Last Break Story” for a spring break.

Last week was a tuff week, the students came in cranky. But as experienced as the teacher was she handled it properly. This week observation she seemed more relaxed. Today I came in and they were on a grammar lesson. As far as the instructor’s overall goals for the class, she has many. She strives for her students to improve their writing fluency, writing accuracy, the ability to use the writing process as a writing tool, the ability to use English sentence structure, the ability to write unified, clear, and developed paragraphs, the ability to use a word processor and to expand vocabulary. A couple focuses in the class, as noted in the syllabus, include writing clear simple sentences and will progress to writing well-developed paragraphs in a variety of types and styles. The class also looks at the “process of writing.”
For this particular class, her goals were to introduce a new grammar structure, “clause” By the end of the class period, students should understand what a clause is, and the difference between an “independent clause” and a “dependent clause.” Before this class, students were given a writing assignment and were also encouraged to submit a “Spring Break Story” for a spring break.
As for the design and activities of the lesson, the instructor included a little bit of everything. A great technique to keep students interested. It was a huge, intimate classroom of about fifteen- twenty students. Within the first five minutes of class, students were asked to write in their journals. This wasn’t a daily activity for them. Which frighten the students. She explained to them that she wasn’t going to grade it so harshly. She just wanted to ease their minds from all the work they have been doing. As a class they reviewed the stories afterwards. It was a teacher-centered classroom but included a “student-centered” activity where they could express themselves through writing.
Another relaxing assignment was learning different words and the sound that it make. The teacher would ask the question, and allow the students to shout out the answer. Once in awhile she would have them repeat the answers. If a word popped up that the instructor did not think her students would recognize, she would explain it. For example she explained to the class that “thoroughly” means “very well.”
The instructor kept a smooth pace throughout the class. She spent the next fifteen minutes or so introducing and describing a new topic, “clauses,” both independent and dependent ones. To explain a clause, she wrote two separate constructions on the board, and then showed the difference. For example, an Independent Clause stands alone, “We walk to school.” A dependent clause “when Mr. Jones yelled” can’t stand alone and isn’t a complete thought. Next came a hands-on part. Students were given an activity and were asked to rip off a piece of paper and write “Independent Clause” and “Dependent Clause” on each side. They would have to hold up their “IC” or “DC” flashcard when asked for the correct answer. The instructor provided markers for them. Using these “flashcards,” which is a tool in Communicative Language Teaching, she encouraged interaction in the classroom and visual learning. Also, she briefly went over when to use commas. Overall, the activities and materials the instructor used were engaging enough and encouraged class participation.
What I really liked which I think also kept the students at ease and less anxious, was that the instructor kept telling the students that within the next week they would be getting a lot of practice with this. Students stay motivated and less anxious from the beginning if they know they’ll have time to review new material. Students were asked to work with a partner again to create a processed sentence. The instructor provided them a basket with words in it. They had to re-arrange the words to create the sentence. She drew a “jar” on the board when students asked what the definition of a “lid” is. The instructor walked around the classroom helping the groups. They went over answers as a class, and she gave them one last activity to do either individually or with a partner. She allowed students to come up to the board to write down the answers. A great strategy to get students involved and eager to participate. She helped control their “affective filters” by sparking interest and complimenting them when doing something correctly.
The instructor corrected errors when she felt it was needed. I think the instructor handled correction appropriately; she would help them with pronunciation and use repetition if a certain aspect needed to be reinforced.


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