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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Observed Lesson (Spain)


For my pre-practicum experience, I was assigned to help Alicia with her English conversation lessons in Bachillerato (equivalent to the last two years of high school). On the first day, I just consentrated on getting to know the students and getting comfortable with the class. The next two lessons, Alicia assigned me to give a lesson on my home, New York City. While giving my lesson, Alicia and I noticed, by the students’ responses, that they needed reinforcement in expressing the past tense. Therefore, Alicia decided to make a lesson on using the past tense for the following day. Her lesson consisted of having the students work in pairs. She had questions written out that the students had to ask each other and the answers had to be in the past tense. She and I would walk around listening to make sure that the students spoke correctly. However, Alicia was not able to complete the lesson because the classrooms computer did not work. To not waste paper, Alicia had put the questions in a pen-drive to project the questions on a screen. The problem was that someone had stolen the computers battery cable and the computer had run out of power. After fifteen minutes trying to find another cable or computer, she decided to desist and taught another lesson. She had a drawer in her office full of backup lessons just in case an emergency like this one occurred and she could not teach the planned lesson. I found this to be a genius idea; every teacher should have prepared backup lessons in case of an emergency. Anyway, her lesson then became "speaking in the conditional," which consisted the same structure as the previous lesson. She passed out sheets with questions that the students had to ask each other, except that the answers to the questions had to be in the conditional. At the end of class, Alicia assured the students that the next lesson was definitely going to be about speaking in the part tense, whether the computer worked or not.

While her lesson showed me that a teacher should always have a backup, it also made me realize that we are too dependent on technology. Fifteen minutes of class time had been lost on trying to find a power cable for the computer. There was a chalkboard in the classroom. Even when the questions were in the pen-drive we could have easily invented some other ones and written them out on the board. However, this idea did not occur to anyone until some hours after the class had finished. We all were so stuck on the fact that the lesson was made to be displayed that we did not think of other alternatives.  This is when I understood that, when planning a lesson (especially one that is dependent on technology) one should also pre-plan for problems. Because even if the solution is simple, in the spur of the moment, one might not come across the answer and may lose a whole lesson. This is when most of the BC lesson plan formats and lesson start making so much sense.

1 comment:

  1. Andrea,
    I remember things like this happening so often throughout my time in school. As a student of education, I now realize how much of an actual setback a situation like a technology mishap can be in a lesson. I love the idea of your teacher's emergency lessons. I definitely want to prepare something like that in the future, so thanks so much for the idea!
    However, what I really take away from this post is the need to avoid having to use those back-up lessons. Though teachers are often pressed for time throughout the school idea, I think it is critical to check out and review all plans before the class begins in order to avoid losing those 15 minutes. A break like that hurts the students' ability to refocus, and I always think that unproductive time gaps like that should be avoided.
    In this way, I've realized the need for these back-up lessons and a pre-lesson brainstorming session assessing all of the possible obstacles or mishaps a teacher could face in the middle of a lesson.
    Great post!


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