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Getting there


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Just a quick rundown on Tuesday (yesterday)...what I'm proud of most, is when explaining the rubrics I cited two students' positive examples of eye-contact and asking clarification questions to illustrate, acknowledge and praise in one go....happy!

Came to class, left out marked homework and two papers at the back with new homework and Economist article plus the new yahoo groups info, then moved down the front to unpack my bags. Moved around a bit checking people were ok with the red pen stuff and discussing why I had marked things that way and how to improve. One student called me about "Tyres are ravaged by potholes in the roads", showing me the sentence in TIME magazine. Says a lot about TIME magazine that one, they're ravaging tyres now...I allowed myself a derisive comment about the quality of the writing...nothing like the Economist or the Financial Times for good English. I'll even take the Nikkei Weekly....

Anyway, then another student came with a note of absence and last week's homework, but I can't check the vocab for a past week, so I thanked for doing it, and put it the papers aside under the blackboard, which was a mistake, because I forgot them on the way home. Reflecting now this means I get thrown by students coming at me with personal niggly piggly things inbetween times. But they need to see me about things, so I need to send clear signals ( a new rule?) about when is a good time to see me for personal queries and things. Never enuff time...we don't get an office at campus so there's no space for that kind of thing after hours, it's do it in corridors inbetweentimes kinda thing. But I lose my focus on the class process when it comes at me inbetween class activities, or I lose my break....

Then I asked students to think about the Mitsubishi scandal where they kept faulty and defective vehicle parts secret even though they were well aware they were unsafe, not doing an open recall but fixing surreptitiously during general service repairs until quite a few people were killed and the scandal surfaced. Actually I tried to do a brainstorm on what the name Mitsubishi meant, but since nobody will offer stuff for a blackboard brainstorm I had to call names which puts people on the spot, and then I got various answers which didn't suit my purpose, and I thought this is the awful IRF thing, a lecture disguised as interaction with the teacher really in control with an agenda, so I just got on with explaining my agenda straight out as a lecture, rather than going through a pseudo dialogue process. I drew the parallel to the class, saying if you don't do the memorizing on vocabulary and your friend gives you full credit, are you doing a similar thing to Mitsubishi? If nobody finds out, is it ok to hide things? Please write your opinion on whether it is ok to lie about a friend's performance on vocabulary on the back of the yellow attendance slip and hand it in on the way home.

  • "Only the people who did not study and cannot complete the homework will be confused when they will face the situation to speak in English. So I do not care if they completed or not."
  • It is not good policy. But there might be the scene that we need to say lie.
  • "It's bad thing to lie. But the society is not equal to the class"
  • I think it is bad thing that don't memorize vocabulary but given "ok" sign by friends.
  • Mitsubishi has much affection on others, so they shouldn't have. And in our case, it's not so good, certainly also.
  • I think it's a bad thing, because there is no reason to lie there. If you don't remember the words, you must bravely get a bad grade.
  • I think telling a lie doesn't finally benefit the person who tell a lie. What is worse, it is worse to keep his mistake concealing.
  • Keeping the bad things (lie) secret is obviously not a good idea because we won't learn anything from the real things.
  • Not to lose trust, we should do in earnest. I'm sleepy now, cause preparing for vocabulary test.

I got this idea of using slips of paper to discuss class issues from my Birmingam tutor Corony Edwards, who said Dick Allwright uses the technique, so you can get a spread of class ideas without being invasive or people being put on the spot with speaking, so I kind of remembered that in the morning, triggering the kind of impromptu section of my class....I need to give the results back to the students. Meanwhile I like the idea of throwing problems I have back into the class, not just the blog here. Personally I now feel happier about trusting students to mark each other fairly, and am glad they are really studying hard. I won't rerun this on Thursday though, because I forgot to talk about the online merriam webster and some tips on how to research.

After that I got on to rubrics, via talking about my husband's bonus, and how it was ranked A-E, and how a guy I had talked to on the train who was a public servant also said his bonus was ranked like that ( more pay for As), but that the criteria for an A or a B weren't clear. That's when you can use rubrics to clarify, I said, and here's an example, and we're going to clarify what is an A for group discussion. Then I explained the rubrics, preparing, speaking, listening, responding, thinking and doing your best, and asked them to run one discussion first before we took a break. I was trying to write up exact times on the board, twenty minutes discussion, three minutes for self-evaluation, three for commenting, a five minute break and then a rerun of the same discussion with different group members, but then I was getting all lost with the math and said, oh well, fifteen minutes odd then...

I moved round groups joining in, prompting helping supporting also, good stuff happening except one group up at the back which had two silent members, a newcomer who I had spent some time trying to explain things to during vocab checking time, and someone I don't have a clue who, although I have a good idea it might be the person copying totally, vocabulary and homework on the first day, and I see in the second day vocab checklist no signature, only a number, and top marks for discussion with no comments or countersignature...In other words somebody I need to find out about double quick....

Students were enjoying things, so we ran overtime in no time, okay, self-evaluate with one color please, and then comments please, signed, praise strengths, of course, you know, offer advice on improving and look over the self-evaluation, make sure it's not way off the mark...this in a mix of Japanese, very casual Japanese, like I'm talking to friends sort of thing.

I loved the way there was a lot of stretching going on in the break and then I was talking to a group of guys and some of the ladies casually, trying to remember names and things, and oh boy nobody is actively going into new groups, so I started literally grabbing people and leading them into different groups, trying to get a mix, which left two guys at the back ( the non-performing lot) to non perform in the back...where's your pencil, where are your rubrics, where are the questions to make notes???? This is the second discussion, now you can take part, even if you had no idea the first time round...Like NO intention of even trying sort of thing, sigh. So I really need to find out the name and do a pep talk thing. Ho hum. I don't have email addresses to contact/encourage/warn students. Management issues? My colleague spent the first day taking digi pics of all students and then putting them in a file with names. I confess I don't have a digicam, and I don't want to load my cell phone like that or I might lose the private fun pics i carry round...

All too soon we hit the end of class chime, oh boy please hand in the rubrics with your second evaluation, tot up the total of your best performance and get some more comments, Renata is late again ( although if they weren't having fun they'd be watching the clock and we wouldn't go overtime...) have a good Golden week make sure you have the two prints from the back, oook you want to talk about the vocab sheet, and omg the next class' professor is standing there so quietly, unobtrusively waiting for me to get my rude unorganized self out of here, let me grab my papers oh boy have i got them all glancing over the front tables and the back, picking up the papers from teh back wehere the next class' students have shifted and purloined my table at the door to deposit rubrics, get outside collapse in the corridor with all my sheaves of paper, and slowly try and get order in my folder.

Are you ok? asks another lecturer, and then wanders back later to ask where her classroom has disappeared to, another lecturer and I didn't know, and then this lecturer found her room was occupied, could it possibly on the first floor rather than the basement? I suggested, yep, that's it,,,we're all all mixed up, that's for sure! On my way out I grabbed some of my guys on their way out and ended up learning names, explaining the homework, and giving them the merriam webster hint, the original idea in accosting them being to ask them to let the guy whose vocab I had marked down know I would give him the credits after all.