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Student Case Study

Nella Eshbaugh

Grand Valley State University


For this student case study, the participant is an African-American, five-year-old

girl who will be called “Grace” for the purposes of this study. Grace attends Kindergarten

at North Godwin Heights, which is located in a suburban area in Wyoming, Michigan.

She is an only child who lives with her mother and grandmother. She is very close to her

male cousin who is in the same Kindergarten class as her. But, even though she has a

family member in her class, she does not cling to him. Grace is very independent and

enjoys making new friends. In addition, Grace loves to play with Littlest Pet Shop toys,

likes to draw, often wears a lot of pink, and is very active. Overall, she likes coming to

school—more often than not, she comes to school exclaiming, “I love this school!” She

also has a vivid imagination, which is shown through her many drawings. She excels

during Writer’s Workshop, where she is able to create stories through the drawing of

pictures. Grace’s passion for learning is apparent but she gets distracted easily, which

interferes with her learning. When she is focused, she participates really well in class.

But, when she gets distracted, it is often difficult to capture her interest and focus again.

Grace often gets up from her spot on the learning rug or seat and wanders around the

room. Sometimes, she knocks items off of the tables and runs out of the classroom. She

eventually comes back to the room but it can take awhile—often up to five to ten

minutes, sometimes even fifteen minutes. Therefore, Grace’s behavior is the mere reason

why I chose her for this study. I was curious to see if I could help improve her behavior

through the implementation of various classroom management techniques and strategies.

Grace’s Kindergarten classroom is comprised of twenty-four students who are

White, Hispanic, and African-American. Twelve of Grace’s peers are English Language

Learners, who receive linguistic support from an ESL teacher. In the morning, students

arrive to school at 8:30 A.M. and eat breakfast until 8:45 A.M. After breakfast, students

receive whole-group RTI instruction for fifteen minutes and then break off into their

smaller Tier 2 groups, if needed. Grace receives Tier 2 instruction for thirty minutes

every day. Following RTI, we have literacy centers that focus on sight words, letter and

letter sound recognition, and blending sounds. We have six centers that the students

rotate through, and three of the tables are “teacher tables” (an ESL teachers works with

our ELLs at this time). After literacy centers, students are involved in Reader’s and

Writer’s Workshop. After lunch, Math instruction is the focus of the afternoon. In the

middle of Math instruction, there is a special that students attend (either Music, Art,

Computers, or P.E. class).

Our classroom is well organized and spacious. When walking into the classroom,

each of the students’ cubbies are located on the left-hand side of the classroom. To the

right of the cubbies is a classroom library that is composed of two bookshelves and

comfortable seating (i.e., bean bags and stools). In the middle of the classroom, there are

four tables: each table has six chairs. Each of the students has an assigned seat and their

names are written on their table spots. To the left of the tables, there is a Smart Board that

is mounted on the back wall. In front of the Smart Board is a large, colorful, oval-shaped

rug that students sit on. Each student has an assigned spot on the rug and the majority of

their learning takes place here. Grace’s spot on the rug was originally on the side of the

oval but she has recently been moved to the front. During instruction—on the rug or in

their seats—students are expected to quietly sit with their hands in their laps and legs

crossed (while on the rug), listen to the speaker, be respectful, and make smart choices.

Throughout this case study, I implemented three classroom management

strategies to help improve Grace’s behavior. I found all of these classroom management

strategies on the website, “PBIS World.” The first strategy was implemented in my third

field observation, which took place during reading time on October 1st. During reading

time, Grace appeared to be antsy and tried getting up from her spot on the rug a few

times. I decided to take Grace on a walk around the school because it seemed like she

needed a break. Before we left the room, I grabbed a basket of shapes so that we could

work on shapes during our break by trying to find shapes around the school that matched

the ones in the basket. As soon as we entered the hallway, Grace began to jog. I kindly

asked her to walk but she refused. I quickly realized that I needed to get her attention

away from jogging, so I began to ask her about the shapes in the hallway. She correctly

answered my questions but she continued to jog. Once we made it to the gym—which is

on the other side of the school—I asked her, “Can you show me how a five-year-old

walks in the hallway? Four-year-olds run in the hallway, but five-year-olds don’t.” When

I asked this, she immediately stopped jogging and walked all the way back to our

classroom. Overall, taking a break seemed to help Grace because she clearly needed to

reenergize. Honestly, it was difficult to get her to stop jogging, but this did seem to help

her. Throughout the rest of this study, I continued to go on breaks with Grace.

