What would I like to improve?
I feel that all my grade two oral classes are responsive and active apart from class 3.
In class three attention varies from excellent to poor, as does effort. IÕd like to help the students to improve their active participation levels (active participation being willingness to participate in given conversational activities of their own will) and their attention levels.
Why am I concerned about it?
Some of the students are not showing maturity and effort in regards to their studies and seem to regard oral English as a bit of a joke, playing around and not taking their improvement seriously. My concern stems from the fact that in one of my lessons a student put their head on a table which has never happened in a class before and which made me worried. I want my students to be interested in my lessons and I want them to make efforts to improve their oral English as this is an integral part of their future role as teachers and affects the whole of education in China, which I care deeply about.
This class is a real mixed ability class, some excellent and some struggling. IÕm worried about their progress on all levels; the ailing students doing little, and the better students getting sick of carrying the weight of the others. IÕm also worried about their progress in relation to the other classes. I am concerned as the group does not co operate well together as a unit, and it is a personal belief of mine, and also expressed in Chinese history that we can gain strength from others.
IÕm also concerned about my patience levels- I know that I find this frustrating, and try not to show this, but feel like it is getting increasingly harder to hide. I think this stems from my memories of burst of anger from past teachers which have influenced my life greatly. I want my effect to be positive not negative, and I fear of damaging studentÕs confidence.
How can I improve it?
- By looking at this class on a more individual level and carefully adapting the lesson to suit their specific needs
- By observing carefully and grouping students who are less capable with encouraging sensible ones who have the ability to stimulate.
- Some of them have little English and they are aware of this- a lot of the problem could be confidence. Perhaps adopt a challenge by choice system so they can test and push their limitations within their own time.
- By observing the less confident ones more carefully, finding the reasons for this and giving them encouragement to remedy the issue.
- By gently separating the more problematic students encouraging them to circulate and bringing them back together when I feel they are capable of collaborating effectively.
- In regards to my patience, be conscious of this and assess when it is constructive and detrimental to show disapproval, and monitor the effects of this.
Who can help me and how?
- Myself by keeping a detailed journal on this class
- My Co teacher Wang Ying, by observing my lesson and giving me advice.
- Mr Xi- he wants to observe one of my lessons- it would perhaps be worth asking him to observe this one and getting him to help with my enquiry
- Help from the book ŌTeaching Large multilevel classesÕ in regards to class cohesion. Cohesion activities may be useful to help the students work as a self supporting unit.
- Colleagues helping me with my enquiry
- The students. I plan to tell them of my enquiry and make them conscious of my efforts, and collaborate openly with them to improve the situation.
When will I know that it has improved?
- All students will show increased willingness to participate in class discussions, and will do so enthusiastically, (enthusiasm being defined by whole group participation, speaking English and attacking the task)
- Students will start to challenge themselves (take risks and try new things) and think about improving their oral English.
- The more challenging students will begin to collaborate well together, and will begin to support each others English improvement.
- My choices of reprimand will be better and constructive.
- Students will volunteer actively and search for ways to improve their oral English outside the classroom- increased participation in English corner etc.
- Students will look for ways to help each other, and become more conversational in mixed group situations.
Report of Action Research progress up to December 2003
See covering sheet for action research question, and concerns.
In relation to the final three questions this is a brief synopsis of progress made and actions taken to answer my question and tackle the perceived problem.
How can I improve it?
1) Firstly I looked to understand the class on a more individual level so I could adapt the lesson to suit their needs better. I did this by keeping field notes, especially concerning how well different students collaborated with others. From these notes I grouped students according to who I perceived they collaborated well with.
2) From point one I then allowed the students a say concerning who they likes to work with. I gave each student a brief questionnaire asking them to list 5 other students they enjoyed working with and giving me a good reason as for why. From this I discovered there were students no one liked working with, and students everyone liked working with; this confirmed some of what I had bee finding through my own observations.
3) Leading on from 2 I then decided to give students responsibility of grouping themselves in what they perceived successful groups. Before the lesson I left the room and gave the students 5 minutes to group themselves whilst I was not there to pressure them. The first time, this was unsuccessful and the students, and myself were disappointed. Second time students moved well, grouped each other well, and worked well within their groupings.
4) I discovered some students in the class were underachieving comparatively; these students one especially lack confidence and I have been giving them a little extra attention and praise for good work.
