Term II Assignment: The Child Study Heather Brubach

Table of Contents Section 1: Descriptive Review of Child......................................................................2 a) b) c) d) e) Focusing Question Physical Presence Disposition and Temperament Connections with Other People Interest, Preferences/Formal and Informal Learning

Section 2: Child as a Reader and Writer......................................................................12 Section 3: Child's Mathematical Understanding..........................................................18 Section 4: Child as a Social Studies Learner...............................................................24 Section 5: Child as a Scientist......................................................................................27 Section 6: Response to Focusing Question..................................................................36 Section 7: Reflection on My Learning.........................................................................40 Artifacts: 1 – 21...........................................................................................................42 References....................................................................................................................53


Section 1: Descriptive Review of Child Focusing Question Cassie is a six year old girl in first grade at a K-8 public school in South Philadelphia. I became interested and curious about her after only a few days in the classroom. She is one of those children that has a wonderful energy about them. She comes in the door at the start of most days with a smile on her face, seemingly eager to start the day. She smiled so much that she appeared to be like a bright spot in a very old, sometimes rough, public school. I immediately knew that I wanted to know what was behind this positive attitude? Also, if it is sincere, I wanted to see if there was any way she could share her good energy with other students and positively impact her own learning as well as the class community? As I got to know Cassie through observations, interviews and informal interactions, my questions about her changed and expanded. Now I am most interested in learning what motivates her both intrinsically and extrinsically. Both her teacher and I have seen her do excellent work and she seems capable of a lot. However, we do not always see that high level work or amount of effort from her. Sometimes she seems to do only the very least of what is required and just what she needs to in order to get by. For example she'll only write the requisite two sentences for an assignment when she seems very capable of writing a whole page in that time. So I wanted to know, how Cassie can be motivated to always do her best work, give her best effort and be proud to show off what she can really do? On a related note, how can we as teachers, provide her with the right kind of learning environment, community and experiences to encourage this type of motivation?

Physical Presence Cassie seems to like having something tactile to occupy her hands. She is often seen fiddling 2

with objects like shreds of paper (mostly during times when she is required to just sit and listen like morning meeting/a read aloud). She also can be found chewing on the ends of her hair during these quieter times in class. One morning, during the time we check homework, she ripped up a notebook that got a little damp on the way to school.. She didn't rip it fast or carelessly. Instead it seemed methodical and intentional. She had taken her finger nail to sever each string that held it together one at a time. When she was done the pages were still flat and intact, not crumpled, ripped up or shredded (see artifact 1). This suggested to me that she may have done this out of boredom or curiosity, not out of frustration or anger. In fact she even said to me later, “Look Mrs. Brubach, I took it apart” specifically showing me the threads where the seam used to be. It seemed to me that she saw this notebook getting wet as an opportunity to explore it in a hands-on way and investigate how it was put together. This made sense in light of the many other times I observed her manipulating things with her hands during quiet times in class when she was asked to be patient. Cassie's body language appears to be different dependent on where she is in a room and what kind of instruction is happening. When she is sitting on the rug or on the floor (morning meeting, story time, gym etc) especially when waiting for directions or listening, she tends to be cross-legged, still and either has her hands in her lap or fiddling with something and seems to be actively listening by looking at who is talking. When she is at her desk or a table, she seems to be tempted to put her head down and usually has her head in her hand with her elbow on the table (library time, read alouds when seated at her desk, math whole group instruction at desks). She seems to show engagement in her body by sitting up straight and sometimes sitting on her feet. She appears not engaged when she has her head down, or in her hand, slumping in her chair. When she is challenged by teachers about what she should be doing, she often can be seen crossing her arms and sticking her lower lip out as if to pout. This often happens when she is in a small group and not getting the full attention of the teacher. It suggests to me that this behavior is related to the common goal of power. In Winning Children Over, the misbehavior 3

goal of power is personified as such, “I may not be a winner, but at least I can show people that they cannot defeat me, or stop me from doing what I want, or make me do what they want” (Walton and Powers, p. 6). Disposition and Temperament Cassie seems to have a flair for drama. When she crosses her arms and sticks out her lower lip after being challenged by a teacher it seems as though she isn't really upset but may just be playing upset for attention. What suggests this to me is that I sometimes think I can see a slight grin behind her pout and crossed arms, as if her negative attitude is just an act. Also when she is acting in this manner with this body language (which I've seen a handful of times) she never stayed in that position, with that attitude for more than a minute. If she was truly upset about something, I would expect it to last longer. At times when I challenge her to do something she'll make herself small and cross her arms and talk like a baby. One time, when I asked her to write more because I felt she had not given an assignment her best effort, she made a whining, baby-like noise, “Wahh!” in response which suggested a defiant objection to what I had asked. I had a feeling that she was just acting dramatically, so I turned to work with another student. Like the other times her attitude didn't last long. A minute later I checked back with her and she had already sat up and started writing without any further evidence of a negative emotion in her facial expression, posture or handwriting. I interpreted this behavior as an emotionally manipulative act motivated by the need for attention or power (Watson and Powers, p. 6). However, I could see how this interpretation may be incorrect if she is instead the type of personality that just lets things role off her back quickly and could be more sincerely upset than how it appeared to me. At other times Cassie will be seemingly dramatic but in a positive light. For example, one time when she got something right, she yelled “Yes!” throwing her hands up in the air. Also, during a read aloud when the teacher asked if they knew what the word wilted meant, she immediately raised her


hand. Instead of defining it with words, Cassie literally showed with her body what wilted would look like, slumping down into her chair. Other kids then mimicked her, which seemed to delight her by the wide smile on her face as she looked around at the class. This greater observation of displaying positive drama also extends into her having an expressive voice. This expressive quality is not present during some whole-class instruction where Cassie can be quiet and seen with her head in her hands or down on the desk. However, during one on one instruction and partner work, particularly guided/partner reading, Cassie seems to enjoy inserting her expressive personality into the activity at hand. For example, during running records to assess her reading, she read a few books that she had previously read in very expressive inflections and tone. For example, she read, “Pop!, Pop!, Pop!” with her voice getting louder on each “Pop!”, emphasizes the beginning “p” sounds and jolting her body in her chair three times. Another book she read with me featured the repeated phrase, “Buzz off, Buzz off, Buzz off Bee!”. She read this phrase with a sing-song quality, bobbing her head as she “sang” the words to a made up tune. During back to school night, I had the opportunity to talk with Cassie's mother. When I mentioned how dramatic and expressive Cassie seemed to be, she smiled and revealed to me that sometimes Cassie will just break out into song at random times like in the car with her family. This seemed to fit with the emphasis on self expression and performance that I was observing in Cassie during class, particularly during the times she read aloud to me or a partner.

