Academic Writing Education Linguistics

Ethnographic Data Collection, Analysis Notebook

Written for an Applied Linguistics Master’s Course: Culture, Language and Learning


Observation Field Notes

     Data Collection. The site chosen for my fieldwork observations was a Grade 5 classroom consisting of twenty-one students, nine females and twelve males. Students in this classroom come from diverse backgrounds as it is an international school in Muscat, Oman. Nationalities represented in this specific classroom include Norway, Oman, India, Iran, Pakistan, the U.K, Syria, Palestine, China, Egypt, the Netherlands, Australia and Germany. Additionally, there are a variety of learning needs in the classroom: one student who was recently exited from the school’s EAL program but still being monitored for progress, one student who is provided with support for her behavioral needs and two students who have low-level special education needs outlined in ILPs (Individual Learning Plans). The parents of students in this classroom are expatriates of their home countries who hold various jobs connected to the city. Many of the students come from affluent backgrounds as one or both of their parents work for a major oil company that is based in Muscat. Other students, though they may come from less affluent backgrounds, are economically stable as their parents hold various, steady jobs within the Muscat community, including jobs that are connected directly with the school.

     The classroom space, though adequate in size, seemed smaller due to the large furniture used in various areas of the classroom to store the students’ belongings, to store classroom materials and to seat students in various table groupings (See Classroom Space in “Supporting Documentation”). As such, during the classroom tasks observed, the student groups were often working in close proximities which often resulted in cross-group interaction. Additionally, the students had no other option for workspaces other than their tables since the surrounding classroom spaces could not accommodate student groups that wanted to work in different classroom areas. Despite these physical limitations, the classroom appeared inviting and engaging with clear learning areas for writing, reading, math and unit of inquiry and with much of the students’ previous work decorated around the room.

     My role as an observer was that of a passive participant. Though present at the observation site on both occasions, I had little to no interaction with the students and did not participate in the classroom tasks as an “insider.” I chose to take on this role as I believed it would provide me with more opportunities to observe all student groups during each collaborative task as opposed to merely focusing my observation on one specific group. In this case, the passive participant role served well since, as aforementioned, student groups often engaged in cross-group communication during their collaborative tasks, an observation that may have been missed had I been engaged solely with one student group as a more active participant. Additionally, my observation role served well as it helped me to remain more inconspicuous as I walked around the classroom and recorded fieldnotes on student interactions.

     The first observation took place on a Monday during an early afternoon math lesson (See Observation 1 in “Supporting Documentation”). As I entered the classroom space, the students were watching a video about angles. More specifically, it was a song that aimed to teach its viewers about the different types of angles that exist (i.e. obtuse, acute, right, etc.) and where one can see examples of them in the real world. From there, the students were put into smaller groups by the teacher, based mostly on where they were already sitting, and they were instructed to look at a statement about angles (See Observation 1 in “Supporting Documentation”) and write what they “Saw, Thought and Wondered” about angles on a provided poster. The groups were allotted five to ten minutes to work on their first poster before passing it along to a new group and receiving a new poster to build on the previous group’s work. Because students were grouped according to where they were already sitting, my observation notes quickly adapted to record and document the interactions that took place at each table. There were five tables in total where one or more groups were working collaboratively. These collaborative groups have been categorized by table spaces A, B, C, D and E, respectively (See Classroom Space in “Supporting Documents”).

     From the start of the collaborative task, it was clear that Tables A and E were consistently independent. They took in the teacher’s instructions with no need for clarification or assistance and began their work as collaborative groups right away. Each group at these tables had their own way of communicating and interacting, all of which led to a seamless, positive and productive interaction. For example, at Table E, students worked together to make sure a space was created for everyone to record on their poster simultaneously. Table A took a different but equally successful approach: one student served as the recorder for the group with each student feeding in his or her ideas to be recorded on their poster. At each of these tables, students worked somewhat independently to record their ideas for the task. However, at intervals one or more students would ask each other questions to make sure that their work was presented cohesively.

