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Running head: INTERVIEW !

Teacher Planing Interview

Caleb Ricks

National University



For my fieldwork observation and interview, I contacted the Lakeside Union School

District in San Diego and was able to set up an interview with Delaney Pendleton at Lindo Park

Elementary. This school is a Title 1 school and has roughly 80% of its students listed as low

socioeconomic status. Ms. Pendleton is a fifth grade elementary school teacher at Lindo Park

Elementary and has to work with many English Language Learners, so the instruction of literacy

is one she knows well. Ms. Pendleton and I walked through the way in which she planned a

literacy lesson using the text, “Ant and Grasshopper.” Through the use of a collaborative activity

called Reader’s Theater, Ms. Pendleton described how her teaching philosophy, instruction,

mode of assessment, and class management style help her to ensure that her students are meeting

their academic standards and goals.


Considering and Addressing Student Characteristics: TK12 Learners

When Ms. Pendleton first begins writing a lesson plan, she considers her students’

academic levels and previous academic experience with the subject material. For a literacy

lesson, Ms. Pendleton divides her students into four main academic tiers: English Language

Learners, Beyond Level, On Level, and Approaching Level. However, that does not mean that

every student clearly fits within these categories. Ms. Pendleton claims that she has many

English Language Learners that perform On Level, so understanding one’s students is key when

planning a lesson. In this same vein, Ms. Pendleton understands her students’ academic

experience and personal interests, which helps her choose the subject matter and the difficulty

when teaching a literacy lesson. She strives to select literary passages that would interest her

students and motivate them to achieve the academic learning goals that Ms. Pendleton has set

forth. Ms. Pendleton also considers her students’ home-lives when planning a lesson. Because

she teaches at Title 1 school where 80% of the students listed as low socioeconomic status, many

of her students c0me from chaotic and unstructured/unstable households. For this reason, Ms.

Pendleton stresses structure and consistency when planning her lessons, as her students find

comfort in and thrive in structure when in the classroom. Lastly, Ms. Pendleton considers her

students with IEPs and how to incorporate these IEPs in the lesson. This year, Ms. Pendleton

only has two students with IEPs, both of which deal with speech. For this reason, Ms. Pendleton

starts with collaboration as her key focus when beginning to plan. Because she knows her

students love animals, she chose the short story “The Ant and the Grasshopper” for this lesson

plan. She begins this lesson by first asking her students what they know about ants, grasshoppers,

theme, and plot to determine their previous academic experience. Since the students are working

in heterogeneous groups, those with IEPs or those who are at lower reading levels have higher

level students in their groups with which they can collaborate.

Teacher Characteristics

When reflecting on her own teaching practice and philosophy, Ms. Pendleton stated that

student-student relationships and teacher-student relationships are extremely conducive to

successful learning. For this reason, Ms. Pendleton explained that her teaching philosophy relies

heavily upon cooperative learning and collaboration where students help each other learn. Ms.

Pendleton believes that when students work collaboratively, they serve as models for each other

and in turn help each other grasp the lesson. Because her teaching philosophy relies on

collaboration, she groups her students into heterogeneous groups, where students from different

academic levels can collaborate, discuss, and share ideas. In terms of her place in her school and

community, Ms. Pendleton teachers in the same city in which she grew up. Community is

extremely important to her, and she bridges the gap between school and community by attending

community events, especially events in which her students participate. This allows her to bring

community values and experiences into the classroom. Ms. Pendleton also participate in recess

with her students and eats lunch with them on Fridays. This allows her to forge relationships with

her students and to see them as individuals, again emphasizing how important student

relationships are in her teaching philosophy. Because Ms. Pendleton emphasizes collaboration,

she plans to have her students participate in “Reader’s Theater,” a comprehension in which

students are assigned characters to read for. This emphasizes collaboration, reading skills, and

speaking skills.


For this lesson, Ms. Pendleton identified two major CA-CCSS academic standards when

reading “The Ant and the Grasshopper.” The first standard, standard RL.4.1, states:“Refer to

details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing

the references from the text.” The second standard being addressed is RL.4.5: “Explain major

differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems,

verse, and drama when writing or speaking about a text.” In terms of student goals, Ms.

Pendleton wants her students to be able to fluently read their role aloud and engage in

collaborative discussion about the text while answering the “Big Question”: How do Ant and

Grasshopper act like real people? This “Big Question” requires the students to discuss, pull

examples from the text, and identify basic literary functions of characters. In terms of behavioral

targets, Ms. Pendleton wants her students to practice active listening when collaborating with

their peers. She will also distribute “Talking Chips” so that each student is held accountable to

talking and sharing his or her ideas. Furthermore, Ms. Pendleton will challenge her students’

misconceptions by having her students work in groups. In this way, students will correct each

other if one misinterprets the text. Misconceptions will further be challenged when groups share

their answers to the “Big Question.” By doing so, students are able to hear other groups’ ideas

and the textual evidence to support such ideas.