Connections to Other People (Children and Adults) Cassie seems eager to please teachers and obtain their praise. Anytime that she is in a situation where the group is asked a question she has raised her hand or volunteered herself (this is true in not only our classroom but also gym, library and art which have different adults in charge). Once during morning meeting, she seemed so eager to be called on that I watched her raise her hand before the 5

teacher had even asked a question. She had put her hand up the minute she heard in the teacher's tone that it might be an opportunity to share or answer, then quickly pulled it down and put it right back up again once the question was asked. Also during library time, she raised her hand twenty nine unique times in forty five minutes (see artifact 2). Each time her comment was related to a question asked or task at hand. This suggests to me that she may be eager to share and contribute to the class and perhaps receive recognition from the teacher. She is also often asking me to help her do things I know she can do, like tie her shoes. After watching her tie her shoes herself a few times, I knew that unlike some students, she doesn't need me to do it for her. So one time I said with a smile “I know that you know, I know you can, so show me!” she grinned sheepishly and did it herself, pulling me aside, moments later to show me that she did it. This leads me to believe that this may have been a play for one on one attention, or praise from an adult. However, another possible explanation may be a lack of confidence in her own abilities. Although, the smile she displayed when I called her on always asking me when I knew she could do it, made me believe she knew she was capable of it herself. Cassie seems to have a close relationship her cousin Becca who is in the same first grade classroom as her. They are seated in different parts of the room and not paired up during partner work but I have observed them gravitating towards each other at every lunchtime, recess and any time when they get to choose their seats. She once asked to go to the bathroom and since she knows they go in pairs she suggested going with Becca. She seemed excited, her body language seemed to imply urgency because she was jumpy and alert, quickly grabbing Becca by the hand. We had another student who had been waiting to go to the restroom, while Becca had just been seated at her desk working and it didn't make sense to disrupt her. So I told Cassie to go with this other girl. Cassie looked at Becca as if wistful and then says softly, “Okay...” slowly leaving the room with the other student. There seemed to be no more urgency in her mannerism once she realized that she was not going to get time alone with Becca on a “bathroom” break. This suggests to me that Cassie values opportunities to be with her 6

cousin. Since we have insisted most of the time that she make other friends and work with lots of different students, she may be trying to manipulate situations to find ways around that. Becca is also featured prominently in Cassie's journal entries and composition work in class. During an interview about literacy, Cassie also revealed that she writes stories at home about her and Becca. I want to be clear that I don't think these observations necessarily mean Cassie does not enjoy being with other students or needs Becca (like a security blanket), because I've observed her working well with and playing with other students. She just seems to have a clear preference and need for interaction with her cousin. I think perhaps Becca's companionship may provide Cassie with an more interested audience for her to share her thoughts, feelings and interests with. What suggests this is that most of the time I see them together, Cassie seems to be the dominant personality. She does most of the talking and seems to pull Becca into the things she is currently doing. Not all the other students are as captive an audience/following for Cassie as Becca often is, but Cassie still seems to actively seek their attention. At recess one day I watched as Cassie was out in the school yard. She was with other girls who all had hula hoops. She looked like she tried to show a few of them something with the hoop by getting in the middle of them, trying to demonstrate it and yelling out to them to get their attention. She even made a beckoning motion with her hand for some of them to follow her as if to say “come on, let's go over here!” The girls didn't follow her lead though and ignored her. She put her arms down and held her hula hoop low, walking away seemingly disappointed. Instead of persisting with this group of girls she walked off on her own, found another girl who was by herself and got her attention. She proceeded to show the girl what appeared to be a game she made up. I watched her put the hula hoops on the ground and the girls stepped in and out and then sat inside of them. She appeared to get the attention of some of the other girls who came over and she got up quickly and walked away energetically with them, smiling. This interaction suggests to me that she may be happiest and most energetic when she is teaching/telling something to someone else and less 7

engaged when she is not the center of attention. Another instance in which Cassie seems to raise her engagement level through teaching others, is during small group work when she is actively helpful to other students. For example during a shared reading, she leaned over to her left and to the person across from her to show them what page to start on, she also pointed to what word they were on for another student next to her during the reading. She smiled during these interactions and did so with energy which suggested to me that she was engaged and even perhaps proud of her act of helping others. In general I think her behavior in connection with other children relates back to the common goal for most behavior, “to have a place and a feeling of significance among others” (Walton and Powers, p. 5). Interests and Preferences/ Formal and Informal Learning She seems to prefer more free-form, creative and imaginative play types of activities. More structured tasks such as completing worksheets or responding to prompts are when I see her with her head down or in her hand. During the sink and float activity she was sitting up straight the whole time, smiling and laughing as she explored the items and their interaction with the water. Many times, instead of thinking about objects in terms of what they really were, she gave them her own identification. For example, the flat piece of foam she identified as a raft and started putting other objects on the “raft” to “save them”. When she was retrieving objects from the water, she used the plastic spoon and said “I'm going fishing!”. It seemed as if part of what she found engaging in the activity was the chance to imagine a story for it or relate it to experiences she may be familiar with. After we were done that activity, I allowed her play with the items as we discussed and cleaned up. She organized them carefully together and when I asked her what she was doing she explained that it was a living room and “that this was the television (a block), this was the couch (binder clip), this was the door, this was the front gate, this was the garden and this was a tree with a bird in a birds nest (votive candle with plastic rings around the wick)” (see artifact 3). It seemed a natural response for her to immediately start using


the objects to create a imagined scene because it wasn't prompted at all from me. I also observed this imaginative way of seeing the world during a math game. She rolled the dice on a table, and she smiled widely. While giggling she exclaimed, “Look, Mrs. Brubach, the dice are dancing!” She had given the dice a new life or identity just like what she had done with the science objects. It made me think back to the time I watched her at recess with the hula hoops. At the time I thought she could be making up a game, but now I realized that she could also have been using the hula hoops to pretend or imagine a make-believe situation. As Lucy Calkins noted, “our children will invite us to share in their worlds, and their ways of living in the world” (Calkins, p. 53). As I observed Cassie more, I began to feel so grateful that she seemed eager and willing to share her imaginative world with me. She seems to prefer drawing pictures to writing. Once when we had finished a read a loud, the students were asked to go back to their seats and work on a graphic organizer that had sections for identifying the beginning, middle and end of the story. The teacher had given specific directions to write a sentence in each box about something that happened in that part of the story. When I walked past Cassie's desk she had drawn pictures (see artifact 4). She appeared to have been on task because the drawings seem to be from different scenes in the story. She was given a new piece of paper and asked to write sentences now because those were the directions. She slumped in her chair and stuck out her lower lip, as if to pout. I told her that she had already done the work thinking about what scene to use for each and that she just needed to write a sentence about what she drew. She made a “harrumph” type of noise and picked up her pencil slowly. This suggested to me that she was frustrated that she couldn't just express her understanding by using the drawings she had already done. I think that maybe she was upset that the effort she had already put in was not being recognized in the way that she wanted it to be. In art class she seemed less engaged because I saw her move between having her head in her hand or on the desk for the duration of the class. I had assumed based on her preference for drawing 9

that she would be most engaged in this setting. During the class, she was just playing with her bracelet or halfheartedly putting lines on the paper. This behavior seemed to suggest that the type of art project they were doing wasn't interesting to her. They were given one black crayon and asked to draw different types of lines (squiggly, curving, zigzag, etc.) but the teacher had specifically said no drawings or pictures. Based on her interest in using her imagination in other circumstances it made me wonder if perhaps this art project was too structured for her taste and that she appeared bored by the lack of opportunity to use her imagination or be creative. When the teacher collected those projects and allowed for a few minutes of free drawing she did seem to wake up a bit, sat up on her feet and started using her bracelet as a template to make colored circles on a piece of paper. This change in behavior and body language at the start of a more free choice type of activity leads me to believe that she is more actively engaged when there is less structure and more opportunity to put her own creativity into an assignment/project. This need to be creative and have an outlet for self expression, seemed to also carry through to her handwriting and letter formation. She is capable of careful, well formed, legible writing when asked of her (see artifact 5). However, it became apparent to me that she preferred to write with more expressive, script-like marks/letters (see artifact 6). She writes this way often when writing in her journal, homework or even first drafts where she seems to be aware that she can get away with less careful work and seems to use those pages as an outlet for expression (see artifact 7 and 8). Cassie's mother during back-to-school night, revealed to me her concern for Cassie learning to write well. She was worried by Cassie's tendency to emulate her own very stylized and individualized script handwriting. It appears that Cassie is trying out the scripted handwriting that she sees her mother modeling at home and I would imagine she may enjoy the expressive, more personal aspects of that kind of writing. Another explanation could be that she may look up to her mother as a role model and seeks to imitate her actions or behaviors. 10

Her relationship to reading was particularly interesting as well. As mentioned previously, she seemed to enjoy reading aloud herself. Every day I was in the classroom she raised her hand to ask me to come hear her read. This regular act of seeking out my witness to her reading ability suggested to me that she was proud of her reading skills. However, when I asked her one day to try a book just beyond her current level because she had been reading so beautifully for me, she got quiet, flustered, slumped in her chair and was visibly frowning when she had to stop and sound out words in the new book. This was very different from the eager and confident reader I had come to know. I believe part of what I was observing is that Cassie seems to be more “performance oriented” than “learning oriented”. I qualify her this way because, “those who are more 'performance oriented' are more worried about making errors than about learning” (Bransford, Brown and Cocking, 2000, p. 61) and may not like new challenges. She seemed not to want to read books that she wouldn't be able to read fluently.


