Sei sulla pagina 1di 6

Classroom Observation: Report 6

Teacher Observed: L
Observer: Alejandra de Antoni
Date: October, 20th 2009
Class: 1st Year Polimodal (Marcos Paz, Buenos Aires)
Number of Learners: 19
Age: 15/16 years old
Length of Lesson: 60 minutes
Level: Beginners
Observer: Alejandra de Antoni
Teacher Observed: L

The Learner as Doer1


Observation Task taken from “Classroom Observation Tasks” (Cambridge)

General Comments:
To begin with, I must say that, judging by what I could hear and see in this
lesson, it is not one of those classrooms in which we would say that the ideal
conditions for learning English are present. Most of the students, following what
I could witness in these 60 minutes (which may not be, of course, the best
representation of that classroom), were neither motivated nor interested in
learning and, what is more, saw no point in doing what they had been asked to
do by the teacher (“Pero, ¿para qué quiero hacer esto yo?” “¿Y a mí de que me
sirve esto?”). The activities, which will be analysed in this report, were, in my
opinion not challenging or motivating. I know, however, that there were several
restrictions for the teacher to plan the lesson in a more “motivating” way”.
Even though the students had access to a coursebook, they were not allowed
to write or work on it and had to copy everything to their notebooks, which is
something both time-wasting and boring. Furthermore, if the teacher had
wanted to give them photocopies to work on (instead of copying), who would
have been in charge of paying for them? The students cannot be asked to
spend too much money because most of them will not be able to afford it and
the teacher cannot be asked to pay for all her students’ photocopies. Even
though photocopying textbooks is illegal, it has become common practice in
most state schools (at least the ones I know) because it is the only way of
allowing students to have access to the materials they need not only for their
English lessons but also other school subjects.
NB: Please do not take my comments as “the rule” for all state schools. I am
just reporting what I have witnessed in this particular classroom in the
particular context of this lesson. Therefore, it does not mean that these
students or the teacher are what I saw them do or say.

1
See the Appendix to have a complete view of the Observation Task I followed in this report.

Liceo Cultural Británico Teacher’s Training College. Methods II. Classroom 1


Observation Reports 2009
Classroom Observation: Report 6
Teacher Observed: L
Observer: Alejandra de Antoni
Date: October, 20th 2009
The Activities
What Learners Do What This Involves Teacher’s Purpose Comment (Type of
activity according to
what students are
asked to do)
o Writing questions o Both knowing how o That students Cognitive (the only
in the Present a question is practise question thing students were
Continuous structured and formation and the asked to do was to
following prompts how the Present Present complete the
(the sts were Continuous is Continuous form. questions with the
given the used. correct use of the
question word o Consulting tense. They were not
and the answer). previous exercises told to concentrate on
and grammar meaning even though
notes. it was necessary for
them to understand
the difference
between why, what
and where, for
instance. There were
no feelings or physical
activities involved).
o Role-playing a o Handling both the o To teach Cognitive (No
dialogue in pairs pronunciation and pronunciation (I reasoning or thinking
but in turns (while intonation of the say teach here took place here. The
one pair is role- dialogue (which instead of practise only thing they had to
playing the rest was not true for because the do was to read and
has to be them because they teacher repeat the words they
listening to found it extremely interrupted them mispronounced but
them). difficult to every two words to still it is a cognitive
pronounce even correct their activity since no
common words pronunciation and feelings or physical
such as “time”). wrote the words activities were
with their involved).
transcriptions on
the board).
o Completing a o Using a dictionary o To make students Cognitive (students
chart with (the teacher told create a have to match the
different pieces of them to leave the vocabulary chart words with the
clothing (They ones they did not from which they corresponding
had the pictures know incomplete can study at home pictures and then
and the names in for them to look (they cannot take write their translation
the coursebook to them up the coursebook which involves only
do a matching afterwards. What I home so the only thinking. There are no
activity but, since don’t know, resource from feelings or physical
they cannot write however, because which they can activities involved).
on the books, the it was not clarified, study is their
teacher created a is if they had notebook).
chart on the dictionaries
board for them to available at school
copy it in their or if the teacher
notebooks to would provide
complete it with them with one).
the names in o Resorting to
English and their previous
corresponding knowledge
translations into (students were
Spanish). already familiar
with some of the
words).

Liceo Cultural Británico Teacher’s Training College. Methods II. Classroom 2


Observation Reports 2009
Classroom Observation: Report 6
Teacher Observed: L
Observer: Alejandra de Antoni
Date: October, 20th 2009

