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Reflection#2

During my second week of teaching, I implemented some strategies that improved the
learningexperience,butIalsoencounteredsomechallenges.

In my first class, preintermediate Reading and Vocabulary, a new student joined this
week. Having recently moved to the US from China, this student has no knowledge of English
beyond answers to simple questions like "What is your name?" and lacks sufficient vocabulary
and oral comprehension to follow basic directions in the classroom. For this reason, the
classroom has now become a more multilevel environment in terms of vocabulary and English
levels. One strategy I have implemented to address this challenge has been to use
pictures/drawings and gestures for verbsrelatedtoclassroomactivities.Forinstance,ifIseethat
the student is confused about what to do (e.g. open the book) in class, I either drawapictureof
the verb (open) on the board or mimic the action with my hands. This technique has not only
helped improve his ability to follow directions enormously, but has also reminded me of the
importance of adapting to students' needs and scaffolding lessons, especially in a classroom
where languagelevelsarevaried.AsDoyle(2011)suggests,instructorsshouldusescaffoldingto
provide students with clear direction and purpose during lessons. For ELLs, the use of images
can "help them understand the intent of each question" (Erben,Ban,&Castaeda,2008,pg.71)
and serve as a scaffold that facilitates their learning. I plan on continuing to use images and
gesturestopromoteunderstandingofvocabularyandclassroominstructions.

Another practice that has helped with vocabularydevelopmentisdictation.Ihavestarted


using dictation every other day this week to enhance students' pronunciation, spelling, and
listening. To make this activity more studentcentered, I have implemented what Erben et. al
(2008) call "peer teaching" whereby more proficient ELL students help less proficient ones. In
the dictation activity,Ihaveaskedthemoreproficientstudenttohelpmeindictatingsomeofthe
words and help the other two students correct the mistakes in their spelling. Students told me
theyreallylikethisactivitytopracticevocabulary,soIplantokeepusingdictationnextweek.

As for my advanced Reading and Vocabulary class, one activity that worked very well
and addressed the challenge of low student engagement was the use of Poll Everywhere for
reading comprehensionquestions.Thechapterinthebookwecoveredthisweektalkedaboutthe
history of art, a topic that students did not like very much. With Poll Everywhere, the
comprehension activity became a more dynamic and engaging process for the students and it
helped me formatively assess their understanding. Using this platform will certainly be part of
futurelessonsinthereadingclass.

In a similar way, I have started incorporating the creation of posters to summarize the
readings in the chapter. Erben et. al (2008) highlight the need to promote constructivist and
studentcentered environment for ELLs. They argue that such environments should allow
students to "create knowledge rather than reproduce it (Erben et. al., 2008, pg. 63) and work
collaboratively through interaction and exchange of ideas. In this class, the activity of creating
posters for summarization helped create a more studentcentered environment as it promotes
students' creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. On their posters,
students are asked to write down the three main ideas of thereading,twointerestingthingsthey
learned, two questions they still have, and make an illustration. They are free to decide how to
organize the information on the posters. After students create a poster in pairs, they share their
creations with the class. Not only has this activity allowed for the integration of the 4Cs into
reading instruction, but it has helped lower students' affective filter as they can explore the
material in a more creative and relaxed way. I will continue implementing this strategy in the
nextweeks.

In both the preintermediate and the advanced Reading and Vocabulary classes, I started
to use vocabulary journals. Students are asked to record at least 10 words from the chapter in
their journals and identify a synonym, what part ofspeechthewordis,andanexample/sentence
of their own. This has beenaverysuccessfulactivitytopromoteauthenticlearningwhichDoyle
(2011) argues should afford studentstheopportunitytotakeownershipoftheirownlearningand
be student driven. The vocabulary journals helps students be active in developing their
understanding of words and serve as a reference sourceinandoutoftheclassroom.Bythinking
about the meaning of the word, its synonym, partofspeech,anduseinasentence,theycanthey
actively engage with the target language and can more easily remember it. Students seem very
motivated in completing their journals and sharing the words they add each day. I look forward
toseeingthelearningoutcomesofusingthisstrategyintheupcomingweeks.

Finally, for the Presentation class videos have been by far the most helpful technology
resource tobringtheconceptstoreallifeforthestudentsandengagethemwiththecontent.Iuse
this TED videotoshowanexampleofapresentationtalkingaboutanobjectsincetheywillhave
to do a presentation of an object for next week. Using this example helped generate discussion
about the use of body language and visual aids, and gave them a general idea of how to talk
aboutanobject.

Overall, this week Ilearnedhowtointegratemoreactiveandengaginglearningactivities


into my reading classes aswellashowtoimprovethewayIscaffoldlearningformylowerlevel
students.

References:

Erben,T.,Ban,R.,&Castaeda,M.E.(2009).T
eachingEnglishLanguageLearnersThrough
Technology.NewYork:Routledge.

Walker,A.,&White,G.(2013).T
echnologyenhancedlanguagelearning:Connectingtheory
andpractice.Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress.

Weimer,M.(2013).Learnercenteredteaching:Fivekeychangestopractice.SanFrancisco:
JosseyBass.

Doyle,T.(2011).L
earnercenteredteaching:Puttingtheresearchonlearningintopractice.
Sterling,VA:StylusPub.