This lesson plan provides multiple opportunities for formative assessment. Firstly, Ms.

Pendleton will be circulating the room while her students read the story and their individual roles

aloud. This allows her to listen to fluency, accuracy, and to observe collaboration skills.

Secondly, when groups are discussing their answers to the “Big Question,” Ms. Pendleton will

listen in and record the answers and ideas on a clipboard. This allows her to gather answers that

may not be necessarily shared during the group discussion. Thirdly, Ms. Pendleton will record

group answers on the white board and have a class discussion about each group’s answers.

Lastly, on an individual level, Ms. Pendleton will have students complete an “Exit Ticket” in

which each student is asked to answer the “Big Question” in one sentence and explain if he or

she is more like an ant or a grasshopper. These are all examples of formative assessments,

ranging from group assessments to individual.


The instruction method employed in this lesson plan is Social Learning, emphasizing

collaboration, cooperative learning, and group investigation. Social Learning Theory emphasizes

the role of modeling and observational learning when collaborating (Slavin, 2018). While

reading the story, student are engaging in cooperative learning in which they are modeling,

imitating another’s behaviors, observing, and learning through another’s successes and failures.

Ms. Pendleton also uses social learning to model how the reading is to be completed by having a

group come to the front of the room and walk through the reading with her. Here, Ms. Pendleton

is acting as the model for her students to imitate. When the students are grouped, some will act as

models for other students to observe.By answering the “Big Question” in groups, the students are

participating in group investigation in which they work collaboratively to discuss and answer one

question. This approach is student-centered, where students collaborate to teach themselves the

targeted skills.


In terms of managing who and when students speak in groups, Ms. Pendleton utilizes

“Talking Chips” to ensure that all students have had an opportunity to speak. Ms. Pendleton uses

positive reinforcement and praise groups who are doing what is expected. Students also have

their own “Dojo Accounts,” where students earn points for being on task, participating, setting a

good example, etc. The students also have opportunities to win class prizes though class bingo.

The students are then able to purchase class prizes. Furthermore, the students have done Reader’s

Theater before, so they know what is expected.


The two most important takeaways that I gained from my observation and discussion

with Ms. Pendleton are how much a teacher needs to know his or her students and that the

creation of a lesson plan does not necessarily have to occur in a linear or chronological method.

Ms. Pendleton really emphasized how much she tries to understand her students on a personal

level. As we were discussing the first element, TK12, Ms. Pendleton explained that every week

she goes out with her students during lunch, sits at a group of her students’ table, and talks with

them. She does not always sit with the same students as she wants to get to know all of her

students. She will even play games with them. Ms. Pendleton said that she is the only teacher at

her school that does this, as the other teachers go to the teacher’s lounge to eat with their

colleagues. This surprises me because, as Burden & Byrd (2016) state, “Understanding of your

students will likely influence your decisions about ways that you will organize the physical

environment, manage student behavior, create a supportive learning environment, facilitate

instruction, and promote safety and wellness.” By spending with her students, I believe that Ms.

Pendleton is taking important step in bettering herself as a teacher. Understanding her students

allows Ms. Pendleton to structure her lessons around her students’ interest, which facilitates

engagement. Furthermore, Ms. Pendleton teachers at a Title 1 school where many students come

from unstable home lives. By understanding her students on a personal level, Ms. Pendleton is

better able to realize the influences that outside factors have on her students. When I am a

teacher, I will strive to understand my students as individuals so that I too can help them the best

I can.

The observation and discussion with Ms. Pendleton also helped me understand the steps

one takes when constructing a lesson plan. When I first began studying the Learning Map, I

believed that a teacher would have to start at Element 1 and proceed in chronological order.

However, Ms. Pendleton showed me that this is not always the case when she explained to me

that she starts with the target, or Element 3. This type of planning is called backward mapping,

where the teacher starts with his/her students’ academic goals and then works backward to

determine the process of getting there (Burden & Byrd, 2016). Ms. Pendleton explained that

starting with the goals first allows her to ensure that her lesson plan is directly related to the

goals and standards. I believe that backwards mapping will be the method I use when I am a

teacher. This method will allow me to create lesson plans with clearly defined goals and clear

steps of how to achieve these goals.



Burden, P. R., & Byrd, D. M. (2016). Methods for effective teaching (7th ed.). New York, NY:


Slavin, Robert E. (2018). Educational psychology (12th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.