As I walked into the classroom for my first day of observations, I was greeted with a warm “Hello!” In fact, each time that I entered a new classroom I was given the same greeting. All of the teachers were more than happy to be helping a future educator by letting me observe their teaching styles and learn new techniques to use. Through spending time in various classrooms, I have gained valuable information that I will take with me into student teaching and my future classroom. Many of the things that we have talked about in class were illustrated for me in the classrooms that I visited. The most prominent of them was the use of word walls. Word walls are a list of words usually located on a large bulletin board on one wall of the classroom; they hold all of the words that the students should know how to read and spell at any given point of the year. In one of the last classrooms that I was in, the word wall contained not only the vocabulary words that they had learned so far, but also the word form of numbers and each of the student’s names. Word walls are very helpful for students. It is a great resource for them to use when they forget how to spell a word that they have already learned; all that they have to do is look at the wall. Word walls are used most often in the lower elementary grades when students are learning how to read and spell new words. I did not see them very often in the upper elementary grades.
Through all of the examples that I saw in different classrooms, I have learned that it is very important to make these boards visually pleasant, colorful, and easy to read. One teacher had all of the words already on the board and simply flipped each of them over as they learned them. I feel that this method can be daunting for students because it could make the task of learning a seemingly massive amount of words appear impossible. In response, the students could get discouraged from even trying. Putting the words up as they learn them is a great way to show the students how much progress they are making. It can also be used as a “duty” that a certain student could be responsible for each week.
A couple of the classrooms that I visited were engaged in writing activities, and consequently I was able to see many of the things surrounding this topic that we discussed in class in action. One 4 th grade classroom went through most of the steps of writing that we discussed early on in the semester. They brainstormed ideas of things that they could write about, wrote rough drafts, and shared them with partners as proofreading. I really enjoyed how this particular teacher gave the students examples that she had written to show them what they were going to be writing. She even had them proofread her story along with her and tell her how they would make it better. This experience showed me that it is important to take each step of the writing process one by one and provide examples. Students will then have the opportunity to ask questions about things that they are struggling with, and they will also have something to look at if they are unsure of what to do. Another aspect of reading that was very prominent in the classrooms was independent writing. Whether it was writing stories, poems, or in journals, each lesson provided the students with an opportunity to get their thoughts down on paper. A 2 nd grade classroom that I was in even had a lesson on writing with partners. I have never even considered doing an activity around partner writing, so it was really neat to watch how she developed and implemented this lesson. From what I saw walking around the classroom, the students really enjoyed being able to work together for this project. The biggest lesson that I learned from this, however, was to choose their partners for them. This teacher allowed her students to pick their own partners which resulted in a couple of groups not getting...