You are on page 1of 14

E.B.

Prof. Gray

ECE 251

26 March 2018

Group Time Evaluation

1. School: Oaklane Preschool Academy; telephone number: 702-293-5188; teacher: Mrs.

Gordon; age/grade level: 3-5, preschool

2. Beginning/ending group time: February 21, 2018; 9:30am – 11:30am

3. Number of adults: 1; number of children: 7

4. Group time: After gathering the children to the large area rug for group time, the teacher led

them in calendar time – recognizing the month, day, and year, then recognizing the season and

weather. This involved a poster of the month and year, and little stick-on papers for the day, the

season, and the weather. The chosen child (it seems they have a different child lead calendar time

each day) was asked what month it was, then asked what day it was. As a hint, the teacher said,

“Yesterday was the 20th. What number comes after 20?” With some prompting, the girl chose the

number 21 and pinned it onto the calendar poster. She then said, “Today is February 21st, 2018.

The weather is cold, cloudy, and windy, and the season is winter.” After she went and sat down,

all six of the remaining children went through the same process – identifying the month, day,

year, weather, and season. All were instructed to stand, point to the words and numbers as they

read them, and to say them out loud.

After this was “talk time”. Each of the children had a turn to stand next to the teacher and tell her

(and the class) something that happened to them, something interesting about their week,

something new going on, etc. They stood up next to the teacher’s chair, talked about whatever
they wanted, and answered the teacher’s questions. One boy, when it was his turn, said that

nothing had happened and he had nothing to say. He said this twice. The teacher then said, “Oh

surely something’s happened! Tell us about your new baby brother.” The boy talked about his

brother for a bit, responding to the teacher’s questions in short sentences.

After this portion, the children sat back down and the teacher pulled out a large flip book with an

uppercase and lowercase “W” on the front. She said, “Now yesterday we talked about what

letter? V-v-vah?” A child says, “V?” Teacher: “That’s right, V. Today we’re talking about w-w-

wah…. W.” The teacher flips open the first page, which has pictures of a watch, waterfall,

watermelon, and well, including a written label for each. She points to each picture, waits for the

children to call out the name, prompts them if necessary, or says the word if no child can say it.

She flips through the rest of the book in the same manner. The end of letter time consisted of an

alliteration song containing several “w” words, which the teacher read from a different flip book.

Letter time segued into a brief counting time. The teacher asked one girl, one of the 5-year-olds,

to count the number of children that came. She counted 7 children, including herself. Each child

went around the circle, put their hands on each child’s head, and counted. The 5-year-olds were

told to go write the number 7 on the chalkboard across the room. They were instructed in their

form “a hat, then a stick”, and practiced their number form for a bit before the teacher called

them back to the area rug.

Group time was briefly interjected with coloring pages – big Ws for the younger children, and

object to count and color for the 5-year-olds. This I believe would qualify for “individual

seatwork”, so I will omit it from the observation.

After coloring, the children were gathered back together for more group time. The next portion

was group exercise. The teacher led the group in “Johnny Plays with One Hammer”, a song and
dance that involves the entire body. By the end, the children were jumping and moving across

the rug, laughing and smiling. They were also led in more general movements, stretches, and

another dance. These were all instructional, rather than child-directed.

After exercise time, the children collapsed on the rug, the teacher sat down, and she pulled out a

book from a bag. She described it as a “new” book. She read the title, “Grumpy Pants”, and

showed the cover to the children. She held the book open so that the children could see the pages

as she read. She read loudly, clearly, and with enthusiasm. She also pointed out details about the

pictures and asked questions to the children, such as, “You see, he’s taking a bath now. A nice,

warm bath. Do baths ever make you feel better?” When she finished the book, she put it away,

then rested for another moment before getting up and moving to the piano.

