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Getting there


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Gosh I feel like a champagne glass with all the fizzle gone...I got home and my son told me there was a phone call from the uni, I seem to have left my work folder in the classroom, with all the assignment results so far (oh horrors!), but from my blogging point of view it has all the activity results of what each group of students found in common, which I was happily going to type in here...so gloating will have to wait...

As class began I greeted individual students, praising presentations and commenting on summer assignments, having laid out the assignment, group distribution sheet and rubrics at the back for students to pick up (they're used to this system).

Then I wrote up vocab sheets 9:15~9:30 on the board to remind them to start work, and checked up on six odd students who haven't yet handed in the summer assignment, I had almost got the impression I must have lost some of the papers, but it was ok, for various reasons the students hadn't handed them in. I checked up on three or four people's vocab sheets and stopped to tell students who hadn't prepared one to come early and do it next week before class.

At nine-thirty I counted down for the papers, and then launched into an explanation of the marking system one more time, 20% essay, 20% for each set of presentation/vocabulary sheet to make a mark out of 100%(did say if they wanted to skip class, every second day after presentations was the only time, assuming group members weren't inconvenienced which garnered a smile) followed by a quick mention of the essay, and how we would work on that more in the third presentation.

Any questions so far? Ok, so let's move into today's presentation, which is focusing on surveys and graphs, and first of all I have designated the group members this time. No response for ideas on how to get friendly with colleagues you may not know well/like / have a good impression of, so i talked about my experience at the seishindo workshop http://www.seishindo.org/ where I was asked to say three things I had in common with everyone, and how it felt great when people said things to me...so like I said, "We all breathe air" and, "we all speak English" and "we all are really excited about this workshop", and someone else told me, "You and me both like fashion and designs, judging by the sweater you're wearing".
Mixed in tiny bits of Japanese here and there to make sure they really got the point...

So that's a good technique to create a good atmoshpere when working together, I said, so get into your groups, and choose a group leader and find three things you share in common, speaking English please, and then you can choose a topic which I wrote up on the board.
As the groups got into it I moved around, enjoying the process, asking some questions, some responses I remember right now were, "we all like coke" and "we all use an au cellphone" and " we all do sports", one group had "we are all collecting money for the Niigata earthquake victims", and so they handed these noted down to me and chose a topic. Good work, let's take a break! I said, and off they all went.

I stopped to chat with the ladies, praised a skirt "I chopped it myself" she replied, rough unsewn hems seems to be in. Cool, just like madonna, I murmured to her friends, which they passed on to her and she did a wee dance in the classroom, beaut lady! So when you get out into the workplace, remember this common bond technique, ok? I soapboxed, and wandered back to the blackboard to write up the second presentation flow (see previous entry).

Students came back in, and after giving a tiny report on the common bond exercise results (including the admirable earthquake one) ran through the flow chart and the kind of words you can use for a survey using a worksheet for high school kids from my colleague Wayne Johnson, reminding htem also of the article I had previously distributed on a venture business that is getting rich providing mini-surveys to companies.

So finish your worksheets, check the answers, and then focus in on an angle fo the topic you like and begin to make questions. I wandered round the groups, supporting worksheet progress, but more importantly offering sample ideas about what kind of questions you can ask in a survey related to a particular topic. This was where i as the teacher was pretty taxed, reminded of the caveat that for this kind of work the teacher has to be kind of extra knowledgeable, I didn't have a good idea for a sample survey on futures....in fact, reading The Economist this morning gave me some ideas, but I feel the need to have a mini-example per topic, which is hard on me, not enough preparation and research time compared to if I just teach one particular topic and think of questions and examples for that.

Nobody wanted Auditing, which I think is a great topic, there was a brilliant article about how businesses are using shady accounting based on pension funds.....Anyway, I started off with an example for the pricing strategies group, you could survey whether a customer would prefer a Gucci to a plastic pen and why....then Takeovers, Nissan may be taking over Mitsubishi small cars right now, and would customers think it's any different? Should Mitsubishi workers be laid off?...
Insider trading, offered, "Do you know the penalties for insider trading? Do you consider them to be high enough? There was an example in the papers the other day, but I forgot to memorize the name and the details, so couldn't link it to anything real. The Third World Debt team were having a ball so I thankfully left them to it, the Futures team had two absent members, so one guy was soldiering on alone, but he's a great student, so I asked him to support the other two, who are a little leery of English. We talked about the survey questions, and I profess I felt pretty stumped, until I hit on rice in Japan, and the link between futures and free trade...

So a clear feeling of needing to do more homework for the class myself, in order to be able to scaffold the initial process as they make survey questions, not so much from a linguistic perspective, because I provided sample survey questions and delivery phrases, and the necessary basic economics vocab is in the worksheets, but oh boy the economic concepts! I need to scaffold the thought processes with examples, and sound and be professional about the subject matter.

And so it was time to go home, make sure you think of the issues and bring some concrete survey topics /questions for next week, I prompted, and talked to the lady who had come late (she forgot her train pass...) so i then tested her on her vocab in the corridor, which was a good way to review the fact that the phrases used to test the vocab sheet are useful in group discussion, could you explain a bit more, could you clarify please, do you have an example?, which is why I want them to be used during the checking process. Good work, well learned and prepared.

Then we all admired a tamagochi type new cellphone one of the waiting friends had, and i got my pic taken, only the mail hasn't arrived, and i showed my family pics and then we all went off down the stairs. I took the opportunity to ask if they liked this new version of the course, with all the presentations. Great, last term was a bit hard, this is great, says one student,, well, this is supposed to be hard too, I said, all the work is done outside of class in the preparation, yes replied a new student this term, it's a lot of work...but secretly, I think it's more about having got used to my style this term than my demanding less.