I'm happy to report that the eight boxes of books we received in April have now been entered into the computer and put onto the shelves. I'm also happy to report that I have labeled the shelves to make it easier to find and replace books.
It's really nice and feels really good to get this done before summer vacation.
In addition, I'm going to begin setting up a graded listening library from CDs that go with the books. In this way, students may check out the book, the book and the CD, or just the CD.
However, we're not finished with our library. I still hope to add to the library little by little, but until we get a library room, we won't be able to add many more books.
投稿者 nelp : 15:42
We're now gearing up for the NELP Pre-Test. For those who are interested, The NELP Pre-Test will be given on Saturday, August 23rd. I'm really excited about this year's test.
This year we're taking the test in a new direction. In previous NELP entrance tests, pictures were a big part of the test. The first thirty questions, in fact, had pictures. The pictures made for a visually appealing test, and in some ways I'll miss them, however, there are four major reasons why pictures will not be used in future tests.
One, it required me to draw forty pictures for each test, and quite frankly, it's a lot of work for test that will take thirty minutes. Often those forty pictures were days of work, drawing and redrawing, and I'm really not that great an artist.
Two, picture-based questions tend to lend themselves to identification-type questions: recognizing the difference between a fork and a spoon for example. However, in NELP, it's not really enough for students to be able to simply recognize objects or know a little basic vocabulary. Many students are now able to recognize basic things and know the words for those things in English. In NELP, we're looking for functional communication ability, and that can be better assessed, in my opinion, without pictures through questions that test the applicant's communication ability: the ability to respond to questions, the ability to correctly complete a sentence and so on.
Three, my mid-term and final exams in the NELP program have no pictures, and I wanted a test that would more accurately reflect the kind of tests the students can expect to see when they enter the program.
Four, as I said before, many students are now learning basic English nouns and verbs in elementary school, but that doesn't mean they can actually communicate in English. Our previous tests, to state it simply (no pun intended), were too easy. Sometimes the scores were too close together. I wanted a test that would more accurately put the students on a scale, that would not merely measure whether or not they met the basic requirements to enter the NELP course, but would rather more accurately assess their language strengths and weaknesses in a way that would allow us to determine their language level in relation to the other students taking the test. As we get more and more applicants to the program, since we are only able to accept 15 students to the course at this time, it will become increasingly important to not only know who is capable of thriving in the NELP environment, but in fact who can MOST benefit from the course. This was a major goal.
So, what will the test be like?
The basic structure of the test, and the material to be tested will not change. There will still be three parts:
Part 1: Listening Comprehension
Part 2: Vocabulary and Grammar
Part 3: Reading Comprehension.
Part 1 will now consist of four sections:
Part 1-1: Question and Response (fifteen questions)
Part 1-2: Fill-in-the-blank (fifteen questions)
Part 1-3: Conversation Comprehension (two questions)
Part 1-4: Narrative Comprehension (three questions)
Part 2 will consist of multiple choice fill-in-the-blank questions.
Part 3 will consist of multiple choice questions about a reading.
Things you should know: the basics. Study the basics. For the pre-test, you should know basic vocabulary, basic verb tenses, pronouns, adjectives, possessives, word usage, prepositions, countable and non-countable nouns, and comparatives.
Students should also be able to answer factual comprehension questions and should be able to make inferences based on what they hear or read.
I think this test will be more successful than previous tests.
投稿者 nelp : 11:37
Well, I survived! I gave eight final exams this year, and though I fretted and worried a lot earlier, now that it's done, it certainly didn't seem so bad at all. In fact, this year, I was much more on-the-ball and ready-to-go than I have been since the start of the NELP program. The last time I was this organized (meaning my work was actually finished!) was when I was teaching English Conversation back before the NELP program started.
The students did remarkably well. I'm particularly proud of all of them. My junior high first graders did very well on their first ever essay test. I'm also really proud of their performance on the oral communication listening test and the reading test.
