グローバル教育 Global Education

The Success of Detention

2007年11月18日

Earlier this year, I instituted detentions as a form of classroom management. Detention means that students must stay after school as a punishment. The most common reason for detention is homework. Under my system, when a student has three or more missing homework assignment, I give them a detention slip that outlines the reason for the detention (in this case, homework), the day they should come (I give at least 48 hours notice, though usually I give more time), the time they should come (16:30, my English Open Room time), and in the case of homework, I outline the homework assignments they are missing. The student must take the detention form home for their parents to sign, in order to inform the parents of their child's progress in my NELP class.

My rule is that if a student finishes all of their late assignments before the time of their detention, then they do not need to come to detention, and they do not need to return their parent's signature on the detention form. I told my students: "You can either do your homework at home, or you can stay after school and do your homework with ME." I also told them: "If you finish your homework before detention time, I'll take back the detention form. Your parents don't even have to know." However, though their parents might not know that their child has been given detention, parents will be told at the next parents' meeting that their child has had a lot of late assignments.

I have found that students might not be afraid of me: but they ARE afraid of Mom and Dad! I told my students that detention is mandatory, and the signature is mandatory, and that if they do not come to detention, and/or they do not bring me their parent's signature, I will CALL their parents.

I am happy to say that this has been very successful in motivating my students to do their homework. Last week, I scolded my students harshly because there were so many missing assignments. I handed out detention forms to 6 first grade students: half of the class! I was no pleased. On Thursday, I had a total of 41 missing assignments.

It is now Sunday, and now there are only NINETEEN missing assignments. Within two class days, I collected TWENTY-TWO missing assignments from my twelve first grade students. I am extremely pleased. Those students who turned in late assignments worked very hard. Naturally, there is a penalty to their grade from turning in the assignment late, but a low grade is always better than NO grade, and I'd much rather they do the homework late than not do it at all.

I sincerely hope the success of this program continues. Three students have successfully avoided Tuesday's detention, and I have every confidence the other three will come up with some missing work before the 16:30 Tuesday deadline.

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投稿者 nelp : 09:42

The Difficulty of the Nelp Program

2007年11月11日

The Difficulty of the NELP Program
(November 11, 2007)

There have been many questions recently regarding the difficulty of the NELP class. To answer those questions, I would like to explain a few things about how the NELP program works.

* NELP is a student-centered program.
* Students choose their own level of books to read.
* Students are given a basic amount of reading which they must do, but beyond that, the students choose how much to read.
* Students choose approximately 25% to 30% of the vocabulary.
* Students are given grammar assignments based not only on an assessment test, but on regular assessments of their homework, class work, tests and essays. Therefore the work they do during the self-access grammar time is based directly on their level and their needs. There are a variety of exercises and work sheets for each level from which students may choose their work. Students are encouraged to choose those exercises whose difficulty level most challenges them. However, again, the level of the worksheets is based directly on the level of the students and their needs, as assessed through the initial test and their daily work.
* Beyond the basic grammar assignments that are given to them based on their individual needs, students may choose other work which challenges their level.
* When students have satisfied the basic grammar requirements, more difficult and challenging work will be made available to them at that time.
* Students are given a choice of essay topics of different difficulty levels. The students are encouraged to choose the topic that best suits their English level.
* In their presentations and speaking assignments, students are encouraged to challenge themselves, to prepare and develop the topic according to their level.

As we can see, a learner-centered program is designed to immediately and specifically address the needs and weaknesses of each individual student. However, it requires that the students choose the difficulty level themselves. If I, as a teacher, were to choose the difficulty for them, their needs would not be addressed as accurately, nor as specifically, as when they choose the difficulty for themselves.

The ability of the students to choose the material is important to this method.

Things Students Can and Should Do to Increase the Difficulty of the Course

* Choose longer and more challenging books.
* Try to finish reading longer books within the term.
* Choose more challenging vocabulary words.
* Try to memorize all of the words on the vocabulary list.
* Do the required ten example sentences, then try to make sentences for the other 20 to 30 vocabulary words on the list. Our students currently receive 30 to 40 vocabulary words each week, only ten of which are required for the vocabulary writing exercise. If it is not challenging enough, then students should do more.
* Try more difficult worksheets during self-access time.
* Try to do MORE worksheets during self-access time.
* Request more difficult worksheets from the teacher (please request one week in advance).
* Choose the more difficult and challenging essay topics.
* Do the required brainstorming, pre-writing and rewriting that the teacher recommends.
* If the essay is 250 words, write 250 words or more. If that is still not challenging enough, write 350 words, or 500 words.
* Prepare for the speaking activities. The majority of my students were not adequately prepared for their last speaking activity. Plan what to say, memorize important facts, and make sure what you are going to say is well-organized.
* If the speaking activity requires a 90 second presentation, then make a 90 second presentation. The majority of students are not meeting the minimum time requirement. If 90 seconds is too easy, make a 2 minute presentation, or a 3 minute presentation. Please do not do more than twice the recommended time without permission from the teacher.
* If you want a longer presentation, more than twice the time requirement, please ask the teacher to allow it, then challenge yourself to make a good presentation.
* Try to use more formal language, both in writing and in speaking.
* Stop using Japanese in class. Many students are still using too much Japanese in class.
* Speak more in class. Currently, 2 students contribute to class discussions regularly, another 3 often contribute, another 2 sometimes contribute. The other five students hardly speak at all. If the class is too easy, then students should come to class prepared to speak and contribute to that week’s topic.

