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Getting there


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Feeling more organized with Tuesdays too, nice big classroom, none of that tiny long squished classroom packed with thirty-six odd people in a suggested limit of twenty-seven. Glad I managed to change over, proud of having negotiated the bureaucracy..Stuck my head round the door of the old room which is opposite to invite the students over, of course they hadn't checked the bulletin board where the change was posted, so I asked one fo the students to write up the new room number on the black board for me. Thanks :)

Laid out the prints in the new room so they can pick them up as they come in, a copy of the rules, a copy of the networking, and a new economist article for the interested. Happily encouraged them to start testing each other on the vocab. This is adapted from a Tim Murphey hint, taken from Murphey, T. Tests: Learning through Negotiated Interaction . TESOL Journal, Winter 1994/95, pp12-16, who compiled a list of 50 target words compiled from lists students prepared with words/expressions they felt they had learned. Students then walk and talk, testing each other on ten of a student pre-selected twenty items.
I kind of adopted the test each other format, but each student has complete freedom to choose their own vocabulary from any field of economics that particularly interests them, or the homework, etc, and they must know all the twenty words on their sheets. That way they can see how peers are studying, and be galvanised into studying harder, or into discovering more specialized vocab. I stipulated they must use a different checker every week, so that they see ten different vocab sheets during the term, and learn a total of two hundred.
In my interview I was told the students didn't think in an economic sense of the words. On the first day I tried to highlight this, with the word bond, which means common interest, friendship type thing in normal English, but of course is a financial term in Economics. So like drop isn't a drop of rain, it's a drop in production. So the vocab sheet is a way to sensitize the students to this and to start to learn the specialist vocab, but in an autonomous way.

Oooh so anyway, here I am running round listening in as they check each other, explaining again to late-comers they will lose checking time and therefore grading points overall, once again explaining the English definition format, geared to getting them to look at the English english Economics dictionary, putting it out for them to look at in the break, listening to one student say he couldn't do the homework because he the textbook hasn't arrived, and telling him he'd be fired if he didn't do the work his boss gave him a week ago, asking him why he hadn't e-mailed me if he had a problem as other students had(too rough? too real???)...disappointing?demotivating?how nice should i be??
And quite happy when i have the pile of 36 sheets to take home to check for attendance, and
oh god the work i set myself up for, they've marked it , yes, but i must double check to make sure they're filling it in correctly with nice sample sentences and twenty different words...I guess I will check it less and less as the course flows on, I will maintain the system for the year. Impressive, the excel ones, all neat and printed and well done!! Print out a sample of a good one next time, show them how it should be done...(Next year's students will have it so easy, i should hand a sample out in the very first class...but then would they just copy it, or still try and look for their own vocab? Remains to be seen next year, and it's so good, it wouldn't hurt to copy and learn per se)
Ulp, but on with the show, today we're into reviewing the networking otherwise they won't be able to do their open book test, and a rerun of how to fill in the vocab sheet, just to make sure. And then an early break,
to be followed by asking students to think of how they will work in a company. IRF, or rather I S S, initiate -silence-soldier on, this presentation aspect really needs to be filed, and then saying well, most companies prefer you to work in groups, and we're going to look at the skills a group leader needs.
I'm using a brilliant worksheet which introduces the scaffolding phrases to make groupwork run smoother, presented at the Yokohama JALT January 18, 2004 by Christopher Jon Poel, Musashi Institute of Technology and Homan, Robert M., International Christian University, called Effective Groupwork. Thanks guys, great stuff.
So I jigsawed it, and asked students to get in groups of three, and to get a set of worksheets, (I had set up sets of three As, Bs, Cs or Ds.) After group time spent reading and making sure they could explain, I asked them to delegate the three remaining bits of info among the group, go off and find the other info. Weaving in and out of groups, prompting, supporting, explaining as they work...yes, Japanese is ok, but look it up at home and put it on the vocab sheet, learn it...yes, short and sweet is good, make sure you have all the info tho...ok, great, you've got the info :) ...ok, let's have a look , this bit is what you're going to tell people, what does it say? ok, yes, can you all say that? tell your group, make sure everybody can....did you delegate your tasks? great :) who's going for A? for B? for C? great, yes, ok, guys, time to all go go go and get your missing info....Then after another five mins I called them back into the original group fold to report.
Quick central run through at the board, teacher fronted, to sum up, and yes, for homework please write out the phrases you will need to perform the group leader task, as we will be using it next week
and ok twenty minutes left, open book test now, ok , get to it!!!! Wandering round helping students understand my questions. Ten in all, seem harder than I thought they were, and the students aren't really skimming and scanning their open books at all: this is another skill they don't have???Perhaps i need to talk to them about it?? I've set up so much teaching content, I'm getting swamped. Didn't know how much they could or couldn't do...

