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I formatively assessed my
students’ learning in groups. Formative assessment through group
work enhances the quality of learning for my students through collaboration
with peers. It also helped my students to develop generic skills such as
teamwork, communication and managing skills. Group work enhanced the motivation
of students to contribute their efforts for the writing (see image 6) (Gillies,
2003). One student from each group read
out their essay; this provided me with formative feedback and was also helpful
for the other students.

 Through
reflection and discussion with my mentor, I felt that arranging group projects
was time consuming. I focused mostly on providing support to the weaker
students. This resulted in some of the more able students getting distracted. Students started off with the assigned task
but were involved in irrelevant chatter when they felt they were not being
monitored. This meant only a few of the students were effectively engaged.

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Throughout the
lesson, I continued to use open ended questioning (Denton, 2013) as my main
method of formative assessment. Students provided appropriate answers to the
topic, demonstrating self-expression and creativity. Open ended questioning
session helped me create a better environment in the class as they improve
classroom interactions with the learner.

My strengths, as highlighted by my mentor are; effective start to the lesson. It focuses my students’ attention
on the lesson and its purposes. It also convinces students that they will
benefit from the lesson. Laying out
objectives is another strength. It
is my contention that learning objectives are important for two reasons. Firstly,
they ensure that teachers and students are clear about the purpose of the
lesson. Secondly, they provide a very useful signpost against which progress
can be checked. 

Positive relationship between students
and teacher as academic
achievement and student behavior are influenced by the quality of the teacher
and student relationship (Jones, 1981). Clarity of instructions, since students tended to feel more satisfied with their
learning experience (Hines, 1981). Lastly, effective use of praise to
motivate students is all key aspects of an effective lesson (McKeachie and
Svinicki, 2010).

My teaching practice has changed; I spend more time getting to know my students and eliciting their
prior knowledge and opinions on the respective topic. My interactions with
students in the classroom changed from ‘what’ questions to ‘why or how’
questions (Bradburn, 1983); I encouraged more interactions between students
(Johnson, 1987). Lastly, I have changed my assessment from a traditional 200 to
250-character essay format to a more negotiated format where students
contributed to or discussed the task openly, including criteria and resources
available. The tasks set were more personal and reflective; the assessment
criteria were expanded to provide clearer evidence of what was expected.
Students were encouraged to use a wider range of resources.

As a result of these changes I noticed two changes; firstly, improved
student attitudes towards this subject, considering ideas in a broader context
and from different angles. Classroom discussion has become less content-focused
and more concept-focused (Myers and DeWall, 2011),
with more emphasis on learners’ own ideas, and experiences, rather than knowing
about the factual content. I discovered that my students were eager to express
and share their personal views. My students felt that their opinions were
valued and this has improved our relationship and made our learning environment
a safe and relaxed one (see image 8).

In the post observation discussion, my mentor and I agreed that I
still need to work on my time management. I will try to keep things organised, it will help me stay on task. I will be allowing more time for a plenary to consolidate
learning, in future.

Module 1 has been very fruitful for me. I have learned much about
myself, my students, and how engaging teaching and learning can be by taking
different approaches. My lessons have become more relevant and meaningful for
my students. However, it takes up a lot of time and energy to plan my lessons,
keep a reflection journal, gather data and analyse it. I think my old teaching
practice was also of a reasonable standard; however, it was not holistic. I
realise now that I have to reconsider many aspects of my teaching; for example,
the lesson plan, time management, the questions to ask in class, and the tasks
I set for students. I intend to generate a checklist for each area of my work
to make sure my teaching is consistently improving. Lastly, my mentor has
encouraged me to take risks-encouraged me to
practice new classroom activities, and do things differently by implementing
creative solutions to students’ problems (Podsen and Denmark, 2000).

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