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Description of Classroom Composition
The classroom observation was carried out in a kindergarten class of the Haring Center (located on the campus of University of Washington (Seattle, WA)). The classroom has an observation booth with a small window that enables researchers, educators or even parents observe the activities without attracting learners’ attention. The classroom walls are covered with pictures, numbers, letters, and various objects, which creates a positive learning environment. There is a schedule on the board where all classes are listed. The classroom has several areas including students’ and teachers’ desks, closets for tools and a play area.
Types of Activities
During the observation, the children were engaged in several activities. The learners were divided into small groups (with a teacher in each group) during the larger part of the class. The activities included playing some toys, playing with plasticine, and listening to the teacher playing the guitar (in a playground outside the classroom). The learners played with cars and pet toys communicating with each other acting as the toy they had. Several girls were playing with plasticine making some objects while the teacher helped them use particular colors, make some shapes, use their rolling pins, and knives. The learners, who listened to the teacher playing the guitar, seemed very engaged as they listened very carefully (with smiles on their faces) though they did not dance or sing.
Types of Instructional Strategies
Coach modeling and cooperative learning were major instructional strategies used during the class. Teachers were sitting next to the learners engaging them in conversations through storytelling. They also managed to provide assistance and materials needed to complete tasks. The coach modeling strategy involved the teacher asking some questions aimed at encouraging students’ self-reflection. For instance, when the girls were playing with plasticine, the teacher asked some questions that helped the learners choose the objects to make. As for cooperative learning, the teacher and students were building a castle (using Lego blocks). The learners modeled strategies used by the teacher to build the castle.
Behavior Management Strategies
There were direct instructions. For instance, a girl wanted to come to me, but a teacher followed her and said, “Go back to the classroom.” Another child tried to put various things into his mouth, but the teacher always told him not to do that and explained that the objects were not for eating. The teachers also used an efficient strategy to draw students’ attention when the class was over by switching the light several times. The teacher asked the students (several times) to clean up.
Overall Level of Engagement, Type of Teacher Talk
The level of engagement was high. Students eagerly participated in all the activities. For instance, the teacher in the group of learners playing with toys helped the students to choose toys and the topic for the conversation. She also encouraged a boy and a girl to talk as they seemed to prefer playing on their own. The activity lasted for 12 minutes, and the teacher told the students to put the toys in their places and go to listen to some music. Everybody managed to do that quickly and almost without any assistance. It is possible to note that there was almost a balance between the praise (and encouragement) and the instruction. The teachers were speaking loud enough to be heard but with kindness and encouragement.
First, I would like to note that the use of activity-based instruction is an effective way to teach the necessary skills. I was impressed by the way teachers used instructions as they were firm but kind at the same time. There was a great level of collaboration between the teachers and learners due to the teachers’ use of coaching and cooperative learning. They did not simply told students how to complete some tasks but encouraged the learners’ reflection. I believe the program is effective as children enhance various skills. I would also like to teach in this program as I would refine my skills in instructing and encouraging learners.