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Sarah Jane Hawley

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2/1/2013

I. Contextual Factors Belding Elementary School is located in Chicago, IL. Specifically, in the Irving Park neighborhood. The school is located at 4257 North Tripp Avenue in Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood. The school is a neighborhood school that serves the neighborhood. The socioeconomic characteristics of the school include a mix of lower, middle and upper class. The ethnic characteristic of the school and community includes Hispanic, Arab, Caucasian, Pilipino, Indian and African American. The school is a Chicago Public School. From the school handbook the mission statement is as follows, “At Hiram H. Belding Elementary School we celebrate our cultural diversity and unique experiences each child contributes to our learning community. We value a strong school spirit, inspired and enriched by the ideas of students, parents, teachers, and community members. We firmly believe all our students, including students with disabilities and English Language Learners, are critical thinkers and have established an inclusive and nurturing school to encourage and support their learning. High expectations and quality instruction ensure Belding students are life-long learners.” My classroom is made up of 25 students. 22 of these students are English Language Learners. Most of the students have immigrated from a different country and this year is their first year in an American school system. The children range in age from 6-7 years old. Second languages that some of the children have in the classroom are Spanish, Serbian, Vietnamese, Arabic, Malayalam, Pilipino (Tagalog), Albanian and Tamil. 19 students receive free lunch, 3 have reduced lunch and 3 pay for lunch. There are two children in the classroom that have IEPs. The students have a strong interest in


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learning and love to talk about their families. Also, they love to talk about their country that they are from and what traditions are in their families. As for the context and individual differences of instruction for the students, there were a large amount of times during my student teaching that I needed to differentiate the lessons based upon the students’ skills and interests. Since a large amount of my students are ELL learners they need a good amount of modeling and directions spoken to them multiple times. Referring back to the classroom profile and contextual factors assignment was important to meet the needs of all of the learners in my classroom. During the three week family unit that I implemented with my students, I needed to present activities for a variety of learners.

II. Unit Content and Objectives

The main focus of the social studies unit was on families and the culture that is present in their family. A large amount of my students are ELL students who came from a different country before they came to the United States. The three main focuses of the unit were family, culture and history. For the family part of the unit, topics included who is a part of the students’ family and what roles or jobs the family members play. For the culture part of the unit, the students learned about family holidays, traditions, languages, stories and foods that the families eat from their culture. For the history part of the unit, the students learned about each other’s ancestors, where each student’s family came from


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and the location (geography) of where their family is originally from. They learned about how families change with where they live and how they change over time. The goals for this social studies unit were as follows. One of the goals was to have an understanding of family history. This included the idea that families celebrate holidays with family traditions. The students learned about these traditions and why they are important to their family as well as to society. Families are made up of many types and the students learned about many types of families and how each member of a family contributes to society. A second goal was to learn about culture, the characteristics of cultures and the similarities between cultures. A third goal was to have an understanding of how the students’ families are similar to each other’s. Also, to have a better understanding of their ancestors. The unit progressed over three weeks. Each week had a specific theme. The first week’s theme included discussions of who is in a family and why are they important. The second was family cultures and traditions. The third was ancestors and how families have changed over time. This unit fit into the scope and sequence of the unit because the first grade classrooms at Belding Elementary were to implement this unit into the curriculum. To specifically learn about each other’s families, how they have changed over time and how families are similar to one another. To more importantly, draw those similarities to their classmates. Also, to see how family is important to the past and future generations. The unit was relevant to the goals that are set by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for Social Studies. These goals were along the lines of history and culture. I approached this unit that I created myself with the students’ prior knowledge,


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the contextual factors and the profile of my classroom in mind while I created this unit. I had to present lessons in a variety of formats so that I could reach out to all of the learners in my classroom. This unit allowed the students to bring in their knowledge and learn from each other. In the beginning, I asked them what they wanted to learn about each other during the unit, they responded with what they wanted to learn and they learned it. The unit reflected developmentally appropriate practices because the lessons were appropriate for the students’ grade level. The content was appropriate in that the students were discussing their family and learning about families. The instruction during the family unit involved a large amount of discussion between I the teacher and the students with each other. How I assessed the unit was appropriate because I assessed the students understanding through observations, their conversations, writing samples and their pre and post assessments. I was able to enrich the learning experiences through lessons that included art. Some of these experiences include the students being able to write about their families, create visuals that represented their families and how dance is represented in the country that they are from.

III. Assessment Plan

A. Pre-assessment

The pre-assessment for the family unit took place a few days before the unit began. I asked the students what they know about families. Then I asked them what they


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wanted to learn about families. I then had the students draw a picture of who was in their family and why their family was important to them and/or how their family is similar to their classmates families. This pre-assessment related to the unit learning goals by seeing how the students can understand how families are important to future generations and how each of us shares similarities to one another. The content that I was looking for was if the students were able to clearly answer the questions that I asked them. Questions including, “Who is in your family?” “Why is your family important?” “How is your family similar to your classmates families?” The pre-assessment was able to measure the children’s prior knowledge that they were bringing in and if they were able to answer these questions. I analyzed the data by looking at the visuals that the children created of their families. I was then able to see if they were able to answer the questions. Most of the children were able to draw a picture of their family. Only about a handful of children were able to answer what is important about their family. They did not think about similarities between their family and a classmate member’s family. I say this because of the dialogue that took place during this part of the lesson. I was able to take this data and split the students’ into the three pre-assessment groups. The data from the preassessment activity gave me a better understanding of how the students in the classroom understand families. Specifically, family history, traditions, culture and ancestors.

