Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Getting there


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Big queue in the staffroom, one copy machine was out, so huge traffic jam, which meant I didn't have my usual moment of peace before class, my wee cup of green tea, and i forgot to fill my water bottle, so no drinking in class...obviously need to, i feel, in retrospect, that moment of focusing and the drinking during the lesson, which i wish to encourage students to do to, as a brain-friendly strategy, is pretty important.

Fifteen minutes early as usual, and took the extra time to learn the names of some early birds and give personal feedback on their vocab. One guy had been absent, but felt better. I really feel it's important to get to know the names, last year with three hundred students i was in a panic, but by the end of the year i had them all, and it pays now, when they still come up and talk to me, validating the year's learning. Eight down, thirty to go in this class...good students, they are!

One of the most English proficient students hadn't brought a vocab sheet. "You said no homework over Golden Week", he pointed out, and I had to agree, but said that I had explained at the beginning of the course we had a vocab sheet every week, and I would accept his argument if no-one else had done it, but since he was the only one, it wouldn't wash. In the mess of words and negotiating i hope i apologized for using misleading wording about 'homework', have i conveniently eased out the details of this because i'm guilty i didn't?

But no time to think these things as I start to focus the class, as planned, doing the explanations of the group discussion compilation sheet and focusing on question two again, the option of letting the students get back in the original group (or a different combination and then they can say our group said this..)? to read through together and explore how other people responded flickered through my brain, flimmered as i guaged the time and died as i went into my main spiel about how agreeing is a three-point process, agree, repeat the hypothesis and add your own personal experience/opinion. I think this caused a kind of ragged rent in the flow, because i suddenly asked students who had just begun to focus on the compilation sheet to switch to the old sheet and look at number two.

I patched it over with my Japanese explanation, had full attention as i gyrate and joke, underline and dance, and whipped up the three part visual grid on the blackboard. Rolf Harris with more dancing. (Gosh I loved him.) And I asked them to take the new graphs worksheets in the break, so that we can move on to new things for the second half.

Didn't take a break myself, no water, no nothing, mistake, Renata, mistake...be an example. Guess I was focusing on what was going wrong, still no words for it, the timing, the question did i really need the Japanese? didn't need the compilation worksheet at all, it detracted from my main message about agreeing...

So again things went haywire in the second class, where i told students to work through the worksheets in pairs or alone, their choice, with a view to describing and making their own for graphs for homework, and that we would do a short test at the end. Restlessness, as I wander round, and students are seeing it as a kind of homework task, chatting until i draw near, not quite following the mass of prints, and where to begin, and I see i have too many prints, and the wrong things are put together: i need the graph description vocabulary and the optional reading on both sides of one paper for reference, and the cloze tasks and linking sentences on both sides of another, so that reference paper and worksheet are clearly separated. The order of my prints is confusing! I hadn't anticipated this! I thought I would use one of the prints for those who don't have the textbook, an optional handout, the other being the work at hand, but they all took it, so I was running around opening up the textbook, showing them where it was to be found, rather than helping them to progress and understand the point of it all. Before letting them get to it, I should have written up the textbook pages on the board. Clear explanations of the task! Ha!

In a twinkling it is time for the test, and the atmosphere switches, like a light bulb going on, as I write up the answers to the worksheet they have just done. These kids are used to tests, and they sure know how to do them! I think almost all my results are in the high eighties or above so far: will I have to give the whole class a straight "A"?

Some people are so fast at this one, matching questions and answers, they're not actually using the content and meaning to choose, just linking why and because, or What is ... to It is..., but there is still an element of coping with the meaning, which is a review of the three sectors of the economy. A nice page for them to read. Good vocab and phrases in there.

Sigh, my no vocab student is done in a trice, and i have to stamp my foot and remind the room that the test is still in progress as he begins to set the tone for a social mood. This guy's a mood maker, but not into study today evidently, and I'll have to think how to harness his charisma for the benefit of everyone, and get him to realize that he needs to move on to the next level of really specialist Economics terminology, with his assets...Anyone need an extra minute? Yes? ok, one more minute. Right, now peermark please, and hand it in to me, all understand the homework? Yes? Catching * as he goes out, hadn't got round to his seat when I was helping with the exercises and explaining the homework, "did you understand the homework? No, k, come here," explaining one last time.

And then dashing off to the Economics department to ask them to add two documents to my application to use the university TERRA system, lots of paperwork, then I can put things up on the university net and have an e-mail there, none of this personal e-mails to everyone that has the brains to contact me business...of course i could just set up another blog...