ESL Classroom Observations # 1 & 2
New Jersey City University: MCC 611/612
On February 20, 2013, I observed a sophomore advanced bilingual US History 1 class. The class is composed of 8 boys and 3 girls. The classroom is set up with 24 desks arranged in rows with an area in the back with tables that seems to be used for group work. The class begins with the teacher returning a test that they had just taken and then he continues to wrap up previous class discussion. There is no SWBAT, objective or anything of this sort on the board. The teacher provides the students with a synopsis of a movie that they will be watching during the period. The movie is about John Adam’s travels to France and his purpose of going to France. The movie is in English with Spanish subtitles. The teacher pauses the movie at certain points and explains the clip and asks the students questions based on what they just viewed. He also has an open discussion with students on the differences between hospitals and hygiene in that time and today. He continues with the movie until the bell rings. During the 40-minute period the atmosphere of the classroom felt relaxed. The students were able to move their desks to a position of comfort and the teacher did not seem to mind. The teacher did know all of the students by name and the students referred to the teacher by the infamous “Mister.” The class I observed did make use of technology but it was not what I expected. The teacher was using the smart board and video, but the end result was just a movie on the topic. The movie did help students understand the topic being discussed. The teacher stopped the movie a couple times to discuss a specific clip, but this was not an active part of their learning, because the students were just listening to the teacher and not having an active discussion. There was no assessment or reflection to prove whether the students grasp and understand the topic. The students seemed to be focused on the movie and interested but appearances can be deceiving. Since the topic of the lesson was a movie based on information covered in class there was not much language interaction. The open discussion that was discussed earlier did not have much communication between students more of knowledge based questions being asked and students would answer with one-word answers. If the student answered incorrectly the teacher would not immediately give the correct answer, but would choose a different student to answer the question. When a student answered the question incorrectly he/she looked to a peer to see if they had the right answer and then waited until the teacher heard the correct answer and then gave verbal praise. There was not a method observed in how the teacher selected students to answer the questions, most students would just call out. The main speaker was the teacher and he directed most of the talking. Students would ask the teacher in Spanish to rephrase the question and then the teacher would ask the question in both languages. Students were not encouraged or discouraged to use their L1. The interactions of the classroom were the teacher was at his desk controlling the movie, while the students sat at their desks watching the movie. Some students were seated closer in proximity than others, but that seemed due to comfort and not to collaborating. The classroom conversational turns that occurred were in fact very structured and soliciting by the teacher. For example: “Today we will be watching a movie about John Adams,” and “Where did John Adam’s travel to?” The different media of communication used in the class that were observed included the following: para-linguistic, such as facial expressions for incorrect/correct answers and non-linguistic, such as pictures of John Adam’s hanging in the classroom. When I use this strategy I try to give a set of...