Friday, February 5, 2010

Is it the end or is it just the beginning?

First of all, just in case any of you was wondering what happened to me this past week, allow me to explain. There are two reasons mainly:


Well this does not really necessitate any explanation as I’m sure most of you are full aware how busy it gets at the end, preparing tests, collecting reports, marking and grading, both which I still haven’t finished, but will try to over the next two weeks.


It took me a year, but it’s finally coming to fruition – the university’s first SAC. Next week will be the trial opening, so a lot of my time was taken up with last minute preparations and meetings; actually, I’m still not quite ready, but tomorrow I will have one more meeting that should do the job. I will not really get into any detail yet as to what I’m doing because over the next two months I will not have any classes, so this will give me something to write about until then!


This actually was my final class for the semester since the rest of the week was scheduled for tests. I started with the review as usual, and then did the listening comprehension with the textbook’s dialogue (the theme was leaving a party or a dinner). However, what I did next was different from what I had done in Friday’s class – I wrote on the blackboard the situation, ‘You are at a party or someone’s house for dinner’. I then wrote the following question, ‘What are some reasons you can give for having to leave?’ Now I chose to do the listening comprehension first in order to present the context more clearly, but also to give them some examples/ideas, unlike what I did in Thursday’s class, and which I should have done. I then gave them about 5 to 10 minutes to write down as many ideas as possible in pairs. As I walked around, I noticed that many students were using the same expression, ‘I have to’, so I wrote that on the board and asked them to think of different ways to say the same thing. When the time was up, I started asking students to write their reasons on the board, one per student. Once all the students had a turn, I went through the reasons correcting where necessary and by the time we finished this, the class was over. Now I corrected the sentences myself because this was our last class, but in the future, I could collect these and have them work on these sentences the following week. I was also thinking that using something like Facebook or Mixi could help facilitate the sentence collection as I could just have each student immediately post their sentence, something else to think about for next year.


Although there were many different and good reasons, like feeling ill or an angry mother, the reasons that I liked were actually reasons that perhaps one shouldn’t use when a guest. These were:

I have to go because I’m bored.
I must go because there is a TV show that I have to watch.

Now, with friends, the second one could be possible, but I think for no situation would the first one be OK. These examples gave me an idea for next time – perhaps I could first ask them for good reasons, and then ask them for bad ones and maybe even ask them why those reasons are considered inappropriate. It may also be interesting to have students rank the good reasons in order from worst to best. Finally, I could have students make conversations based on these examples.


I think this is one thing I have learned from this class, and will try to consider in the future. Until now, I usually have one lesson for one class, with the exception of review which usually takes the form of a review test, but after this lesson, I realized that there is so much material and so many possibilities that it would be very difficult if not impossible to get through it all in a 90 minute lesson, and since I’m not under any obligation to finish a certain amount of chapters in a semester, I shouldn’t worry if a lesson goes over one class. Of course, I should probably avoid taking four or five classes for one lesson, but perhaps that could be possible. What do you think? Come to think of it, though, my composition class was something like that because students were continually working through the semester without really having a clearly defined end or beginning.

I think I will stop here because I really need to set a time limit for how long I write. Perhaps more shorter blogs might be the answer, but I really do have to organize my time or it’s game over. Next week I will talk about my impressions of my first year as a full-time teacher, my class evaluations that I received from students and the SAC. Until then, have a good weekend!


Karenne, thanks for tagging me and your message about Martin's article, but I have question – for the tagging game, I am supposed to introduce two people I know, but I only know you and Darren, so what should I do? Can I introduce two people I don’t know?

Darren, thanks for the comment on commenting. I think my blog already has the functions you mentioned, but I will check again.

Charles, thanks for linking me. When I get the time I will visit your blog and link you to my site.