Touro TESOL Candidate Jessica Mercado’s Fieldwork Report for EDPN 673

At Touro, the TESOL program assignments are always focused on clinically rich teacher preparation, programming, and instruction.  Robust fieldwork observations together with thoughtful analysis, student interviews and deep reflection are part of our ongoing commitment to English Language Learners (ELLs)/Multilingual Learners (MLLs) and our future TESOL teachers. Touro TESOL is proud to educate teachers who are highly motivated and dedicated to better serving ELLs in their schools or districts.

The fieldwork for TESOL EDPN 673 requires observation of an ESL or integrated classrooms (a total of 10 hours). Next,  interviewing the teachers and the ELL students to discover a) what strategies were effective, b) what challenges they faced, and c) their reaction to the lessons. Candidates must include the following components in their report:
a. Lesson plan (or IEP or intervention plan) developed by the teacher
b. Analysis of the lesson – Are the lesson objectives aligned with state or TESOL standards? Is the lesson aligned with another content area for the curriculum? What approach, methods and strategies were applied to the lesson? Was the lesson grade/age appropriate? Did the teacher provide differentiated instructions to all students? Which principles of the instructed language learning (Ellis & Shintani, 2014) were incorporated into the lesson? ( Providing specific examples).
c. Background of the students interviewed- how long has he/she been in the US? What language was spoken in his/her family? What was his/her favorite content area? How was he/she doing in the content area classroom? What aspects of English does he/she find most challenging
(reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar, pronunciation, etc.)?
d. Summary of the interview: What did they like about the lesson? What were the challenges? e. Reflection on the interview and future implications

Jessica Mercado, a graduate of Touro’s Graduate School of Education has worked as a New York City Public School Teacher for twelve years serving students with Special Needs. Currently, she is working toward her TESOL certification. She is bilingual and wrote that “…it is my goal to better serve students who are learning a second language in our public school system.”

Session observation of 4th-grade students during a pullout session of two periods.

  1. Lesson Plan

Teacher: Ms. Y. ESL Teacher

Content Objective: student will identify what lives by, in, and above the pond.

-Learn about prepositional phrases

-Write facts & create an illustration

-Create a Venn diagram using Frog & Toad facts

Language Objective: Students will identify prepositional phrases by creating a chart of animals that live by, in, and above the water.

Students will sort and classify facts of frogs & toads by creating a Venn diagram.

CCSS-ELA Literacy.RI.4.6

Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event or topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided.

CCSS-ELA Literacy.L.4.1.E

Form and use prepositional phrases.

FrogMaterials

  • Reading materials about Frogs and Toads: Frogs and Toads by Camila Gersh, Frogs and Toads of the World by Chris Mattison, Frogs, and Toads and Tadpoles Too by Allan Fowler
  • Chart paper, White Board
  • Markers, pencils, Paper
  • Graphic organizers

Vocabulary

  • fact
  • preposition
  • illustration
  • classify
  • sort

 

I introduced students to vocabulary words, their pronunciation, definitions, and examples. They were then paired off with a partner to complete a short activity where they would fill in the blank using vocabulary words to complete sentences.

Motivation

Students will color & cut out pictures of animals found in or near a pond.  They will place the animals on a chart that reads “Pond Life”.

Lesson sequence: 

  • Students will discuss the pictures they have colored and cut out, and why & how they placed them on the chart.
  • next the students will make groups of threes{pods}
  • After the students are settled, a stack of animal cards and headings will be given to each group.
  • The teacher will have the groups place the cards in the appropriate lists. At this time, we will review what a preposition is.
  • The answers will be discussed and the subject will be narrowed to frogs and toads.
  • The teacher will then read about frogs and toads. During the reading students will be asked to ribbit or croak each time they hear a preposition. (TPR activity)
  • After the teacher completes the reading. She will read from a NF text on Frogs and Toads, and modeling how she will place facts onto the Venn diagram. (I DO)
  • Each group will be given a stack of seven or eight facts from the text.
  • Each group will have a chance at placing a card on our Venn diagram about Frogs/Toads. (WE DO)
  • Teacher will have student discuss their placement of facts onto the venn diagram
  • Students will be paired off and each group will use a different text according to their ability on the topic of Frogs and Toads. They will work on completing a venn diagram
  • When the Venn diagram is completed. Students will be asked to choose a frog or toad, illustrate the frog/toad and list three facts about the frog or toads

Differentiated​Instruction 

Three different books of Frogs and Toads were provided. Students worked with a partner of like abilities for the independent practice part of the lesson. The teacher provided all groups with graphic organizers but, the lower level student graphic organizer was prefilled with an example and the page number where fact was retrieved. The teacher met with that group for guided support but, then moved to the other groups to advise and conference with students.

