Blog #5: Video project, Part 1 (due Wednesday, 2/15/12 by 8 AM)

This is the first reflection of your teaching for the Video Project (10% of final grade). When you respond to this discussion board entry, please start off with a link to your video. For example, feel free to begin your entry with the statement below, linking your video to the word "here."
"Click here to view my first teaching sample."
(This is not a teaching sample, but it does link to an actual YouTube video I made, just for a little surprise for you guys!!)
Please self-evaluate your lesson (20-30 minutes) according to the topics below.
  1. An assessment of your teaching style, as well as your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. The instructional techniques you implement along with an assessment of their success and/or the challenges of such methods.
  3. Whether or not you achieve the goals you had originally anticipated before teaching the lesson.
  4. Your strategies of classroom management and how this positively and/or negatively affected the success of the lesson.
  5. The use of Spanish in the classroom: you with students, students with you, and student-to-student. Also, upon review the video, reflect on if you could improve on the quality of Spanish and/or change the amount of the L2 spoken during the lesson.
  6. Any other details you feel are relevant for this reflection.

Please review and comment on at least one classmate’s video and his/her self-assessment by Sunday, February 19th by 11:59 PM. (Note: I am giving you almost two more days than originally planned, so you can use the weekend to complete your comment.) You will give him/her constructive feedback and point out some areas of his/her FL teaching that s/he might have not mentioned. Also, say what you would take from his/her lesson and incorporate into your own L2 classroom and why.

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Replies to This Discussion

Katie! I loved this lesson! I would have enjoyed being a student in your class for this one :)

I agree with what you said in your reflection about it. I would have gotten the students moving a little earlier (but I totally understand because I have the same problem) but I was so impressed by your use of Spanish! Even though the class is Spanish 1 (right?) they responded well because your input was comprehensible. I was so thrilled to hear a student ask you a question in Spanish as well. It's a struggle to get them to use it. Obviously, a goal for us all is to have the students be speaking more Spanish to us and to each other, but I'm still working on how to make that happen.
I loved the top down book idea and both your and their enthusiasm for it was evident. Good job!
I also liked the game, but I would spend half a minute more before they move the desk to prime them for what they will be doing and explain the rules more clearly. For instance, you said they were competing, but I wasn't really sure how to tell who won.
I totally understand about keeping up your level of Spanish! The more I'm with students, the more I want a masters degree in Spanish!
Good classroom management. They respect you, clearly, and you were too authoritative.
I really enjoyed this a lot and plan on stealing that game idea of correcting wrong phrases in Spanish and may use "Pobre Anna" with future Spanish classes. Good job! 

Katie, I really enjoyed your lesson.  To be quite frank, I was quite surprised at how well your students behaved and how much they participated.  What really impressed me was how much Spanish you were using in the classroom, AND how much the students understood.  I recall several times in the video when a female student was able to translate into English what you were saying.  Like Jessica, I like the top-down approach with the grammar and "Pobre Anna"; I'm teaching using the preterite and imperfect together in a couple of weeks, and I'm planning on using a short story as a resource for that.  Again, good job.

Having reviewed the video of my preliminary teaching sample, I have so many thoughts about my teaching style. To begin, I think my video demonstrated several strengths in my teaching. First, it is hugely to my advantage that after only one week at JL Mann, I already know most of my students by their first name. I rely on this a lot to call on students during instructional time, and this greatly helps the flow of the lesson. Additionally, I emphasized the strategies that students need to use when conjugating a reflexive verb. I was very explicit about following a pattern of finding the subject, determining the correct pronoun, and then conjugating the verb in order to correctly use a reflexive verb. I continually asked students to refer back to their vocabulary list of reflexive verbs to understand the meaning of the verbs. By reinforcing strategies and encouraging students to use their materials, I hope I enabled the students to follow a simple pattern when using reflexive verbs.

