Observer: Michael Smith
Class (skill level): English Immersion--2&3 graders
Date: April 1983
Duration of Class: 40 Minutes
Location: Dominican Republic
Number of Students: 7
Ethno-linguistic composition of the students:
It appeared that all of the students were native hispanics from the Dominican Republic and that Spanish was their first language.
Student seating pattern and teacher position: See attached charts
Characteristics of the classroom itself:
I had assumed that the classroom would not be well equipped, but I was wrong. There were chalkboards, desks, bulletin boards, and a variety of other teaching helps.
Description of class activities and rationale behind them:
0:00-0:04 The class started off with an activity where the teacher showed them some pictures in a Richard Scary book and the children were asked to identify and describe different pictures. This was a warm up activity to get them ready to have the story read to them. his activity gave them the background information that they needed in order to make this a Top-Down exercise.
0:04-0: 2 The teacher then began to read the book as it was written She would stop every once and a while and have the children answer a few questions about what they saw and about what she had just read to them. (See first chart for seating arangement and verbal flow of the first two activities.)
0:12-0:28 The children moved onto the floor and so did the teacher. A sixth grade student from the school came in and read a book to them. The book was The Emperors New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. After the student read each page, the teacher would ask the children quesfions about what they saw and heard. This time the children couldn't see the pictures as the story was read, so it was a better listening activity The children got a little bored, so the teacher had to keep asking them questions to keep them interested. They did laugh at the end when the Emperor walked down the street naked. (see the second chart for seating arangement and verbal flow of this activity.) I thought that it was nice that the older student was given a chance to read aloud. This also gave the younger students a chance to hear an accent different than the teacher's.
0:28-0:40 The children returned to their seats and turned around to lace the blackboard. There was a poster with different animals stuck to it. The teacher asked the students to come up one by one and choose an animal that did not begin with the letter "z." The children then had to say with which letter the animal that they had chosen began. The teacher wanted them to start associating specific sounds with words. (see the third chart for seating arangement and verbal flow of this exercise.)
0:40-- The children were let loose to have free time. Class ended
Strengths of this class and/or Teacher:
One of the biggest strengths was the class size. With oniy seven students, all of them were able to participate and get a chance to speak. Also, the teacher had a good variety of activities. This made it so that there was really no chance for the students to get distracted. Another strength was the discipline. The students were well bahaved and this made the class run smoothly. This can probably be attributed to the teacher. I also liked the use of the older student in the reading activity
Problems I noticed:
One thing I noticed was that the teacher sometimes ignored student responses. Either she didn't hear them or she didn't want to deal with them. This seemed to frustrate a few of the children. This was one of the few problems I observed. Other problems that I noticed had to do with the verbal flow which I will discuss on the following pages.
Suggestions for improving the class:
Pay a little more attention to student comments. (Also, those related to verbal flow.)
The most important things I learned from this experience:
That children are fun to work with in an immersion program. They seem so willing to participate and use any small bit of the language that they know. Also, I was reminded that you must prepare a lot of activities in order to work with children or else they will get bored.
Activity One and Two (chart 1):
Description--In Activity one, the teacher asked a total of 25 group questions. She also asked and 10 individual questions. All 10 of the individual questions were responded to by the student who received the question.
Comments and Suggestions--One student (G2) didn't get to answer a single question. The teacher needs to be a little more aware of individual questions. Also, although there were many group questions asked, the same students would always shout out the answers, so the other students just kept quiet. Maybe the teacher could have made some of the group questions into individual questions.
Activity Three (chart 2):
Description--The students and the teacher sat on the floor and a sixth grader read them a story. The teacher asked all of the questions. In this activity, all of the questions (35) were directed to the group as a whole.
Comments and Suggestions--Agam, the same students would answer the questions and many of the others would keep quiet. More individual questions would have made the students less bored and more attentive to the story.
Activity Four (chart 3):
Description--The students returned to their desks, but moved them to face the blackboard. The teacher asked 19 group questions and 23 individual questions.
Comments and Suggestions--This activity seemed to be more effective because of the verbal flow. Every student was able to participate because of the amount of individual questions asked. The teacher used the group questions to keep the more verbal students on-task while she was interacting with an individual.
The most important things I learned from this experience:
One of the most important things that I leamed is that the verbal flow can vary from activity to activity. If I had just observed the over-all verbal flow, then I might not have seen that some students were being neglected at different times during each activity. I also observed that it takes planning and conscious preparation to make sure that there is a good verbal flow m the classroom.
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