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Getting there


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Trains were running late so many students missed checking the vocab. I asked them to hand in the paper later with the train slip attached. Cut off the vocab deadline at 10:30 and refused to take in one handed to me at 10:33 after a moment of milling around as students tried to pick up homew ork while handing in vocab.

Lost track of where I was at due to the look here give it to me at the end of class with a note on the back that you handed it in late, I won't accept it now. (Heard murmurs of 'strict policy'). Flailed a bit, then said look I reviewed the course last week, let's just hit where it's at, had anyon NOT done the homework? In this Thursday class everyone had, so I began to explain the graph procedure, using the blackboard. Odd numbers (listing up sample numbers to illustrate) please get out your graph to explain it, Even numbers (again listing up numbers) come and get a piece of blank paper, on which you need the name of the graph, the number of quiz points and the name of the checker for a max of fifteen points. ( I had made a wonderful wee table to hand out, loaded in eemsophia and all, and went and left it at home, arrrggghhh. Not my day today. Could conceivably have logged on before class at the uni and printed it out, but went for good old fashioned chalk and copy methods).

I quickly began modelling with a student, who began to explain their graph to me admirably well, ( they were doing it in front of everyone, and all) and then I did the quiz, only got one out of five, and noted at the board that I had one out of five and then to sign. OK, does everyone understand? Anyone need Japanese? Nobody said they did, but I just whipped thru in Japanese again anyway to make double sure, and off they went.

There was a backlog of people waiting, more standing up than sitting down, turns out later one odd numbered person had been wandering around rather than showing their graph, but otherwise everyone seemed to be doing nicely, working hard explaining and moving around looking at all the graphs and analyses.

After the break it was turn about, and I sat down to do one quiz myself, and discuss the language a little bit. Hit a query/problem I had come up against myself: when you're talking about trends in rates of unemployment, when it's in a trough, it's a good thing, as in less unemployment is better, but then when it starts to rise again, if you use the word "recover", it sounds good, when in fact it is not a positive trend. I have one other student who used this same topic in the Tuesday class and I noticed this dilemma, how to describe a rising trend that is effectively a bad thing, as I looked over their work. I promised to look into it and get back to them, so I'll try and load a sample into eemsophia, where I already have two sample student quizzes sent to me from Tuesday students.

Okay, spread out please, minitest, you may use anything but your neighbor, and I assure you I will rip up your paper if you cheat or share info with a friend, and I assure you I did so already on Tuesday and once last year! (trained exam style at my high school, a pattern Japanese students understand well).... and I gave the hints at the board and quickly explained the format of the sheet, and off they went working well.

I walked round and round offering hints and encouragement, and making sure everyone understood what was to be done, reassuring when things were going well, and offering hints and fingers in relevant places where rethinking was necessary. Personally I see the test more as a reinforcement of concepts and vocab, and I hope that students will use some of the collocations in their next vocab sheets. I put up a colored answer sheet in eemsophia highlighting the collocations.

I was really happy to notice one student using some of the graph language material from the links section of eemsophia, which I had asked them to access and try on their own, as it's such good online self-study material, and saves me working through it in class in a more static way.

What with adding up graph scores and quiz scores, vocab sheets and minitest I have made myself a killer class with regard to marking... did some on the train, but still have to evaluate graphs, or should I just hand out a flat rate of full marks for everyone, and not try and judge who has done more in what way... Although there is a wide spread of English capabilities, the ones who have put in effort are going to be rewarded more by their efforts than by the difference to others, and will be getting an A in effect anyway, whether everyone else gets the extra credit or not....

On my way out I jumped in the lift with my students ( we were all out of class ten minutes late as people needed the extra time for the mini-test) . I began to chat about the importance of collocations and how I want them to succeed with three of them in the smoking area as they lit up....ooooh me too, i wanted to say, only who would cadge a fag off a student? and anyway, I'm not really desperate...used my put on hats analogy, and then my triple A student came up and we walked off to the library together, they were wondering if I had some hot info they needed, you are amazing, I said, working so hard, great stuff.