Running head: TUTOURING AND CLASS OBSERVATION

Tutoring and Class Observation of
an ESL Classroom
Samantha J. Manzo
Michigan State University

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Abstract
This paper consists of an introduction paragraph focusing on an ELL student. It then has
a journal about individually working with the student in a tutoring session. It also has three
lesson observations from the mentor teacher in the classroom. Finally, the paper consists of one
lesson revision from the three lesson observations. The paper cites certain ESL scholars that help
back up the findings, and ideas in this paper. The main focus of this paper is on one individual
ELL student, and the lessons incorporated in the classroom he is in, with both negatives and
positives to each lesson.

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Tutoring and Class Observations of
an ESL Classroom
Introduction
From the very first day of class, my mentor teacher told me that the students in her first
hour class have less of an English proficiency than the students in her second hour. She also
mentioned to us that some students, who need extra help, are in both her first hour and second
hour class. Khang is in both hours, and the student I chose to tutor and interview. Because Khang
is in both of her hours, and the second hour is a little more advanced, there are sometimes when
he has to work on a different project than the other students. While the other students had a paper
to write, Khang worked on reading a text and talking about it in conversation. My mentor teacher
told me that she knows he would not have been able to be successful with the paper, so she gave
him work that she knew he could complete, and succeed with.
On the first day of being in my placement, not only did we get to introduce ourselves to
the students, but the students got the chance to introduce themselves to us as well. When it was
Khang’s turn, I noticed that he needed a lot of help from the teacher to relay his thoughts to us.
My mentor teacher did a really good job of helping him figure out what he was trying to say. I
could tell right away he was a little shyer because he could not communicate as well as the other
students in the class, so he was more reserved when speaking English.
Khang is an eleventh grade student at Okemos High School. He is from Vietnam and he
came to the United States just this year. He told me that up until now, he has had all his schooling
in the Vietnam. Out of all the students in the classroom, he struggles the most with speaking. He
often uses a translator app on his phone to double check meanings of words. My mentor teacher,

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along with some of his friends in the classroom, often have to help him figure out the correct
English words to what he is trying to say. I think Khang is fully aware that he is less proficient
than other students in the classroom. I think this makes him try harder, but he also is shyer when
speaking out loud because he is afraid of saying the wrong thing. This could hinder him in
becoming completely proficient.
Khang has told me that he does not think he is that smart. When talking about furthering
his education he said he was going to have to go to a community college because he is not smart
enough to get into a college like Michigan State University. I think Khang is really smart, he just
has very low proficiency in the English language. He feels as if he is behind because he is not
where the other students are, especially compared to the other students not in his ESL class.
Something great that his core subject teachers do, is give my mentor teacher his tests when he
does not have time to finish it in their class. He gets more time because not only does he have to
figure out the answer to the test, he has to figure out the question the test is asking. Khang often
gets his tests sent to my mentor teacher. My mentor teacher then lets Khang go to the corner of
the classroom and gives him time to finish his tests. I think this is extremely beneficial for
Khang.
A problem with Khang is that he is always on his cell phone, and gets it taken away often.
I think he uses his cell phone as a security. He is often texting or on social media but he uses his
first language when he is on these apps. He cannot always understand what the teacher is saying
so, I think this is why he goes on his phone. A positive part of his phone though, is that he does
have a translator app that he often uses. During one of our tutoring sessions he asked me what
culture meant. I was having a hard time trying to figure out how to properly explain it so he told
me to hold on, and he took his phone out and got the translation app. He then understood what