B. On-going, Formative Data


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During the unit, I collected the students’ work that they completed and was able to see how they progressed during the unit. Due to not as much time given in the day to be devoted to social studies, not every lesson was able to be reached. But, during the time that the students were able to participate in the family unit, I collected notes from the students’ dialogue with me, the classroom and each other. I sent home questions for the students to ask with their families for their home connection part of the unit. Some students also brought in recipes from their home to share. The students also participated in a show and tell activity where they brought something from home and explained how it the item is important in their family.

C. Post-Assessment

The post-assessment was very similar to the pre-assessment. The students were given the opportunity to draw a visual of their family. Then, they were asked to answer the same questions from the pre-assessment. Although some students were unable to answer all of the questions, a large amount of students were able to answer the questions and describe in detail about their answers. The post-assessment related to the unit goals and objectives to learn about each other’s families and how they are similar to each other. The children became very interested in how similar their families were to each other. The post-assessment was conducted at the end of the unit. The students were given the time to write their answers and to draw a visual piece of their family. The design of the lesson was to give children the full opportunity to describe what they had learned. I analyzed the data by looking at their pre-assessment and post-assessment.


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From there, I was able to see how the unit impacted how the children learned. Since a large amount of my students are ELL learners, they are still learning the basics of how to write in English. The students were able to work on their written language skills through this activity as well. Because of the large amount of conversations during the family unit, they were able to talk their ideas out and write those ideas on their paper.

IV. Use of pre-assessment to Inform Instruction and Differentiation

A,B, C. I split the pre-assessment into three groups and noticed the following about each group. In the first group, there are 11 children represented. A majority of the children in this group did not know how to answer the specific question of why families are important to them and how their family is similar to their classmate's families. The students in this group are the English language learners who need the most support. Their reading skills are lower than those of their classmates in the two other groups. These students need a lot of examples explained to them. In order to reach out to this specific group of children, I had to use what helps them learn the most. This teaching skill involved explaining and using examples to explain the meaning of what I am trying to tell the children. I used a good amount of their prior knowledge through conversations to have them get a better understanding of what a family is, why they are important and how their family is similar to their classmates' families. I used the pre-assessment to see how I can take the limited knowledge of how a family is important and how they are similar to the other students' families to create lessons to show how


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important families are to one another. For some of my learners, they needed further differentiation to understand the value and importance of families. I chose A.M. to represent this group. He is a six-year-old child in the classroom. He has only been in America for about a year. English is not his first language, Tamil is his first language. He struggles with reading comprehension and understanding vocabulary. More specifically, what a word means. When he completed the pre-assessment he asked multiple times what they were supposed to do and kept saying "What?". Included in this pre-assessment is the written response that he provided. When asked the question of why your family is important and how are they similar to your classmates' families he wrote, "My family is happy. My family is pretty." He talks about his younger brother at home during some class time. I believe that the reasoning behind why he was not able to do so well on the pre-assessment was because he is still at the early stages of learning English. He is also one of the younger kids in our classroom and has not been in our school system to get adapted to how the classroom is run. I had to draw upon conversations, reading books and multiple ways of explaining how families are important to him. Attached is the pre-assessment that he worked on. The second group includes seven students. These students include some ELL learners. The groups, I have noticed, seem to match up with their reading groups. This group includes the readers who are at an average reading level and require some assistance in reading but not as much as the previous group. Their prior knowledge on the pre-assessment included being able to write and tell about who is in their family and a reason as to why they are important. I adapted


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and differentiated the unit for this group of learners to give more reasons as to why their family is important and to describe their reasoning. I chose D.B. to represent the second group for the following reasons. D.B. had not participated as much in the discussion of families during the beginning of the unit but when he did the pre-assessment he was able to tell me more about his families importance and who is in his family. On the pre-assessment D.B. struggles with his writing skills and one of the things that I wanted to work with him on was his writing skills. The family unit gave him the opportunity to work on his writing and to discuss during group time how his family was important and how his family relates to the students' families in the classroom. D.B. is shy and quiet. He is able to start explaining his reasoning for why he answered what he answered. He just tends to be shy when talking in a large group. During this unit, I helped D.B. to further discuss his family and gain confidence while speaking to the class. The third group includes four students. These students have the highest reading scores in the classroom. They were able to say who was in their family, why they are important and to further explain their reasons. These students tend to talk a lot about their family in the classroom. They brought in a variety of prior knowledge into the classroom which helped them to answer the questions and to provide further reasoning for their answers. I differentiated the unit for these children by having them use further reasoning as to why they answered what they answered. I also had them answer questions such as how the classroom is considered a family and how ancestors are important to a family.


