Class Observation

 

Class Observation Paper

The ESL services of the University of Texas, Reading Class, 11.17.2009

The average age of a student in the ESL Services is 18-35 years old. Their ethnic background spreads from Korean, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Angolian to Chinese. They are at Low-Intermediate proficiency level. Every student pursues his own purpose: some want to graduate from high-school in their home country with better English skills, others study English in college and came here for a semester to improve their skills, third party wants to be successful within the U.S. society. Before this class, for home work, they read the text about genetics and did vocabulary exercises in their book. Next class the teacher plans to have a discussion about fiction book they read and discuss one a week. The activity will bring 3 groups of the same level together. The teacher gave them very clear guidelines of what information they should be able to give their peers. According to the teacher the class went really well, because students took part in the discussion very actively. She said that sometimes it was difficult to get them started when the topic was of no interest to them. She did a good job provoking them by stating something outrageous, like "Would you like to have a beautiful and stupid baby?"  In the course of the lesson, they successfully revised strategies for scanning and skimming, and practiced them. The only thing the teacher wasn't really sure about was the kind of language they were using while talking into small groups about newspaper, since that production wasn't controlled or monitored. But newspaper discussion was a success too - everyone got to choose something they liked most. The teacher looked at her goals and said that she had accomplished them all. I also felt that way. All activities worked out well, except for the newspaper article scanning. It could be organized under more control from the side of the teacher. But it was worth practicing anyway.

Lesson design: the class was well thought and designed. They were not frustrated or lost. Instructions were clear. Pace was good, which allowed accomplish many goals. Sequencing: 1) Talked about weather, recent events in students' lives 2) Checked of homework with the attention to attention to inference questions. Horwitz (2008) notes that special attention shall be give to inference. This is what, according to her, should be asked in class, not only fact-recall questions. Discussion of the ways to recognize what author actually infers took place in classroom 3) Topic from the text they had at home was brought up for work in small groups in the form of answering one question. This activity demonstrated one of the principles of the Functional approach, i.e. CLT. The teacher encouraged learners to communicate their ideas with the language. CLT also proposes that "the new language system will be learned best by struggling to communicate one's own meaning and by negotiation of meaning through interaction with others."(Hadley, 2001,p.117). The principle was perfectly embedded into current and following stages of the lesson. Moreover, evidence from Elley (1989 as cited in Lightbrown,2000) underscores that learners get more from readings when their reading home assignment is supplemented by interaction with a teacher .  4) every group expressed their opinion in front of the class 5) teacher provoked them with outrageous suggestions about option they might have in the future - students got to talk more and more emotional, which in its turn helped them to engage in meaningful and authentic language use, a core part of Richard and Rogers' meaningfulness principle (Richard and Rodgers, 1986, as cited in Hadley 2001).  6) worksheet with the suffixes and prefixes that add meaning to the word - ment, ful, port, etc. Discussion of the meaning of each and follow-up exercise. Check of the correct answers with the whole group. 7) Strategy reading (they have 3 min to read 1 text and answer the questions, then they move on, after 4-5 texts, they check their answers individually and also put a mark in the chart to check their progress). That way skimming was implemented into reading practice. As Grellet (1981) notes, skimming should play an important part in the teaching reading (as cited in Hadley 2001). 8) Scanning: every student gots a newspaper to pick an article from. "You have 5 minutes to SCAN it and then tell your partner relying on what you were able to extract." I think sequencing was very well done, because sometimes there was a logical connection between tasks for example, from reading to discussing, or a good change of activity.

 Aids: newspaper, book for extra reading, their worksheets with short texts and additional handout to work on extracting the meaning from the morpheme like dis-, ment, ful, etc.

Activities and materials: In my opinion, it was a perfect match between the goals, pace and activities. Teaching and learning to read was much fun for both the teacher and students in this class. Newspaper reading made class even more authentic, additional book made it interesting. They talked about the things they read at home, which helped them to use the vocabulary. She followed the principle of using both constructed and authentic material in class (Horwitz, 2008). Learners were given opportunities for both extensive and intensive reading (Munby, 1979, as cited in Hadley, 2001). The example of intensive reading was their text for homework and partly in class, extensive reading represented by the fiction book "Holes", they had to discuss every Thursday. Main ways of working with reading according to Grellet (1981) were employed in the Reading section, i.e.  skimming, scanning, intensive and extensive reading, mentioned earlier (as cited in Hadley,2001). They were also using practice activities in concert, as suggested by Phillis (1984, as cited by Hadley, 2001), that stimulated the achievement of the higher level of proficiency.

