Monday, June 4, 2012

I Spy - Week 14 (Final Reflection)

Compared to most ELT teachers I started my career late.  I arrived in Korea four years ago at the age of 31 with no language teaching experience to speak of.  While most of my friends from high school and university were 5 or 6 years into a career, getting married and having children I decided to reset my whole life.  As Johnston mentions, living and working in foreign countries is an inconvenient by product of a career in ELT.  Even though I like my new career and am enjoying the rare opportunity of learning a foreign language and culture I sometimes worry that by taking this lifestyle on I have sacrificed a potential wife and family.  I know many people who have married Koreans and started a life here but I'm not sure if I want to spend the rest of my life in Korea.  There are many opportunities for ELT teachers in other countries also; especially if you have a master's degree.  Also, if I were to have a family in Korea and move them back to Canada, I worry about the financial loss and lack of job opportunities.  I've decided that since I started this career later in life than most, I should focus on it for now so that I can elevate myself to a state of professionalism without the added stress of a family.  Hopefully by the time I'm ready I haven't missed the boat.

As a foreign teacher in a foreign land I definitely feel marginalized.  In my school I am the only teacher with his own classroom (the newest and best equipped in the school) and private office.  All of the other teachers, including the vice-principal, share offices but I have a quiet personal space with everything I need. Also, every week there is a teacher's meeting wherein a variety of issues are discussed.  I am not required to attend because it is assumed that I will not understand and that most things have nothing to do with me.  I have been told that if there is anything I need to know, I will be informed privately. 
With regard to these, I enjoy my marginalization.  I am not a lazy person but I can see that the Korean teachers have more on their plate than I do in terms of administrative duties.  I don't have such responsibilities so I have more free time to lesson plan and study.   In general I regard my marginalization as a good thing because it decreases my workload.  When it comes to teacher socializing like dinners and trips I am always included and made to feel as regular a member of the faculty.  Most native English teachers (professors excepted), if they decide to pursue a career in ELT move on or up after a year or two.  I have stayed at the same school as long as I have in part because of the level of comfort that my situation affords while I am busy pursuing graduate studies.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Spy - Week 13 (What I've learned from my students this semester)

In the past I only taught the freshmen in my high school.  I never had the opportunity to see the change (if any) in my student's English ability in the next year.  There was no way for me to know if my class made any impact on them.  However, this year things are different.  This year I teach all the freshmen classes of course, but also teach the sophomores; half the classes in first semester and the other half in the second. 

This has been an eye opening experience because I can now see the difference in the students maturity, confidence and English ability.  Also, since I've already known and taught the sophomores for one year, the classroom atmosphere is very comfortable and familiar.  This makes for an excellent classroom quality of life.  I look forward to my classes with my sophomores because they are outgoing and fun to teach. 

Also, the sophomore classes are the perfect situation for me to try new lesson plans and teaching strategies.  Every teacher knows that the first time you use a new lesson plan it is always a little unorganized.  You aren't sure how your Ss will react, if the timing is right, and if it will be too difficult or too easy.  When you add immature and unfamiliar Ss to the situation it makes things that much worse.  The sophomores have already seen all my lessons from last year so I have to make something new for them every week.  However,I don't worry about my lesson flopping because I know that they will do their best to help me have a good class.

It's still hard to be sure how much my Ss have learned from me, but from them I've learned that teacher and student familiarity goes a long way toward creating a good quality of classroom life.  It seems that when you have that, the teaching and the learning happens naturally.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Spy - Week 12B

I just want to briefly mention that I used Tom's minimal pairs memory/matching game that he had us try last week.  I found the website, printed off six sets of cars, printed them in colour and even laminated them.  I used it for a lesson with my second year Ss.

I started by briefly explaining minimal pairs with a few examples on the WB.  I had them choral repeat everything several times so they could hear the difference.  I then presented a PPT with three examples from each deck of cards I prepared.  I nominated Ss one at a time, showed them one pair and then had them guess the other.  Then more choral repetition.  Awkward pronunciation was dealt with on the spot but in some cases some Ss just couldn't get it.  

