Last week, my class had a week of lessons on the subject of music. I thought about who I should choose to focus on for one lesson, at least one quite famous popstar, so I chose Rhianna. This lesson worked out fine as they all knew her somewhat. I opened by asking if anyone knew Rhianna, and we got some facts up on the board. I, of course, did (had to do) some background reading as to show the students at least I knew something about her. There are many ways you can take this lesson. The video is Rhianna being interviewed on the red carpet at an awards ceremony, so meeting/interviewing famous people is what it is all about. What would you ask, what would you say? I ended up getting them to be popstars, and a showbiz reporter interviews them Grammy/Oscar style in front of the class for our own awards show. In the dialogue, below, I picked out phrases to focus on as a study part of the lesson. I was thinking about chunking language and how we use phrases and collocations that marry up to make sentences. I went through this before the listening part and blanked out the words as an exercise. Anyway here is the interview and video.
Interviewer: I was looking at a fact. You have been on the AT40 chart.. 177 consecutive weeks which is a record!
Rhianna: I did not know that. That’s sick.
Interviewer: It’s crazy. What does it mean to you, though, to have all of that success in such a relatively short time…at a young age?
Rhianna: It blows my mind. It’s hard to really grasp.. a hold of what’s happening . Really, I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe the success that I’m having. I’m just really grateful. More than grateful because it has surpassed everything I have dreamed of. So, it’s exciting. Now is the bonus.
Interviewer: Tomorrow on E-news right here. We’re gonna world premier the new video for your new single Stay. Lots of excitement for that.. and this is a song that has some breadth to it. It’s a very very slow.…finesse ballad. Tell us about the video.
Rhianna: The video was really really simple. I pretty much stayed put in a bath tub.. and we shot it really tight….really close. There’s Micky Echo in the video as well which is… you know.. this is the first time I have ever collaborated with him. So I am excited about that because he’s actually the one who wrote the song. I kinda just fell in love with it so much…in love with the tone of his voice. So, I wanted to keep him a part of it so you will see him in the video.
Interviewer: I would have to imagine you would have to get into a zone to sing that song. What is that zone you have to get into?
Rhianna: It’s very emotional song and it’s personal so you just think about.. it’s almost like telling a story. And that’s. When you tell a story even to yourself…you know…If you’re saying it out loud, expressing the way you feel. It needs to be powerful because it needs to be authentic.
all of that success, blows my mind, has surpassed everything, world premier, collaborated with him, get into a zone, that’s sick, saying it out loud, lots of excitement, have been, needs to be, you know, get into
For this writing task, I was asked two questions about using stories and speaking activities to encourage learning.
- Which of the activities could be used or adapted for both young learners and teenagers?
I think the shopping activities would certainly allow the learners to express themselves in different ways relating to one subject matter ‘shopping’. I think it is important for the learners to be able to absorb all knowledge of one subject by completing different tasks. The learner can approach the task of learning about shops and shopping by understanding the subject from different angles. I feel this gives the learners various opportunities for learning. The learners can complete the tasks using their existing skills while learning new ones. Individual learners can show their recognition of certain tasks and show their ability to perform. Initially, the learners have to find magazines. This gives them the chance to talk with their parents, prepare and complete the task of finding magazines for their class project. These magazines are a great visual aid. Once in class, they have to think about different shops and what they sell. This highlights the learner’s ability to create mental images and work on their ideas. Then they have to express their knowledge and those ideas. The learners have to cut out pictures from their magazines and stick them onto cardboard. This is a hands-on activity and a task to be completed by the learners. This allows them to show their practical skills. At this stage, the teacher can introduce a range of vocabulary which is an initial vocal outlet for the learners’ thoughts and knowledge of the subject of shops. In groups, the learners have to fill their imaginary shops with goods. This is a great exercise that highlights their visual spatial skills within a cooperative learning experience. This is another good chance for the teacher to talk more to the group/learners about their task and what they are making while trying to expand their learning. The teacher can expand the exercise by getting the learners to put prices on the goods and create their own shop ready for a role-play and even drawing some money. The teacher can easily photocopy this money to have enough for everybody. The learners can, after setting up an imaginary street, go and buy goods with the money they have and see how much they can buy with the amount they were given.
2. Describe an activity which would practice comparatives/superlatives using old magazines for either young learners or teenagers.
A good activity which could be used from old magazines is “My Favourite Things”.