Teacher Talk: She was very emotional, enunciating words carefully. She followed the characteristics of the "foreigner talk" proposed by Krashen (Hadley,2001). At first, she spoke at a slower rate, with longer pauses and extra volume. She also helped some students out of difficult situation asking yes/no question and forced choice questions (based on Terell as cited in Hadley, 2001) .Error correction was in the form of recasts. She used error-correction very gently,which complies with the Horwitz's recommendations (Horwitz, 2008).Very good balance of student-teacher talk. 50-50. For Asian group it is a good correlation. She encouraged them to talk in many ways.

Student participation: students are happy to be in this class, their motivation is supported by their teacher enthusiasm and her personal interest to students. Horwitz (2008) considers this true interest in students' life an important motivational factor. At some point in the discussion I felt that 2 students were too silent and didn't get enough attention. Others were making jokes and demonstrated interest. During the group work session I observed the actual peer-scaffolding. Comments: I liked that teacher was prepared, knew what her goals were, employed a creative approach to her classes, encouraged group work and talked to students.  One thing is that students talked in such a low voice that they couldn't possibly hear each other. I could barely understand them from time to time. Sometimes timing wasn't too precise. Instead of 5 minutes, a task lasted for 8 minutes.  Her idea of introducing home reading enabled her learners to benefit from instruction even more. The fact that students learn more of the second language if they have access to more reading activities was proved by consistent data from findings and mentioned in the Lightbrown (2000).

Conclusion: This observation helped me to observe actual peer scaffolding within the confines of the group work. Lightbrown (2000) notes that learners "are able to give each other FL/SL input....and can provide each other with feedback on error, in the form of clarification request and negotiation for meaning.....benefit from the opportunity for more one-to-one  conversation..." (p.439). During my observation all these statements were put into life and bare immediate fruits.  I also learned that strategy training doesn't take as much time as it seemed before. The activity where students are able to observe by documenting their own progress made so much sense, that I plan to introduce similar activity in my class. I learned the ways you can keep the discussion going by introducing new ideas and unusual statements. Teacher also provided cultural comments when students talked about Thanksgiving. The idea of having a book that students read and discuss one a week seemed as a tool to introduce them to American fiction and to reading books in general. Shared discussion serves as an additional motivation.  One of the important implications for teacher in Hadley (2001) is "supporting students in identifying successful strategies for reading texts in the second language." (p.224)

Student

Time

Teacher (T)

Talk about weather

1:00

T asks about whether, greets students

Looking at books and notes in the books

1:03

"Let's check your home works

Page 100 perfect, thank you"

(goes around the class and checking)

 

1:06

Spreads the worksheets to students with the checked vocabulary test

"I am so sad that you are going to be missing

Where's Vera today? Speaking of"

 "Next week is thanks giving ! Do we have  our class?"

 

"We have only one class next

There will be two quizzes two to take home"

"Only vocabulary?"

 

"Yes, it shouldn't be all too much"

 

 

"I want you to be able to discuss on Thursday"

(Checks the hwrk of the student who was late)

 

1.10

They checked homework together by saying the words they inserted

Students read their answers, some make mistakes and correct them

 

"Be careful with strong words like all it doesn't give you any info"

 

 

"Two! Good job! Inferences is not in the readings, you have to suggest what the author infers."

 

 

"How about the summarizing?"

Student read the passage

 

"Some of you might have been able to say smth different"

 

 

"Brian, will you read the next sentence"

reads

 

"Did anyone write smth different? In future? Brian?

Does anyone have anything different?

Rina, next one?"

Students respond

 

"So there are several different answers! Min, I am glad you joined us Min! What other different questions?

Any of the questions are okay! What is the most important question in the paragraph?

All, right, any questions?"

No!

 

"Let's check vocab on expanding

One"

A

 

Two

B

 

Three

C

 

"Four lead to means something can cause the illness"

 

 

Any questions?

