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Lindsay Kaye Ohlert

CI 5699 Video Observation, Fall 2009


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Part One: Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan Template

Name: Lindsay Kaye Ohlert Date: 12/07/09


Grade/Level: 2nd grade “intervention” Language: English/ESL
School and Cooperating Teacher: Phalen Lake Elementary, Molly Jackson

Objectives (Students will…)


Language/Content Objectives
Students will recognize and combine previously taught short vowel sounds, long vowel
sounds, and high-frequency consonants to form words. Students will recognize some
written consonant digraphs that represent single phonemes (ck, th, sh). Students will
indentify multiple ways of orthographically representing the /k/ phoneme.

Other Objectives (Learning Strategy, Social, Metacognitive, etc.)


Students will engage in active listening. Students will take turns, and respectfully correct
one another’s work.

Context
For 25 minutes each day, all students are pulled out to receive intensive instruction designed
to reduce/eliminate educational deficits. The current intervention focus for all 2nd graders is
phonics. Students are divided into groups by ability level and need; this group is made up
of 12 of the students with the lowest scores on a recent phonics inventory. Most of the
students are non-newcomer ELLs, with Hmong, Lao or Spanish as their native languages; a
few have learning disabilities. These students have been attending daily phonics
intervention for approximately three weeks.

Lesson Materials
Lesson 13 chart
Lesson 13 workbook page
Pencils
Dry erase board and markers

Procedures
Pre-Activities: Description Time Frame Objective(s) Targeted
Teacher utters individual phonemes (eg. /s/ - /t/ - 5 min Recognizing and
/a/ - /p/). Students listen, trying to blend the combining phonemes
phonemes into actual words (eg. “stop”),
indicating with a thumbs-up when they’ve
figured it out. Teacher calls on one of the
students to tell what word was made, then writes
the word on the board, divided into phonemes.
Repeat with “play,” “frame,” “place,” and
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CI 5699 Video Observation, Fall 2009
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“brave”. When relevant, the teacher reminds


students of the “silent e” rule when writing the
word.

During activities: Description Time Frame Objective(s) Targeted


Teacher writes the “th” digraph on the board, 5 min Recognizing digraphs
and tells students what sound it makes. Students
repeat the sound several times. Teacher asks
students what other letter combinations they
know that make a single sound (“ck,” “sh,”
“ch”). Students identify which “write, sound
and say” words from the chart contain /th/, and
copy them down on their ch. 13 workbook
sheets, underlining the digraph.

Students brainstorm other words that contain 3 min Recognizing digraphs


/th/. Teacher records these words on the board.

Post Activities: Description Time Frame Objective(s) Targeted


In partners, students take turns reading the “read 12 minutes Multiple
the story” passage from their workbook page. representations of the
They circle all instances of the /k/ phoneme. /k/ phoneme
After all pairs have finished, the teacher goes
through the instances of /k/ with the group,
keeping a record on the board of all the different
ways of writing /k/ from the passage (“k,” “ck,”
“c,” “q,” “x”)

Students mark all /k/, /sh/ and /th/ in the “read Sponge Recognizing digraphs
carefully” columns of the workbook page if they
finish the “read the story” activity before the rest
of the class is ready to correct it.

Assessment
Informal: teacher monitoring of student performance on workbook activities
Formal: post-test phonics inventory to be conducted next week

Reflection/additional comments
This is a mandated Mondo lesson – the scope and sequence is predetermined (i.e., I didn’t
choose the content, nor the order in which the content is being taught, and I have limited
options for activities).

Feedback
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Part Two: Video Reaction

Watching oneself from the outside is always so odd. My first impression is that I speak

and gesture much more theatrically than I thought – I don’t generally think of myself as a

particularly animated person. So I’m not sure whether the students are paying attention because

they’re actively engaged in the content, or if they’re paying attention because the teacher is

weird.

That said, they are paying attention, which is good to see, and they look happy to be

doing so. A couple of the kids seated close to the camera occasionally turn to peek at it, but

other than that, everyone’s eyes are on either me, the board, classmates who’ve been called on,

or their assignments almost the entire time, and their body language indicates attention – they’re

leaning forward, and their faces register reactions to what’s going on, and they’re responding

using the kinesthetic cues we habitually use in class (e.g. “thumbs up as soon as you figure out

the answer”). Considering how hard it is to consistently keep 2nd graders on task, particularly on

tasks like phonics activities that, quite honestly, don’t have much inherent interest, I am very

pleased to see this. A recent standardized benchmark indicated that this group has made great

strides in their phonemic awareness and ability to decode, and I think that is probably partly

attributable to their attentiveness – they’re attentive enough that we don’t waste much time on

off-task behavior, so there’s not much lost instructional time.

