Education Paper

Title: Observation

Contents

Introduction. 2

Descriptions and Comments Based On Theories Read. 2

How the teacher starts the lesson. 2

How and when he uses the whiteboard or visual aids. 2

The kind of questions that he asks and how he asks them.. 3

The duration within which he waits for answers. 3

Whether students ask the teacher any questions and the type of questions that they ask. 3

The kind of instructions that the teacher gives the students. 4

The kind of feedback that the teacher gives the students (positive or negative) 4

Conclusion. 5

References. 5

 

Introduction

The class context being described is contained in a Youtube video titled Bill’s Lesson. It is an elementary class in which instructor Bill uses a dialogue frame to engage student in an activity in which they are required to practice speaking and pronunciation. The elementary class comprises of eight students; five girls and three boys. All of them are in their adolescent years.

The aim of this report is to describe the class context based on the observation checklist outlined in pages 10 to 12 of the Student Handbook. The report specifically provides a description of the class based on the checklist outlining teaching skills and strategies (UTS Handbook 2015). Out of the ten items highlighted in this checklist, the study will focus on seven. These items include how the teacher starts the lesson; how and when he uses the whiteboard; the kind of questions that he asks and how he asks them; the duration within which he waits for answers; whether students ask the teacher any questions and the type of questions that they ask; the kind of instructions that the teacher gives the students; and the kind of feedback that the teachers gives the students (positive or negative) either as individuals or groups (UTS Handbook 2015).

Descriptions and Comments Based On Theories Read

How the teacher starts the lesson

The teacher starts the lesson with greetings before immediately shifting the learners’ attention to the topic of the day by asking a questions relating to the day’s weather. He uses this opportunity to begin the lesson of the day by explaining the term “awful” using images.

How and when he uses the whiteboard or visual aids

The teacher uses the whiteboard in many ways. For instance, he draws images representing different feelings. He asks students to choose an image that indicates that someone is feeling “awful”. The teacher then asks the learners to suggest and write down names of adjectives that best describe the feelings expressed by all the other images on the whiteboard. In the meantime, Bill writes words on the whiteboard with a view to help the students come up with as many adjectives as possible. The instructor also uses the whiteboard as a reference point while explaining the idea of syllables to the students. He does this by highlighting the different syllables that make up each of the adjectives written on the whiteboard.

The kind of questions that he asks and how he asks them

The instructor asks direct questions. For example, “how is the weather today?” another question is: “Is last night now or finished?” The aim of this question is to determine whether student differentiate between past and present tenses. The teacher also uses visual cues, for example, touching his outstretched fingers one after another as a way of encouraging the learners to respond appropriately to his questions about what they did the previous night. In some cases, he directs a specific question to a specific student. In other cases, he requests the learners to respond in groups of two. This approach is supported in Brown’s (2007) work, which explains and supports the theory of classroom interactivity. According to this theory, English language learners should compare their responses with those of their parts as part of the learning process (Brown 2007). There are also some few situations in which he asks questions to the class in general.

The duration within which he waits for answers

In the questions about what the students did the previous night, the teacher allows them about 20 seconds to think about the right answers. In case students cannot answer a question, the teacher urges them by trying to illustrate what he means through visual cues. For example, he uses a “thumbs down” gesture to explain what he means when he says that the weather is awful. He also resorts to writing down more details on the whiteboard in case he feels that the learners do not quite understand the question.

Whether students ask the teacher any questions and the type of questions that they ask

The teacher asks many question throughout the English lesson. Most of these questions relate to the concept being studied. For example, he asks questions containing adjectives whenever he wants the learners to understand the meaning of adjectives. Similarly, he asks questions that illustrate stress, rising intonation, and falling intonation whenever he wants the learners to understand more about English pronunciation.

The students do not ask the teacher any questions. All the questions that the students ask are directed at their desk mates. Even in this case, the questions are only part of a practice session in which the teacher has already written down the questions and answers on the whiteboard. Thus, there is no situation where a student directs a question indicating that he or she did not understand something that the teacher taught.

The kind of instructions that the teacher gives the students

            The teacher gives the students instructions that are designed to ensure that they participate fully in speaking activities throughout the lesson. For example, he requires them to suggest a list of adjectives that best explain the images presented on the whiteboard. Further, he instructs the learners to engage in speaking practice with their desk makes in order to understand how stress and intonation works in English. I think the way the teacher introduces the concepts of stress and intonation is in line with the suggestions that have been made in linguistic theory. For example, Harmer (2014) points out that in the English language, stress and intonation can be used in many important ways, for example, changing sentence meaning by transforming it from an affirmative statement to a question.

To encourage the students to gain more confidence in speaking about other things apart from the ones that have already been highlighted during instruction, the teacher requires the learners to make up their own conversations. This approach is explained in the work of Scrivener (2005) through the theory of Communicative Language Teaching. Based on this theory, learners can only learn best if they are encouraged to engage in meaningful communication (Scrivener 2005). To check that the learners have understood the instructions, he simply asks for confirmation, for example by asking: “OK?” If the learners respond by saying “OK”, then the teacher concludes that they have understood the instructions. In case the students do not respond enthusiastically to the question or do not respond at all, he concludes that they have not understood the instructions and hence repeats them.

I think this approach is best described in goal setting theory, which requires teachers to up short- and long-term goals for English learners and then facilitating their achievement through motivation (Harmer 2014).  However, in this case, I feel that the teacher has focused too much on short-term goals (masterly of intonation skills) at the expense of long-term goals (overall English proficiency). This is because he has not taken the time to explain to the students how the concept of stress and intonation will contribute to the long-term objective of overall language proficiency.

The kind of feedback that the teacher gives the students (positive or negative)

In Bill’s lesson, the teacher enthusiastically gives students positive feedback whenever they answer questions in the right way. However, he tends to refrain from giving negative feedback whenever they do not answer questions rightly, and instead prefers to provide clarification, elaboration, or a more in-depth explanation. In most cases, the positive feedback is directed to all students in general. However, the teacher on several occasions directs positive feedback to individual students who seem to be paying a lot of attention to the lesson and subsequently answering questions correctly. For example, he even walks over to one of the students and shakes her hand for answering a question correctly. In my view, the rationale for this approach is best explained by Harmer (2014), who points out that English teachers must initiate and sustain motivation based on the needs of individual students since some of them have weak motivation while others have strong motivation.

Conclusion

            Based on my observations regarding the lesson, I think the teacher has done an excellent job of creating an ideal learning environment. The teacher’s approach can be reviewed based on different theories, for example, the theory of classroom interactivity, which promotes the idea of learners interacting in small groups. The lesson also brings into perspective the linguistic theory of stress and intonation, which emphasizes the role of stress and intonation in linguistic expression and communication. Similarly, it sets the stage for an assessment of the theory of communicative language teaching, which posits that –meaningful conversations provide the best avenue for learning among language students. By observing this lesson, I have gained a better understanding of the crucial role that classroom interactions play in promoting language learning.

(1471 words)

 

References

Brown, H. 2007, Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy, Third Edition, Prentice Hall Regents, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Harmer, J. 2014, The Practice of English Language Teaching, Longman Publishers, Cambridge. UK.

Scrivener, J. 2005, Learning Teaching, Macmillan, Oxford, UK.

UTS Handbook. 2015, Professional Practice 2 Language Literacy and Numeracy, UTS Library, Sydney, Australia

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