After explaining the game I set the Ss up in groups of 5 and had them play.  They really enjoyed it.  There was lots of noise but it was noise that came from winning and losing so I didn't mind.  I instructed the Ss to say each word so they can practice the pronunciation but I found that when I wasn't standing there they would forget or not bother.  They just wanted to play.  Usually I have a co-teacher to help me police such things but she didn't bother to show that day.

One issue that came up was the Ss thought that minimal pairs were words with one letter that's different so when matchs like 'cop' and 'cough' for 'p vs f' they were a little confused.  As a reaction I just explained to each group separately as they were playing.  They easily understood me.  When I do this again next week I'll be sure to explain that point before the game starts.

I Spy - Week 12A

I created a Transformers themed lesson for my first grade Ss.  It was a pleasure for me because ever since I was a kid I've been a big fan of the animation and now the movies.  It's a great topic for the high school boys because they've all seen all the movies.  They knew almost as much as me.  hehe

I used the same formula I've used with previous output lessons.  Start with a brainstorm about the history of the transformers and a 5 minute video clip from one of the movies.  One new thing I started doing this week is comprehension check.  Before watching the video I told the students that they have to remember 3 things: transformer names, jobs and what they transform into.  I do this because it is the content of the presentation stage.  After telling the Ss this, I chose 2 or 3 Ss who didn't seem like they were listening and asked them '(name) What 3 things do you have to remember?'... usually those Ss didn't know even though I just told them.  But that was not a surprise because I nominated those Ss particularly because I didn't think they would. 

Instead of telling them the answer I chose another S who looked like they heard me and had him list the 3 things aloud.  I then went back to the first S and had him list what he just heard.  This strategy ate up 5mins of valuable time but it was effective because by then everyone was aware of what they were supposed to do.  I also found that once we got to the presentation stage the Ss were better prepared for filling in the gaps in the sentences with the info in the video.  It lead them to concentrate on what I deemed important while still enjoying the movie clip.

For then on the lesson went smoothly and most Ss were able to utter the presented sentence and info without reading or much cueing on my part.  I feel like this year's freshmen have really come to understand what is expected of them in my class.  This week even the usually behaviourly difficult classes were well behaved.  I feel like they are over the hump in terms of adjusting to high school life.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Spy - Week 11B (Pronunciation)

For the first time I attempted to create a lesson that focused on pronunciation.  It is loosely based on the lesson plan presented in Kelly that practices the past tense ending -ed.  My Ss are pretty good at that pronunciation so I decided to take it one step further and include a few irregular endings such as -ought, and -ew.  These days the 'Avengers' super hero movie is really popular with my Ss so I used that as a theme by having the Ss use the characters names in their sentences.

I previewed and activated schema by brainstorming about the meaning of 'avenge' and watching a 3 minute youtube trailer of the movie.  After the video, in their groups, I had the Ss list the members of the Avengers team and their corresponding weapon/power.  After a minute or two I chose Ss at random to give me names and powers that I listed on the board.  This was important because the Ss needed this information to use in the production phase later.

As a way of presenting I created a ppt that listed five examples of each past tense ending that we would be practicing.  At this point I did extensive drilling of the sounds both chorally and individually.  Once I felt confident that they could figure out the appropriate ending individually we moved on to slides that featured a picture of a member of the Avengers doing some sort of action.  After providing one example myself, I chose Ss at random to stand up and create a past tense sentence based on the pic in the slide. 
For example, one slide had a picture of Captain America throwing his shield.  The chosen S was expected to formulate the sentence 'Captain America threw his shield.'

For most of the slides the Ss had no problem but in a few cases I found that the Ss didn't know what to say.  This could be because the action in the picture was not obvious or they lacked the appropriate lexicon.  In those cases I used some eliciting and MIC techniques to scaffold the sentence I as looking for. 

For the production phase I created a handout where the Ss had to use pictures to guide them to a certain sentence.  For example a picture of Iron Man - mushroom cloud - tank
would lead them to create the sentence ' Iron Man blew up the tank' or 'Iron man bombed the tank'.  There were 7 different sentences they had to make.

I concluded the lesson by choosing Ss at random to  read their answers and I wrote them on the board as well as recited each one chorally.

