Teacher Observation #5

This month I observed Regina teach an intermediate group of 4-5 students. The class began with Regina going over homework that looked at the differences between the past simple, past continuous, and past perfect. Specifically, the lesson looked at how we use these three tenses in the context of a story. As part of the homework assignment, the students had to create a timeline of the events in the story. Regina projected her version and students compared it with theirs. Because it seems like the topic had been covered in the previous lesson, I thought this was a very clever way to assess student understanding right at the beginning of class. The timeline continued to serve as a great reference throughout the class. When a student was confused about the tense of a certain event, Regina drew a new timeline that referenced January, February, and Today as time markers.

If a student gave an incorrect response, I noticed that Regina would push students to reevaluate their answer rather than just correct them. For example, when a student was having trouble deciding between using the past simple vs. past perfect she asked questions like “Was the wasp already in the car or did it fly in at that moment?” In the end, the student reached the resolved their problem individually with her guidance.

 

Tag Questions

Level: B2/C1

Materials:

Lesson Plan:

  • Ss complete the questions in pairs with the information that they think is true.
  • T reviews the structure and form of tag questions
  • Ss complete Argument between Friends gap-fill in pairs to practice forming tag questions.
  • Ss prepare for the Argument between Friends role-play.

Tag Questions Lesson Feedback

Month 4 Development Task: DIY Development

I don’t like…can I change it? (✓ ? ✗)

  • Repeating the same grammar points ?
  • Listening exercises ✓
  • Writing exercises ✓

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I don’t like:

How will I change this?

  • Look for authentic materials
  • Create original materials or lesson

When?

  • Weeks 3 and 4
  • A lesson with a listening component
  • A lesson incorporating a running dictation activity

How?

  • Look on news sites, blogs, etc.
  • Use new EFL resources, go beyond the standard textbooks and take advantage of OH’s other resources
  • Build a new lesson by cut and pasting different activities from different sources

Who will be involved?

  • My tutor (Anna)

Reflection

I initially underestimated this task. I didn’t believe that I could so easily propel my own motivation and determination. From a very basic list of ‘dissatisfactions’, I was able to establish what areas I (possibly subconsciously) I avoided teaching. In general, I avoided incorporating listening and writing exercises. With my tutor’s help, I was also able to extract why I disliked teaching these subjects.

With listening exercises, I didn’t like the false, sometimes forced, mock conversations provided by course books. They didn’t seem realistic and felt childish. With writing exercises, I was unsure of how to make them engaging and practical for the purposes of the lesson. To overcome these obstacles, I focused on using Week 3’s lesson to find a real-world listening segment with which to structure a lesson. The result was the 30 day Challenge lesson that centered around a TedTalk. Giving the lesson helped me discern what elements are important to a successful listening exercise, such as repeating the recording at least once and providing students with a transcript to follow along with.

Week 4’s lesson pushed me to view writing exercises in a new light. Instead of long, individual essays, I should be more focused on students producing short written pieces, often in small groups. For the latter, Anna gave me the idea of trying out a running dictation. It had never before occurred to me to use a running dictation as a writing exercise. Even the thought of conducting one had me worried about how I would set the rules and guidelines so that students would most benefit from completing the task. In the end, however, I completed the lesson and was able to form my own strategies for how to successfully conduct this activity. Additionally, I plan to adapt similar activities for other levels.

 

The ʌ sound

Running Dictation Text with Rules and Guidelines

Reflection

As part of the monthly development task, I challenged myself to attempt a running dictation activity. On Anna’s advice, I decided to use this activity as a jumping of point for a lesson on pronunciation. Before starting the activity, I made sure to clearly explain the instructions and introduce an element of competition using a time limit. Modeling the actions with a student also helped give the class an idea of what the activity would look like. Despite there only being two pairs, the activity went very smoothly and students quickly got into the spirit of the activity. I quickly noticed the sheer amount of language practice students were getting in through not just writing, but speaking, listening, and reading as well. As an added challenge, I decided to cut out the text into different strips. There were 6 strips across the room and students could choose were they wanted to start. Once they had written all the sentences on a sheet of paper, they needed to decide what the order of the sentences was in order to complete the story.

One element of the activity that I still need to work out, however, is time. I wasn’t sure what to set the timer to and therefore I frequently paused the clock to give students some additional time. Nevertheless, I will definitely conduct a running dictation again in the future. I think it is an easily adaptable activity that could benefit EFL students at any level.

Teacher Observation #4

For February, I observed Regina teach a CAE prep class. The class consisted of roughly six students, all of which were adolescents or college students. When I come in, students are reviewing an exercise from the course book and speaking in pairs. Students are speaking a lot of English and never fall back on Spanish or Catalan. On one occasion, when a student mistakes the meaning of ‘appeal,’ Regina is quick to recognize it as a false friend and correct the student.

The main focus of that day’s lesson concentrated on contrastive stress in a sentence. Regina wrote the following sentence on the broad: “I didn’t say we should kill him today.” She then asked the students, “What words are important in terms of content? To understand the gist?” Students’ answers varied, therefore giving Regina the opportunity to introduce stress as a factor in changing the meaning of a sentence. Together, the class looked at what emphasis on each word implied. For example: “I didn’t say WE should kill him today” means that the speaker intended for someone else to do the ‘killing’. Once students had a good grasp of what they were analyzing Regina had them work in pairs and assess the stress of the rest of the words in the sentence. She asked one group to work they way through sentence but starting at the end. I thought this was a clever way to ensure that pairs discuss different things at different times and do not get distracted by others’ conversations.

Once students go the chance to confer between themselves, Regina got them back together in order to ask questions such as: “I want to emphasize that it wasn’t me, where’s the stress?” If a student gave the wrong answer, she would mime the stress so that the student could hear their mistake. To finish off the mini-lesson, Regina incorporated backchaining as she drilled the different stress patterns with students.