Things Students Can and Should Do If the Class Seems Too Difficult

* Make sure that the books you’re choosing match your level. If you have to read each page with a dictionary in your hand, the book is too difficult. Get an easier one.
* Read more books. Reading exposes your mind to the language, allows you to see the language in use. Reading more will increase your language ability.
* Study the vocabulary. Study all of the words. Try to use each word in a sentence. When writing a sentence with a new word, don’t write just an ‘example’ sentence. Write a sentence about something you are thinking of. Apply the word to something in your life or in your experiences. This ties the vocabulary word to other parts of the brain, increasing connections to that word and increasing the likelihood that the word will stay in your brain.
* Carefully read the background reading each week. Study it thoroughly. The background reading will help you with your essays and speaking assignments.
* Prepare for your speaking assignments. Study your topic so that you will be able to discuss it in class. Plan out what you’re going to say, and memorize it if necessary. Practice speaking in front of a mirror.
* Do the required brainstorming, pre-writing and rewriting that the teacher recommends.
* Come after school. I have four signs on my doors that say: English Open Room Every Day from 16:30. So far, no one has come. If you are having trouble with English, come after school.
* Stop using Japanese in class. Many students are still using too much Japanese in class.
* Speak more in class. Currently, 2 students contribute to class discussions regularly, another 3 often contribute, another 2 sometimes contribute. The other five students hardly speak at all. If the class is too difficult, study the topic, write down what you want to say, and when your chance comes: read it during the discussion.

A Note about Speeches and Standardized Tests:
* Come after school. I have four signs on my doors that say: English Open Room Every Day from 16:30. So far, no one has come. If you are having trouble with English, come after school. This sign says: Speech Practice, Conversation, Homework and Reading. I also do test preparation. If you’re worried: come.

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投稿者 nelp : 12:41

End of the First Cycle

2007年11月 8日

Things are going well with the weekly cycle. We had our first self-access Tuesday a couple of days ago, and I was really pleased with the results.

First, as usual, we had a quiz. I'm giving a lot of quizzes these days. Quizzes are usually 10 questions long these days. The first five questions are practice questions to help prepare students for the kind of questions they might see on standardized tests. These questions don't count on their quiz grade. The last five questions are based on grammar structures from their textbook, and these do count. Basically, each week, I tell my students: next week, we're having a quiz on Lesson (x). Please review it. If you have any questions, please ask me.

Grammar structures will be explained before the quiz, but only briefly. The pattern here is definitely Test-Teach-Test. I test them. If they need review, I assign worksheets for Tuesday's Self-Access Day. Can we make it an acronym and say that Tuesdays are SAD?

Pictures from the quiz:

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quiz 2.JPG

We then had Self-Access time. Students used the assessment sheet from their assessment test, which showed which Lessons from the textbook they need to study. They went to the binders, pulled out worksheets, and went right to work.

Pictures of students working:

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work 2.JPG

A few students tried to pull out EVERY worksheet they needed. A few took their worksheets home as homework. I explained to the students however that Self-Access Tuesday is class work. There are two reasons for this: (1) I can help them if they have questions; (2) They already have enough homework, what with vocabulary, writing, and preparation for speaking assignments.

Most students did very well on their worksheets. For those who need further development, I pulled out worksheets, and in some cases MADE new worksheets to fit their needs. I'm especially excited about that last part, because I realized that I can really tailor the class to each student's needs in this way. Students who need more development will be given work that specifically addresses the exact areas where their language skills need to be developed.

In many ways, because students choose only those worksheets that they really need, grammar class has become MUCH more productive. Likewise, by using part of the Thursday grammar class for writing time, I can give very personal guidance to students who are having trouble developing their essays. Today, for example, I reviewed brainstorming with a few students, re-emphasizing for them that planning DOES make writing easier and more organized. Also, be allowing writing in class, many students have definitely improved in their writing structure. I can't tell you how many times I've written the word 'indent' in red ink, nor how many times I've explained what it means. However, it's a very different experience for the student when, as they are writing, I can come, and explain right on their paper what I mean by 'indent'. Indentation for paragraphs has increased substantially.

The students have shown a lot of interest in their new control over their education, and the classes feel MUCH more productive than they did before. Tuesday, I really felt that finally the needs of every student were being met during the class time.

I'm quite pleased with the last two weeks. The students have been challenged. Their individual needs have been addressed in a much more personal manner. I think I'm finally getting this NELP program shaped the way I want it to be.

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投稿者 nelp : 18:48

Start of the New Cycle

2007年11月 1日

We finished our first week of the new cycles. Last Friday, students each received a packet containing: Reading (due Monday 10/29), vocabulary from the reading (on which they will be tested starting 11/5), vocabulary that was chosen by students (students must submit two new, useful vocabulary words each week; they'll be tested on these words starting 11/5), a vocabulary worksheet (for which they must choose ten words from their vocabulary list and write a sentence using each word; Due 11/5), and a new vocabulary worksheet (where the students must write two new, useful words, an easy meaning for each word, and a sentence using each word; also due on 10/29), their essay topics (students could choose one of three topics, selected by difficulty; due 11/5), and a speaking topic (students had to speak on the selected topic, in this case: telling something scary that happened to them, for 90 seconds. A minute and a half isn't very long, but it's a start, and these presentations help the students become more confident speaking in front of other people; this presentation was due 11/1).

Then, starting last Monday, students have been given longer quizzes in reading, grammar and oral communication. I'm hoping that these quizzes will eventually help improve their scores on standardized tests.

This week's topic was, naturally enough, Halloween. The classroom was decorated, and quizzes, tests, reading, essays, presentations and other assignments were coordinated with the theme of the week. On Wednesday we watched a few scary videos, and talked about Halloween.

I also gave the students 'ghost photos' of the classes.

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The first graders

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The second graders

Next week, the first graders will be studying about fashion. The second graders don't have many lessons next week, so in another week, they'll start studying about the future, alternative materials, and so on. I think the new lesson cycle is going to prove to be an interesting challenge for the students.


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投稿者 nelp : 16:50

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