BACK TALKING IN THE CLASSROOM…

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Hello there.

My first thoughts when talking about back talking in the classroom are:

  1. noises in the back of the classroom
  2. whispering
  3. bad words
  4. comments out of topic
  5. intended to lose class time
  6. Dialogue (student-teacher-student-teacher…)
  7. complaints and arguing
  8. negative situation in a classroom

(http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/coach_gs_teaching_tips/2010/12/)

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Based on the Dr. Fred Jones’s Tools for Teaching “Dealing with Backtalk” along with my own experience I can talk about a situation dealing with back talking during a History class in California.

We were about 30 students in the class and most of us were Mexicans. Well the class was about American History and the reality was that none of us were interested of any of the history of other country besides Mexico. So there we were just sitting with no motivation or enthusiasm for learning. One of my guy friends sitting all the way back was constantly whispering and talking about everything except for the topic. After like 10 minutes he asked, “Why was the reason of learning something about a country that hated Mexicans?” So the teacher reaction was to actually answer saying: “You need to take this class because it is on your schedule but if you want to leave, feel free to do it but don’t ask why you get an “F””.

The reaction of my friend was to change the playing manner to a more serious attitude and started to ask more questions like: “well, you say that because you are a gringa and you don’t like us as well, so f….. it”. He left the class really mad at American people and American history. After a month he got arrested for painting graffiti in the teacher’s car (“I HATE YOU MORE THAN YOU HATE ME!!”).  He never return to class and got into many more troubles.

I think what happened was that the reaction of the teacher should have been different. She reacted really offensive when the student was only reacting to his own feeling about U.S History. She should have answer something like: “You will actually learn in this class the opposite of what you are saying, and by learning some of the U.S history will lead you to a better understanding of the culture and how it isn’t that different from your own culture”. She could have stayed silent also and continue with the class.

The teacher’s reactions affected this guy’s feelings by offending his own thoughts instead of staying calm and continue with the class. In my opinion she acted as wrong as the student when she answer back and said that he was in her class because he NEEDED TO BE THERE, not because she wanted to give him class. 

DISCIPLINE…

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Hello everybody.

Once again we are talking about classroom situations and this time I will do my own thoughts about an article by Dr. Fred Jones, “Synopsis of the book Tools for Teaching”.

After reading the article, the first day I was in front of a classroom giving class came to my mind. Remembering the attitudes some students had and how the actions I took were correct but some of them were not the best ones to follow.

(http://careers.lawline.com/2012/02/01/lawline-team-culture-series-post-5-of-20/discipline/)

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*THINKING ABOUT THE WORD DISCIPLINE. I remember looking at this word at the dictionary in my TKT class. The different definitions talk about punishment, following certain rules, obeying and behavior.

*WHAT WILL BE THE RIGHT DEFINITION? I don’t really think it exist a right definition but in my opinion the one that is the best is: training to improve strength or self-control.

*WHO HAS OR EXERCISES DISCIPLINE? Teachers, soldiers, parents, police, companies and I believe citizens in many ways. The one who exercise discipline in a bad way was Hitler who used it in the worst way possible.

*WHY WOULD THERE BE BREACHES OF DISCIPLINE?  To make sure we understand the importance of discipline and to make sure we don’t make the same mistake again. But this doesn’t mean that all branches are correct because some of them are really traditional like putting a student in a corner with donkey ears so that everyone knows he misbehaved. 

10 QUESTIONS TO ASK MYSELF…

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Hello once again:

I want to do an interesting reflection based on EDNA SACKSON’S BLOG.

(http://momentodecrecer.blogspot.mx/2012/01/te-estas-haciendo-las-preguntas.html)

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1. How would you like to stand in a line and wait for somebody to look at your work and give their approval?

I just hated it! I don’t really think students feel appreciated when they are standing and some others are copying from the ones already checked. It is also unfair to wait a long time for the teacher to say: it’s wrong, do it again or change it!

2. Are you interested in listening to the other people read aloud one at a time?

No I am not interested when sometimes I can’t even hear well or I have to read at the same pace as someone else, I would prefer reading by myself.

3. How would you feel if all the decisions were made by someone else?

I will feel unsecured and unwilling to do things that someone else want me to do without even asking my opinion.

4. Do you enjoy sitting passively while someone talks at you?

Not really because I can’t keep still for a long time. I would like to talk back or walk around while talking.