My high school first graders did wonderfully on their test. It was a very difficult test, but they got through it, with good scores.
My junior high third graders showed some good improvement over their midterms.
And the junior high second graders? Parents, if you're reading this: I gave your children the most challenging tests ever. Please don't be surprised if their grades have fallen since last year. I was asked by a student to make a more difficult test, and against my better judgment, I did it.
However, next term, we're going back to MY test. I think I've proven that the previous tests were a better assessment of student abilities.
That said: the second graders did far better than they realize. I know they thought the test was impossible, but they really did quite well, considering the difficulty of the test, and I'm proud of all of them.
投稿者 nelp : 16:43
Four times this term, professors visited my high school first grade NELP class. This was a really wonderful opportunity for my class, and I wish sincerely I had taken some pictures, or better yet, video. The only reason I didn't take photos or video was that I didn't want to disturb the professors.
I'm not sure if it's okay to say who they were or where they usually teach, so I'll keep their identities confidential, however, the lessons were really outstanding.
The first professor gave two very interesting lectures about culture. Although the lessons were in Japanese, and I therefore sometimes had trouble following what was being discussed, the students told me that they were very happy with the lessons and that the lessons were very informative and interesting. I think this was also a good opportunity to introduce the students to the kinds of lessons they might expect in a university English class.
The second professor was also outstanding and I was really wowed by the lessons. This professor introduced the students to music. We've used music in my classes before, but this professor really captured the students' interest and I know the students enjoyed the lessons a lot. The professor also introduced the students to The Muppet Show, a TV show from America by the creators of Sesame Street, but for a much older audience. This was entertaining for me as well.
The highlight, and the one point I sooooo wish I had caught on tape, was seeing my high school first graders singing 'Hey, Paula' with the visiting professor. It was really great.
I think inviting university professors to give lessons to the high school NELP students is WONDERFUL idea, and I'm very much looking forward to next term's lessons.
投稿者 nelp : 13:57
Test time is here again, and has brought with it a few surprises.
First, is the final exam for the High School First Grade NELP students. I only see them once a week, and half of our lessons were taught by visiting university professors. As such, it's a little difficult to test them because we haven't had a significant amount of actual CONTENT. Instead of a content-based test, however, I'm hitting them with a SKILLS-based test: in this case, listening skills.
The test will have sixty questions. There will be four listenings, each followed by fifteen questions. Students will hear each listening and each set of multiple-choice questions twice. The first ten questions will be one point each. The final five questions (which require a deeper understanding of the point of the story) will be worth two points each. The test will be for a total of 80 points.
However, although the test will undoubtedly be very challenging, as I told the students: It's not so different from what we do every day. They hear me talk, they answer my questions and so on.
I'm not so worried.
The second big change is in my junior high school second grade tests. This change is due to complaints from a student that my tests are not challenging enough. I have therefore adopted tests that are, again, more skills-based than content-based, and I have reorganized the test to be more challenging. For example, in the past, the vocabulary section of reading test had vocabulary in groups of five to make it easier to match the word and meaning. Now, I have all fifteen vocabulary words together in one group. Likewise the readings are longer and the questions require more thinking to answer.
In the past, the purpose of the test was to determine: How much of what I am trying to teach did the students actually assimilate? In this case, a perfect score would mean they learned 100% of my intended content. In this test, however, the goal is slightly different. Whereas the previous test was focused specifically on my personal goals for what I wanted them to achieve, this test is more general. This test attempt to determine: To what degree did the students master the target skills we have been developing in class, and how much of the content available for them to study did they assimilate.
The new oral communication exam now has 90 questions. It has no repetitions. It goes very quickly. However, as I explained to my students, neither the reading nor the oral communication test will be impossibly difficult. Both tests have been designed to the level of the students. That is, the reading level of the texts in the reading test are consistent with the reading levels of the students in the class and are in fact easier than the majority of the texts we have read in class. The vocabulary likewise has been covered in class and has been made available to the student. The challenge in the reading test comes from mastering skills we've covered and practiced in class: in this case, the difference between skimming, scanning and reading for details balanced against questions that test general comprehension of the purpose and themes of the text.