One worrisome thing I noticed when watching the video is that one of the students

appears to be taking most of his cues for how to respond from his classmates. When the students

respond chorally, he’s almost always a beat behind; when they respond kinesthetically, he often

glances at his neighbors and mimics their actions. It occurs to me that this is probably inflating

my estimation of both his English proficiency and his comprehension of the material being
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worked with. Going forward, I will need to make a point of more frequently asking him

questions one-on-one to make sure he’s keeping up.

Another thing the video revealed, which I feel a bit guilty about, is that I misinterpreted

the actions of a student at one point. I got after him because I thought he was goofing around

under the table, maybe bothering a neighbor, but actually, he had one of the papers from today’s

assignment down there and was poking the words with his pencil as he read them. At least I was

affable about it – I just told him in a conversational tone to fix the way he was sitting in his seat –

but this is an important reminder to me that I shouldn’t assume that a kid is misbehaving just

because his or her behavior looks odd.

The video also made me aware that students are occasionally responding with a groan or

frustrated body language when I call on a different student and that student gets the correct

answer. I assume this is because they wanted to have a chance to answer themselves, and while

I’m pleased that they’re that eager to display their knowledge, one of my goals is fostering a

classroom culture where students actively support and encourage one another, and this sort of

behavior is not in line with that. I think I need to make a point of both encouraging students to

celebrate other students’ successes, and also come up with more ways for students to feel that

their ideas are being heard and appreciated.

But all in all, the video basically matches my memory of events. Of course, it’s easier to

keep track of what’s going with a group of 12 students than it is a full-sized class, but since

beginning my teaching career I have made a point of developing “soft eyes” – the ability to

watch and take in a whole scene simultaneously, rather than focusing only on the most attention-

grabbing parts of it or focusing on various elements serially – and I’m pleased that apparently I
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have made strides in this area. I know that when I first started teaching, I had a lot of difficulty

parallel processing, and as a result missed much of what was happening in my classroom.

The class also played out almost exactly per the lesson plan, other than the fact that we

lingered a bit longer on “pre” activities and so did not quite complete the “post” activity. If this

were a different class, say, Reader’s Workshop, I might be concerned that my absolute adherence

to the lesson plan indicated a lack of flexibility in responding to students’ needs and the natural

flow of classroom dynamics, but since this was a 25 minute phonics lesson and I was explicitly

required by higher-ups to cover certain content in a certain time frame, I’m going to take the fact

that we managed to do so without any students getting lost, bored or confused as a good sign, a

sign that I managed to tailor the instructional delivery and pacing of a mandated lesson to fit my

specific students.

Overall, I am pleased with what I saw in this video, and pleased that both the students

and I look engaged, comfortable and cheerful throughout. As someone who has previously

worked primarily with secondary students, at the start of this student teaching assignment, I

honestly felt a little trepidation about how well I’d be able to understand and connect with young

children. While I think I still prefer teaching middle and high school to teaching elementary, it’s

been a both fun and edifying experience.

Part Three: Deeper Reflection

For better or worse, my actions in this videotaped lesson place me firmly in the role of

“strong leader.” I am leading using soft power, certainly – I don’t give many commands, instead

relying on praise of desired behaviors and effortful responses, and statements like “I know

you’re being a good listener if your hands are empty and your eyes are on me,” but I’m definitely
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controlling the room, definitely the dominant presence, definitely in the driver’s seat. The

students have no say about what topics will be discussed or what activities will be done; I even

control how they will respond to questions by what I ask and how I phrase them. That’s not how

I envision my ideal classroom.

I prefer to be a facilitator, to connect students with excellent resources, draw out their

existing knowledge, encourage them to explore new ideas, express themselves, generally become

versatile, self-directed learners. At previous teaching jobs, I considered some of my best lessons

ones where I barely spoke other than to prompt students to expand on their own statements or

share their discoveries. But the thing about “facilitating” is that it requires time, flexibility, and a

close knowledge of the students, and those are all things in short supply for me as a student

teacher in this placement. I’ve spent less than 10 hours total with several of these kids over my

time at Phalen Lake, and since I’m not active in all their homerooms nor present for lunch,

recess, nor extracurriculars, I’ve had no opportunity to get to know them outside of Intervention

time. The content and day-to-day scheduling of the curriculum is mandated, and I am required to

follow it closely. To keep on track, pacing must be tight and diversions must be rare. So I’ve

had to step into a different role. It’s a good thing that I can wear multiple hats, particularly as

there’s a chance I’ll end up working at a school where the teachers don’t have much leeway, but

it’s a odd to see myself in this different role.