Section 2: Child as a Reader and Writer Cassie's energetic personality and dramatic flair are nurtured throughout her budding relationship with literacy as a six year old. She seems to be most engaged when she is able to express her own style in whatever it is she is reading or writing. She seems highly motivated by the creative and performance aspects of literacy. Her determination to read/write dramatically and fluently can be both a help and a hindrance to the development of her reading and writing skills. While she may still struggle at times with some of the conventions of writing and emergent reading, she is confident and accomplished at using certain strategies to convey expression, make meaning, and read fluently. Her strategies frequently involve utilizing the relationship between text, images, and her own life experiences. I was fortunate to draw from many rich sources to understand Cassie's literacy skills and relationship with reading and writing. These include: journal entries and writing compositions written in class, observations from shared and guided reading, running records during independent reading, responses to a read aloud, and a brief ten minute interview of her relationship to literacy outside of the classroom. Each of these sources was a small but meaningful window into Cassie's developing literacy. One of the strategies Cassie seems to rely on is utilizing the relationship between text and image to construct meaning and obtain comprehension. I read The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart to Cassie, which is a story about a girl writing letters to her aunt in Mexico. On each page the text takes the form of a letter. At one point, I asked Cassie, “Who is the little girl writing these letters to?” She pointed to the greeting on the letter and said “her auntie”. I wondered if she could tell me more and asked “Who is her auntie?”. Cassie turned the pages of the book back to the inside front cover. There was a full page picture (without text) depicting the family packing up a car and the girl in the story hugging someone. “That's her auntie” Cassie explained. I probed further, asking “How do you know that?”. Cassie explained, “because that's who she is missing”. Cassie made the connection between the phrase 12

“missing you” at the end of each letter and the picture that shows the family leaving someone behind. I asked Cassie if she had ever written a letter. She shared with me a time her sister was visiting Alabama and how she had written letters to her. In this case she was not only using the pictures to make meaning but also her own knowledge and experience of letter writing. Cassie's strategy of utilizing both pictures and text was also evident in a writing activity. Students were asked to write sentences about the beginning, middle and end of a read aloud. Even though the directions were to write, Cassie initially drew pictures in the boxes instead. The pictures were scenes from the story and she seemed to understand the concept of identifying the beginning, middle and end. I handed her another blank sheet to write on and she used her pictures to write sentences based on those scenes (see artifact 4.1 and 4.2). It seemed that to her the images of a story are just as memorable and important in recalling what happened as the text is. Cassie at first seemed to experience aversion to this task because there was not a clear purpose beyond recalling the story. As Lorraine Wilson states, “activities that are ends in themselves, such as busywork, textbook exercises, or trifling activities completed at the end of a book, will never inspire children to be lifelong readers” (Wilson, 2002, p. 8). I would argue that Cassie may have started drawing as a means to keep herself engaged in a seemingly empty task. However, Cassie has been exposed to a more authentic purpose for literacy in the act of making her own books. She was proud to tell me all about how her mother had set up a table for her with paper, a stapler, and things to write and draw with. She told me she “makes books”. She doesn't just write stories, but organizes them onto sequenced pages with pictures. She explained that she had also made a book in kindergarten and shared the process of making it. The equal weight she seems to give to the images and text in her reading also seems to carry through to her relationship with writing. The physical properties of books and both the text and image on the pages are very important aspects of Cassie's engagement with literature as well as text production. 13

Cassie also seems to be highly engaged with literature when she is able to revel in the performance aspect of it. When she is just listening to a text she seems less engaged, with her head in her hand or fidgeting with something, eager to read along. When she is able to do the reading herself, she seems more alert and active, sitting up straight in her chair, smiling while touching the pages and pointing to words and pictures. For example, when I read The Quiet Place to her, it was only a few pages in that she started trying to read out loud with me. I reassured her that she would get plenty of chances to read to me and that this time she should just listen to the story and pay attention to the pictures. At one point during the reading she looked at the book pages and asked me softly “How many are left? This story is long!” This impatience lead me to believe that she may not be interested in the story. However, she claimed to enjoy the story when asked. So it may be that she just prefers to read herself rather than be read to. She didn't seem as interested in just listening, she wanted to actively participate. When I did sit and listen to her reading, she was smiling and assertive. She chose her books carefully and claimed that these were some of her favorites. I noticed many of the books she chose were ones that featured a lot of repetition of phrases or specific words. This repetition seemed to make it easier for her to memorize and read the book fluently. The repeated phrases also seemed to appeal to her because of the rhythm and flow they created when she read the book aloud. For example, in one book the sentence, “Buzz off, buzz off, buzz off bee!” was repeated on multiple pages. When reading this, Cassie would bob her head emphatically and almost sing the words on the page like the chorus to a song. She made up the tune as she read along. This sing-song quality to her reading was common whenever she read a book that she had encountered before, especially those that featured repeated phrases and words. It was therefore no surprise to me when she revealed that Dr. Seuss books were her favorites at home. It seemed as though Cassie enjoyed making the stories her own, and attempted to insert a little of her own personality into them by reading with a lot of expression. 14

This dramatic and expressive inflection and tone was also evident whenever there was specific text in the form of questions or exclamations of excitement. She never missed a question mark or exclamation point because she seemed to see these sentences as opportunities to be extra expressive and voice her own dramatic interpretation. She would shout “Goal!” throwing her hands up in the air like the child pictured on the page. She read “Pop! Pop! Pop!” with her voice louder on each “Pop!”, jolting in her chair 3 times. She read “Have you seen my duckling?” with more exasperation in her voice each time it was repeated to emphasize the anxiety she interpreted the mother duck to be feeling. However, her love of questions and exclamations in reading has not seemed to transfer yet to her own writing. I have only seen her use statement types of sentences and periods as punctuation. This delight Cassie displays in dramatizing the story she is reading seems to be because she enjoys being expressive. This interest in personal expression seems to carry over into her handwriting. Cassie's handwriting has a her own flair to it. She forms certain letters with loops and trails as if she is writing in cursive or script. Her letter “r” for example is almost always written with a loop in the front (see artifact 6). This type of letter formation is particularly evident in her journal, where she is not told to write carefully. Some pages of her journal are in fact filled with what appears to be practice writing letters expressive ways (see artifact 7). Cassie could be emulating her older sister or mother's writing. At back to school night, her mother revealed that she was concerned about Cassie learning to write properly. Her mother had seen Cassie admiring and emulating her own stylized script at home. It will be important for both Cassie's mother and her teachers to emphasize that different “texts are used to express different meanings or messages to different audiences; they look different and typically include different content” (Zecker, 1999, p. 484). This script form of writing probably appeals to Cassie because it is more personal and expressive but she must understand that there are only certain purposes for writing in which expressive script is appropriate. Observing her insert personality into letter formation reminds me of how she inserts her personality into the reading of words and phrases. 15