During Literacy Centers on October 15th, I observed Grace for the fifth time from

10:30 to 10:45 A.M. At this time, I was assessing Grace and three other students on sight

words. I told them a sight word and they had to try to find the sight word on their paper.

Grace immediately became frustrated because she was unable to find the words I said

during the assessment. Since this is an assessment, I was unable to help her and I said to

try her best. My words did not help her because she began to throw her paper and pencil

at me. She tipped her stool over and threw her chair on the floor. I gave her a couple of

minutes to calm down and regroup. Then, I told her to close her eyes and to breathe in

and out. Even though I was assessing the other students, I also closed my eyes and

breathed in and out. Grace complied and sat back up. She placed her stool next to me, sat

down, and finished the assessment. As a result, the breathing technique I tried out with

Grace was very successful. It calmed her down and helped her regroup. If I hadn’t

implemented this strategy, Grace most likely would have stayed on the ground and

wouldn’t have finished the assessment.

During my seventh observation on Thursday, October 18th, the paraprofessional

who leads Tier 2 of RTI with Grace was absent, so Grace stayed with the rest of the class

in our classroom. At this time, the students rotated through four stations to work on letter

recognition as well as letter sounds and rhyming. Grace began to wander around the room

and knocked over pencils and books. I immediately sprung into action and asked Grace if

she could be my helper. She agreed and helped me organize the activities for our literacy

centers. We also walked to an empty Kindergarten room to grab four iPads for our

centers and also walked to the office to place important forms in the ESL teacher’s

mailbox. Grace’s behavior significantly changed once I asked her to be my helper. This

strategy also assisted her in our literacy centers: she was focused and did not get out of

her seat.

All in all, Grace taught me a lot about classroom management throughout the

course of this student case study. During the study, I learned that it is important to get to

know the student in order to know what will and will not work for them. Statements such

as, “Grace, please go back to your seat,” did not work for her. Instead, I learned that

when she got distracted or began to walk around the room, she needed to move her body

for a little bit. Additionally, she frequently needed breaks and to take deep breaths in

order to calm down and regroup. When I encounter similar behaviors such as the ones

Grace exhibited throughout this study, I plan on implementing similar strategies with the



Kittredge, A. (2011). PBIS World. Retrieved from http://www.pbisworld.com/


Observation #1: September 19th, 2018; 11:00-11:30 A.M.

Reader’s Workshop

 24 students are sitting in their assigned seats on the learning rug; Grace is sitting

on the right outer edge of the rug

 While teacher is reading a book for Reader’s Workshop, Grace begins to play

with a classmate’s hair

 CT asks her to stop and she complies

 She gets distracted during the read aloud and crawls her way next to me.

 She sits down nicely for a few minutes but then gets distracted again

 She stands up and down a few times; I kindly ask her to sit back down so she can


 She gets distracted again and leaves the rug entirely

 She migrates to the learning/activities center where there are various colorful

manipulatives, such as mini bears

 She begins to take the mini bears out of the container. I get up from my spot and

ask her to put them back. She initially refuses but eventually puts them back

 She returns to her spot on the learning rug; she tries to talk to her friends but

remains in her spot

 Students are called to go to their tables for silent reading time

 Grace sits down and looks through the books in her book box

 She stands up a few times but eventually sits back down

 She remains in her seat until the end of Reader’s Workshop


 End of observation (11:30 A.M.)

Interpretation of Events: Based on my field notes, Grace had a difficult time

focusing during Reader’s Workshop and needed to move around. Prior to

Reader’s Workshop, students did a “Brain Break” where they danced around on

the learning rug, but this was not enough for Grace. Even though she moved

around, she was able to regroup towards the end of this observation.

Observation #2: September 27th, 2018: 9-9:15 A.M.

