Teaching Observation Report During Esperanza Rising Reading
The school that I attend is Bryant Elementary School, it is located in Austell, Georgia it is a part of the Pebblebrook cluster. It is title 1 school with 1,034 students. The majority races at the school are African American (64%) and Hispanic (30%). The school puts a lot of emphasis on student success, they have lots of motivational sayings and quotes posted around the school for students to see. All teachers are required to call students “scholars” to continue to push the idea of student success. Their overall mission is to ensure learning at a high level in a collaborative environment with a focus on results.
The community near the school mostly consist of African Americans and Hispanic families. The area is lower socioeconomic, over 80% of families at the school receive free and reduced lunch. Lots of people in the community speak Spanish, the school accommodates for this by having an interpreter during meetings to ensure effective communication. The cluster that it is a part of, Pebblebrook High school, host a homework night monthly for families. During this event they provide families with free dinner and have tutors available to help students with homework. The elementary school also hosts events during the day for families to attend to learn new educational trends to stay up to date with helping their students with their homework. The surrounding community and families expect success from students, most families care and are very active in their students learning. Pebblebrook students often come and encourage students to keep doing their best in school so that they can be successful.
The school doesn’t put much emphasis on standardized testing, teachers more place pressure on themselves because it reflects on their teaching. The school district uses IOWA testing for 3rd and 5th grades to assess students foundational and higher-order thinking skills. Students are allowed to retake the test if grade that they received is considered failing. The scores that they receive are used to TARGET. Students are also required to take CCRP standardized test, students that fail this are required to repeat the grade.
The classroom that I do my fieldwork in is a 5th grade class. There are 21 students, 13 boys and 8 girls. There are 10 students with EIP’s and 13 English learners. Each student with learning needs receives extra support with vocabulary and receives testing to determine their small group placement. There are 4 classes that work as a team in the 5th grade at my school. My class has all the ELL, another class has SPED, gifted, and regular. Each classroom receives different supports to accommodate students learning needs such as a SPED instructional coach, ELL support specialist, and accelerated learning classes.
The teacher that I work with has been teaching for 26 years, she received her B.S. at Western Carolina State and her master’s degree at KSU. She has taught at private schools, APS and CCSD throughout her career. At the end of the 2019-2020 school year she will be retiring from teaching. She is the English Language Arts (Reading) teacher for 5th grade, she works alongside the other ELA teacher to create lessons for students. They use common assessments to assess student learning, they take standards and match them to meet student’s needs. The teachers use reading and math inventories to determine students’ groups, they administer them at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. The groups that students are placed in determines the what type of supports they will receive.
I observed my teacher during the unit that students read Esperanza Rising. The standard for the lesson was ELAGSE5RL2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text. The learning target for the lesson was I can answer comprehension questions based on Esperanza Rising that I read independently. The second learning target for the lesson was I can use context clues to help me understand why the author chose certain words. The last learning target was I can determine what metaphors the symbols of the chapter titles represent in Esperanza Rising. To plan for this lesson my CT worked with the other 5th grade ELA teacher to create lessons and assessments for students. They planned out different activities to do during each center rotation. During the small group rotation with the teacher, she formally assessed them based off of their worksheet that they complete and verbally ask questions to assess student’s comprehension. After reading the entire Esperanza Rising book the teacher gave students a unit test as their summative assessment.
While observing I noticed my teacher use the 5 Keys to Effective Assessment. For Key 1: Clear Purpose I learned that my teacher does common assessments during and at the end of the lesson. I also learned that she uses paper unit test after the completion a unit as the summative assessment. At Bryant Elementary students are required to take state test. The teacher uses these results to determine students group placement. The teacher also uses these results to dictate what things need to be taught more heavily than others during the school year. The teacher then makes her lessons and assess what thing students are or are not learning during her formative assessment and what they learned overall during her summative assessment. The teacher uses all of this information to shape the next lessons/units and may change group rotation placements around depending on results. When observing Key 2: Clear Targets I noticed the learning targets, standard, and objective were written on the board for students to see. Students were able to refer back to the targets to ensure that their progress was on track. The learning targets were created from the teacher looking at the standards for the grade level and determining what the students will be able to do. I observed Key 3: Sound design during this unit. The teacher determined whether students have reached learning targets by doing formative and summative assessments to monitor student progress. Students work must demonstrate mastery of the learning target goal. To differentiate during assessments the teacher uses specific placement that allow groups to be carefully selected to serve as support for one another. Lots of students in this classroom are ELL (native Spanish speakers), so Esperanza Rising is a great book that incorporates words from their L1 and L2. I noticed that during Key 4: Effective Communication the main thing my teacher uses is class Dojo. The teacher posts what’s going on in the classroom, what things students are learning, and important dates for parents to remember (test days, field trips, no school etc.). The teacher sends messages to parents to ensure that the families are actively engaged in students learning and the teacher sends home test-prep material for families to work on together at home. The teacher knows that not all families will be able to complete the at home activities so she ensures to go over that material during class as well so that students can be prepared for assessments. Lastly, Key 5: Student Involvement, this was challenging to observe on days that I was present because I didn’t see the students actively engaging in the assessment process. During my interview I asked my teacher what role students play during the assessment process, she said that students don’t make decisions for any assessment related. However, she said that students are allowed to decide which way the want to read the book (aloud or digitally on a computer) to allow them to comprehend the text.
