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Essay on Observation of a Carusi Middle School Class

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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 enjo...


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...ok be and why? Was there any specific material from the text that lead to this decision? These types of questions can be difficult for students because they seem to be very abstract. Trying to make these concrete specific examples as to why The Thief Lord (for example) should be green, because…..That is an entirely student directed opinion, perspective, and analysis of the text. They simply can not refer to another classmate, because they might not have read the book, or they cannot just look up examples that were created by other students, because they might not understand why someone else would attribute that color with that book. In a very round-about way, the topics for their writing pieces are their own design, making unrecognizable and misunderstandings more common, especially if a student is not comfortable or exposed to that type of learning strategy.


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