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Getting there


Thursday, November 25, 2004

busy day, busy day.... sitting on the train visualizing my groups and putting people together, finalized the groups while munching a sandwich over a hot latte in the cafe at the station...in the staffroom I was printing and printing, the Cotton in China article and related worksheet, the group names sheet, the people skills exercise, and then the relevant articles, fifteen of each, from which students would choose the topic for their groups- all from The Economist, except for one from http://www.worldfutureschool.org/index.php?id=299 on Gross National Happiness, the fruits of Global Learn Day and Positive News http://www.pnyv.org/ already put to good use!

So I was just done in time, and as students got on with testing each other on the vocabulary sheet, I penned up the topics for the articles:
  1. Ecotourism: 'Peace, prosperity and anoraks', The Economist, Aug 28th 2004
  2. Environmentally Friendly Cars: 'Driven by the oil price', The Economist, Aug 28th 2004
  3. The cost of AIDS: 'An imprecise catastrophe', The Economist, May 22nd, 2004
  4. Desertification: 'The green desert', The Economist, Aug 28th, 2004
  5. 'Profits and poverty' The Economist, Aug.21st, 2004
  6. Nuclear Power omg I see one really dumb group has taken the whole pile including the original article, now i have to dig it out and photocopy it again....yikes,,,,,
  7. GM foods 'From corn wars to corn laws' The Economist, Sep. 25th 2004
  8. New Economic Theories 'Planning for Happiness' http://www.worldfutureschool.org/index.php?id=299

After all students had handed in their vocab sheets, I really praised them on their work to date, reviewed the presentation skills we had learned to date with a bit of acting, and then said that the focus of the next presentation was using an article as a springboard into a topic....This will be the last presentation topic that I will teach and decide for you, so I took the liberty of choosing from my own speciality and interest, which as you all know is Economics and the Environment, ok, and so for the moment please focus on me for a bit of teacher-led time.

Handed out the Cotton Market article and worksheet and asked them to highlight the sentences I had prepared in big type on my worksheet, and to think about what they were doing. Five minutes, ok, and so I wandered round offering highlight pens (had about five to share) and helping people who hadn't got the gist of what to do yet...as I saw most were nearing the end of the nine sentence snippets, I asked for focal attention, and said, ok, what were you highlighting? Bit of IRF, got a response, the first sentence in every paragraph (Japanese is ok, I said, and so I got Japanese..)...Right, so the main information is in the first sentence, ok, and you don't have to read everything to get the general outline...ok, and how about the sentence itself you highlighted, what about that? No response to this, so I said, well, you're only focusing on SVO and chopping adjectives and relative clauses and the like, which is useful, because 'The Economist' uses some pretty far-out vocab most of the time, which is of course a delight to people like me and a bane for you the learner....

Now then, so if you get another article, you're going to list up those main topic sentences on a piece of paper like I've done here for you, ok? OK, and then! you look at each one, and in the space on the right you note down any economic terminology that comes into your mind! (At the bottom of my sheet I had some example words for them to use....) OK, so the first sentence is:

  1. China...looks set for a record harvest... primary sector, agriculture, 3sectors of the Economy
  2. ...the Chinese government has relaxed control... deregulation

At this point I offered five minutes to think and give it a go, and then since everyone was kind of relaxing or not really going places with it I decided to brainstorm at the board, saying Japanese economic terms are ok too, if they pop up in your mind, note them down and translate later, and one of the students came out to help me note down the Japanese...so we continued at the board

  1. ...textile manufacturing has become a ...competitive industry... secondary sector, competition
  2. ..CHina's introduction of market forces has not made life easier....problems, free market
  3. On the supply side there has been a stampede. market imbalance

At this point I suggested, ok, so you say the article talks about the influence of deregulation on the primary and secondary sectors of the economy and how it causes problems due to market imbalances. So you see, how we begin to write it in our own words and open it up to economic terminology and problematizing? So if you get the hang of this technique, let's stop there and get into groups and apply it, ok? But one of the students said they would like to continue to the end of the article, ok, I said, let's put it to a vote, hands up who wants to carry on, and a majority went up, so I carried on, please help me out here, you're the economists, not me, I said, but even calling on names, the response was minimal, so while insisting that my brainstormed terminology was not the be all and end all, I continued to model the technique

  1. ..supply is helping to push prices down... the business-cycle, fluctuations, endogenous factors
  2. ..falling prices should be good... The Economist advocates, stable market
  3. The government has decided... at futures trading.. futures, the stockmarket, government control of the markets
  4. ..Jeff Coey says that demand will grow... Demand is expected to grow, positive, market growth, expanding economy

I spent a little time asking various people if they knew Jeff Coey, which of course they didn't, and neither do I , I said, and so we cut the name using a passive construction, unless it's someone really famous like President Bush, or you use the organization, if they're famous.

Ok, so now can you condense the article into one sentence? Again, a bit of modelling seemed called for as the students pencilled furiously, and i suggested something or other, again insisting that there was no right way, and then, i said, you home in on one field you want to talk about, say: the primary sector, and whoopee whee off you go on your own ideas, or say, the issue of government control and zipadee do dah off you jump into a discussion of that...everyone was giggling at me singing a wee tune as i jumped around to illustrate the springboard bit, and you've all done good work, let's take five and then get into groups for the next presentation....

WE TOOK A BREAK! and i went to wash my chalky hands....

In groups I then reminded them we had learned one people skill, a technique of finding common interests, or things you share, to relax and make a good atmosphere, and today we would learn another, which is kind of embarrassing at first but feels really good, complimenting. I modelled moving round the room, Toshi, you're really handsome, Eimi, you're really smart, Risa, you're really fun to be with, and then handed out a worksheet with words to compliment someone, and the definitions on the right, match them up, then compliment each other, and then come and choose your presentation article and topic, ok?

After a while I ran throught the hardest ones, smart, which is a false friend meaning thin in Japanese, outgoing, open-minded, and considerate were generally new to everyone and needed clarifying (good chance to reinforce my 'Could you clarify outgoing a little please', from my vocab sheet) and then since they really were shy to do it, I walked round policing and prompting, and said no takers for topics until i hear you doing this for sure....and so one student suggested they note down who said what, and gave me the results, other groups didnt, but here they are, names changed of course

Eiji you are trustworthy and considerate, Mimi you are fun to be with and smart, Shiro you are very active, a good soccer player and easy to talk to

Nice, no takers for Ecotourism, but other wise all the topics went, with a nice spread, double takers for AIDS,

and then a little time to sit reading in groups, check the schedule for presentations, ask for a Christmas party (if you can afford the time regarding your fourth and last presentation, sure) and we all went home....