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culture meant and we were able to talk about his culture. I think Khang has a lot of potential. He
just needs to gain more confidence in speaking abilities.
Experience working in a tutoring session
I have worked with Khang on many occasions, but one of our first tutoring sessions that
was closer to the beginning of the year is one that stands out. He asked me to help him work on a
project. All the students in my mentor teacher’s first hour class are lower proficiency and one of
their assignments was to create an about me slide show presentation. They all had to have a
certain amount of slides on certain topics. Khang was having some trouble so he asked me if I
could help him out with it.
Khang had a couple slides when I started to help him. He had a slide on the food he liked
to eat, where he was from, and what he liked to do for fun. He was struggling with the other
slides needed for the presentation. My mentor teacher gave me the rubric she gave all the
students, so I knew the slides needed. Khang needed about ten more slides. When we started our
tutoring session I asked him to show me his presentation so far. He showed me his slides, and
talked about the food he liked to eat. He was shy when he showed me and used very little words.
I told him that it was a very good slide show and pointed out to him that he just needed a couple
more slides and that I could help him with this.
A strategy that I had to use with him was asking him questions to guide what he was
putting on the slide. For instance, Khang needed to add a family slide, so I asked him questions
about his family. I said, things like “How many people are in your family”, “Where do your
parents work”, “Where do they live”. Most of what he wrote on the slide were the answers that
he gave me. When he thought the slide was good enough he would ask me for reassurance and
say “good?” and I would respond with good. This was an “easier” slide to complete, along with

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the school slide and a couple others. These slides were easier because he understood what I was
asking, and wrote down his answers. He often did ask for spelling of words, which I made him
look up in the dictionary. I did this so he was looking up the words and finding the answers, and I
was not just giving him the answers he needed. I wanted to show him he could get the right
answers.
There were slides that seemed to be a little more complicated, and seemed to take a little
more time than the others. For instance, the slide on culture was probably the most difficult.
When I said, “Okay the next slide is on culture,” I did not expect him to say, “What is culture?” I
did not realize that because Khang is lower proficiency he did not know all the words on the
sheet. He has asked me what words meant before during the presentation, words easier to explain
like plane, but when he asked me what culture meant, I got stuck. I had a hard time trying to
explain it not being able to find the words because I never had to explain it before. I told him that
I was having a hard time explaining it and that we should look it up in the dictionary. When we
looked the word up, it said, “The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement
regarded collectively.” He looked even more confused so I tried explaining to him that culture
can be a family’s beliefs, background and practices. He seemed to understand a little better but
still seemed confused. Khang has a translator app on his phone, and often times uses it so I
suggested if he needed more clarification to look at the app and have it translate it for him. After
Khang put culture in his translator, he understood what the word meant and was able to
successfully complete the slide with some questions.
The students all had to pick a day to present their presentations so after we completed the
slides, I asked him if he wanted to practice. The first time he went through the presentation he
was really shy and seemed to be having a hard to finding the words he needed to say. I gave him

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some pointers on how to present and I told him the most important thing was to try not to be
scared. I told him to try it out one or two more times and he did. On his presentation day, which
was thankfully the next time I tutored, he did a really good job. He got confused with his words a
couple times but other than that his presentation was very good. My mentor teacher even told me
that this was some of the best work that he has done.
I chose these strategies because Khang has very low proficiency. I asked him questions to
help guide him in creating his own answers. I had to make sure I was using vocabulary that
Khang could understand when explaining what words meant when he asked. I also used hand
gestures to help him get the words he needed. I also made sure that he used a dictionary when he
needed help on spelling words. He also had to use his translator a few times.
Reflecting back on this experience there are a couple things that I would have done
differently. I do not think that I should have asked as many questions and should have let him
formulate some of the slides himself, before guiding him with the questions. I also think that
possibly using the dictionary for looking up definition of words instead of explaining certain
words could have been helpful as well. I think that in the end the strategies helped for a really
good presentation, but like mentioned above, there were some ways that I probably could have
better helped Khang with his presentation.
From this experience, I learned a lot about Khang. I mainly learned a lot about his
background and past schooling experiences, and home life. I think this would help me be able to
relate future tutoring sessions and lesson to him a lot better. I also learned what strategies
worked, and what strategies I need to work on more when working with ESL students. I learned
that it is not as easy as I thought it would be to explain what a word means. I also learned that
Khang is a really bright student who is eager to learn, he is just very shy when it comes to

