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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Teaching at San Rafael

Today I taught two English classes at San Rafael. My CT did not ask me to prepare a lesson ahead of time, but rather asked if I would take half the class for the period to read their current novel and review for the test with them. I was very excited to have the class and see how they worked with me. We began both classes by forming a circle in order to set up a good environment for group reading and classroom discussion. My cooperating teacher told me that they needed to finish the book in preparation for their test on Friday, so we began with a quick summary of what they had already read, and then continued to read aloud (myself and the students) throughout the class. Every page or two, I would stop the class, the students would ask questions and we would talk about the plot together. The students in my first class had a very high English level and participated freely throughout the entire class. However, the students in my second class had a very difficult time understanding what they were reading and seemed to be very far behind. With this class, it was a struggle because I had no materials or planned assessments to help them better understand the book. According to my CT, they were supposed to have the entire book read, but when I asked the students, only one student had read past chapter 2. It was clear that they simply did not understand the plot and a lot of the vocabulary words which deterred them from reading, so I decided to go back to the beginning of the book and do a chapter-by-chapter review with the students. When I clarified certain vocabulary words, characters, and events taking place in each chapter, the students quickly gained a better understanding of the book, and began to ask questions to show interest in what they were reading. I think the main problem that I saw with this group was the fact that there were no extra materials or reinforcers such as classroom discussion, informal assessment, etc. to help the students understand the book. For example, it would have been very helpful for the students to have a vocabulary sheet, a list of important characters, and a story map to fill in while reading. Teaching these two classes was a good opportunity for me to see what teaching strategies work in an ESL classroom.

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