Shared Reading

 After breakfast, Grace is expected to sit down on the learning rug for shared


 Instead, Grace and another student begin knocking down the chairs in the room

 They find a puzzle box, pour the pieces onto the floor, and both step on the box.

The box breaks.

 When asked to return to her seat, she refuses and begins to knock down other

items in the room: books, manipulatives, pencils, etc.

 My CT and I agree on employing the “planned ignoring” strategy. It doesn’t work

for a few minutes.

 A little later on, she decides to pick up the puzzle pieces from the floor

 I thank her and she gives me the box

 She tries to talk to her peers and touch their hair, but she doesn’t get up at all

 She is pulled from the class for Tier 2 of RTI

 End of observation

Interpretation of Events: During this observation, I feel as if Grace fed off of the other

student’s behavior. She thought that it was okay to do the same things as him, so she took

part in this misbehavior and they both thrived over the attention they were receiving.

However, once my CT and I ignored their behavior, she realized that what she did was

wrong, so she began to do what was asked of her.

Observation #3: October 1st, 2018; 10:00-10:25 A.M.

Literacy Centers

 Today, Grace appears to be antsy during literacy centers, so my CT asks me to

take her on a walk around the school

 Before leaving the classroom, I grab a basket of shapes so we can work on and

find shapes around the school

 During our walk, she begins to jog in the hallway. I kindly ask her to have

“walking feet” because we don’t run or jog in the hallway

 She begins to walk for a minute but continues to jog

 I realize that I need to get her mind off of jogging, so I ask her if she knows the

shape of the bricks on the wall. She immediately stops to look at the bricks and

says, “They’re a rectangle,” and continues to jog

 Then, I find a circular object and ask if she could tell me this shape. Again, she

stops and says, “Circle,” but continues to jog.

 Once we reached the gym (this is on the other side of the school), she turned

around and continues to jog.


 I ask her, “Can you show me how a five-year-old walks in the hallway? Four-

year-olds run in the hallway, but five-year-olds don’t.”

 She stops jogging and walks all the way back to the classroom.

 End of observation

Interpretation of Events: Since Grace had a hard time staying still and focused

during literacy centers, she needed to reenergize. Therefore, the strategy, taking a

break, worked well for her. She did jog in the hallway when she isn’t supposed to,

but she needed to move around.

Observation #4: October 10th, 2018; 9:00-9:20 A.M.

Whole-group RTI

 Ms. Poliski begins rhyming words with students and Grace quietly sits in her spot

on the rug

 After ten minutes, she gets bored and begins to wander around the room

 I wait a few minutes before intervening

 After noticing that she has not returned to her seat, I quietly ask her to sit back


 She says no and begins throwing math manipulatives (i.e., pattern blocks and

unfix cubes) around the room and knocks down the chairs.

 I ask her if she needs a break. She says yes, so walk together to the office to turn

in some important forms. I let her carry the forms

 During our walk, I ask her what she did last night. She tells me that she watched

T.V. with her mom. I ask her what she watched and she replied with, “Paw

Patrol.” I tell her that I watch Paw Patrol with my niece sometimes. She smiles

and says, “Really?”

 Once we make it back to the classroom, I ask her to please clean up the


 She complies

 Once everything is picked up, I pull her aside and to discuss what happened. I tell

her that when she gets bored or angry, she can tell my CT or myself that she needs

a break

 She says okay and returns to her seat on the rug

Interpretation of Events: Similar to a previous observation, Grace clearly needed a

break in order to move around and get some energy out. In addition, when I asked

her questions about her night, we bonded which helped her feel more comfortable

around me. This break also allowed for her to regroup and get focused for the rest

of instruction.

Observation #5: October 15th, 2018; 10:00-10:15 A.M.

Literacy Centers

 At literacy centers, I am working with four students, including Grace.

They are completing a test that requires them to circle a word that I say.

For example, if I say, “cat,” they have to try to find and circle it.

