The teacher that I observed during this lesson utilized excellent questioning skills that were intentionally designed to facilitate student engagement. The questions provided the teacher with a running assessment that could be utilized to plan the next level of instruction. It is for these reasons that I have listed this observation under the HOPE standard P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction.
Opener and Closer. I observed in a Math resource room that consisted of 11 students. For the first 5-10 minutes, students worked independently on worksheets related to their unique IEP goals. If students finished a worksheet, they would take it to the teacher for assessment. This allowed the teacher to work with each student independently in attaining their IEP goals, and simultaneously assess their progress. I thought this was a great way to get the students to immediately engage in the content. After this, the lesson started. The lesson goal was in a visible location in student friendly language. This particular lesson involved using word clues to assist in solving story problems that involved fractions. For the closer, students were asked to complete a problem from the worksheet independently as an exit ticket.
Questioning. Questioning was used effectively throughout the lesson. Problems were asked to be read individually and then repeated orally by two different students. Questioning focused on the students thought process and techniques students used to solve problems. One student that arrived at the right solution, was asked to share the steps that they used in solving the problem, on the overhead, so the whole class could see. Probing questions were asked as to why certain steps were taken. When students struggled, the questions focused on trying to assist students in accessing previous knowledge. When the teacher modeled solving problems, questions were asked of the students as to what the next step should be, or why an action was performed. Girls and boys were called on equally and there was a clear expectation for hands to be raised. Questioning was done frequently to ensure students comprehension and assist the teacher in formative assessment.
Classroom Management. I was impressed with this teacher’s classroom management. The expectations were clearly known; start work right away, raise hands to contribute, have planners and materials, 0-5 possible voice levels. One consequence was that students were marked tardy for not getting to work at the bell. Teacher’s choice was also a consequence. Teacher’s choice meant that the students would have to stay an additional 7 minutes after the bell rang. The evidence provided, is the sheet that the students’ would complete to ensure they processed why their particular behavior created a problem.
Marzano (2007) says that “consequences should be both positive and negative.” (p.131). Teachers choice creates this duality. The students owed the teacher a certain amount of extra time, the negative, and spent this time filling out a worksheet that enables them to process their mistakes and learn from them, the positive.
Proximity, was used on several occasions to quiet students and get students attention. The teacher’s voice tone was firm and would rise but still remain calm to keep control. A timer was also used in the class with the time for each activity clearly stated such as, getting 1 minute to read the problem and 3 minutes to solve the problem. I thought this was beneficial for both students and the teacher in controlling the pace of the lesson.
Instructional strategies. There was purposeful repetition in reading the story problems built into the lesson. The students were given time to read the problem silently, and then two people were called on to read the problem out loud. The thinking behind this was that you can’t solve a problem if you can’t read it. Reading didn’t come easy for most of these students so this seemed appropriate. Questioning was used extensively to ensure engagement and activate students thought process. One of the questions would ask students to identify key words in the story problem which tied into the learning goal. The students were working on worksheets. It would be interesting to have students create their own fractional story problems to increase engagement. However, this might be too time consuming. I thought the use of the timer was great and teacher’s choice was an excellent consequence that required students to process and internalize consequences of their behavior.
Use of technology. The emphasis on this lesson was solving story problems from a worksheet. The standard technological features of the classroom were used in this lesson.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.