Another great week of continual insight. All I

Another great week of continual insight.  All I can do is attempt to catalogue it.  Some key insights and lesson planning tweaks include the following:
Shifting Game Rules: I added a new category of student who is eligible to receive candy during game time: “the MVP of the losing team(s)” is eligible to receive candy as well.  Perhaps this can help to sustain the motivation to participate when the score becomes lopsided. 
Contrast responses while debriefing the warm-up/mindmap:  I often use a very simple mind-mapping exercise as a warm-up related to the theme of a lesson.  For example, I will ask students what foods can you order at a fast food restaurant or some other such simple fodder for generating lists.  Now, I believe I can debrief the activity and use “transition” words to illustrate contrasts.  For example, once the list has been compiled individually by students I can list many of the examples on the white board.  From there I can use contrast words, such as: Mike likes pizza, however Jan likes ice cream…or something to that effect.
Video Shifts  I will often show a 30-60 second clip during an early stage of a typical lesson.  I have decided to implement a few shifts concerning how I introduce the video.  For example, when I begin I will have a general question with various ideas/words to jog students’ minds.  For instance, I may ask “Where a good place to propose marriage.”  Students will then vote among a series of options I provide (such as beach, buffet, concert, et al.).  After we vote, I will ask a more personalized question that allows students to generate lists on the topic, such as “where do you think is a good place to propose in Korea?”  So the pattern is vote on a teacher generated list, then move to a more personalized stage in the activity.  
Also, I have begun to incorporate activities which encourage students to infer the contextual features of a discourse segment and the character traits of the participants/performers in a video.  After viewing the video, I will ask a series of multiple choice questions such as “Do you think this character is a) busy b) nervous c) angry?”  OR “Are the people in this video a) friends b) co-workers c) classmates?”  These questions are ambiguous.  There is no clear answer.  Rather, I will ask students to vote as a class on what they feel is the most appropriate choice.  After tallying the opinions, I ask students to justify their views using evidence from the video (this is something I reserve for my higher level classes however!)
More Proximity  This is a term Johnathon Sweller employs in his wonderful book Efficiency in Learning.  Simply put, in the realm of visual display, the closer an explanation is relative to the “concept,” the more likely a learner will retain the knowledge.  That is an unclear sentence, allow me to elaborate.  For example, I may explain a grammar point…for instance simple tense: “Subject+verb+direct object.”  While students practice reciting a series of worked examples, I will place speech bubbles next to the subject, verb, and direct object (either on a handout or on a powerpoint display) of a sentence illustrating and explaining exactly where the subject, verb, and direct object belong in a sentence.  I have been doing something like this for some time, though now I have slightly enriched my use of proximity.  
At the start of a grammar explanation I will often push students to infer the patterns of a particular grammatical item (for instance where should one place the verb in “Which ______do you think will______.”) immediately viewing a series of worked examples.  Thus, after students engage in that modest form of “discovery learning,” I will display the exact same slide with identical content, but will add speech bubbles to illustrate the approrpriate grammar or communicative function(s).  For instance, where does one place the verb, who is the speaker for this particular function, et al.
Three Mistakes  This is an idea directly lifted from David Deubelbeiss.  In an effort to increase students attending/noticing/language awareness skills, I deliberately place 3 mistakes in the powerpoint presentation and deliberately make three oral mistakes during the lesson.  Students who notice the error within thirty seconds can receive a piece of candy.  The rules (which middle schoolers really need) are as follows: a) first student to raise his hand within thirty seconds after the error occured is eligible for the candy and b) he can’t collect until the end of the lesson.
Some Gratitude
There are a lot of things to be gracious for these days.  I’m not going to vainly mention names right now.  Though, I want to thank a group of people for encouraging me to continue this blog when it was getting tedious for me last year.  I also want to thank the person I recently met at toastmasters who shared with me his opinions on the value of good teachers and the personal impact specific “caring” teachers made on his personal development.  Finally, I want to thank whoever organized the beginning presenters event in Seoul on June 15th.  I will definitely be taking advantage of the opportunity.
Questions Plaguing Me
I made a mistake recently while designing elements of my upcoming speaking test (starts next week!).  I was supposed to teach 8 questions to my students–from which students would have to respond to two. I decided to focus only on 4. First, there is a high degree of apathy among many of my students, thus I felt confident that reviewing 8 questions over two weeks of classes in preparation for the speaking test would simply overload them.  Anyhow, students were initially supposed to prepare for four situations which each had two questions.  I reduced this by asking students to prepare for only the first question in each situation.  This is the first question from the final situation (“#19”) for my first grade middle school class: “Give an example of a household item you could recycle.  How would you recycle that item?”  Given that recycling is mandatory in South Korea, I couldn’t help but realize how absurd this question was.  Though, of course, I realized it after I had already announced to students the requirements of the speaking test, given guidelines, and prepared handouts, et al.  I think I would have been better off using question two in this situation.  My question for my readers is: what is your best method to stop the stupidity in real time, rather than realizing you made a faux paux just a little too late?
Have a great week!



About cmiller112

Teacher, Father, Jogger, Sleeper, Husband, (add extra label here)
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