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Angel's Growth =)
Zhuan Xin's Page
As a language TEACHER:
Today I was impressed by the very first activity with which we get to know one another. It was a nice experience for future teachers to create positive learning atmosphere in the first class. Later on, a name-memorizing activity showed that it is possible to break the ice in the first class. To teachers, we can also memorize students' names through the activity. To students, they can name every classmates, and this not only builds their confidence but also makes them feel comfortable in this class. From today's activities, I realize that things can always happen as long as you plan and try!!
Another important lesson I learned today was the teaching methods. I spent last two semesters learning about teaching methods; therefore, this part turned out to be a review section. However, it is hard for me to memorize all the teaching principles and steps in each method. I am willing to learn more and more firmly on all the teaching methods, but I hope the professor could give us concrete examples instead of abstract concepts.
As a language LEARNER:
Actually, these two activities reminded me of the first two years when I began learning English. We played easy games and there was no analysis of any grammar points or patterns. All we need to do was play and use English. However, when I entered junior high schools, I never enjoyed the fun of English again. What's more, I found that sometimes the most basic pattern is forgotten much faster than I could imagine. When teacher asked me about "Have you been to ....?", I suddenly forgot how to answer. At that time, two different answers in different tenses confused me. "Should I use past tense or just give a short present perfect answer?" In fact, as a beginner, I wouldn't need to think too much, but when I learned more, I was confused easily by so many different forms of English. From this experience, I realized that sometimes we just need to go back to the original learning style, learning step by step and little by little.
As a language TEACHER:
Last year I learned a lot of teaching methods in textbooks; therefore, this time I felt I could understand the essence of each method well. Sometimes I thought that was it really that helpful for teachers to use any of these methods? The answer was NO to me. I could understand they are the basic theories for all kinds of methods. It is just like the fornula for math; however, I often reflect on myself do I really need these methods to teach students? I would definitely say NO last year, but this year I feel something different. Maybe it's because I've been teaching in HESS English cram school for eight months. I found that these teaching methods can help me think over the way I was teaching my students. Was it not so good? Could I try some ways else? I have to admit that it is unavoidable to use GTM in English class in Taiwan and I am no exception. But somehow I know that there're more different choices of methods for me to explore. I'm still learnig now, and I hope I could figure some ways to teach better!!
As a language LEARNER:
In the aspect of education,there are also lots of theories about behaviorism, cognitivism, and social-cultural theory. To me, I try to understand more and want to figure out which side I support. In the past, I just keep memorizing them and didn't know how to connect these theories. But today, I found that there's a clear connection between each of them, Sometimes I only KNOW something instead of UNDERSTAND it which I think it is not a good attitude for a good learner.
10/5 (Tue.) Reflection on CH1
After reading chapter one, I want to share my experience in teaching English in HESS school. When reading the part of learning styles, there was one line impressed me a lot, "...in any one classroom we have a number of different individuals with different learning styles and preferences." Indeed, when I'm teaching in class, I know that each student has his/her own learning styles. Some might need lots of pictures (visual stimulus) and some need to learn by auditory inputs. For teachers, it's really a tough job to cater to every student's need. Take me for example, there are lots of so called "syllabus" to achieve in each lesson; therefore, I could hardly change my teaching tempo because of one or two kids in class. For these one or two students, I sometimes need to stay with them and help them review some key points after class. But however, in this way, it not only takes me lots of time and strength but also takes students'.
As I read more in chapter one, there's something I lack in teaching my class in HESS. I never try to enhance their responsibility for learning. I should encourage students to take more responsibility on their own studies. These students often postpone their homework and sometimes teachers don't really notice it, and then students just think that it's okay to forget homework. This kind of terrible situation would just circulate again and again. In the future, I will try to extend the students' role in learning and follow up the deadlines for homework. Perhaps it would be really hard for students in the beginning, but somehow afterwards, they'll get used to it and they can gradually become responsible for their English learning.
