Sunday, 26 February 2012

Week Seven: Where do the birds perch?

Taiwan Fulvetta, Alcippe formosana,
 formerly a sub-species of the Streak-throated Fulvetta,
 Alcippe cinereiceps.
Photo Credit: pseudolapiz

        Learner autonomy is covered in Week Seven. I gained a detailed “checklist items” to adjust my way of teaching any classes where learner autonomy is expected to happen from the article shared by Hilal for sharing the article, "Developing Responsible and Autonomous Learners: A Key to Motivating Students " at I don’t see my students to be either birds in the hands or birds in the bushes. I would rather equip, share or guide my students with the skills to fly high so that they have control over their journey of discovering the world. By the time they leave my classrooms with abilities cultivated, I will only wonder where they perch and what fun they are having instead of worrying about their having no destination.
     As for one computer classroom lesson planning, I have to say this is the most common technology-related implementation in my teaching. This is nothing old-fashioned only if I can build up more interactive activities to have the learning objectives met and the students involved.
     I have formed peer-viewing partnership with Zun for my course project. She is a great young lady. I believe we will not only have active interactions but also become close friends. The big challenge for me is to try out Web quest and rubric application in class as I have planned and the priority goes to get the draft completed by next Wednesday.
     Anna from Finland accidentally left a message that was meant for Vilma on my blog. The A&B cards she mentioned aroused my curiosity. I already asked her for further information. As the great Chinese educator, Confucius said, “ Among a group of three, we can definitely come to someone to look up to as an instructor .”

Saturday, 18 February 2012

As busy as a bee

     During Week Six, engaging large classes and adding Interactive essences to PowerPoint Presentation are the main focuses. I was really much more relieved when seeing that making a PPT was the task of this week. I have used PPT on many occasions, but there definitely leaves a lot to be desired on making the presentation as interactive as possible. I made a PPT on Kenya for the CC club to help the students gain more understanding of their partner school’s homeland. I hyperlinked a couple of key words to other slides with examples of the target vocabulary. However, I had doubt over the timing where I should insert the vocabulary explanation slides. I am not sure if I presented the slides in the proper place so that I wouldn’t jeopardize the pace of the ten questions challenge. 
       I like the idea of Think-Pair-Share a lot. It is handy but quick to get students involved. This Thursday, British Council in Taipei did filming on a Pre-While-Post lesson plan with one of my eighth- grade class. I also applied Think-Pair-Share in the end of the class session. I didn’t do the pairing discussion. Instead, I had every five students as a group discuss on the reading we covered. Then the groups were encouraged to pose questions based on their comprehension of the reading and the other groups competed over who spoke out the correct answers first. Both the group who posed a question and the group who got the right answer earned a point. To my amazement, two students from different groups, who always get less than 20 out of 100 in a test, raised their hands and worked out the answers with their teammates. I made the rule that the winning team got chocolate to enjoy but ended up with chocolate candy for everyone but extra cookies for those two highest-point winning groups. They did an excellent job by including everyone in the competition. That counts so much more to me. What’s as wonderful is that one of the students who have above-average command of English but tends to be restless in class showed great leadership in managing his group. I pulled him aside after the filming and gave him the compliment he deserved. Guess what? He remained involved in the next English class on Friday. It’s impossible to make every single student “love” a certain teacher, but if we observe the whole class with a caring attitude and we spend a little extra time to voice our feeling or feedback, there might exist the key to the students’ heart. As for my final project, I was still somewhat lost (truth be told), but reading over Janine’s post “…integrating technology into projects is a wonderful use of the tools, but does not make a project per se. A project will always end in a student-generated product or performance and in which students have used language in a meaningful way. So asking students to do online grammar exercises, for example, might be very useful but does not constitute a project.”, I have gained a clearer picture of what the final project should be composed of, but also somewhat overwhelmed by the challenges in making the project done.Brain exerting time, brain exertng time!!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Week Five --More learning, More reflection