     Table C, though also strongly independent in some ways, did not work as cohesively as Tables A and E. They engaged in a lot of open discussion and recorded many ideas on their group’s poster. However, their work was often done independently or in smaller pairings, where each contribution was not always communicated to the entire group. For example, the girl in the group, though engaged in the activity, often worked on her own without communicating what she was doing to her male group members. Occasionally, she would ask a question about the topic or about what they boys were recording, but was often left unanswered, and so, she resumed working on her own. Two out of the three boys she was working with were engaged at the start of the task. However, when it was time to switch their posters with another group, they soon got off task, talking about what happened at recess, and showed no real initiative to stay on topic and build on the previous group’s ideas. The girl remained engaged with her work and took no initiative to refocus the boys on the task at hand.

     Tables B and D had the most difficulty as they needed to be directed frequently by the teacher and they often ran into problems that they left unresolved. These two main issues led to an overall inability to get many ideas down on their group’s poster or on any subsequent poster they received from other groups during the collaborative activity. From the start of the task, Table B proved to have the strongest, most openly expressed sense of discord amongst the group members. The teacher grouped the girls at Table B together and the boys into two separate groups. While the boy grouping at this table was eventually able to get on task and work collaboratively, there was some initial communication amongst the boys and the girls about one specific girl being switched to make an all-girl group at this table. This led to a physical reaction by the girl who was singled out: she shoved the table where the girls were sitting and kicked her chair before walking away. The teacher intervened immediately, calmed the girl down and brought her back to the group. However, from that initial interaction, the other two girls in the group did not communicate verbally or physically to rectify or dissolve the underlying issue. Their body language indicated that this girl was now excluded from interacting during the collaborative tasks (e.g. backs to the girl, facing each other to close the working space off from her, etc.). Additionally, their verbal communication indicated that the girl in question was not welcome or wanted in the collaborative task (e.g. they used harsh tones of voice, they told her to stop talking). These reactions resulted in making the girl feel isolated and unwanted which eventually led her to remain off task for the duration of the activity: she spent the rest of class time writing a letter to one of the girls which eventually led all three of them off task during the whole class reflection at the end of the lesson. Unfortunately, the teacher was not able to intervene during these interactions within the girl group as they were subtler in nature.

     Table D also needed a lot of teacher intervention to keep them on task. The boys and girl in this group struggled to communicate as a team for the duration of the lesson which ultimately led the teacher to assign group roles. The girl in the group was to work as the recorder and the boys were to communicate their ideas to her to write down on their poster. When the teacher walked away, the boys immediately took over the task, and the girl did not attempt to stand up for herself or uphold her teacher-directed role in the group. She went back to being disengaged from the task and began to work on folding a piece of paper underneath the table, out of sight from the teacher. However, the boy group that took over ultimately broke down as well, as only one boy remained on task and attempted to both record his ideas and communicate them to his group members with no real response or feedback. They remained disengaged and uncommunicative as this remaining group member worked through the rest of the collaborative task on his own. When the teacher came around a second time to ask why the girl was not recording their work as instructed, she finally spoke up for herself and attempted to solve the issue with her group members to no avail.

     The second observation took place on a Tuesday during a late morning math lesson (See Observation 2 in “Supporting Documents”). This math lesson was also focused on exploring angles. For their collaborative task, students used protractors and triangle cut outs of various sizes to explore what types of angles exist within them and how the angles in different triangles compare to each other. In this lesson, there were two major changes: (1) the girl who had difficulty in the girl grouping at Table B from the previous lesson was now at Table E with two other boys and (2) the teacher broke the small collaborative groups in new ways to mix up the student interactions.

     For this collaborative task, Table A remained consistent in their ability to work positively and efficiently as a group. This new grouping consisted of three girls and one boy. First, they each worked individually to cut out the triangles for the task. Once this was completed, the group communicated well by talking through their ideas and asking each other for help when needed to complete their task of exploring angles and recording their findings. The boy in this group needed some assistance from the teacher to stay on task. However, once this was done, he could contribute effectively to the task with the rest of his group.

