Sharing My Practice * Linda Kroll * Mills College

Learning from the Practice of Others

Learning to Observe--the first attempt


First Use of the QUEST sites

To introduce the notion of learning to observe and learning from practice, I gave a homework assignment for students to view Gillian Maimon's website with a particular set of questions in mind. Students were asked to bring notes on the observations they made to discuss in class.

Unfortunately, many students were unable to access the website this first time. In order to still have the opportunity to work together to learn to learn from observing, I used a video of Michelle Quraishi's classroom to observe and discuss (with the same set of questions in mind) during class.

Assignment for Learning to observe first attempt

Gill Maimon's site


How do we understand and make sense of observations of both teachers and children?

We often ask our students to make observations in classrooms. Because those observations are done in real time, there is no way to go back and check to verify what we saw, nor is there a way to share those observations with others unless they happen to be with us. Using the quest sites as places to learn to observe allowed us to do things that can't be done in real time. For one thing, we can go back and make sure we saw what we think we saw; we can go back and listen to what was said or watch what happened. We can use the sites as inquiry sites, asking questions and then going into the text and videos to see both what teachers say they are trying to do and what they and their students seem to be doing. Thinking in this way about what is seen can carry over into real life observations that student teachers conduct on a daily, almost hourly basis, while they are practicing teaching in someone else's classroom.

In addition, the sites can be used for specific observation purposes. We can ask "What are the children doing while the teacher gives directions?" and then go back and look at what they ARE doing. We can ask,"How does the teacher give directions? What exactly does she tell the children? How does she speak to them?" The opportunity to go back and listen again is always there.


Instructions for viewing and discussing the video 
Introduction of the observaton and discussion activity

Introduction of the video viewing observation activity


Michelle introduces preparing for conferences 
What the students watched together.

Michelle's Class

Here is the video we all watched together. You can see the incidents the students refer to in the discussion that followed.


Class Discussion of Observation 
A few comments from the class discussion

Class Discussion of the Observation

A few comments from the class discussion


Observing literacy instruction in their student teaching classrooms

Students conducted observations of literacy instruction during the year. During the fall they did reading observations, 6 examples of which are included here. They conducted these observations after our initial observation activities in class and observing Gill's site at home.

Reading observations in preschool

Reading observation in preschool 2

Reading observations grades 1/2

Reading observation grades 1/2 #2

Reading observation in 2/3

Reading observation in 4/5



This electronic portfolio was created using the KEEP Toolkit™, developed at the
Knowledge Media Lab of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
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