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speaking because he is probably the least proficient in the class. He just needed a little push to
get him started. I think this experience helped me really learn about ESL students in a positive
way and gave me the experience I need for working in my future classrooms. I think this was a
great project to use. It helped me and my mentor teacher get to know the students on a more
personal level, and this would essentially help build classroom community and help the teacher
better be able to relate her lessons to the students in the class.
Lessons
Comparative Essay Lesson
This lesson I observed was a part of a greater unit lesson plan with the main goal, and end
assessment, being a large comparative essay about an article and the movie. This lesson plan was
for my mentor teacher’s second hour class, which is a little more proficient than her first hour
class. The unit lesson went on for about three weeks. It started with the students reading the
article and highlighting important facts and information, and then having a discussion about it. It
was an article about migrant farm workers.
The students then got the chance to watch the movie McFarland. McFarland is a movie
about a football coach that moves to a place where most of the workers are migrant farm
workers. During the movie students got the chance to make a timeline of events. The lesson I
observed was the day after the movie. My mentor teacher was teaching the students how to
properly compare and contrast so they could successfully complete the main assessment which
was the comparative essay.
My mentor teacher wrote what a comparative exam was on the board. She said it is was a
paper that takes two topics and makes similarities and differences based on the subject. She then
gave the students an example, saying “A dog is like a cat because it walks on all four legs, but it

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is different than a cat because it barks and does not meow”. She asked a couple students to
volunteer information comparing animals.
My mentor teacher then asked the students to write down two similarities and two
differences about their best friends. After a few minutes, she asked the students if anyone wanted
to volunteer. Some students did. My mentor teacher then instructed the students to write down
four similarities and four differences about the article on migrant farm workers, and the movie
McFarland. She made the students turn this in at the end of class, and this is what she assessed
them on. With this lesson, the students were going to use these similarities to write their paper.
Khang really struggled with this lesson, and probably the most I have ever seen him
struggle. He found it very hard to make comparisons about the movie and the article. He also
struggled with making differences about his friends. He was very discouraged when I tried
helping him. He told me he did not want to do it and kept looking at his phone.
I tried showing him examples about my friends, and I tried having him look up some
words on his phone such as similarity, and difference. Together, we ended up only making two
similarities and one difference about the article and the movie. He seemed very frustrated with
himself and did not really want to do anything after we got those sentences.
I went up to my mentor teacher after class and told her how Khang was really struggling
with this assignment. Since I am only there once a week, it is not like I can help him as much as I
want or as much as he probably needed the one on one attention. Compared to the other students
in the second hour class, Khang is the least proficient. While all the students were chatting about
their similarities and differences I could see Khang getting more and more frustrated that he
could not think of one, or at least think of one in English.

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The next week when I got to class the papers were due, and the unit lesson was over. I
asked my mentor teacher how Khang did because I knew he was struggling. My mentor teacher
told me that Khang continued to struggle and fall behind. She did not want to have to fail him,
and since there is such a divide between him and the rest of her second hour she decided on
giving him an alternative assignment that would count for the same points. The alternative
assignment was for him to read a story about a young girl and her family. She separately asked
him comprehension questions to see if he understood the material. This was his assessment and
his new lesson.
I think a strength to this lesson, was that it was connected to an ultimately bigger lesson.
The lessons leading up to this particular lesson helped out. Students had timelines,
summarizations, and facts written about the article and the movie. Students could use these old
assignments to get ideas on their four similarities and four differences. Not only could students
use these old assignments to help out, but the students could use the assessment for this lesson to
be a base for their soon to be formal assessment of the comparative paper.
I really like how my mentor teacher modeled to them how to compare and contrast.
According to Ferlazzo and Sypnieski (2012), scholars on ELLs, it is a good thing to model for
students what they are expected to do and produce, especially for new skills and activities
(Ferlazzo, 2012, 10). I also like how she had students volunteer to model as well. Another
strength to this lesson was that before she asked the students to compare and contrast the article
and the movie she asked the students to compare and contrast something personal to them, their
friends. This allows students to connect to the lesson better and have a little fun with it. I also
like the culture aspect of learning about a different culture, and about migrant farm workers.

