Journal: Shouting Over Drills

I was a little worried that I didn’t have enough material for today, but I actually didn’t use everything I’d planned.

Slightly philosophical side note: I really dislike hearing teachers “get through” material.  It sounds like neither teachers nor students are engaged with the work and like there isn’t necessarily a greater purpose to the task you’re getting through.  If all of that’s the case… why are you doing it?

Students: 6

Countries of Origin: El Salvador, China, South Korea, Bulgaria

What surprised me:

  • They’re fixing the air conditioning today!
  • This involves a crane, at least three workmen, drills that rattle on metal and vibrate the walls, and power tools and other mechanical flotsam strewn about my classroom.  Luckily, I could move to the room next door.
  • Today I noticed that one of my students sometimes doesn’t read at times when it’s illogical not to.  She was supposed to ask a classmate a question.  She had written the question on her paper, and it was in front of her face-up.  She even pointed at it.  She couldn’t remember what it said, so she gave up.  Does this mean she didn’t understand it, or couldn’t read it, or was tired/frustrated?  I’ll keep an eye out.
  • We edited our writing today, and the students really went above and beyond.  I’m not sure they realize how drastic the improvement was, but I think they will when I give it back to them at the end of our session in August.

Today’s Objectives:

  1. SWBAT edit their writing for spelling, count/non-count grammar, and/or paragraphs, depending on their individual feedback from me.
  2. SWBAT describe our food vocabulary words to each other verbally (as review).

What went well:

The morning’s grid activity was a great tie-in to the writing, and was super-flexible as we room-hopped.  The students were helping each other spell things and understand the questions.  It was really much more their activity than The Emily Show.

I have mixed feelings about how I started the writing time.  On the good side of things, I said that you have to fix your writing many, many times, even in your first language.  It’s OK to make a thousand mistakes.  All writing has to be edited again and again and again.  I think that demonstrating it removed some of the pressure to magically write perfect English.

I also responded individually to each student’s writing from yesterday.  I listed some spelling words for them if needed, wrote structures for them to fill in if their grammar was a little wild, asked specific questions to generate more content, and asked one of the students to create topic paragraphs (I think he needs to move up a class soon).  I think the specificity was helpful – they could all work at their level and with a lot of direction.

What I’d like to improve upon:

Back to the writing activity, the start was rocky.  I think that once they understood what the heck I was talking about (and I wish I’d checked for comprehension more specifically than I did), the context was a good thing.  My impromptu modeling helped, but I wish I’d prepped the intro better to make it more concrete and had had more intentional modeling.  Oh well.  Not a disaster.  I’ll do better next time.

We played Catchphrase to review vocabulary, and it just didn’t quite align with what we’d been studying.  To play it, the students had to bust out descriptive language that we hadn’t really focused on, making it notsomuch a review activity.  I think it did reinforce some vocabulary, but probably disproportionately little for the time and effort the students put into it.  Again, not a disaster.  I’ll do better next time.

Thoughts for Next Week:

Next week we’ll start a new unit.  Right now I’m leaning towards the next unit in the textbook, which addresses health and fitness content with simple present/present continuous grammar.  I’m also thinking about really honing in on some pronunciation.  This week was weak on reading, so I’d like to make sure to work on it some next week.

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