I suspect part of my tight control of the room here also stems from my preconceived

notions about young children. I am accustomed to working with older kids, and I’ve found that

the more personal responsibility, the more freedom to act on their personal volition, they have,

the more responsibly they behave – as long as there’s a framework of clear expectations already

in place. But with young children, I don’t have a good sense of how much self-control they can
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be expected to exercise, nor how capable they are of making rational choices. So I may be erring

on the side of authoritarianism.

What can I do to change this? Should I even do anything to change it? After all, I am

meeting the school’s expectations, and the kids are making demonstrable progress toward the

stated expectations. And phonics really is not a topic that lends itself well to outside-the-box

thinking. Perhaps it’s possible to give the students more choice without going outside the

Mondo scope and sequence – for example, I could set up multiple stations with approved

activities that got at the mandated knowledge and skills, and have them pick which they’d prefer.

But that’s a band-aid solution, as it doesn’t get at the essentially lacking element here, which is

student creativity and resourcefulness as a driving force in the classroom.

In the end, I think I simply have to resign myself to wearing the boss-lady hat for now.

But maybe that’s a good thing – my time fully embracing the role of benevolent dictator should

make me more cognizant of the manipulative behaviors I engage in and the decisions I make for

students even in my “facilitator” mode. A fellow teacher at my previous place of employment,

observing how compliant my classes were, once jokingly told me that I had a “cult of

personality.” In the future, I need to be aware of my tendency toward this – it’s certainly not a

bad thing to shape student behaviors subtly, but I must be careful that I am not doing so in ways

that make students dependent on me as an external locus of control or motivation.

Part Four: Reaction to Feedback from Base Group

Most of the feedback I received was blandly positive, complimentary toward my

classroom management and my demeanor. This was gratifying, but not terribly useful, other

than to reinforce what I already know about my strengths – I’m good at establishing routines,
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I’m very positive when interacting with students, and my classes tend to run smoothly. Also,

honestly, I can’t take much credit for these kids’ good behavior; they’re quite easy to work with

– enthusiastic, amiable, cooperative. Even the few who have some recurring behavioral issues

are just so nice that it’s usually easy to get them to go along with what I want them to do. That

said, there was one piece of positive feedback that I found quite reassuring, which was that my

speech was easily understandable – I had been concerned that I was talking too fast, or that my

accent (which I have been working for years to improve) might interfere with the conveyance of

the phonics instruction, particularly the “th” sound, which can be a bit problematic for me. I will

continue to work on my pronunciation and precision of language, as it’s important for me as an

ESL teacher to model a good example, but it is good to know that I needn’t make it my highest

priority at this time, considering how much else there is to do!

Two particularly useful suggestions I intend to employ immediately are using more

frequent individual checks for understanding – I used a lot of choral responses and kinesthetic

responses, which the kids can fudge – and connecting the phonics instruction to the students’

immediate, concrete reality (for example, “What in this room has a name that begins with the /sh/

sound?”). The first is apt advice, especially considering what I observed about my “mimic”

student in Part Two of this reflection, and the second both builds on what’s developmentally

appropriate for students this age and could serve to give the impersonal Mondo lesson plans a bit

more personal relevance.

There was one comment I thought carefully about but ultimately decided isn’t

particularly applicable. In the video, when I have the students begin their “post” activity, they

start working silently to find the /k/ phonemes rather than reading aloud like I wanted them to,

until I remind them that they should be talking. My cohort-mate suggested that this may indicate
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excessively strict conditions in my classroom – i.e., that the kids were reluctant to talk freely –

which is a reasonable concern. However, when these students are with their homeroom teachers,

they’re usually expected to be totally silent when doing worksheets, and the read-aloud was

printed at the bottom of a worksheet. I assume that they were carrying over behavioral norms

from their other classes; once I reminded them that it was a partner read-aloud, they jumped

right into it.

My first year teaching, I came to the conclusion that it’s better to conduct an ordinary

lesson for peer and administrator observations, rather than trying to put on a dog-and-pony show;

you get the most accurate, most useful feedback that way, and dog-and-pony shows tend to fall

flat anyway. My experience with this video presentation reinforced that; I videotaped a typical

daily lesson that displayed this group’s typical behavior, and so the feedback I received is

definitely something I can and will immediately implement in my classroom.