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Getting there


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Well, a really quick run-down on today...I had developed and posted the jigsaw prints at the yahoo group site, so on this day four we were going to check somebody's homework on agreeing/disagreeing politely, take a break and then jigsaw group leadership skills, with a final application jumbled leadership conversation which I had used in last year's final exam.

Meanwhile I thought I was going to do a wee in class test next week, but felt I didn't have the time to do that, so have been grading the homework, like today...so in the staffroom I whipped up a homework sheet to introduce the basic terminology peak -trough- recession- boom- depression- recovery with a graph insertion, then a text insertion, and finally a crossword, all adapted or taken from Ian Mackenzie's CUP English for Business Studies.

On the other side of the homework I moved into my next essay focus, which is discourse, and asked students to answer the question "Why are you interested in the investment banking industry, Lehman brothers and the Finance Division?" A graduating student last year asked me to correct their written reply to this, and it was too late to teach how to, and a couple of others students emailed me with similar requests, so it is obviously a need that they have...student homework might form the basis of a pre and post research, or simply show me the kind of language they already use and know, whatever, it's in the homework...

Ok, so as students studied vocab I rechecked names, learned a couple more names and faces, helped by the fact that I put the grades so far into an excel database yesterday, and gave some encouraging? comments to students I know can do better. Checked one of my students who came in late and asked them to come earlier so someone else can have the benefit of their checking.

Then I redistributed homework and modelled the answers at the board as students marked papers, able to call on some students to provide sample answers, and stupidly remarked how way off one answer was, apologized for putting that student in an embarrassing place during the break, most people were partly at sea, not just the one student....bad habits! It's ok to make mistakes, as long as you apologize?

Glad I modelled though, the modals and the shift in meaning seemed clear, the marking reinforces kinaesthetically and visually there is a chance to appreciate peer work. I see the marking is unclear at some points, I kept revising what was acceptable or things would have been dire, especially in the verb section were everyone left out the "to be" bit, which is the interesting bit, so like writing " edging higher" instead of "is edging" or the like.

I'm not happy with homework as marking, it puts pressure on what is right or wrong, rather than on the quality of research, I'd rather do a mini-test afterwards, but I'm finding I'm not able to do all I want to do in the time, since I'm making the progression and the items(agreeing/disagreeing) clearer than last year, with more C-R exercises. Last year I just whipped through at the board, rather than challenging students to think about and try it out beforehand, and I kind of found out it was a really important issue they didn't know about afterwards...hence my essay on C-R last year....so how do I give credit for doing the homework and thinking carefully, while avoid the frustration of not getting the marks because of not understanding or misinterpreting the worksheet... I will devote some time to testing as well methinks...

Anyway, so after the break everyone got in groups and started the jigsaw activity. Seemed not to be adhering to the structure so well, people trying to get info from people standing up, rather than going to a student sitting at a port of call, second time round but I think it's Golden Week laziness in everyone, me included...I nabbed and narkled a couple of shirkers at the back into a semblance of action, visited various groups, noticed and praised one student's excellence inbetween, then called groups back into reporting mode...oh the rules, nobody was bothering to speak in English, instead they were just showing each other the jigsaw papers! So here, look at this and copy! sort of thing.....Don't show your papers! It's your chance to practice using the new language, I wailed, forlorn, oh really, they smile at me, and carry on showing the papers to each other....arrrgggghhh....too lazy today to get upset.

Well then try out the concepts, this jumbled stuff is from the end-of term last year, see if you can unjumble it....you have errrr three minutes it seems....Meanwhile I wrote up the answerkey on the board and tidied up my papers. One student said he'd email me with a good site for getting definitions, so I asked him to use the group mailing list: Yahoo groups, eemsophia, that way everyone can benefit! I apologized for not having replied to a second email, with the Japanese granny being sick....

One of my students came to say the homework sheet was too difficult....do we use the same words? Yes, have a look, you'll see, I reassured? I know it's difficult but you're the best, I said, and sailed off to the library to look for books on discourse analysis...

Oooh yes and the baseball player had retrieved the paper I failed to take home, handed it to me today, thank you so much, I said, you're a life-saver, and I have credited you full marks for the day you were absent, since I duffed up over your work and lost your papers....:P