During this lesson, I particularly strived to incorporate the entire class in the lesson. Although some of the instruction relieved too heavily on one-way communication, each student was required to participate via answering questions or participating with the ActiVotes. I also required the class to participate in ascertaining why certain conjugations were incorrect during the ActivVotes practice. By doing this, the class was critically thinking about the combination of the correct pronoun with the verb conjugation. By having all students participate, I was able to informally assess student’s understanding of the subject matter. As a result, I altered the pace of the lesson slightly as students began to demonstrate understanding of the material. Similarly, I tried to rely on IRF behaviors to encourage students to work through the concepts to arrive at the correct answer with a slight amount of scaffolding.

However, I also exhibited a great deal of weaknesses in the video sample. Although I had turned the lights off so that students could read the Promethean Board, leaving them off the entire class was a mistake. Students were much more lethargic and less vocal in their participation than normal. Secondly, I asked a lot of large group questions that were not targeted at one specific students. Though this worked fairly well with this class, this could lead to disruptive behavior and interrupting comments during instruction.

My biggest weakness by far is the complete lack of Target Language instruction. For whatever reason, I was not in the Spanish-mindset and it strangely didn’t occur to me that day that I needed to be using the Target Language. Weird! While this is a huge deal that is definitely a disadvantage to the students, I am not that concerned about making this error again. In every other lesson I have taught, I’ve used the target language nearly 75% of the classroom instruction. I know that I can teach confidently in Spanish, but just as in this lesson, I will need to actively remind myself to communicate in the target language. I need to be careful about my “absent-mindedness” and produce more input for the students.

In terms of classroom management, this class generally has very few issues. Most students are on task and attentive during instruction. During this lesson, I did have to wake a few students up who were sleeping with their heads on their desks. However, once students knew that they were all accountable for the information, they were very attentive and generally paid attention to the material. Towards the end, when we were doing the oral practice, some students did not listen to the model of the answer, and thus did not know how to respond to the question. I wish I had been more firm at the end of class in mandating them to fully pay attention. However, some of this may have been my error in not clearly repeating the response or not writing out the answer on the board.

Generally speaking, I achieved the goals that I had set forth for this lesson. It was my goal that by the end of this lesson, students would have a better understanding of how reflexive verbs work and thus feel more prepared for the quiz. I think my students understand the grammar concepts. However, I wish I would have incorporated varied instruction into the lesson so that they could practiced verbs in differing contexts. Along the same vein, there was very little contextualization of reflexive verbs. For students homework, they did have to write 15 sentences about their daily routine. However, I wish I would have incorporated this idea into the lesson to demonstrate the practical application of the vocabulary and grammar.

Overall I am grateful to have this video. I am glad to know my weaker areas, as there are many! I have a lot to improve upon, but I am excited about the possibility of trying out new strategies to improve my teaching style. With this in mind, I am eager to create more dynamic lessons with greater class participation/enthusiasm, along with MUCH more use of Spanish during instruction time!

Here are the links to my videos. They are each in segments because the video is too long. At the end of each video, there should be an option to click to go to the next option. In case it doesn't work, below are the individual links!

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

Sarah! So first of all I think you are pretty awesome for knowing all your students names especially after only being there for a short amount of time.  It is really important to know your students names because I think it really shows them that you care about them and want them to learn and I know you do!  Second of all I love the video you showed them at the beginning.  I feel like that was a great way to get them hooked on the lesson on reflexives and I'm definitely going to use it when we get to reflexives!  Third, I thought you did an excellent job of giving clear instructions on how to go about conjugating reflexives and placing the pronoun in front.  Next, I thought you did a great job of getting the students involved and asking them for the answer instead of just telling them.  Also, I liked the usage of the votes and at the end I thought it was great that you continued teaching after the put up their votes instead of letting them wait for the bell to ring!  

