Lindsay Kaye Ohlert CI 5699 Video Observation, Fall 2009 Page 1 of 9

Part One: Lesson Plan Lesson Plan Template Name: Lindsay Kaye Ohlert Grade/Level: 2nd grade “intervention” Date: 12/07/09 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 Teacher utters individual phonemes (eg. /s/ - /t/ - 5 min /a/ - /p/). Students listen, trying to blend the 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

Objective(s) Targeted Recognizing and combining phonemes

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“brave”. When relevant, the teacher reminds students of the “silent e” rule when writing the word. During activities: Description Teacher writes the “th” digraph on the board, 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 /th/. Teacher records these words on the board. Post Activities: Description In partners, students take turns reading the “read the story” passage from their workbook page. They circle all instances of the /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 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. Time Frame 5 min Objective(s) Targeted Recognizing digraphs

3 min

Recognizing digraphs

Time Frame 12 minutes

Objective(s) Targeted Multiple representations of the /k/ phoneme


Recognizing digraphs

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 attentiongrabbing 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.