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There were weaknesses to the lesson as well. I do not like how she gave Khang a
completely different assignment to do. I do not really think that that is fair to him. He started
doing the assignment with everyone else. I also understand that this probably was too difficult
for Khang, but maybe she could have given him a revised lesson based on the article and movie.
I also think that it would have been a good idea to have a vocabulary board while teaching this
lesson with the word comparative, similarity, and difference on it. I think this is why Khang
struggled and by the time I asked him to look it up on his translator he was already very
discouraged. As a future ESL teacher this really concerns me. My mentor teacher has many
different levels of proficiency in her class. The first class is all very low in proficiency and the
second hour class the students have higher proficiency but there are a couple students who are in
both hours because they need the help.
Through this lesson I learned that it is difficult to teach ELL students. How can I make
effective lesson plans for all proficient levels when and if I have a classroom similar to my
mentor teachers? There are so many different proficiency levels in her classroom it makes it
difficult to find a lesson plan suitable for everyone. I also learned that lessons take time with
ELL students and that a lesson that may take a week in a native English speaking classroom, may
take a couple more weeks in and ESL classroom.
Family Lesson
This lesson was for my mentor teacher’s first hour class. They had started learning family
vocabulary either a day or two before. My teacher started the lesson with a PowerPoint. The
beginning of the PowerPoint was the vocabulary review on what they learned the day before. On
each slide there was a picture, and then the English word. For example there was a picture of a
mother, and then the word mother written underneath. She asked that the students repeat after her

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while going through the slides. For example when the mother slide came up she would say
“mother” and the students would say “mother” before moving on.
After reviewing the vocabulary she added some vocabulary, grandparents, step-mother,
and step-father. She had the student write these words down and then explained them. She said a
grandmother is your mother’s mom, etc. She then asked students what a grandmother is and
called on students to answer the questions. The next part of the PowerPoint was just the pictures
and the students had to say what they were. For instance the picture of the mother was on a slide
by herself, so then the students would say mother when it came up.
After my mentor teacher’s PowerPoints she handed out a worksheet to her students that
they would turn in for the assessment of the lesson. On the worksheet some of the same pictures
were on the worksheet with a line where the students were supposed to write the English word
for the picture. Then there was another line under that where the students had to create a sentence
with the word that the picture stood for. Students would make up sentences such as, “My mom is
nice.”
At the bottom of the worksheet was a matching where the students could match the words
with definitions. For instance on one side of the column was grandfather and on the other side
was “my father’s father” and the students had to match the two together. After about fifteen
minutes students got the chance to go over the worksheet with a partner before turning it in.
During this lesson Khang was very attentive. He was taking notes throughout the entire
PowerPoint presentation; however he did not speak when the students were supposed to repeat
after the teacher. I believe that this is because he is very shy with his speaking, and rarely ever
speaks in class. During the lesson, when my mentor teacher was asking students what the new
vocabulary was she called on Khang and asked him what a step-mother was. Khang was very

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quiet at first, but my teacher waited a minute and Khang said “dad’s wife”. My mentor teacher
said “very good Khang, it is when your father remarries, and it is his new wife. It is hard for
Khang to make full sentences because he is not aware of all the vocabulary yet.
When Khang got the worksheet he started with the pictures and writing down what the
pictures was. He did not even need my help with any of them. He seemed to have remembered
all the pictures from the presentation. When it came to making the sentences though, this is
where Khang started to struggle. He was just sitting there for a while and then told me that he
needed help. I decided it might be a good idea to make it personal so I asked him questions. I
started with, “Where does your sister go to school?” He told me Michigan State University, so I
told him that is a really good sentence. So he wrote “My sister goes to Michigan State” on the
line. I asked him a couple more questions for the next few, but then when it came to the
grandfather picture, before I even asked me a question, he said “My grandfather works on
planes”. I told him that was an awesome sentence and he should write it down.
When Khang got to the matching section of the worksheet he struggled a little bit with
being able to match the terms. He asked me to read some terms and he used his translator often
for the definition part. For any terms he did not know and that he looked up with his translator,
he wrote down in his notebook. I read a couple of the definitions to him, but then I had him read
some to me. He struggled with that part but ended up getting them all right. This lesson was
pretty good for Khang; he just struggled a little with it.
I think the strengths of the lesson was the review before the assessment. It was good to
have the students go over the terms before having them do a worksheet on them. It gave the
students a chance to get comfortable with the terms. I think another strength of the lesson was the
visual representations that the lesson used to help connect the vocabulary with. Ferlazzo and

