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Briana Haar

English 202A

Mr. Henne

February 4, 2008


The topic for this observation paper is an elementary classroom setting. A second

grade teacher and her class were observed for about one hour. I chose this subject

because I currently attend school for elementary education, and because second grade is

one of the grades that I am interested in teaching in the future. When observing in the

classroom I was looking for a number of things. I wanted to see how the students

interacted with each other during different situations such as small group activities and

classroom discussions. I was also looking for how the students responded to the

teacher’s different teaching styles and attitude toward the different subject matter. I

hoped to learn during my observation what type of teaching styles work best with

different subject matter and how well students work together in groups at such a young




The teacher that was observed was a female in her mid twenties. She has been

teaching second grade for the past three years. Her classroom consists of a wide variety

of students. The classroom has a mix of seven and eight year olds. There are more boys

than girls in the classroom as well. The class is made up of twelve boys and eight girls
coming from several different races. The class contains Caucasians, African Americans,

and Hispanic students. The students come from a variety of socioeconomic statuses as

well. Some come from families that are in poverty while others come from families that

have plenty of everything they need.


For the observation I was in an elementary classroom. It was very bright and well

decorated by the teacher. The room had drawings on the wall that students had made for

the teacher, an area for a student of the week, and a large carpeted area for reading time

for the students. The room also had colorful letters of the alphabet hanging from the

ceiling and a spot marked off on the chalkboard where the students would place a magnet

of their name under if they packed or were getting the school meal for lunch.

The teacher’s desk was placed in the back of the classroom so that she could see

all of the students from her desk. The children’s desks were placed in squares making

little groups containing four students each. During the observation I sat in the back of the

classroom at an extra desk that the teacher kept next to hers. This way I could see the

entire classroom and the reading area, since they used both areas while I was observing.


In order to select my subject of study I first thought of what all I could observe

that would incorporate with my academic interest. Once I decided that I wanted to

observe a teacher and their classroom it was very simple to set up. I already have to tutor

at a school for another class so I set up to observe for an hour at that school after my

tutoring session.

During the hour observation I observed many different things in the classroom.

When I first got there they were in the middle of taking a spelling test. The teacher

would repeat the word several times when giving the exam and then use it in a simple

sentence that the children would understand. The children were surprisingly silent the

entire time. After that she collected all of the spelling tests and got ready to give the

students the new list of spelling words to the next week.

The way that the teacher gave out the spelling words was by writing them on an

overhead projector and spelling them out as she wrote them. As the children copied the

words down in to their spelling books some talked amongst themselves and others were

repeating the letters as the teacher spelled out the words. The teacher had to tell a few

children that were talking amongst themselves to pay attention a few times, but always

did it in a pleasant tone. Once all the words were copied down she read through the list

two times and had the students repeat the entire words so that they learned to pronounce

them. It took a few times of her pushing the students to repeat the words after her until

the entire class participated.

Next the teacher made a smooth transition on to math. Before starting on the

new lesson for the day she first went over the homework for the night before. To create a

small activity and get a mix of students involved in the classroom she picked ten students

go up to the board and put their homework problems up. She first picked students that

wanted to go up to the board and then picked students who weren’t as eager and a little

shy. Once the problems were up on the board they started to go over the homework.

First she would have the student that put up the problem read it out loud and then she
would ask who got the same answer. A majority of the students would raise their hand

each time. Some of them would get extremely excited when they had the same answer as

the board and jump up and down in their seats. A few of the students she had to tell to

settle down because they became too rowdy. Then after the students would put their

hands down she would ask the few other students who got different answers what

answers they got. She would then try to explain to them why the other answer was the

correct answer. At the end of going over homework she collected it, and then began the

new lesson.

As she taught the new lesson she would ask the entire class questions and have

them respond with the answers. She also had students come up to the board and help her

with the math problems as well. Most of the students seemed to pay attention and

participate during the lesson. The lesson only lasted about fifteen minutes. At the end of

the lesson she handed out the homework for the next day. It consisted of ten problems

just like the homework they had the previous day.

The last thing I observed before I finished my observation was story time. All the

children rushed over to the large carpet. One student started to run over and the teacher

yelled at him in a very stern voice to stop running and walk. Once all the students were

situated the teacher came over and sat down in the corner of the story area. She read

them a story called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The

students were quiet the whole time she read the book. They starred at her intensely as she

read to them and showed them the pictures in the book. Some would raise hands while

she was reading and ask questions about the story. The teacher always took all of the

questions and never told them to put their hands down.


I was very surprised how quiet the students were during their spelling test. I

thought that some of them may try to talk during the test but they did not. It seems that

they have begun to understand that during certain activities you need to be quiet and just

do your work. I liked the way that she gave the spelling test. I think that it is a good idea

so say the work several times and then say it in a sentence. I imagine it helps the children

out a great deal to hear it numerous times. At the same time I think the same is true with

how she gave them their new list of words. Repeating them and having them say the

words after her are a good way for the students to become familiar with the spelling


Next when she did the math lesson I was just as impressed. I have learned from

my educational psychology textbook that getting children involved and interacting with

them is a great way to stimulate their brains and get them to learn more. That is exactly

what the teacher did in math class. She got students up to the board and had the entire

class participating when going over the homework. It also helped to keep their attention

by making them involved in the lesson. I’m sure that by having them interact during the

math lesson it helped to make the material more clear and that the students picked up on

the information better.

Lastly, I really agree with having story time when it comes to teaching young

children. It helps to open up children’s minds and let them become more imaginative.

Theorists Vygotsky and Piaget both see reading as a way to stimulate the mind.

Vygotsky feels that children learn from interaction with people, mainly by language. As

they hear the words they begin to understand them and are able to use them themselves.
Piaget also agrees with language development and says that it is just as important and a

persons socioeconomic status. So by reading to these children she is helping them to

develop their language and helping to stimulate their minds.


In conclusion I’m really glad I did this observation. It really helped me learn a

lot. I got to see different ways to get the students involved in the class during lessons, and

how to teach short lessons so that the students do not become bored. It also helped me

see that second grade is definitely a grade that I want to consider teaching. The students

are energetic and like to be involved in the class, however at the same time they are

beginning to understand that sometimes they need to be quiet and listen to the authority


The only thing that I would maybe do differently if I had to observe again is

maybe observe the class for a little longer than one hour. That way I could see how they

act as they go through the day and begin to become tired. That way I could see if their

attitudes toward the classroom change at all. In the end I feel like the observation ended

up being a success. I got to observe teaching styles and see how students reacted to them

just like I wanted to. Observing in a classroom is definitely something I would be willing

to do again.