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This lesson occurred towards the end of the second semester.
I prepared a lesson focusing on simple past tense grammar, to follow the previous weeks' lessons on simple past and irregular verbs. I also considered it an appropriate way to revise recounts covered in earlier lessons.
The lesson commenced with a simple past revision as students have a prior knowledge of simple past tense and irregular verbs, some of examples were written on the whiteboard. Students gave some examples immediately, however some students had been unable to give a correct structure of the sentence, as my supervisor mentioned it's better to expand grammar activities, with paying more attention on slow students, starting with speaking activity and encourage them to work in pairs and group. On this occasion I gave them a simpler task which I felt enabled them to learn more.
Supervisor made me aware that although I had done the grammar explanation verbally with the students, I could have extended it by writing the suggested answer on the whiteboard. I have learned that although students may express ideas verbally, they may not know how to transfer these ideas to the written page. Supervisor suggested to teach grammar in context rather than sentence level and focus on how to form a word, like pronunciation, and meaning, and need to draw on students existent knowledge to develop teaching materials.
A short revision activity to be done verbally was necessary. Supervisor believed that these materials was appropriate to students level. He said that I have a very pleasant manner in the teaching and clear instructions and my teaching was well paced.
Next activity was a short real story, I showed pictures to students and elicited some questions about it. They engaged when I explained using visuals pictures, they started to discuss about it and the relationship among the characters. One aspect of the lesson I felt went well was the use of visual pictures, during my eliciting questions, in order to let them recognize vocabulary, they started to talk, which was excellent to let them engage to improve their speaking skills. Students found the story was interesting, expressing engagement on the topic. However supervisor believed that it was better to make the task more suitable to local context. And he mentioned it's better to reduce teacher talk and let students more participate.
I distributed the short text, I asked students to read silently using their dictionary to find any new words. On the whiteboard I wrote all new vocabulary and explain it to the students, I let one of the students read the paragraph while I was clarifying the meaning, most of the students tried to read each paragraph to develop their reading and punctuation. Student then underline all the simple past tense in the text. Supervisor suggested to give more student input by letting them participate more in the lesson.
Later in the lesson I provided a handout with the next activity of answering related questions by getting students to write the answer on the whiteboard to improve their writing. Students were asked to complete the last activity independently. They will sequence all the sentences in the correct order, This exercise provided an opportunity to practice reading skills.
Although this lesson went a little longer than the allocated time, it was a much more realistic timetable than previous lessons which indicates that my timing is improving. I should try and allow more time for independent work and spend longer talking and speaking to the students individually as they work. As Supervisor observed Its better to use this time productively to let them work pairs or group to let the good students assist weaker students.
I had anticipated student difficulty in reading the text. However most students were able to read the text and expressed pleasure in some of the writing. The short story provided an opportunity to read a text which was sufficient.
I made a conscious effort to use a variety of encouragement words like 'you are so smart', 'good', 'beautiful' and 'excellent'.
During the lesson I was aware that I was talking too much, often to elicit information. While this is useful, one student tends dominate the discussion while others remain quite, as my supervisor mentioned.
A much better activity suggested by my supervisor, would be of asking students to read the text in small groups. In their groups they could discuss and interpret handwriting, prepare answers to save time. This is the main area of improvement suggested by my supervisor who made me aware that this simple teaching adjustment may solve a number of the problems I encountered. It allows student to progress slower onto individual tasks, gives more of an opportunity for quiet students to contribute, provides an opportunity to check comprehension of weaker students and reduces teacher talk. It also provides opportunities for students to practice speaking skills although this is not an issue in this highly communicable class. I believed, I still have more to learn in confirming students understanding.
Overall I was pleased with my lesson, my timing had improved, I was using more positive words of encouragement and I did not get confused with my handouts. To make the lesson more effective I would probably need an additional 30 minutes to introduce the activities and provide more time for students to complete exercises and to review their work. The difficulties I experience with this mixed ability class still exist and the introduction of more group activities may assist this.
The lesson on the past tense of grammar was prepared by me during the second semester. It was a follow up the last week’s lesson on the simple past tense. It also contained lessons on irregular verbs. It was a good and appropriate way to revise the previous lessons.
The students already had knowledge on the topics like the simple past tense and the usage of the irregular verbs. I wrote a few examples related to both the topics on the whiteboard. Some students have easily understood the examples and provided additional similar examples. However, a few students were facing problems to do so. They were not able to form the correct structure of the sentences. As my supervisor mentioned, it was a good idea to focus more on making the weak students understand the concepts and expand the lesson accordingly. This way, the lesson plan can be expanded to provide a better understanding of all the students by simplifying the topic. One such approach could be to start with the speech exercises and then asking the students to work in pairs and groups for better knowledge transfer (Richards & Farrell, Learning to teach through practice teaching, 2011, p. 9). I provided the students with a much simpler task. The main focus was to make them understand and not confuse them further with a difficult task.
According to the supervisor, I explained the topic well to the students verbally. But it would have been good had I written the responses from the students on the whiteboard to explain the minute things related to the topic better. Most of the times, students know how to express an idea, but they face difficulty when it comes to expressing the ideas on a paper in the written form (Richards & Farrell, Nature of Teacher Learning, 2011, p. 15). The supervisor suggested me to teach the topic at a very basic level, like putting emphasis on the meaning and pronunciation of each word. This would help in highlighting the possible mistakes that can occur while trying to form sentences using the concepts of simple past tense.