Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happiness (reflection)

I took two days to cover a few pages on strategies for being happy with my sixth grade classes yesterday and today. Since these classes have not yet been divided into their ability levels, I adopted a conversational-focus and use some of the concepts we've been reading about for class.  There were a total of 10 ideas about how to be happy, explained in in a sentence or two in their books.  Each one also included two examples of how to put the idea into practice.  

I wanted the students to first read and understand their given ideas and examples and then react to them.  I outlined the steps of this process on the board and we did the first topic as a group to get them warmed up.  I made sure to disagree with one of the examples so that they could get comfortable with the idea of the book not always being right.

So while the first topic included a lot of teacher talking time, the rest of the class showcased the students and their ideas.  There was some advanced vocabulary which I wouldn't have personally chosen for a mixed-level group and which required some explanation, but the kids got pretty involved in giving me their opinions about the readings' ideas.  I use a team and point system to add incentive to classroom contributions, the points being pretty pretty plastic jewels, and was sure to encourage student reactions to their peers' opinions.  

It went well, but we didn't completely finish the lesson and move on to the reading comprehension questions.. but I felt that this wasn't such a loss, considering the mixed-level makeup of the class.

To improve upon this method, I think it would have been beneficial for me to have picked out the more difficult vocabulary words and defined them in the beginning of class.  I felt that, since I have been careful to make each group a mixture of high and low level students, that the high level students would be able to help the low level students learn these words.. but there were 4 or 5 words which even the high level students didn't know or generally misinterpreted.

Still, I got long and thoughtful answers out of each student in each class, some more than others, and think that things went pretty well.


  1. Hey mate. Mixed level classes are always a challenge but I think you handled it quite well. mixing the high and low level students together is a good idea for group work. It gives each group a kind of teacher's assistant.

  2. Yeah -- sound like you handled it well. We'll address teaching vocabulary later in the semester but just so you know, 'defining' vocabulary is not one of the favored approaches to teaching vocab in this profession, and with pretty good reason. Have a look ahead at Harmer if you can't wait.

    1. If I have to go over vocab before doing a lesson, I try to get them to offer any thoughts they might have about a word, and then use it in an example sentence or two and write its meaning on the board. If time permits, I'll ask them to use it in a sentence too. ill check out Harmer tmrw if I can to see if that's no good.