My plan is to use both direct observation and a self-assessment survey for my data collection. I considered writing a narrative of my observations, but I became concerned about whether I will get my questions answered. I have learned that five and six year olds are tricky. They can easily distract me with their cuteness and imaginative minds. I decided that it would be better for me to have an observation form, so I am going to make my own observational assessment form. I found a form on a website that I can tweak and change to suit my needs (Positive Environments, Network of Trainers, 1990). It is originally for problem behaviors, but I believe I can use it as a starting point for building my own form to assess engagement and why I have problem behaviors during my learning centers.
My plan is to observe and collect data over a one and a half week period. My students will have centers every day of the week for about an hour, which will allow for each student to spend about 8 minutes at each learning center. There will be reading, writing, math, science, social studies, art, and technology learning centers. During this time, I will pick a learning center and observe students as they rotate through that learning center. Each day, I will observe a different learning center until I have observed all the students in each learning center. I have thirteen morning students and twelve afternoon students, so I will not have to observe more than two students at any given time. I am also going to note the number of times I am interrupted (because that is something I am trying to eliminate by conducting this research) by other students. My goal is to find out how to have self directed, engaging learning centers that align to the Content and Performance Standards for Alaska Students (State of Alaska, 2006).
I am anticipating having a few challenges. First, I know that I am going to be interrupted by my students as I am observing other students. I am concerned about the results of my observations and data. Second, I am concerned that the observation form will be too involved and time consuming and involved. I wonder if I will get the information I really want without getting bogged down in too many details. Third, I would like to videotape my students, but I know that they will be distracted by a video camera (and I don’t know where to get a video camera to use for my data collection). I am concerned if having an extra distraction is going to pull their attention and cause me to have more behavior issues. Finally, I am struggling a little with how to have my kindergarten students self assess their learning. I am planning on using a smiley, straight and frowning face picture, but I am apprehensive about how honest they will be when it comes time to fill out the form. I have found a lot of useful forms and ideas from the website Teachers Pay Teachers, so I looked for a centers self assessment and I found one, with pictures, for free that I can change to suit my needs (Teachers Pay Teachers – Ms. F, 2015).
Positive Environments, Network of Trainers. (1990). Functional Assessment Observation Form. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from Positive Environments, Network of Trainers: http://www.pent.ca.gov/frm/functobserv.pdf
State of Alaska. (2006, March). Alaska Standards. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from Alaska Department of Education & Early Development: http://education.alaska.gov/AKStandards/standards/standards.pdf
Teachers Pay Teachers – Ms. F. (2015). Centers Checklist. Retrieved February 20, 2015, from Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Centers-Checklist-839029