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6th of December 2010 – in the recent classroom observation on the ZC11, a block section for first year Information Technology students taking up Study and Thinking Skills class of Dr. Florece. Evelyn E. Florece, PhD is a faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences under the Literature and Language Studies Department.
She was the former IELTS Director of Ateneo and has been teaching English and Language since the high school department paved it way to its new home at Pacol, Naga City. Dr.
Florece’s afternoon class was composed of 33 Information Technology (IT) majors from the College of Computer studies, most of them were on their first year at Ateneo de Naga University. The observation starts at exactly 1:15 in the afternoon, covering the student’s behavior before class.
ZC11 was dismissed earlier by their Theology class teacher. Since they were a blocked section, they waited for their next class in the same room. Student’s behavior were the typical like waiting for the teacher outside the classroom, some were chatting with their friends, some were doing their assignments and some were just doing nothing.
Minutes passed and the same student behavior was observed. I overheard some students saying, “sana mayo si ma’am, yaon daw si ma’am? ” but another student uttered, “iyo, yaon si ma’am nahiling ko subago” a typical conversation for a student who is waiting for his teacher.
But to my analysis, is there something with a teacher that made students say and think as such. I waited for the teacher to arrive and continue observing the student’s behavior. Dr. Florece arrived at exactly 1:25 in the afternoon, five minutes before the bell rings.
She enters with confidence and greeted the class with a good afternoon. She placed the white board at the middle of the board and calls for the prayer leader assigned during that day. In every class that she handles, she always assigns a prayer leader who will in turn be the one in-charge of erasing the writings of the board after each class. She is systematic when it comes to prayers, checking of attendance, and in sitting arrangements. She starts the classroom discussion with a reminder about the upcoming preliminary examination before the Christmas break. Dr.
Florece consumes almost the first thirty minutes of the academic hour discussing reminders and the likes. The classroom is situated in a not so conducive place; I had observed that the room is first, near the water motor pump of the Phelan Building; second, the room is near with the comfort rooms and third, when other students were passing by, the tendency is for them to be disturbed by their noise and loud chatting. These make my impression that the room itself is not a conducive place for learning. Students’ behavior seems to change as soon as the classroom discussion starts.
They attentively listen to the final instructions for the preliminary examinations, the types of test to be expected and as the teacher gave the feedback of the past lessons activity. The teacher talks loud enough to be heard by the last person at the back, she shows concern with the students’ classroom performance and their positive outlook towards learning. In the classroom discussion it was more of a teacher dominated, Dr. Florece dominates the classroom discussion by laying down the topics from general-specific.
Before she starts with the new topic, she gave first the feedback of the previous classroom discussion and activity about skimming and scanning. Students were asked if they can remember what does skimming and scanning means thus connecting it to the previous activity done in class. Dr Florece is more of into using cognitive and constructivist approach depending on the composition of the students. Cognitive approach was used in her Basic English classes and constructivist on her major subjects like Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).
Cognitivist approach is concerned with how sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered and used (Glenn Snelbecker). In the classroom discussion, she uses a deductive-inductive method of teaching; she gave in first the topic then defines. She is more likely to use the word “I” in her discussion. Seen in her art of questioning, she uttered some questions that are of deductive method e. g. could YOU give ME. Also in her discussion, she sees to it that student’s still participates with shared knowledge. She ask questions and questions for the students to be motivated.
Students answers questions based on how they perceive the present topic thus relating and giving examples based on students experiences and understanding. Past lessons help the students more think and give examples in class. On the part of the students, though some of the time they answers in chorus but Dr. Florece sees to it that they must raise their hand and stand up before and when answering specific questions. Follow up questions made students motivated to think and participate in the classroom discussion. Though most of the time, it is the teacher who talks and talks.
In my classroom observation with the behavior of the students and the teacher, somehow there are loops holes been identified and observed. Before proceeding, Dr. Florece’s method of teaching more likely use the deep approach, she sees to it that the intention of learning is present and the students understand for themselves what they are learning. Questions allows them to related ideas from the previous knowledge and experiences, it allows them to look for patterns and underlying principles and becomes actively interested in the course content.
Though it could be possible for the classroom discussion to be dualistic in manner where students regard knowledge and learning as something external and objective, in the classroom discussion, since this is teaching English, she is more onto the usage and use of the rules of the English language where if a certain student answers and see overheard a wrong grammar she utters the correct form or the student to repeat such. Correction is one of the best ways to learn properly the usage of the language.
Present also in the classroom discussion is the andradogy where students sees themselves as responsible for their own learning and understanding with the guide of the teacher. In the class of Dr. Florece, students seem to be knowledgeable enough with the classroom discussion. What they needs best is the guidance of the teacher as an adult, as an epitome of learning. Going back to the identified loopholes, I had observed that in a classroom not all students participate, not all students were called and not all student stands out.
In my observation in the class of Dr. Florece, she only calls students who are always reciting, same students who stands out in class. There are students that have not been called though the way she address the question is for all the students. Another would be that there are some students who do not pay attention to class, some were busy chatting with their seat mates, some were texting, and one student goes out of the classroom and never came back.
Dr. Florece never notices the student who came out and the behavior of the students at the back of the classroom. At the end of the discussion, Dr. Florece gave an activity for the students to participate. Since the topic is more on paraphrasing, she divided the class into two and gave them a reading material. The activity is actually a continuation of the previous lesson and the present topic, skimming, scanning and paraphrasing.
First activity is a group work, where all students are given the chance to partake to allow their group win, students look for certain words being described and defines by the teacher – skimming and scanning were used in this first activity. It is more on the performance based assessment of the students learning and the second part of the activity is more on a formal writing activity where student paraphrase the last paragraph in the reading material.
The classroom discussion ends up with this activity, a performance and forma writing activity to test the acquired knowledge of the students for those particular topics. Synthesis will be given next meeting before the preliminary examination of the class. The teacher gave another reminder to bring the reading material next meeting for further classroom discussion and review in preparation for the preliminary examination of the class prior to Christmas vacation. The observation ends at 2:45pm