5. Would you like it if your principal yelled at you (in front of others) when you did something wrong?

Of course NOT! It will be embarrassing and not nice at all! It will maybe interfere with the way I interact with my friends at school.

6.  What if some people were singled out for special awards and you never got recognition, no matter how hard you tried?

I will definitely feel underestimated because I know that I can do as much as other people. I would feel sad, less motivated and probably mad at the teacher.

7. How would you feel if someone insisted that you express your thinking in the particular way they chose for you?

I wouldn’t feel myself! I would feel like expressing the thoughts of someone else, I will just not feel authentic at all!

8. Would you like to receive a number or letter grade for every task you completed?

No I won’t! Because I lived it! And I hated the A+, A- and A. A letter grade just tells you that you weren’t as good as others! I do believe that feedback is much better in many tasks.

9. What if you were only permitted to eat, drink and go to the toilet at specific times, determined by someone else?

For the eating part I understand it because those are important and non-changeable rules in all schools. But sometimes is necessary to drink water and use the restroom, so I think is to extreme to use certain periods of time.

10.  Does checking your email or texting mean you are not working?

Well, sometimes. But if you are using it because you need to know something about the homework or any other information concerning school it is definitely something useful to have and use.

Sometimes is hard to understand our students, but hold on for a little bit! We were students also and had issues with some of the things we think are wrong. Let’s keep them in mind!

“WOULD YOU WANT TO BE IN YOUR CLASS?”

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Hello to my readers:

As we are heading to finish the course and we have started our Module 3 I would like to do a reflection on how I felt as a student and some of the most important moments I had.

  1. As a student in my ESL class in California, USA. Most of the time I try NOT to remember the day I got to California and was placed on an ESL class with most of my other classes with interpreters who speak Spanish. I have to be sincere and say that it was one of the worst moments of my life. Why? Well, as a 13 year old teenager that had been forced to leave school and the friends I grew up with was even more difficult to overcome the situation.

(www.raiseahappychild.com sad‑girl.jpg)

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I remember getting to school and been placed in Mr. Gomez class (ESL LEVEL 2). I had been told to go to the 300 building, to be specific to the classroom 303 because I was going to take a placement test. So I came to the classroom when they were using the overhead projector so I WONT EVER FORGET FEELING THE LOOKS OF 22 PEOPLE WHILE I WAS STANDING AT THE DOOR and at the same time been asked my name and almost all my information in ENGLISH!! So there I was, OBVIOUSLY NOT WANTING TO BE THERE!  

(http://raiseahappychild.com/what-can-a-father-say-to-his-over-weight-bullied-daughter/sad-girl/)

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*The most memorable moments at that time were totally negative. I had to adapt to the different way of teaching of my teachers, but mostly I had to adapt to the language because it was a total necessity of communication. Not only at the classroom I felt alone and desperate, it also happened at the cafeteria, in P.E, in my every day routine inside and outside the school. I believe the worst thing that can happened to you is to feel that you are underestimated when you don’t know the language you need, and that is how I feel with this teacher Mr. Gomez; like I would never achieve any English.

(http://www.wetpaint.com/pretty-little-liars/articles/youre-lucky-i-dont-take-that-stick-quotes-from-pretty-little-liars-season-2-episode-17)

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*But like in some cases, there was this amazing teacher Mrs. Hoffman from who I have the greatest positive moments during my learning process. As soon as I reached ESL LEVEL 3 I started raising my English level so fast that I learned the importance of having a teacher with enthusiasm, caring person, and always with something motivating to tell you. It was my enthusiastic and caring teacher who gave me what I needed the most at that time: TRUST! That is why she is and will always be my TEACHER MODEL of the skills and courage to have as an English Teacher. She had the ability to make us comfortable with what we knew at the moment and to make us think bigger. She always tried to help us to reach our goal by giving us the right teaching and the perfect feedback every time we needed it. This is why I will give the same strength, abilities and motivation necessary for my student to accomplish anything they want to achieve because I don’t want my students to feel the same way I felt when I was 13. 

(http://www.superstock.com/stock-photos-images/4158R-1678)

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I WOULD DEFINETLY GO BACK TO CLASSES WITH MRS. HOFFMAN BUT I WILL NEVER GO BACK WITH MR. GOMEZ TO ANY OF HIS CLASSES!!!

MODULE 2. UNIT 19. IDENTIFYING AND SELECTING AIMS

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Hi everyone.