Both the fact that Cassie gives equal attention to text and image and her enjoyment of the performance of reading seem to affect her reading accuracy. When I did running records of her reading, she would often use the pictures to substitute words in the sentences she read. For example, on a page where a mother was depicted with seals balancing plates the text was, “Mom has fun with plates”. Cassie read confidently “Momma has fun with seals”, but then got quiet. I assume that the word “plates” didn't look like what she had said and she looked up quickly at the picture. She then self corrected, and re-read the sentence correctly with the word “plates” before turning the page. Inaccuracies in Cassie's reading seem to also stem from her eagerness to read fluently and with expression. This desire for fluency may be the cause of her favoring the strategy of substituting words instead of slowly down to use phonics for sounding words out. She was rarely hesitant to replace words and usually replaced them with a word that shares the same initial letter or phoneme, such as “want” for “went”, “pass” for “push”, “pick” for “part”, “lost” for “listen”, “come” for “came”, “rock” for “rick”, etc. She will also substitute words that she knows convey a meaning that makes sense based on looking at the picture. For example, substituting “big” for “heavy” when people were carrying something. When she does need to sound out a word, she is hesitant and needs encouragement. She also would not just sound out a word and move on. She always went back to the beginning of the sentence and re-read it with fluency. For example, she struggled with the word “chairs”. We sounded out the “ch” and then she was able to look at the picture to determine it was the word “chairs”. This sequence follows the strategy of using pictorial information to read text (Wilson, 2002, p. 59). Once Cassie had the word decoded, she then read, “Bears sit in chairs” and then turned the page. I think this is due to the performance aspect of reading. She wanted to hear and retain the rhythm of the repeated phrases and story structure, even if she had to break to decode a word. There are some important next steps to furthering Cassie's literacy development and continuing to support her engagement in reading and writing. I'd like to see her challenged to move away from 16

relying on pictures to construct meaning from texts. She should be introduced to books where the pictures are less of a strict visual representation of the text. Then she can't get away with just substituting words from the picture to read. She also needs to be encouraged to try books that have less repetition so she can't rely on memorizing text for her reading. This may force her to slow down, pay more attention to the actual text on the page and practice decoding words. She may need more work with phonic blends like the “ch” sound. She seems confident reading words that begin with initial sounds associated with only one letter but hesitates even to substitute words if the initial sound involves a blend. Even though Cassie is ready for more challenges, the enjoyment she currently has when reading and writing should be supported and supplemented in authentic ways. Introducing her to reading and writing poetry may be one great way to build on her love of expression and interest in patterned text. She would also thrive with more dramatic activities involving literature and reading comprehension such as reader's theater (Wilson, 2002, p. 40). She should be encouraged to keep exploring script writing in a personal journal but also practice more carefully constructed letter formation in various other forms of writing. Cassie seems to be a child who really understands the power reading and writing have for engaging us in acts of self expression. I hope she always retains that same joy and enthusiasm as she continues to develop her literacy skills and grow as a reader and writer.


Section 3: Child's Mathematical Understanding Cassie is a six year old girl who seems to be fairly confident with the mathematics instruction currently happening in our first grade classroom. Through mostly informal observations during whole class math instruction, I have seen her efficiently solve sample problems and have yet to see her become frustrated by math. In order to get a sense for her individual understanding of various math concepts, I pulled her out of class to do a more formal assessment. Through this assessment I have learned that Cassie has strong skills involving number sense for the whole numbers up to 10. This is particularly evident through her ability to subitize and demonstrate part/whole relationships within numbers. She is beginning to understand numbers by how they can be composed and decomposed. She is confident computing to solve addition and subtraction problems involving numbers 0-10 and just beginning to use modeling strategies to solve problems involving basic multiplicative properties, like equal grouping. She is also beginning to have a very surface level understanding of the concepts of base 10 and place value. She uses mostly modeling strategies but can sometimes start with her number sense and memorized addition/subtraction facts to then model the problem as a check for her solution. She seems less confident with or interested in counting strategies and is still building her numerical reasoning. The interview took place in Cassie's first grade classroom. The rest of her class was in the library throughout the 30 minute duration of the interview, so it was relatively easy for Cassie to concentrate on problems and focus. I provided her with multiple pieces of paper, markers, and small, colored cubes as manipulatives. It is important to note that we were inside her classroom, so she was familiar with where in the room she could look for reference of numbers if she needed to. For example, there are posters for the numbers 1-10 over the top of a bulletin board and right beside us was a poster with tally marks and a bar graph from a previous whole-class math activity. Cassie was her usual positive, smiling self and did not appear nervous or flustered about the prospect of doing math for me. 18

In fact, she seemed delighted about the fact that I was letting her use markers and manipulatives (two things they are not often allowed to use during class). It became clear early on that Cassie had a high level of number sense with regards to the quantity of numbers 0-10. I had already suspected this from observing her math computations during class and also from her work with numbers outside of math instruction such as accurately counting the ducklings in the picture book “Make Way for Ducklings”. With the early questions in the interview it was evident that she had a clear grasp of quantity by always counting out blocks one at a time and displaying the exact amount of blocks for the number I asked for. She also displayed this confidence when she was asked an estimation problem. She had just shown me what 9 blocks would be. I added 8 more blocks to create a pile of 17. I then asked her about how many she thought were there now. She estimated there were 13 blocks. I asked her why she thought 13 and she told me she knew it was more than the previous 9 blocks and it looked like 13 to her. She seemed to have a good understanding that the new quantity would be more blocks in relationship to the previous amount given and therefore demonstrated that she knew the number 13 was more than 9. When I asked her to check how many were there, she counted all the blocks instead of starting with the original 9 and counting on. She demonstrated perfect one-to-one correspondence as she counted, touching each block. She may also be starting to understand something similar to hierarchical inclusion by knowing that the quantity 9 is within the quantity 13. One thing that really struck me throughout the interview was how Cassie understands how whole numbers and quantities of those numbers can be decomposed. She usually demonstrated this when modeling a problem with the cubes. One clear example was when I put out 7 green cubes and 7 blue cubes and asked her if I had the same amount of cubes in both colors. She proceeded to organize the cubes into a line of 3 green cubes and 4 greens cubes and then 3 blue cubes and 4 blues cubes. She said, “yes, it's the same because they both have 3 and 4 which makes 7”. When I asked her how many 19

cubes that would be all together she counted all 14 cubes, touching each one. Again, this is further evidence that she is not yet comfortable with the counting on strategy. Cassie demonstrated that she was beginning to understand base 10 and place value when we discussed the number 14. After she had counted out that amount, I asked her to write down the number 14. She was able to write the numeral correctly. I asked her what the number 1 in the numeral 14 was for, and she responded, “that's the ten”. I asked her if any other numbers had “a ten” in them, and she ran over to the number posters and recited all the numbers from 10-19. She said “all of these have a ten in them”. When I asked her to show me what she meant by “a ten” with the 14 cubes on the table, she was able to split the pile into 10 cubes and 4 cubes. She seemed to understand that the quantity 14 could be decomposed into 10 and 4. It still felt a little unclear how strong her understanding of base 10 and place value is from only one example and I wonder if it would still apply to numbers past 19? Another instance of her using decomposition to help her find a solution was with an introductory joining question. I gave her 7 cubes in a pile and told her she had 7 cubes and was going to get 3 more and asked how many cubes she would have all together? She first organized the 7 cubes into a group of 3 and a group of 4. She then took 3 cubes out of the tub. She proceeded to add one cube to the group of 4 and the other 2 cubes to the group of 3 to form two groups of 5. Then she yelled “Ten!”. When I asked how she got the answer 10 she said 5 plus 5 equals 10 pointing to each pile of 5. I found it curious that she was using this equation rather than the original 7 plus 3 and I asked if she knew another way to make 10. She replied without using the cubes, that 4 plus 4 equals 8 and then 2 more would be 10. She seems to be building some numerical reasoning around memorizing her addition “doubles” facts and then composing to get a number. Her comfort with doubles was again evident when asked a word problem about adding 3 more kids to the 3 kids already on the playground. She started by drawing the 3 original kids but then gave the answer 6 before drawing the 3 additional kids in her model. She clearly didn't need to model to find that solution. 20

