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. 

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