The classroom I am observing in is in a type of school that I have not really experienced before. I am in a lower income school near east Cleveland. The students have a different dynamic with the teacher than I’ve seen or experienced in the past. Many of the students are disruptive and sometimes just get up and move around the classroom to avoid doing work. The teacher’s discipline seems style seems to involve much more yelling than what I am used to. She often scolds them and threatens to take away recess as her main form of discipline, this doesn’t work with all students though, some seem to think that that is a fair trade for not completing their worksheet right then.
Most of the class is spent as a whole group, every once in a while certain kids get pulled out of the classroom throughout the day to work with a teacher that helps them with reading and math in a separate room. The only time I have seen small group work occur is when they break up to do centers or work with partners to talk about a story that was just read to them. For centers they are in the same group everyday. The work done in these centers is more individual work. They don’t really collaborate with each other, but they more just do the same work next to each other, sometimes asking questions to their neighbor. The students also occasionally do partner discussions during rug or circle time. The teacher will ask them a question and then tell them to give their answer to the person to the right or left of them. She will also have them retell or summarize the story she just read to their neighbor. Other than that I have not seen many instances of group work done in this class.
The classroom uses technology quite a bit throughout the day. Most of the technology use involves the smart board at the front of the room. Often the smart board is just used as a visual aid, like having a copy of the worksheet they are doing so the teacher can write on it with them. But, there are occasions where the class uses it to play a game together. For example there was one day I observed recently where they matched rhyming pairs. The screen showed two ships, one had one common rhyming sound written on it, and the other ship had a different one. Off to the side words that fit one of the rhyming sounds were written on cannonballs. The teacher would call on the students one by one to come up and put a cannonball in the ship it belongs to. The kids really seemed to enjoy the interactive use of the smart board in this lesson. There is also one center where the students have their own iPads and headphones so they can use an interactive app that has reading and writing games.
I asked a few students about their personal technology use at home. Since I am in a first grade classroom none of the kids I spoke to had any social media (which makes sense because of their young age). All of the children I spoke to said that they had a tablet at home that they used for “fun games” not “school games” or for watching youtube and netflix. I think the classroom uses technology pretty effectively over all, but I would love to see more group work done with the students.