 Grace immediately becomes frustrated because she is unable to find the

words I’m saying


 Since this is an assessment, I am unable to help her. I tell her to try her


 She is still frustrated and begins to throw her paper and pencil at me. She

tips her chair over and throws herself on the floor

 I give her a couple of minutes to calm down and regroup

 After two minutes, I tell her to close her eyes and to breathe in and out

 While trying to assess the other students, I also close my eyes and breathe

in and out with her

 She complies and sits back up

 Once she’s back in her seat, I help catch her up with the assessment

 When everyone’s done with the test, I give students a white board and

marker so they can practice writing certain lowercase letters

 Grace works hard when writing her letters

 She writes the letters up until the moment when my CT rings a bell to

indicate that our centers will rotate

 End of observation

Interpretation of Events: Today, I learned that Grace does not like it when

she does not fully understand something. Instead of trying to sound out the

letters in the sight words, she allowed for frustration to completely

overcome her. Even when I told her to try her best, she remained

frustrated. But, taking a minute or two to take deep breaths really helped

her calm down and refocus.


Observation #6: October 16th, 2018; 1:00-1:15 A.M.

Math Instruction

 Grace is sitting in her spot on the learning rug

 She engages in the math video that is on the Smart Board

 After video is over, she begins to lose interest and walks around the room

 She ignores my CT when asked to come back to the rug

 She is given the choice to sit at the table instead

 She complies for five minutes but is not entirely focused on the lesson

 She talks to herself and looks around the room

 She begins to rock in her chair

 She gets up from her chair again and walks around the room

 She walks up to each table and knocks down each cup of pencils

 She also walks over to the bookshelf and throws books all over the room

 The behavior interventionalist comes to pull her out of the room

 End of observation

Interpretation of Events: Today, I learned that Grace does not always like when

the room is quiet and calm. The silence and calmness of the room triggered her to

cause disruptions. She tried to concentrate when she was in her seat, but it did not

work. Her mind was not centered on the lesson.

Observation #7: October 18th, 2018; 9:15-9:25 A.M.

RTI Rotations

 The paraprofessional who leads Grace’s Tier 2 group is not here today, so she is

with the rest of our class in the classroom

 Students rotate through four stations to work on letter recognition as well as letter

sounds and rhyming

 Grace gets distracted and begins to knock over pencils and throw books

 I spring into action and ask if she wants to be my helper

 She agrees and helps me organize the activities for Literacy Centers

 Together, we set everything up for Literacy Centers

 Then, we walk to an empty Kindergarten room to grab four iPads for one of the


 After, we walk to the office to put important forms in the ESL teacher’s mailbox

 We walk back to our room for a Haggerty Lesson

 Grace quietly walks to her spot on the learning rug and focuses

Interpretation of Events: Today, I learned that Grace loves helping people. She

could have knocked down more items in the room, but instead, she wanted to help

me. This task took her away from misbehaving and allowed her to refocus.

Observation #8: October 25th, 2018; 2:25-2:40 P.M.

Quiet time while other students are in P.E. class

 In the morning, Grace did not do what was asked of her: she did not

complete her work and hit her friends quite a few times. That being said,

my CT and I did not allow for her to go to P.E. class with her peers. From

2:00-2:20 P.M., she sat in the conference room with my CT during a


meeting. She had her book box with her and a notebook to do work. At

2:25 P.M., I picked her up from the conference room and we walked back

to our classroom together.

 Once we were back in our classroom, Grace ran up to our Smart Board

and grabbed the markers. She tried drawing on the board.

 I kindly asked her to go to her seat and read through her books in her book


 She refused to do this and continued to try to draw on the Smart Board

 I asked her if she wanted to help me sort the lunch choices for next week

 She agreed

 Together, we looked at the lunch calendar and sorted the Lunch A and B

choices for next week

 Then, we put her classmates’ lunch cards in the right spot

 We took papers to the recycling bin in the hallway and put sack suppers

from the Kids’ Food Basket in the right cubbies

 Then, we walked to the gym to pick up the rest of the students

 End of observation

Interpretation of Events: Today, I learned that, even in a one-on-one setting, Grace still

misbehaves. I used to think that she got distracted and wanted to move around when other

students were in the room, but I learned that this can happen when she’s by herself with a

teacher, too. However, I was able to redirect her behavior by asking her for help, which

was successful.