5) By increasing confidence. As a warmer at the beginning of each lesson I have done a confidence building cohesion warmer as a way of giving students food for thought.
6) By encouraging volunteering. I vary my question asking techniques according to situation but include volunteering as part of each lesson. At first students were reticent and the same students answered; a lot of positive reinforcement was needed, especially if someone volunteered who never had before; even if they got a question wrong I would praise for trying. At this stage people are leaping out of their seats to answer literally and their enthusiasm is bubbling- I would say at this stage ¾ of the class regularly volunteer.
7) In regards to my patience; I feel I have been more conscious of when to reprimand and when not. Students not doing well I have communicated with on a reasonable level rather than reprimanding, and they have responded well. But, I am not a person who can hide disappointment well, and there are occasions when this has been evident to the students (the self grouping exercise being a notable example) but, they have risen to the occasion by not letting me down the next time; this has impressed me greatly.
8) Finally, I told my student about my A.R project- they were enthusiastic (lots of applause) and I will build on this by involving them more thoroughly in the process.
9) I gave an end of term questionnaire to get opinions on how the course went and how it could be improved.
Who can help me and how?
- Ruth, my placement partner has observed my lesson and written a feedback form; we discussed the lesson afterwards
- Wang Ying my critical friend observed my lesson and provided feedback
- Wang Ying and myself have met every week and discussed our action research progress.
- Members of the A.R group have helped me; most notably Su Lang Fan who is the class teacher of my A.R class and who knows them well, and Mr Du, who suggested the idea of an interpersonal diagram to determine which students collaborate well together.
- Myself- looking through textbooks and isolating good cohesion activities for confidence building.
- Myself, keeping a journal detailing my pre lesson hopes, field notes, post lesson conclusions and a plan concerning hat moves to make next.
- My students through their confidence in my and enthusiasm for my research.
When will I know it has improved?
a) All students will show increased willingness to participate in class discussions and will do so enthusiastically.
b) Students start to challenge themselves
Proof of this is new students volunteering, students who have never taken group leader roles starting to do so, students pairing themselves with stronger students as a means to improve themselves, and increased levels of participation at English Corner from this class.
In regards to their homework they were prepared, pro active and completed it before any other class.
c) The more challenging students will begin to collaborate well together and will begin to support each other in their improvement
Proof of this, Sally a shy student with eyesight problems working with Alison and Vanessa and collaborating well.
Carl collaborating well with Seth and David, who originally represented a bad combination.
David collaborating well with almost everyone; at the beginning g I isolated him as a little disrupted.
Drew working well with Violet, volunteering and aiming to be more proactive and speaking increased English.
d) My choices of reprimand being more constructive
Proof of this, Drew dozing in class and instead of reprimanding him asking if there was a problem. He had been ill and had not slept well (though this had happened before) I was sympathetic of this but told him I expected in the future when In good health he paid more attention
Showing my disappointment when students were unable to group themselves; this obviously affected them and next time they did this they achieved quickly and well.
e) Students will volunteer actively and will search to improve their oral English outside the classroom.
There has been increased participation in English corner
Students have been fighting (literally) over sign ups for film and cookery club.
Volunteering has risen from just a few students to almost ¾ of the class, students encouraging others, and those who have never volunteered before doing so.
f) Students will look for ways to help each other and will become more conversational in mixed group situations.
Boys are shy in a group with girls; I have been placing boys in 2Õs within groups and they have worked well in these situations.
Students have been encouraging each other to volunteer
More capable students (Alison, Amber, Vanessa. Charlie, Violet) have placed themselves with less capable students (Carl, Tammy, Kenny, Drew, Sally)
There has been spontaneous applause when a student has the confidence to come to the front and say something.
Where will my research go next?
1. I feel that though a lot has been achieved it is important to see if this is sustainable, and I feel like the first few lessons after Spring break will tell me of that, and I will try and collect evidence to refute this, or if not, take it as a guide for where to go next.
2. I would like to involve the students more in their research; I plan to have a suggestion envelope, for how to improve confidence and participation.
3. I will be starting students on action research this semester; this will give them (hopefully) empathy for what I am trying to do, an hopefully make them more forthcoming in finding solutions for their problems and helping me answer their questions.
4. More focus on Carl, Sally and Drew; progress is being made, but especially in regards to confidence boosting, more of a focus is needed.
5. I would like to get more evidence by doing some interviews with students.