Observation Of A Carusi Middle School Class

2229 words - 9 pages

This semester I was lucky enough to observe and participate at a high energy and collaborative school that strongly utilized some literacy and learning community strategies. The school that I visited over the past few weeks is Carusi Middle School, located in Cherry Hill. During my visits I was teamed with an exceptional eighth grade teacher, Ms. Bradshaw. She not only showed me her language arts classes, but also sent me to other grade levels and classes so that I could experience all types of learning environments. I was able to participate in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade humanities, special education, science, math, other language arts, and AVID (advancement via individual determination) courses. The themes that I observed were independent reading/variety of book selection, which occurred every Wednesday morning during/prior to homeroom, vocabulary lessons, balanced literacy components, and collaborative learning.
The first theme that I took notice to was the independent reading and self selection of text that occurred each and every Wednesday morning. During this time, students would read books for about twenty minutes to a half hour in the morning. In the classroom, there were shelves and shelves of books for students to select from. If, upon occasion, a student was having difficulty selecting a book, the teacher, would come to the back of the room and help the student select a text. In this way, the teacher was able to help guide the student to an appropriate level book that would challenge the student, but would also not be too difficult for him/her to interpret. The teacher would also talk with the student, asking about the book that was just completed. Did the student like the book? What did they enjoy the most? Did they like this genre/theme in the book?, etc. In addition to the teacher asking questions, the students would have a blogging assignment (at times was optional, for extra credit, or counted for a grade) that would ask specific questions regarding the text. Some of the questions were: What is your favorite character and why? What is the color of your book? Why would you choose that color? Or can you describe the plot without revealing the whole story? By utilizing independent reading and self selection, the students were given the opportunity to explore the world or reading without having to worry about picking the “wrong” book or level. This gave the students power and motivated interest because they did not only have to read books that are part of the curriculum, but also books they wanted to read. A great example would be Twilight, which is something that most middle school girls currently are over the moon about, but they would not normally be given the chance to read it in school. Overall, the independent reading program was unbelievable! This, of course, may have had more to do with the teacher, that is why it was so successful, but the fact that the children were reading regardless, was...

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