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Sypnieski (2012), think that it is great to use visuals to make language and content more
accessible to students. It can be hugely helpful to ELL students (Ferlazzo, 2012, 11). The
students saw the pictures in the PowerPoint presentation, and the same pictures on the
assessment worksheet. I also liked how the students not only had to write the vocabulary word,
but also utilize it in a sentence.
I think a weakness of this lesson was not connecting it more to personal experiences. For
the most part, all students have family members, and I think instead of just connecting it with
pictures, the students could have connected the vocabulary words with their real life family. I
think it would benefit the other students like how it benefited Khang. I also think that a possible
weakness of this lesson was calling on students to answer during the PowerPoint. I understand
that it is necessary to see if students are listening, but I think that if a student is shy, like Khang,
then the teacher should just wait to check his assessment.
Through this particular lesson I learned that teaching ESL students can be somewhat
difficult. It was hard for some students to understand the vocabulary and it was difficult for my
mentor teacher to fully explain what mother was. Her use of visual representation was really
helpful and something I think I will utilize for my future lessons and in my classroom. I have to
understand that students will need to know exactly what words like, “mother” and “father” mean
and I have to be able to give them definitions that they will be able to understand.
Halloween Lesson
This lesson was for my mentor teacher’s first hour class and was about Halloween and
similes. Because the first hour classes are all mostly new to America, a lot of them did not know
what Halloween was and what it was about. My teacher had the plan to teach them about similes,
but with Halloween coming up, she decided to put a Halloween twist on it.

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The lesson was mainly focused on a PowerPoint. The lesson started off with my mentor
teacher doing a discussion post about what the students knew about Halloween. A lot of the
students said “nothing”, but some students said “candy”, and “ghosts”. My teacher then played a
short video about the history behind Halloween. She asked the students what they learned and
they put words on the board that correlated with Halloween.
Then, my teacher told everyone a “scary” story since telling scary stories are a part of
Halloween. In her scary story she had a couple similes, although she did not explain what they
were yet. After the story she asked the students what exactly made the story scary. They talked
about it and added more words to the board. After the story she had a slide about similes. It
explained exactly what similes were. She then started putting an example on the board. She put,
“MayMay’s scarf is as red as…” and then she asked the students what is something that is very
red? Keeping up with the scary theme one of the students said blood. She did this a couple more
times with other sentences.
After the students seemed like they fully understood similes, they were broken into small
groups of about two or three. The task was to write a short scary story using at least two similes
in the story. At the end, they got the chance to present if they wanted. The story was the
assessment for the students.
Khang, the student I wrote about in my reflection, seemed to really enjoy this lesson. He
was really interested in the whole Halloween theme because he has never even heard about
Halloween before. He asked me some questions during the lesson, about Halloween like “how
old do you have to be to go out?” and “Do ghosts really come out at night?” He also seemed
engaged during the story, and the simile discussion.

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Khang usually does not speak during discussions, but since everyone was comparing
each other’s shirts, or backpacks to something scary, he was laughing and added his input. This
seemed to be one of the best discussions for Khang. He also is usually always on his phone,
texting his friends or being on social media, but for this lesson, I think he only used it once for
the translation. He was also very chatty with his friends this lesson, so I do not know that if he
was so engaged because he was in a good mood, or was very chatty with his friends because he
was learning something interesting to him. It was the only time I have seen him volunteer in
class with his input voluntarily.
The only thing Khang did struggle with during this lesson was when they had to break
into pairs to write the scary story with similes. I went over to his group to check on their progress
and no one really had written anything down yet. I tried to get them started by saying they should
all say a sentence in the story. The first two boys made sentences, even though it took the second
boy a little longer, we sat and waited. When we got to Khang’s turn to say a sentence, he did not
say anything. He was very quiet and looked at his laptop. I said why don’t you use one of the
words from the board, and he just said I do not know what to say. The other student skipped his
turn and said a sentence for him, and I told Khang that he had to think of at least one sentence to
contribute to the groups stories. He ended up thinking of a sentence but needed help from his
friends. He really enjoyed the lesson, and understood similes, but when it came to producing a
sentence, he froze up. I think that this is something that the teacher or I should go over with him
on later on, or possibly our next tutoring session.
I think this lesson was very engaging for all the students. This was probably the most fun
that I saw the students have since I started my placement. I believe it was a really good lesson
because it connected teaching the students about the American culture, with an English lesson on