  1. Analysis

This lesson observation involved 4th-grade students from two different classes. Of the six students, five students are native Spanish speakers and the sixth student speaks Haitian Creole. All six students socialize during lunch and recess and socialize a lot during their sessions with Ms. Han, their ESL instructor. They enjoy their time with each other and are given plenty of opportunities to communicate and practice their English language skills.

The lesson objectives were aligned to 4th-grade common core state standards for ELA literacy of Reading for information RI.4.6 and Language L.4.1.E  For example, students read informational text that was appropriate to the topic of frogs and toads and level of the students and worked on gathering facts from the text  to complete a Venn diagram. Students also practiced their language skills learning about and then identifying prepositions used in the text. Although science standards were not addressed during this lesson, the lesson itself did cover 4th grade science content on animal characteristics and habitats. The lesson is also aligned with TESOL proficiency standard 2: English language learners communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the area of language arts and Standard 4: English language learners communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the area of science. Students were given multiple opportunities to communicate before during and after the lesson. They were allowed to work in pairs to complete tasks, they also had to turn and talk to discuss facts from the text during the we do part of the lesson.

The teacher began the lesson by introducing vocabulary words needed for the lesson. She had each word printed on chart paper and on the whiteboard she had each word printed with its definition, and example of the word meaning followed by a link that showed them sentences with the word. I noticed she gave much importance on word enunciation before showing the definitions and examples. This was where students were given the opportunity to practice saying the word to a partner. They were asked, “what do you think this word means?” and they engaged in a turn and talk. They were given copies of the words, definitions, and examples to follow along as the teacher read them aloud from the white board. At the bottom of the sheet was an exercise where students got to show what they learned about the new vocabulary words. I noticed the teacher used the activity as data and reviewed some of the words with some of the students. Although most of the students showed comprehension of the new vocabulary words, I believe the students would have benefitted from visual aids as well.

The teacher used a teacher made chart labeled “Life in The Pond” and for this activity the students were to cut out and color animals that live on or near a pond. This activity tapped into the student’s prior knowledge and lead into background building as some students were unsure about some of the animals on the page. This activity also gave students the opportunity to communicate within cooperative groups as they each shared information with each other on what they knew about the animals and where they live. During this observation I noticed that Ms. Y’s teaching strategies reflected some of the language teaching approaches researched during this course. For example, the students were working in cooperative groups trying to figure things out with information provided as the teacher went from one group to the other offering advice and taking note of what students were able to do. During vocabulary building, she emphasized proper pronunciation and had students repeat the words several times for accuracy and fluency.

During this observation, I also got to see how the teacher was able to use differentiated reading materials on the same topic and teach student the same concept while sticking to 4th grade standards. She made language comprehensible and used communication in the new language as a strategy to learn the language. She applied many strategies and techniques that integrated language and content instruction. According to Short, Deborah, J. (1991), ELL students need access to comprehensible in put in English which means that they need to be exposed to the content language used in the classroom through multiple techniques and strategies that are often seen in Content based Language Instruction.

As Ms. Y. taught the prepositional words through the text, ‘Frog and Toad are Friends’ by Arnold Lobel. She mentioned that this book was different because it was fiction but it that it featured a Frog and a Toad and that they were going to sample the book and listen out for prepositional phrases. In this part of the lesson she applied Principle 4: Instruction needs to be predominantly directed at developing implicit knowledge of the L2 while not neglecting explicit knowledge. Ellis and Shintani, (2014 pg. 23). She began with explicit teaching when teaching prepositions and how they are used in a sentence. She then repeated the meaning and had them refer back to their sheet of paper on vocabulary words. She asked them to look at the example of prepositional phrases and read it aloud. The all said “with” and when she asked them to repeat the word, she croaked and lifted her body in a slight hopping motion. The children laughed because they didn’t expect that from her. She explained that when she hears a prepositional phrase, it makes her want to croak or ribbit like a frog and toad. She then pulled out a list of prepositional phrases and they read them together. Each group got a set of them on index cards held together by a ring that allows them to easily flip through the words. She asked each group to read just one word and as they did, she croaked and moved her body as she previously did (role reversal). The students were excited to see the teacher acting silly. They turned and practiced with their partners for about two minutes and she began reading from the selected text. I was impressed on how easily the students caught on to the prepositional phrases as she read (Implicit instruction). This activity involved Total Physical Response (TPR) and the reversal and the reversal role. This activity was related to chapter 8 of “Techniques and Principles of Language Learning” where the author explains how commands are given to students to perform an action which gives meaning to the action. The author further explain that teachers should perform the action first before asking them to perform the physical command on their own. Larse-Freeman (2008 pg.116).