The number seven however seems to be unique in that she demonstrated that her understanding of the quantity 7 is not just 7 ones, or even 6 plus 1. She repeatedly recognized a group of 3 and a group of 4 as the quantity 7. I think what she is demonstrating is her own unique way of subitizing the number 7. She clearly has visual recognition of the numbers 3 and 4. She also seems to have memorized that 3 plus 4 is 7 and can therefore start building the ability to subitize the quantity 7 as visually recognizing a group of 3 another group of 4. I believe this ability to subitize a larger number by decomposing it into smaller subitized numbers may help her strengthen her numerical reasoning and ability to compose and decompose numbers. Her tendency to subitize and decompose the quantities she models into groups and her comfort with doubles may help her lay a foundation for learning multiplicative properties such as equal grouping. However, one question in the interview showed that although she was starting to be able to model this type of problem, she was not necessarily thinking in terms of equal groups. For example, I told her that she had 3 plates and on each plate there were 2 cookies, how many cookies would there be all together? She drew 3 circles on the paper, then used the cubes to model the cookies and placed 2 cubes in each circle. She told me confidently that there were 6 cookies. When I asked her how she knew there were 6, she responded that 3 plus 3 equals 6. This was a surprising justification to me. I had expected that she would count the cookies but instead she seemed to visually recognize 2 rows of 3 cookies across the plates instead of 3 groups of 2 cookies on each plate. So she was not thinking of the problem in terms of groups of 2 which would show development of the concept of equal grouping. Instead, I think she may have again used subitizing to recognize the amount. It was also clear in the other multiplicative type of problem that she was not yet understanding the equal grouping concept and demonstrated confusion for problems that had separate units. This problem involved 2 kids that each collected 3 leaves. The question was how many leaves did they collect all together? She drew 2 circles to represent the kids and then drew 3 more circles to represent the leaves. Then she said 5 was the 21

answer because 2 plus 3 is 5. She may have been confused by the term “each” used in the problem but I also think she did not recognize that she couldn't just add the numbers in the problem because they were different units (kids and leaves). She may have had more success if she had used the circles to represent the kids and cubes to represent the leaves but she did not do this. I am speculating that based on her accurate modeling for the previous problem. She does not yet have a good grasp on multiplicative thinking involving concepts like equal grouping or the importance of recognizing units. Cassie seems to be developing a strong overall number sense for smaller numbers and is confident modeling problems when it is necessary for her. Something that will be to her benefit later in her development as a math student is her desire to associate solution numbers with their numeral. She was insistent on writing down the numeral for each solution even if she had used a modeling strategy to solve it (see artifact 9). She is building associations and bridges between her number sense and numeracy. There are some clear next steps for Cassie's development as a confident and capable math student. I believe she is ready to work on addition and subtraction problems with numbers above 10. This is important for her to start building a strong understanding and working knowledge of base 10. The math instruction I have seen in her class is already supporting this well (see artifact 10.1 and 10.2). I would also like to see Cassie work on developing her counting strategies. Although, I wondered if she would have been more than capable of counting if the markers and manipulatives had not been an option. She may have just chosen them because she prefers to do hands on activities not because she is reliant on modeling strategies. Although, almost every time counting was called for in the interview, she did use the count all strategy. Once she starts using larger numbers she will need to be confident counting on or from the given to be efficient. I also think that working on skip counting will help move her towards a better understanding of equal grouping. Overall, I think she needs to become less reliant on subitizing because she will not be able to easily subitize larger numbers. Finally, another activity I'd 22

like to do with Cassie is work on decoding word problems so that the language does not confuse her and she knows to recognize and identify the different units in a problem.


Section 4: A Close Rendering of Movement (Social Studies) Cassie is a young girl who seems to be filled with exuberant energy at times and yet at other times seems quiet and self contained. In general it appears that the degree to which she releases her energy and engagement is very dependent on where she is, what she is doing and who she is with. Over the first several weeks at school, I was able to identify some trends in her behavior but more importantly I was able to be a witness to unique events in which I feel that Cassie was revealing about her character, relationships and individual needs. One of the trends I could pick up on was that Cassie appears much more quiet and self contained in the first grade classroom. Elsewhere in the building, whether it's gym, lunch, recess out in the school yard, or even bathroom breaks, Cassie is much more lively, energetic and talkative. There is clear evidence as to why this is. The biggest factor is that our classroom is a very controlled and structured environment. There is not much allowance for students to have freedom to talk or choose where to be in the room. I have observed Cassie in only 5 distinct spots in the room: at her assigned desk, on the rug during morning meeting where she always sits (up front and in the middle), getting her books from the shelf (then taking them back to her desk for independent reading), in her designated “spot” in line to leave the classroom, or in the closet the students keep their belongings in. I have often wondered where she would go if she had more choice? I haven't been able to observe her having enough freedom to know if she has preferences in how she moves or uses the classroom. An interesting aside is that the teacher most of the time on most days can be found in one of only 4 spots: the morning meeting chair in front of the rug, standing in front of the blackboard, at the bookshelf distributing books, or at the door waiting to take children in lines to another part of the school (see artifact 12). I can understand how this intensely structured classroom can cause the students to be a bit antsy/anxious. I have observed that within this structured environment, Cassie is constantly fidgeting, which I would suggest 24

is evidence of her restlessness. A great example was when I followed her treatment of her pencil during a twenty minute “Daily Edit” lesson. The pencil was on her face balancing between her nose and her lip, on her paper tracking words, doodling in the margins, falling on the floor, poking things in her desk, writing answers ahead and then back on her face this time between her lower lip and chin (see artifact 13). Even though she is quiet and listening, Cassie doesn't seem to want to sit still. The only other place I have observed this level of intense quiet structure was during library time. Although, Cassie seemed more engaged and energetic during library because she was encouraged to ask more questions than during typical classroom instruction (See artifact 14). This anxiety and suppression of energy or choice seems to be released when they leave the classroom doors. At lunch I have observed Cassie start sitting down but then bouncing up to stand at the head of the lunch table, seeming anxious to get outside for recess (see artifact 17). It isn't surprising that Cassie seems the most engaged and energetic at recess. She is almost always seen actively trying to join in with a group of girls or leading a group of girls in something (see artifacts 18-21). When she is not given the attention she craves, she can be observed moving on to find someone else that will give her an audience rather than stay quiet with her friends. She is frequently running, or seems to make up games to play. At recess the girls and boys seem to naturally split themselves up declaring territory for their own social groups in the yard. I have noticed that Cassie's particular group of girls appears to have staked out a claim near the corner where the flag pole is and tends to congregate there (see artifacts 1821). The other time that Cassie releases energy is of course during gym class. What's interesting is that she often seems to need that release so much that the chosen activity isn't enough of an outlet and she'll jump up and down, fall over on purpose, crawl all over the floor, dance and spin in circles when seated in addition to whatever action is being asked of her by the gym teacher (see artifacts 16 and 17). In general, Cassie seems to actively try to contain her energy in the classroom, even though you can see evidence of it bubbling inside her through her constant fidgeting. So when she is in a different 25

environment she appear to let it all out and is eager to move a lot, and share this time with others since she likely knows it may be the only chance to interact in this manner for the whole day. I'd like to see how Cassie would respond both if recess and gym were more structured or if the classroom time was loosened up and more open to students having increased freedom.