The oral communication test likewise tests comprehension through a wide variety of questions, and tests the students' ability to communicate successfully, to comprehend a variety of lengths of spoken discourse, and so on.
In this regard, the test will be extremely challenging, but will not be outside the students' abilities ... so I'm quite proud of it.
Whether or not we will continue to have my so-called MegaTests in the future for this group of NELP students will depend largely on how they do on the test.
投稿者 nelp : 10:56
My first grade NELP students have done very well this term on their reading quotas.
Tomorrow is the final day for book reports, and so far we have had twenty-four book reports from my seven students. These have included: 1 level five book, 1 level three book, 1 level two book, 2 level one books, and 19 level zero books.
By contrast, my fourteen second grade students have given me four book reports, including: 1 level four, 2 level three, and 1 level zero. I should note two things. One: The two students who gave me level three book reports have shown tremendous progress. They started their reading last year in Level Zero, with the easiest books and have successfully worked their way up. Two: Many of my second grade students are reading high level books, which are much longer. I have great hope that many of them will turn in substantial book reports on the last day. By contrast, however, my seven third grade students left me feeling a little disappointed. I received only seven book reports. Of those: three were progress reports on larger books. Two students turned in no book reports, an automatic loss of ten percent from their final grade in Reading, and one more student did not meet the required quota. However, two students have shown a big improvement in reading: one read 1 level one book (a lot of ones there) and another read 2 level one books. I'm quite proud of their progress.
投稿者 nelp : 10:42
The students have been doing very well this term with their final projects. The second grade students particularly have impressed me this term.
Their final presentation, ten percent of their final oral communication grade, is to give a report comparing two countries. The presentation should be about 3 minutes long. The presentations have particularly impressed me because the topics have become so well-focused. Very few of the presentations have been a general comparison of countries. Although many have chosen, understandably, to compare food, the presentations have been very interesting.
Likewise, the first graders made their first final presentation: in this case, about their homes. They gave very good descriptions of their homes, and made good use of the prepositions we studied in class. The best presentation, in my opinion, was a very well-organized presentation that took us from the front door on a kind of imaginary walk through the house.
投稿者 nelp : 10:38
I currently have four students in my High School First Grade NELP class. Three of the students are in the Life Science Course. One student is in the Humanities Course. This has caused me to rethink my reading policy in high school. There are two problems here. The first problem is that high school NELP students do not study reading with me. We only have oral communication. The main problem, however, is that the Life Science Course students have a special reading class while the Humanities Course students do not. This creates an unfair situation because the Life Science Course students will have class time to read books, but the Humanities Course students will have to do it for homework outside of school hours. In addition, the high school students are very busy with other subjects, so reading is not their highest priority.
For these reasons, I've decided to waive the reading quota in high school. High School NELP students may still check out books from the library, and may still read library books ... in fact, I will strongly encourage them to do so for their own educational development, however, I will no longer tell them how much to read, it will no longer be a part of their grade, and they will no longer have to write book reports for me. This sets an important transition for the high school students in several ways.
First: It establishes a pattern of reading for enjoyment rather than reading as part of a curriculum. Many adults read for enjoyment or to get information, and I think it's important at some point for students to begin reading, not because they have to, but because they CHOOSE to do so. This brings me to my next point.
Second: This again returns to each individual student responsibility for her own education and development. As adults, they will no longer have a teacher or adviser standing behind them every moment, setting tasks and goals and requirements. As adults, they must be responsible for their own goals.
Helping each student to see that she is individually and solely responsible for her own education is an important part of what I aim to teach, so while my high school students may undoubtedly reduce the amount they read (I sincerely hope they will not stop reading altogether) they will, I hope, come closer to understanding this more fundamental lesson that I'm hoping to help them learn.
投稿者 nelp : 10:28