For my first attempt at a pronunciation lesson I was pleased.  The Avengers theme really engaged the Ss and we moved through the stages rather smoothly.  The only downside is that when it came time to present their answers the Ss simply read their answers out loud.  I don't like them to do that these days but this lesson was more about pronunciation then grammar or conversation anyway.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Spy - Week 10A (Vocab)

Due to an inconsistent schedule influenced by our upcoming sports day I continued with my lesson on Natural Disasters this week.  Since the reading topic this week was specifically vocab I'll concentrate on how I presented that.

The important vocab that I presented in this lesson was names of different natural disasters. For example: earthquake, tsunami, volcano, avalanche, drought.
I presented the vocab by using a PPT with pics of the different disasters.  I then nominated a student at random to name that disaster.  The Ss easily named three out of the five presented with 'avalanche' and 'drought' being the most difficult.  In the event that a S didn't know the answer I changed to an invitation to reply strategy wherein usually at least one S knew and shouted out the answer.  I then presented the spelling of the word and had the class repeat chorally.  After that, as a class, we produced a sentence that defined the word.  For example:  Drought -  There is no rain and the land is too dry to grow crops.

In the production phase the Ss had to first match the word with the definition and then create a sentence with a chosen disaster:  An avalanche is the most dangerous natural disaster because it is snow falling fast down a mountain.

I felt good about the lesson.  Some Ss even chose to use 'avalanche' or 'drought' in the production phase despite not being familiar with it before.  The definition matching required very little assistance from me.  One issue of note is that since 'tsunami' is a Japanese word, sometimes Ss were confused about how to say it in English.  I simply explained that in English we might say 'giant wave' but the Japanese word is acceptable too because we don't really have a single word for that in English.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Spy - Week 9B

With my second graders I decided to try the listening activity I presented in our Meth class.  The title was 'Witness'.

I started by brainstorming about the meaning of being a witness on the WB.  I asked a combination of open and closed questions and elicited responses through both invitation and nomination. 

Q:What does a witness do?
A: Listen, watch, remember...

Q: What does he need to remember?
A: clothing, speaking, background,..... details

Q: In what kind of situation is a witness important?
A: crime, accident, reporting, wedding

Not all of the answers came naturally.  I had to use a lot of MIC for 'details' and 'wedding' but we got there eventually.  The important thing is that I did not resort to Korean translations which was my habit in the past.

I made it into a game where the team that could answer the most questions correctly won some candy.  Also, when it came time to share answers I had the Ss ask someone at the next table.  This time I used your suggestion Tom, and had the S sitting beside the answering S ask the next Q.  This doubled the amount of Ss who had a chance to speak. 
We played two rounds. 

It turned out to be a very laid back class.  The Ss really enjoyed the video clips I chose and were happy to get some candy. 

However, I wonder if they were so relaxed particularly because there wasn't as much pressure to speak.   I suppose that's ok because it was a listening activity anyway.

I Spy - Week 9A (Output)

I'm posting this on Friday because I didn't teach until Thursday of this week.  For my first graders I prepared a lesson about natural disasters.  This is the lesson I transcribed for module 3.

After a quick warm-up wherein I made small talk about the upcoming school sports day, I wrote the lesson topic on the board.  After establishing the meaning, I told the students that in their groups I want them to come up with 3 examples of natural disasters plus think about what country it is common in and what kind of damage it causes.  I gave them one minute to discuss.  After that I asked different members of each group individually to tell me their answers.  This means that I asked 3 different students per group.  I accepted one word answers for natural disaster name and country but insisted and helped them to formulate a sentence about the damage: ie 'In a tornado the cows fly away'.  After writing everything on the board we watched a very exciting 4 minute earthquake clip from the movie 2012.

In the presentation stage I used a ppt showing various natural disasters and had the Ss ask each other questions: 'Which natural disaster is this?', 'What happens?', 'How can you survive?' My students still have trouble formulating sentences on their own so I used copious MIC techniques to help them arrive at 'In an avalanche snow falls down the mountain'.

As an output exercise the students had to fill in the following sentence based on what they learned in the ppt.

Which natural disaster is the most dangerous?

A(n) _________________ is the most dangerous because ________________.
I can survive by ______________________.

As soon as they finished I had them turn their papers over and ask each other the question and answer without reading.

