jueves, 29 de noviembre de 2012

Three and a half people.

This year has brought a change for me. I have taken over from my partner Sonia at her own English school in our small town, and left - with some regret, and not necessarily forever - Workshop in Santiago.

I'll miss the adult groups and the freedom to teach largely what, and how I like. On the other hand, I won't miss the commute and the longggggggg days away from Sonia and Jamie.

The main reason for this move may be visible in the Jan van Eyck photo below.

So I've got a bit less autonomy - I have to do a lot of recovering the local schools' curricula - and less chance to do dogme. Students mainly come so that they can get through exams. End of story.

I hope to do a bit of  brainwashing students into communicative learning in general, and specifically IPA, decent note-taking and function-fluency. I'm pretty sure none of them will have come into contact with any of these before.

However I intend to keep writing up post-plans and my usual assortment of worries, failures, triumphs and half-baked ideas.

And here, for the moment, is where I'd like your valuable opinion.

I made these cards to practice compound nouns with an upper-int group. I brought them into class and... er, nothing much happened. We made a few compounds up, but there was no dynamism, nor any inspiration on my part. What brilliant ideas have I missed? How can we turn these scraps of paper into a scintillating lexical activity?

Oh, to be filed under off-topic....

I've been test-driving Puppy Linux, yet another Linux variant, which is so small and light that you can carry it around on a pendrive. When you boot up with the pendrive in, it installs in the RAM of yer computer, not yer hard drive!!!  It gets touted as ideal for old computers, and since I run a rest home for tired and abandoned PCs, it was only a matter of time before I got round to trying it out.

And first impressions are that on my two senior citizens it runs like greased lightning. Rocket-powered greased lightning. On amphetamines.

 And also you can use your own operating system on somebody else's computer without leaving a trace after you've gone. How cool is that? I'm thinking it might be hell of a useful for people who have to do a lot of conferences using other people's gear.

Internet it found instantly - wired and wireless; multimedia and general stuff seems to work flawlessly. I haven't had the time (see first photo above) to try out printing and scanning yet, or how to install other software, but watch this space. Especially if you have a PC that predates the Iron Age.

5 comentarios:

  1. Alan,

    First off, many congratulations on the impending arrival!

    It's also nice to hear every now and then when another teacher has a non-starter in class... misery loves company. I did words on paper recently but I was working 1-to-1 and we were focusing on organizing the words into groups based on pronunciation (they also had the phonetic spelling on them). Wouldn't really work in your context I imagine but well worth trying out. After grouping by sound we sub-grouped by spelling pattern and that seemed to work quite well.

    For the compound nouns, I'd probably take a leaf out of your book. I've used the "Magnificent Seven" idea more times than I can count now and it never fails to work. One of the reasons it works so well is the wrap up that gives the students to opportunity to do some storytelling with the words. So with that in mind, I'd try something like this:

    1. The teacher reads out the first half of a short story to students. Contained in this story are half of the target compound nouns. Students are encouraged to take notes.

    2. Students confer afterwards and try to remember the story in as much detail as possible.

    3. Each group (pairs or trios) is given a complete set of compound nouns. They have to sort out which ones they heard.

    4. They are then asked to try and figure out the other half of the pile.

    5. Each group is given the task of completing the story with the unused compound nouns.

    Obviously there is a bunch of CCQs and class feedback in between these steps but you get the idea.

    For higher levels (such as yours) I've actually gone over the rules for a storytelling structure (http://bit.ly/Sj7Zlw) and I find that their writing is better if you ask them to keep to that structure.

    Of course, you know your group and for some this might take off wonderfully and for others this could fall flat on its face... the trickiness of class dynamics!

  2. My hero! (swoons)

    I hadn't thought of the pronunciation angle. And that's usually my obvious angle.

    Oh I love the storytelling structure above. Got to try that. How do you structure the story-writing in class?

  3. Actually, I broke the TTT rule and read them this story (http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/courses/elc/studyzone/410/reading/deathcar.htm). I'd already given out the handout I linked in my previous post (though I wasn't able to think of a cool way to introduce it so I just said "I think this is really interesting, what do you think?")

    I gave them some words to put in order while they listened and encouraged them to take notes. I then asked them if my story fits the 'Hollywood' structure and asked them to divide the story up into the component parts. They do this in groups and inevitably wish they'd taken better notes. (I see that as a compliment of sorts that my storytelling is encapsulating.)

    After that, I helped each group with the first section (Context, Characters and Conflict) and then stepped back as they filled out the rest of the story.

    This is, of course, dependent on whether there is enough time... sometimes it does fall to "OK, here are the words, now write a story." Sorry, they can't all be well-structured and well-timed winners. :-P

  4. Puppy Linux sounds amazinggggg - I really need to get into Linux. P'haps this Christmas...

  5. Remember a Puppy is for life, not just for Christmas :)