4/28/2011 06:36:53 pm

The theme for week 9 GEP class was about news reports and the objective was for the students to be able to narrate formally. Since they have already learned about narrating on week 7, they were now asked to narrate more formally organizing their speech. Soohyun and I were the teaching group this week.
The first observation was that students came into the class very exhausted. I think it was because they just had the midterm. I appreciate the professor’s recommendation to play the music during the break. The class sure needed to lighten up! I experienced how important it is to make on-site decisions to adjust to the different kinds of variables that can affect the class.
One thing that I reflect about activity 1 is that making student present at this stage of class is not a good idea. Two students were asked to share their longest sentence but I think it was a little too dragging. It would have been nicer to just finish up the activity as a warm-up within their groups.
The problem with the second activity was that students were reading each others’ scripts instead of speaking when doing the task. I learned that it is not a good idea to give them texts in this kind of activities. I think it would have been much better if we gave the students some individual time to read the paragraph first and then take the scripts away from them. In this way, students could use their memory and produce more target language to explain their part of the story to their classmates.
One reflection about activity 3 is that more explanation about the three parts of the organization of narrations should have been given. Students produced similar length sentences for all three part of the organization and they all sounded similar. I think it would have been better if we explained more about each characteristic of introduction, body and conclusion.
In activity 4, I made a mistake in placing the students into a new group. I regret of not thinking carefully before putting it in action. Students might have thought that I was unprofessional.  The last activity was the best part of the lesson. I once again could learn how important it is to connect the learning to the students’ real-life experience. Students were more motivated to talk about the topic related to their school life. There was an on-site decision made in this activity. When they were giving their presentations in activity 3, their voices were too small and hard to understand. So we let students present in the middle of the room so that they could be closer to the other groups.
In overall, one thing that I want to point out is that students seemed to feel comfortable taking notes of what they are going to present. The problem is that they rely on their notes when giving their presentations. I think it is very important for the teaching group and the big siblings to make them less rely on their notes and improve their speaking performance. Another thing is about the group arrangements. I personally liked the outcome of changing the group arrangements because I could make a lot of new observations on students. I could see how students performed differently when they were assigned to different groups. Also, I noticed some of the students were taking over the activity. But the big siblings did a great job in managing the group so there wasn’t much problem.

4/30/2011 12:42:13 am

The goal of the lesson was to narrate in a formal way. Thus, we took news reports as a theme, and tried to deal with less serious topics such as entertainment issues.

The activity 1 was to make the longest sentences, which was later on thought to be too lagging as a warm up. Since we designed it as a competitive activity, somehow students had to present what they had come up with to compare with other group’s work. From this time, I realized warm-up activity should be more simple and make students relaxed and be ready for the actual following activities. It would be better with just a group work with fun factor if possible, instead of competitive or game like active one.

The 2nd activity enabled students to little bit lighten up from the previous boring phase by moving around to match up their topic of paragraph given to them. As Soyeon mentioned, we should’ve let them have some time to internalize the paragraph first, and then find their partners without the paper by orally sharing it each other. Professor had to jump in to make students talk instead of showing their papers. Even though I noticed it, I couldn’t make up a quick decision, which taught me the importance of interactive decision again. I should modify my instruction quickly and firmly according to the situation instead of being confused and flustered.

From the third activity of prestigious journalist award, students had to make up body and conclusion. Like my partner Soyeon said, it would be better if we would have provided some information and idea about organization through reading or examples during the lesson. I personally liked the way students get the word pieces by means of giving quiz from the reading. I hoped it would be helpful for their learning by retrieving what they’ve learned from the assignment. The low mood that students created affected my feeling as well and I was about to feel more nervous but thanks to professor’s suggestion, hopefully light music would be helpful to change the mood.

In the activity 4, it seemed to be more effective to form a new group both from teacher’s and student’s point of view in terms of motivation. From my experience in SMU program, it was always fresh and a good chance to be close to a new classmate who hadn’t talked much by trying to complete the task. I could also see more active interaction between new group members than original members.

In the last activity I was surprised that students were possible able to generate a full article. It removed my initial concern if it might be a hard goal to achieve. I think students feel more comfortable with hands-on experiences in spite of its difficult level of task.

4/30/2011 10:24:34 pm

Week 8 April 21

The task gets more demanding such as generating a paragraph and speaking formally. As professor van Vlack mentioned, tasks for commanding are totally different from tasks for moderate level. He compared the students who are capable to complete these different tasks to a fox and a cheetah. The teaching group was assigned very tough job to change foxes to cheetahs. However, I think that the lesson of week 8 was an efficient bridge in order that students moved from producing a sentence and informal speaking to producing a paragraph formal speaking. The teaching group provided the exercises for student to practice making a longer sentence, and considering organization, and using formal language. During activities, students mixed formal and informal speaking. However, it was very natural phenomenon for student to transit from one level to higher level.

Next, it was a good idea to change group members. As a big sibling, it gave me a chance to get to know other teaching groups’ students. For my students (Suhyun, Seohyun, and Miyeon), they could work with others and experienced that they won the game. It was the first time that my student got the prize. I found it interesting that students were affected by big siblings’ language level and scaffolding ability. In week 8, I clearly was aware my limited roles as a big sibling such as especially scaffolding. For example, at the first activity, my student’ longest sentence was S V + S V. In other teams, I could notice more than three sentences combined. I didn’t want to compare my group and others, but actually I felt intimidated and couldn’t share our longest sentence. Maybe my students were influenced by me.

