Initial Research Findings

My initial data has given me a lot of insight into learning centers. So far, I have found it to be relatively easy to incorporate the Alaska State Standards for curriculum into my daily centers. This week, my students completed the math, reading, writing, and art learning centers. I have technology, social studies and science planned for next week. I incorporated the math learning center into our sensory table and my students loved it! I think next week we will have a science learning center in the sensory table and my students will work with magnets.

I found that talking candidly with my students about the reasons I dislike centers to be valuable. We talked about the noise levels, bickering, tattling, interruptions, and general expectations about working independently. I was surprised at how much my students wanted to help me like center time. They love to be helpful and I should have discussed my feelings with them sooner instead of spending most of the year being frustrated.

I found that my classroom rules were sabotaging having independent learning centers. I want my students to be independent, but if they have to ask me every time they need to leave their center then I am forcing them to be dependent on me. Further, it adds to my frustration because I’m constantly being interrupted while I’m trying to work with other students. The first day of my research, I was a wreck. I felt like I had zero control of the classroom and I was very anxious. As the week progressed, my anxiety has lessened. I do not need to be in control of everything and everyone all the time. My students know what to do and my research shows it. I was not interrupted very often during learning centers time and was able to conduct my observations with few disruptions. I have also found patterns. There are specific students that are more prone to interrupting me during centers and there were specific learning centers that had high occurrences of disruptions. Therefore, I need to work with my students that are struggling the most at being independent and I need to address the problems I am having with my specific centers. Overall, I am finding that my centers are engaging and can be done independently, which is very encouraging since that is my research objective.

I made a few revisions already to my data collection plan. I changed my observation form after test driving it on Monday. My main issue right now is the post interview. I feel the answers I am getting from my kindergarteners make it unreliable. I ask them what they liked and didn’t like about the learning center. I also ask them if the learning center was too hard or too easy (I need to add whether it is just right) and if they would want to do the center again. Some of their answers are not making sense. For example, I asked what they didn’t like about the math center and two of them said that they didn’t like it because it was math. They also said that it was too easy. Then I asked them if they wanted to do it again and they excitedly said “yes!” I think I need to add a question asking why they said yes or no to that last question. I would like to get some insight their reasoning behind their answer.

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6 thoughts on “Initial Research Findings

  1. It sounds like you got a wonderful start to your project! I teach 1st grade so I know what you mean about being interrupted during small group time. It can be frustrating. One thing I do is put a push light on my desk. When the light is on students to not come to my table to interrupt me no matter what. They have learned to ask a friend first. This has really been successful in my class. Just thought I would share it with you. Hope you have another successful week of data collection!!!

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    • The light is a great idea! I will have to try it. Thank you for sharing it with me. It has been tough for me to transition to kindergarten since I was a student teacher in 6th grade last year. We didn’t do centers, workshops, or daily 5 last year. I’ve been learning a lot this year and appreciate any advice I can get!

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  2. It sounds like you’ve learned a lot in your first week! Centers are totally a challenging time in any classroom. The idea of centers always sounds so fabulous. Who doesn’t want engaged and independent learning going on so that the teacher can have time to work uninterrupted with small groups? But the reality is so much different! It’s so important to be explicit with students. I make t-charts for each of our “centers” (I actually follow the Daily 5 model). We have a chart for each independent work activity. One side is the “Students'” job and the other is the “Teacher’s” job. We also make sure to include why we do each particular activity. I can refer back to these charts all year long if and when they begin to slip in their behaviors. I also have a little stop sign on a popsicle stick that I hold up to any students that come to interrupt me when I’m with a small group (although I LOVE Ashley’s idea above!).

    I felt completely anxious this week as well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to have everything run smoothly, and of course it didn’t! But you’re doing the right thing in being so reflective and making changes where necessary. I hope this week goes well for you, your students, and your research!

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  3. So, I’m wondering… Did you change your classroom rules so they don’t sabotage learning centers? Or at least make a different set of rules for center time?

    I can’t imagine having to rely on answers from Kinders or first or second graders for my data. I imagine that they would often give answers similar to what you shared. It is a good idea to have the follow up why question to the would you do it again. You could have a follow up “Why?” question to all of them. Great WEEK!

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    • I did change my classroom rules so my students were able to see to their own needs without interrupting me. It has given me a lot of insight to my classroom rules and how I think I should change them for the rest of this year. Some rules could just be in place for center time, but I think letting them use the bathroom and drinking fountain whenever they have a need would be fine. I am seeing that I do not have to have such strict rules because my students don’t abuse the rules.

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  4. Awesome! I like to use reverse psychology on my Kindergarteners too! I also have had problems with students coming up to me for help when I am trying to work in small groups. We had a discussion and we came up with a rule, “three before me”. If they don’t know what to do, they can ask a friend for help. If they can’t help, then ask two more friends until they get help. If three friends could not help, then I would be there to help. Luckily, I have a classroom assistant that is able to be in the room with me to help with situations like that. It has worked out nicely because usually they get help before they can ask three friends.

    I, too, have a hard time interviewing my class. I often wonder how “true” the answers are.

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