From today's class, I found that the presentation of "Three Bears and Goldilocks" could be varied in different ways. I like what the first group presented to us. They acted it out first, then they raised some questions, and last they made an interaction with us (the kids). We were invited to go on the stage and performed with them (the teachers). To be honest, our group misunderstood the meaning of this presentation last week. We thought what we needed to do was present the drama and bring fun to kids; therefore, we didn't prepare any "learning" activities except the comprehension questions we made during the rehersal. I think it's interesting that everything could be different through the discussion and designs from different people. Also, what we design for a class has to deal with the object learners. Different ages can be a main factor to influence a teaching design or the method we use in class.
I also want to discuss about teachers writing scores of individuals on the whiteboard. I'm teaching in HESS English school now, and I also write the names of students on two sides of whiteboard. I still use this because in this way, most of students really want to get more points to get some prize or sometimes just to get the praise of his/her great performance from teachers. I think this can really help students concentrate on teaching and have less chance to distract. However, as professor said in today's class, sometimes students are too passive to be responsible for their studies. In our society, the autonomy of learning is not so much encouraged from teachers and parents. We give them knowledge to learn and they just need to absorb all of them instead of digesting the knowledge. But somehow I use this method to make them concentrate, not for comparing them with their classmates. Nevertheless, I want to learn more about this and I am glad to hear different opinions.
Today we discussed about the deductive and inductive approach of teaching. We put different levels of learners as the object learner of either way; however, when I kepp thinking, I think that maybe we shouldn't set different object learners in terms of learner levels. I think the best way to difine the object learner of either deductive or inductive approach is to divide learners into different learning styles. Some people like to obey a clear principle. They follow a clue as they learn. Other people hate to be ordered. They like the way they explore the world, and induce their logic of world. As a result, these two very different learning styles can lead to different teaching approach.
Take me for example, I am the kind of listening to guides. Therefore, I like teachers to give me principles or patterns of new knowledge, then I can deduce my own cognition. When I was leaning English, there was no creative learning at that time, so my English teachers just gave me lots of grammar and patterns. However, as I learned more, I managed them into different categoies, and then, I figured out the logic of English. I think it was the best way for me to learn. As I know, there are still lots of students that hate teachers to give them instruction. They hate to memorize patterns, on the contrary, they like teachers to play games with them or give them lots of inputs such as examles, even pictures to help them conclude the materials into some rules. We can tell from the two examples that different learning styles could definitely lead to different teaching approach. The former one needs a way of deductive approach, and the latter needs a way of inductive approach. This is the difference!!
Today I learned more from my teaching of superlatives. At first, I thought I was well-prepared and ready for the demonstration. However, when I walked on stage, I felt my hand shaking and didn’t know what to do, especially I cared too much about the space of whiteboard. In fact, I felt so frustrated today.
Most importantly, I knew what to improve after Michael gave me some suggestions. I think it is always frustrating to fail, but it is always great to learn something from the failure. The following two things are some points I forgot to ask myself before the demonstration:
1. The teaching objects: What’s the level of learners? How much prior knowledge do learners have? How much new knowledge can they take in one class?
2. The teaching goals: What skills do I want learners to have after the lesson? How long should the learners digest and construct new knowledge? Are the things I want to teach too much for the learners?
Actually, we all know that in a real class in Taiwan, students have to learn lots of thing in 45minutes, but am I really want to become a teacher that always stuff new things to them? The answer is “I don’t want to be that kind of teacher.” I want my students to learn something real in daily life, not just for getting higher grades on tests. To conclude, there are still lots of things for me to learn. I’m glad that today I failed the demo which helps me to learn more in teaching.
