Journal: Discussion

Alternate post title: I Went to an ESL Class and a Salsa Lesson Broke Out

Students: 6

Countries of Origin: El Salvador, South Korea, Dominican Republic

What surprised me:

  • They responded very well to conversation time, and I think that the beginning discussion set a great tone for the rest of the class session.
  • One of my middle-aged male students started teaching an older male student to Salsa dance.  It was so fun to watch them cut a rug!  They stayed over 15 minutes late for the dance lesson, giving and receiving instructions in English (it’s their only language in common) and also talking about where they live.  I think the spins were my favorite.

Today’s Objectives:

  1. SWBAT ID, construct, and correct PrCo sentences and questions.
  2. SWBAT listen for details.

What went well:

It all started when seven minutes after the class’s start time, I only had 2 students.  I scrapped my warm-up activity and busted out a “sleeve” activity (as in something I had up my sleeve just in case).  I asked the question, “In your opinion, what is the most important thing for you to learn in English.  For example, reading?  Speaking?  What is most important for you?”

In the past, when I’ve asked a question like this at the beginning of a class, I’m met with lots of wide eyes and relative silence.  But today I ended up with a half-hour’s worth of discussion as students trickled in late.  I got lots of useful information for solidifying the plan for the last two weeks of class.  The class also really felt more like a team.  I think that feeling of being connected is what precipitated the dance lesson at the end of class.

I decided to review how grids work subtly today.  I asked them to remind me how to make a PrCo statement and wrote each element as a column heading on the board.  They gave me examples and I wrote each element of each example sentence under the column heading.  Later, I let them write sentences on their paper and then write them on the board, and every single student put the correct word in the correct place.

I designed a little “quiz” with six PrCo questions and directions to answer in PrCo.  All but the student who was struggling most wrote all of the PrCo grammar with at least 85% accuracy, some with 100% accuracy.  I worked more closely with the struggling student, and after leading him through the first two examples, he completed two more on his own that were mostly correct.  I was very happy to file away their work in their writing folders for them to see again when class ends in two weeks!

I was proud of myself for letting go of our final activity.  We started out with a clean whiteboard and I got the students to write the PrCo form and an example on the board.  It took a while to spell everything right (“subject,” “verb,” and some words in the example) and the whole class was just roaring with laughter.  Once the example was up I asked each student a few questions in PrCo and had them answer in PrCo, and then I let go of the conversation.  It naturally went toward dancing, everyone participated, and I actually had to interrupt them to tell them that class ended a few minutes ago.  Then the dance lesson commenced as I chatted with another student about how he came to America, and the last student left about 20 minutes after our scheduled end time.

What I’d like to improve upon:

Listening was fine but lackluster, as usual.  They were engaged and they showed improvement over the course of the activity.  I’m not sure if I feel like it’s a cop-out just because I always use the book’s exercises instead of my own (even though I think the book really excels in this area) or if there’s really something missing.

Thoughts for Tomorrow:

I’m feeling ready to tackle this more free-form grid activity again.  I’d also like to keep up the conversation momentum.  A dialog will probably be in order, and I kind of want to write a PrCo test for them because I think they’ll be able to school it.

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