In observing Ms. Ys lesson, I noticed that she focused on Principle 8: The opportunity to interact in the L2 is central to developing L2 proficiency. Ellis and Shintani, (2014 pg. 25).  Throughout the lesson Ms. Han referred to her charts, and had students practice their communication skills in all activities. There were several opportunities for turn and talk, group work, and talk time. I also notice ed that as she spoke her rate would change from slow to normal. She also gave students plenty of wait time but, would also restate when she would t get a response. She implemented many strategies to make the lesson comprehensible and engaging. The group of students worked in pairs to complete their own graphic organizer on frogs and toads during independent practice. There graphic organizers were differentiated and the books on frogs and toads were also of different reading levels. During many of the talk activities students had opportunities to work with student of varying levels of proficiency but, for this part of the lesson they were grouped according to like abilities. Ms. Y worked spent more time with one particular group, but also gave enough time to meet with all groups. She tracked their progress and gave each group oral feedback. They shared out and Ms. Han extended the activity by having students illustrate a toad or frog and list three interesting facts. Ms. Han gave each student written feedback on both tasks. The illustrations were displayed on the bulletin board.

  1. Student Background/Student Interviews

After the lesson, I interviewed several students in Ms. Y’s 4th-grade class.

The first student named E., a 10yr. old girl that was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She lived in a small secluded town in Puerto Rico and her school did not offer any English language courses. She lives in a single-parent home and says that her mother is trying to learn English from her. She has been living in New York City for about a year and is able to communicate effectively with her classmates. She says that classwork seems hard when we use some words about teaching. I realized she was referring to academic language. She says reading and math are her favorite subjects because she loves books and she can add subtract multiply and divide well. When I asked her what subjects were the hardest. She explained that writing is difficult because she has to write in English and sometimes, she can think of the words she wants to write but in Spanish. She is aware of her misspelled words and when she is really stuck, she starts to cry. She also stated that Social Studies was confusing because sometimes it talks about topics she learned but, then she has to learn about different countries and wars that she doesn’t really understand. She shared her thoughts of Learning a second language by telling me that she can’t wait to read and write like some of her English-speaking classmates and that she loves exchanging words with her English-speaking friends. Ms. Y stated that E. is highly motivated, very talkative, and helpful. E. enjoys communicative activities most and has really advanced in communicating thoughts and ideas with clarity. She also likes to offer help and advice to peers. At times, E. does not respond well to oral feedback and shuts down. Ms. Y has been trying different ways to provide feedback that won’t lower her confidence.

Student 2, A., a 10 yr old girl was born in the United States but lived in the Dominican Republic most of her life. She entered the United States at the age of five and completed kindergarten and first grade at another public school in Queens, NY. She went sent to live in the Dominican Republic and returned to the US during the Spring of 2018. She lives with her father who speaks English and is encouraging her to speak English at home. When I asked her about her previous experience as a second language learner, she explained that she was speaking English with her friends at school but, when she recently returned to the U.S., she suddenly forgot everything she learned. She has regained her speaking and communication skills but, continues to struggle with reading, writing and math. She mentioned that she struggled academically in the Dominican Republic and that her mother had to pay a tutor. She enjoys reading books the most and when the teacher reads to the class. During the interview, there were times I had to ask questions in both English and Spanish. Aside from reading books, I asked about her second favorite activity or subject was and she mentioned math. She says, some math problems remind her of math problems she had to solved back at home. She also likes math because she does not have to write. She believes writing is too hard, and she does not know what to say during her writing tasks. Ms. Y stated that A. is a lovely student but, she needs constant motivation. She sits quietly most of the time and will not volunteer information unless she is prompted. Once she shares within a group several times her confidence builds up. She works best when working with one partner. She is working on building her confidence and has noticed that she has voluntarily participated recently. She also stated that A. may be struggling more than her ELL peers because she struggled academically in her native language. Ms. Y will continue to work with A. because she knows that she really wants to learn; she just needs that extra attention.

