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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lesson Observation, Asking for Directions in London

So I realized that I am going to be away on my spring break for the next two weeks so I figured I would post another time in the group. For this reflection I think I will talk about a lesson that I observed last week in my other classroom. I was supposed to have been working in my regular classroom, but there was a class field trip that my teacher forgot to inform me about. This was not a big deal at all, and so I merely just went down a couple of rooms and met my other teacher. I asked him if it was okay for me to sit and observe his classroom that day, considering I walked in very last minute. In this sense, it worked out pretty well for me because it allowed me to absorb what was going on in the classroom and give my full attention to observation rather than trying to multi-task and focus on my own instruction as well.

This classroom has an older age range than my first classroom, the students ranging from about 12-13 years old. Although this is only one or two years older, there is quite a significant difference in the age of maturity (or lack therefore of…) and skill set of the students. This can be quite a difficult age, one of awkwardness and when you feel like you constantly have to prove yourself. I can imagine all three of you cringe at the thought of your 12 or 13 year old self, or perhaps that is just me. In either case, I think it was a good experience for me working with this age group because it presents a different sort of challenge, as I usually either work with high school or elementary aged students. To work with kids in the thick of middle school is very different.

This particular class is pretty rowdy in nature, and feels the need to constantly exert all the energy they have during the lesson. This is an English class as well, and while they are a couple of years older than my other class, many of the students’ English skills I would say are inferior to that of their younger counterparts. The focus of this lesson was concerned with asking for directions, and what one would expect to hear and what one should say in a situation. For this lesson, it comes directly out of their textbook, which is accompanied by Internet activities and videos. What I find interesting is that when the class watches these videos and speaks English, it is all done in relation to British English and not American English. The students are more interested in American culture than British culture, but they are forced to learn phrases and words that are not part of the American lexicon. For example, the students completed an entire exercise using “must” and “mustn’t” as well as reading about a student and her “maths” assignment. Subtle differences, but things I have noticed throughout my time here. 

The video showed a young boy about the same age of the class asking a woman how to get to a bookshop in the heart of London. We watched the video in its entirety at first, which was about 2-3 minutes in length. Then, the video went into a question and answer section where the students were asked questions about the video, such as “Where did Marcus ask the woman where to go?” or “What is the bookshop located opposite from?” To be honest, I was very impressed with the students, because even as a native speaker (and yes, this is a tad embarrassing) I was having trouble following this video. Nevertheless, the students seemed to grasp the majority of the conservation. On a regular basis, my CT will use what the book has for content and build upon that to assess whether the students understand the material. In this case, he asked the students to draw the directions on a sheet of paper, with the traffic lights, landmarks, and roads. This was a good informal assessment because he could simply walk around the class and very clearly see whether or not students had understood the video.

Overall, I would say that this was a pretty successful lesson. Every class my CT goes around to different students and directly assesses their oral and reading skills. He does this on a fairly random basis, and once a student completes the assignment, he takes each student’s small grade book and assigns him or her a grade on a scale of 1-10, 6 being a passing grade. Students carry these small little books with them throughout the school day, and teachers from each classroom each have their own section. For example, he asked students to complete an exercise in the workbook concerning the use of compounds, and when a student correctly answered several questions with decent accuracy, he gave them a grade in their book of an 8. One of these questions was finding the right word for this sentence: “We’re not going anywhere this weekend.” He is a pretty fair grader, and when a student has shown a good amount of effort, despite not a perfect performance, he will give them the benefit and raise the grade by one mark.

I hope all is well with your teaching placements and I’m looking forward to reading more about your experiences!

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