With small group teaching the
skills involved are: explaining, listening, questioning, responding,
summarizing and closure (Brown & Atkins, 1988). For this particular twenty
minute micro teach, a step by step discussion seems to be favoured for small
group teaching methods. This method follows a sequence: brief introduction (a
strong start could go in here for explicit and implicit meaning as a short task;
a stimulus,) problem activity, tutor input, problem/activity, finishing with
tutor input again. This method has several advantages. It contributes to a
strong structure and allows students to open discussion freely within the
bounds of the sub-task (Brown & Atkins 1988). Although, it is important for
students to know the objectives and aim of the session, as it could become
quite frustrating for students to have to complete so many steps, without
knowing the outcome.  For a socratic
style teaching method to work effectively, the questioning in which it
instigates, must be strong and probing, guiding students to come to the desired
conclusion, for example the narrow -broad ‘dimension’ which can go either way.
This type of questioning, in this case, is effective in the sense that these
can be classed as convergent-divergent questions, represented as points on a
dimension. With regards to explicit and implicit meaning, this method is
perfect to keep students on track but can also facilitate group discussion on a
deeper level, which coincides with Bloom’s taxonomy; from closed or ‘narrow
questioning’ that corresponds with “list, explain, identify” and then to
“evaluate, debate or analyse” which corresponds with open questioning. However,
narrow questions yield short answers and when used too frequently they inhibit
discussion (Andrews, 1980). This can cause the lesson to become heavily
lectured and motivation or focus can diminish quite quickly when students are
passively listening for long periods of time and not actively engaging. This
can be dependant on the content and delivery, however, this is in most cases.

 

In this instance,
given that this group were adults only, I did not want a task that was too
juvenile, yet, I wanted to take advantage of their interest in kinaesthetic
learning, which led to choosing a resource-based method combined with others to
ensure that there was some facilitative learning. The subject was English and
the lesson was based around language techniques, which can be quite complex. This
is where structure became of high importance to ensure accurate timing of
delivery, that all aspects were covered, and strong assessment methods were
present. Step by step discussion became the main method that was used combined
with a series of questioning. It was paramount to avoid this small group
session turning into “knowledge-giving monologues” (Brown & Atkins, 1988)
or into fragmented pockets of ad hoc discussion by the students, that may have
been detrimental to the pace or quality of the lesson; becoming a dialectic
teaching method. It could be argued that a socratic style of teaching can be
guilty of heavy lecturing to start with to relay information before probing
occurs. Due to the nature of the subject, implicit analysis is an enormous
factor within poetry and literature. It is very difficult to ensure that
students have enough scope to venture to that level of thinking and have
appropriate questions to facilitate an accurate conclusion and assessment of
work their own work too, in a short space of time. A lecturer can encourage
this by contriving to introduce discussions on a certain topic either
conceptually (requiring logical analysis of ideas or definitions), empirically-
which requires attention to the quality and nature of evidence (in this case,
their poems), and by value, which requires analysis of values, attitudes and
beliefs (which was the purpose at the end of the task.) 

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Another
benefit of this type of question is that is ties into the concept of learners
taking ownership towards cognitive thinking after being guided to the level of
analysis that needs to be used by students when approaching tasks. It was
planned that after a series of questioning, students would be encouraged to
apply their now founded curiosity on this topic and discover the effects of
language techniques through kinaesthetic learning. Just before this, the starter
activity will be to evaluate the explicit and implicit meaning of a given
stimulus and in this case, an image of a man taking his face off as a mask.
This provided a good introduction into the skills needed for poetry writing and
allowed the learners to think on a deeper level. There are said to be three
types of learning ‘deep’, ‘surfaced’ or ‘strategic’ (Hepworth & Walton,
2009)

 

Another
method used was indirect inquiry method, which is best used when the learning
is inquiry based and the result is discovery. This provides learners with the
opportunity to explore and apply creativity and inquisitiveness to their
learning as opposed to “spoon feeding” them knowledge for mere memory learning.
A benefit of this is that learners gets a greater understanding of the topic
through this method and that it has been claimed that it is the only way to
understand learning materials effectively (Ramsden 1992). However, not every
student can think to the same extent and differentiation needs to be
considered. It would have to be optional as to which level each student goes
whether they “list, explain or evaluate” implicit information. This can be a
disadvantage and may be a better method used for adults or a more advanced
class.