     The two girls from Table B who worked together during the first lesson observation also worked together on this new classroom task. However, the girl with whom they had issues in the previous lesson was moved to a different table. The new girl joining the group sat in between the others. Though this new grouping seemed to work more cohesively than in the previous lesson, the way the girls were seated seemed to create some discord for one of the girls, namely, the girl who was leading others in isolating the former group member in the last math lesson. It appeared that she was unhappy to be sitting on the outer part of the group and that she would have preferred to be in the middle of the two girls to lead the task. As such, she was often disengaged for the task and frequently removed herself physically from the group to communicate with girl group members at Table A.

     The boy grouping at Table B seems less engaged compared to the previous lesson. The boys sitting on the inside of the table (See Classroom Space in “Supporting Documents”), seem to be the most engaged while those on the outside seem to be more frequently distracted. However, one of the boys sitting in the middle solved this issue by taking charge and re-directing the boys sitting on the outside when they became too distracted.

     Table C consisted of all boys for this collaborative task. However, they still seem to have issues with staying on task. The new boy in this table group seemed to be the most engaged. He contributed ideas and answers to teacher questions when they arose while the other three boys remained distracted and disinterested in the collaborative task. After a few check-ins from the teacher, however, the three boys started to become more on task, particularly when the teacher was nearby. When the teacher moved further away, they went back to being off task. One particular boy, though off task for most of the classroom activity, seemed to be engaged in a different classroom assignment in his notebook.

     Table D consisted of two girls and two boys. The new girl who joined the group was the one who had previously worked with the boys at Table C. However, despite this change, the group still required a lot of teacher intervention to work together. At one point, one of the boys in this group built a literal wall with his notebooks to separate himself and the other boy from the girls in the group. After the teacher intervened, the new girl group member took the lead for most of the lesson to make sure that the rest of the group stayed on task and helped to complete the activity. The rest of the group seemed to respond well to that and followed her directions for the most part. However, at times, she often got distracted herself and physically moved from the group to talk with the girls at Table B.

     Table E did not work as well together for this lesson due to the change in their groupings. The girl who had trouble in the previous task at Table B was now at their table. These boys, like the boys at Table D, built a wall of notebooks between themselves and the new group member to express their dislike for the new groupings. They were also observed mouthing the phrase, “Help me,” to the other students in the class without any regard for how their public display of discontent effected their new group member. This expression of dislike seemed to be shared by most of the class who responded to these mock pleas with quiet laughter, smiles and smirks. The girl in question obviously noted these behaviors and sat for nearly the entirety of the lesson off to the far end of the table, away from the boys, crouched in her chair. The teacher did intervene and eventually the girl was included in the task, but this did not occur until near the end of the activity.

     Data Analysis. My overall questions for these observations related to (1) how collaborative tasks unfolded for the students in each activity and (2) how gender and/or ethnic differences influenced how students communicated and problem-solved during these collaborative tasks. Because my initial data collection methods for these observations were documented on pen and paper, my initial observation analysis was more qualitative in nature and focused on general interactions; in other words, my focus was more on general body language and physical reactions than it was on explicitly documenting verbal exchanges.

     As such, I used the model outlined in Hitchcock and Hugh’s (1995) text to guide my analysis where acts, activities, meanings, participation, relationships and settings all worked together to illustrate the relationships between students (Miles & Huberman, 1994, as cited in Hitchcock & Hughes, 1994, p. 300). I observed and analyzed interactions that related to several of these codes. More specifically, the activities, meanings and relationships came through in the most significant ways. I noted that established relationships prior to my observations served to be the most significant elements to how students interacted with one another. My attention in these observations focused on the female student who was clearly ostracized by many of the students in the classroom and on the mixed-gender groups where male and female counterparts had little to no successful interaction. It was obvious that the female student who had difficulties in her all-female group during Observation 1 and her mixed-gender group during Observation 2 was experiencing the consequences of failed personal relationships with her peers. This, in turn, resulted in her inability to work cohesively with her peers. However, from these initial observations alone, it was unclear how much gender and/or ethnicity played a role in these dissonant relationships. Further data collection would be needed to understand how, when and where gender and ethnicity played a significant role in collaborative tasks.