I think the lesson was successful.  I structured it well so that the Ss could follow the information.  I also like that the questions on the ppt required some independent thinking and sentence creation.  Also, the output phase was pretty good.  Most Ss were able to do it.

The downside was that this lesson takes a lot out of me.  I have to use a lot of body language and other MICs in order to get a decent utterance out of them.  Also, I found that when I was busy constructing meaning with one S the others would get restless and noisy.  I continuously had to ask them to be quiet.  When I'm working so hard it is frustrating to deal with that kind of stuff.  But, I have to remember that these boys are only a few months out of middle school and therefore still quite immature.  It will be easier to deal with them next year.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Spy - Week 8AB

Mid term exams start on Friday of this week so with both first and second grade students I played a game.  Well, they played and I moderated.  It is a spin on the classic 'Taboo' board game.  I divide the class into three teams of ten.  On a power point I have a series of pictures of random people, places and things with the corresponding word across them.  At the top of the slide are two 'taboo words' that cannot be used as hints.  One student comes to the front and stands in front of his team, back to the screen.  I display a new pic on the screen and the team must use English to give hints so that the standing team member will say what is on the screen.  The team members must be careful not to use the taboo words, hand gestures or Korean to help their teammate arrive at the correct word.  There is a thirty second time limit per turn.  The team that has the most successes is the winner.

The students really love this game and get really excited while playing so I like to use it just before exams so that they can have a break from studying.  In fact my co-teachers encourage it.  I like it because every student on every team must take a turn at the front where they listen to their teammates.  The only downside is that the dominant students do most of the hinting.  I still haven't figured out a way to get the quieter students to take part in the hinting.  That issue aside, everyone has fun.  After exams I'll get back into proper lessons.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Spy - Week 7B (Preview)

This week's topic was 'Extreme Sports'.  This is the lesson I've chosen for my module two assignment.  Unfortunately, my students were in Jeju all day Monday so I only had the chance to do this lesson twice this week.  I did record it once but since it was my first run at this lesson I feel that it could have been better.  But, I suppose analysis of an imperfect lesson is the whole point of the assignment.

I started by making small talk with the class as a whole about their trip to Jeju.  It turns out they did not have a good time because  it was raining and their homeroom teacher was in a bad mood the whole time.  I guess she didn't want to be there. One student in particular gave me a lengthy explanation for their lack of fun.

I introduced the topic by writing it on the board and asked 'What makes a sport extreme?'. The question was open to anyone.  I got some one word answers like dangerous, exciting, thrilling, fun etc. .... I wrote them on the board.  In retrospect I realize I should have asked a few follow up questions like 'Why is it dangerous?'(something I did do the next time).  After that I asked the students 'What are the 3 kinds of extreme sports?'  As a cue I offered the first one myself: 'Land'....  after that different students volunteered 'Air' and 'Water'.  At this point I decided to show the video clip.  It is a montage' of cool extreme sport tricks.  I told the students to watch the video and try to remember one example of each kind of ES that they see because I will be asking them afterward.
The the video was about 4min and the students really enjoyed it.  I think it was successful in relaxing them.  After the video I asked one student to give me an example of a Land ES (in a full sentence).  I did the same for 2 or 3 more students while writing the answers they gave me on the board.

Once again, before I started I forgot to list what we would be doing.  Also, In the preview I recorded I didn't do it but the second time I did the lesson, after the video, I modeled an answer on the board: 'One ____ extreme sport is_____'.  This was better because when I individually asked a student to give an answer he was not tempted to give me a one word answer.  Also, rather than asking 'What is one land/air/water extreme sport?' myself, I had the students choose someone at random and ask.  This resulted in much less teacher talk.  Unfortunately, I didn't record it that time.  :(

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Spy - Week 6B (Preview)

The topic for this week was 'Martial Arts'.  I started the lesson with a brief greeting and open conversation about the fact that from Thursday to Sunday the 2nd graders will be on Jeju Island.  I asked a few students if they've ever been to Jeju and if they've ever been on a plane. 
Then I introduced the topic.  I wrote the topic on the WB and explained what would happen in the lesson:
1. Martial Arts Q and A warmup
2. Video clip
3. Q and A PPT
4. Handout and Q and A production

