Observation at Curtis Middle School

by sbshupe
Last updated 5 years ago

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Language Arts
English Language Learners ELL, ESL EFL

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Observation at Curtis Middle School

Making learning relevant & funThe teachers did a good job of relating the material to the students' backgrounds and making it fun. In a lesson about famous landmarks, Mrs. Cotton asked each of the students to come up with a famous landmark from their home country and as a class they googled pictures of these places. In her lesson about emotions, Mrs. Mow used pictures of SpongeBob Squarepants and clips from Inside Out.Classroom ManagementMrs. Brownlee, the science teacher, had the hardest time getting the kids to pay attention. One thing the other teachers did was use a familiar word or phrase to get them to react. Mrs. Mow would say "Hey-hey class," and the kids all said back, "Hey-hey yes." Mrs. Cotton did something similar but with a fill-in-the-blank phrase. She would say something like "Spaghetti and" and they would say back "Meatballs."DanielI had the opportunity to work with a kid from the Congo named Daniel. When everyone was supposed to be copying what Mrs. Cotton wrote on the smart board, he was lagging far behind the rest of the class. He would borrow/steal his partner's notebook in order to copy her notes. I finally sat down next to him and let him copy from my notebook.He ended up needing my help the rest of the day. I'm not sure he would have learned much that day if he didn't have someone there to give him their undivided attention.I found out from one of the teacher's aids that Daniel was illiterate in his first language, Swahili. The Newcomers class doesn't teach the kids how to read, and the concern is that he will continue to be left behind throughout middle and high school. He requires a lot more help than a teacher can reasonably be expected to give him in a class of 25.

From Dr. G, I've learned how where you put the seats can affect the learning environment. Mrs. Mow had a more traditional seating arrangement with rows facing the teacher's desk. One good thing about this is she had paired the students with two desks against each other side by side. She used this pairing quite often, like when she said, "Tell your partner the three things we are learning today." I'd like to use this in my class (but maybe avoid the rows that keep students in the back so far away).Mrs. Cotton had a less conventional set-up, with the students arranged in groups of four. This helped especially during group activities, but she had her desk way in the corner and stayed there a lot of the time. This encouraged a lot of distraction and talking among the groups.

Seating arrangement


Like I did with my elementary school observation, I wanted to work with ESL learners during my 10 hours at a middle school. From Traci Langston, one of the teachers I worked with at Jefferson Elementary, I found out about the Newcomers program at Curtis Middle School.There are about 25 kids in the Newcomers program at Curtis, covering 6th, 7th and 8th grade. Their countries of origin include Vietnam, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Congo, Cuba, Mexico and Honduras. All of them are in the early stages of 2nd language acquisition.


Curtis Middle School


Go Falcons!

Classroom design

I worked in two different classrooms with three different teachers. Each of them had made an effort to design her class specifically for ESL learners. There were lots of books and boardgames (like Pictionary Junior). ELLs often learn best by matching words to pictures, and the teachers had built upon this strength. Mrs. Mow had put up illustrated posters covering different competencies, like Telling Time, Shapes, Body Parts and How Do You Feel?Mrs. Cotton had labeled many of the items in her room. For instance, the walls and corners were identified as north, northeast, etc.

Glog by: Stephen Shupe


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