Music time was a short distance away from the typical group time area rug. The teacher sat at a

piano, and the children sat on the floor nearby. Music time started with the teacher playing piano

and leading the children in singing their Oaklane school song. Following this, they sang a song

about brushing your teeth, which included the children making hand motions similar to tooth

brushing. The teacher then switched gears and played “Hickory Dickory Dock”, while

instructing the children in hand motions. After this, she played “Jack Be Nimble”. She told an

older girl to get a bottle of hand sanitizer, which they would pretend to be a candle. They then set

it on the ground, and the children took turns jumping over the “candle” to the music while

pretending to be Jack. During this time, the teacher was very specific in how the children

jumped. If they didn’t jump high or low enough when the song said “Jack jumped high, Jack

jumped low”, she would tell them to do it over. Almost every child took two turns at being Jack

for this song, which contributed to this portion of music time running rather long. The next song

played was “Little Miss Muffet”. The teacher again played the music for the song on the piano,
and had two girls sit in chairs and act out the song. Only the teacher sang this song for some

reason. When the girl playing the spider sat down too late, or didn’t “frighten Miss Muffet”

dramatically enough according to the teacher’s standards, the teacher told them to do it again.

They repeated this song three or four times, with both girls playing each role twice. No other

children were involved in this song. The others just sat on the floor and watched. The next song

was “Jack and Jill”, where the same two girls played the parts of Jack and Jill. Again, the teacher

played the music and sang, and the other children were not involved. The two girls acting out the

song held hands and pantomimed holding a bucket. When the song said, “Jack fell down”, one

girl threw herself on the floor, and when “Jill came tumbling after” was sang, the other girl did a

summersault. The teacher had them perform a few more times, alternating roles, and she

instructed them on how to “tumble” and when. The last song done was “The Muffin Man”. For

this song, the teacher did not play piano. She told a girl to find “the muffin hat” amongst a pile of

play hats on a table near the piano. The “muffin hat” was what looked like a chef hat. The

teacher placed this hat on a child, then she and all the other children held hands in a circle around

him and sang “The Muffin Man”. This was repeated with every child, each one wearing the hat

and standing in the circle, being sung to by the teacher and the other children.

Following this last song, the teacher asked a child to put away the hat, and declared that it was

lunch time, thus ending their group time together.

5. Appropriate: I wouldn’t judge these activities as appropriate for preschool, and potentially not

even for kindergarten. Starting with calendar time – children this age are just learning about time

and seasons as a concept. It’s inappropriate to expect them to understand and demonstrate

knowledge of adult concepts like dates. What would be more appropriate is for the teacher to just

say what day, month, and year it is, and to talk about what kind of weather is out there in a much
less formal setting. Ask what kind of weather the children saw outside, instead of having them

memorize seasons and numbers that don’t connect to their daily lives.

Talking time, while not blatantly inappropriate, is forced, when conversation should just flow

naturally and be encouraged, not expected.

The letter time, involving the “letter of the week”, is inappropriate. We discussed this topic

frequently in the ECE 155 literacy course. Letters for the week or the day don’t connect to

children in a meaningful way. It leads to memorization and the illusion of learning for a time, but

that memorization will fade once a new letter is introduced. It doesn’t personalize learning for

children and it doesn’t connect letters and words in a meaningful way to a child’s learning

experience.

Counting and writing numbers is also advanced for this age group and not connected to anything

else in a meaningful way, making it less likely that the children will retain that information.

The exercise time was planned, but that seemed to work out well versus having children pick

whatever exercise they felt like doing. The children were all eager to get up and move, and were

laughing and smiling during this time.

Reading time was exceptional. Out of all the activities, I can’t find anything wrong with this one.

The teacher read loudly and in an animated voice; she showed the pictures, discussed them, and

asked questions; and she talked about the book when it was over. She involved the children in

reading time. It was an appropriate book as well – colorful, funny, and relatable for this age

group.

Music time wasn’t appropriate. The teacher didn’t involve the children in the making of the

music, in the selection of song, or in moving how they wanted to the music. Singing and dancing

shouldn’t be dictated. This prevented the children from experiencing the aesthetic appeal and
pleasure of music. It also taught them that instruments are for adults, not children. There were

bins of child-sized instruments, but these were not used or mentioned.