Then I asked an open display question: 'What is martial arts?'
The students responded with 'Fighting', 'performance', 'dance' etc
I wrote them on the board.
Then I drew a crude table on the WB with three headings. 'MA' 'Where?' 'Why unique?'
After clarifying the meaning of 'unique' I wrote 'tae kwon do' under 'MA' and started a Q and A session by choosing a S in group 1 and asking 'Where is tae kwon do from?'
The student would say 'Korea'.  Then I would ask for a complete sentence and he would say 'Tae Kwon do is from Korea'.  I would write 'Korea' under 'Where' and instruct the S to ask 'Why is it unique?' to a S in group 2.  That S would reply something like 'strong kicks' and I would encourage a full sentence. 
We did this kind of S to S Q and A for 2 more martial arts.
After that, as a way to relax the Ss and activate schema, I showed a 3.5min video clip of a Kung Fu master fighting a Karate master.  I set up the clip by asking the Ss where each martial art comes from.

I felt good about this lesson.  The Ss really enjoyed the topic and the video and when it came time to describe why each martial art is unique, they gave me some interesting answers. 
Tom, this week I used the strategy you suggested about having the Ss turn their paper over when it came time for language production and it went well.  I did have to do a lot of cueing but it was a good start.  I think the more they practice this kind of non-reading L2 production, the better they will get.

I realize now that in the past I was more concerned with information than practice.  I bombarded the Ss with vocab and simply checked their comprehension.  This week I significantly scaled back the vocab and info and focused more on speaking practice of only one or two sentences. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Spy - Week 5B (Thursday)

I tried the Alien Attack lesson again today and with a few changes but the result was more or less the same as Monday.  In terms of the introduction, this time I explained and listed on the white board what was going to happen in the lesson: 

1. Q and A about alien movies
2. Alien attack video clip
3. Alien attack strategies (vocab)
4. Handout
5. Ss alien attack defence Q and A

I have no reason to believe that explaining the lesson in such a way before starting made any impact on the success of the lesson, but it's probably a good habit to get into.  I'm sure the keener students and my co-teacher will appreciate it. 

Just like on Monday, the students did well with the 'What's your favourite alien movie?' Q and A and enjoyed the movie clip.  Also, this time I tried asking some follow up questions like 'Why do you like that movie?'  'I didn't see that one(even if I did)....What's the story?'  This was good because the students found it easy to talk about something they liked.  But, it did use up a lot of valuable class time minutes. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Spy - Week 5B (Monday)

I had second grade students all day today where I tried out a new lesson plan.  The topic is 'Alien Attack'.  I chose this as a topic because I thought it might be fun for high school boys to come up with some fun ideas about what to do in the event.  As a way to activate their schema, I started by modeling the Q and A 'What is your favourite alien movie?' 'My favourite alien movie is....' Then I started with one student (S1) at one table and asked him the question.  S1 had to answer in a complete sentence and I wrote his answer on the white board.  S1 then had to choose a student at the next table(S2) and ask the question I modeled.  S2 answered the question in a complete sentence and I again wrote the movie on the board.  We did this until we had 7 or 8 alien movies on the WB.  I concluded this warm up by revealing my favourite alien movie to the students.  We then watched a five minute clip of 'Mars Attacks' wherein the aliens unleash a surprise attack on earth.  The movie is from 1996 so the students were not familiar with it and therefore interested them.  After the movie I introduced the vocab...
The warm up went smoothly and the students were clear on the topic but I realize now that I neglected to tell the students the TO of the lesson.  I imagine once I started introducing the vocab they were a little confused about where I was going or what was the point of thinking about aliens.  On thursday when I teach this lesson again I will make it clear to the students from the beginning that we will be learning some new vocabulary and then trying to formulate a Ss ask Ss Qs senario where the students must use their imaginations to find and suggest a way to fight against an alien attack.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Spy - Week 4A