Analysing the Data collected

The author of the book suggests that I should discuss the balance of cognitive,
affective and physical activities with the teacher of the course. However, I will analyse
it on my own because the teacher had no time after the lesson to stay with me to
discuss the activities. She had to go to another school.
Considering the data collected, it can be said that, in this lesson, there was no balance
at all. The only three activities that were done by students were cognitive. Ideally, it
would be great to find a balance of cognitive, affective and physical activities so as to
appeal to the different learning styles that students have.
Some students learn better by thinking, reasoning and analysing what they are
presented with so, for them, cognitive activities will work wonders. However, not all
cognitive activities actually demand analysis or reasoning. The first activity, for
instance, did not require students to analyse anything but to write questions following
the grammatical structure of the Present Continuous. Regardless of the student that
carries it out, the activity will always have the same outcome. It gives no room for any
students’ personal contribution.
Other students find it easier to learn by means of “reacting” to what they are
presented with. These students learn better with affective activities. With these
activities, students are given the possibility to take what they have learnt to their
personal lives. For instance, when students are asked to concentrate on content, i.e. to
read and/or listen to something in the target language to respond to its message, they
are given the chance to do an activity in which no linguistic responses are required but
affective ones. A simple question such as “what do you think about Peter’s attitude?”
or “Do you think that what he did was OK?” “Why?” can very well be an affective
activity. We should try to find a way of adapting activities to our students’ level. The
fact that they are beginners does not mean that they can only do cognitive activities. It
is more difficult, of course, to create affective activities for students whose English is
limited but it is not impossible. We might even allow them to respond in their mother
tongue if necessary.
In addition, some students may find it useful to learn by actually doing things. Instead
of studying ways of walking, for instance, some students may find it easier to actually
perform them by carrying out a TPR
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_Physical_Response) activity. It is true, however, that
no all age groups are keen on standing up and moving round the classroom but
physical activities may be really profitable for kinaesthetic groups.
It is essential to remember that the best way of facilitating learning is to provide our
students with several and combined opportunities for learning. A balance of cognitive,
affective and physical activities is always advisable even though we may need to
simplify some activities for our students to be able to carry them out. After all, each
teacher knows their students and it is their job to decide on the best combination of
cognitive, affective and physical activities to enhance the students’ learning
experience.
If I were to say which of the activities I think were most valuable for the students, I
would find it really difficult to choose one. As I said at the beginning of this report, I do
not think that the activities were particularly interesting or challenging for the students
because of their lack of interest and involvement while doing them. It is important to
highlight that I do not think that cognitive activities are not good enough. What I want
to say is that regardless of the activity being cognitive, affective or physical it is
essential to make it relevant, interesting, challenging and encouraging for the
students. Following this idea, I would say that the students did not find any of the
activities valuable or, at least, the first two because they were boring and pointless,
especially the second one because they were asked to read out a text they had never

Liceo Cultural Británico Teacher’s Training College. Methods II. Classroom 3


Observation Reports 2009
Classroom Observation: Report 6
Teacher Observed: L
Observer: Alejandra de Antoni
Date: October, 20th 2009
practised in front of the whole classroom, which made them feel uneasy and not
capable because they had not had any chance to practise or prepare it. The third one
may have been valuable for the students if they took it as a chance to prepare a chart
of the different pieces of clothing they will have to study later on. In this case the
activity was valuable because it allowed the students to create a resource from which
they would study later on. However, this validity can only be seen from the point of
view of the teacher because I do not think the students considered the activity useful
when they were doing it.
Another important issue is whether our teaching methodology is compatible with our
learners’ learning style. When we encourage our students’ active involvement, how can
we know if we are actually asking from them something they can give? Knowing our
students is essential for us to be able to give them appropriate and useful activities to
cater for their own preferred learning methodology. In my personal opinion, we should
be ready to sometimes sacrifice our teaching methodologies so as to adapt our
teaching to our students’ needs. Even though we all have our teaching preferences, it
is a defining characteristic of a good teacher to leave aside their preferences so as to
provide students with the combination of cognitive, affective and physical activities
that better helps their learning experience. The most important thing, I believe, is not
to marry a certain type of activity but to constantly innovate and improve the activities
so as to keep the students interested and motivated. Talking to our students and
asking them about their learning styles and with what type of activities they feel most
comfortable with are excellent ways of showing not only that we care about them but
also that they can be active participants in their learning process.

Reflection

As regards my own teaching, I would say that I always try to have a balance of the
three types of activities. It is true, however, that not all the students and classrooms
work in the same way and, therefore, the balance will inevitably be altered. What I do
believe is not in having a rigid number of a certain type of activities but to be flexible. It
may be the case, for instance, that in one classroom almost all the students are
cognitively oriented and, consequently, the more cognitive activities I provide them
with, the better they will learn. However, I will give them both affective and physical
activities as well for them to be able to experience different approaches because they
may find out that they were actually better prepared to work with another approach.
This may happen in the case of students that seem to be cognitively oriented because
they developed this learning style more than the other two not because it is the one
they feel most comfortable with but simply because it was the only one they have been
encouraged to develop in their previous learning experiences (such as school).
Finally, I would like to say that, the more teaching approaches we use, the more our
students will learn. Combining cognitive, affective and physical activities we are
opening new doors for our students to enhance their learning experiences. In the
traditional classroom attention was drawn only to the students’ minds, and, more
specifically, to their linguistic abilities. By means of combining cognitive, affective and
physical activities we are giving our students the possibility of learning English not only
with their minds but also with their feelings, thoughts, ideas and bodies. Students
think, feel and do. Thinking, feeling and doing our students will certainly learn.

Liceo Cultural Británico Teacher’s Training College. Methods II. Classroom 4


Observation Reports 2009
Classroom Observation: Report 6
Teacher Observed: L
Observer: Alejandra de Antoni
Date: October, 20th 2009
APPENDIX (Observation Task 1.3 – Classroom Observation Tasks – Cambridge)

The Learner as Doer; Page 1

Liceo Cultural Británico Teacher’s Training College. Methods II. Classroom 5


Observation Reports 2009
Classroom Observation: Report 6
Teacher Observed: L
Observer: Alejandra de Antoni
Date: October, 20th 2009

The Learner as Doer; Page 2

Liceo Cultural Británico Teacher’s Training College. Methods II. Classroom 6


Observation Reports 2009