I experienced two creative English lessons which were designed by Renee and Alice. Both of them engaged students well enough with their materials. I liked the examples Renee made to explain her grammar points. Also, I liked the activity Alice designed to make us communicate with one another. They both achieved their goals to some extent. As I participated in their lessons, I reflected on myself. Honestly, I know that I'm not a creative person; therefore, I seldom create such intersting lesson plans. I prefer to use so-called "traditional (boring)" lesson plans. However, in order to get studnets' attention, I need to learn more, participate more, listen more, and practice more. I want to get rid of my past experience on learning English. I think only by doing this can I become a great and "interesting" teacher.
Teaching reading is not an easy job. As teachers, we need to choose some interesting reading materials to appeal to the learning objectives we set for students. I think it's hard for me to find articles that fit both principles. Moreover, the language itself used in the article is also an important element for teaching reading. Teacher's job is to find an article that is interesting, easy for reading, and appealing to the objectives. It IS really a difficult job!!!!
Although I have learnt some reading techniques, I'm still confused with "skim" and "scan." I realized that these two techniques are both used in pre-reading phase. However, I feel that "scan" is some way to read through the text; that is, to read thoroughly. Therefore, how come is it the techniques used before silent reading on students' own?
In the beginning of today's class, I thought that it was easy to design a reading class sinece I had already planned a lesson for my article "The Dolls." However, when we disscussed more with the teacher, it became hard to design a complete and effective reading lesson. I tend to easily design a lesson only with interesting activities but without the exploration of the text itself. At first, our group set Engage and Activate parts from ESA, but we totally neglected the importance of Study. We wanted our lesson to be interesting instead of boring and lengthy. In this way, we didn't take the best advantage of the reading text. Since it was a reading lesson, we considered Study (explore the text) as the first priority. The following was our teaching process:
1. Ask students about their hobbies and what the best present they received is.
2. Jigsaw Reading - put paragraphs in order
3. Vocabulary and check questions for each paragraph
4. Group work - act out the paragraph which a group is responsible for
5. Write down their acting dialogue - Teacher corrects immediately - Each student rewrites again
6. Make a prediction of the following story
At first, we only had #1,2,6. We didn't let students explore the text which was not good in a reading lesson. However, vocabulary, check questions and the acting actually ask students to fully understand each word and sentence which achieves the goal of reading. Also, a few tips for teaching reading are important here:
1. Build schema: teachers' goal is to help students get to know the text quicker and better. And it is important to elicit background knowledge of students.
2. Production of students: They are asked to make use of the text. Teachers' job is to notice the errors, do the scaffolding and help them to create a dialogue.
Teachers are more like a facilitator than an instructor.
3. "i+1": There must be something that is beyond the level of students in each class.
There are more to consider in designing a lesson. It is said that "To teach is to learn" which I explain as that there is no perfect teaching in the world. Every teacher learns something when he/she teaches. The more we experience, the better we can design and teach.
I like the steps of teaching writing from teacher: controlled, guided, creative. At first, teachers should have controlled materials, for example, fill in blanks which only has one answer each time. And then, teachers guide students to write down something they hear. They may discuss with each other to find the approximate words. Last, they can do some brainstorming and then create some paragraphs on their own. This makes me think of the general way we learn English. We learn word by word, sentence by sentence at the very beginning. Next, teachers give us lots of opportunities to do drills such as substitution drills. When we reach a lever, we are asked to so brainstorming and think of some interesting ideas. Finally, we are trained to write an essay after brainstorming. I think it's evitable to get through these few steps.
What's more, "real things" are also important when teaching English. As teachers, we should always give students so-called authentic materials which connect to their real lives. For instance, letters, e-mails, TV commercials, menus, and so on. These materials could make students feel English, the languaga, is everywhere around our daily lives.
1. Reference book: Pair Work Student A/B (Author: Peter Watcyn-Jones)
2. Target audience: Junior high students (students who have learned English for about two years)
3. Teaching goal: Ask for locations and answer appropriately
Preparation before class
(1) With the original materials, student A can only answer the questions and student B can only ask for locations. Therefore, teachers should modify the materials a little bit.
