How To Make A Field Observation Journal English Language Essay

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As you spend your time in your field experience assignment, you should have specific goals as you observe. Each time that you do a FOCUSED OBSERVATION, select a topic from the list attached and use that as your journal assignment. You may want to select a primary and secondary choice so that you may have a "fall back" position of sorts depending on what occurs in the classroom. If you are observing a class which runs longer than the typical 45-50 minutes, you may complete two observations but be sure that you have two different topics. If you need to refer to a particular teacher or student, please use initials in order to maintain the privacy of the individuals.

You should have a different topic each time you observe and you should have a MINIMUM of 2 different tasks in each group (THEORY / PLANNING AND TEACHING / CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT / READING). The remaining two observations may be from any group.

Please remember that you are a guest in the classroom (or other environment) and that you are there to observe a particular behavior and to describe what you saw, not necessarily to evaluate what you saw or the people observed.

For each journal entry, please include the following:

1. your name

2. date and time of observation

3. place of observation

4. type of class / number of students

5. question selected

a. answer(s) / analysis

b. commentary based on conversation with teacher

c. reflective statement indicating how what you observed might influence you as a teacher in your own classroom

 

Please put your journal entries in a folder.

SAMPLE ENTRY

Jane Doe

October 30, 2000 / 7th period - 2:10-3:00 pm

Wicomico High School

Level I Spanish - 27 students

PT1 - As you observe, can you identify the various parts of the lesson plan as we discussed it in class i.e. indication of objectives, anticipatory set, introduction of new materials and / or practice, summary, homework?

Answer: The overview which the teacher did in English at the beginning of class kind of described what the students would be doing today regarding objectives (but they weren't written anywhere). The anticipatory set was a review of colors which was later recycled after the new vocabulary had been presented. The new material was vocabulary associated with clothing and practice involved learning the new items via pictures and then practicing with what classmates were wearing and then some exercises in the book were done. Colors were used to describe particular pieces of clothing as well as other adjectives (new / old / cool). As a summary, students were asked to write on a piece of paper a description of what they were wearing today and turn it in as they were leaving. Homework was written on the board.

Conversation with the teacher: I asked Ms. P. where she had gotten all the pictures. She said that she had collected them over the years and was constantly updating her file. She said that she liked to do a lot of practice WITHOUT using the book until students had a decent idea of what the new vocabulary was. She thought that the lesson had gone well.

Reflection: I was impressed at how much L2 was used, even in a Level I class - I guess it is possible! I would like to be able to have a variety of activities like I saw and be able to move from one activity to another so easily. I liked how all the students were actively involved throughout the whole class. They seemed interested in everything that was happening. I know that I must start collecting materials and ideas in a more organized manner to help me in my own classroom.

THEORY

 

TH1 As you observe a class, what elements of particular language learning theories can you identify? Discuss these with the teacher after class and write a brief résumé of your conversation as well.

 

TH2 Krashen stated that a low affective filter would encourage and /or increase second language acquisition. What features of a learner-friendly classroom did you observe? What other steps could you take to make this classroom more learner-friendly?

 

TH3 What examples of comprehensible input did you observe? Did you observe any examples of "intake"? What examples of i + 1 did you observe? Were these strategies effective? Why or why not?

 

TH4 What kind of error correction techniques did you observe? Were they theoretically sound? Were they effective in practice? Why or why not?

 

TH5 During the class you observed, how did the teacher manage individual differences? Consider differences caused by gender, race, ethnic background, age (at the high school level), ability and physical challenges.

 

PLANNING AND TEACHING

 

PT1 As you observe, can you identify the various parts of the lesson plan as we discussed it in class i.e. indication of objectives, anticipatory set, introduction of new material and / or practice, summary, homework?

 

PT2 What bottom-up and / or top-down approaches did you observe? Were they effective? Why or why not?

 

PT3 What kinds of authentic materials were used in the class you observed? Were they effective? Why or why not?

 

PT4 Pair and group activities give learners opportunities for meaningful interaction. What kind(s) did you observe? Were they effective? Why or why not?

