Friday, October 23, 2009

Is time really free?

My students really helped me today because when I arrived they were organizing the desks for me. As I noted in a previous post, finding time to arrange the desks was a real concern, but if they continue to do this for me, I'll be able to start the class on time.

Unfortunately though, this class didn't get off to a good start because I forgot the CD, and had to go back to get it. Now, the class had not started yet so that was OK, but I should have been better prepared. What was worse though, was that later on in the class, I realized I had left their work up in my office, and had to go back up to get it. They were working on something during this time, but still I couldn't believe having forgotten two things! I think it really interrupted my mental preparedness.

Before I continue to criticize myself, I should talk about what we did. Of course, as usual, we started with a review quiz. The students were able to finish quickly, so we moved on to the pronunciation. Today we focused on the review of initial and final stress in two-syllable words. I used the game from Hancock's Pronunciation Games by Cambridge to do this and I think it worked well. I was also pleased to see that they finished very quickly, or faster than I was expecting (which actually meant that I would have more time left; I thought that the activity would take about 15 minutes, but it only took 10). To practice the pronunciation, I had them stand up and we stomped the stress; the students seemed to enjoy this.

Next, I told the students to keep their books closed and I dictated some questions. I can usually make up questions on the spot, but for some reason, I had trouble, which made me realize that I have to prepare these questions ahead of time, not only because it is more professional, but also so that it doesn't throw me off my game, when I suddenly find out that it is not as easy to make up questions as I think. Once they had written down the questions, I asked some students to read me back the questions to check to make sure they had them before we listened. After that, I had them repeat after the CD, first with books opened, then practice with their partner, and then without books. What was strange was that I was making errors with something as simple as pushing pause, as I would cut off the CD too early for example.

However, the next activity seemed to work well, and it may be nice to try it again not only in this class, but in others as well. I chose two students to go up to the front of the class, and then I had them pick two students who would read their lines to them, and they would act out the conversation. Both groups did really well, and the whole class seemed to really take to it. Of course, it may have also depended on the students because some of the shier students may find this difficult to do, but it may be worth a try because the students are never alone as they are working with their classmates.

Next, we continued with a listening exercise. I played it about 2 times and then got them to tell me their answers. I then finished the class with a speaking activity where students had to ask each other yes or no questions about interests and abilities. I then walked around to see how they were answering, and even asking them questions at times, too. I then asked for a group consensus on whether they were artistic or athletic, two of the personality types used in the activity.

I realized that despite being prepared, because I really did prepare, writing out my lesson plan etc, I felt that I wasn’t mentally prepared. This could have been due to being busy the last couple of days with my computer or something else, but I wasn’t satisfied with the way I was teaching today. One thing that I have learned from this is that even if I think I am ready, I need to take time to make sure I really know what I am about to do, and prepare myself mentally for the upcoming task.

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