The objective of this activity is to practice using comparatives/superlatives. Initially, the students are asked to bring in old magazines because they have been told they are going to do an activity with them relating to their ‘Favourite Thing’. The lesson starts with the students getting into groups. They look through the magazines and find four favourite things and cut them out. These are then stuck on a large sheet of paper. The teacher then shows the learners her favourite things. She explains that she likes them, for example, because they are beautiful (rose), expensive (gold watch), fast (Ferrari), and big (plane). The teacher then hands out some more adjectives and some more pictures. She asks the learners to put the adjectives on the pictures she has just given. Each group has the same adjectives. Once they have gone somewhere near finishing or finish this exercise, the teacher lets them know the answers. The teacher now asks the students to choose and place some of the teacher’s adjectives or their own by their pictures. The teacher then gets them to write their adjective next to their picture. The students have to show that they can talk about their pictures (This car is fast). This is done in groups. Each student can describe their pictures in the group. The teacher can now show a few examples of comparatives showing that ‘one is bigger than the other’ or ‘one is faster than the other’. The teacher models a few examples of comparatives from the students and then gets them to find at least three students with the same adjectives. The teacher goes around the class helping. The teacher then gets the students to write their three sentences on the bottom of their sheet. The teacher checks the work and then gets the pairs of students with the same adjectives to get up in front of the class with their pictures and show comparatives.
Essay # 1 – Focus on Learning
For this essay, I would like to focus on my experience so far on the TESOL course. Our TESOL group of students have so far been shown many different techniques and been made to feel like students as a way of letting us learners get to see it from the student’s perspective. The crux of my ideas and formulation for future actions with regard to teaching, the TESOL student has to know how it feels to be a learner to understand how they feel and take in the lesson. This of course will relate to the soon-to-be teacher’s future benefit of becoming as valuable a teacher as possible. In relation to this, I will further refer to my SIT course and focus on the learner.
Referring to my language learning first as a supposed language student, I can fairly say that it wasn’t a breeze. You have to write words down, memorize, ask your peers, organize information, play an active part and downright do more, which is hard if you really want to be a successful and competent language learner. I had a few times when I wasn’t really involved and missed a few points, but at those times the auditory experience was enough, I enjoyed sitting back. On the flip side to this experience, I had many times when I sailed through everything because I put the work in and got the benefit out. I suppose that for a language learner it is hard to be attentive all the time and at times the students would just prefer to be looking at the class happening and not playing an active part.
With reference to the ‘Learners Are Individuals’ handout that I have read, it alludes to this point that there are many different styles of learning, you can not have a class of 20 students all with exactly the same way of learning. I empathize with this as I sometimes hear my peers speak and they have a lot more to say or they explain a point better than the way you thought. My reaction to this is that we are all the class together and it should be a shared experience and that everyone should benefit from everyone although there are some students more salient.
Everyone in the class I have found is a vital part of having the successful ambiance that will bring successful lessons. I found that my peers were very helpful, funny at times, and really people who wanted to learn. This made for a worthwhile lesson. The people, my fellow peers, on the course are from a diversity of backgrounds. It is funny really there are people on the course who every morning say they have done the homework and others that say they are going to leave it for another day. Some people just do their writing in note form and those that write full essays. I think this shows that people have their own way of processing information and dealing with set projects to do. I am sure everyone will hand his or her work in on time but not everyone follows the same learning path to the end.
What I have learned from the perspective of a student is that it is hard and materials have to be explained and modeled properly. Students have got to be kept amused and clear instruction has to be given. Now that I am further into the course and having been shown constructional ways of making and doing lesson plans I have noticed the techniques you, the teacher, are using to get the students to reach their goals. An example would be (the instructor) Fran’s class on ‘problems and advice’. The step-by-step process using PPU (presentation / practice / use) allowed the students to learn about giving advice. It basically followed a course of Fran explaining first then some manipulated practice and then the students using their learned language on advice. I think this method helps all individual members of the group who are all of a different aptitude. We worked as a group with Fran making sure everybody had a chance and I felt as though the group moved along nicely if I were that ESL student the class would have instilled that knowledge of giving advice because of the systematic way of keeping the students attentive with varying teaching techniques.
To conclude the focus on learning and In relation to bringing this learning experience to my teaching. I think it gives me a broader perspective to look at the fact that there are many facets to a learning classroom experience and what you take from it is to try and apply these to your classroom. What you are left with a feeling that you can emphasize with the students’ needs and thus you be able to bring that something that will help the students to achieve.
As usual, I think the lesson was done competently without having much to quibble about. I felt as though I tested the students, which gave me some satisfaction. The lesson that I gave had a purpose and there were objectives to be met, which I think were achievable and a little challenging. Making the lesson challenging was a focus from my previous lesson so I think I took my action points, that I had written in my lesson plan, onboard. I must say though, as always, there are some details regarding the teaching in the class to work on. The details I would like to raise in this reflection are to make me realize some of the reasons for doing certain methods of teaching in class, which I hope after this reflection, will make the lesson more rewarding for the students.
One of my main focuses this time was to make the lesson more challenging for the students, as they were at a higher level. The part of the lesson that I think the students were challenged, was the listening section that certainly gave the students a chance to test their skills. What the students had to do was to listen to a tape with two men talking about their university schedules. Prior to starting the exercise, I had the students get into groups of seven, which I believe made for a better learning experience, where their peers could discuss the answers with them after each listening of the tape. The listening experience was also facilitated with modeling of how to finish the exercise. This worked well because I showed them a model schedule and also wrote the schedule on the board thus I felt the students had a complete understanding. I also made sure I asked concept-checking questions to some of the students about what to complete on the schedule, so I felt as though they were completely ready to listen to the tape. I think I this process is done every time I should not have any problems with listening.