 

When
reflecting and evaluating the success of this micro-teach, it became apparent
that I assumed that due to the group being adults and of third level education,
that this would be an easy task. However, it may have gone beyond “stretch and
challenge” slightly, which is emblematic of stable external attributions
(Weiner 1974). This is evident of an unstable element of the session according
to Weiner’s attribution theory (1974) on his locus of stability; luck being the
unstable, internal attribution and ability, being the stable internal
attribution. This could have been due to ‘time versus topic’ and the magnitude
of this particular subject area. It would have been beneficial to have
conducted a prior initial assessment to establish the learner’s level of
English before forecasting the lesson plan. 
I would have preferred to incorporate a recited poem which would have
emphasised culture and the rationale of this lesson. This may have inspired
students work for the task also. It would have also been beneficial to have
some audio resources as well as kinaesthetic to comply with the various
learning styles in this lesson. The key model that I have based my reflection
on is more analytical in its practice by Peter Gibbs. The aims of using
Gibbs’ reflective cycle is to challenge your assumptions and to explore
different/new ideas and approaches towards doing or thinking about things which
promotes self-improvement (by identifying strengths and weaknesses and taking
action to address them), linking practice and theory by combining doing or
observing with thinking or applying knowledge (Gibbs 1988).

At the start of the lesson, before
sharing the aim and objectives, I requested that each student score themselves
on a scale from 1-4 (1 being low and 4 being high), on how confident they were
with thir English language skills. This was with the hope of not only
instilling some confidence in them when repeating it again at the end, but as a
mode of assessment also. They were then shown an image of a mask(Appendix 1.)
which initiated indirect inquiry method by encouraging
the students to make inferences from the given stimulus. This was followed by a
gapped handout to match terminology to the definition and then they applied
these techniques to their writing when eating a bar of chocolate to stimulate
each of the five senses.

I was feeling quite confident to
start but felt anxious that there wasn’t enough variation to comply with all
the different learning styles. I thought to myself at the time, that, maybe I
speak too much or too fast and need to slow down or allow answer time instead
of throwing them into each activity without asking if thy understood what to
do. I felt as if the atmosphere was good and that I incorporated laughter and
passion into the lesson. At the time, I felt as if the students were doing more
work than me and was that a lazy way of teaching but I have now learned, it’s
the opposite. The gapped handout was slightly rushed and I didn’t take into
consideration that English was not two of the students first language, I
noticed that they struggled more than the native English speakers. In the
future, I would look closer at individual needs and levels before planning a
lesson. Positive aspects were that it was well structured, good stretch and
challenge present, all engaged and motivated, excellent communication skills
and a good creative approach to the subject (Peer Feedback).

When
reflecting and evaluating the success of this micro-teach, it became apparent
that I assumed that due to the group being adults and of third level education,
that this would be an easy task. However, it may have gone beyond “stretch and
challenge” slightly, which is emblematic of stable external attributions
(Weiner 1974). This is evident of an unstable element of the session according
to Weiner’s attribution theory (1974) on his locus of stability; luck being the
unstable, internal attribution and ability, being the stable internal
attribution. This could have been due to ‘time versus topic’ and the magnitude
of this particular subject area. It would have been beneficial to have
conducted a prior initial assessment to establish the learner’s level of
English before forecasting the lesson plan. 
I would have preferred to incorporate a recited poem which would have
emphasised culture and the rationale of this lesson. This may have inspired
students work for the task also. It would have also been beneficial to have some
audio resources as well as kinaesthetic to comply with the various learning
styles in this lesson.

I have learned that certain
subjects or topics simply require more time than others. Pacing is important in
the lesson too and it is better to keep tasks shorter with more depth than to
cover the surface of an area with little detail.

Moving forward, I plan to take more
time to understand the needs of my learners and manage the pace better.
Questioning and indirect inquiry are methods that I will use again because I
agree with Ramsden, that regardless of my subject knowledge as a teacher, it is
paramount that the students gain a deeper understanding by having intention to
understand and to seek meaning leading to an attempt to relate concepts to
existing experiences.

 

Appendix 1.

 

Bibliography:

Bennett, C., Foreman-Peck, L.,
& Higgins, C. (1996). Research into teaching methods in colleges
and universities. London: Kogan Page.

 

Brown, G., & Atkins, M.
(2005). Effective teaching in higher education. London: Routledge.

 

Gibbs, G.
(1988) Learning by Doing: A guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. Oxford:
Further Education Unit, Oxford 

 

Hepworth, M., & Walton, G.
(2009). Teaching information literacy for inquiry-based learning.
Oxford: Chandos.

 

Walkin, L. (2000). Teaching
and learning in further and adult education. Cheltenham: Thornes.

 

Wallace, S. (2005). Teaching
& supporting learning in further education. Exeter: Learning Matters.