Sep 13, 16.


1. Lesson/task description before

Subject matter: Help learners recognise different verb forms that are used to refer to the past.
Thinking: Connect defining goals in self-study with the goal formulation in a classroom.


Materials/tasks I am going to use

  • Pre-test for Speaking about the Past (Past Simple/Continuous/Perfect). (taken from 
  • Sorting activity on Speaking about the Past, Part 1. (Past Simple/Continuous/Perfect). 


2. Lesson/task description – after

Procedures (how we worked: time, organisation, etc.)

I told students that we would start working with tenses that help us refer to the past. But before we start working with them we need to define if we actually need to work with this topic, maybe they know everything. Students were given pre-test for 10 min. (taken from
The results showed that no one from the 2 groups had more than 75%. So the need for working with past tenses was explained.

Students were given sentences (task 2.1.) and asked to make 2 groups according to 1 criteria. They worked in groups of 3-4. They had to come up to as many classifications as they could. First, students couldn’t understand what is needed, they asked how they should classify sentences. I told them they can define any criteria they want (for instance, if we make 2 groups from people in the classroom, then what kind of groups can we make). This hint gave them an idea. After some time, I asked one group what was their classification. Obviously, everyone came with an idea of ‘?’ and ‘non ?’. Other variants mentioned were ‘regular verbs’, ‘irregular verbs’. I reminded students that we are speaking about the past and the task asked to find the forms that are used to refer to the past. In every group there was a student who shouted that we can divide sentences in ‘Past Simple’ and ‘Past Continuous’. I asked them not to use tense names but to give me ‘verb forms’. Some students couldn’t understand what is meant under ‘verb forms’. I gave an example: the verb ‘do’ has different forms ‘did’, ‘done’ etc.
Unfortunately, we did not manage to finish the task, so I told them to finish classification of sentences at home (tasks from 2.1. till 2.7.).

During the next lesson students were not ready with sorting (finished only task 2.1.) so I asked them to sort other sentences as well (they could work either in groups or individually), which was a mistake as I realised later. When doing the task students asked me to come up and say if they do sorting correctly. I gave them hints but did not help much saying we’ll check everything later. That was also a mistake.
Some students managed to find the criteria for sorting (Past Simple/Continuous/Perfect) and asked what to do next. I asked them to proceed with writing a rule they know about those verb forms they found. They wrote a general rule (e.g.Past Simple is used when we speak about finished actions). After that I asked if they can formulate the rule through Name of feature and Value of feature (as required in Task 3). However, it was very difficult to work as students asked what is ‘name/value of feature’. And as far as some were still sorting and asking for help and some needed explanation of ‘values’ I failed to explain in a proper way so students didn’t understand what is meant. And the lesson again finished with something unclear for all of the students.

Learners’ response and outputs (how they responded to the task and what they actually did in the lesson)

Students worked in groups. Though it was clear that in some groups it was only one student who worked, all the rest were not focusing on the task. Students were giving their versions of classification.


Teacher’s role (what the teacher actually did and how)

The teacher gave the task, divided students in groups and asked for students input. The teacher also
tried to lead students in the direction of speaking in terms of ‘forms’ rather then tense names. The teacher also was giving hints on how to classify sentences but was not helping much.


3. Overall reflection on the lesson / task

Aim aspect (to what extent did we reach the aims?)
I do not think that any of my aims was reached. Probably I succeeded in motivating students to work on the task as they saw their results in pre-testing. Many of them were doing the task quite eagerly, though I suppose they did not quite understand why they had to do the task.
During the second lesson the motivation was lower as the process was there but neither the result was clear nor students knew if the did the sorting correctly.
Some students came up with the result and distinguished forms used to refer to the past but this result was not summed up for everybody.


Tasks & materials aspect (how did we work on the tasks to reach the aim? Please make specific references to the steps of the thinking task framework)
At this point I realise that there were too many sorting tasks given to students. The challenge most probably was there as students didn’t know how to sort but the teacher was too unhelpful and didn’t manage to sum up the result.
Other steps were absent.


Questions / conclusions for the future

  • Too many tasks and too few explanation. First, students have to be given a general picture of the whole circle they will go though, not only a very small episode of the task.


# Alexander Sokol 2011-10-25 07:24
Renata, thanks a lot for the detailed feedback and for following the structure for reflection. May I suggest that when saying that something you did was a mistake, you also add a short explanation why you think so. It will help us all see your vision better and it may also be easier for the colleagues to avoid a similar type of mistake when facing the same problem.
It may also be useful if you make the URLs you include work as hyperlinks, so that people can get to the materials straight away.
# Renata Jonina 2011-10-27 01:05
Thank you for your feedback, Alexander. Concerning explanation of mistakes.
The two mistakes were to give students to finish ALL sorting tasks during the second lesson and not to finish the lesson with a sort of a 'sum up' of their activity. I said it was a mistake as the task was too long and I did not stop at some point to collect students replies. Students were involved in the activity and obviously expected a sum up and checking of their results. I didn't do it and further students' reaction proved it was wrong decision.

Speaking about URLs, I will definitely do it. The words in blue are prepared for it. I am just finding out now how to upload materials and make URLs.
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