Classroom Observation and Analysis (20% of course grade)
Goals of the Assignment:
1. To observe and describe the discourse “ecology” of a particular classroom
2. To analyze your observation of classroom Language Patterns in terms of some key concepts from our readings
3. To speculate about the relationship between the classroom discourse and students’ learning
Description of Assignment
You will arrange to observe a classroom, at any level and in any subject matter, in which you are not a student.
Step 1:You should take notes on or tape record (with the teacher’s permission of course) as much of the classroom discourse as you can. You will describe the classroom discourse using these notes or the tape recording, so do a thorough job of that.
Step 2: After conducting your observation and gathering data in the form of notes or tape recording, write a 1-2 page (250-500 words) description of the discourse patterns that you noticed in the classroom. You are encouraged to relate the language to the activities of the classroom. (You may want to save this step until after you have done Step 3).
Step 3: Based on this description, review the articles we have been reading about classroom discourse, and relate relevant concepts from the reading to what you saw and heard in the observation. For example, you might discuss any of the following ideas: IRE sequence, scaffold, authentic questions, dialogic vs. monologic discourse, expressive vs. referential language, familiar vs. new material, zone of proximal development, or internalization vs. appropriation. A guiding principal should be to describe what is happening in the classroom (rather than what is not happening). You may want to focus on an in-depth analysis of one concept (I would recommend this option), or you may want to discus several of these or other concepts as they relate to the classroom discourse that you observed. In doing this analysis, you may want to make charts, use notecards, or any other strategy to organize your data, as they illuminate concepts from our reading.
Step 4: Write a 3-5 page report (750-1250 words) of your analysis of classroom discourse. In this analysis, share how the concept(s) from the reading help to illuminate what you observed in the classroom. Be sure to include several relevant quotes from the assigned readings. Also include your speculation of how and what students may be learning through the language patterns. You might also want to talk with one or two students in the class to find out their perspective on what they are learning.
Step 5: Create a Reference page, citing the sources you have used and quoted.
Step 6: Present what you have learned in this observation to a small group of peers in class in March.
This is a complex assignment: I strongly recommend that you do not wait until the last minute to get started, as it involves several layers of activity and analysis I expect the assignment to be typed, in 12 font, following APA format (since you will be quoting, you will need to include a Reference page in this assignment. You are encouraged to work in pairs: if you do choose this option, your length limitations are the same, although you are invited to write a longer analysis, if you so choose.