 

 

Let's look at the word

Courage - 2 syllables

 Courageous - 3 syllables

 

"How many syllables, what is stressed, what about advantage?"

Threes

 

"Three, what about anxiety? ANXIETY! Which is stressed? ANXIETY! What about anxious?"

First,

 

"The Anxiety is tricky!"

 

 

"All right, Part B let's look at adverb! It's pronounced humanly. Repeat!"

Repeat

 

"Good! What does adverb describe?

I do smth courageously - it describes do"

"Usually -ly is an adverbs, it describes how it describes verb, but some like in short doesn't have

We are going to do a little more on discussion?"

Student reads in a very low voice

 

"Gina, read it again"

Reads a question

 

"What is it  - traits again?"

Ginger yes

 

"Right, it can also be personality"

Kind, good, nice

 

"Now, think with your partner would you like to design  your future child? And how?"

Students make groups of 4 and start discussing.

 

Teacher goes around the room and monitores the activity

 

1 34

What is your perfect child? (teacher writes on the board)

Most important  -I want my children beautiful and handsome

Good body - girl skinny and boy maybe strong, tall

 

 

"Is it all? What is they are really stupid?"

 

Intelligent!

 

 

"What about personality? What do you want? Healthy, loving person, IQ and EQ honesty, integrity?"

 

Friendly!

 

 

"Anyone else?"

 

Honest! Kind ! I think we have to teach them

 

 

"We don't have a gene for character, do we?"

 

Your parents can teach you to have a good character!

 Education can help!

 

 

"Discussion if the intellect is given by birth or by environment"

I wouldn't choose. My baby isn't bought in supermarket.

You feel that I won't love him

 

(they have traits written on the blackboard, teacher gives 25 000$  price for one trait - you can choose one

What if they have one arm but very intelligent, what do you prefer?

 

I think maybe health

 

Is there a discount?

 

"After thanksgiving sale - buy 1 get one free, hahaha"

People can teach and make it more beautiful with the help of the plastic surgery

 

 

"I've heard that there's a pill in Korea to grow taller"

Yes, if you are a baby you can take a pill and grow taller

 

"Wow!"

Maybe you can get more hair

This children don't have intelligence

I can teach

 

 

Teacher provokes conversation by providing provocative

"If you want to choose the IQ - Maybe 130 is difficult for them

IQ should go together with EQ"

 

We would choose EQ

 

1.50

Okay, this is a fun discussion!  She cleans the board

 

"Let's do reading strategy time

Dis - can think of any other words

Port - read same with other prefixes

Can you think of something else - controllable, watchable, wonderful-ful of wonder"

 

Students react quickly and give examples

1.56

"now go and do exercise - teach does the exersice too

 

 

2.02

let's check it together"

mistake

 

"Think about..I would use the adjective, ful is an adjective too, but I would use the understandable"

Answer, incorrect

 

"It from the last lesson - yeah, that was tricky, this is hard too, use the verb think

Think! Thoughtful - THOUGHT (spells)"

 

 

2:07

"I will let you do the rest for homework! 4,56, - oh, it is so much.  Oh! Next time.The first 15 min you are here. Next, our classes will get together. I don't understand I will give Everyone should explain you have to tell the real story. Don't make up things!

Do you want your break now? "

 

 

2.10-2.20

 

 

237

Distributes newspapers

"We are going to practice scheming/scanning! Choose something that we've not read. Choose one of the major articles. Read it, understand the main idea, don't worry about some of the difficult vocabulary. You have about 5 min to read it. Don't worry about some of the difficult vocabulary".

 

 

2.48

"Talk about your article with your partner"

Students in group of 2, trying to explain their article to each other

 

"Teaching is going around the room and listening to their assignment"

 

 

3.07

"Okay, let's discuss next lesson

On the second page there are examples for questions - eliciting"

"Why are they digging holes

This is more for your opinion - digging

None of the classes have finished their book

So answer these questions for hwrk

On the last page, this is how you did on answering these questions. It is for information, not for a grade.

Just to help you remember on the board  homework."

Bibliography

Hadley, A. O. (2001). Teaching Language in Context (3d ed.).

Horwitz, E. K. (2008). Becoming a Language Teacher.

M.Lightbrown, P. (2000). Classroom SLA Research and Second Language Teaching. Applied Linguistics , 21 (4), 431-462.