For almost all of the activities, their flaws include expecting too much of the age range, limiting

individuality, and not involving children in their own activities.

6. How long/appropriate for the age: This group time went for 2 hours, which is far too long for

3- to 5-year-olds. If it were to be that same length, it should be cut up into smaller segments with

other activities in between, such as free choice time or outside time. The online handout

Elements of Daily Schedule tells us that for 3-year-olds, meeting times should be limited to only

10 minutes, and extended to 10-20 minutes for 4-year-olds. This makes the 2-hour session twelve

times as long as it should be for 3-year-olds! This is inappropriate for this age group, though the

5-year-olds in the group seemed to be managing the time better than the younger children.

Also, as further evidence that this group time was too long, a couple of children complained

about being hungry and asking when lunch was. This was when there was still about 30 minutes

left in the group time. The teacher told them to wait, be patient, and that lunch would be soon.

7. Space: The space used was of a good size, large enough to holds a bigger group of children

than was present. It consisted of a large area rug of the United States, which the children sat on,

and a chair for the teacher. There were books within reach, and several posters on the wall

behind the teacher’s chair.

This space sets up the group time to be teacher-directed, having her sit separate and above where

the children sit. It’s also not the most comfortable area to be in for two hours straight. This area

should have some softer seating and a more inviting atmosphere. It doesn’t foster a sense of

security, warmth, or individuality. It is large and open. From a physical standpoint, it’s adequate

– not great, but adequate. From an emotional standpoint, it’s lacking.


8. Bring the children together: After free play time ended and the toys were put away, the teacher

said, “Okay every gather on the rug! We’re going to start our group time.” As more children

were dropped off, the teacher instructed them to come “join the group and sit down”.

9. Percentage of the time actively vs passively: A rough estimate of 75% of the children’s time

was spent in passive activities. For most of the time, they watched the teacher explain something,

then watched all of their peers complete the task before they actively participated. Even with

music, a lot of it was sitting, watching the teacher play the piano, and waiting for the music to

start or for a turn at acting out the song. The only active participation parts included having a

turn at the calendar board, having a turn talking to the teacher, coming up with “w” words,

singing, and dancing.

This wasn’t appropriate. Children should be active participants in their learning for most of the

day, not a small portion. Most of the time was spent watching peers participate, which can be

helpful in some scenarios, but children learn best with hands-on experience. Also, with so much

time waiting for turns, watching, needing to sit and listen, the children get bored. They get bored,

lose interest, and stop paying attention. If they actually do learn anything new, they’ve been

completely turned off to school and learning in the process.

10. Children react: For much of the group time, the children fidgeted, got up and walked around,

touched their peers, or even hit one another. They looked uninterested and uncomfortable, and

seemed restless. This behavior was less frequent with the five-year-olds.

11. Flexibility: I saw little evidence of flexibility in the teacher’s implementation of the schedule.

For example, when there was perhaps 20-30 minutes left in the allotted group time, at least one

boy (maybe more) complained about being hungry and asking about lunch. The teacher

explained once that lunch would be later, then ignored any other comments the boy made on the
subject. I feel that a flexible teacher could say, “Hey, if everyone else is really hungry, we could

have lunch early today.” The schedule could be slightly adjusted each day to suit the children’s

interests or the environment. Instead, the teacher followed the schedule like clockwork, which

makes for a consistent, easy day to predict, but does not adapt for children’s needs.

The teacher had planned all of the curriculum in advance. There is no flexibility for the

children’s input or interests.

12. Individualization – special needs and the typically developing: I did not observe any

evidence of individualized teaching during this group time. 3-year-olds were expected to

accomplish the same activities as the 5-year-olds, which I found to be perplexing and

inappropriate. These activities were not adjusted for individual interests or skill levels. The

teacher also seemed to give approximately the same amount of guidance or attention to all the

children.

