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Monday, November 23, 2009

Lisa D., Foreign Language Teacher at Mt. Blue, November 19, 2009

   On Thursday, I visited Lisa's classroom.  Beth W., her coach from 591, accompanied me.  I always love to watch Lisa teach.  Although I do not always get the details of the content (this lesson was in Spanish) I can still appreciate her teaching strategies and her enthusiasm. 
   Lisa focuses on meaning in all aspects of her lesson.  She immerses students in Spanish - even the directions are given in Spanish - and often provides context, using hand gestures, etc. to help students understand.  This is a universal way to communicate (I even picked up a few words of Chinese when haggling in markets this way:) ) and students respond very well.  She creates sentences to use context clues, presents vocabulary in meaningful chunks, and within the context of a story. 
   This is not memorization.  Students use these learned phrases within the oral, written, and read contexts - varying the use slightly every time.
   Comprehension in this class was checked two ways.  1.) Lisa read a story students had studied and asked them to identify the words they were having trouble with (and think why).  Next she asked  them to hold up fingers (1-5) indicating their understanding.  This is a high level of meta-cognition .  As students described their thinking, it was obvious they were comfortable with their meta-cognitive process.  Lisa spent time clarifying confusions and then...2.) Students were asked to answer questions (given orally) by writing their answers.  Interestingly enough, the students answered slightly higher than their indicated comprehension.  Bravo!

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