(2) Originally, there are 17 items. Teachers should modify them into 16 items which 8 items are hid in student A's working sheet and the other 8 items are hid in student B's working sheet. In this way, both student A and B can ask for locations and answer.
(1) Review the patterns of asking for locations: "Where is/are (n.)?" "It is/They are on/under/in/in front of/behind/beside (n.)_."
(2) Divide students into two groups and pass out working sheet A and B respectively.
(3) Explain the rule:
a. Students have to find out the missing 8 items in their pictures.
b. They can walk around to ask their classmates.
c. Ask one person only ONE question at a time.
d. When students find the correct position of each item, they should draw it on their working sheet and ask the helpers to sign their names beside the item.
e. Students cannot see others' working sheets at all times.
f. When students finish finding all the 8 items, they should sit on their seats immediately, raise their hands and be quiet to wait for teachers to check the answers.
(1) Repeat the patterns with teachers, and also teach some other expression such as "Sorry, I don't know." for students who have the same working sheet and "Pardon, could you repeat again?" for students who don't understand the questions.
(2) Demonstrate with a few students. Teachers can take one working sheet and walk around to ask students for locations. Try to find the ones with different working sheet and also the ones with the same working sheet. Practice asking and answering for more than two times.
(3) Tell students if they draw the item on the wrong place, they have to stand up and walk around for the correct answer again.
(1) Set the time for students to accomplish the activity.
(2) Teachers should also walk around to see if any students disobey the rules.
(3) Give assistance when it is necessary.
(4) Tell students time's up and go back to their seats.
(1) Praise students and acknowledge their efforts.
(2) Check all the locations of 16 items by using the patterns.
a. Teachers ask and students answer together.
b. Call one student to ask another students for checking the answer.
(3) If there's any difficulty, stop for a while and teach again.
There was one suggestion from professor that let students walk around may cause extreme chaos. However, in my experience in teaching HESS kids, I found that it could always be controlled when students feel it interesting and know the rules clearly. Because all the students want to win the game, they understand that only by obeying the rules can they accomplish the activity fast and appropriately. On the other hand, I don't want to restrict students to play in a small group which may bore some students. Most important of all, teachers should always walk around and notice each student well.
Think about this question: Do I want to do what textbook tells me to do?
In my opinion, textbooks can be a very important reference for teaching. Textbooks give teachers instructions and how they can present the lesson to the class. However, they are not everything. I should always remember that I have strong students in class, but also there are lots of weak students. When teachers interpret the instructions in the textbooks, we always use our schema to present the lessons. In fact, teachers were in the group of "strong students" in their adolescence; therefore, we teach the way we learnt. It is easy for teachers to ignore the learning process of "weak students." Sometimes we must apply different multiple intelligences to our lessons.
The first step for teachers to take care of evey student in class is to get rid of schema as a "strong student." When we look at the textbooks, we should think in the way of "weak students." Try to imagine that every English alphabet is no more than a weird symbol, so to them, it is just incomprehensible. If we can think in a different way, I believe we can present more comprehensible lessons and actually help students. There's still a long long way to go....
This chapter is about "planning lessons" and there's one thing about "lesson threads". I think it's very important for teachers to plan lesson threads in advance and know clearly about them. In fact, in most classes, the lessons are lack of coherence. It is neccessary to have a lesson thread running through a sequence of lessons; therefore, what teachers need to do is not only plan a thread but know it well. In this way, students can learn the overall concept instead of learning some fragments from different lessons.
Also, I realize a good way to correct mistakes. We should always remember to communicate with kids instead of directly correcting them. When using something explicit like, "Look here! There are some mistakes!", kids may feel embarrassed and unwilling to correct their mistakes. Instead, when using an implicit way like, ""That's good. Can you say '30 dollars'?", this may make kids feel much better and lead to good utterance right away. Everyone will need some helps at any time, so when it comes to correction, we should care about the other person's feeling and the manner of our speaking!!
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