LCB – Taller didáctico Teacher: Gladys Baya Student: María Pérez Armendáriz
Observation Lesson Phases and Transitions1
Date: June 10th, 2008 No. of students: 13 Age: 15-16 Level: Intermediate (Pre-FCE) Book: Laser B2, Malcolm Mann & Steve Taylore-Knowles (Macmillan) Duration of the lesson: 40 min
A lot of different events make up a lesson. These can be grouped into broad lesson stages, or into even smaller phases. How we divide them up very much depends on the criteria we use. Two major sets of criteria are: the purpose of the activity, such as accuracy versus fluency. and the means of organization such as teacher-directed versus student-controlled (Byrne 1987). How we recognise the end of one activity or phase and the start of another is usually through the teacher's signals. These links signpost, or 'frame', the steps of the lesson.
2) Correction of last lesson activity 3a) Fill in the blank
1) Warm-up: questions about the weekend 3b) Correction of 3a) 4) Discussion of a reading about writing articles
5) Homework: writing an article
Topic taken from Classroom Observation Tasks, Ruth Wajnryb, (CUP, 1992).
LCB – Taller Didáctico – Observation 3 – María Pérez Armendáriz 1
Transitions Ex. What did T say? No. 'So. Did you have a wonderful 1 weekend?' 'OK. Last time we talked about the 2 past...' 'Any doubts? OK. Let's go to page 3 ...' 'Can we start with the correction of 4 the exercises?' 'Any questions? OK. Now we are 5 going to pass on to the part you like... writing!' 'Let's go to the exam practice 6 article.' What did T do? Nothing. Opened the book to the exercise they were going to correct. Opened the book. Pointed to a student to begin corrections. Flipped a page of the book. When/ lesson phase Prayer – 1) 1) – 2) 2) – 3a) 3a) – 3b) 3b) – 4) 4) – 5)
1. Consider [the axis made for the activities] now that it is filled in with data. Take some time to re-consider where you have allocated various activities. Is there any entry that you feel might be better placed in a different quarter from the one chosen? I would have placed activity number 4 within the student directed / fluency quarter. There were no activities that involved information gap or any discussion among students and this activity allowed for some work at least in pairs. The teacher acted as a prompt for all the topics and asked all the questions. Did you have any difficulty un classifying classroom events/activities into one of the four segments? No. The teacher was doing most of the talking and directing of the class. The kind of activities were simple and taken from the book. The teacher 'directed' the lesson. 2. Examining your completed grid, do any patterns, tendencies or preponderances emerge? How did this manifest itself in the classroom? Consider factors like: - teacher/student talking time; - patterns of students interaction; - treatment of error; - roles of teachers/students. Most of the talking time was taken by the teacher. Although the students participated, they only did so when prompted. The students worked in pairs only once and it was to do a blank-filling activity, so there was not much opportunity for interaction among them. The corrections were only signaled by the teacher, but she asked for volunteers to do the correction or provide another option, depending on the type of error. 3. If possible, select two entries on your grid that are very different, for example, a teacher-led accuracy-oriented activity and a student-led fluency-oriented activity. Comment, if possible, on the relationship between the teacher’s role and teacher talk. There were no student oriented activities during the lesson. The teacher directed the entire lesson.
LCB – Taller Didáctico – Observation 3 – María Pérez Armendáriz
4. Looking now at the data you collected on signalling, what general patterns, if any, emerge in the teacher’s style of indicating stages in the lesson? Can you make a list of various techniques open to a teacher to be used as signposting phases in a lesson? The teacher moved from one activity from the book to the next without making a smooth transition. She just asked to go to the different exercises from the book without providing any other link than the fact that it was the next thing to do. A teacher can signal the steps of a lesson by sequencing the activities in a way that one draws or relates to the next in a clear and logical way. The students should notice a new activity has ended and a new one is starting. There were no changes of any kind, whether of seating or of grouping. The movement from one topic to the next was not as smooth as it could have been. 5. Why is signalling important in teaching? What effect does it have on concentration? Does it have any influence on learner motivation and involvement in the lesson? How does it influence the flow and pace of a lesson? Signaling gives the students a sense of direction and progress throughout the lesson. If they can see where they are going with the sequence of activities it is easier to cope with new topics of with changes in the roles they have to fulfill. A smooth lesson helps the student – and the teacher – feel at ease and confident that what they are doing if not an improvisation but that there is a reason for carrying out the activities. This smoothness provides an easy way up in the increasing difficulty of the language. 6. There are some dangers involved in signalling: for example, the teacher’s signals can intrude on learner space. Also, very directive signalling can be used to channel all student’s energies into a lockstep classroom rhythm, that is, one based on whole-class activities directed by the teacher. Comment in these dangers and the warning symptoms. The steps of the lesson should provide a clear idea that although there are changes within the lesson they are somehow linked. If this is not accomplished will lead to frustration on the part of the students. The signals may not be clear enough, so the students may not ready for it and create confusion. They need to know what is expected from them from the start and until the very end. These transitions should add to the rhythm of the lesson; if everything is repetitive, the lesson will be tedious and demotivate everyone involved.
Has the experience of observing this lesson resulted in your reappraising any aspect of your own teaching? How might you take this further? I noticed that transitions are difficult to manage. I have found it incredibly difficult to find ways to keep a good rhythm and to assure that the small changes in one lesson add to the overall development of language learning for students. My goal would be to manage a way to get the students involved as much as possible throughout the lesson without them noticing that they have effortlessly worked a lot.
LCB – Taller Didáctico – Observation 3 – María Pérez Armendáriz