This semester, students in READ 6329.01 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.
by Rebekah Muñoz
Watching our students in the classroom is second nature to most teachers. It is through these observations that we learn from our students. Prior to this class, I did not know there was a term designated for this activity. Kidwatching, as I have learned it to be, has become a very useful tool in my teaching career. Even though we watch our students every day, this particular method gives me a more structured way to conduct it. Using the different annotated methods and recording my observations has helped me watch my students objectively and with a purpose. I find this to be very useful because I am only recording what I see, not being biased on judgments. Once I have enough information on a student, I am able to make a judgment based on what I was specifically watching for and what I recorded. This information enables me to see patterns in my student’s reading behavior, attitudes on reading, and reading strategies.
Kidwatching has helped me see things that I had never noticed before. For example, one particular student that I had been kidwatching was reading aloud and struggling with many unknown words. After a few observations, I discovered her pattern in dealing with unknown words was merely to skip them. Obviously this was not beneficial to her and this information allowed me to suggest other strategies to help her figure out unknown words. Another aspect I found very useful in kidwatching was the ability to use this information while conferencing with a child or their parents. One particular child I was interesting in was having difficulty with comprehension. My observations concluded that he was not able to comprehending during silent, independent reading because he was easily distracted. During a fifteen minute span he looked around 11 times, poked his neighbor 5 times, checked his watch 7 times; in all he looked at the pages in his book less than 6 minutes! After my second observation that week I conference with him and we discussed my findings. His face looked shocked that I had “stone cold data” to support my claim that he was not focused during reading time. After discussing the issue we came to a resolution that he would prefer to sit alone, at a quieter part of the room to help him focus on reading. The next time we had silent reading in class we tried this strategy and it worked wonderfully! If it had not been for kidwatching, I would have probably taken a different course of action and ended up with a different result. Kidwatching provides an organized method to monitor my students. Using this process has really helped me determine my student’s capabilities and areas of need, which influences what and how I teach in class.