I observe at Roosevelt Middle School, which is in River Forest, in Mrs. Braun’s sixth grade English class on Tuesdays in the morning. As I have observed, I have noticed that the classroom is student-centered. During computer time, Mrs. Braun focused more on helping the students get into the computer program to start the assignment than on having enough time to get the assignment done. Several times, Mrs. Braun gave helpful comments on how to do things on the computer or in the program, such as how to install automatic spell check. Mrs. Braun was also very patient as she was being asked questions while she was trying to explain the assignment.
From what I saw, some students were getting bored, though, while the assignment was being explained and started whispering to each other. However, the whispering did stop when the students had to get started on the assignment. I have also observed that there seems to be a strong set of rules in place in Mrs. Braun’s classroom. This is evident through some of Mrs. Braun’s subtle, and not-so-subtle, reminders. For example, she gently made an example of a student by pointing out that his decorated pen (with a silly topper on it) was not allowed in class if it was going to be played and not used.
She made a general statement that all pens similar to it are not welcomed is they are going to be played with. Overall, the students follow the rules very well, and there have not been any severe disruptions. There has only been whispering occasionally, but it stopped when Mrs. Braun asked. Disciplinary strategies seem to be in place as well, although I have not seen any discipline used while I have been observing the class. There is even a routine in place in the classroom for each period. During period one, first of all, old assignments are collected by Mrs. Braun, and then vocabulary is covered.
Then a vocabulary assignment is given with any other new assignments on what is being cover in class. Next the teacher reads or goes over any assigned readings from the book that is being covered in class. This is the same basic routine for period two. The third period is computer time and the routine seems to vary. There is a quick transition from activity to activity during these routines. The classroom environment is that of a basic classroom setting. There are some decorations and other things hanging on the wall. Among the decorations is a hand-made calendar on the wall by Mrs. Braun’s desk.
There is a history of each student’s last name on the wall on the other side of Mrs. Braun’s desk. There seems to be a controlled temperature and lighting in the classroom and they are set at an adequate setting. The room is arranged with five groups of desks in a circular type shape. In the middle of the room is a cart where new assignments are put and reading journals are kept. There are different locations throughout the room for different supplies. With the layout of the room, it seems there is adequate space to move around and do in-class activities. The physical space also seems conducive to teaching and learning.
The physical space, including seating and grouping arrangements, seems to enhance cooperation and learning because there seems to be fewer distractions around them. There seems to be fewer distractions because the students have less people to talk to than if they were seated in rows, though they may still be tempted to talk. This classroom seems to function well as a total environment through its layout. I have observed many things in my first two observations in Mrs. Braun’s class. The students do a lot of in-seat assignments, such as handouts. There seems to be a few good projects being done but they are done mostly outside of class.
I feel that some time should be spent in class working on the projects, even if it is 10-15 minutes. The layout seems like both a good idea and a bad idea. It seems like a good idea because if one student gets stuck on something, there are others around to help. It seems to be a bad idea, though, because of what I stated before, there is still the temptation for the students to talk when they are not suppose to and distract each other. The only implication I have is that it seems that some old methods are hard to leave behind, such as busy work (hand outs), for more interactive methods (interaction with each other).