Free Expanding The Lessons Essay Example
Imagining Inquiry: Extending Lessons
Description of Lesson Observed
The subject of observation was a literacy lesson taught to 2nd graders. The lesson, which is part of a unit that consists of five lessons, is a reading of Roald Dahl’s Matilda followed by an assessment of the students’ comprehension of the story. The objective of the lesson was to assess the learners’ reading comprehension of the said book through a classroom discussion guided by questioning or inquiry. To achieve this objective, the read aloud and role playing or dramatization method were applied to see how well the children understood the story.
The teacher started the lesson by greeting the students. After greeting the students, the teacher started conversation by asking the students about the date and weather and writing the data and the subject on the board. The teacher was admirable because her greeting, voice, and body language showed enthusiasm. After the teacher greeted the students, the children greeted the teacher with enthusiasm as well. After the greeting, the teacher sat down in the middle of the class and told them that they were going to read a new book that day – Roald Dahl’s Matilda. The teacher asked several questions to cue and prepare the students for the reading. The teacher asked, “Do you want to read that story?” and “Are you excited?” The way that the teacher spoke and moved elicited enthusiasm and excitement from the students. The children answered collectively and answered in affirmative to the questions.
The teacher then proceeded for the read-aloud portion of the lesson. The teacher asked the students to sit on the floor around her as she sat on a chair and read the book. A read-aloud refers to a teaching strategy wherein the teacher reads a text or story aloud for the students (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007). Reading aloud is an important aspect of teaching not only literacy but other content as well. This strategy allows the teacher to direct learning and to facilitate engagement with the students (Harvey & Goudvis). The teacher began by reading the title of the book and the author. The teacher also told the children to look and observe the cover of the book. The teacher asked the students if they could guess what the story was about based on the cover. The teacher called on three students to make guesses. One of the students said, “The book is about a girl named Matilda” while another student said, “It’s about Matilda’s adventures!” After reading the title of the book and the author, the teacher asked the students to repeat the title and identify the author. The teacher repeated this pattern throughout the read aloud. It appears that the teacher has divided the story into sections and before reading the next section, the teacher asks the students questions during the read aloud.
The strategy employed by the teacher in the read aloud is called ‘interactive reading aloud’ (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007). ‘Reading aloud’ as a strategy is only concerned with reading the story to the students. Nonetheless, ‘interactive reading aloud’ allows the teacher to also check the students’ comprehension during the reading. Interactive reading aloud enables the teacher to assess the listening and comprehension skills of the students. The teacher may ask questions about the story or engage the students in a conversation about the narrative or the events happening in the story (Harvey & Goudvis). In the classroom, the teacher reads the story and before moving on to the next section, asks the students to recall or respond to the previous events, or guess what would happen next. The teachers’ questions were “What did she do when she found out that she could move things?”, “What do you think would happen next?”, and “Are you enjoying the story so far?” During the read aloud and the questioning, the majority of the students were raising their hands to answer the questions.
After the read aloud, the teacher then asked the learners to work in pairs for the Partner Reading activity. In Partner Reading, each pair work together on the same spot by sharing a copy of Matilda. The teacher then instructed the pairs what to do. Students in each pair would have to take turns reading and listening. The goal of the students were to listen and identify rhyming words. Each pair would have to write the rhyming words they identified on a piece of paper. Each pair presented their work in front of the class. During the presentation, the teacher facilitated the discussion by asking if the other pairs also identified the same rhyming words as the pair presenting their work.
After the Partner Reading activity, the teacher asked the learners to think of a superpower they want to have and to draw themselves as superheroes using their own powers. Again, after the activity, the teacher asked some of the students to show their work in class and describe them. During the presentation of their work, the teacher asked questions about the story and the students’ work. The teacher called on other students to react to another student’s drawing or to ask questions about it. In this way, the students were able to talk and discuss among themselves.
The materials used in the lesson include paper, pencils, art paper, and crayons. Based on the observation of the class, the teacher’s questions effectively engaged the students. The students paid attention to the teacher because she asked questions not only about the story but also about the students’ responses and feelings or emotions about the story. In the Partner Reading activity, the teacher also asked the students about their experiences in working together during the activity.
The children’s experiences, decisions, and conversations were part of the lesson. After the Partner Reading activity, for instance, the teacher also asked some of the learners who shared their work if they enjoyed working in pairs. Furthermore, the teacher also asked the learners if it was difficult working together. The learners shared what made Partner Reading enjoyable or difficult for them. Aside from this, the teacher also showed that the learners’ conversations are part of the lesson because after asking one learner a question, she would then ask another student to respond to the former student’s responses. In this way, the teacher was able to include the children’s experiences, decisions, and conversations in the lesson.
Inquiry based learning is an instructional approach that focuses on the development of the learners’ higher order thinking skills. This approach focuses on asking questions instead of simply teaching a topic or concepts towards the goal of developing critical thinking and problem solving skills among the learners (Swanson, Ahmad & Radisevic, 2014).
During the discussion, the teacher asked the students many questions about the story. The inquiry, however, may be expanded by allowing the students to experience situations from the story on their own through role playing and dramatization. The dramatization or role playing activity would allow the students to explore Matilda’s story from their own point of view by assuming their own superhero characters. During the dramatization or role playing, they would answer how they would approach or react to situations that happened in the Matilda’s story as their own superhero characters. Hence, instead of merely asking questions directed at the students, the activity allows the other learners to make up questions about the story by themselves and the other students will respond based on how they understand the characters and the story. In a way, the activity not only reflects the students’ skills in critical thinking but also their understanding of the characters and the story.
