From this year, second grade NELP who have passed the Second Grade Eiken STEP Test were able to join a special second grade NELP writing course instead of attending the SELP English Alpha grammar class. The minimum class number is five, and this year we have six students who have passed the Second Grade STEP Test.
However, starting this year, I am not the only NELP teacher at Seishin! This year, we have a new teacher at Seishin, Mr. Brian Timms. In addition to teaching SELP oral communication for junior high school first and second grade and high school first grade, Brian will also be teaching the 2nd grade NELP writing class. I look in on him this morning and snapped these pictures.
I've known Brian for many years, and have worked with him before. He's a very talented, dedicated and popular teacher, and I'm overjoyed to have him here with us. I'm sure the students are too.
Also, this year I completed the 2nd Grade Self-Access Grammar Library.
Here it was before filing:
And here it is now:
I'm not sure how often it will be used, but I suspect it will see more use after first term (in other words, after they see their first term oral communication final exam scores and realize that they don't know everything).
投稿者 nelp : 09:09
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.
投稿者 nelp : 09:42
I have discovered a new way to keep my students motivated: a reading progress board.
On this board, students can see how many book reports they've given me, and the level of the book reports. This makes their reading progress very clear. This picture is kind of small, so I don't know how well you can see it, but my 2nd graders are doing really well with their reading. I'm hoping this will put a little pressure on my first graders and third graders to do their reading too.
投稿者 nelp : 09:05
As our NELP program grows and changes to fit the needs of the students, we've begun to see some real development in how we approach learning. This term, we're going to see a lot of changes in classroom management.
The first big change is in the use of Japanese in the classroom. Up until now, I've told the students that they may use Japanese to explain to another student something that the student did not understand. However, this is about to change. Recently, I've come to the realization that what at first seemed like a good idea, something that would help less-developed students, is actually something that may be holding them back. I've realized that if I allow students to explain things to one another in Japanese, those students will, essentially, stop listening actively to my English explanation. They'll simply wait for me to finish talking (without really listening) and then ask their friends to explain it in Japanese. In this way, use of Japanese in the classroom, even for what seemed like a beneficial purpose, was actually harming the language development of some of my students.
New Rule: Students may not speak Japanese in the class unless they have my permission, and my permission will be rare. It's important to me that students begin to rely more and more on their English language ability.
During the summer school classes, I explained to my students that, under this new rule, sometimes they will not understand me; sometimes they will not know what to do or how to do it; they will make mistakes; things won't get done, or will be done incorrectly; however, over time, their language ability will improve.
In order to enforce use of Japanese in class, if students use Japanese without permission, they will first get a warning. If they continue to use Japanese without permission, their class participation grade will go down. If they continue to use Japanese, they will be given detention.
This is the next change in classroom management. Starting second term, I plan to reinforce with the students that detention is mandatory. When students are given detention, they will be given a note to take home for their parents to sign. This keeps the parents informed. I will keep a copy of the detention form so that, in the even the student either (a) does not get the parent's signature, or (b) forges the parent's signature and does not show the form to the parents, I may show the original detention form to the parents on Parents' Day.
Currently, I give detention when three or more homework assignments are late, or (from this term) when the student uses too much Japanese in class. If the detention is for homework, then during detention time, I will do the late homework with the student. This provides personal instruction in the event that the student did not understand the work, but was too shy to say so. If the detention was given for use of Japanese in class, then detention time will be used to practice English conversation. This gives students personal instruction in the event that the student either (a) lacks confidence in their language skills, or (b) needs development of skills that will allow them to communicate, even when they lack the vocabulary or grammar to say what they want to say. In this way, detention is not a punishment (or not MERELY a punishment) but a way of helping students develop skills that may need development.
The last major change will be in assessment. From second term, final exams for English B (reading) will include a final project. Half of the final exam grade will be the actual final exam they take on the test day. The other half of their final exam grade (30% of the grade for the term), will be a short research paper. I will give the students a category based on topics and structures we study in class, and the students will choose a research topic in that category. Also from second term, final exams for Oral Communication will include a final presentation. Again, half of the final exam grade will be the actual final exam they take on the test day, and the other half of their final exam grade (again, 30% of the grade for the term), will be a presentation. Again, I will choose the category and the students will choose the topic. The topic for the research report and the presentation will be the same. This means that at the end of the term, the students will turn in a written research report, and will then make an oral presentation about that report.
I have explained to my students that the oral presentation is not a speech. They will not be allowed to read, but they will not be expected to memorize. The idea is to inform themselves about a topic and then explain that topic to the class. Students will be encouraged to use visual aids and auditory aids, such as Powerpoint, videos, music, photos, drawings, and so on.
I think this will contribute in a beneficial way towards reinforcing that what we learn in class are tools for communication and self-expression, and not merely a bunch of rules and tricks that will help us pass an exam. I'm looking forward to seeing how students will approach these new tasks.
