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.