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Getting there


Thursday, October 21, 2004

dreamy in on the train today, even fell asleep and missed my stop, waking up as the doors closed and the train pulled out of the station...no prob, I'm always so early, but wondering as I walked to the uni what kind of teaching this would lead to...

Up in class I wrote up the schedule, fifteen minutes of rubric explanation and then free preparation for the presentations, and started chatting to the students, explaining how I had overslept this morning by half an hour, and then even fallen asleep on the train, and the long and the short of it was I had no cell-phone so no watch, so could they keep time for me? One student pulled out his cellphone and showed me it was 9:17, thanks, high time to get going, so I launched into action, first explaining the ten criteria for sixpoints, so a mark out of sixty, with five markers divided by five to give an average, with me possibly being a sixth marker divided out of six, or me and half the average, to give me more power, I said i hadn't decided my role exactly yet.

Then I went through the rubrics one by one, asking for questions or comments inbetween. Everyone seemed to understand quite well, (or they were happy to sit in silent oblivion). When we got to the last item, visuals, I asked them if anyone knew how to use/make a powerpoint. Only one student put up their hand! Then I asked if they knew how to use Word, which only about a third of the students tentatively did, and likewise for graphs from excel files....I inadvertently said "Jesus!" in my surprise, (nudge nudge she just said "Jesus") and I'm sure the lord will help out, to get them all PPT savvy and into the 21st century. OK, I said, then that's my next job, for me to research access to a computer room or something so we can all learn how to PPT for the next presentation or so. We also need to organize a screen and a projector....a puter.....

After this diversion we got back to the rubrics overall, I asked again, any questions? Does anyone need some Japanese? Nobody piped up, so I said great, then let me take the roll, and if anyone's later than now, they've had it, they're absent, and then over to you. The first four students on my list have never come...I asked if anyone saw them to tell them they would fail the course if they don't come next time, but it seems nobody else knows them either...so in fact I have only thirty students in this Thursday class.

As the kids took out worksheets and got to work on their presentations I walked round, (I have the answers) suggesting how the introduction could be written, or how to exploit the Q&A type worksheet format for a more interesting presentation, pointing out that words they found difficult were the main item for the handouts...one poor guy had been deserted by his other two colleagues..."would you like to join in the other group with the same topic and steal some of their ideas? Or just go it alone?" He was fine working alone, he said, great, I said, if you present alone you'll get the marks and your colleagues will get zero,..."I'm not sure they'd be happy with that, " he said, "Ok, so you'll have to get in touch with them and practice outside of class",says I, " I guess so," he said.

Most groups needed a little help with how to change the info sheet into a presentation, how to choose what to focus on, how to split up info and designate roles. One of my groups finished the worksheet and went off to the puter room. Another impressive group whipped out a laptop with an uplink and they got on the web in the classroom. You are so professional, I enthused, we should show this to everyone, what a great person to emulate....but we came to a halt as the non-existence of a screen hit us, and no projector...I'll try and sort it out, I promised.

One of the groups of three had only two people there, and one of the members had a cold, so the mainstay of the team was effectively working alone. I suggested the sick person could go home, they are worried because they have only one day absent left to them all term, because they were absent one extra time last term, (should have failed but I bumped the absence into this term as the course is consecutive for the year), that they had been marked present and needn't worry, but they said it was ok to sit and work a bit. I kept going back to this group repeatedly throughout the time to support comprehension as they slowly worked through the sheet, and up popped a query about what allocation of overheads in cost accounting meant, and I tried to explain with a plastic pen, and then suggested that that might be a good thing to focus on and explain for the presentation, make it very visual.

All students regrouped at the end, and as I moved to the front a student suggested they email me their worksheets, for me to make prints next week, rather than come in early to hand them to me...ok, i grudgingly admitted, that means i have all the work! i wailed, but then said to everyone as i got to the dais, in a firm voice, "ok, so you can email me your handouts ( realizing if they're in my puter, that might be useful for me too, so it's not a bad thing after all) and of course email me with any queries that might crop up this week, and good work and see you next week!"

Chatting on my way to the station to one of my quieter and very pleasant sort of reliable students, seems we live in the same area, turns out he's a future banker, I reckon I would put my money in his care, I mused, as I stood on the platform, I wonder if i'll remember to tell him next time.