As I said before, I am starting the second module of my TKT course and I feel really excited about it because in this Unit we talked about something I never thought about: AIMS. At this point of my course I realized I have to change a little bit my reflections so that I can cover all the material and this will eventually help me out for my Module 2 Test. So let’s see, first of all we need to cover the definitions we need to understand in this Unit.

http://paceindia.in/aims-objectives/&docid=U_nni8UWYz4TWM&imgurl

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1)      AIM. What the teacher wants to achieve in the lesson or in the course.

2)      MAIN AIM. Is the most important aim.

3)      SUBSIDIARY AIM. The secondary focus of the lesson, less important than the main aim. Example: A skill or language area which is practiced while focusing on the main aim.

4)      PERSONAL AIM. Is what the teacher would like to improve in his/her teaching. Example: to reduce the time I spend writing on the whiteboard.

5)      STAGE AIM. Aim or purpose of a stage, step or short section of a lesson. Example:

Procedure: Show students pictures of various holiday destinations. Ask them to talk about their last holiday.

Stage aims. To contextualize the topic of holidays.

(Definitions taken from Teaching knowledge tests Glossary and the TKT Course Book Second Edition)

*By separating aims by stages we can assure that every single activity has its own purpose.

As we see, having an AIM to apply in our teaching is the most important to keep in mind during our classes. We need to know where we want our students to go, how to guide them there and what are the abilities they will reach or as simple as what they will be able to do after certain topics.

  • It is important to keep in mind that the syllabus (the course programme) or course book will guide us on how to do the planning for our teaching.
  • Aims are not the same as procedures. Aims tell us what our students will learn and how to reach it while procedure tells us what are the stages to get there.
  • We need to write a more specific aim for example:  By the end of the lesson, learners will be able to ask and answer in a formal way.
  • It is important to have the main aim to then focus on the type of activities we will need, procedures and timing.
  • Let’s make sure that our learners understand why they are doing certain activities by letting them know the main aim of the class.

http://www2.fiu.edu/~almirall/lesson_plans.htm&docid=am9kvRZMUtpLRM&imgurl

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I realized that and OBJECTIVE or AIM is not the only important thing to consider while planning but it is the teaching material that will help us consider what steps our learners will need to follow to reach our main aim and to know as teachers what changes to make on the next activity (what worked and what didn’t worked) .

READY FOR MODULE 2!

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Hello there.

At this point we have finished Module 1 and started Module 2 which is about planning and the use of resources for language teaching. I feel have huge expectations for this next Units. I expect to learn how is it helpful and necessary to plan everything we will apply in our classroom.

For the first part we will see “Planning and preparing a lesson or sequence of lessons”. Last Saturday we started looking over some concepts and having feedback from other teachers in our classroom, but it’s time to start working on it and see how it feels to do it.

 www.mayormente.com http://www.mayormente.com/blogs/detalle.cfm%3Fid%3D405&docid=Hxt24KB16jUiuM&imgurl

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As I experienced doing a lesson plan for a first time in my Licenciatura Class, I can explain how difficult and overwhelming it was to do a Lesson Plan for the first time. We must have big expectations while doing a lesson plan but is also important to take in consideration many other components of the lesson plan and how to make it work effectively. So let’s see how it goes now that it’s time to learn about planning and preparing a lesson.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BLOOM’S TAXONOMY

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Hello to you all.

Today I feel glad to be starting Module 2 on my TKT course and the topic for now is Bloom’s Taxonomy.  The Taxonomy of Bloom is a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives).  Bloom’s Taxonomy divides into three domains: Affective, Psychomotor and Cognitive. At this point we focused in the Cognitive educational objective in which one of his goals is to motivate educators to focus on all three domains, creating a better way of education.

http://www.coe.uga.edu

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Bloom’s Taxonomy helps us to focus on the main points we want to achieve with our students. This way we will always be on the right path and our students will be aware of it also. Bloom shows that by teaching LOTS (Low Order Thinking Skills) to our students, they will re-produce the knowledge given but they won’t acquire it. Otherwise, when teaching HOTS (High Order Thinking Skills), our students will understand the meaning, apply it somehow, express themselves, synthesize and create something of their own using the knowledge given.