 

PT5 Using your handout about Characteristics of Effective Second / Foreign Language Teachers, list which characteristics were present in the class you observed. Was your overall impression that the class was effective? Why or why not?

 

PT6 For this journal task, be sure that you sit near a student during your observation. Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half vertically. In the left hand column, write down everything the TEACHER does; do the same for the STUDENT in the right hand column. At the end of this observation, consider the class from the TEACHER"S point of view vis-à-vis what the student did and the STUDENT's point of view vis-à-vis what the teacher did.

 

PT7 What kinds of materials were used to complement the lesson? How did the materials provide opportunities for students to learn and / or practice the target language? Were all materials effective with all students? Were any of the materials authentic? Did they make a difference? How?

 

PT8 How was technology used to enhance the learning and / or acquisition of L2?

 

PT9 Select one or two of the national standards which we discussed in class. What evidence did you find in your observation that the teacher had integrated standards into the lesson? What evidence did you see that indicated that students could meet this / these standard(s)?

 

PT10 Select ONE of the 4 skills (listening, speaking , reading, writing) and discuss how it was developed during the class you observed.

 

PT11 How was culture taught in the class you observed? What it culture or Culture? Were comparisons and contrasts made with L1 culture(s)? Was the lesson effective? Why or why not?

 

PT12 During how much of the class was L2 used? How many minutes did the TEACHER use L2? How many minutes did the STUDENTS use L2? What kinds of interactions were used i.e. greetings, directions, instruction, practice, communication?

 

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

 CM1 We said that the teacher plays many roles in a classroom. What roles did the teacher play in the class you observed? Did s/he seem comfortable in those roles? Why or why not? Were there additional roles that the teacher could / should have played? What was the relationship of those roles played to effective classroom management?

 

CM2 How was the room arranged in the class you observed? Consider the seating arrangement, the location of materials, the use of bulletin boards and / or learning centers, the use of open space. How did it contribute to effective classroom management?

 

CM3 What special classroom management techniques did you observe? Explain the circumstances in which each were used. Were the techniques used effectively? Why or why not?

 

CM4 Classes are becoming more and more diverse. Students come from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Were classroom management decisions influenced by the teacher's knowledge of the diverse backgrounds of students? Did age or gender influence decisions?

 

CM5 What kinds of routines did you observe that would be conducive to effective classroom management? Consider how class began and ended, how attendance was taken, how homework was checked, how materials were distributed and collected, how permission was given to move around the room.

 

CM6 Describe the kinds of transitions you observed and describe how they contributed to effective classroom management. Consider transitions from opening routines to the start of the lesson, moving from one part of the lesson to another, from an active to a more quiet learning experience, from large to small group instruction.

 

CM7 If, during an observation, you find a disruptive child, observe the teacher's behavior (verbal and non-verbal), the student's response and the response of the rest of the class. Were there other alternatives that could have been explored?

 

READING

 

RD1 During the class you observed, can you identify the elements of the

PAR framework as we discussed it in class i.e. preparation,

assistance, reflection?

 

RD2 In each chapter, we discussed a variety of activities that could be

used in any of the PAR steps. Which one(s) did you observe?

 

RD3 What examples of visual or technological literacy did you observe?

 

RD4 "Assumptive teaching" describes what teachers do when they

unconsciously take for granted that students know how to read and to

learn and have the motivation to do so. Did you observe a class where

assumptive teaching occurred? Describe what you saw?

 

RD5 What examples did you observe that support was provided for diverse

readers in the foreign language classroom?

 

RD6 McDermott suggested that "reading is as much a social event or

transaction as an intellectual one." What examples of this theory did

you observe?

 

RD7 The authors suggest that "using multiple resources in the content

areas engages readers and enables effective learning." What examples

did you observe? How much was the basic textbook used?

 

RD8 Good questions can contribute to better reading comprehension. What

kinds of questions were asked in the class you observed? Was

students' comprehension checked at the literal, interpretive and / or

applied level? What was the purpose of the questions? Did students

have the opportunity to ask questions? If so, what kind did they

ask?

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