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similes. It also connected the students with what was happening currently. Halloween is coming
up, and the students hear the other students talking about Halloween costumes, and going door to
door for candy and really had no idea what they were talking about.
The lesson about similes was very helpful as well because it is sometimes harder for ESL
students to understand why someone would compare MayMay’s sweatshirt to blood, but with the
Halloween elements, and with the teacher explaining it is used to be dramatic, I think the
students really understood Similes by the end of the lesson. According to Curran (2003) another
scholar, “We need to structure classroom activities and use strategies to support language
acquisition and comprehension of classroom activities for ELLs,” (Curran, 2003, 336) and I
think that this activity was really successful in language acquisition and comprehension.
Some areas of improvement would be that although for the most part the students were
learning about similes, the teacher could possibly spend more time on it because the lesson was
more focused on Halloween than on the simile like it was supposed to be. Also, the lesson did
not really connect with the students learning background. Maybe the teacher could possibly ask
if they have any similar holidays in their country or where they are from. Li (2013), another
scholar on this subject says, “In addition to developing more empathetic understanding of CLD
students’ cultures and lives outside of school, teachers also need to have the skills to incorporate
the multiple cultural perspectives into their curriculum, anticipate and adjust for students’
different communication and learning styles and abilities, and accept and value cultural
differences in their classrooms” (Li, 2013, 139-140).I know one student mentioned that it was
like the “Day of the Dead” but it was never really talked about any further than that. Although
the teacher was teaching them about American culture which I think is very important, especially

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since they are immersed in the culture, she has to show the same importance for the other
students, who come from many different cultures and backgrounds in the class.
From this lesson I learned that ELL students really love learning about holidays in the
American culture. They had fun with the lesson and it is good to connect another lesson with
something fun, like Halloween. I also learned that it is important to talk about students culture
and to take time teaching them about the American culture.
Lesson Evaluation
Daily Lesson Plan

Date: October 17, 2015
Objectives for today’s lesson: To be able to understand and to apply family vocabulary successfully. To
create a family tree with two sentences about each family member. To be able to use past vocabulary to
describe, and talk about their personal family members.

Rationale: It is imperative for students to be able to use and learn family vocabulary to be able to express
their everyday lifestyle. In American culture, it is respectful to refer to parents, grandparents, family
members, by their appropriate title. Students use family vocabulary in their daily speech so it is important that
ELL students learn these vocabulary words. Family vocabulary is relevant for students’ life so it is extremely
important vocabulary to know.

Materials & supplies needed:
PowerPoint
White board

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Paper and Pencil
Construction paper, clue, crayons, craft supplies
Procedures and approximate time allocated for each event
• Introduction to the lesson (5-10 minutes)

I will introduce the lesson by telling the students we will be going over

the family vocabulary words we learned yesterday.
I will ask any students if they have any family vocabulary from

Make sure all students are
participating to ensure that
all the students are
understanding vocabulary.

yesterday that they want to go over or if they have any questions before

we start the review
The PowerPoint will start with picture of different family members and

Speak slowly and give

before the correct term is shown, students will have to say the correct

students enough time in

term.
After the review students will be given the chance to ask any more

between vocabulary to

questions before moving on

• Introduction of new vocabulary (10-15 minutes)

really understand the
vocabulary

Check with students to see
if they are understanding


The PowerPoint will then introduce new vocabulary words.
Students will learn words such as grandparents and step-parents and

will have to repeat them like in the review.
More time will be spent on this section since they are learning new
words

and have any questions

Ask students if they are
struggling with any
vocabulary or concepts

• Activity #1 (10 minutes)


Having the students write down three facts about their family members
Model for students a sentence on the board

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 Example: My mother is a doctor
Have the students turn to a partner and share their three sentences

• Activity #2 (5 minutes)

Encourage students to help

The students will then go over the PowerPoint as a whole with old and

each other with vocabulary
when needed

new vocabulary
The students will discuss the importance of learning family vocabulary