Here are some of the Technological sources where to look out to achieve each one of the levels on the Bloom’s Pyramid-Cognitive.

http://www.usi.edu

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Bloom’s Taxonomy- Cognitive:

Skills in the cognitive domain revolve around knowledge and comprehension of a particular topic. There are six levels in the taxonomy, moving through the lowest order processes to the highest:

  1. Knowledge
    Exhibit memory of previously-learned materials by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts and answers. Knowledge of specifics – terminology, specific facts.
  2. Comprehension
    Demonstrative understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions, and stating main ideas. It includes Translation and Interpretation.
  3. Application
    By using new knowledge. Solve problems to new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way.
  4. Analysis
    Examine and break information into parts by identifying motives or causes. It involves Analysis of elements, analysis of relationships, and analysis of organizational principles.
  5. Synthesis
    Compile information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions. It includes the Production of a unique communication, Production of a plan or proposed set of operations.
  6. Evaluation
    Present and defend opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas or quality of work based on a set of criteria. It involves the Judgments in terms of internal evidence and Judgments in terms of external criteria.

By following these six steps we can achieve a Higher Order Thinking Skills and I will put an activity as an example to show how this is not as difficult as it may appear.

Activity based on Bloom’s Taxonomy: “Is it healthy to eat apples.”

  1. KNOWLEDGE: What are the health benefits of eating apples?
  2. COMPREHENSION: Compare the health benefits of eating apples vs. oranges.
  3. APPLICATION: Which kinds of apples are best for baking a pie, and why?
  4.  ANALYSIS: List four ways of serving foods made with apples and explains which ones have the highest health benefits. Provide references to support your statements.
  5.  SYNTHESIS: Convert an “unhealthy” recipe for apple pie to a “healthy” recipe by replacing your choice of ingredients. Explain the health benefits of using the ingredients you chose vs. the original ones.
  6.  EVALUATION: Do you feel that serving apple pie for an after school snack for children is healthy? Why or why not?

 As you can see, this is an activity that can be done in a 45 minutes class. This is the limited time most of teachers deal with, so this is a good example showing that every activity can be done using HOTS instead of LOTS. By following this steps our students will acquire the knowledge by relating it to their own life experiences, this way the knowledge will be significant and hard to forget! 

DOES EXIST A RIGHT WAY OF TESTING?

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Hello to my readers.

Today I am going to be talking about a situation that everybody gets through in some part of their lives. When we are students we are told that we MUST be tested to be able to get a grade.  The teacher would only tell us to study because an evaluation was coming up.  As I remember my high school time I realized that I was only graded by Tests and hardly two teachers evaluate the effort I was putting on understanding and doing the best work I could at the time. I certainly had a really bad time while learning English because I knew I needed to pass the tests to be able to graduate from high school. What a big word right?  TEST! Ho well, that is how we used to be graded, but Does this really mean that this is the only way of testing/grading a student?

http://www.automatedtestinginstitute.com

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No it is not the only way! And the way I was tested was definitely not the best way of doing it. As I said, the teacher needed to focus on my weaknesses and giving me some feedback so I could go back and fix those things. She should have given me a descriptive feedback and then I would personally focused on revising and reflect on what I got wrong.

I would have loved to be graded in an Informal way first so I could rearrange my own knowledge and correct myself. Then I could have taken a Formal assessment with less frustration and more confidence of my knowledge.

 Informal Assessment: this is when we observe learners to see how well they are doing something and then give comments on their performance.

http://www.flickr.com

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Formal Assessment: when we asses learners through test or exams and give their work a mark or a grade.

http://www.psychology.about.com

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I believe that the best way to know how much a learner know is by counting the work done in class, projects and other tasks. One example could be if a teacher is expecting a specific answer but instead of giving a test, he/she asks a question and receives maybe the wrong answer, but this will give the teacher and students the opportunity to correct the mistake and understand why it was right or wrong.

The word TEST cause a lot of stress, but what could we do to make it easier to handle? I think a quiz given after certain units could be really helpful and by making it as a collaborative quiz is a good way to cease pressure and to bounce ideas. This kind of pop quizzes can be taken as reviews but in a collaborative way, I do believe that these assessments along with a constructive feedback should influence the students to keep track of their own knowledge, build self-confidence and accomplish their own goals.

