field notes, week 2

Riley's picture

This was my second visit to my independent school placement in center city with Teacher P's second grade classroom. We had morning meeting again where we played an interactive game discussing what we were going to do during the weekend. During the student's half hour at PE, Teacher P and I discussed the upcoming math lesson, and how one student struggles to work independently with his math work. She told me that this student, T, will be starting during this coming week to take medication for ADD symptoms. I am not sure if he has been diagnosed for ADD--I assume so since he is starting medication. She expressed some concern about never having taught a student on this medication before. She also mentioned that the adjustment process may be a difficult one, and that she was anticipating that. I am curious to see how T is doing this week since he started taking the medication--updates to come.

We also got to talking about how elementary aged kids perceive their own intelligence and abilities, and how to help encourage them to have a more incremental perception of their intelligences versus something more fixed. Teacher P said that in an effort to discourage hearing kids talk disparagingly about their abilities, she gave a mini lesson on the brain and how it works, and how smartness is achieved by working hard and challenging yourself. I think this is such a great idea--I wonder if it stuck with the students. (If I did this in a future classroom, I would try and come up with key words or catchphrases to use to remind students not to talk disparagingly about their abilities...maybe it would create a new kind of atmosphere in the room for them to continually be reminded of what being "smart" really means. I really like this idea!)

Teacher P asked me to work with T during the math lesson to maybe help him get his work done more quickly, since he usually struggles to stay attentive and gets discouraged easily. She usually has him work independently while the rest of the class follows along with the teacher as she projects the worksheet onto the whiteboard for everyone to start together. I sat with T when Teacher P started the lesson on counting by 2s, 3s, 5s, and 10s with the rest of the class. I asked him if he was listening to Teacher P and he said no, that he didn't like math, and that he was usually allowed to draw during this time. I didn't want to discourage him further by forcing him to do his work, so I let him doodle on his folder for a while Teacher P started the worksheet with the rest of the class.

When the class broke off into "math partners," I asked T if he could turn to the page in the workbook so we could work on it together. He read the math problem instructions aloud, and I tried to follow along with him in the problem solving process, asking questions like, "How are you going to start this problem?" "What are you going to do next?" Some questions he soled without any problems, but he struggled with one problem that asked him to make a 7x7 grid of little dots. He really struggled with even placement of the dots, skipping dots often or making more than he needed. I don't know if he understood what the problem was asking him to do, and I struggled to help him tackle the problem. I am still thinking about how this could have been done better.

After this lesson, students had recess, and after that, the reading lesson involved Teacher P reading aloud from Ramona and Beezus. She made a chart on the board and asked students to give words that characterize Ramona and Beezus. Later, the students read silently. I read The Stinky Cheese Man with one student, and it made my morning...but more importantly, I really appreciate seeing how much the personalities of the individual students influence their book selections. 

Comments

jccohen's picture

being 'smart' and math

rdiffender,

I too love this idea of talking with students about what it means to be 'smart' and I'm really curious about what the students made of this.  I like your idea of coming up with some key words to bring the idea back into view periodically, and I also wonder about opening this up in the class by asking students some questions, e.g. Think of a time when you felt smart, what do you think made you smart in that situation, etc.  Interesting then for you to be working with T who probably doesn't think he's smart at math.  I'm also thinking about this in relation to our discussion today about thinking.  You question whether he understood what the problem was asking, and that's such a key 'thinking' task -- and not an easy one to get at.  I'm thinking that this might require a backing away from the task of solving the problem and involve instead a kind of analysis of the question...  Does this make sense with what you were doing with T?

What could you say about T outside of this task/situation?  it might be interesting to back up and look for his predispositions, strengths, etc. as another way in...

jccohen's picture

being 'smart' and math

rdiffender,

I too love this idea of talking with students about what it means to be 'smart' and I'm really curious about what the students made of this.  I like your idea of coming up with some key words to bring the idea back into view periodically, and I also wonder about opening this up in the class by asking students some questions, e.g. Think of a time when you felt smart, what do you think made you smart in that situation, etc.  Interesting then for you to be working with T who probably doesn't think he's smart at math.  I'm also thinking about this in relation to our discussion today about thinking.  You question whether he understood what the problem was asking, and that's such a key 'thinking' task -- and not an easy one to get at.  I'm thinking that this might require a backing away from the task of solving the problem and involve instead a kind of analysis of the question...  Does this make sense with what you were doing with T?

What could you say about T outside of this task/situation?  it might be interesting to back up and look for his predispositions, strengths, etc. as another way in...

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