     To me, this is a challenging week because PBL, Rubrics and WebQuest were introduced to the course this week. Challenging as it is because this is the first time I went over so many details of these three. While creating my first rubrics, I went back to the Rubric tutorial from time to time trying to be “smart and sharp” because I tried to set up my own dimensions and levels. In the end, I had no choice but to refer to Rubricstar. As a beginner, Rubricstar is a savior!  I made references to the posts of the colleagues to be sure I was on the right track. It’s the same situation as WebQuest. I needed to go back again and again to the instructions to keep myself focused while creating the WebQuest project. I tried to implement my first WebQuest this week hoping to motivate my students more in their learning of the tedious grammar of the usage of comparatives. I included the basketball player Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryan and will bring in Yao Ming when we come to superlatives in the next unit. My students are to complete filling in information on their worksheet after browsing the given website resources and to talk about these basketball players by making comparisons. There were two main reasons I brought in Jeremy Lin for the students’ WebQuest homework. First, basketball is the love of my students. If they love basketball, then let’s dig deeper into the basketball world with more information gathered and a little more vocabulary increased. Second, Jeremy Lin comes from Taiwan and I would really like my students to think of the definition of “the pride of Taiwan”. Are only those who become “somebody” on the stage of the world entitled to be called the pride of Taiwan (I know they are!)? Or anyone who is devoted to making Taiwan a better place the pride of Taiwan? I am not going to instill my opinion into my students’ mind, but I would like them to think about it. Overall, this is a challenging but fruitful week with PBL, Rubrics and WebQuest unveiled to me. There are two more things that make me reflect more after reading Janines’ comments—first, for the long past years, I didn’t apply anything similar to Rubrics as an assessor. I tried self assessment, peer assessment with no exact criteria, which made all the assessments meaningless and with no help to my students’ improvement in their learning. I had my students do collaborative learning by grouping them but when I assigned them different roles, I deprived them of the chances to potential changes. I am not defending myself for carrying activities this way. The reason I didn’t detect the problem Janines mentioned,” If students have very different roles in the project, I can't assess their work fairly and consistently. How can I compare one students' writing to another student's artwork? This kind of setup makes fair grading almost impossible. “has long lied in the fact that I have never specifically given points or grading through these activities. I have been doing these solely for the purpose of giving encouragement , arousing their motivation to participate and having everyone involved. Now that I am equipped with so much more accessible resources online and knowledge of alternative assessments. It’s time to adjust and change. 

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Week Four---spring fun

2012 is the year of Dragon in Chinese society. The New Year Celebration has come to an end and tomorrow is Lantern Festival. School is starting on Feb 8th though I already had classes with the ninth graders.
 Time fleets! It always seems that a week just started yesterday, and then you suddenly notice that another week is there for you to explore. This week we went over some sites focusing on reading and writing or multi-skills. It’s almost impossible to carry on an activity without involving all the four essential language skills. I clarified some of my blind sides in doing class activities in the wired classroom while reading the article by Jarek Krajka” Using the Internet in ESL Writing Instruction” ( It is a reference resource I can come back to when I have different genres of writing assigned to my students.  I surfed a couple of websites the colleagues shared on Nicenet and got some more ideas on lesson planning. However, too much advertisement did bother to a certain degree. Now with so many useful and interesting websites shared by the colleagues, the only but big issue will be the lack of time to go over all the websites examining which ones fit the purposes of the objectives for different lesson plans.
     I also figured out the exact steps to create stacks and add links on my Delicious. Com page instead of getting it done randomly. I have to say my old computer has some blame to bear. It crashes whenever it is in the “mood”! Poor computer. It has serious virus problems from the USB I plug in after I upload and download documents from public school computers. The virus problem is constantly annoying and irritating.
      I finally started to build up my blog a little bit, adding in my personal file info, sharing a photo of peony grown in Taiwan. From Next week on, I am going to share my favorite phrase or quote I read about from books or even my brief reflection from every encounter. The blog is more than an “academic” blog. It’s my journal of daily life and it will be something full of growing and changing memories to look back to. After almost two months of rainy weather, we have had three sunny days in Taipei. The winter sunshine! The lively atmosphere of the advent of spring. It’s spring fun!