I don't have a lot of constructive criticism because from reading your blog post you have already spotted some of the problems.  Concerning the lights that you mentioned, I have to turn my lights off as well but I only turn off the front lights, maybe this will work in your classroom too? I know that your classroom is different but it's worth a try!  Concerning the target language usage, I did the same thing.  We'd think it would be easy to stand up there and teach in Spanish but for some reason English just flows out instead of Spanish.  I think it will come with more and more practice, but even though you didn't speak a lot in Spanish, it seemed your students knew what they were doing!  Last thing I would say is try to vary the class involvement.  I liked how you got them involved but maybe try to involve them in different ways.  Perhaps have them come up to the board and answer the question (if that's allowed) or have them come up and demonstrate a reflexive verb to the class or something for a few minutes so the students will become more active in the lesson.  I have a few students in my classes who if they aren't actively involved somehow they will zone out so just by letting them come up and help me or answer the questions it makes them focus!  Just a thought, but I thought you did an excellent job!  Keep it up!

I'm working on getting the videos up on youtube...they should be done shortly:)

Before I say anything important I want to mention that wow I'm really going bald.  Ok now that I have gotten over the fact that I am going bald and it's evident in the video, I'm ready to talk about important stuff...

First of all I want to say that this was super helpful for me.  It's always easier to realize mistakes and find things that can be changed when you are observing the teaching so this video allowed me to observe what I did and see my strengths and weaknesses.  Honestly I thought it was a pretty rough lesson.  It started out ok but in the end the students got confused with my instructions and I think I lost them.  I was hoping for a engaged hands-on lesson with the food models but it turned into me just talking.  But even though I felt it wasn't the best lesson, I noticed some strengths.  The biggest thing I noticed was they were pretty well behaved and most of them were paying attention and interested in what I was doing.  I was really worried about taking over this class because most of them are freshman and they are usually a very wired and talkative group, but they have surprised me with their behavior.  Another thing I thought was a strength was my use of their names.  I know this sounds silly but I think just by mentioning them in examples are calling out their names when they have a question makes them feel like they are important.  I feel like I have a good relationship with everybody in the class and I think that is key if they are going to be engaged in the classroom.  One other strength was I thought I did a fairly good job keeping class flowing.  Towards the end, I allowed some class time to slip away while passing out papers, but in comparison with the first time I taught, I did a lot better job of pacing myself and not wasting a lot of time on keeping people quiet or trying to find things.

Now to the weaknesses.  Hopefully I'm not to critical but I felt like there are a lot of things I can improve.  But I think it is a good thing that I have a lot of weakenesses now because  it gives me something to improve on through my experience through help from my cooperating teacher, these videos, and my observations.  For starters, I need to talk slower.  I talk fast and a lot of times I don't annunciate.  Especially when I speak spanish I talk fast and I guess it's that chilean spanish where I slur everything together.  So I think I should probably try speaking slower and clearer in Spanish instead of switching to English when they don't understand me in Spanish.  Another thing I noticed was when some students gave me the wrong answer I was quick to jump and say no.  I usually don't do this because I hated being told "NO!" when I was in high school but I caught myself saying it at one point.  That being said I need to be more ok with my students making errors.  If they are attempting to talk in Spanish and they say something out of order or use the wrong tense, and then I say  no and correct them and don't give them a chance, I'm probably embarrassing that student.  So I need to be more accepting of errors and nicely correct them with giving him options for him to pick from or by asking him to explain his answer to me.  That way he will probably find the mistake on his own.  Another thing I noticed was that I didn't emphasize the the different endings between gustan and gusta.  Also, I didn't give a good explanation of the difference between gustar + verb and gustar + noun.  Because of this, some of my students were confused today with it, but hopefully my explanation helped them today.  I also need to get the students more involved.  Usually I like for them to respond and talk to me, and even talk to each other.  However, I got nervous and caught up with talking to much and forgot to really get them involved.  So I guess I need to learn to keep my mouth shut :) and allow the students to practice talking.  Another weakness was that I gave the paper out before I explained the graphic organizer they were suppose to do at the end.  I did such a bad job of explaining it you can't even really tell in the video when I start to talk about it.  Once I gave the paper out they were up out of their seats looking for pens markers or whatever, and I lost all of their focus.  Lastly, a big weakness was speaking in english.  I know they are Spanish 1 cp students but I still need to speak to them in Spanish.  I just need to get use to the faces they will make when I speak in Spanish and not let their confused and or irritated faces bother me.  They need to hear and speak Spanish in order to learn it.  This was good for me because this will help me improve, and thats really what this experience is about!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the promethean board!  I think it is a great tool and I think it can engage the students in the lesson. However, I think i may have used it a little too much and forgot about interaction with the students.  However the warm up was good because it got the students up and doing something.  When I took notes though, my handwriting was awful and probably hard to read but I like the ability to erase and add extra notes quickly that the students can see. (I need to work on my handwriting).  By using the food models it allowed them to see an almost real example of food and I think it helped them focus by anticipating what I was going to pull out next.  The idea behind the graphic organizer to help them distinguish between me gusta, no me gusta, me gustan, and no me gustan was great...BUT I did a horrible job of explaining it and I'm going back over it either tomorrow or friday.  But the idea was for them to see the difference between gusta and gustan by looking at the pictures they drew and by looking at the nouns they wrote as well.  Before giving the students the notes on me gusta and me gustan, I tried to get them to catch on by listening to my examples with the foods in the bag.  Some of them caught on and asked me why I was saying gustan, but I didn't emphasize the 'n' enough for everybody to catch it.  But I thought it was a good way of getting them thinking and trying to figure out the formation instead of just going straight to the notes first.