One of the videos our teacher Ellen asked us to see proved that by removing the Test application in a classroom the interest and creativity rises. In the other hand if we start a class and say that we expect them (students) to pass an exam and that the percentage has to be higher than 80%, the fear of failure increases and this makes our students less motivated. As a result we don’t let our student grow and express their own aptitudes, so how could we grade them if we are lacking their own abilities taking in consideration that any student learns in the same way. Throughout these practices we guide our students to grow and learn at their own pace, so if this is really working why are we still grading our students with test of less than one hour long? Grading the classroom activities has several advantages. In this case the evaluation is based on a wide range of student work done over a long period of time, rather than on a single paper-pencil test taken like a said in a certain period of time. This could be a great example of Standardized tests.

STANDARIZED TEST:  is one that is administered under standardized or controlled conditions that specify where, when, how, and for how long students may respond to the questions or “prompts.” 

http://www.waltonseducationalnewsletter.blogspot.com

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If I get to choose I would rather choose an alternative test which is one that as teacher we could do focusing on the age, gender, cultural background and interest of the students. This will make more sense to our students of why they should take that exam; it will definitely be something meaningful to do.

ALTERNATIVE TEST:  method that is an alternative to traditional paper-and-pencil tests. Alternative assessment requires students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge that cannot be assessed using a timed multiple-choice or true-false test. It is usually done by the teacher focusing on the graded knowledge of their students.

http://www.testprep.about.com

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Finally, I will share with you the idea of taking short quizzes or long exams. Personally I had no frustration at all when expecting a quiz. Otherwise, when a teacher stood up in a classroom and talked about a test I freak out and I didn’t even focus on the new topics. So what is the need of grading with a long test if we can do quizzes to measure how we are doing, making mistakes and building more self-confidence? It is necessary to test where we are, then keep testing by collaboration quizzes (not graded, only using constructive feedback), and then give a deadline to a test, but this way students will feel more confident of their knowledge and will be motivated to do the assessment.

http://www.sodahead.com

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TKT UNIT 15 AND 16- PPP OR TBL

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Hello to you all.

What are PP and TBL different?

As a started my classes I was wondering what this letters mean and now I can explain to you a little bit about both of them.

PPP: PRESENTATION, PRACTICE AND PRODUCTION. It offers a very simplified approach to language learning. It is based upon the idea that you can present the language in neat little blocks, adding from one lesson to another.

  • Language is a system of structures used to communicate meaning.
  • Language is learnt through controlled practice of simpler structures, then more complicated ones. Mistakes should be avoided.
  • Oral skills are learnt before written skills.
  • Structures are practiced in controlled conditions.
mikedellosso.wordpress.com
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TBL: TALK-BASED LEARNING. It offers an alternative for teachers. In this lesson the teacher doesn’t pre-determine what language will be studied, the lesson is based around the completion of a central task and the language studied is determined by what happens as the students complete it.

  • Language is a tool for communicating meaning through use of functions, vocabulary, structures and discourse.
  • Language is learnt by using it.
  • Classroom activities are based around a series of problem solving tasks. To solve the problems, learners need to communicate.
  • Grammar, Vocabulary and pronunciation mayor may not be focused on in class after the task is completed.
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We can see that these two approaches differ in the view of language and language learning in their classroom practices. Besides all of this information, I have to say that PPP is a traditional way of teaching with hundreds of steps to be followed. Otherwise, TBL has like 4 steps and most of them are done by the students, this way they get to work on their own pace. I would rather use a TBL approach to make a motivated class and a meaningful learning.

KNOWING MY OWN LEARNING STYLE AND USING IT IN CLASS + PREZI

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Hello dear.

Today, I’m preparing a prezi to show you how by knowing our learning style we can achieve many more goals and understand our students. As teacher we understand the importance of a meaningful learning, but we need to focus on the learning styles and the characteristics that our students could have, this way we will use the most appropriate strategy to work with.

Firstly, I would like to say that I found myself mostly as a Visual and Reflective person because I have to see something and write it to be able to retain the information, I’m also having a little bit of an auditory style which help me to pay attention during a class but I have to admit that this must vary so I can keep up with the class.

Secondly, I realized that some of my own strategies that I use in class to take notes, to study for a test or to keep organized my school papers are extremely based on my learning style and that’s how I found the explanation of how I learned much better through my school life. I got to the point that by knowing your own learning style and by identifying how it actually works it helps you to invent or find your personal way of learning (strategy).

Anyway, by knowing my learning style and concluding how helpful it is to achieve a meaningful learning, I can give this same feedback to my future students, so that I can apply the right exercises and activities depending on my learner’s characteristics.