Weekly Reflection 3/17/14 – 3/21/14

            This week I began my inquiry in the classroom by completing surveys through interviews with some of my students. As mentioned in a previous blog post, my inquiry question for this semester is:

How do I accommodate for the visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learning styles of my students in social studies, math, and English?”

I am working on my inquiry with a partner. She is in a fifth grade classroom and we both used a survey that we found online in order to determine the learning styles of our students.  We believe that finding an already developed survey was the best path because we can adjust the questions based on the needs of our students. I had to change many of the questions because they did not apply to my students or they were worded in a confusing manner. For example, the statement “I have to rewrite or type my class notes to reinforce the material” contains a word that students may not recognize (“reinforce”) but it is also not relevant to my students because they do not take notes, nor do they type up any “notes” on a computer.

I changed the wording of some questions so my students would better understand the concepts. For example, one statement was “When I take a rest, I can see the textbook page in my head.” I believe that some students may not understand that in this situation the word “rest” does not mean nap so I changed this word to “break.” I also removed the word “textbook” from the phrase because my students typically do not read textbooks. My new phrase was “When I take a break, I can see what I just read in my head.” This phrase contains many sight words so it is easier for students to understand.

Before I performed these interviews, I had to decide which students I wanted to work with. My classroom is a co-teach classroom with almost forty students so I knew it would be almost impossible to survey all of my students, especially since I would have to interview all of the students. My partner and I agreed upon surveying about 15 students and then choosing 6 students to work with: two students with a visual learning style, two students with a kinesthetic learning style, and two students with an auditory learning style. I made sure that the parents of every student that I interviewed had given explicit, written consent for their students to be recorded in order to protect the rights and privacy of my students. I did not record the interviews; however, I will most likely record my later interactions with these students.

I chose 18 students to survey. I asked my collaborating teachers for permission to survey these students and they allowed me to pull individual students aside throughout the day to interview them. I interviewed 15 students. The survey consists of approximately 10 questions for each learning style area (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) and the students were to respond if they “always,” sometimes” or “never” did what was mentioned in the statement. At first I asked the students to hold up fingers to respond: three fingers for always, two fingers for sometimes, and one finger for never. This method worked well at first but then there was some confusion for a few students so I took a sheet of paper and wrote “always,” “sometimes,” and “never” on the paper. I wrote each word in a different color and placed them on various points on the paper so students could see the difference between the words without actually reading the words. I had the students point to the words on the paper to respond but some students made the choice to still hold up their fingers.

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Before each interview, I took a few minutes to explain what each word meant. I would also provide an example for them that connected to their lives so they could make a connection to the word. For “always,” I told students this was something they do “a lot” or “all the time.” I gave the example of how students go to school a lot so they are always in school. For “sometimes,” which I defined as “often” or “every once in a while,” I made a connection to activity that we do in the classroom. For example, we have treasure box every Friday in my classroom and we turn in progress reports every Tuesday. I spent time doing this for each and every student so they knew what the words meant and could properly respond in the interview.

I observed that two students had difficulty understanding the survey. The students understood the statements but did not understand how to respond so I ended the interviews; however, I did not treat the students any differently, nor did I let them know the reason why I stopped the interview. I simply told the students that we were done with the interview and I thanked them for their help. I did this so that my students would not feel embarrassed.

I understand that the survey was a bit difficult for the students because it was not written for my specific grade level. My partner and I did our best to find surveys that were appropriate for elementary students and this was the survey that we determined did the best job and could be easily adjusted to fit the needs of our students. I did my best to adjust the survey but I do understand that it was a slightly challenging process for the students since it a decent amount of time to interview them and required a lot of focus. In the end; however, I was able to choose six students to work with.

After I completed my interview, I talked with my collaborating teacher to describe the next steps that I wanted to take for my inquiry. I asked my teachers if during or after the PLC meetings I could plan with them and figure out how to accommodate these students during lessons. I would like to try and pull each group of students (i.e., the visual learners, the auditory learners, and the kinesthetic learners) aside and work with them in a small group as a supplement to the lesson. In these small groups, I will accommodate them and their learning styles. This will allow me to accomplish my FEAPs goal 5b: “Examines and uses data-informed research to improve instruction and student achievement” as well as my FEAPs 2H goal: “Adapts the learning environment to accommodate the differing needs and diversity of students.” After the lesson, I will perform another interview in which I ask the students if they felt the small group helped them learn better.

***

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On Saturday, March 22nd, I went to the Children’s Festival at the University of South Florida. This festival is held annually at USF and it is a great event. I participated in this event during my freshman year of college by working with one of the booths. This year I simply attended the event but I would love to participate in the event next year. At this event, various people and host booths that children can participate in. Many of these people are education majors but some are also local groups, such as Busch Gardens. These booths typically contain fun hands-on activities for students to participate in. For example, there was a Chinese symbol booth in which students learned about common Chinese phrases and Chinese zodiac signs. Another booth related to The Cat and the Hat and other stories by Dr. Seuss.

My favorite booth was the BuschGarden’s booth because students were able to interact with various animals. I took a picture with an alligator and I was able to touch its back. I think this is a great booth for students because they can interact with wildlife in a safe manner, which allows them to gain an appreciation for the various animals in our environment. (Please note that I removed the face of the representative from BuschGardens in order to protect her rights and privacy.)

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My favorite part of the Children’s Festival; however, was the WaterVentures Learning Lab bus that was located near the festival. This is an interactive bus that travels around Florida to teach children about conserving water and protecting the water ecosystem and our environment.

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I really loved the interactive features that were outside and inside this bus because I believe they allow students to really connect with the information as they construct their own meanings through the activities. My favorite activity inside the bus was about water conservation. For this activity, students are presented with two options for conserving water and they must choose which option will conserve the most water. The students then turn the handle and visually see how many gallons of water each action takes. Lights represent gallons of water (for the questions below, each light represents one gallon of water).

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Question A in the picture above states, “To conserve water in the kitchen, clean fruits and vegetables …” The choice on the left states “using running water” and the choice on the right states “in a bowl.” Question B states “To conserve water in the bathroom, brush your teeth…” The choice on the left states “with the water running” and the choice on the right states “without the water running.” Question C states, “To conserve water around the house, wash your dog …” “on the lawn” or “in the bathtub.”

For question A, if students pick the choice on the left “using running water,” the lights above will shut off of the entire right side, which represents at least 12 gallons of water.

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If the student; however, chooses the option on the right side, only one light, representing only one gallon of water, goes out.

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            There are also a variety of facts presented throughout the bus in fun and interesting ways so students can learn about their environment and water conservation.

I really enjoyed going through this bus and I believe this would be a great activity for elementary school students. Younger students who may not be able to read all of the facts on the wall can play with the games like the light bulb activity and they can visually see the water usage with minimal reading. The Children’s Festival is a great event and I hope that I can attend it next year!

Acknowledgements

Wintertickle Press. (2001). What’s your style. Retrieved from http://www.lkdsb.net/program/elementary/intermediate/di/files/stu2.pdf

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