Section 5: Child as a Scientist Cassie is a six year old girl in a classroom that includes a lot of direct instruction, working from textbooks and completing worksheets. So when I pulled her out to do science investigations with me, she not surprisingly seemed delighted. I can assume her excitement stemmed from the fact that she may have very little opportunity to “play” with objects or do hands on activities. I was pleased to provide her with an activity that engaged her so much but it also made it more difficult to manage her focus and attention. It became clear to me through my own observations of her, our conversations together and the sink and float investigation, that Cassie is truly a budding scientist who is curious and interested in learning more about the world around her. My observations and our conversations revealed that her interests include both biological and physical aspects of her surroundings. It also became apparent which scientific processes she was confident in such as observing, classifying and organizing information. She seemed to need more support with questioning, making inferences and higher level experimentation skills. I think she would benefit the most from hands-on instruction that provides opportunities to narrow her focus to a single question. She could then explore, test and organize her ideas and observations in order to move towards making meaning and developing better reasoning skills. The first thing that became apparent about Cassie's skills as a scientist was the fact that she was very comfortable and confident making observations. This implied to me that she is off to a great start for diving into scientific thinking and investigations because observing is the bedrock of all interactions with science as presented in the “Science as a Process Approach” (SAPA). She is starting to understand that she can use those observations to identify, describe, and classify things. For example, in class this became apparent because after reading a story about ants. She eagerly shared her knowledge of them gained by watching them at her grandmother's house and reading about them. She contributed the fact that they had 6 legs and 2 antennas to the class list of facts about ants (see artifact 11). I was impressed 27

with her use of the scientific term “antenna” to describe the long appendages on the ants head. This lead me to believe that she may be comfortable learning new science specific vocabulary. In addition to volunteering knowledge of animals in class, Cassie revealed observational knowledge of animals in our interview. She focused mainly on a fishing trip with her dad. She told me how some fish were small, others were big and that all of them liked worms. Cassie's ability to make observations and use those observations to identify and describe things was also evident in the sink and float activity we did together (see table 1 for a list of objects). When I introduced her to the objects in the activity she was quick to look closely at them and eager to tell me which ones she recognized and make assumptions about what they were made out of. For example, she picks up the ball, rubbing it and says “this is a ball, it's a rubber ball and it bounces”. Cassie seems also to be at the point where she can put observations together to compare and contrast or classify. For example, at the beginning of the sink and float activity when I asked her to group the objects, she grouped them at first by shape leaving many of the items in their own group because they were irregular (such a the plastic spoon and clothespin). Then when asked if she could group them a different way, she grouped them this time by size. She labeled the groups, putting her hand on each one, “medium, big, big, medium, small, big, giant, and giant”. It was interesting that her skills in classification did not extend to knowing that there should only be one group of objects for each heading and that similar sized objects could be all in one group. Therefore although she is comfortable classifying she may still benefit from explicit instruction that models classification and examples of different kinds of classifications. Cassie's attention to observations and comparison of observations seemed to extend past just objects to also being applied to experiences. She seems to be starting to think about observing patterns in her experiences and comparing similar experiences to make sense of the world around her. This was evident to me when she started sharing how much fun she had with the slide at the playground. She told 28

me she loved to run up the slide as much as slide down it but that there were times at which she couldn't run up it like when it was raining. This then reminded her of how when her dad mops the floor she is not allowed to walk on it. I asked her why she thinks her dad won't let her walk on it? She replied that it was because the floor is slippery when wet. I asked her why that made her think of the slide in the rain? She replied that it was the same problem because the rain made the slide wet. She was working toward reaching a conclusion that when things are wet they are slippery. She seemed to be using her knowledge from observations during diverse experiences to make a conclusion that she could apply to fit different situations. This may be evidence that she has “successfully learned about regularities in particular domains of experience in ways that help (her) interpret, anticipate, and explain (her) world.” (Michaels, 2008, p. 40) This is a higher level kind of scientific thinking that impressed me. This skill of applying knowledge from one experience to a different situation came up again when we tried the sink and float activity. During the activity she made the determination that certain objects would always float (such as a plastic spray bottle cap and a flat piece of foam). When I asked her if there was anything she could do to force the cap to sink she said “yes, we could fill it with heavy things”. She proceeded to add things into the cap, occasionally testing to see if it would sink yet. She then added a clay poker chip that finally caused it to sink to the bottom. She identified the poker chip as the reason it sank. Then emptied the cap trying just the poker chip and realized it still floated. She then concluded to me “the chip isn't enough by itself to sink it”. I was thoroughly impressed because without knowing in scientific terms what she was doing, she seemed to be trying to isolate that variable and test to see if it alone was a determining factor for floating or sinking. She then decided that you must use lots of heavy things to get something to sink and so she picked up the flat piece of foam she had determined would always float and started piling things on top of it. When I asked her what she was doing, she explained, “I'm going to make this one sink too”. She 29

seemed to be trying to test out if her observational knowledge from one situation could be applied to another. She started by adding the largest items like the plastic spoon, calculator lid and candle. When I asked her why she was putting those on top first she replied, “these are the heaviest”. Even though she had seen all of these items floating she was still determined in her thinking that the weight of these items would help “weigh down” the piece of foam. When the foam still floated she thought that she simply did not have enough items as before with the cap. She continued to carefully pile on enough items to successfully sink the floating piece of foam. She had applied the technique that worked for the cap to another floating item. I was impressed that she had created a situation for herself to test out her own personal theory. However, now after testing her theory she was more confident about her conclusion that adding lots of heavy things can make floating things sink. She was clearly not able to understand that it was not the weight of the additional items that caused the floating items to sink. It is important to note that this did not appear to be a moment that resulted in any conceptual change and could actually be perpetuating her misunderstanding about weight being the important factor for sinking. Another telling moment during our sink and float activity involved her observations of what happened with some small, colored, plastic beads. I had specifically chosen these beads for the activity because I knew they would be challenging for her to make sense of. They have about the same density as the water and have a small hole in one side. Sometimes they sink and sometimes they float. I was hoping that this idea that something could both sink and float would be a “discrepant event” for her and cause her to ask questions and think deeper about what she was observing. At the beginning of the investigation, she had predicted that one of the beads would sink and was surprised when the bead floated. She added more of the beads and tried out more objects. When she was later removing objects from the water, she disturbed the floating beads and they sank to the bottom. She exclaimed, “Hey they sank! I knew I couldn't trust those beads!”. I asked her what she thought about those beads and she said 30