The tape was about two minutes long, which I thought worked fine. I think if it was any longer would have prolonged the listening too far and likewise shorter would not challenge the students enough. I say this because in the previous lesson, which another teacher took before me, the students had listened to a tape and I felt as though it went on too long which was about 4 minutes. That time I saw the students losing interest, which is hard if you have to play it twice or three times. I think with my tape the students needed to listen two times such that once they had listened the second time they were fine and had completed the exercise. I must say though there were a few students that didn’t finish the task completely, so I think this told me that I tested some students. I mean if all the students had finished the first time I would have known for sure that it was easy, but the second play and some students not entirely finishing gave me a feeling of how I was testing them. There was one issue that I think did hinder the proceeding though, and that is, I should have given the students some time to check their answers the first time after listening to the tape. I think there were some students who were a little confused about the answers and needed that checking time to ask their peers. Also, I had put them into groups, which would have made them be able to converse and to understand better so maybe I missed a good opportunity to let the students think about their answers. I think in consequent classes I should go around the group asking and provoking thought and trying to get the student in the groups to say what they wrote down as to generate student talking in English.
I think again I could have challenged the students a bit more. There are points in the class after I finished explaining where I think that all the students understand but I cannot be really sure because I haven’t checked all the students. I introduced the ‘subjects at university’ and wrote them on the board for example physics, chemistry, and science. I ‘fumped’ the words which was the right idea because I knew some of the words were new to them but as for clearer dictionary definition and reinforcing this definition I am not sure a did this. I think the students kind of knew the words but it would have been nice to have them discuss and at least be able to understand them by trying to talk about them. I think for the level they were it would have not been much trouble to converse about these words. I think a simple exercise like matching the words and definitions could have worked. Also, when I asked the two groups to think of some subjects to go with a major (e.g. major – science / subject studied at university – physics) I didn’t give them a model because one of the majors I gave one group was art and I never really said what branch of arts at university. I could have said fine arts, humanities, and liberal arts.
If I had given liberal arts I could have elicited an example like ‘music’ to the board just to send the students on the right path. My objectives were for the students to learn new words relating to university. This was learned by way of a university schedule that was filled in with these words from the tape after they had listened to it. I think the students achieved their objectives of learning the new words and filling in the schedule as planned. To explain how well these adjectives were achieved I would have to say not entirely. I say this because of some of the actions I did to confirm every student’s knowledge. There were times when simple checking could have confirmed everything to me. I have mentioned one way I could have checked above with the subjects and majors. Also after each listening of the tape, I checked on the students and asks them how they were getting on. If they were hearing the tape, what were they thinking? And also at the end of the final post-exercise, I could have made the students not look at their schedules so much and discuss more. I did find them saying student A: ‘when are you free?’ student B: ‘Friday’ student A: “okay’. This was distinctly different from the tape, which lasted two minutes.
To conclude this reflection, I think I have learned to put more into a lesson. I mean the start where I would be doing the presentation/pre-stage of the lesson is to make sure all the students are well informed before I move on. This means getting the so-called weaker students to prove some understanding. Also in relation to the weaker students is to keep the students in pairs and groups so the better students help those weaker ones. Also, I should give them time to discuss in-between stages. I think there is a lot to be learned at certain stages if only to get the students to sit back and contemplate what they have just been told. This would be done in groups or pairs again.
Reflection on the Article
I would just like to reflect on an article with some of the sentences I picked out that I thought summed up the attitude to have in a teaching experience.
1. ‘The quality of that thinking (about objectives) is what makes the difference’.
Again, as I have said in my other reflections these sentences are great facts that if remembered would always pay dividends. I think that the amount of time you put in the amount of satisfaction you will get out of the class. There are many points to think about and you would only be letting yourself down. However, not only by thinking but also it is the degree of excellence, you can achieve from the quality.
2. ‘If I am thinking in terms of activities I am concerned with management. My focus is on giving directions and having everyone engaged’.
100 percent concentration in a class is hard but to have everyone engaged with clear objectives is able to be achieved. I mean that if the students have that focus and know what is to be done objectives can be reached. This also leads to management where the activity is set up properly and modeled and the students know what to achieve. That little bit of planning and giving direction can help so much.
3 ‘Fun doesn’t mean necessarily equal learning’.
This goes with number two that even though you have set the activity up correctly and it is fun, your clear objectives that the ‘students will be able to …..’. may have not been met. This of course can be checked to see if you have reached your objectives. Just because they are laughing is their English any better than when they came in the door?
4. “Time tables are flexible and what’s important is that the students learn well, even if less is covered’.
This relates to a lesson plan that will have time on it. You think the lesson will take this long. However, again you don’t know how the students will act. You could find yourself teaching them and not achieving your goal of finishing your lesson plan. The important fact is: did they learn all the way through?