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Getting there


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

here we gooooo! new term, all fresh to be explored!

well, what a wet rainy day.

new classroom, so half the students didn't know where to go and everyone came in in dribs and drabs late....two students kindly offered to go to the old classroom in the pouring rain and check people were realizing the switch....had a great chat to one of my students while waiting, who did a trip to Europe and told me a bit about it, they used English a lot to talk to Spanish and Danish people they met on the way. Great stuff!

wrote up the course outline, while waiting, then after fifteen minutes delay spent a good deal of time calling the role (good to be reminded of names and faces, tiny welcoming comments inbetween, feeling happy one student actively supported me with loud and clear "not here"s for absent students) talking about how there would only be 4 vocab sheets, and that with the summer assignment and the four presentations this would entail the final grade. Open for questions inbetween, and then ran through it again in Japanese since one student had the guts to put up their hand and ask for it.

Ok, then wanted to whip through the vocab C-R sheet I had prepared, as a review of the first term, first the cell phone bit, and then we had a five minute break...oh boy, did they ever not understand the task sheet in English...took them ages to get the picture and start writing a message to a friend on their cellphone..., i started to collect answers on the board on how many choices they had to make to get their message done, from the groups, and then i brainstormed the why the cellphone knows, and somebody came up with everyone uses the phrases, so i said, right, and English is the same, so there's no point in learning a word in isolation. There was a kind of aha rustle in the class, and we decided to hit the break. I wandered round double checking they had got the point, and they had, and then i went to the loo myself.

Half of this was in Japanese, me as usual doing the rounds to see how groups were faring, and the whole thing took farrrrrr too much time, as these things usually do. Reminded me of our Bham summer seminar, where we were supposed to learn a lot about computers and i got all confused and everyone else was kind of vacillating too, and it just takes far more time than the teacher thinks it will!! One of my students asked me for the english for relax, take it easy, which was nice, and then said, yeah, let's take it easy...I reckon this term i will, more, i guess, give up on the great scheme of teaching everything and the universe as well.

After the break the students began to work on highlighting and looking for collocations. Again they were simply not used to knowing what to look for, a student in the loo had told me it might be easier with Japanese text directing the student what to look for....again i wandered around prompting. After a while, it was time for As and Bs to share, and whilst they were getting on with that i worked with a group at the back who hadn't had a clue, which was great, you could see with the personal help they were beginning to get it, and even thought up their own collocations.

I then called order, and ran through at the front, recapping and offering an example of how they might have taken notes and done it. Lots of aha stuff going on, and notetaking, finally, then I asked the students to write me comments, and give me the papers for me to read the comments in the last three minutes. So in all the whole thing took fifty minutes, which is rather too long, but if i repeat it should cut the time now they know what to do. Consolidation. I guess further along in the course i'll run some more, with more snippets and more examples, now they know what kind of patterns to look out for. Sighing inwardly I gave up on beginning to work on presentations but I had the wit to hand out the first of my presentation worksheets to be looked at for homework...

After class i stayed back to explain a bit about hte vocab sheet and the course to a new student, giving him the summer assignment, and we hit the beginning of the next course class so had to retreat in haste. He seemed very nice, and said on our way down the stairs that although teachers have often talked about the importance of collocations, learning it the way we did today really made sense of the why of the importance and of the how to.

On my way out of campus i saw an absent student, and handed him the homework presentation worksheet so that he'll be prepared next week too.

That's about it, i think?? but i was happy to see them, they are a rowdy lot, but i guess i'm always asking them to do unusual (for them) things....