A nice, but discreet way of encouraging your students to provide their opinions and feedback – through my own post-box. It is always nice to read about what they think is going well, and what isn’t, and what the students would like to see more of. I also encourage students to post what they learnt in the lesson in 1-2 words.
Today’s lesson was more of a follow-up from the last, however students practised and learnt forming questions in the present and past for routine. The lesson also focused on listening activities, where students listened to Chrsitina’s bad day, and had to answer questions after listening to Christina talking to a friend about how bad her day was. Students then did some speaking in pairs. I first got them to write 3 questions they would ask their partner about Christina’s bad morning, such as why was she late for work? In order that students felt confident in forming questions after the listening exercise I got the students to work out how to form past simple questions (did) and questions with was/were. I think selected a strong student to come up to the IWB and tell the students how questions are formed. (From my last obs I was told it’s great to use stronger students and I did and it worked fab!)
Once students had formed their questions I got them to stand up and choose a different student (not one on either side of them) I wanted to get them up and moving around. Next was more listening, where students heard Kashka, a Youth Worker and Cristina is interviewing him for a newspaper. I played the recording and two students asked regrding some words they had heard and wanted to know the meaning, (fed up). I played the recording again as I couldn’t get what the word was from their pronounciation. I learnt from this that it is a good idea for teachers to listen to recordings and note words/meanings students will ask, this will make it easier to explain new vocab.
There was also a task I produced on the IWB ( see picture below). I had a group of words scattered and students had to match and make phrasal verbs. They seemed to have enjoyed it, and not only did they learn phrasal verbs in the context of routine, but others too such as break-up. I would like to say that I used different colours to match the words, however it ended up looking quite confusing to the eye, so next time maybe I would just circle them in colours to match and write a list to accompany the words.
As it was the weekend, I gave students the final task to complete for homework as well as writing about 150-200 words on their daily routine and lifestyle.
My first observation (of 8) went very well. The lesson I had planned was, ‘students practise and express the present and past tenses in the context of daily routines and lifestyle, through speaking, listening and reading exercises.’
I have from experience realised that covering daily routines can be a tedious task for students and I wanted to make the lesson fun and engaging. I decided to use a video on the International Space Station (ISS), where students would watch the ISS orbiting the earth live. They would then watch a short video on an Astronaut’s daily routine and lifestyle on board the ISS. The videos and live ISS feed was very well received and students produced some excellent questions when asked to write one question they would ask an Astronaut about his lifestyle/routine. Questions such as ‘how do you find a new planet?’, ‘What do you eat?’ and ‘Is it dangerous? This was more of a warmer exercise, and after collating the questions I read them out then moved on, I could have extended this activity by getting students in groups to answer other students’ questions. Also at the start I also could have given students to write as many words to do with the ISS, thus setting the scene, and introducing students to new vocabulary, rather than just eliciting.
There was also listening incorporated within the lesson. First was listening to an Astronaut about his morning routine, and students did a gap fill, this was praised in my feedback as it was both authentic and formal as well as including the mundane ‘Cristina’s day’. As I gave it prominence (the listening) my observers were thrilled as this is usally negelected in ESOL. There was also some new lexis but not too much, however I could have drilled the pronunciation as well as using questions to check the meaning of the words, or get students to write sentences of how they may use the new words in context.
I used a wide range of acvitivies to keep students engages and focused, as I always believe students should always be active, and if left to just listen to the teacher they will drift. An aspect that was raised in my lesson was the pace. I was seeming to rush (maybe as I had so many new students and also was being observed) and I have to come realise that it is not quanity and how much you can get done, rather it’s about quality. I could develop activities more, such as the questions at the start, or the part where feeding back on Cristina’s routine, and the differences between her and the Astronaut’s life. Also I should take into consideration difficult aspects of language learning, such as formation of questions, I elicited sentences about her day, rather than questions which are more complex and need practice.
The final task that was given was students producing a planet of their own in groups. This was really exciting and I even participated being an avid artist! After producing a new planet students presented to the class and described who lived there, what life was like and what was special about it. The work produced was excellent and very enjoyable.
Another aspect which I need to focus on was differentiation. As with all classess there are variations in level and performance. I could use higher level students to work in small groups of lower level students so modelling different structures. I can prepare more challenging tasks for higher level learners. Also through questioning I could differentiate (use Bloom’s taxonomy) using more complex questions with higher level learners. I will definitely look further into this aspect and it would work well in my class as I have different levels and abilities. Also in my feedback I was told I can use and exploit higher learners with weaker ones e.g use them for modelling answers, role play and examples.
My planning was very detailed, however I need to loosen up. I seemed bent on getting through everything and this need’nt be the case. Although occasionally time may seen important and limited, the learning is what it vital, thus by being quicker would not yield effective results or learning.
Overall myself and my students as well as my two observers thoroughly enjoyed the lesson. It was a great success and once areas for devlopment are taken into consideration and applied I can feel more confident that learners have had maximum exposure to their and my potentital to learn and teach. Once I have applied the methods advised I will feed back.
Having a journal and writing up my experiences after each ESOL lesson has really helped me to focus on my strengths and weakenesses, as well as an opportunity to reflect. On this blog I will present this journal and have an electronic version, and hope you may find it interesting, and even get some ideas. Please feel free to comment.
First ESOL lesson.
My first lesson went very well, I was a bit nervous despite having taught for some years, albeit it’s always of the unexpected. Soon the nervousness merged to excitement. The students were great, although initially only four had turne up. Among the students there is a Pharmacist, a teacher and philosopher. Most of the students are Syrian refugees, all studying at Entry 2 level (A2). We bonded well, as I feel it is always important to connect and form a strong relationship with students from the start. There were two students who have a higher level of English than others, and I immediately noted this as when preparing future lessons I can incorporate more challenging tasks for them. Also I found the stronger students rather ‘over enthusiastic’ in respect to their English. In upcoming lessons I will make sure certain strategies and challenges are incorporated to help not just the stronger students but others too. The first task was an ice breaker where students wrote three sentences, one true the rest false. I have always liked this ice-breaker as it’s fun and students always seem to enjoy it. However, during the task there was a misunderstanding, as students (I suspect it was the stronger students’ being over zealous) thought they had to write two grammtically incorrect sentences and one correct, not taking into account I meant sentences about them. I did do an example but this obviously had not worked. Maybe in future I could use ICQs to make sure students had understood what I wanted. The second task was also quite fun where they had to write five questions they would ask other students. Some were more enthusiastic than others, but it was only the first lesson and I didn’t want to challenged them toom much. After the questions and asking students they chose one student
and wrote a report on them and then presented to the class. The level of the students varied but not too much. This can be a positive thing as I can differentiate through pairing and group work. I am looking forward to the next class!!
I had a great opportunity to attend the TeachMeet conference at Bradford College. There I met many other teachers – novices and experienced, where we shared ideas, and listened to more than 20 speakers on tips and ideas for the classroom and teaching. Thoroughly enjoyed it! (and the food and freebies!).