Wednesday, October 7, 2009

And now for the SAC material development class

Today I had my seventh and final class. In this class, I have decided to have my students make materials for the SAC, which I hope to have up and running around January. I think that this will not only help them improve their English because they have to really understand the material, but it will also help me with material development, and of course it will help those who wish to use the center in the future.

Each class will mainly be the students working individually reading and preparing the chapter that they choose from one graded reader. I received permission to use the graded readers beforehand, so I don’t have to worry about copyright laws, which anyone who has experience with managing a SAC can tell you, it can be a real pain trying to understand what you can use and what you can’t. I good site though to start is the blog TEFLtastic by Alex Case. He really does a good job of explaining clearly all the do’s and don’ts of copyright. Here is the link:

Moving on to the class - I arrived a little late due to having too much photocopying to do. I had heard that I would have around 40 students, and just the guide book alone was 20 pages! I thought I would have enough time, but boy was I wrong. Unfortunately, when I got to class, I had less than half the expected number, 18 actually, although that may increase next week, but you can just imagine all the paper I wasted! I really felt bad for all the trees, and I mean it. I wish I had known beforehand how many students I would actually have, but well, too late for that now isn’t it?

I started by having them write their names on the paper and taking their photo. I then gave out the syllabus and absentee slip. I explained to them about the SAC that I am planning and told them that they will be helping everyone by making materials for the center. After explaining the grade system (one of the students was clicking his mouse, seeming not to be paying attention, but when I confronted him about it, he said he was doing nothing; I think I may have to have a talk with him later because I really don't need his attitude during the whole semester) I had students hand out the three stories. I told them that there were three levels and that they had to read each one and circle the words they did not know. This activity was to help me know better what level they can try in the next class.

After they finished reading, I asked them individually which story they thought was most appropriate to their level. The majority of them said ET, but I think they can handle level 3. I think I may have made a mistake, too, in choosing ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ for level assessment because although graded at level 3, the names have not been modified, and that can make it seem difficult for students. I should have realized that before selecting it, but next time, I will make sure not to use that book.

As students were coming up, I handed them the booklet explaining how to make the resources with examples. Once everyone had the guide, I explained it to them again what they would be doing in class. I told them that they did not have to use all the materials and that they could use their own ideas for the materials. I finally gave them the questionnaire to fill out (Many of them had already received it in another class, but it makes it easier for me not having to search through piles of questionnaires from other classes, when it will only take them a minute or so to fill it out.) and told them to come to my office before Wednesday so that I could discuss which book they would start with first.

Next week, they will begin by typing out their selected chapters using Word and then they will have to make materials each week. One thing though that I probably should consider before next week is how many activities they will be required to make before going on to the next book. Perhaps five or six may be a good number, but actually I did tell them that the more materials they make the higher their grade will be, so by telling them how many activities to make each week, it would defeat the purpose of having them decide.

One thing that I have to say is that I think now that I should have translated the explanations to make it easier for them to understand. I had considered it, but decided not to in the end, but now I realize that it would have made things run much more smoothly. Also, I should have explained the center a little more in detail; I did at the beginning, but it was not until the end, when it finally dawned on one of the students that what we were really doing was making educational materials for the center that everyone seemed to really understand the purpose. I then explained to them that what they would be doing was very important because many future students will use their materials. I think that this could have all been clarified immediately if I had given them first a Japanese handout on the center followed by one on the class itself. Again it could probably be another case of overestimating their ability, something, which for some reason I feel like I am doing a lot this semester; or maybe it is because having reasonable expectations of my students may help them work harder whereas not expecting anything would create a negative mood, something that I would not want to have for the whole semester.

Well, I think that is it for this post. If you'd like to leave a comment, by all means please do!


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