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Getting there


Thursday, July 15, 2004

Kind of sad I can't offer my Thursday class a guest speaker....but it was a great class to end with, so different from the Tuesday mood. I must look back over the blog and see what I did differently, off the top of my head I think I personally was more confident on Thursday, having run through thte materials once, and then the management was better, having realized where glitches and hitches might occur.

After greeting the students I arranged them in small groups of three, I had paired "A" students who hadn't seen the test with students who had, and handed out the clean test paper to be worked on together. It worked a treat, they set to with a will, consulting dictionaries, talking, A students consulting with peers, Bstudents  not just sitting back and letting the "A"student provide all the answers, but gaining a voice in the discussion, feeling validated in their choices, they worked reeallly hard together until I called them to remind them to take a five-minute break at ten.
i was so happy, because I had set up the groups to try and gain that kind of equality in power and knowledge, to give them all an equal footing in working together, and not necessarily with friends, to open new doors to new relationships and confidences.

After the break we reconvened and I handed out the marked papers, and talked through the test one last time, explaining the why and wherefore and reviewing the course and what it had been about as I did. I had them all focused and interested, they had a stake in knowing what and why, because they had really worked well. I felt so happy, validated myself in what I was trying to accomplish, my explanations had a meaning for them.

Then I read out the grades, with a small personal comment of congratulation or encouragement for each student, ( I had emailed one student personally congratulating in advance, he had finally gained an A,  had really wanted to be exempt from the exam, but had had to sit it because he was right on the borderline...)  and remarked of one student that he had been absent four times and should really be failed, but that I would carry over one absence into the autumn term. I loved the smile of one of my quieter students when he heard he got a "B"....

Then I handed out the summer homework (a choice of two articles from the Economist, one on China and cotton, the other on OECD labour market reform) and noted up on the board the required length, said if they wanted to choose a different article that was fine, but to provide me with a copy, and that the level was high, so if they chose a really short and easy article to read and write about, it would gain an equivalent mark,  so to try and maintain standards, and that I recommended the Economist, where both of these articles were from.  This group has shown a broad range of interests, so I wonder what articles they will find.

Finally they filled out my questionnaire, which i collected wandering round personally on the chime, again gaining a chance to wish students personally a good summer with a nod and a smile, and thank for the questionnaire. Now I feel like summer myself, and a little sad that this atmosphere doesn't happen on Tuesday...there is much to study this summer, perhaps I will find the key!