Katie graduated from Carleton College and completed her MAT in 2011. She currently teaches third grade at the Cambridgeport School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
I have always wanted to be a teacher and am excited to finally be concretely on that path, though I feel I’ve been on the “teacher path” since elementary school. Because I love all learning and therefore all subjects, it broke my heart to think of picking just one to teach, which is partly why I’m really excited to teach in elementary school. I’m also excited about giving children a basis for understanding and building blocks or tools with which to continue learning all their lives. I believe that elementary school is the place to really be able to affect students and their attitudes towards learning and I am gratified to be part of making learning exciting, fun and wonderful for all children.
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Read about some of the Teacher Research Projects
Teacher research is systematic intentional inquiry conducted in and for practice, on a matter of concern to the individual teacher-researcher and relevant to the profession more broadly. MAT students identify an interest or concern and begin to frame a question in December/January. Over the next several months, they refine the question, develop a plan for data collection, typically including an action component, and begin to collect data—all the while carrying on their teaching responsibilities. For several more months, they continue to collect data, begin the process of data analysis, revise their plans, collect more data…teaching all the while…reach the summer term, continue analysis…identify findings…frame conclusions and pose questions for further inquiry…until they arrive at this point: Sharing their findings with others. Read about some of their projects.
My presentation was about a particular child and how I sought to use his strengths and interests to engage him in lessons. He was known as the "disruptive" student in class for always acting in ways that get him sent out of the class. I wanted to understand him first as an individual and look beyond his label in order to give him meaningful and relatable learning.
Engaging all students during whole-class instruction is challenging because, while each individual student has a unique perspective on the content, the class’s attention is focused on one thing. Therefore, there is a likely risk that at a given moment, many students in the group will feel that their questions are not being addressed and that their interests are not being pursued. In this study, student engagement at the individual level was quantified by surveying an entire class of twenty-five third graders multiple times during each of several lessons. The survey data reflected, for each student, whether that student was thinking about the topic of the lesson and whether the student was experiencing many thoughts or was feeling mentally inactive (bored). Assuming that high-quality instruction would result in students with on-topic thoughts having many thoughts, high quality instances of instruction were identified. Analyzing audio-video recordings of the high-quality instruction and contrasting those recordings with recordings of lesser quality instruction revealed some characteristics as particular to high-quality whole-class instruction. The characteristics the appeared consistently and exclusively in high-quality whole-class instruction were that students were given specific, explicit mental tasks and were asked to consider the reasoning of their peers.
My second grade students asked many "wonderful" questions during a unit on the butterfly life cycle, but especially when we covered the chrysalis stage. This prompted my research question: “How do I promote ‘the having of wonderful’ questions in science? I was inspired by Eleanor Duckworth’s book, “The Having of Wonderful Ideas” in which she describes how teachers can provide the occasions for children to have wonderful ideas, by being open to their ideas and by providing the setting that suggests wonderful ideas to them.
My research suggests that two factors promote student questions in science:
1) The material – Students want and need content that is challenging, authentic and mysterious, and
2) Teachers – They provide the occasions for the having of wonderful questions through their planning and facilitating of discussions.