Thursday, November 5, 2009

Do you know your TS's, SD's and CS's?

Today there were many students absent; I am assuming the flu, but I am not sure. As always, I started by passing back their work. I also asked those in the back to move to the front. After passing back their work, I gave them the review test. I noticed from glancing at the review tests that some students were finding the parts of the paragraph difficult, but hopefully today's lesson helped clarify that. Of course, now that we have looked at the parts of the paragraph, we will start next class with some free writing exercises, so that will also give those students still having problems with the paragraph structure further practice.

The test took about 10 minutes and after collecting, I explained once more the parts of the paragraph this time introducing the concluding sentence. I then had them do an activity where they had to choose the best concluding sentence for each paragraph. Afterward, I asked students what the topic sentence was. I then gave them the next activity which reviewed all of the parts; they had to write out the topic sentence, the supporting details and finally the concluding sentence. Once finished, I asked several students to read me their answers. Although there seemed to be some students who had problems with the paragraph on the review test, there were no problems with this exercise, so what may have happened is that they needed to be reminded of the paragraph and once they were, it quickly came back to them.

By the time we finished these two activities, there was not enough time for the reading and the conjunction activity, so I gave them a choice, and they chose conjunctions. They had to rewrite sentences using the conjunction ‘so’ and ‘because’. Before they began I explicitly told them that ‘so’ requires a comma, but ‘because’ does not. I also told them that these conjunctions are written in the lower case. Once they were all finished, I asked several students to read out their answers. I then wrote on the board the usage of so and because and had them write it down. Finally, I let them go a little earlier because there was not enough time to do the reading.

I have to say that since I started giving them the choice, I have always found it interesting that they never choose the reading. I can only speculate as to why they do this, but every time the majority, and it is really the majority, not a slight margin, chooses the other activity. Of course, this does not mean that they can avoid the reading forever because next class, I intend to do this activity, and since they chose not to do it this week, I will probably not give them the choice the next class because reading is important for this class – it not only helps them to practice skimming and scanning techniques, but it also can help them with vocabulary building. However, for the latter purpose, it might be a good idea to give them an activity to help them practice the vocabulary because many of them may not review the reading later, and so the chance for vocabulary building is lost.

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