Teacher's own reflections on Lesson 1 (see here)

I reflected a lot on Lesson 1, in the hope that my reflections will help me to remember how I can keep this going, how I can keep the pupils  involved and motivated and to see where I need to change. I’m hoping this simple beginning might help me to do more TA – let’s see how it goes!

Compared to my usual lessons I felt this one ticked a lot of boxes -
• Related to real life and pupil needs
• I think I managed fairly well to ‘sell’ the challenge, at least to the last group. All three groups worked well, but the third one seemed to be most ‘with it’. In the past I’ve felt the challenge has to be something unusual and more complicated, but this challenge now is exactly what they need to be able to do at the moment and it seemed to work, at least with these pupils.It’s simple enough for them to see where we’re going and there’s a need for it. The overall challenge feels like the ‘big picture’ which I have to keep in mind all the time.
• I didn’t give many answers, but really tried to wait for their suggestions. They came up with more or less what I’d predicted, though it took some time.
• I built the ENV very slowly and simply and we were only working with 9 foods. Previously I’ve tried to make it far too complicated at the beginning, by having sets of far too many words, and I realise now I didn’t have a clear aim for the sorting then myself, so it was often hard to find parameters.
• Almost all of the final ENV came from them.
• The gadget (ENV chart) I gave them at the end was colourful with pictures. I’ve thought I have to keep things child-friendly for it to be motivating. It seemed to work – they were very keen on the ‘chart’ and quite a few made their own new ones at home.
• New vocabulary came from them and we recorded it and will use it next lesson (often I just seem to forget this kind of thing and then the new vocabulary they’ve suggested doesn’t have a chance to become an active part of their vocabulary).
• We had no time at all to reflect at the end of this lesson, but we can do it next time.
• I didn’t feel rushed, and I felt it doesn’t matter if things like reflection get left till next time, as long as I do them.
• This lesson seemed to leave plenty of scope for the next lesson and many more ahead. We can play with the new words, play the password game to guess foods again (and use different foods, to see where our strategy doesn’t work…). In later lessons we can go back to our gadget to see if it helps to describe other things (like animals).
• Some other ideas : - this can lead on to a) Password game, b) the yes/no game, c) using descriptions in  a particular situation (ie making sketches: at a shop – show them a picture – you want to buy this food / vegetable, but don’t know the word. Describe it. You send Whiz to the supermarket to buy apples…what instructions do you give? Sketch where he comes home with wrong thing?)… In shop also use DO you have…?
d)They could create a game of ‘coffeepotting’, thinking up their own crazy word, which can be a substitute for any word they want – the others have to guess what it is.

What I really need to pay attention to:-
• Make sure the AIM is always clear to the pupils, so they know where we’re going and why we’re doing something. With the last group I said every time we started a new activity, let’s see if this will help us to learn to describe things, or let’s see if you can describe things to each other, let’s see how we’re getting on. In the past pupils have sometimes asked me, ‘Why are we doing this?’  Now it seems to me that sharing the aims with the learners and reminding of them frequently is vital.
• How will they know if they’ve learned? I could get suggestions from them as to how they’ll know. A game? A test? When will we check it? What will the criteria be?
• Remember to have lots of speaking before writing. Use these activities to really get them using the language.
• Remember to think together about what we’re going to do next. Although I have a plan, keep them feeling involved in it and able to influence it all the time.
• Don’t spend too long on one thing or on explanations. Let them work things out for themselves. What activities could lend themselves to this? Have fun!
• Put new words on walls, eg shape poster, colour poster etc. Also ENV, our gadget on wall? Always put up a new one when it changes? Ask them how we can store new words not in book? (Make own dictionaries – how, has to be easy and not time-consuming?)
• Get them to write in reflective diaries at least every two to three lessons and give them feedback on their reflections.
• Keep passports (ENV charts) – use for different purposes.
•  I realised now that I do understand ENV a bit better. When I asked pupils to sort and one group said, this pile of cards is green foods, this is yellow foods and this is vegetables, I could understood immediately that they had two different parameters and they can only sort using one parameter at a time. Before this kind of answer threw me. Now I didn’t actually comment on it as I decided it would be too complicated to explain at this point, so I just picked up on the colour suggestion. Later, when they understand about parameters I can refer back to this as an example of mixing parameters.

You can see lesson 2 here

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