes tenses, and think about language in new ways. In math, the students finished their adding and subtracting unit, and moved on to multiplying. There was a mixture of emotions and a great motivation for students to learn and memorize their multiplication facts was the idea of a Sundae party. To get the students motivated and engaged in learning multiplication, they are encouraged to learn each table and prove their knowledge for a piece of a fictitious sundae. Once each piece of the sundae is built, the class will enjoy a real sundae bar with their choice of delicious toppings. Students are encouraged to learn their multiplication tables silently or with a friend. The curriculum in this classroom is motivated by the documentation, but ultimately shaped by the teachers beliefs, values, and choices.

Progress Reports
Progress reports have changed since my last elementary report card.
Teachers now have the opportunity to show exactly what the students need to have learned by the end of the academic school year by including specific outcomes in the curriculum for each subject. I think this is a great way to explain to parents exactly what the students need to learn and how well the student in doing in that context.

Attendance

Students are still marked on attendance and I have learned that the new procedures for taking attendance are computerized. There is a program and each morning the teacher must log in and do attendance through the program. This makes it much more efficient for the office staff to inquire about missing students, late students, and more.

More than a grade

The students are not only graded on how well they know the content, but how they interact with peers, how they work, and how they can improve. This allows students and parents to gain valuable insight into how the student behaves at school, as well as how much they are learning.

M. Gryschuk

ECS 100 Winter 2013

Week 5: Inclusion
Uncle Budd
MacNeill School was named after Uncle Budd MacNeill. He passed away early in 2013 and will be remembered as an integral part of the school community and respected by all. To remember Uncle Budd after his passing, the school reflected on Uncle Budds message, and the schools motto, Be the best you can be & do the best you can do.

During the fifth week, our focus was on the inclusiveness of the school and classrooms, as well as the teacher and student responsibilities to promote inclusion of students with various skills and abilities.
In my observations, I have noticed that there are a number of ways in which students are included in the classroom. During todays observation, the students were creating bowls with clay. This allowed all students to benefit from a hands-on activity. The students that are more apt to work with their hands benefitted because they were able to create, rather than memorize. And the students that were not as hands-on were able to expand and try something new. Considering this is a third grade classroom, it would be beneficial to expose the students to different types of learning styles and help them discover new techniques. Aside from the clay activity, the students are generally learning in a similar style. As mentioned, the students are quite young so incorporating drawings and pictures with words and text is a great way for students to explain themselves. It also benefits different types of students because the artists of the class can take advantage from the drawing, and the linguists would find the word use beneficial. The school has a program for students that need a little more help in all subject areas. One student in my observation class regularly utilizes this program to catch up on work done in class. Although the school does not have any obvious ramps or elevators, or other technologies for students with physical disabilities, I did notice that the school is mostly one level without stairs. This makes accessibility less difficult for students that would require it. However, I did not notice any students that would need to take advantage of the accessibility of the school.

M. Gryschuk

ECS 100 Winter 2013

Week 6: Diversity

Week six included the focus on diversity in the school and in the classrooms. We were to observe languages and cultures in the school.
MacNeill School, according to my observations, had very little cultural diversity. I noticed a few different ethnicities but no EAL students in the midst. The third grade classroom I was in consisted of mostly Caucasian students and a few African-Canadian and East Indian students. The learning capabilities, on the other hand, seemed much more diverse. Ive already mentioned the student that requires extra help outside of class, but he is not the only one that is considered an exceptional learner. There are a few other students that appear to have different learning styles compared to the rest of the class. They require more interaction, and more attention, during their learning periods. Their mild outbursts appear as bad behaviour, but I believe that they are just not interested in the content that the teacher is presenting, or perhaps how she is presenting it. For these exceptional third graders, there seems to be no extra help, like Noah receives, but the teacher does attempt to adapt her teaching in some ways for these students. The school does, however, have a program for exceptional learners, as mentioned, and I find this is very helpful for students like Noah, and other students that may use this program. I did hear that Noahs case is a little more exceptional than most and his parents, along with his teachers, are in the midst of figuring out what schooling approach would be more beneficial for him, and if a regular classroom is beneficial at all. It is also hard to determine other diversity factors, such as social class, because every student appears to be put-together, clean, and ready to learn. Unlike some schools Ive been in where some students cannot afford essential items, such as proper footwear or jackets, these students have the appropriate gear, and even their own school supplies. From as far as I can tell, the school is in a middle- to upper-class community and such social factors are non-existent or unknown to the outside observer, such as myself.

M. Gryschuk

ECS 100 Winter 2013

Week 7: Powerful Influence


Week seven consisted of focusing on the most powerful influence on life in the school, its culture and atmosphere.

I think that MacNeill School is greatly influenced by the late Uncle Budd, the schools namesake. The schools slogan, Be the best you can be. Do the best you can do is prominent throughout the school. Students know the slogan, and they are frequently reminded of it and its meanings. During this weeks observation, when one student was acting out in class, the teacher asked, Are you being the best you can be? and the student understood the meaning behind her question. Uncle Budd only recently passed away and the effect he had on the school. His influence of be the best you can be resonates within the walls of the school, and outside the walls in volunteering for safety patrol and more. The students seem to have a sense of pride in their school and it is a great feeling to observe. After this observation, I am more aware of the frequent difficulties in the classroom in regards to teaching adaptations and behaviour differences. I am also more aware of the classroom as a community. The atmosphere of the classroom is created and maintained mostly by the teacher, and if the teacher creates a positive learning environment, the students will follow suit and participate in a positive environment. I was surprised by the

amount of planning that goes into an entire day of teaching, including how much preparation is required of a substitute was needed. This experience accelerates my desire to become a teacher because I had a wonderful experience with the students, and I look forward to all the different personalities I will be able to meet. I find myself wanting to be in classroom teaching and learning with students right away. Ive also discovered a soft spot for the younger students that I was unsure about before this experience. I am not only interested in teaching older students but a little younger as well. I think that after I am able to experience a middle years classroom, I will be able to make a more informed decision about what grades I would enjoy teaching, rather than use my own experience as a student in those years. I am excited to finish my own schooling and begin my career as a teacher, and continue my lifelong learning.

My Last Day
The last day in my placement classroom was a lot of fun. I was regularly observing on Monday mornings, but since the students were having a sundae party to celebrate learning all their multiplication facts, I returned in the afternoon to partake. In the morning, a few of the students had not yet been tested on a few of their multiplication facts and had not earned parts of their sundae for the afternoon. After recess, I helped students earn whipped topping, caramel or chocolate syrup, candies, and the essential cherry for the top of their sundaes. Several students asked me to test them to earn those essential parts of the sundae and it was a race to the bell for them to memorize seven, eight, and nine multiples. After every student completed their factors, it was lunch time. We took a break and upon my return, the sundae buffet was set up, and we were all looking forward to a treat. While the students created their sundaes, the teacher played a movie. Just before it was time for them to go to French class, it was time to say farewell! I was greeted with amazing cards from each student, as well as hugs galore!

MacNeill School
Regina, SK

ECS100

Melonie Gryschuk
200277642 ECS100 Winter 2013 Perry Acorn Field Logs due: March 31, 2013