     However, in the more general instances of mixed-gender groupings, it was clear that male and female students had differing strategies for communicating and collaborating. Female students took a more indirect approach to communicating with male students during collaborative tasks: they often asked questions to get their male group members on task, and, if unsuccessful, either chose to work independently or found some off-task activity to engage in on their own. However, when female students were working in same-gender or mostly-female groups, the communication strategies would alternate between direct and indirect speech acts. Male students, however, seemed to be more direct in their communication, regardless of gender, and were often quite forceful in brokering for and/or assuming leadership roles. They did not communicate in the form of questions as often as their female counterparts, but rather, they gave explicit directions to group members on what should be done to complete the task.

     It was clear from my initial qualitative data analysis that I would need to conduct further observations (and student/teacher interviews) where my data collection focused solely on the verbal interactions of students during collaborative tasks. For the purposes of this assignment, I was not able to go further with data collection, but if I were to continue this in the future, I would create a coding taxonomy (influenced by examples in the McCurdy et al, 2005, text) which would break down the verbal exchanges that reflected the social, communicative and/or problem-solving strategies employed by students during collaborative tasks (See “Supporting Documentation”). In this way, I would be better able to apply more top-down and bottom-up analysis (LeCompte & Schensul, 1999) of students’ verbal interactions to more clearly understand how gender and/or ethnic background influenced communicative and/or problem-solving strategies used during collaborative tasks.

Ethnographic Interview

     Data Collection. I conducted this interview following my two classroom observations and subsequent reflections. The teacher was aware of some of the questions that I had in mind prior to our official interview during more informal conversations we had following my observations of his classroom. In these informal conversations, he shared some of my similar concerns and observations, particularly as they relate to the social relationships that exist within his classroom. The interview took place after school hours and was audiotaped so that it could be transcribed later. The transcription provided pertains specifically to the questions I had following each of the observations. Though I may not have asked these questions in the exact way they are recorded below, I have provided the answers the teacher shared and matched them to the questions as they are written in the “Researcher Reflective Journal Entries” section of this paper:

Interview Questions

Teacher Responses

How engaged do you think your students are in general with open-ended tasks like these? What do you think affects this?

The, um, the task I gave them in the first lesson, they’ve done quite a few of those in more literature or science based contexts. This was the same type of task but it was new for…well, I have done it in math, but this is the first time there was a more central provocation to it. To try and direct them down, uh, a certain path of thinking. It’s to try and promote them thinking of angles outside of shapes and think about more real-world aspects of it. So, I think it was more challenging for them really. I think they generally like them. It gives them a chance to, um, discuss their ideas with – the more they feel like they can engage with the task and contribute something, the more successful they are. Sometimes if they don’t understand the task, they let the more able students dominate the discussions. I have done it before (not in the lesson you’ve observed) where I take the less able students in one group and guide them through the task if it’s too complex. If I did the lesson again, I would have this group. Generally, I see how they do in mixed abilities and I will pull kids out of that if it’s not really working.

What are the different same gender and mixed gender dynamics like inside and outside of the classroom? How do you think they affect classroom expectations?

Uh…in general the girls are more flexible and able to work with others they are less familiar with. They will work more collaboratively than the boys and try to include others in order to reach the aims of the task. The boys are sometimes a bit trickier…not trickier, but harder to engage them in working with others in order to complete the task.

Do the varying cultural backgrounds of your student group influence the ways in which they do or do not attempt to problem solve during collaborative tasks? What have you observed and/or what is your opinion of this?

I think it’s hard to tease out whether there is a cultural aspect to their problem solving because there are so many different nationalities. It’s hard to see where the variables are. I’m trying to think of pairs of students that are from similar cultural backgrounds and I don’t think necessarily…um. Like if you want an example, I can think of two boys that come from similar cultural backgrounds that don’t particularly problem solve well when they work together in a pair, but there are two different boys that are from a different cultural background who do work very effectively together. Just to add to that: but thinking about their own maturity levels and how they affect their problem solving, the boys who work well together seem more mature.

