3. Using reflection to improve teaching

‘Reflection’ is thinking over what happened and seeing how you could do it better next time. After you have tried new activities, it is really helpful to reflect on what was successful and what needs improvement. Make the process of ‘Plan-Act-Record-Reflect’ a part of your daily practice (see Resource 1).

Now that you have a good collection of games, you can use them as the basis for learning activities, and as a basis for reflection and growth. (This can, of course, be done with stories as well.)

Resource 4: Word games has some word games you can try with your pupils.

Case Study 3: English verbs in a skipping song

Ms Mofokeng sang a skipping song when she was a child in Soweto. She decided to use it for teaching her Grade 2 pupils some words and present-tense phrases in English.

The pupils first sang it in Sesotho and then she helped them to sing it in English.

She gave each pupil a piece of paper with a verb (e.g. eat, drink, laugh, cough, jump, run, hop) written on it. She made sure that each child knew what the word meant and how to do the action associated with it.

She allowed each pupil in turn to mime their action, and the class sang a new verse: ‘Antoni, what is she doing? Antoni, she is laughing,’ etc.

After the lesson, she thought about:

  • what went well;
  • what didn’t go so well;
  • what surprised her;
  • what she would change if she repeated the lesson.

What surprised her was how much time it took for the pupils to learn the English version but also how much the children enjoyed it. She decided that she needed to give more time to the activity, and introduce fewer new words at a time.

The following week, she used the English version of another skipping song in a similar way, making verses with different kinds of foods.

(See Resource 5: Skipping song for a Sesotho skipping song.)

Key Activity: Learning from a chant

  • Is there a chant in your class collection that could be changed into the additional language and used to support language learning?
  • Identify a sentence in the chant where a word (or words) could be replaced by a number of other words in turn. For example, ‘She is laughing’ could be replaced with ‘She is jumping, hopping, running’ etc. Each pupil, or group, can then sing a new verse, with a new word in the sentence.
  • It will be even more fun if the words or sentences can be linked to actions.
  • Plan how you will organise your class to sing/chant and act out this ‘substitution drill’. (This is a series of sentences, which are the same except for one word/phrase; they are used to practise language patterns.)
  • If it is not successful, you will need to try a different song, or a different way of organising the activity.

2. Learning from games

Resource 1: Action-reflection cycle