The things I asked David to comment about were my volume, the way I was explaining and phrasing things, pacing, and the management of particular students. As I was teaching I was conscious of forgetting a few things that I had included in my lesson plan but I think for the most part I reached my objective (students will distinguish which number is greater in a given pair, and they will compare two 4-digit numbers in a game.) I made my worksheets by hand because it's faster for me to do so than to search for worksheets on the internet and then adapt them. I wasn't sure how much time most students would need on the worksheet so drawing the worksheets gave them the option to colour while they were waiting for others to finish. This also gave me some time to circulate and check on everyone's progress, and also a chance to work briefly with a couple students who were struggling a little bit.
In our conversation before my lesson, David had asked me if I thought about how to call on or pick students to answer my questions and I thought I would try using the popsicle name stick method that my TA sometimes uses. After giving it a try I realized I much preferred just picking students and calling their name. I think at one point I asked a question and many students were eager to answer so I told them I would pick the quietest person. In David's comment, he agreed that I had more control when I directly called on individual students to answer my questions. Another reason I didn't really like the popsicle sticks was because there were a lot of students missing from class today and I kept pulling names of those who were absent. It just felt like I was taking too long to pick someone to answer. Another thing David mentioned was to make sure I don't respond when students call out their answers because it's like they are being rewarded for doing something I don't want them to do. That is something I have to work on for sure because I have a hard time cutting people off and usually try to listen to everything they have to say.
I didn't realize how much I tend to ask questions and sequences of questions to elicit answers from students until David pointed it out to me. "Four times you used a sequence of questions directed at one student to clarify a key point. It was very effective." It's good to know there are some areas of strength! There is still always room to improve though. As I was teaching there were a few times I asked a question and was met with a blank stare. I think that's why I tried to ask a few more questions to clarify it a little bit.
Another thing I tried for this lesson was writing the agenda on the whiteboard. I included approximate times but I'm not sure how useful that was. Next time I'll try just having the agenda without the time frames (which I could just tell them verbally. For example, "You have 10 minutes to do the practice worksheet.")
Overall, I think the lesson went well although there are a few things I wasn't too satisfied with. They say we're our own worst critic so it's nice to have such positive feedback on this first observation/evaluation visit!
In other news, I've obtained a giant stack of different coloured paper to fold paper cranes! I'm also collecting candy wrappers which are roughly square shaped. I just made one with a Werther's Original Creamy Caramel Filled Hard Candy wrapper. In the novel, Sadako also makes cranes from candy wrappers her friends and family collected. I'm really excited to be teaching with this book although there are a few concerns. I cried while reading this book and I still have to think about the best way to present some of the topics that deal with pain, and loss. Tomorrow will be my introduction lesson to the book. I'm excited to see what their reaction is when I greet them in Japanese. There is so much planning to be done! I feel like I have the whole novel study mapped out in my head for the next 9-10 lessons, but I need to write everything down in lesson plan format and try to create art lessons that will tie in nicely with everything the class is doing. My end goal is to have a mini-exhibit with 1000 cranes hanging from the ceiling in the classroom, and a showcase of the art projects I will get them to do. So far, I know they all want to learn how to draw animals. The lesson after that will be Chinese/Japanese style paintings and they can practice their animals in that way as well. I also want to teach them a few Chinese/Japanese words/characters (such as peace, love, family, friends and so on) and do some calligraphy.
I'm hoping to figure out a basic timeline of the planned projects tonight so I can talk to them about my vision for the last day with the class on Dec.10th. I hope they will be as excited as I am! Making 1000 paper cranes seems a little bit crazy but I believe in the students and myself (and my ability to recruit some friends and roommates)!
Impossible? I'm possible!