This week, the first grade students are reading "The Fun They Had" by Isaac Asimov. Today they had a debate. The red team argued that a human teacher would be better than a machine teacher, while the blue team argued the opposite. I was extremely proud of the students because they did so well at this debate. They were very active, and they made really excellent points.
The second grade students are currently reading "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. Today we had a discussion about symbolism.
The third grade students this week have been studying the organization of the debate, including the specific roles for the speakers on each team. We've also looked at the Toulmin method for presentation of arguments, and today the students were introduced to fallacies. For homework, they've been asked to generate ideas for their team. The topic of our debate regards schools raising animals for meat. The proposition must propose a [strictly theoretical] new program wherein students would raise, nurture and ultimately slaughter a pig for meat. This is based in part on a true story of a similar project conducted at an elementary school in Japan.
The high school first grade students are studying about journalism. This week they'll be practicing interviews.
The second grade students are studying humor. This week, they'll be studying puns, irony, word-play, idioms, sarcasm and figures of speech.
Next week, the first grade students will be studying a news article called "Video Games Have Role in School" and we'll be talking about practical applications of video games for education.
The second grade students will be reading "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe. We'll then have a debate on whether Montressor would have been caught by the FBI if this had happened today.
The third grade students will begin working on their supporting arguments.
The high school first grade students will talk about humorous stories and observational humor, and will be focusing on techniques for delivery. This will be important for their presentation skills later on.
The high school second grade students will be talking about sports announcements.
投稿者 nelp : 22:59
Starting from the beginning of Third Term, the High School NELP program has undergone a complete transformation. Up to now, we've been using the book Totally True from Oxford. This is a good book, and there's a lot I like about it, but it has two main problems: first, the level is two easy for my students; and second, it's more of a reading-based textbook, and I'd like a more listening-based curriculum.
My original plan was to replace the Totally True curriculum with a video-based curriculum that would mirror some of the things I've done with the junior high school. However, there were several problems with this idea.
My first concern was that not everyone might be able to view the video files. I tried it on both a Mac and a PC, but it's not necessarily a guarantee that everyone's system will be compatible. Likewise, not everyone may have consistent access to a computer to view the video files. My second, and more important concern however was the purpose of the video-based curriculum.
My philosophy of education is that education should prepare young people for their future. Education should be practical, and applicable. Likewise, the program should further and challenge the learners' English language ability.
I feel that the junior high NELP program fulfills these two points in that there is a noticeable progression to the curriculum, the curriculum is challenging, and the curriculum is designed to develop in students skills and concepts that I believe will be of value to them later on in life.
However, I felt concerns that perhaps the high school's video-based curriculum did not fulfill these criteria. I began to ask myself a number of important questions. What is the goal of this curriculum? Does this curriculum prepare students for life? Will this curriculum be of benefit to the students later on? I had doubts.
Luckily, as I was pondering these things, several members of the NELP committee came to me with an idea for a project they wanted me to attempt. The project would take two terms, beginning in junior high school third grade third term and ending in high school first grade first term.
This meant that part of the curriculum I was planning would have to be replaced. However, ultimately this project inspired me to shelve my current concept for a high school curriculum and begin work on a new curriculum, a curriculum that would satisfy my educational philosophy.
So, instead of a video based curriculum, I have now developed a project-based curriculum. Half of the curriculum will focus on test preparation. I have developed a series of quizzes: one hundred and fifty quizzes to be precise. These quizzes are designed to develop the students' language skills and prepare them for the pre-1st and 1st grade Eiken STEP tests, the TOEIC test, the TOEFL test, and finally the Center Test and university entrance exams. In addition, it will develop skills beyond those, skills which I strongly believe will have real-world applications for the students.
The other half of the curriculum will be career oriented. In addition to being an English teacher since 1992, I've also worked for in a university library, a law office, a safety engineering office and for a phone company. This has given me a unique perspective on careers and on what skills could be useful to students in their careers.
Our first project, starting in junior high third grade and finishing in high school first grade, will be a debate. We've done debates in the past, but this will be a huge step forward. I'll be teaching the students the rules and procedures for parliamentary debate. We'll also be studying logic, argument, fallacies and more. This project could help students prepare for careers in law and government, but could also help in other careers, as sometimes within corporations there are debates on various issues and proposals. In addition, students considering careers in science and medicine could develop important skills related to research that could help them later.
Future projects will include presentation, public speaking, persuasive speech, making proposals, demonstrating products, familiarity with office machines, humor, broadcast journalism, business etiquette, interview skills and more. I'm further considering introducing the students to video editing, audio editing and image editing.
In this way, I hope to achieve my goal of making a curriculum that prepares the students for their future.
投稿者 nelp : 22:30
Last term I changed my oral communication final exams. The exams consisted of five parts: comprehension, response, completion, conversations and short talks. In Part One, Comprehension, students are given a target sentence. They must then choose one of four sentences (a, b, c or d) that has the same meaning as the target sentence. This section is typically used for testing vocabulary and grammar. In Part Two, Response, students are given, alternately, a question or a sentence followed by four possible responses. The students must choose the response that would most logically follow the target sentence. This tests not only comprehension, but critical thinking skills involved in conversation. In Part Three, Completion, students are given a sentence fragment and must then choose one of four possible endings for the fragment. This is used for testing vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, and critical thinking skills in conversation. In Part Four, Conversation, students listen to five conversations. Each conversation has three listening comprehension questions. Some of these questions require general comprehension listening, some require detail listening, some questions call for factual answers, some require inferences. In Part Five, Short Talks, students listen to a short story and answer questions about the story.
In the past, the entire test was listening only. However, this term I decided to put the questions and answers for parts four and five in the test booklet. The reason was that I wanted to more accurately test the students' ability to understand what they were listening to. When the test was listening-only and the questions followed the listening section, in my opinion the students' listening was unfocused because they didn't know what to listen for. As well, in some cases, rather than testing comprehension, I was inadvertently testing their memory of what they heard rather than their ability to understand what they had heard. So this term I made the test more focused and accurate by putting the questions and answers for parts four and five in the test booklet.
For each exercise (one short listening), I gave students approximately fifteen seconds to read the three questions. They then listened to the conversation or short talk. Afterward, I gave the first and second graders approximately one minute, and I gave the third graders approximately forty-five seconds to answer the questions.
I feel that this approach worked very well for several reasons. First, by allowing students to read the questions before listening, I gave the students the opportunity to focus their listening. A large degree of our listening comprehension comes from context, from anticipating what we are about to hear. By allowing students to make inferences about the context by reading the questions, I increase the students' potential to understand what they will listen to. Secondly, by allowing students to read the questions, students no longer have to mentally juggle their memory of the question and their memory of the listening. They can more easily separate the information and focus on the actual content of the listening.
I feel that this change was successful and plan to do this in my future tests. I also plan to give further consideration to how this can be improved in the future.
投稿者 nelp : 08:46