13. Gender – inappropriate behaviors: There were no gender slants in the inappropriate behaviors

viewed. One girl, four years old, and one boy, also four, hit one another during music time. The

girl was staring into space for much of music time, and the boy looked around the room with a

distracted air. It’s likely that they began hurting each other out of boredom on the girl’s part and

restlessness on the boy’s part.

14. Inappropriate behaviors/behavior management techniques: During the above-mentioned

incident between the boy and girl, the girl walked close to the teacher and said, “Mrs. Gordon, he

was hitting me.” The teacher turned away from her and said, “I don’t want to hear any tales.”

She didn’t acknowledge that the boy’s behavior was inappropriate, she didn’t help him find a

better behavior to engage in, she didn’t make the girl feel safe. She just ignored bad behaviors,

which is effective to some extent; if poor behavior doesn’t get attention, that’s one way to ensure
it doesn’t get repeated. But if the behavior is connected to an underlying issue other than

attention-seeking, the problem just perpetuates.

15. Ended group time: Music was the last part of group time, and after the last song had been

sung, the teacher said, “Okay, we’re going to have our lunch now!” Lunch time immediately

followed group time, so the teacher dismissed the children one at a time to go get their

lunchboxes out and to sit at the table. This was a good way to lessen chaos in shifting seven

children from group time to lunch time, by gradually sending them to the snack area.

16. Activity followed: Lunch time followed group time. This seems appropriate to me, but

another great option would be an outdoor time. The children have been sitting inside for at least

two hours, not being very active, not being loud, and likely have a lot of energy to get out. Even

if the outdoor break was a short one, it would be a good idea to get that energy released before

starting lunch time (which involves more sitting).

EVALUATION

This group time doesn’t support a sense of community. It doesn’t foster relationships between

the children or with the children to the teacher. This is because children are not allowed to

interact with each other or with the teacher except when allowed, and when they are “allowed”

participate, they are in reality demanded to (like with the boy during talking time).

The pace of activities is entirely teacher-directed. She has planned the entire day and has no

room for flexibility (note the boy who was hungry). Children were often rushed through their

turn during activities, then sat on the floor watching their classmates take their turns. They could

not even do these forced activities in the time and manner they wished to (note the needless nit-

pickiness during the song and dance time).

If these were DAP-appropriate activities, this pacing might be forgivable. However, the teacher
had high expectations of reading, writing, rote memorization, sitting still, being quiet, and

listening for 3- to 5-year-olds, which is completely inappropriate for these age groups. There

were little to no hands-on experiences, and they were not tailored to the interests or skill levels of

the children, but were instead tailored to the teacher’s agenda – preparing her students for

kindergarten with a psychometric approach.

The group time was two hours long, which as stated previously is far longer than the

recommended ten minutes for three-year-olds and the twenty minutes for four-year-olds. Not

only was it far too long for young children, but it also did not involve active participation for

much of that huge time. It also didn’t involve small groups or any sort of cooperative activities;

each child was only involved in activities for themselves.

There wasn’t a good balance with the group activities. Many, many quiet, sitting activities were

followed by a brief exercising time, and group time ended with an active song and dance time.

The group time could have benefitted by being balanced with the active times more evenly

interspersed between the passive ones. The experiences were not only balanced, but they were all

skewed toward certain types of learners, instead of encompassing many to include more

diversity. The experiences relied on visual cues the most (such as the “W” flip book), as well as

some aural cues (such as during the song time or with verbal reminders), but very few physical

cues. They catered most to verbal, spatial, and intrapersonal learners, with disregard to those who

would benefit from more social or hands-on activities.