“some of them sink and some of them float”. She was obviously hesitant to make the statement that the same bead could both sink sometimes and float sometimes. So I wanted to explore further. I asked her why she thought some sink? She replied “because they are heavy” even though they are noticeably one of the lightest objects we had worked with. This is further evidence that she is stuck on her preconceived idea that weight determines whether something sinks or floats. At this point, she is having trouble reconciling the fact that something she observes to be light when she holds it and compares it to other items, is “heavy enough” to sink. She got especially flustered when I had her hold one bead and the votive candle (which we determined floats) in each hand. I was eager to see if she would experience a conceptual change. It seemed that I had set up the situation in a way that forced her to “confront the inconsistencies” (Watson & Konicek, 1990, p. 681). in her theory about what makes things sink. She tried adjusting her statement about the beads to “maybe first they float and then they drown”. To help her along, I suggested we try to get all the seemingly “light” beads to float. She put each bead into the water but wasn't consistent enough to get them all floating. It just so happened that the first two to sink were both yellow. She piped up excitedly, “The yellow beads are heavier and sink, the other colors float!”. But when I took a green one that had been floating and pushed it down to sink it, she realized that color was not a determining factor. I suggested we place all the beads very carefully. When she did this and all of them floated she then confidently suggested, “So if we do it like this they will sink!” (she motioned as if to throw the beads into the water). We tried it and some sank while others sank and then floated back to the surface. She finally decided to conclude that, “these beads are confusing because sometimes they sink and sometimes they float”. Her persistence in testing out her different ideas and looking for a determining factor showed me how engaged she was with the process of science. Another thing that impressed me about Cassie was that she was starting to demonstrate ways to organize information. This was evident during our conversation about playing on the slide. She 31

exclaimed, “we should make a chart, things you can do and things you can't”. So I made a little chart, she put on one side the fact that she could both slide down and climb up a slide. On the other side she put that you can't climb a slide in socks or when it is wet. She also added that you can't climb a slide when there's a “twister” outside. I asked her what a twister was and she grinned excitedly replying “a tornado!”. I asked her why we can't climb slides in a tornado? She laughed and said “it's too windy and dangerous!”. Her inclination to organize information was also evident during the sink and float activity because when she was initially trying out the different objects. She would test the object and if it floated she moved it to the left side of the tub and if it sank she moved it to the right side of the tub. At the end of the activity she determined that there were really three categories we should sort the objects by, “float, sink and sometimes float/sink” based on her surprising discovery with the small beads. In general I think Cassie is skilled at making observations and using those observations to identify and classify objects and experiences. She also seems comfortable starting to organize that information in sensible ways that could be easily communicated to others. What she may need more guidance with is building connections between her observations to make accurate inferences. She didn't seem particularly capable of this kind of reasoning during our investigations together without significant support from me. She was also starting to think about trying/testing her ideas in multiple situations and isolating variables but needs a lot more structure and focus to do so meaningfully. She's beginning to understand how to isolate variables like color, weight and material, and is starting to play around with how manipulating the situation can change results. Throughout both our conversations and the sink and float activity, she was not using the skill of questioning. I was the one asking her questions along the way to help deepen discussion and give purpose to our investigations. I'd like to see her start to practice generating her own questions rather than me providing them to jump start her thinking. Based on her current comfort with lower level scientific processes I would suggest mostly providing guided inquiry activities but also slowly starting to introduce the idea of more open inquiry and practice 32

with questioning. Cassie has lots of interests and ideas that can be built on to engage her in different science activities. She has a class trip to the zoo coming up that I think will lend itself perfectly to her interest in animals. I would have her start by listing any questions she may have about animals before she gets there. In this way I can help Cassie build her own inquiry skills by “providing opportunities to explore (her) own ideas, obtain data, and to find answers” (Victor, 2008, p.53). She can continue to build her observation skills as well by observing the animals at the zoo. I would push her to observe not just what they look like but also note their environment and how the animals interact with it. I would remind her to especially take notice of the things that may surprise her or seem to relate to her questions. She could brainstorm on her own how to organize and communicate that information (chart, web etc.). Then she can describe, compare and classify her observations later in class. Once she has done that she could be pushed to start making inferences about why the animals have the characteristics/behaviors that she identified and what makes those important to how that animal lives in the environment that she saw. This process may be useful in allowing Cassie to generate additional questions that come from her observations and attempt at inferring. I think the focus should be on getting Cassie to work on not just observing but making inferences and asking questions from her observations. In terms of a physical science unit, based on her enthusiastic discussion of playing on the slide, I think she would enjoy some investigations into understanding forces of motion. She could start exploring a variety of objects in terms of pushes and pulls. There could be different situations in which the pushes and pulls could happen (inclines, flat planes, in water, sand etc.). I think she would be able to make observations easily and begin to practice connecting what she was observing to the different variables. After exploring different objects and situations, it would be important for the teacher to then structure one or two focused investigations using one or two specific objects. This is important so that she doesn't get overwhelmed and confuse herself like what was beginning to happen with the sink and 33

float activity we did together. It is after all the teacher's responsibility to “provide instructional scaffolds, such as building bridges to student learning by helping students connect that which is being learned to what they already know or think they know and have experienced” (Victor, 2008, p. 48). I think a well structured, hands-on, guided inquiry would be very engaging to Cassie. It seemed that at times, Cassie could be easily over stimulated and lose track of her own thinking and learning. However, her energetic enthusiasm is also what makes her the perfect candidate for further exploration and investigations. I think it is crucial that she continues to have her engagement and interest in science nurtured in the classroom. This can be done through guided hands-on activities, investigations that incorporate nature or her own experiences in life and overall setting up the expectation that she continue to question the world around her.

Table 1 – Objects in Sink and Float Activity Objects Votive Candle Classification Big Float/Sink Float Reason for Choice Wax is a unique material and it float even though it feels heavy Would likely float if it didn't have holes in it Foam is unique material and I wanted flat items that she could group together or make observation about floating, large size Could be filled with water or other objects Same density as water, can bob between floating and sinking Floats or Sinks depending on how you put it in the water

Plastic Drain Cover Flat Piece of Foam

Giant Giant

Sink Float

Plastic Spray Bottle Cap Small Plastic Beads

Big Small

Float Float and Sink

Plastic Spoon


Float and Sink


Object Plastic Calculator Cover

Classification Giant

Float/Sink Float and Sink

Reason for Choice Flat item, floats or sinks depending on how it's put in the water Unique shape that can be changed Exactly same as another item just a different size to see if size makes a difference Unique material, dense and heavy flat item Flat, both sinks and floats Metal and Wood on same item Multiple wood items wanted Small and light but always sink, can be manipulated Small and light but always sinks Thought she would like it and maybe talk about frogs in water Unique material Flat item, same shape as plastic beads Very small but heavy and dense Flat but with spaces Unique material Plastic ring Metal ring

Large Binder Clip Small Binder Clip

Big Medium

Sink Sink

Clay Poker Chip Plastic Poker Chip Wooden Clothespin Small Wood Block Paper Clip

Medium Small Medium Big Small

Sink Float and Sink Float Float Sink

Brass Fastener Hollow Metal Frog

Small In it's own group

Sink Sink

Rubber Bouncy Ball Flat Plastic Star Metal Monopoly Piece Plastic Comb Seashell Flat Plastic Ring Key Chain Ring

