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This is a review of a classroom activity where the teacher, students, the teacher-student dynamics would be studied, the classroom setting and arrangement would be observed to establish the techniques the teacher assigned for the class uses to interact with her students.
Review of Class: Grade 2
Class Capacity: 15 (9 girls 6 boys)
Teacher: Samantha Smith
Our purpose is to be a silent observer of the classroom activity and the interaction of the teacher with the students and student. Our purpose is also to observe the behavior of the students and note their response. We will also look at the techniques and methodology adopted by the teacher to effectively teach her lessons.
Observation on classroom environment
In total alignment with the article by Fairbairn and Fox (2009), on entering the classroom the first thing that comes to notice are the bright colors used in the classroom in an otherwise white room. The classroom has individual tables for all the students with a lot of walking space between all rows. There is also a big area at the corner of the room with a lot of space and a colorful mattress spread out perhaps for some story telling activity or group activity with the students (p.19).
The walls of the classroom are covered with a lot of colorful charts and projects done together by students. There are shape charts, words charts, multiplication tables, math chart, science projects, world map, list of favorite places for students and their description, places visited, a climate chart with colorful pictures, a hobby chart, etc, Also in another corner of the room there is a 5 feet tall tree with a smiling face made of chart paper with different fruits made out of paper hanging from the tree. There is another wall a small part of which is dedicated to coloring or painting. Students have drawn whatever they wanted on the wall. It is clear by the scribbles in some places while beautiful faces, boats, people, etc made by the children.
It has been observed that the children have been given the freedom of expression. Another very colorful aspect about the room is that there are small stars, moons, planets, sun, hanging from a string tied from one end of the classroom to the other. There is a shelf to the left of the door with all kinds of colorful block, colored charts, different shaped toys, hand puppets, clay, etc. There is a projector for classroom activities as well.
We silently took our places behind the students at the end of the class. Samantha, the teacher, was going through the ELA tests that the students had taken based on the lesson taught in the class.
Observation on lessons and learning process
The lesson contained a number of activities that the students were supposed to complete that would assess their grasp of the English Language. The test was divided into 6 sections.
1. Section: It had five pictures of the different shapes that the students had to identify and also spot their colors.
2. Section: It had a simple passage that the students were asked to read carefully and based on which they were supposed to answer questions on the meanings of certain words used in the passage.
3. Section: It had a few sentences and the students were asked to identify the subject of the sentence.
4. Section: It had a few sentences and the students had to identify doing words in the sentences and the doer.
5. Section: It had a simple passage where the students were asked to apply capital letters and full stops.
6. Section: It had various options presented to the students to either use ‘and’ between a sentence or break the sentences into two where ‘and’ is not necessary.
The students had already undertaken the tests and the results were in the hands of Samantha and she was telling each student’s response to the tests. It was observed that most of the students in the class had identified the shapes and their colors correctly. There was just one particular student who had given a wrong answer. It was evident that the student had suddenly gone quiet feeling embarrassed for the mistake he had committed, Samantha, immediately sensing that had asked all the students to run and get the shapes they like the most from the shelves and show it to the class. After that they were asked to pass the shapes around and exchange it with each other and then show it to the class and identify it.
It was also observed that the children had made mistakes in understanding the meanings incorrectly. However the children scored well in identifying the subject in the sentence. Samantha, asked each student to make a sentence with the word and talk to the student next to him/her. Then the student spoken to, will make a sentence with the same word and reply. Although there was a lot of laughs between the students due to the nature of the sentences but the students were picking up the meaning well.
The students scored very well in identifying doing words. The students that had responded incorrectly were asked to use the word followed by the action. For example: The sentence was Sam was playing in the garden then the student that had made a mistake was asked to play.
The students did well in Capital letter identification exercise however; they made several mistakes in using a full stop. Samantha, then read out the passage and paused for breath in the places where the students were supposed to use a full stop and explained this to the students. She read another passage and asked the students to stop her when they feel they need to add a full stop.
Section 6 was a difficult section for all students. As noted by Abedi (2008), they too struggled with this passage where they had to use and to join the sentences and break the sentences that did not require and (24). As soon as Samantha identified that in spite of explaining their mistakes the students were still struggling she immediately got a big chart out where she had written those sentences down in bold black letters. She divided the class into two groups and handed one red dot made out of colored paper to one group and a board with and written on it in red to the other. She then asked each group to discuss and answer the questions. After that she got another chart out with different set of sentences and went through the process again until the students were confident as seen through their enthusiasm and class participation.
It has been observed that the teacher, Samantha Smith uses different set of skills to help the students learn. She applies both visual and participative techniques to help the students remember. Even if a particular student is weak in his learning and grasping she does not let him/her be singled out but involves him/her in the group activity where every student participates in the weaker students’ learning without even coming to know. Samantha, through group activities and participative learning is inculcating skill sets that enable children to learn and develop faster and be a member of a group (a team player). She is also ensuring that the student help each other in the learning and growing process. Besides the academic skills, she is teaching them social skills and behavioral skills at a very young age where their learning and understanding power is better. It was also observed that the class was enthusiastic and participated in all activities willingly. Their response to all questions was not resistant but open to learning.