Overall, my CT uses a lot of personal communication and verbal response to assess student’s comprehension formatively. For summative assessments she tends to use only selected responses on unit paper test. Based off of my observations, I noticed that one of the main areas of improvement needs to be a better variety of assessments in the classroom such as projects, exit tickets, Kahoots, google forms etc. Technology is also something that needs improvement because it isn’t emphasized or utilized in this classroom which could be a great tool to activate student learning and monitor student progress through virtual assessments. One of the strengths of the classroom is that over 80% of the students in the classroom are ELL so they are able to lean on one another for support and have peers that are just like them, so they don’t feel judged. Another strength of the classroom is that the teacher is extremely experienced, she has been teaching for over 20 years, she knows what she is doing and how to ensure student success. The teacher knows how to make learning culturally relevant because she has had lots of experience doing so. Last year when the students were in the 4th grade she was their teacher, she moved up with them to the 5th grade. After being together for two years she knows their needs and who they are, she uses the information that she has learned about them to create appropriate lessons and accommodations based on student’s needs.
I’m going to change the formative and summative portion of this assignment because the teacher didn’t differentiate or use different types of activities throughout her assessments. I didn’t observe the pre-assessment but when I interviewed the teacher, she said that she used an anticipation guide to get student’s ideas flowing before reading. This is something that I would keep because I believe that it got students thinking about the book and excited to read. I observed the formative assessments as mostly verbal communication and summative as only paper unit test. I would like to revise this by using exit tickets after a lesson, in lesson polls about certain topics from the unit, and quick writes after the lesson about take aways and ideas they have after learning to assess formatively. For summative assessments I would allow students to do an oral presentation of knowledge learned or use the unit test already created but use iRespond clickers instead of a paper test. I would like to keep the unit of study, the book, and standards however, I want to redo the formative and summative assessments for this lesson. I don’t think that there was enough differentiation therefore my recreation of the lesson will definitely include it.
As mentioned before, I noticed that areas for improvement are use of technology and better variety of assessment types. I will have a variation of assessment forms available for students to choose from and to use on different days so that each day isn’t repetitive. I will incorporate technology into both formative and summative assessments by having assessments like iRespond, online exit tickets and online polls. I’m going to incorporate both areas that need improvement in order to make the classroom more productive. The standard and learning targets that I would like to focus on is the same on that my teacher used previously: ELAGSE5RL2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text. Learning targets: I can answer comprehension questions based on Esperanza Rising that I read independently, I can use context clues to help me understand why the author chose certain words, and I can determine what metaphors the symbols of the chapter titles represent in Esperanza Rising.
Before reading Esperanza Rising, I would do the pre-assessment to see where students are and what knowledge they have prior to learning. I will use this information to determine what topics need more/less instruction and create my lesson plans accordingly. During and after lessons and activities I will assess students formatively using the different forms of assessment mentioned before (exit tickets, polls, and quick writes). I will use the data from the formative assessments to determine what students are/aren’t mastering and give appropriate feedback on areas that I noticed need improvement. After progress monitoring students throughout class and their progress on formative assessments I will assess student summatively when I believe they have mastered the concept by giving students the option to demonstrate their understanding orally or on iRespond clickers. I will use the data from the summative assessments to fix my lesson plan for the next year in order to ensure better success for my next group of students. I also want to use the data for information that I need to review more/less before standardized testing to ensure student success. My plan aligns with the learning target of this unit because students will answer comprehension questions during the lesson and these questions can be featured on the exit ticket, poll, or even during the summative assessments. Students can analyze context clues during in class activities and write about these thoughts and ideas during their journal quick write that is graded formatively. The formative journal quick write can also be used to demonstrate students thinking about metaphors used during the chapter titles, students can document thoughts and epiphanies that they may have had. All of the learning targets are aligned with the assessment types, this help ensure that students are learning exactly what they need to, and the standard is being met. My new lesson reflects the all 5 of the keys to a quality classroom assessment: I have a clear purpose of what I’m assessing, clear learning targets of what students will be able to do, sound design with differentiation for different learning needs, effective communication with expectations and feedback on progress, and student involvement and autonomy with assessment format.
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