My goal by the end of the class was that they would be more confident with their vocabulary, and be more confident in telling others what they like and don't like.  With all my problems and weaknesses I was proud of them.  They really tried to pay attention and learn, and a lot of them caught on.  Some of them didn't but we went back over it today and I tried to do a better job of emphasizing the difference.  From walking around the room and looking at their answers on the classwork, they seemed to be understanding what was going on.  Also I have had students come up and ask me for individual help so I thing the class is getting it!

Concerning classroom management, I was really worried about it my first day of teaching.  This class tends to be the talkative class and the class that likes to not pay attention.  But they have been very good for me.  The one student who was standing in the front with me usually gives us some problems, with distracting the class and singing out loud.  However, I have always thought that if you give him a task he won't be a distraction.  So that is why I had him come up to the front of the room.  It gave him something to do and I think it made him feel important and useful.  Now every morning when he walks in he says "Sup Mr. Campbell I got you today.  I got your back."  Something else I think that was helpful was that when I had to address something I wasn't mean and I didn't yell.  I quietly asked them to pay attention and they did.  I did notice in the video at some points students got out of their desks to get pencils or paper, but I think this is ok.  Because by not yelling at them to sit in their seat they quiety go about their business and get a pencil or whatever and sit back down.  If I yelled at them or told them to sit back down it may make them more likely to not want to listen to me and pay attention.  So little things like that don't bother me, but when it becomes a distraction I'll say something to them.

Regarding the use of the L2, I already stated earlier that it's something I really need to work on.  Even though they are in Spanish 1 I think they can understand more than I give them credit.  I just need to speak slower and clearer and give them the opportunities to speak it in the classroom.  I can definitely change the amount of L2 spoken in the classroom and this starts by me using it more frequently and by giving them the opportunity for communication in the L2 with each other and with me. 

One last thing, I don't know if you can hear it but in the end of my video where I'm explaining the graphic organizer, we had a little discussion on folding paper.  I didn't realize how difficult it is to get 25 students to fold a piece of paper.  Fold it hotdog style or hamburger style...I was so confused.  Anyways I thought it was interesting and I guess it serves as an example that I need to be more clear with my instructions and be more in tune with how students do things.

here are the videos...mrs. turner flipped the camera sideways thinking it would do a panorama shot...and it didn't so there is some footage with me sideways:)

This is the link to my video for my first teaching sample.

One thing I realized while watching this video is that I actually use quite a bit of TL in the classroom, particularly with this block. They are very bright and generally are extremely quiet. I think they understood most of what was going on, but at points I did wonder if my input was comprehensible. Some students definitely understood, but others may not have and this class won’t tell me if they are confused like the other classes do. I only had the assessment the next day to tell me (but it had so many other factors that it could not just be used to assess that day’s teaching). However, students almost never address me in Spanish; it’s always me to them. That definitely needs to change with time, but this class is so extremely afraid of being wrong or looking silly in front of peers that they will not use the TL unless they are positive it is right. I would like to emphasize more that errors are part of learning and get them to communicate more. They also hardly ever use TL with each other. In the in class activity they started in Spanish with the example that I gave them, but as they got more frustrated, starting breaking down into English. I’m not quite sure how to address this because they have no real incentive to use Spanish. They all speak English and they get no reward for using Spanish.