As they leave, one student comes up to complain about homework, watching Little Dancer and vocab and writing out groupwork phrases is too much, he says. Not for me, he says , so I ask him to ask his friend to email me personally if they have a problem with the homework. Thanks for the feedback, mate. I want the contact set up, the students to feel they can talk to me any time....

Some students stay late to finish off the test, which is fine by me, anxiously checked if a movie is too much, but it seems ok with them, but they suggest i should really check with the whole class, yes, true, need to make more time, respect their wishes, negotiate, feel so pressured by this giant construct of Economics content I hoped to explore and then I'm sitting down in the corridor to talk to a returnee from oz who is redoing the course and wants to negotiate credits. Really interesting, he says, but too fast...

Now home, marking up to my ears, what have i set myself up for here???Need to think of how to lessen the load...but I'm really enjoying the classes, every moment, so involving, so intense, fantastic.

Creating the Basic Motivational Conditions 4ŒŽ20“ú
1 Demonstrate and talk about your own enthusiasm for the course material and how it affects you personally.
2 Take the students learning very seriously. x
3 Develop a personal realationship with your students. x
4 Develop a collaborative relationship with the students'parents.
5 Create a pleasant and supportive atmosphere in the classroom. x
6 Promote the development of group cohesiveness. x
7 Formulate the norms explicitly, and have them discussed and accepted by the learners.
8 Have the group norms consistently observed. x
Total Strategies Used in Quadrant 1 5
Percentage of total strategies used in Quadrant 1 62.50%
Generating Initial Motivation
9 Promote the learners' language related valuse by presenting peer role models. x
10 Raise the learners' intrinsic interest in the L2 learning process x
11 Promote 'integrative values by encouraging a positive and open-minded disposition towards the L2 and its speakers x
12 Promote the students' awareness of the instrumental values associated with the knowledge of an L2 x
13 Increase the students' expectancy of success in particular tasks and learning in general.
14 Increase the students' goal-orientedness by formulating explicit class goals accepted by them. x
15 Make the curriculum and the teaching materials relevant to the students. x
16 Help to create realistic learner beliefs. x
Total Strategies Used in Quadrant 2 7
Percentage of total strategies used in Quadrant2 87.50%
Maintaining and Protecting Motivation
17 Make learning more stimulating and enjoyable by breaking the monotony of classroom events. x
18 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by increasing the attractiveness of the task. x
19 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by enlisting them as active task participants. x
20 Present and administer tasks in a motivating way. x
21 Use goal-setting methods in your classroom.
22 Use contracting methods with your students to formalise their goal commitment.
23 Provide learners with regular experience of success.
24 Build your learners confidence by porviding regular encouragement. x
25 Help dimish language anxiety by removing or reducing the anxiety-provoking elements in the learning environment. x
26 Build your learners confidence in their learning abilities by teaching them various learner strategies.
27 Allow learners to maintain a positive social image while engaged in the learning tasks.
28 Increase student motivation by promoting cooperation among the learners.
29 Increase student motivation by actively promoting learner autonomy. x
30 Increase the student' self-motivating capacity.
Total Strategies Used in Quadrant3 7
Percentage of total strategies used in Quadrant 3 50%
Encouraging Positive Self-Evaluation
31 Promote effort attributions in your students. x
32 Provide students with positive information feedback.
33 Increase learner satisfaction.(celebrate achievements, display work)
34 Offer rewards in a motivational manner.
35 Use grades in a motivating manner, reducing as much as possible theier demotivating impact. x
Total Strategies Used in Quadrant 4 2
Percentage of total strategies used in Quadrant 4 40%
Taken from Doernyei, Z. Motivational Strategies in the Classroom. Cambridge University Press 2001