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Rounding the third turn

November 12, 2011

The third quarter moves into memory now as the end of the semester approaches. My communication class works toward finishing up the issues videos. One day in the lab, I simply watched them hard at work, English flying all over the place, as the students worked on putting their ideas into videos. Two students, both in the 30 to 40 age range, had a disagreement in one class that took much of the class to move beyond. I listened to both sides of the disagreement. One person was complaining that the other person was dictating how to make the video since she had done a major part of making the previous video. She wanted more of her own ideas in the video. The other person felt like she had done the major part of the work on the previous video and was being criticized because the video did not earn an A on the group project. I mostly listened since they both seemed more interested in being heard than in hearing suggestions. Tears flowed on both sides, and there seemed to be an underlying fear they were losing a friendship built during the class. I split them apart since the group was of four instead of two or three and let them work with a partner. Next day, the two women were in the hallway and told me they were good friends again. Both were smiling.

In the writing class, we have moved on to articles as the grammar focus and will be writing a cause and effect paragraph. I am in the early stages of thinking through one or two cause and effect videos. I didn’t make any videos for articles because the videos I linked to by JenniferESL are superior to what I could come up with. I did make a couple of gap fills for articles. One is on the Tower of Pisa, and the other is on Hawaii. I used English Articles for the texts and Hot Potatoes for making the online practices.

In class, I had the students bring the pages from our student packet, which at the beginning of the semester I had put on the LMS as a pdf file to work on. In class, I brought enough copies of the pages for the students to work in 6 groups. I told them I would only accept the group worksheet and score it for extra credit: 0 errors = 10 points, 1 error = 9 points, more than 1 error = 0 points. We worked on one exercise in class and will continue next class with the other pages.

Some things I need to work on with paragraphs and writing include: conclusions for paragraphs and the difference between that and than. We will continue to work on proofreading as the students continue to struggle with sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, and verbs. On the third skill test, there were improvements in these areas, but commas brought some of the students down as did sentence combining.

In reading class, students made presentations on fact and opinion. I got the idea from a PBS page, which I can’t recover right now, of having students report on a news article and an opinion article. So far, the presentations have been very good with only one group slipping up an not having both kinds of articles. The analyses have been accurate.

As I was preparing for class, I realized how the basis for fact and opinion underlies main idea and supporting details. Facts tend to be specific while opinions tend to be general. A majority of main ideas involve some type of judgment, thus opinion, while support should be in part factual. General information often is opinion; specific information tends to be fact. Why I didn’t make these connections earlier, I have no idea. Hurray, I am still a learner!

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