This week I tried a lesson that required a lot of student - student interaction and I was very pleased with the result.  It was with the first year students and the topic was 'Travel'.  I really like the student asking student questions strategy so I centered the lesson around that.  On the big screen I put a picture of a famous tourist attraction from around the world (ie. Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower)  and arranged the students in 6 groups of 6.  Each PPT slide had 3 questions: 'What is this attraction called?', 'Where is it?', and 'Why is it famous?'
The first student would ask the first question to the student sitting in the same seat at the next table that way the students always knew who they were supposed to ask and answer to. So each turn a different student would answer and ask, answer and ask...
It was really successful because every student had to do it at least once and they actually enjoyed it because they got to see and learn about lots of different world attractions.  In fact, my co-teachers gave me a lot of compliments on the lesson as well.
I also added a handout where the students had to write where they wanted to go and what they would do when they are there.  I closed the lesson by having students read their answer and then choose another student and ask '(name) What country do you want to travel to?'  They seemed to have a good time with it. 
I will definitely be using this formula with other topics.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I Spy - Week 4B

I tried a new lesson about 'Personality' with my second graders today.  I assigned each group a personality type (5 in all) and through watching a video and discussion they had to come up with 3 traits and 3 jobs to go with their personality.  I employed the Ss asking Ss questions strategy in order to get some group to group interaction going.  However, I found that I had to write the question on the board because they had trouble remembering it.  A very simple question like 'What are extroverted people like?' was not easy for most to formulate.  Am I cheating as a teacher by letting the students read the question from the board? 
In the activity portion of the class, the students have to fill in the blanks of a dialog with their personality type followed by the traits and jobs that they discovered.  The students then, in pairs, performed the dialog in front of the class.
Overall I felt the lesson was successful with lots of opportunities for students to ask questions, and read aloud.  Originally I wanted the students to memorize the dialog but there was never enough time.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Spy - Week 3A

With my first year students this week I did a review of numbers.  I've noticed that Koreans of any age have trouble converting Korean numbers into English and vice versa.  It's a good lesson because it requires students to say high/complicated numbers in English, and they do most of the talking during the teacher centered portion.  For the last 15 minutes or so we a play a version of 'The Price is Right' where I put a picture of some kind of product (car, tv, food etc) on the screen and each team has to guess the price in Won.  I tell them to do it in Won because the numbers are much higher.  But they still have to say it in English.  Each player on each team ends up speaking at least twice. 

I will admit though, that in terms of making sentences or conversation practice this lesson is not useful.  Perhaps next time I can devise a way for the students to ask eachother things like 'What is the price?' or 'How much does it cost?'  Just some simple Q and A to add some dialog to an otherwise successful lesson.
Anyway, in light of this week's lack of dialog and sentence forming, I have devised a lesson on 'Travel' for next week that will hopefully make up for it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Spy - Week 3B

Today, for the first time in a long time, I went outside my teaching comfort zone.  After reading the transcriptions of last week’s classes, I realized that I need to start using some of the teaching strategies we’ve been learning in Methodology in order to get my students to speak more often and in more complete sentences. 
With my second grade students (grade 11) I decided to implement the ‘students asking students questions’ technique for comprehension in order to practice simple sentences.  In my three morning classes I was pleased with the result.  All of the students did their best to follow my instructions, and although it was a teaching style they were not used, they slowly began to understand what I wanted and with each turn, less cueing was needed.  The activity at the end was successful too.
However, my single afternoon class was not as successful.  The students in that particular class are lower in ability and motivation in comparison to the other classes.  In fact, the students had so much trouble grasping the Ss ask Ss concept that we had to forego the activity for more Q and A practice.  I thought that rather than rush into the activity it might be better for the future if we practice until we get it.  To be honest, by the end of class it still wasn’t flowing smoothly.   Obviously it will be harder to implement real conversation inducing techniques with that class but I’m not going to give up on them…………Even if they hate me for it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Spy - Week 2A