投稿者 nelp : 09:33
Recently I've begun some rather interesting changes in the content of my lessons. These changes have been motivated by the results of a survey I conducted among my students. A couple of months ago, my second and third graders each made a list of topics they'd like to discuss in class and things they'd like to do in the NELP program. A week ago, I assigned my first graders an essay on the same topic. I asked my first graders to tell me what they'd like to do in the class, things they'd like to see more of, and things they'd like to see less of. The results of these surveys has already begun to shape the classes. The curriculum will not change significantly. What will change is the way in which the curriculum is implemented.
The most significant change will be that students will have more choices: more choices in terms of activities and more choices in terms of work. For example, starting next week, one of our reading classes each week will be transformed from a teacher-centered approach to a more learning-centered approach, meaning that instead of the teacher guiding the students through a variety of reading exercises, students will now have a choice to either (a) read books on their own, (b) discuss their reading with other students, or (c) do individual and group activities based on reading, including reading exercises, reading test skills development, or games which require reading. Each week, students will also present new vocabulary to the class. Students have been assigned a weekly quota of new words to bring. All new words must meet two criteria: the words must be new, but they must also be useful: meaning that the words should be words that students expect to use with some degree of frequency.
Likewise, from next week, students in the grammar classes will sometimes be given options in how they approach the material. For example, students who already have a strong familiarity with the material may choose to essays based around the grammar structures we're studying. Students will less familiarity with the material may choose to do drill worksheets or even teacher-guided instruction that allows the teacher to introduce and do controlled practice with students using grammatical elements with which they are less familiar. In this way, students will be allowed a measure of control in determining how much structure and teacher involvement they need in their personal learning process. However, as a teacher, my job will be to assist students in making decisions that will benefit them the most, which means that sometimes my recommendations will supersede the student's.
Now, why did I do this? Why am giving students control over some aspects of the learning process? The answer is simple. By involving students directly in the learning process, by allowing students to make decisions about their education, I'm placing a measure of responsibility back on the student. I'm emphasizing that education is not something that I'm simply giving to them: it's something they have to take for themselves. Studies have indicated that this can be a powerful factor in developing student motivation and increasing student satisfaction with their education. When students become part of the educational process, the educational process, under the guidance of the teacher, gains in potential for effectiveness.
At the same time, because I will be making an effort to present grammar and classroom content within the range of topics in which students have expressed interest, students will be more likely develop their interest in the class. In other words, by presenting class content within the context of topics with which the students are familiar and in which the students are interested, I will increase the effectiveness of the content.
There will of course be other changes, again motivated by activities and choices in which students have expressed interest, and I'll document those changes as the year develops.
投稿者 nelp : 18:10
Today, we added two new forms of classroom management. Already, I have several things that I use to help keep my class organized. The first is my class participation record. This is a record that shows students' effort, participation, behavior, attitude and homework completion. When students do well, they get a plus. When students don't do their homework on time, when they don't bring their book to class, or when they misbehave, they get a minus. The second thing I use are my yellow cards and red card. If students begin using too much Japanese in the classroom, I put up a yellow card as a warning. If they continue to use too much Japanese, I'll put up two yellow cards. That means that students should only use English. If they continue to use Japanese, I'll give them a red card. The red card means that anyone who speaks Japanese in my English class without permission will receive a minus on their participation.
Today, however, I've added two new forms of management. The first is detention. Detention means that a student must stay after school. In America, detention is given for bad behavior. In my class, I give detention when students don't give me their homework. When a student is missing three homework assignments, they get a detention. I told me students: "You have a choice. I can either do your homework at home, on your own time, in your own way, or you can do your homework here, with me." In the past, when students didn't do their homework, I simply gave them either a lower grade for late work (which I will still do), or a zero for work they didn't do. However, now I can see that this isn't acceptable because students who don't do their homework are not learning the things I want them to learn, and so they are falling further and further behind in class. If this situation is allowed to continue, the student who doesn't do their homework will have a significantly lower English level than the rest of the class and will no longer be able to participate effectively and equally. Therefore, in order to make sure that students do their homework and continue to improve their English, I have started giving detentions. I'm pleased to say that one student who was given a detention paper has managed to avoid detention by turning in her work, and I'm further pleased to say that her work was very well-done.
This week, in addition to detention, I also began giving invitations. With detentions, I give students a time and day to come, and they must come. With invitations, I ask my students, for example, to please come next week when they have a little time. I'm beginning invitations because some of my students really need extra practice, especially in speaking, and in developing the confidence to speak in class. I really want to help them learn to speak more fluently in class. So, I'm giving them invitations to come. If they don't come, I'll start giving invitations with a time and date, but I would prefer the invitation to be relaxed, and for students to feel that they are volunteering to come. It's important for them, psychologically, to be making the choice to come, so I'm hoping I won't have to push them too hard to come and work with me after school.
Anyway, that's what's new this week: Detentions and Invitations.
投稿者 nelp : 14:44