I formatively assessed mystudents’ learning in groups. Formative assessment through groupwork enhances the quality of learning for my students through collaborationwith peers.
It also helped my students to develop generic skills such asteamwork, communication and managing skills. Group work enhanced the motivationof students to contribute their efforts for the writing (see image 6) (Gillies,2003). One student from each group readout their essay; this provided me with formative feedback and was also helpfulfor the other students.
Throughreflection and discussion with my mentor, I felt that arranging group projectswas time consuming. I focused mostly on providing support to the weakerstudents. This resulted in some of the more able students getting distracted. Students started off with the assigned taskbut were involved in irrelevant chatter when they felt they were not beingmonitored. This meant only a few of the students were effectively engaged.
Throughout thelesson, I continued to use open ended questioning (Denton, 2013) as my mainmethod of formative assessment. Students provided appropriate answers to thetopic, demonstrating self-expression and creativity. Open ended questioningsession helped me create a better environment in the class as they improveclassroom interactions with the learner.
My strengths, as highlighted by my mentor are; effective start to the lesson. It focuses my students’ attentionon the lesson and its purposes. It also convinces students that they willbenefit from the lesson. Laying outobjectives is another strength. Itis my contention that learning objectives are important for two reasons. Firstly,they ensure that teachers and students are clear about the purpose of thelesson.
Secondly, they provide a very useful signpost against which progresscan be checked. Positive relationship between studentsand teacher as academicachievement and student behavior are influenced by the quality of the teacherand student relationship (Jones, 1981). Clarity of instructions, since students tended to feel more satisfied with theirlearning experience (Hines, 1981). Lastly, effective use of praise tomotivate students is all key aspects of an effective lesson (McKeachie andSvinicki, 2010). My teaching practice has changed; I spend more time getting to know my students and eliciting theirprior knowledge and opinions on the respective topic. My interactions withstudents in the classroom changed from ‘what’ questions to ‘why or how’questions (Bradburn, 1983); I encouraged more interactions between students(Johnson, 1987). Lastly, I have changed my assessment from a traditional 200 to250-character essay format to a more negotiated format where studentscontributed to or discussed the task openly, including criteria and resourcesavailable. The tasks set were more personal and reflective; the assessmentcriteria were expanded to provide clearer evidence of what was expected.
Students were encouraged to use a wider range of resources. As a result of these changes I noticed two changes; firstly, improvedstudent attitudes towards this subject, considering ideas in a broader contextand from different angles. Classroom discussion has become less content-focusedand more concept-focused (Myers and DeWall, 2011),with more emphasis on learners’ own ideas, and experiences, rather than knowingabout the factual content. I discovered that my students were eager to expressand share their personal views. My students felt that their opinions werevalued and this has improved our relationship and made our learning environmenta safe and relaxed one (see image 8).
In the post observation discussion, my mentor and I agreed that Istill need to work on my time management. I will try to keep things organised, it will help me stay on task. I will be allowing more time for a plenary to consolidatelearning, in future.
Module 1 has been very fruitful for me. I have learned much aboutmyself, my students, and how engaging teaching and learning can be by takingdifferent approaches. My lessons have become more relevant and meaningful formy students. However, it takes up a lot of time and energy to plan my lessons,keep a reflection journal, gather data and analyse it. I think my old teachingpractice was also of a reasonable standard; however, it was not holistic. Irealise now that I have to reconsider many aspects of my teaching; for example,the lesson plan, time management, the questions to ask in class, and the tasksI set for students.
I intend to generate a checklist for each area of my workto make sure my teaching is consistently improving. Lastly, my mentor hasencouraged me to take risks-encouraged me topractice new classroom activities, and do things differently by implementingcreative solutions to students’ problems (Podsen and Denmark, 2000).