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Adjustment to Practice

No lesson is ever perfect; teachers must constantly make adjustments to their materials,
their classroom management strategies, and their plans, both on a day to day basis and within a
given class period. In order to make these necessary adjustments, however, teachers must also be
able to analyze and diagnosis areas for improvement.
The first artifact that I have included in my portfolio that attests to my ability to meet this
CAP element is a comparison of two lesson plans for the same chapter of the novella, Ethan
Frome. In both cases, I taught a lesson that required students to use their close reading skills to
deepen their understanding of a major character, Zeena Frome. The overarching task was for
students to answer the question: Does Zeena care about her marriage?. In order to answer this
question, they would need to analyze Edith Whartons use of symbolism and irony in this
particular section of the text. The first time I taught this lesson, I allowed my junior class the
freedom of unstructured analysis. I merely instructed them to discuss the question within their
groups, gathering evidence from the text to support their answers. As I circulated among the
groups, however, I discovered that many students had not read the previous night, or were
unwilling to re-read the passages within their groups. This lack of uniform background
knowledge and the unstructured nature of the task led to a discussion that was haphazard and did
not quite reach the conclusion that I had imagined. After reflecting on this lesson and how it
went, I decided that I needed to make some changes when I taught the same lesson to a second
class. For instance, I had the class read the passage together so I knew that we were all on the
same page. I also created a more structured task by giving the students a choice to work from one
of three organizers that would help them in picking out examples of symbols and irony. These
differentiated worksheets allowed students to work independently at their own level before

coming together as a group. Providing this scaffolding to the lesson ultimately led to a much
smoother and more in depth discussion than was likely to occur if I had stuck to the original
plan.
The second artifact that demonstrates my ability to adjust is a comparison of a students
work. The first example of the students writing came from a pre-assessment of the class ability
to write analytically about poetry in an open-response type format. I had led the students through
the analysis of the poem beforehand and given a mini-lesson on how to write about the language
of the poem, however, after reading over their initial responses, I realized that they needed a
more in-depth lesson on writing about poetry. With the ability to provide feedback on the work
they had already turned in, I decided the best way to meet each students individual needs was to
re-teach the poetry writing in smaller group settings. I prepared for the lesson by providing
written feedbacks on each students writing and then grouping the students into small writing
groups according to similarities in the areas they needed to focus on improving. I then worked
with each group to explain my comments and provide examples of how I would like them to
improve their writing. Before letting students return to their seats for independent work, I had
them fix one sentence in their response to practice the strategies I wanted them to employ the
next time they completed a poetry writing. When students completed the same writing
assignment with a different poem at the end of the unit, they demonstrated integration of my
feedback and improved their class average from a 2.5 to a 3 out of a 4 point scale.
While these lessons and examples of student work demonstrate my capacity to fulfill the
adjustment to practice element between lessons, something that I would like to work on moving
forward is the skill to adjust during a lesson. As a novice teacher, I was not comfortable
abandoning my lesson plan mid-lesson, even if I saw that it was not working. Since this was my

first time teaching these lessons, every day was an experiment, and I meticulously planned each
part of the lesson, even to the point of scripting out some of the questions I wanted to ask or
important points I wanted to make. I felt that drastically altering my plan mid-lesson could derail
this system and throw me off-script. As I become more comfortable in my own classroom and
confident with the content and my materials, I want to be able to think on my feet more and react
to my students who may respond differently on any given day. I know that this skill will come
with time and practice, but I look forward to the day that I have enough tools in my tool kit to be
able to change my plans on the fly and still run a successful lesson.