Here it is!
Here it is! I had to upload it to my YouTube.
This research study has shown the importance of learning centers in a kindergarten classroom. The main concern for this study was that it is difficult to create engaging, independent learning centers that align to the Alaska State Curriculum standards. Learning centers are important to kindergarten students because it is developmentally appropriate for them to learn through play. Learning through play fosters the developmental need for movement and imagination. The main argument against having learning centers in the classroom is that they take away from important direct instruction time. However, when learning centers are aligned to the curriculum requirements, it allows for students to kinesthetically apply, practice, and connect the curriculum concepts they learned during direct instruction.
I recommend that kindergarten educators incorporate learning centers into their lesson plans at least once a week. My students engage in learning centers twice a week for an hour each time. I use that time to work with individual students at different learning centers. My students also complete a self-assessment for behavior and engagement after learning center time. I advise other educators to do the same because allows students to become accountable and responsible for their behavior and learning. I also keep a tracking sheet during learning center time. It helps me keep track of which students are struggling and whether a learning center is causing too many interruptions and off task behavior.
I was very sad that this week was the last time we met for our Twitter chat. I have come to rely on that time to connect with my classmates and get my questions answered. Fortunately, I know that I can get a hold of my classmates if necessary and they will still help me. This week was a rough week for me. I expected to receive a letter on Friday telling me that I was being laid off, but instead I received a letter telling me that I have to wait another month to find out. My future is very up in the air right now. I don’t know where I’ll be teaching next year and my main concern is that I am going to have to put my master’s degree on hold if things don’t go well and I don’t have a job next year. I find that really frustrating because I want to use the knowledge I gained in my classroom. I don’t want to lose some of the ideas I have. Of course, I can write them down, but it is not the same as using them. This class made me a believer that I can change the things in my classroom that I don’t care for….like learning centers. I love learning center time now and I know that if I hadn’t chosen that topic for my research, I would still feel anxious and frustrated during learning center time. Which means my students would be missing out on learning center time because I wouldn’t schedule it as often. I want to pick another topic next year to explore and research on my own. I believe it will improve my teaching by leaps and bounds. Breaking down the paper into sections was immensely helpful. It never became overwhelming for me. I have also enjoyed reading the blogs of my classmates. I am very interested in Stephanie’s research about journal writing. My students love to write me letters and draw pictures for me. I would like to see if I can figure out a way to make it work for kindergarten (providing that is what I am teaching next year).
Others can apply what I learned to their classrooms by tracking their own learning centers to find out where interruptions and off task behavior occurs. It is hard to know how to correct a problem if you don’t know exactly what the problem is or where it happens. I think that the most important thing for others to take from my research is that learning centers can be engaging, independent, and aligned to the Alaska State Curriculum Standards. Another thing that others can take from my research is that self-assessments work for students, even if they are in kindergarten. They can evaluate their own behavior and it helps them think about what they are doing. It makes them more accountable for their own actions.
What I need to consider next is how to help my students who are struggling with being on task. I do not want to harp on them and remind them several times because it does not create independent behavior. I know that some of my five and six year olds cannot stay on task. I have said that I believe that my student who has the most off task behavior has a running musical in her head. I have observed her many times and I have watched her hum and sway as she tries to work. I have discussed instructions with her and had her repeat them to me. I have had her trace lines that she is supposed to cut. But when I get the work back, she has done something random and completely different than what we discussed. She simply cannot stay focused and that is our reality. Her strength is in her creativity, it is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I believe it comes from the musical that is constantly playing in her brain. I want to balance the independence and interrupting behavior without making her lose her spirit. I want to be able to do that for all my students.
What comes next for me is finding out if I am going to be laid off this year. Fairbanks has been hit very hard with budget cuts. I know that I want to stay in kindergarten for at least one more year. So, regardless of where I work, I will plan my learning centers and set clear expectations for my students. I will also integrate self-assessments into my teaching. I would like my students to fill them out on a regular basis. Next year, I will have learning centers every week. I no longer feel anxious or nervous with the noise level or loss of control. I will also use my recording sheet to track which learning centers are working and which needs to be tweaked. My recording sheets will help me see which students need additional support to become independent workers and I can work with them over the course of the year to help them improve.
I was a bit late to our Twitter discussion this week, but I was able to scroll through it and see what I had missed and get caught up quickly. I was frustrated this week with finding out that I did the previous section of my paper incorrectly, but this is a learning process and it just needed a couple adjustments. The Twitter discussion made figuring out how to fix it so much easier. I also received a lot of positive feedback on my blog this week. I love that my classmates are always supportive and encouraging. I definitely do not feel like I’m in this alone. I enjoyed reading the blogs of my classmates. I think that many of us had triumphs to celebrate with our data collection, but we still have more that we want to do. Of course, we were warned of this before data collection. I have gained a lot of knowledge this week and I feel that I am making lasting connections with my classmates. I especially enjoyed learning about the research done in multi-age classrooms. I have never taught more than one grade level, but it is something that I may have to do in the future. I hope to be able to be on time to the Twitter discussion this week, but it is really difficult for me since Tuesday is my grade level PLC. I’m nervous about the presentation that I have to complete. I do not enjoy presenting, but this will be a great opportunity to learn about Prezi. I know that I have classmates who have used it and I would like to connect with them this week and find out more about it.
I will apply what I learned from my data to my teaching by planning and implementing learning centers on a regular basis. Before I started my data collection, I loathed learning centers. Every time I had learning centers I would be anxious and frustrated. I didn’t know how to plan them or why my students were always interrupting me when I was trying to work with individual students. I wanted to desperately buy into the myth that learning centers are outdated and need to be discontinued. Many people believe that they take away from direct instruction time. I have a friend who is a firm believer in learning centers and she would ask me every week how my centers were and what my students were doing for activities. Almost every week I would tell her that we didn’t have time for centers because we have half-day kindergarten and I only get two hours of instructional time in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. That was my excuse.
I learned that I could successfully have learning centers and love it. I was very anxious in the beginning, but my data started to show that I was not being interrupting as often as I felt. My anxiety made it feel like it was more often. I also learned the importance of planning my learning center activities around my curriculum. On the days that my students were highly engaged, I did not have as many interruptions. Further, I was able to pinpoint what the interruptions were and who was doing the interrupting. There were some surprises in this data because my most frequent interrupter was not a student with frequent behavioral issues, but it is clear that she needs more practice working independently.
I will take what I have learned and apply it to my classroom by having learning centers more often. They are great for reinforcing skills and concepts that we are working on in all subject areas. I also will remember to set specific rules for learning center time, to help my students become and remain independent. One thing that I found helpful was having them rely on their partner for help. It built friendship bonds and allowed my students to be helpful, which they love. For my students that are struggle with independence, I can help them one-on-one by focusing on one thing that they need to work on and improve. For example, I will remind my student who interrupts the most that she does not need to ask if she needs to use the bathroom since we have one in our room. I will also have my students fill out self-assessments more often because they really helped with behavior. I have a few students who have asked if they could do self-assessments after math, which surprised me.
Others can apply what I learned by doing periodic observations and address the issues they have in their classroom. They can also see that it is not difficult to align learning centers to the Alaska State Standards. Another thing they could do is use self-assessments, it is clear that kindergarten students were able to fill them out correctly and they are very easy to make.