The group time area was also for the benefit of the teacher. She had a comfortable chair, sitting

high above the students sitting on the floor, able to see and correct any behavior of theirs she

didn’t allow. It wasn’t comfortable or inviting to the students and lacked visual appeal.
In conclusion, the group time was too long, not appropriate for the age group, and not engaging

enough to hold the attention of the students, much less deepen their understanding.
Powerful Interaction Observation

Date: March 20, 2018 School: Mitchell Elementary School

Teacher: Amie Guisewhite Age of Child: 6

Time: 10:02am – 10:06am

Setting: One teacher overlooks about fifteen children during a kindergarten’s station time.

There’s a group time area with a large rug near the front of the room by the door. Whiteboards

line the wall on the right. Several chairs and two long parallel tables take up the middle space.

The left wall has cabinets for storage, small drinking fountains and sinks, and the teacher’s desk.

The back wall has another door (presumably to the outdoor space), a kitchen play area, a small

circular table, and an electronic area with iPads and soft chairs.

The child in this interaction is a 7-year-old boy standing near the writing station.

Interaction: A 7-year-old boy stands close to the writing station, holding a marker and a

clipboard with a piece of paper. He doesn’t move, or use the marker, or look at the paper. He

stares into space.

The teacher looks at him, pauses, and watches him for a moment. She then approaches slowly

and touches his shoulder gently. He looks up at her. She leans down next to him and says, “You

look like you’re thinking about something, Matt. Will you tell me what you’re working on?”

The boy looks at the floor and says, “Don’t know what to write.”

The teacher makes an exaggerated surprised face. “You don’t know what to write?! Well, let’s

think about what you could write.” She makes a concentrated face, putting one fist under her

chin and moving her eyebrows together in a furrow. “Are you thinking with me? Do you have

any ideas yet?”

The boy throws his hands in air. He says with his voice raised in pitch, “Nothing!”
The teacher puts her hands on her hips. “Nothing! Well, I’m thinking you could write about what

you did yesterday after school, or you could write about the rabbits we’ve been learning about!

Could you pick between those two? Which one is more interesting to you?” She looks at the boy

and waits.

The boy looks at the ceiling, then at the teacher. He pauses a moment. “Uhhhhh, rabbits. Like

from our book.”

The teacher says, “That’s a great idea! Let’s go sit down at the table and write about rabbits. You

can even get out the book on rabbits and look at it again if you need more ideas.” She stands up

and puts on hand on the boys back, then guides him to the table, pulls out a chair, and watches

him get settled. She then moves on to another part of the room.

PI Behaviors: The teacher observed the child before going up to him, and she approached him

slowly. She then got down to his level instead of remaining standing. This is reflective of the

“slow down and stay in the moment” principle (Powerful Interactions 35-37) which helps

teachers to really connect to the child before attempting to expand their learning.

She personalized this interaction (50-51) by using the child’s name and slowing down her

behavior to match his. She also used mirror talk (90-91) when she pointed out that he looked like

he was thinking. In regards to thinking, the teacher helped the child to notice the word and

process of thinking (82) by modeling with her face what thinking might look like, as well as

asking if he was thinking too.

At the end of the interaction, the teacher bridged the new (today’s writing) to the familiar (a book

they had read the day before). She connected the child to something he could remember and be

inspired by to help him write, building links like the book describes (130-132).

Improvement: There are a few ways this interaction would have been improved. For example,
the teacher could have stayed in the moment longer to learn more about the child’s situation (40-

41) and to listen about what’s going on behind the scenes (46-47). She didn’t really stay quiet

long enough for the child to volunteer any information, so she didn’t find out what might have

truly been the disconnect for him. Yes, it’s possible that he just couldn’t think of what to write.

But something else might have happened – the area he wanted to be in had too many children, he

was bored, he wanted to go outside, he found writing to be difficult and wanted to dictate

instead, etc. There are so many possibilities, but we didn’t get to find that out because the teacher

moved on pretty quickly.

For children who may be reluctant to talk like this boy, a bit of humor might have helped him to

open up to talking to the teacher (119-121). Jokes and laughter can go a long way with children

to ease their discomfort and allow them to be receptive to what a teacher might say.