For my first recording and transcription this week I used the first 10 minutes of a 2nd grade class wherein I introduce the topic (Military) and brainstorm about different aspects of the military; such as army, air force and navy.  The transcription proved to be 7 pages which I felt was very long.  I think the reason for this is that I did most of the talking.  Almost all my questions were of the closed, display variety and although the students were very attentive and the atmosphere was lively, I only received one word answers to my questions.
However, for my second recording and transcription I chose the last 10 minutes of a 1st grade class wherein the students are playing a game.  The lesson topic was 'Movies'.  As always, I started the class by teaching important vocab.  Then, I checked their comprehension with a fill-in-the blank handout.  The last 15 minutes were devoted to a game where each student must secretly think of a movie title then give hints to the class using the vocab we learned ie. genre, setting, plot etc.
In this part of the lesson I say very little, and that was reflected in my transcription.  While my first transcription was 7 pages, my second transcription is only 4.  This was encouraging because it means that I do most of my talking at the beginning of class as a means to introduce the topic and give instructions.  I also noticed that my questioning style in the second transcription is different.  The few questions I do ask are always open-ended and referential.  I only spoke in order to referee the game.
Admittedly, however, when the students were speaking they were often reading from their work sheets.  So, it was not all 'off the cuff' interaction.  Also, I gave feed back with regard to content but made no attempt to correct the students when they made grammatical or pronunciation errors.  I felt that constant technical correction would impede the flow of the game.  I wonder if that was a good decision.
In the end about 8 different students spoke at length in front of the class which is pretty good.  But that is still only 8 out of 33.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Spy - Week 2B

For the first time in the 3 and a half years I've been teaching at my school I am teaching first graders and second graders each week.  In the past I only taught first graders. In the context of the STG TESOL course I think this provides a good opportunity for me to compare and contrast the atmosphere of a classroom full of students who are new to high school and unfamiliar with me and my teaching style with students who have already spent a year in my classroom.  Therefore, I intend to use blog postings labeled 'A' to comment on my first graders and 'B' to comment on my second graders.

The lesson topic for second graders this week is 'The Military'.  I chose this topic because I thought it would be interesting to high school boys.  As usual, I started the lesson with a 10-15 minute introduction and brainstorming session wherein I ask mainly closed, display questions and receive one word answers in return.  The goal of this is to get the students  thinking about the topic, as well as, introduce key vocabulary for the activity later on. 
For the activity, I created a dialog in which a Korean and a foreigner are talking about the Korean's impending responsibility of 2 years in the military.  The conversation is pre-made but with 4 places where the students (in pairs) must fill in the blanks with ideas of their own.  The students must then memorize the dialog and perform it in front of the class.
On the whole, I felt good about this lesson.  The students participated well and many successfully memorized the dialog.  The students were also creative in their 'fill in the blank' adaptations to the discourse.  The atmosphere in some classes is always better than others, but I was generally satisfied with the lesson considering it was  my first time to use 'The Military' as a topic.
I am, however, perplexed about how I can incorporate some of the techniques in Walsh and Xie into my classroom.  I realize that the discourse between myself and the students is largely monologic but this is a by product of the level my students are at and the size of the classroom.  The Walsh and Xie articles focus on adult learners in what seems to be a small class of students capable of making conversation.  What few students I have that can carry a dialogic discourse, I frequently engage.  But what of the 25 students in the room who would never be able to follow an open-referential discussion?  What is my responsibility?  At least monlogic discourse is easy to follow.  And the lower level students might venture to contribute if they know they don't have to form any sentences.
Also, although it provides the students with a chance to practice speaking in sentences without reading,  I wonder if simply memorizing a dialog is very helpful.  After all, it lacks the element of 'thinking on the spot' conducive to real conversations. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Spy - Week 1

This is the first week of the new school year.  With the first graders I am doing an introductory lesson but since the second graders already know me I was able to record 10 minutes of an average lesson.  The topic of the lesson is 'Comics'.  I chose this topic because high school boys in Korea like to read comics and  I  thought it would motivate them to participate.  The activity in the second half of class  was that the students had to fill in the dialog (using their imaginations) of a blank, four picture comic strip and then, with a partner, act out their dialog in front of the class. 

Overall I thought the lesson was successful.  The introduction discourse went smoothly and all the students who were capable participated in the activity.

The recording was made of the first 10 minutes of my class.  This includes the initial greetings and small talk, as well as, most of the topic introduction and brainstorming.

My body language seemed fine and I did my best to use dialogic discourse by asking individual students at random 'What did you do on your vacation?' In many cases I got simple answers like 'only sleeping' or 'PC Bang' but in a few cases we managed a short conversation.  Conversation always gets easier as the semester progresses.

The brainstorming section, however, took a monologic turn.  The interaction between myself and the students consisted of me asking a question and getting a one word answer in return.  I think that I should find a way to draw longer sentences out of the students.  The questions I asked received limited answers because the questions themselves were limited.