Thursday, October 28, 2004
Wondering what it is about my Thursday class that makes everything just click....the fact that there are ten less people from Tuesday? The fact that it is my second time around? This second hypothesis will soon be put to the test, because since next Tuesday is the university Open Day I will be moving ahead in the course with my Thursday lot, and they will become my guinea pigs...
On Tuesday we finished with two presentations still to go....today we were on the dot, as it were, for all eight presentations...but I'm jumping to the end of the class before I begin....
One group of students emailed me the files to be printed a clear day in advance, great stuff, so I wrote back to let them know it had arrived and ask them to write the email in English next time, with some suggested phrases, like "please" and "thank you".... Last night at about eight I whipped off a quick email to the student who had suggested the whole email thing, saying my deadline was nine and I was off to bed, she told me today she actually read it at ten....
In the staffroom I then had three groups bring in presentation handouts for printing. What strikes me about these handouts is that they are much leaner and meaner than my Tuesday lot, and have nice vocab sections to be used in the next vocab sheet as I suggested, one even has suggestions for the "word in use" sample sentence section. This is important because it means they have less work to do the vocab sheet for next week, and they will be busy with the Uni Festival...one of the girls sold me a ticket for soup, asked if I would come to the OPen Day as I was packing up after class ...not sure I will, but I have a coupon for soup now...
The scope of the talks is much narrowerthan Tuesday presentations, focusing more on the worksheets I had given them, and they have thought really carefully about how to use team interaction, the Q&A structure to exploit different voices and animate the whole thing, also great delivery, use of gestures and handouts, so really trying to practice those things I had pointed out and we had worked on in my preparatory lessons, using parts of the Macmillan "In Company" intermediate textbook lesson 12 and then the rubrics as a guide.
It's like some Tuesday groups were aiming too high contentwise and got lost in their own world, whereas here limiting the data, the careful use of timing, delivery and visuals made all the difficult economic things really clear to follow.
I guess I had more time to go round the groups during the preparation classes and give feedback, answer questions, clarify what to focus on and generally suggest and coach more.
I am so PROUD of these guys, there was obviously a lot of effort and preparation going on behind the scenes, both Tuesday and Thursday, I feel really happy and hopeful that they are able to learn techniques from such a concentrated selection of short presentations. Indeed each different team had something going for them, today, we even had what I would consider a perfect presentataion, only lost four and a half points on the rubrics overall in my judging and that was being picky.
And so management-wise I just let students choose when to present, and they seemed to just get up and go for it in their own natural order, from first through to last....first up was me, handing out the Halloween reading and the excel suggestion sheet, turns out they've all had a basic excel and word course at the uni, only it didn't really stick or something. Then as I settled in at the table at the back one of the groups came to say they had sent me an email last night, and I called the class attention for the last time before presentations and said, even if i didn't give you a deadline, once you are out working people may not tell you things, but you have to think of social norms, among which are nine to five for approaching people about work issues, ok? Rustlings and mumblings, assent or indifference? One thing writing my blog de blog can't do is tell me how the students feel about things, only how I am trying, need to run follow-up questionnaires on this presentation semester, that's for sure....
Then I turned back to the group representative and said we'd print it in the break, so could they wait with presenting til after the break? which all worked out fine, we ran smoothly through five presentations and then I dashed off to the office to print it out: it was a winner of a powerpoint, and they had even printed out large A4 ppt pages to hold up as visuals during the talk. I need to get the kids to teach those skills to everyone, I'll lug in my laptop next time or the week after, in the staffroom got advice about borrowing a projector from the uni office...omg peering at my baby now i see i don't have a plug in for the old type of circular pins thing my colleague showed me they use instead of a USB port to link up puter and projector....the digital divide?...or just hassle...
Where was I? I had chalked up a quick view of the rubrics sheet right at the start of class and reminded everyone to write names of presenters, their own marker name, the name of the presentation and how to color the relevant box and tot up the score. I then asked the markers to deliver the finished sheets on a shiny plastic folder, rather than me trying to collect them, and when they were all there i handed the sheaf of six papers to the group which had finished presenting and I asked them to calculate the average and hand it back to me. That way they knew their scores, and they did the math...of course I had wanted to know how much weight to give to my own judgements which is why this way of managing the math and finalizing the mark was not possible in my Tuesday class.
It meant I had more time to hand out the mark sheets to the next set of people for scoring, and this time i knew to stand up with only five rubric sheets in my hand, so that when i had no rubrics left, I knew I had five markers in the room, rather than running round with a sheaf of about forty papers and losing count of how many i had handed out and then stupidly asking for marking students to put up hands and attend to me, trying to count....which i mistakenly did again once today, with the comittant results, it ate time and people were distracted so weren't listening to put up their hands...ten people less makes the difference here really strong, because there is that much less rustling going on.
So again smooth management meant smooth transitions meant we got things all done on time.
I even had time to say thank you and how impressive they were, somethig to learn in every one, and say that the things you noticed as good are the seeds of things you have inside you, what you admire is what you can achieve too, and to think of that, and then we all broke up naturally again, some students handing in the summer assignments and one student apologizing for having left it at home, so I said either to email it to me or as a special favor hand it in next week, because I really want to make a rubric and mark it this weekend.
One of my students had a letter to explain his absence, it's ok, thanks I don't need it, you can be absent three times max, I said, when you are absent four times, then you have to start really justifying why, or fail the course, but anyway are you ok? I'm fine, he says, and off he went to the next class. And I turned to buying tickets for soup...they are great, these young men and women, what a great class.
Renata 3:16 pm