Thursday, October 22, 2009

The topic is in the hamburger?

I did something different today. I notice that many students tend to sit in the same place and usually, but not always, with the same person, so what I did before starting the class was separate them. I gave half the class an A and the other B, and told them to find a partner. This of course took a few minutes, and some students came while people were looking for a partner, so I matched them immediately with someone, but it worked out quite well.

Once they were seated I had them clear off their desks for the review quiz. I gave them about 10 minutes, but many were finished before the time was up. I then quickly reviewed the paragraph rules by asking individual students for them, and having students repeat after me. After that, I passed back their work from the previous week.

Around 11 I introduced, using both English and Japanese, the topic and my hamburger analogy for the paragraph. I explained how important the topic was and that it is usually introduced in the first sentence and that this was called the topic sentence. I then had them do an activity where they had to find the main idea or topic of a list of similar words. I then gave them five paragraphs and asked them first to take turns reading each paragraph aloud, then to work together to figure out what the topic was and what the topic sentence was. I did not give them a time limit, but walked around observing them and when it seemed that most of them had finished, I asked them individually to tell me what the topic and topic sentence were.

After finishing the activities, I was going to continue with the worksheet on and versus but, but realized that we did not have enough time to do that, the reading and the sentence correction, so I once again asked them to choose, and a huge majority wanted to do the worksheet on and versus but, so we did. Once the majority had finished, I asked students to come up and write the answers on the board. I then had students read the sentences aloud before asking them for the rules – namely, and is for two similar ideas, whereas but is for two contrasting ideas. Finally, I told them to review the worksheet on and versus but and the topic/topic sentence for next week’s test.

Looking back on today’s lesson, I think things went well. However, I think that some of my students had a little trouble with the idea of topic and topic sentence despite explaining to them in Japanese and English. This difficulty could be attributed to the foreignness of the concept as many students may not have studied this in high school, or it could have been due to my explanation – perhaps I should consider a written explanation in the future. However, on the bright side, we will continue to focus on this in upcoming classes since we will be looking at writing in more detail, so I am fairly confident that it will become easier for them. Speaking of the writing, I am also considering doing it a little differently in that I think I may have the students write on topics that interest them, especially those that they highlighted in the questionnaire I gave them. I think that writing about something you like will definitely make the writing process a little easier and hopefully enjoyable.

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