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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Observing a Lesson in New Zealand

Lesson delivery in New Zealand is fairly similar to what I have seen in the U.S with some slight differences. In my first practicum experience in the U.S my class had only 12 students. This class, on the other hand, has 26 students, providing me with an optimal experience to observe how she manages academic differences amongst the group.
            Writing lessons always start out immediately following the morning roll and notices. Lately the students have been working on their “slice of time” writing pieces, which they will later give speeches on. The unit encourages students to focus on a particular moment and write using many details. This particular lesson started with Mrs. Sturge handing out a sample “slice of life” writing done by a student in another class. The teacher read the short paragraph out loud and then had the students turn and talk with a person sitting near them about their favorite sentence. She then had the students share their favorite sentences and asked them why they liked it, sparking a further discussion about what makes good writing. The example had been about a moment looking for a lost object. The students were instructed that they were going to write similar stories today. They were to brainstorm for the first five minutes at their desks using the mind-map technique previously taught and then to write for 10 minutes and then edit for three. She released the students back to their desks where most worked independently. After the allotted time the students were called back to the mat. Those that wanted to share their pieces could do so. In addition, Mrs. Sturge shared her mind-map and story that she had written. The lesson ended with the thought that they would work more with this “slice of life” unit the next day.
            Having 26 students can challenge Mrs. Sturge as not all students are at the same level. She accommodates for these discrepancies by giving each student a specific focus that she has written in to their notebook. This way the students know what she expects from them and what they need to focus on. In this particular lesson, I liked that she gave a student example, showing the students what they are capable of if they took their time. One thing I might have done differently was for her to share her example prior to releasing the students so that they could be reminded of the mind-map brainstorming exercise. The students are young and some could have really benefited from this but nonetheless, the lesson was extremely successful as many students shared some really creative and detailed stories!

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