            I had such grand plans to videotape another lesson that was more integrated instruction (about music and culture with grammar) but the video did not work. I felt that this lesson was fairly boring, but the hope was that working through reading a blog with the graphic organizer would help them be able to identify routines in a blog on the IPA the next day and eliminate some of the problems that my teacher sees every year with that assessment. Generally the kids did very well, but there were still some that did not do the exercise well, or even more prevalent, did not follow the directions.

            In this lesson, I did not walk around as much as I usually do, and I don’t like that. I ended up too tied to the Promethean board pointing at different sections. I do think part of it though, is that this class needs a lot less classroom management. They are very tranquil and I usually move around the room during lecture to keep kids focused or quiet. This class just does that themselves. I tried in the section about the vocabulary (my teacher had me go over that list with the classes; she had me do it the way she did with the other blocks) to act out parts of it. I think that class is capable of doing definitions from Spanish to Spanish, but for the sake of time, we skipped over it.

            I thought the blog practice took far too long in class, but I did try to have different types of activities for them throughout the lesson. They listened to me, did individual work silently, did individual work when they asked me questions (that is a very long and boring part that I cut out of the video), did pairs work at their desks, and got to walk around as a group and do standing group work. The amount of time was unequal though. That day they did a lot more reading comprehension, and some listening comprehension, than production. I did have them write their sentences in the game and read them aloud to the class (the video stopped working during that part) and they seemed to enjoy that pretty well. That was the first time I had tried that game and there were definitely some logistical things to adjust. Passing out the cards took way too long, as did explaining the rules. Also, I need a way to keep the students from all clumping together or swarming me to get a phrase to use. I don’t know if it was that instructionally effective, but it was not worse than any other vocabulary review, and at least it got them moving.

            At the end you see me stamping student papers during announcements to give them credit for that day’s work. I really like that policy and students like getting recognition and grade credit for working hard in class. This class generally is good about doing their work anyway, which is why you see almost no classroom management techniques.

            I think I generally accomplished my goals for the day. The students learned to find routines in a blog and learned the techniques for success on the IPA. Generally the class did very well, as long as they followed directions. I also enjoyed helping the students approach an authentic text and figure it out. This wasn’t quite top down approach in that they had the organizer from the beginning, but they did have to read it and focus on meaning before they could focus on form. However, that meant a very long explanation at the end to show them what forms and patterns to know, and some students were getting frustrated because the language level was higher. Even the native speaker had a few questions about how to interpret it. This class was less impressed because they are much quieter, but with my other sections, discovering the context (that it was my blog) was extremely exciting to them and they asked me some questions about my routine.

            Overall, I think parts of it were a little dull, but the students seemed better prepared for the IPA and they learned some new vocabulary and cultural phrases from it, as well as some more information about Srta. Richardson.

Jessica, I really enjoyed watching you teach!  I think you've done a great job developing your 'teacher persona' and establishing a definitive sense of authority in the class.  Your teacher voice is great and you are really projecting across the volume with great volume.  Also, I don't know if this is a product of your classroom management or simply that the students are well behaved, but you had complete control of the class!  The way you walked around the room was excellent and students were paying attention and not disrupting class at any point!  

Your use of the target language is great. You're doing a great job delivering your instruction in Spanish.  However, I think that you're right when you mentioned above your worry that your input may be slightly above their level.  In order to gauge that, I would ask questions throughout your instruction.  Call on specific students and say "qué significa 'se viste'?" in order to see if your students are following you.  That way, you can adjust your input as necessary once you have that informal feedback from the kids.  Also, by calling on specific students, you can make sure that all students are engaged and not just those who are the brightest and best students in the class!  You did this towards the end of the class, but it may be a good idea to keep it up the entire class time.  I really like the way you asked one of the students to explain the activity in English to make sure everyone understood. That was a great way to determine if the input was accessible to your students! 

