Friday, October 30, 2009

Writing, We Love Writing, Lots and Lots of Writing

There were many students absent today, probably due to the influenza virus rampaging many areas of Japan right now. I am not sure if what I had was the flu or not, but I am better for the most part. Of course, I am apprehensive of being back because when you are surrounded by so many different students, it is not too hard to pick up something different and considering my fragile state, it makes it that much easier.

Anyway, enough about my cold. Today I did not change their seating arrangements; I did ask those in the back to come forward, but that's all. I then passed back their work from last week, then reminded them about the absentee slip. I then had them clear off their desks and had them do the review quiz. Next, I drew the hamburger on the board, explaining that the top is the main idea or topic, and that it is important to have supporting details, which I referred to as extra information to support the big or main idea. In the future I will stop using the term supporting details because I think it just confuses the matter, and simply saying extra information or ideas about the topic may be a little clearer. I then had them do two activities about the supporting details, one where they had to distinguish the topic sentence from the supporting details and another which had them write out the supporting details and count them from an full paragraph. Once we corrected this, I had them do the reading from last week and by the time they were finished, there was not enough time to do anything else, so I let them go early.

I think the class ran smoothly despite having a cold, but there are some things I have noticed that I should try to resolve. First of all, I think the wording I use for the parts of the paragraph needs to be reconsidered, even if only a little. If I am going to use topic sentence, which is what teachers commonly use, it may be better to let students know what it is in Japanese. As for supporting details, it may be better to use things such as extra information about topic etc as the words supporting and details may be difficult to understand. Next, I think the second task took too much time. Perhaps I did not need them to write out the supporting details. I think this idea came from a textbook, or I may have thought that having them write out the sentences would help them understand what supporting details were better, but now that I think about it, it may have been better to do something like give a topic and a list of various sentences and have them select the appropriate sentences to go with that topic. This kind of activity could have be used after completing a more simplified, say count the supporting details only, task 2. This would provide students with more steps leading up to the final goal of understanding better that supporting details are related and necessary for the topic.

One other thing that is more related to time management is that although I showed up on time, we did not start the review until 15 minutes later. From the time I arrived to that time, I only set up my computer, passed back work and reminded them of the absentee slips. Now, there are normally 40 students, so handing back work can take time, but does it really take that much? I didn’t notice until looking at my notes. It may be a good idea then to wait until the end of class, or leave them for students to come up and get later. However, the problem with that is that some students may not come and get their work. This is something that I should try to render in the future, but then again, is it something I really should worry about? Shouldn’t I really be concerned with achieving the goals of the class?

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