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Ward 1

Anna Ward
Date: March 27, 2013
Observation#: 3rd observation
Time: 1-2:40pm
Theme: Learner Development/ Standard #1
Word count: 887
Observation Reflection
Learner development involves a teachers understanding of tasks and abilities that their
students should possess. It also encompasses the teachers acknowledgement that each individual
student may be at a different place in his or her development. The strategies and methods used to
teach students should reflect the developmental needs of each student. Teachers that are aware of
learner development use a variety of methods to teach content in a way that is developmentally
appropriate in broad terms but also accounts for individual variations of development among
students. In a sense, a teachers knowledge and understanding of learner development influences
their application of content (standard #5) and their instructional strategies (standard #8).
In Ms. Cs classroom, I was able to observe and participate in their math lesson. First,
Ms. C used the smart board to talk about the differences between longer, shorter, and taller. She
accounted for learner development by having the children say the words and sound them out, see
them spelled on the board, and depicted through figures on her PowerPoint. Ms. C presented the
information in many different ways to account for the differences of her students. She also had
students get up to demonstrate taller and shorter. The students also had to look around the room
to find items that could be used with one of the measurement words. The repetition and multiple
ways Ms. C used to explain the content helped learners to connect the information in a
meaningful way.

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While the students were gathered on the carpet, Ms. C acknowledged learner
development in ways. With one particular student, she made him explain and describe what he
found in the room rather than to point. It was clear she was trying to help him develop verbal
communication skills for this student while simultaneously teaching the math lesson. When the
students would lose focus or leave the carpet, she would remind them to sit criss-cross
applesauce or to give her five. These were developmentally appropriate ways to kindly tell
the students that they were being disrespectful or that they needed to pay attention. Those
strategies and phrases would not translate well in to a high school classroom, but they are
developmentally appropriate for kindergartners. In addition, when students were not listening to
one of their classmates speaking, Ms. C asked the student how their talking made the student
feel. Ms. C was helping to develop her students sense of empathy as well as emotional
expression.
Lastly, Ms. C divided the class in to small groups to either work independently, with
another teacher, or with herself. The groups with the teachers were working on the same lesson
about longer, shorter, or taller. While they were learning the same material, it was clear that
learner development was being addressed; one teacher focused on making the children say the
words and annunciate them. They also had to repeat what she said, to make verbal connections to
the math concepts. Ms. C had two different groups, but one group understood the concepts faster
so she tailored the lesson. One group had a more difficult task added to their lesson because they
had already mastered the basics. However, regardless of developmental differences, all groups
got to go on a room scavenger hunt looking for something taller or shorter than an object they
were given.

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This observation was perfect for examining how Ms. C addresses learner development.
Her methods were effective, because each student was able to grasp the basic concepts behind
the math lesson. As mentioned, some students were able to move beyond the basics because they
understood them already. She tailored her lesson to each group so that it was developmentally
appropriate. I found out later that the students in the group that focused on the words and their
sounds are the students who struggle with literacy and linguistics. The math lesson was
developed in a way that would enhance their linguistic skills while also teaching them math. Ms.
C also used developmentally appropriate ways to gain attention and remind students of her
expectations. They were appropriate because the students responded correctly to her reminders,
whereas if her strategies were used in a high school classroom the students would laugh and
think she was crazy.
Ms. Cs methods and ways of accommodating learner development (and their individual
differences in development) were excellent strategies that I can use in my classroom. As a
teacher, I can make changes to certain lessons depending on student development. Working with
elementary school children, it is also important to consider their emotional and social
development as well. Activities should also include aspects that can aid in emotional and social
development; using small groups to solve a problem presents one way to acknowledge those
aspects of development. I can also use catchy phrases or rhymes to remind students of rules or to
get their attention. It would not be developmentally appropriate for me to ignore the emotions of
my students or to make them write an essay about their bad behavior. However, it would be
better to ask students how they are feeling, why they are feeling that way, and how they can
improve their feelings or behavior in a similar situation. This approach would help students to

Ward 4

learn verbal communication and emotional expression while simultaneously learning to evaluate
how their actions impact others.