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Reflecting on My Lesson

I chose to do a read aloud with Curious George Goes to a


Costume Party because my students were familiar with and enjoyed
Curious George stories. Another reason that I picked the book was
because I knew that my students would be excited to hear a story
connected to the upcoming Halloween holiday. I decided to focus on
retelling and sequencing (using the words beginning, middle, end) as
the essential skills to work on with the students. Although these topics
were previously introduced to the students, my cooperating teacher
and I decided that it was a good idea to re-introduce these concepts
into a read aloud context. I also chose to focus on these two skills
because they are mandated under the first grade ELA Common Core
Learning Standards (CCLS).
As I planned the lesson, I chose the activities carefully in order to
differentiate for all of the students. I am in a first grade classroom in
P.S. 124M and 20 out of 30 students are English Language Learners
who require varying degrees of language support. With that in mind, I
planned a picture walk before reading the text in order to support my
ELLs, as well as to give all of the students a chance to see the events
of the story at least two times (which is helpful for retelling and
sequencing). Although making predictions was not the focus of this
lesson, doing so during the picture walk got the students warmed up
and activated prior knowledge about the topics of Halloween,
costumes, ghosts, parties, etc.
In addition to the picture walk, I purposefully chose to
differentiate by employing turn and talks so that every child would get
a chance to speak and think out loud about what was happening in the
story. Finally, I created a graphic organizer which gave the students an
opportunity to retell the story in writing using their sequence words
(beginning, middle, end), as well as draw the images from the story in
order. I felt that this was an inclusive activity that any student could

complete to the best of his/her ability and still retell and sequence,
even if they only drew pictures.
I really enjoyed facilitating the students connections to the text
and watching them engage in the material with enthusiasm and
curiosity, which signaled to me that it was a successful lesson. The
students were immediately drawn into the story because of the familiar
character and exciting theme (Halloween) but I noticed that it was
sometimes challenging to keep the students engaged while I asked
questions and even during the turn talks. Although I wrote questions
on post-it notes, I decided on the spot to change some questions and
leave others out based on the direction of the students thoughts and
comments. For my next read aloud, I would ask fewer questions so as
not to break the flow of the story and simply model thinking out loud to
provide scaffolding for the students in their turn and talks.
I also felt that the turn and talks were not as productive as I
would have liked them to be and I attribute that to my not-so-clear
delivery of instructions and telling students to turn and talk before
giving them the question. In the future, I will call on students to repeat
my directions so that everyone hears them at least once. For those
reasons (and in the interest of time), I decided to leave out the last
turn and talk and have students begin the writing portion of the lesson.
Something that I noticed during the writing portion was that
many students labored over copying the title/author of the book onto
the graphic organizer, which took away valuable time from the task at
hand, which was to retell the story in writing using sequencing words.
Next time, I would type those into the handout beforehand. Something
else that I noticed during the independent writing activity was that
many students (including ELLs and non-ELLs) had trouble getting
started on their first sentences, so I spent a few minutes helping a few
students with that. Next time, I would gather a small group of those
students in the beginning of the activity and provide scaffolding for

them so that I could assess more students during that period and also
offer assistance to more students. Another idea might be to break
students into small writing groups, mixing stronger and weaker
students and tasking them with assisting each other until everyone has
successfully finished the activity. Its a wonderful way to empower
students as leaders in the classroom and also build a strong team spirit
in the groups.
Something else that I would like to improve on is classroom
management. My cooperating teacher reminded me that one of the
most important aspects of management is consistency and suggested
that I follow her discipline procedures at all times in the classroom.
That means that I will aim to use her 1-2-3 warning system (first
warning--watching you, second warning--back to your seat, third
warning--call home/office). My CT also suggested that I not talk over
students. I was conscious that I did this and did it because I wanted to
get through the read aloud so that the students would have more time
to write. Another idea was to use the Class Dojo to give positive
reinforcement to students paying attention instead of giving negative
feedback--once the students here the ring of the app, the class gets
very quiet because the students become excited to earn points! Finally,
Ms. Lai suggested that I hold students accountable by coming back to
them if they do not answer questions initially. This was in response to
my decision to cold call on a student and then allowing him to pass
the question to a classmate when he could not answer. I do plan to
follow up with students if I use that mode of questioning in the future
because I want to keep my students constantly engaged and thinking.