The third student was AF, a 9yr old girl who was born and raised in Panama. She entered the United States in the fall of 2018. She told me that the school she attended in Panama provides English as a foreign language at a very young age and that she was able to communicate with her classmates here in the U.S. She explained that her mother doesn’t speak English but, there are many members of her family here in the United States that speak English fluently. She and her mother are living with an aunt and several cousins that are English speakers and are also helping her along the way. They help her with homework and encourage her to speak English when possible. She says that reading in English is really easy because it reminds her of Spanish words that she knows. She knows how to break apart words and sound them out and practices at how with books she gets from the library. She especially enjoys the books that have English to Spanish translations. She enjoys reading books and writing but, admits that writing in English can be difficult. She noticed that when she directly translates some of her thoughts from Spanish to English; she realizes that it doesn’t always sound right. She lies to work with teachers with her writing because she wants to be a better writer. She doesn’t mind learning math but, it is not her favorite subject. Ms. Y stated that AF is very quiet but highly motivated to learn. She says that AF pays close attention during instruction and that she is usually the student who leads the most during group work. She gives close attention to detail when working on a task. She is also very helpful and translates for other students as well. Although AF believes her writing does not always sound the way she intends, Ms. Y believes her writing skills are advanced for a language learner who has only been at our school for less than a year.

  1. Summary of Interview

The students in Ms. Ys 4th grade group stated that they look forward to working with her in a separate location. They said that she had fun activities for them, and that they did not feel embarrassed about making mistakes because it’s just them. When asked about the lesson on frogs and toads they all said they enjoyed it for several reasons. Some stated that they have similar books in their classroom library, other said that they enjoy learning about animals. Another student said that it reminded her of the main frog found in her country. When I asked about the vocabulary activity at the very beginning of the lesson, they thought the lesson was going to be hard because some words were hard to understand. They felt more comfortable when Ms. Y gave them the vocabulary handouts and had them work with someone to complete the activity. Some said that the activity they liked most was learning about prepositions and having to make sounds and movements whenever they noticed one in the text. They especially loved seeing the teacher making frog sounds when hearing prepositions. Other students enjoyed the activity at the end of the lesson where they had to draw, color and list facts. There was one student who said reading with partner to find out about the frogs and toads was most exciting because he enjoys reading about animals and working with a partner. They all stated that the hardest part was when they were given facts about frogs and toads during the WE DO activity. They saw the teacher model the lesson but were still nervous about placing them in the wrong part of the Venn diagram.

  1. Reflection

As I reflect on the lesson I observed there were several strategies that I would like to apply once I become an ESL instructor. There were also parts of the lesson I would have done differently. The students were engaged, had lots of talk time with lots of strategies that promote student learning. For example, the teacher implemented a TPR activity that was successful in teaching students to recognize and use prepositions. One thing Ms Y did not include was visual aids. I believe visual aids can be easily accessed online and projected onto whiteboards when learning vocabulary words. If do not have access to a whiteboard in the class I would create a power-point at home and print out copies for each of the students. When Ms. Y used the book Frog and Toad are Friends to teach prepositions, I was confused as to why she used fiction when her lesson involved informational text. I may have used the front cover to get students talking about what they knew about frogs and Toads, but in teaching prepositions, I would have chosen a nonfiction text. I thought the independent practice was rigorous for most students but, I would have asked that the higher performing group complete a writing activity that summarized the information of the Venn Diagram.

Overall, it was a great experience observing an expert ELL instructor use different approaches and strategies as part of her teaching practice. When Ms. Y allowed student s to converse with one another on a topic I was able to see the effectiveness of using language and communication as a way to teach language. I observed her actions and positive interactions which helped build student confidence. I believe my time with Ms. Y has clarified many questions I had about teacher practices in working with ELL students. The outcome of the lesson showed her ability to make content comprehensible and fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: drcowinj

As an Assistant Professor for TESOL and Bilingual Programs at Touro College, Graduate School of Education Dr. Cowin’s focus is on the Responsibility to Touro Students (Teaching), Responsibility to the Discipline (Scholarship), Responsibility to Touro College and Community (Service). Dr. Cowin strives to inspire students to be creative and to model the love of lifelong learning by inculcating the habits and attitudes that create agile mindsets. 21st-century learning extends well beyond the classroom, and Dr. Cowin incorporates takes full advantage of online learning technologies for L2 language acquisition and current global trends in teaching English as a Second Language She represents high levels of scholarship and participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publication, presentation and participation in academic conferences, articles in Education Update, blogging and other scholarly activities, including public performances or exhibitions at conferences and workshops such as the Plekhanov University of Economics keynote address in 2018. Of special interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education, Current Global Trends in Teaching English; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English – Methodology; E-learning & Micro-Methodology in Teaching English; and E-Resources Discovery and Analysis.

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