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L.A. represents the third group of students. L.A. has a very high reading level and brought in a large amount of prior knowledge to the family unit. He was constantly discussing, bringing in items from home and completing his home connection letters with his family. He was able to start achieving the objective set for the pre-assessment activity He wrote sentences to explain who his family members were and how they were important. After he reached this objective, I wanted him to find similarities between him and his classmates. L.A. seemed to be able to understand the questions that I was asking because of the prior knowledge that he was able to bring into the classroom.

V. Analysis of Post-Assessment Student Work

A.M., who represents the first group of this teacher work sample, showed the following in his post-assessment work. A.M. is still at this point working on the English language and meanings behind words. During the family unit through reading books, sharing items from home, reading the home-connection papers to the class and discussions during group time with the students. I do believe that A.M. has reached very close to some of the objectives that were set for the unit. He was able to progress by being able to write a response to the questions that I asked the class at the end of the unit. He was able to discuss how his family was similar to that of a classmate’s family. His skills and understanding about families have been gained through this unit because he was able to discuss reasons to me as to who his family is and how his family is similar


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to a classmate’s family. What may have contributed to his progress was the amount of time that we spent talking about families in the classroom. When we were able to work on the family unit, the students were listening to each other in the classroom about their family. They all, including A.M. seemed very interested in the unit. This interest kept their attention and they remembered a large amount of information from the unit. The unit helped A.M. to progress in achieving the overall skill and understanding of this unit by being able to describe his family and how his family is similar to another classmate’s family. Due to his limited English skills, he needed to have things explained to him multiple times. He also needed a long amount of time to work on his post-assessment work. D.B., who represents the second group, displayed the following during the post-assessment. D.B. was able to describe his family, what he learned about families and what they families do. He was not able to think of specific reasons as to exactly who’s family is similar to his. In the beginning of the unit, D.B. is usually a quiet child in our classroom. When we do call on him for answers he tends to become shy and does not want to participate. Throughout the unit, it was important that I look at his home-connection letters to see his prior knowledge. During activities such as circle time, I was able to ask questions to the students that included responses where D.B. could use his prior knowledge to contribute to the conversation. This method worked well for D.B. I realized more throughout this unit that when D.B. believes he has a confident answer, he is able to volunteer to talk more. The skill and understanding that D.B. was able to gain was how families are important and how to describe a family. I believe


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that what has really helped D.B. throughout this unit is being confident in himself to participate in group discussions. It helped him to realize how important his responses are to the classroom conversations. This may have also contributed to his progress and attainment of what was learned during the family unit. If he had not been participating in the group conversations, this could have hindered his learning. The unit has helped him understand that families are important to the children and to society through conversations during class time. L.A., who represents the third group, displayed the following during the post-assessment. L.A. had brought in a lot of prior knowledge to this family unit. He also completed many of the home-link letters and brought in a family recipe for the class to look at. In the post-assessment, L.A. related a lot of what he learned during the family unit to another student’s family in the classroom. He was able to describe how his family is similar to F.R.’s family. In the preassessment L.A. described how his family was important to him. In the postassessment he understood the objective of how his family is similar to a classmate’s family. What may have contributed to this new understanding is that L.A. took a great liking to the family study. He is also one of the students in the classroom that loves to volunteer and participate in discussions. He was always listening to each other during these discussions as well. He would comment to me after a discussion about how much he learned from the discussion about a classmate’s family. For L.A., his post-assessment goal was to get him to develop an understanding of how families in the classroom are similar. He was able to describe how his family was similar to F.R.’s family.


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VI. Reflection and Planning for Continued Student Learning

What I would have done differently would have been to work with these small groups during times of the day. I was just thinking about how I should have taken the time to work with them so that I could provide more visuals and have small group conversations. Perhaps even using technology more during this unit would have been good. It would have been great to bring in educational material about families and the community. I would have liked to incorporate the Chicago neighborhoods into the study. It would have been a good learning experience to be able to visit some of these neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Little Italy or Pilsen. This way the students would have had more experiences to view culture and to relate how other cultures are similar to their own culture. This would have impacted the students’ learning by being able to actually see how something works in addition to conversations provides for valuable learning experiences. From doing this unit, I have realized how important it is to take notes during lessons as much as possible about every child. Being able to refer back to notes helps during the post-assessment to see what the child has learned from the unit. That way instead of just relying on a test or one specific activity you can see how the child has progressed. Maybe the day the post-assessment took place a child was not having a good day or was just having trouble figuring out their ideas. Being able to look back upon notes during conversations can help when seeing what they were able to take away from the unit.


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I have learned that as a teacher we need to spend a large amount of time planning the lessons that will take place. Young children learn when they are given multiple opportunities to learn. It is important that we bring in the students’ prior knowledge because they can build upon that prior knowledge. I especially tried to build upon the students’ prior knowledge in the family unit. Factors that do affect teaching and learning includes trying to accommodate all learning styles in a classroom where there are 25 students and just one teacher. It is important to differentiate lessons based upon a students’ ability.


Teacher Work Sample