Do you consider social relationships when grouping your students? Why or why not? Do you ever allow students to group themselves for collaborative tasks? Why or why not?

Yes, I consider social relationships. I think cuz it’s a smaller class size so there’s less variety I can have in terms of groupings. So when it’s…I think when the task is going to be a bit more challenging for students and there are more opportunities for students to become less engaged, I tend to group the students myself. When the concept is big enough for everyone to contribute to on their own, I tend to let the students group themselves.

Do you ever change around your student groupings at the tables? Why or why not?

It tends to be on a monthly basis…I change the student groupings. It’s mostly for social reasons.

What strategies have you used to engage students more critically, particularly during whole classroom discussions? Which ones have been the most successful for you?

Um…no hands up rules help balance out, uh, having the same students dominate the discussions. So, um, I’ll give the whole class extra wait time and there will be another non-verbal strategy to see if they are ready to contribute, and it seems less pressure for, um, them to…I just lost my train of thought…(Me: To have an answer right away?) To have an answer right away, yeah. There’s a balance of, in a week, there’s a balance of whether it’s a group discussion or individual so that each student can have a chance to speak. Some students do better one to one as opposed to whole class discussions. There’s a very similar activity I did with circles similar to the “See, Think, Wonder” you observed, but students shared their ideas on an individual basis rather than whole class.

What strategies have you used to help create more positive relationships in your classroom? Which ones have been the most successful for you?

Well, I mean we’ve had the usual classroom discussions on our classroom agreements. And the…learner profile, and matching those to specific issues that we face in the classroom. Uh, also try and have more student-directed activities where it’s the students leading the activity rather than me. That seems to be a more positive thing, having students leading the different activities helps students build more positive interdependence. I have also have done one-to-one or small group mentoring to reflect on the situation that happened and it’s usually “What happened? What should have happened? What they might do next time, and what help they might need from an adult.” It’s like the assertive mentoring. The one-to-one or small group mentoring is usually pretty good at having them reflect on their action and think about how their behavior would change for next time.

What do you think about your classroom space? How has it affected your teaching? What changes would you make to the physical space if you had no limitations? Why do you think these changes are effective?

So…have…I have…can I start again? Um, unequal distribution of table space is the biggest problem. Uh, like I have a big round table, some usual rectangular tables and some semicircle tables that fit together. And it causes constant problems with workspace and groupings for tasks. More flexible tables and seating arrangements, like just normal rectangular tables and stools, so they can have more break-out spaces. It’s easier to move around the furniture. Groupings are easier.

Do you think students respond well to your direction and/or intervention? Why or why not?

[Sigh and long pause.] I guess it has…it’s related to their own problem solving and independent skills. Those ones that need the constant reinforcement are often not the best at problem solving independently. They need a lot of redirection. Uh, I think it’s a mixture of my teaching style and individual students. I think it’s more of me planning specific strategies to help deal with those situations better.

Do you feel that some of your students are not challenged enough or are challenged too much by these types of collaborative tasks? In other words, do you feel you differentiate collaborative tasks enough to suit a variety of learning needs and/or styles?

The ones…to challenge the more able ones, I usually base further questions based on what they’ve written or drawn, so it’s usually, for the math task, it’s usually explaining something in more detail or more efficiently so they can clarify their thinking. For the ones who struggle or getting their ideas down, I do encourage them to draw, um, or even to verbally tell me some of their ideas first. And then encourage them to share that with their group. That’s how I try and differentiate those open-ended tasks.

     Data Analysis. As previously mentioned, my main focus during data collection was to broaden my understanding of how collaborative tasks generally unfold when implemented in the classroom and how students’ gender and ethnic backgrounds influence the ways in which they problem-solve and/or communicate during these cooperative tasks. In respect to collaborative tasks in general, the interview conducted provided some deeper insights to what I had observed during my two classroom visits. The teacher gave me further insight into the gender-based differences that influence how students collaborate. For example, the teacher revealed to me how his female students are more open to working with others in the class, regardless of gender, whereas his male students were less inclined. Though this did not seem to be the case in all contexts, it did help me understand how and why all female groups or how groups with mostly female students worked more cohesively than groups will all-male or mostly-male groups. Additionally, the teacher pointed out a new component for me to consider in my analysis – namely, levels of maturity.