Show students that family
• Activity #3 (30-35 minutes)

Introduce the activity, which will also be the assessment
Activity: Students will have to create a family tree of their own family

going back two generations
Students will be expected to write down the English word, and their

home language word for members of the family
Students will be encouraged to be creative and draw pictures of family

members
Students will have to write sentences about their family members to

add to the back of the tree
If students do not finish they will have the chance to take it home to do

for homework
Students will be asked to present their family trees the next day in class

vocabulary is essential
vocabulary to learn
because it is used in most
of our daily conversations

Ask students if they
understand with a thumbs
up or thumbs down

Make sure students are
understanding key
vocabulary

TUTOURING AND CLASS OBSERVATIONS

21

Walk around to ensure
students are actually using
vocabulary

Ask the students why
learning vocabulary is so
important
Assessment

Encourage students to

Assessment will be based on the conversation that students have with

their neighbors about their families.
Students’ formal assessment will be based on the family tree

Students
Sentences
and
vocabulary

4- The
family
tree is
creative
and filled

4-The
sentences
are clear
and
creative
and the
vocab

differences or similarities
of other’s ideas and
sentence examples

Assessment Rubric
Family
Tree

explore and discuss

3-The
family tree
is mostly
filled and
has a good
appearance

3- The

sentences
are clear
and the
vocab
words are
correct

2-The

family
tree is
halfway
filled out
and somewhat
decorated
2-The
sentences
are written
down and
the vocab
has few
errors

1-The
family
tree is
barely
filled out
and not
decorated

0-The
family
tree is not
done

1-The
sentences
are not
all
written,
and have
many

3-The
sentences
are not
done and
the vocab
words are
wrong or

Go over the rubric with the
students and make sure
they understand what a
good project looks like.
Possibly show them an
example.

TUTOURING AND CLASS OBSERVATIONS
words are
correct,
clear and
wellwritten

22
errors
along
with the
vocab
words

not
completed
either

I chose to revise this lesson because I think that it had some really great components to it,
but I also think that there are some components that could have been expanded on or fixed. This
lesson was for my teachers first hour, which is a lower proficiency class. I believe that it is
extremely important to teach our students important vocabulary like family because family
vocabulary is usually used in every day context. It is also of great importance to teach students
vocabulary that they can relate to, and the majority of our students have family members, and
can relate to this vocabulary.
One of the components that I really liked about this lesson is the fact that my teacher had
a slide show presentation with visual representation to help students better connect with
vocabulary words. I have learned in almost all my teacher education classes at Michigan State
University, that visual representations is a great component to an ESL classroom. The students
are able to not just learn the word, but to visibly learn it and that helps with comprehensible
input.
I also really liked how the teacher had a review of vocabulary words in the beginning of
the lesson. Instead of jumping right into the new vocabulary, she gave the students a chance to go
over vocabulary from the previous day to ensure that the students were understanding and
learning it. I also really liked how my mentor teacher introduced new vocabulary, which still had
to deal with family. My mentor teacher told me that she did not want to overwhelm the students
with a massive amount of vocabulary words the first day she taught on the topic. She wants to
slowly introduce vocabulary to students to better ensure that they are understanding. The review

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23

in the beginning gives my mentor teacher a chance to see how many of her students are truly
understanding. I also really liked the introduction to the new vocabulary. My mentor teacher
made sure that the new vocabulary words were almost like a step up. She taught mother, father,
sister, brother, cat, and dog the first day, whereas the second day she taught words like
stepmother, stepfather, grandma, grandpa, grandparents, aunt and uncle.
Although there were many positive components to the lesson I do think that my mentor
teacher could have expanded and related more with the students during this lesson. For one, I
think my mentor teacher should have let the students talk to each other. Gottlieb (2006) says,
“English language learners should be encouraged to interact with each other as a means of
practicing their new language” (Gottlieb, 2006, 76). In my mentor teacher’s original lesson, the
students did not really get the chance to talk to each other until they got to help each other with
homework. I think if the students got to talk about their families to each other that causes for
personal experience and helps students gain talking skills. That is why, in my lesson I have a
section where students are writing down three facts about their families and then I have them
share these three facts with a partner. This gives the students a chance to practice their written
and oral skills.
I also think that one possibly flaw of the lesson is the fact that she called on students
when asking what certain vocabulary words meant. I think my mentor teacher should have asked
for volunteers instead because putting students on the spot like that could be problematic. I know
she wanted to make sure that all the students were paying attention and understanding, but I also
know that shyer students, like Khang do not like talking out loud like that and I do not really
think that it was the best idea to force them. In my lesson plan, I have a point, after reviewing old
and new vocabulary, where I ask the students if they understand with putting a thumbs up or a

