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A little catching up

September 30, 2010

I haven’t posted in some time. In part, it has been sheer business and in part I haven’t had a lot to write about.

Today, I got an update from one of the reading teachers about the vocabulary tests we created last summer. The teacher said that the students are doing well after she taught the students how to study the vocabulary. She teaches them to study the words in more depth than just matching a definition with a word. The test requires students to know the word in the way it is used because the test sentences come from the COCA (Corpus of Contemporary American English) database. It seems that this test design requires the students to learn the vocabulary in a different manner. We hope it is in a manner that will help them in the future because they will know the words better.

We had a showing of the norm videos for my afternoon communication class. There were guests as some of the students invited friends to come to the showing of their videos. This did not happen in the morning class. The videos from both classes show an increased sophistication in using images and in making videos. When I began this project, the students’ videos seemed as amateur as mine. However, the use of images and sound has shown much improvement. I can’t take credit for that because I don’t give them much instruction on making the videos beyond the subject matter, norms. But judging from the talk and laughter during the classes when they were making them, the students found the process enjoyable at least part of the time.

I changed the order of skills in the intermediate writing class. We have done nouns, pronouns, and subject verb agreement for the first quarter skill test. Previously, we did nouns, pronouns, fragments, and run-ons. But as I was trying to rethink how to teach subject verb agreement, I realized it should come after nouns and pronouns and before we get into heavy duty sentences. We will work on run-ons and fragments next. This class seems to like exploring and practicing the grammar more than previous classes, and most of the students work together well. I gave the students a challenge and an assignment for the day I was gone which was to complete exercises on writing compound and complex sentences. In the past, I just handed this exercise out and gave the students a due date. This time I challenged them to get everything right for full credit and made 6 errors the cut off for getting points. That may have been too harsh. They worked on the exercise in class on Thursday, Monday, and part of Tuesday before some handed it in and a few more handed it in today. The first two that I graded did not do too well.

Today, in this class, I wrote an exemplification paragraph with them using Word before turning them loose on the topics in the book. That will be the first out of class paragraph. They asked if they could submit their paragraph for feedback before handing in the final version. I told them I would give them feedback but not on grammar. We will see how it goes. I am going slower this semester with the hope of better learning on my students’ parts.

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