     However, though our interview touched on ethnicity and collaboration tasks in general, I think that further interviews would need to take place with both the teacher and the students to get a clearer picture of when, where and how gender and ethnicity influence how students interact with one another. If I were to continue this research, I would have my interviews take place after each classroom observation so that the teacher and the students who engaged in interactions significant to my research questions could reflect on the given collaborative task with me in a more timely manner (i.e. while it was “fresh” in their minds). As aforementioned, I would use a coded taxonomy (See “Supporting Documentation”) to catalogue key pieces of information for future analysis.

Researcher Reflective Journal Entries

     Classroom Observations. The first classroom observation gave me great insight into the classroom dynamics of this specific group of students, particularly the underlying issues and loyalties that influence the ways in which students do or do not work as cohesive units. There were clear issues amongst the girls at Table B who had obviously let their social relationships outside of the classroom affect how they performed within it. My initial impression of the girl who reacted so aggressively was that she may be quite immature compared to her peers. However, with further observation on this first day, I got the impression that perhaps some of her open aggression and emotional expression may be due to the ways in which other students chose to treat her. I was quite appalled to see how openly the girls with whom she was working expressed their hostility towards her. Though these girls did not express their aggression physically as the girl in question did during the first observation, they were equally aggressive with their physical behavior and attitudes. It left me wondering what student relationships were really like outside of the classroom.

     Additionally, I was left wondering what other obligations students had on a daily or weekly basis, both in and out of school. There were many students who seemed disengaged, but not because the content was uninteresting: it seemed that the students who were not as engaged were physically and/or mentally exhausted which left me wondering what their school and home life demands were overall. I know that the students in this classroom, along with the other Grade 5 classrooms, were working on a PYP Exhibition which is a long-term project in which students research a topic of personal interest, engage in an action to solve the problem(s) within their topic and present their work to parents, teachers and students on a whole -school level. I can imagine that this type of project would be both time consuming and physically and/or mentally demanding for students at this age, and so, it leaves me wondering if this may be one of the reasons why some students were not entirely engaged in the task. The questions I was left with for the teacher following this first observation were:

  • How engaged do you think your students are in general with open-ended tasks like these? What do you think affects this?
  • What are the different same gender and mixed gender dynamics like inside and outside of the classroom? How do you think they affect classroom expectations?
  • Do the varying nationalities of your student group influence the ways in which they do or do not attempt to problem solve during collaborative tasks? What have you observed and/or what is your opinion of this?
  • Do you consider social relationships when grouping your students? Why or why not? Do you ever allow students to group themselves for collaborative tasks? Why or why not?
  • What strategies have you used to engage students more critically, particularly during whole classroom discussions? Which ones have been the most successful for you?
  • What strategies have you used to help create more positive relationships in your classroom? Which ones have been the most successful for you?
  • What do you think about your classroom space? How has it affected your teaching? What changes would you make to the physical space if you had no limitations? Why do you think these changes are effective?
  • Do you ever change around your student groupings at the tables? Why or why not?

     The second classroom observation confirmed my impressions of the social dynamics of the students in this classroom. It was clear that there was a mutual feeling of discontent and dislike amongst many of the students for one specific girl in the classroom. This shared feeling was confirmed by the extensive amount of physical and verbal reactions students had at the beginning of this lesson in direct relation to her. Again, I felt incredibly appalled that the students in this classroom would behave in such a manner, given that the school values and promotes inclusion, cultural awareness and sensitivity and open-mindedness. Though some of my questions for this observation related to teacher-student relationships and the variety and differentiation of classroom tasks, my biggest concerns and questions shifted to the students’ social dynamics. In addition to the questions that followed my first observation, after this second observation, I was left with these questions for the teacher:

  • Do you think students respond well to your direction and/or intervention? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel that some of your students are not challenged enough or are challenged too much by these types of collaborative tasks? In other words, do you feel you differentiate collaborative tasks enough to suit a variety of learning needs and/or styles?