During the role playing and dramatization, the students will introduce themselves to the class as their chosen superhero. The students will describe their superpowers and tell the class how they would solve Matilda’s problems as their own characters. The other students will ask them about their characters and situation, prompting them to critically think based on their characters’ views and perspectives. Furthermore, I will also add more and better questions during the discussions to facilitate inquiry based learning. Examples of questions I will ask the students include “How would you move if you had that kind of superpower?” “Who is your favorite superhero?” “What is his/her superpower?” “What makes him/her a good superhero?” “If you were Matilda, how would you use your superpower?”
During the lesson, the teacher did not cover some question that could have activated the learners’ critical thinking and problem solving skills on a deeper level. I believe it is important to integrate other questions during the activity to facilitate critical thinking and problem solving skills. Some of the questions I would ask the students will explore their feelings about the characters and situation in the story, as well as their opinion and views about the actions, behavior, and decisions of the characters. In this way, they will be able to analyze situations and in the process, apply their critical thinking skills to present their views, opinion, and perspectives. I will ask questions such as “How do you feel about Matilda’s decision?”, “Do you like what happened?”, “What would you do if you were in Matilda’s situation?”, or “What would you tell Matilda if she asked advice from you?”
After the drawing activity, I will then initiate role playing. Each student will take turns assuming their chosen superheroes. The other students will then formulate questions, which is a skill in critical thinking in itself, particularly about problems or conflicts in the novel faced by the students. The student assuming a superhero character will then answer or address the questions from the view or perspective of the character. The student may also integrate his or her own opinion during the discussion.
Relevance of Ideas for Expanding the Lesson to the Course Readings
John Dewey’s theory of learning established the foundations of inquiry based learning. According to Dewey, learning is a process that must involve action, experience, and critical thinking on the part of the leaner. Dewey (1915) said, “education is not an affair of telling and being told but an active and constructive process” (p. 158). Furthermore, Dewey argued that the acquisition of knowledge necessitates inquiry. Understanding theories and concepts result from the learner’s willingness to find out by thinking critically. Dewey is known for the idea of ‘learning by doing’ (Spronken-Smith, 2013).
The proposed activities reflect Dewey’s theory because the intended questions drive the students to solve problems by assuming the characters in the novel. Hence, by placing themselves on the position of other characters, the students are able to take on new perspectives by themselves and experience the characters’ experiences through their imagination. In doing so, they are able think critically and solve problems from varying perspectives. This experience or exercises opens the students’ minds to different situations, thus, expanding their worldview.
The concept of expanding the learners’ worldview by allowing them to take on new perspectives and experiences relate to Paulo Freire’s theory of learning about cultural circles. Freire argued that “through dialogue, individuals could reframe education as a problem-posing process, problematizing issues as opposed to seeking clear-cut solutions” (Souto-Manning, 2010, p. 8). According to Freire, dialogue allows students to solve problems and problematize issues, and in the process, explore different attitude and behaviors. Consequently, the students become acquainted or accustomed to culture circles that expand their worldview as well as their skills and capabilities to solve problems (Souto-Manning).
Furthermore, the proposed activities also follow the concepts introduced by Schroeder about inquiry-based learning. According to Schroeder, inquiry based learning allows the students to acquire different social perspectives through exploration and even experimentation (Sapsed & Leggeter, 2011). Ladson-Billings’ view or perspective about learning also supports Schroeder’s concept of social development or inquiry. According to Ladson-Billings, learning must be dynamic such that the classroom environment provides opportunities for the students to socialize (McCarty, et al. 2004). Furthermore, learning must be sociocultural such that the learners are able to relate concepts learned to real life situations. The role playing activity is a means for the students to develop wider social perspectives because they assume characters aside from themselves. In the process, they are able to negotiate their own views and perspectives from that of others even if they are by fictional characters. The point is that the learners gain a wider perspective by considering issues and perspectives from that of other characters or individuals aside from their own. In the process, they learn to understand the views of others while also understanding their own views about issues and situations as they occur in real life based on their experiences. Throughout the exercise, the learners are able to apply their critical thinking skills by analyzing issues from multiple perspectives – social, cultural and perhaps, even political.
Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2007). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension for understanding and engagement. Stenhouse Publishers.
McCarty, T. L., Watahomigie, L. J., Dien, T. T., Perez, B. & Torres-Guzman, M. E. (2004). Sociocultural contexts of language and literacy. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Sapsed, S. & Leggetter, S. (2011). Making research count via an online environment. In O’Doherty’s Fifth Education in a Changing Environment. New York, NY: Informing Science.
Souto-Manning, M. (2010). Freire, teaching, and learning: Culture circles across contexts. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Spronken-Smith, R., Bullard, J., Ray, W., Roberts, C. & Keiffer, A. (2013). Where might sand dunes be on Mars? Engaging students through inquiry-based learning in geography. In M. Healey, E. Pawson, and M. Solem’s Active Learning and student engagement. New York, NY: Routledge.
Swanson, C. C., Ahmad, A. & Radisevic, I. (2014). A first-year Social Sciences inquiry course: The interplay of inquiry and metacognition to enhance student learning. In P. Blessinger & J. M. Carfora’s Inquiry-based learning for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Oxford, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.
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