Medium Medium Small Giant Medium Small Medium

Sink Float and Sink Sink Float and Sink Sink Float and Sink Sink


Section 6: Response to Focusing Question I was originally drawn to Cassie because of her vivacious personality and positive attitude. While I retain that those two traits are an important part of what makes Cassie an interesting and exciting student to work with, she has revealed herself to be far more complex than just an energetic student with a good smile. Also in terms of attempting to identify her intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, I can only base my interpretation on a couple meaningful trends that started to be present in my observations as a collective whole. It is important to note that in identifying these trends I cannot hope to “answer” my questions about Cassie but instead I aim to use these observations to dig even deeper into understanding the relationship between Cassie's personality and interests, and her identity as a unique student/learner in our classroom community. What seems to be the through line of many of my observations is Cassie's apparent desire and need for performance, sharing and creative self-expression. These may be the some of the most important motivational factors for her in school. I feel confident in this conclusion because she displays this desire/need at many different times during the school day, in different instructional situations, and with different people involved. I have come to qualify her displaying this need/desire based on the general observation that her engagement level appears to vary distinctly during activities that allow for performance, sharing and creative self-expression and those that don't. I qualified active engagement based on her body language and vocal expression. She seemed disengaged if she had her hand in her head or on her desk and if she was quiet or unresponsive vocally. In contrast, she seemed engaged if I saw her sitting up or on her feet, and if she is asking questions, talking with tone and inflection, or attempting to gain the attention of someone else. The majority of the times I have seen her looking engaged in this way are when she is participating in an activity that provides her with a captive audience to perform for /share with, or an outlet for her to be expressive and creative. Activities that provide an audience or an opportunity for sharing/performance were present 36

throughout the school day. For example, I observed her raising her hand at every chance she got. She seemed to prefer to be with Becca or other kids that would listen to her in the school yard. She sang the read aloud books that she knew well enough to recite. She demonstrated games and imaginative play to her classmates during recess. She leaned over to help other students during shared reading. What I see in all of these observations is that she seems to actively enjoy sharing what she knows with other people (both adults and other children). She even displayed what seemed to be frustration when other people were either disinterested in what she was sharing or not paying attention to her. This may be why she seeks out her cousin Becca's companionship so often and seems to pout when she has to work in small groups where the teachers attention is divided. During activities where there is little to no opportunities to share, present or perform, she seems to tune out (head down, low energy). These instances were most common during whole-class instruction and read aloud situations. At the same time that she seems to crave opportunities to share what she knows/perform for an audience, she also seems similarly engaged when she is allowed to express her own creativity. She seems to use creative drawings to interpret text and work out her thinking. She seems to enjoy making up imaginary stories about and personifying objects in activities. She had used her own expressive voice to interpret the books she had read to me, even going so far to appear to have made one into a song. She seemed to either create a game or an imaginative play situation with the hula hoops in the school yard. All of these lead me to believe that she may have the highest engagement level with less structured assignments, where she is able to insert her own creativity into the activity. In general, I think these trends of engagement in activities that promote the sharing of knowledge/performing for praise, and those that promote opportunity for creativity/self-expression can be extremely useful in knowing how we might best motivate Cassie to do her best work. As Patricia Carini insists with her Descriptive Review process, it must be “possible for the teacher to gain insights needed to adjust her or his approaches to the child accordingly” (Carini, 2000, p.9). I was glad that this 37

process did seem to have some meaningful applications for adjusting our teaching of Cassie. In some ways I think it can be as simple as allowing there to be a time when students work can be shared with the class or a special place to display student work. I think that if she knew her work would be shared she might be more excited to do her best work because she so enjoys the opportunity to share or perform. I think this also means that Cassie could be highly motivated during partner work. In terms of motivating her using engagement in creativity and aspects of self-expression, this involves widening our classroom activities to include those with less structure or that have explicit opportunities for students to express themselves. Examples may include: a poetry unit, more integrated arts projects, free response journal writing, reader's theater and more. These opportunities for creativity, expression and performance could help Cassie develop her multiple intelligences and offer “crystallizing experiences” for Cassie, where she “undergoes a strong affective reaction ...drawing on an appropriate set of intelligences” (Gardner, 1993, p. 29). Finally, it is important to note that the times that Cassie seemed the least engaged, when I saw her energy level was low, head down, not responding or talking, her hands were actually very engaged, she would fiddle with objects, tear things, bend things, claps her hands or play with her hair. I am tempted to suggest that allowing Cassie to participate in more hands-on instruction would be productive for her. She seems to have a need to keep her hands busy even when her mind may not be. It seems far better that her hands be busy exploring objects in a science activity, using her finger to track words or drawing/writing responses in a journal during a read aloud. My remaining questions involve whether these different kinds of activities and instruction will really promote more motivation in Cassie or simply more engagement? Throughout this process of getting to know her and observing her it has been difficult at times to determine the difference between being motivated to do an activity or task and simply being engaged by it? These types of questions lead me to wonder, is she motivated to do her best only for our benefit or for herself? Would she still give 38

her best effort even if no one was watching, listening to, or collecting her work? We we would need more observations, conversations, and data from outside the classroom to know more about that.


Section 7: Reflection on My Learning In my work with Cassie, I wasn't just learning about what subjects she is interested in or what her engagement level is in each. I feel as though I am now equipped with knowledge of what kinds of strategies could work for her. I feel more confident that I could build on her strengths in order to get her engagement level up in all subjects not just ones that she prefers outright. More importantly, what I have learned through observing Cassie can often be generalized for the benefit of all my students. For example, she seems to be a student who should be allowed to work at places other than her desk. When she is chained to her desk, she seems to lose much of the energy that may help her succeed at other times during the day. She has helped me to solidify my understanding that instruction cannot just be done at desks and the classroom environment needs to support learning beyond sitting down at a table. In fact, I find myself in favor of students spending the least amount of time just sitting at their desks as possible. Also Cassie's active hands at idle times in the classroom, suggest to me that allowing students to participate in more hands-on instruction would be productive and beneficial. I also learned that Cassie may be a great go-to student for helping model things for the class as a whole. Unlike other students who may feel put on the spot, I think that Cassie would really rise to the occasion because she often actively seeks out opportunities to perform/show off her knowledge and skills. She has made me realize I need to include opportunities in my teaching practice for students to be the teacher, to empower them to take on the responsibility of sharing knowledge and help each other learn. This is true for all subjects. Strategies for co-teaching with students could involve things like number talks in math, literacy circles for reading, and more. I understand now how the child study practice can help me identify the role that a particular child can fill or play within our unique classroom community. There is so much value in this practice of taking invested interest in knowing a particular child in a holistic sense. It forces me to shed the initial surface judgments I may have about children. Once I 40

have shed those judgments, I am able to get a sense for their hidden strengths and better understand their often internal motivations. I believe that for me because I am in a first grade classroom, it was particularly useful to allow the student's physical presence, disposition, social relationships, preferences and attitude toward learning speak for them. As young children many of my students are either not yet self-aware or even if they are, they struggle to communicate their own needs effectively. This is true even for the most capable, confident and vocal students. As a teacher, I feel a new sense of responsibility to my students. I must be objective, observant and sensitive to what they are displaying to me even if they aren't explicitly communicating anything. I also am inspired by how knowing a student's unique strength can in turn strengthen and motivate us as teachers of that student and affect us positively just as people. This is true for me with Cassie because she is the type of student who helps me remember, “If our lives don't feel significant, sometimes it's not our lives ,but our response to our lives, which needs to be richer” (Calkins, p. 7). Cassie helps me to see the richness in things I wouldn't otherwise notice. It is a great reminder that our students have as much to offer us as we have to offer them!


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References Bransford, J., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn, brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington: National Academies Press. Calkins, L. M. (1994). The Art of Teaching Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Carini, P.F. & Himley M. (2000). From Another Angle: Children's Strengths and School Standards : The Prospect Center's Descriptive Review of the Child. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences: The theory in practice. New York, NY: Basic Books. Michaels, S., Shouse, A.W. & Schweingruber, H.A. (2007). Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Stewart, S. (2012). The Quiet Place. New York, NY: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. Victor, E., Kellough R., & Tai, R. (2008). Science K-8 an Integrated Approach. Columbus, OH: Prentice Hall. Walton, F.X., & Powers, R. L (1993). Winning Children Over. Chicago: Adler School of Professional Psychology. Watson, B. & Konicek, R. (1990). Teaching for Conceptual Change: Confronting children's experience. Phi Delta Kappan. Wilson, L. (2002). Reading to Live: How to Teach Reading for Today's World. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Zecker, L.B. (1999). Different Texts, Different Emergent Writing Forms. Language Arts. 76(6). 483-9.


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