     Ethnographic Interview. I conducted this interview following my two classroom observations and subsequent reflections. The teacher was aware of some of the questions that I had in mind for our interview during more informal conversations we had following my observations of his classroom. In these informal conversations, he shared some of my similar concerns and observations, particularly as they related to the social relationships that exist within his classroom. The interview took place after school hours and was audiotaped so that it could be transcribed later. The transcription provided pertained specifically to the questions I had following each of the observations. Though I may not have asked these questions in the exact way they are recorded (See the “Ethnographic Interview” Section), I have provided the answers the teacher shared and matched them to the corresponding questions as they are written in the “Researcher Reflective Journal Entries” section of this paper.

Supporting Documentation

     Observation 1: Lesson Outline and Materials. As previously mentioned, the first observed lesson was an introduction to angles. Students watched a video about what types of angles there are and where one can find them in real world contexts. Students shared their prior knowledge and their existing questions about angles in a small group, collaborative task with a poster activity. Details from the lesson are as follows:

Lesson Objective: Students will…

  • Investigate connections and relationships with angles.

Lesson Materials:

  • Angles Video
  • Group Poster with Central Idea: “Where angles exist, connections and relationships are formed.”
  • Markers, pencils, etc.

Activity:

  • Students watch Angles video on YouTube and reflected on what they learned from it
  • Students collaboratively worked on a poster with the lesson’s central idea in a “See, Think, Wonder,” visible thinking routine
  • Students reflected on what they discussed and wrote down whole class

     Observation 2: Lesson Outline and Materials. The second observed lesson involved students exploring triangles of different sizes and shapes with protractors to find out what types of angles existed within them. They took what they found out to compare the types of angles that exist in different triangles. Details from the lesson are as follows:

Lesson Objective: Students will…

  • Investigate connections and relationships of angles in triangles

Lesson Materials:

  • Triangle cut outs, various sizes
  • Protractors
  • Pencils, Erasers, etc.

Activity:

  • Students reviewed the differences between internal and external angles
  • Students worked in collaborative groups to investigate the angles that exist in various types of triangles
  • Student reflected on the different connections and relationships they discovered between different types of triangles

     Parent-Student Consent Forms. The parent-student consent forms were sent the week prior to the lesson observations to give classroom parents and their children time to understand what the purposes of the observations were and how the data collected would be used. Additionally, it was given so that there would be enough time to prepare if there were any parents and students who did not wish to be a part of the observations. Fortunately, all parents and students consented to take part in the observation process. The consent form sent home to parents and students read as follows (my school information was excluded from the text below to keep the students’ school location anonymous):

Screenshot 2019-06-06 at 10.01.13.png

     Classroom Space. Provided is a topographical image of the classroom set up. Specific attention was paid to the table groupings from the first lesson observation. The table groupings changed in the second classroom observation. Please refer to the information in the “Observation Field Notes” section of this paper for details.

Screenshot 2019-06-06 at 10.02.03.png
     Coded Taxonomy. The template below is still in its initial stages of development. The final template would be influenced by the type of data collected during further classroom observations and with the subsequent interviews with students that would follow these intended observations. Overall, the coded taxonomy focuses on what types of verbal interactions take place, whether communicative, social and or problem-solving in nature, and would be further broken down by gender and ethnicity.

Screenshot 2019-06-06 at 10.02.29.png

References:

Hitchcock, G. & Hughes, D. (1995). Research and the teacher: A qualitative introduction to school-based research (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

LeCompte, M. D. & Schensul, J. J. (1999). Analyzing and interpreting ethnographic data: Ethnographer’s toolkit (2nd ed.). Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.

McCurdy, D. W., Spradley, J. P. & Shandy D. J. (2005).  The cultural experience: Ethnography in complex society (2nd ed.).  Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. Inc.

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