One area I think you could improve upon slightly is in the way you give your directions. I am hyper sensitive to this because this is by far my weakest area haha!  I've found that with my students, I have to be unbelievably nuanced and explicit when describing what you want them to do.  That being said, I was slightly confused by exactly what the purpose of the blog activity was.  Maybe this was something that you've done regularly with your students and therefore they didn't need an explanation.  However, without knowing what you were going to do with the blog, I had a hard time assessing what I specifically needed to pay attention to during your explanation.  Also, when you were describing the activity with the cards, I think the students could have used a model of how to ask questions and how to find the other person's pair.  I may just be saying this because my 2's are not nearly at the level that your 3's seem to be at.  However, when I did a partner activity with my 2's last week, I asked two students to physically come stand in the front of the classroom to demonstrate while I was explaining.  I don't know your students, but they did seem to understand the activity pretty well.  However, in the future it may be something to keep in mind!  

Overall, I think you did really well!  Don't be afraid to let some of your personality show as time goes on and your students feel more comfortable with you!  

I'm converting my video right now, so I'll attach it later.
I don't want to be too negative about my teaching sample, but I have to be honest: you can tell that I'm a teacher-in-training; my teaching style shows this.  Although I have a great personality and a great report with the students, there are somethings I need to improve upon.
First of all, I really tried to make the class very student-centered; instead of me up there just lecturing, giving them information and having them absorb it, I wanted them to be active in their learning, answering questions, participating, and asking their own questions.  Although I feel like I accomplished a little bit of this, I think I have much to improve upon.  Even though the students were involved, participating, and asking questions, I feel like I was still at the center of the learning experience (if you take a look, you'll notice the students are focused (for the most part) on the front of the room where the Promethean board (i.e. the information) is.  And who is at or near the Promethean Board the majority of the time?  Me.)  I think that's something I need to work on a lot more.
One thing I think is important to mention is the actual content in the video.  As you may notice, the lesson is not on a particular grammar or cultural point; although grammar concepts are talked about, the lesson is me going over the upcoming IPA that the students have which is centered around the theme of talking about themselves.  As I mentioned, there are some explicit grammar points that relate to the ability to talk about oneself, but the lesson is mainly about the upcoming assessment.  Therefore, it's important to take this into consideration when looking at other questions such the lesson's effectiveness, etc.
As mentioned earlier, though the students are participating and asking questions, the main form of learning is happening through me and the Promethean board.  As you can probably tell, at some points, I have a little difficulty with the technology; I feel this present a kind of omen as to the dangers of relying to much on technology, which is something I've been guilty of at times.
For the most part, I think I achieved the goals I had for this lesson, although this can't really be measured by looking at the video.  My goal for the lesson was for the students to be familiar with the format of the IPA, and to be able to perform the tasks asked of them for that assessment.  Although, as I said earlier, this outcome can't be measured by looking at the video, I feel like it can be answered by the students' stellar performance on the IPA.


In regards to my classroom management strategies, I feel that they were okay but could use improvement.  As mentioned earlier, the majority of my instruction happened at the Promethean Board with my back partially turned and my attention distracted.  As we've talked about in Dr. Henderson's class, this is the sort of thing that welcomes student misbehavior.  Watching the students during the lesson, one sees this is the case; many students are disengaged and are talking to their classmates.  There are a couple of times in which I have to call down individual students, but I think I do so in a way that doesn't bring the lesson to a halt.

My use of Spanish with the students could be improved a great deal; I do a little bit with gambits like "hay preguntas" y "como estamos?" but for the most part, instruction takes place in English.  The students don't use that much Spanish either, but I feel that that is due to their infamiliarity with me and the language.  If you compare the amount of Spanish spoken during the time when this video was recorded to the amount that is spoken now in my classroom, I think you'd find a significant improvement.

I got my video converted and uploaded.  Part 1 can be found here.  Part 2 can be found here.  Thank you for your patience.


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