Teaching Social Studies- Observation of my CT
This week, my CT was wrapping up the unit on Ancient China and taught a lesson on the different early dynasties in China. My CT has very similar methods for teaching throughout the different units and mostly sticks with direct instruction, which is what he did for this day. The “objectives” are usually listed on the board under headings 1-3, with a section for homework at the bottom. He does not write out “students will be able to” or similar objective starters, but instead sort of writes what the students are doing during class. For the day’s lesson, he wrote “Ancient China PPT”, “Notes and Discussion”, and “Ancient China Review Sheet” with the homework of studying for their test.
Usually the students come in and sit down and my CT takes attendance off the bat. Within about 5 minutes, he starts the lesson and in this case opened up the powerpoint on the projector. The powerpoints usually have words and pictures and mostly include information he also places on the test. The students are told to write down main ideas, but not word for word. Powerpoints are also provided online on their Moodle site, so they can refer to the material later if needed. As I walked around, most students were taking some sort of notes, but many were doing just what he said not to and scrambling to write every word. There were other students who simply sat there and watched with no notebook in sight. While my CT conducts his powerpoints, he is mostly the only one talking, occasionally asking guiding questions or encouraging input. Depending on the class period, students felt more or less inclined to chime in with comments or questions.
Once the powerpoint was over, my CT turned on the lights and began his “discussion/notes” portion, where he drew on a chart the different characteristics of the 3 different dynasties he discussed in lecture. He went through one by one and wrote characteristics and then compared the three at the end. There was a little more student involvement for this activity and less direct, teacher-led instruction. Once again, some students were taking notes while others weren’t.
The students then proceeded to complete a review guide for their test and my teacher mostly told them to look in their books if they had any questions about where to find an answer.
Overall, I see that the lesson served its purpose in some ways because my CT really just needed to wrap up the unit and introduce a few new ideas, but I thought the transition from new material to review was a little too abrupt. It seems that a lot of the time the stress of trying to complete a unit in a limited time frame hinders my CT from exploring different teaching styles that we discuss in class or even allowing students to analyze and ask questions that stray off course a little. I believe that the lesson was successful as a way to learn the new info but not very successful for review. I think that if I were to emulate this sort of lesson in the future I would divide the dynasties into one day and the review into another. Even though I might only have time to lecture on dynasties, letting the students complete the chart and compare would have been any easy way to fill up the period and also allow for more complex learning. The review also could have been a lot more in depth, involving an exchange of student ideas and full on discussion rather than a quiet worksheet. Overall, I think that learning did occur but there were a few things I would have done to improve the lesson. This kind of observation is very helpful because I can sit back and reflect on the positives and negatives of a certain way of teaching.