To What Extent Does My Interaction with and Instruction of English Language Learners Align with Research?
With a growing number of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the United States, teachers must understand their specific needs and differences. However, once teachers have educated themselves, they must also become reflective practitioners working to analyze their own teaching to make sure that it too reflects the research. In my experience of observing ELL teachers I have found that their own practices infrequently aligned with research. In order to ensure that my own teaching practices do not fall into this pattern, I planned, taught and videotaped a lesson (see Appendix D) on adverbs to a third grade sheltered instruction class of ELLs. Incorporating kinesthetic, visual and aural elements into the lesson, I was able to cater to the students’ multiple learning styles. Constrained by time and subject material, I was able to make connections to students’ background experiences yet felt that I would have needed to place the adverb lesson in a larger themed unit in order for my students to make meaningful cultural connections. Using an observational protocol (see Appendix C) while reviewing my videotaped lesson, I analyzed my own teaching practices and applied them to research. I found that my teaching could improve by giving students opportunities to work collaboratively and providing sufficient wait time. Differentiation of the summative assessment, a worksheet where students identified verbs and adverbs, gave all of the students opportunities to show what they learned. After the lesson concluded, I interviewed a student to learn more about the learner context as well as her understandings and misconceptions. Although she felt happy to be called on and always felt that she had enough time to think before responding, she had many misunderstandings about adverbs, including confusing them with other major classes like verbs, nouns and adjectives. My experience in this project has shown me that often times, even educated teachers may feel like they are implementing the best practices yet are still falling short in doing so. Reflecting on the lesson that I taught has begun my process of analyzing and modifying my teaching so that it aligns with the latest practices based on quality research.