The most interesting activity was activity 5. It was really student-centered. Students started to share their big issues happened in Sookmyung university. It proved that students could produce well when the topic was familiar to them. Without my help, students made their own script and practiced voluntarily. I believe that the activity 1 through 4 made it possible in the end of the lesson. In contrast with activity 5, in activity 4, students were definitely interested in Seotaeji and Leejiah, but in my group, they actually didn’t know about them well enough to produce the story. Thus, I conclude that “i-1” would work better than “i+1” for fluent speaking.

Lastly, I’d like give a round of applause to the teaching group who was able to develop the fun-based lesson plan to meet the goal of the difficult task.

5/1/2011 01:06:09 am

Group 3 started with routine process of homework checking and introduction. After introduction, although they did not start with a brainstorming activity, but they had a short activity 1 which is “who can make the longest sentence.” With the given lexical chunks in the reading assignment, students needed to link the sentences. The strips of paper were given to all groups. It was a great activity to begin the class with. Students did not have to produce their own sentences which would be too demanding for them and they could review what they’ve read at home with this activity. The second activity was “find your news partners”. This activity actually made students to mingle around in order to find two more members who have the same article of their choice. It made students to not only read their own paragraphs, but to speak and to listen to others as well. However, students ended up showing their pieces of paper to others when they needed to actually speak about them. Maybe it would have been better to ask students to fold the paper and put it in the pocket before they mingle around to find the partners. The third activity was “prestigious journalist award.” Here students could complete body and conclusion parts of the paragraph. It was a good exercise to review the organization of paragraph. Also students got to work with other group members and it was nice to talk to other little sisters other than my own since I do not have much chance to talk to others that often. After the break, students got to create fact based stories based on the pictures given. Since all the pictures were current-issue based and students were all engaged and interested on the topic except for Beibei who kept complaining about not having the background knowledge about the pictures. However, she enjoyed talking and liked to share her stories as well. This activity also made students to talk to other group members and because I was not aware of one student’s personality that well and I hurt her (Eunjung’s) feeling somehow. I felt bad and the group got awkward all the sudden but the atmosphere got better later on. The last activity was “Sookmyung news report.” Here students got to share their own opinions and they really enjoyed explaining about what’s happening around the campus. Overall the class went smoothly and students seemed to enjoy a lot. =)

5/1/2011 02:15:59 am

Group 3 pulled off another great lesson. The task was about narration, and it seemed quite tricky to me at first due to the nature of the task such as telling facts in order of time just like a newspaper article. To be honest, my expectations of the lesson were not too high, but they proved me wrong. Their approach to each activity was gradual; from sentence-making, to making one paragraph, to making a whole news article. Students were well prepared through such a step-by-step process. Additionally, they cooperated to create a whole article altogether.
It was a great idea to intermingle students with one another since I always thought GEP students tended to stick to their own group members only. Since the class isn’t too big, letting them move to different groups and interact with different members and big siblings should benefit them a great deal. G3’s lecture management was overall neat and smooth. Task topics were interesting and easy to talk about.
Since some of GEP students were still battling with midterm exams, their participation was somewhat limited due to the exams-related pressure and physical fatigue. Some didn’t even do the reading assignments, and I was wondering if that would’ve affected their active participation on the assumption that each task required using linking words, and those who didn’t know the linking words from the assignments might have gone through a difficult time connecting sentences in a smooth way. I guess big siblings might have played a huge role in helping students to make sentences, not just simple, plain ones but article-like ones.
Looking back on every lecture we have had thus far, it shouldn’t be hard to find that the last activity tends to be fairly hectic, and students are usually permitted time in a quite tight manner.
So long as we neither pursue meritocracy philosophy nor want to test their memory capacity in this class, in my opinion, it seems ok for students to write down what they are about to present, may be not the whole sentences but some key words, once in a while. That way, their affective filter should go down, and they can express what they want to say with a little more confidence even if they might look like reading off a note. Otherwise, those whose proficiency level isn’t high would spend the given time just memorizing what to say without being able to enjoy the activity itself.
Overall, it was a great lesson, and I’ll look forward to another great one next time.

5/1/2011 11:12:04 am

Group 2's lesson was fun and active, despite the task which could have been very boring. Even though the task required sophisticated languages and organizational skills, the theme group 2 chose was quite interesting and familiar to the most of the students. I learned that when the task is demanding, it is helpful to approach it with interesting and familiar topics to the students.
Activity 1 was to make the longest sentence using linking words. Our group ran short of time, making sense of the story and reorganizaing them. And what was confusing was that the sentences can be coherent but not connected using some of the linking words. My suggestion is to let them put appropriate linking words between all the sentences to make them coherent.
The second activity and third activity were also focused on organization. It was a good idea to separate them into different activities so that the students weren't overloaded and had clearer ideas about each part of the discourse. I liked the way group 2 rearranged the students into different teams in activity 3 (and 4). Students had chances to work with new people with different styles, not stuck with the same usual typical characteristics of their own. On top of it, the way they handled arrangement was very natural and dynamic. But in activity 3, I saw so many students showing their strips to others, which is often the case in my own classroom. It usually happens when the student's level is too low or doesn't fully understand the content, or when the students become too competitive. It could have been better controlled if they were emphasized with the rules beforehand. Or what about giving more time to understand the new article and after they read it, letting them seal it off in an envelop?
Leaving the role of judge to the professor was a good idea. The evaluation became more objective and credible, and the students nodded to the professor's comments and learned from them.
Students did pretty good job in news report. Again, I felt that the "topic" is very important in motivating the students. The students quickly found their own news item and they showed interests when other groups were presenting, because the news were the stories happening around them.
Overall, the class mood got better as time went by, and group 2 organized the lesson step by step with nicely chosen topics.

5/1/2011 11:12:30 am

Oops, that was group 3 not group 2.


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