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24

thumbs down. Is good to regularly check with students to see if they are understanding the
lesson. They suggest this thumbs up and thumbs down because it is less embarrassing for a
student (Ferlazzo, 2012, 11). I think that this is a better way to check with the students than just
randomly calling on them.
One last thing I wanted to expand on in my version of this lesson, was the worksheet that
my teacher gave. Although I think her version of the assessment was effective with the visual
representations and the fact that the students had to write a sentence with the vocabulary word, I
think that expanding on this lesson and having the students make a family tree could be a little
more effective. First, I think that the family tree idea is a good extension of the assignment
because it gives students the chance to be creative and also connects with the students on a
personal level. Using the vocabulary for their personal life will let students better relate to the
vocabulary. Also, having the students write the English word of the vocabulary along with their
home language, allows the students to see that their language, and culture is just as important as
English. Ferlazzo and Sypnieski (2012) say that it is a good idea to encourage students to
continue reading and writing in their first language, so having that students write in both English
and their home language helps encourage this (Ferlazzo, 2012, 12). I kept that the students still
have to write sentences with their family tree. Students like Khang, struggle with sentence
formation so I think that this is a good practice. I think the grading of the sentences does not have
to be crazy harsh, it just has to show the vocabulary words used in the correct context.
I think that my mentor teacher had many great components to her lesson and I really liked
how she introduced the vocabulary and used review. I do think however, that there are some
modifications that could enhance the lessons effectiveness. I wanted to add components to the
lesson that let the students better relate to the vocabulary words, while also still valuing the

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25

students’ home language. It also gave the students a chance to be creative which is always a good
thing. My only fear of my version of the lesson plan is that there may not be enough time to
complete this lesson in one day. The lesson might have to be a two-day lesson instead.
Extra Credit: iPad apps
With tutoring Khang, we were able to attempt to use iPad app a couple of times. Khang is
always on his phone in class, so I figured that he would really like to utilize the iPad apps and
that it would really benefit him. The first iPad app we tried out was an English Dictionary and
Thesaurus app that I googled. I showed it to him, but he did not really like it. He did not see the
use of it if he could just use his translator on his phone. So, he told me he did not like it and
continued to use his translator app.
I then decided to google more apps online that could be more useful. I found an app
online called flashcardlet where it let me customize flash cards with the vocabulary words that
Khang was using. I would use vocabulary words he was using that week and if we had free time
after working on his homework for that lesson. He really enjoyed this app. The app also allows
you to match up words with pictures so it brings a visual aspect to the vocabulary and I think
Khang really liked that part.
One of our tutoring sessions, we were using the app and Khang asked me if he could
make vocabulary words for me to try out. We had some extra time and I thought that it would be
fun so I said of course. He put his home language as the word and the English version of other
words that we were learning. He had me trying to figure out his home language words. It was
actually really fun. He was teaching me how to say the words and he had a lot of fun. It was
really good and I think it showed him that I cared about his culture. I learned that Sam in his
language means thunder so for the rest of the period he was calling me thunder. I think iPad apps,

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if used correctly can be really effective to use. He was having fun while learning and I think that
is really something special.

References

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Curran, M. E. (2003). Linguistic diversity and classroom management. Theory Into
…..Practice, 42(4), 334-340.
Gottlieb, M. (2006). Assessing English language learners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Ferlazzo, L., & Sypnieski, K. H. (2012). The ESL/ELL Teacher's Survival Guide: Ready-to-use
…..Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels. John
…..Wiley & Sons.
Li, G. (2013). Promoting teachers of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students as
…..change agents: A cultural approach to professional learning.Theory Into Practice, 52(2), 136…..143.