Planner for the New Term
In this issue, “From our Classrooms” hosts a post related to planning the term, not one from our classrooms, as the term had not begun when we were preparing this issue of the bulletin.
At the beginning of each term, we all sit down and spend some time planning forward as planning is at the heart of our profession. As Jensen (2001) claims, “a teacher with a plan is a more confident teacher” as (s)he makes sure the course flows smoothly and “the details have been decided upon beforehand.”
Attached you may find a photo of the planner we’ve started working on as well as the blank template that you might want to use for your own classes.
To download the blank copy of the planner sheet, please click here.
DECEMBER 2017 – JANUARY 2018
Towards the end of the semester, students are bombarded with a lot of exams, projects, reports, and assignments, which unfortunately affect their motivation levels negatively. Especially before the challenging exams most METU students take such as Calculus and Physics, it is highly necessary to attract students’ attention with something different, something that is not their routine.
Keeping this in mind, our dear hard-working friend, Gonca Gülen, prepared a diagram for the first reading in Unit 3, “The Future of Reading in Online Revolution”. She nicely shared with us her material and we used it together with our classes immediately before the Physics exam.
As usual, most of the students were tired and sleepless on the day of the activity and we believed if we had done the exercises in the book, most of them would have preferred to stay passive. We needed something that would keep every student alive. Thus, we asked students work in pairs (some of them preferred to work in groups of three, which was fine). We distributed a copy of the worksheet to each pair. They first read the text. Then, they filled in the diagram together with their friend(s). While they were working on the task, we put the same diagram on the board. After all the pairs and groups were done, we elicited the answers and put them on the diagram on the board. Each and every student in the class was active and on task even though they were really tired and sleepless, which shows us the success of the activity. We told students to do the exercises in the book after class so that they would practice more detailed reading as well.
This is, definitely, not a new idea; but it is still good to remember the function of a vocabulary corner that we can create in our lessons. Revisiting this old idea can prove to be very useful in time, especially if you ask your students to keep a record of these lists somewhere in their books and if you ask them to accompany these new words with example sentences or phrases they may look up in their mobile dictionaries. The synchronised vocabulary corner on the board and in the students’ books will boost our students’ repertoire.
Synthesizing, being a higher-order thinking skill, is seen to be rather difficult for some students. Every year I teach it, I do my best to help my students since it is a skill they practice not only in ENG 102 but also in ENG 211 as well as in real life. This year, I tried something different. First, while giving the input I first used mind-mapping, as I had always done. We put on the board what we mean by synthesizing and how we should synthesize. Then, I used Venn diagrams in the synthesis stage. We analyzed the information given in the texts on the Venn diagram. We put in the intersection what the texts have in common; e.g. the similar points or the similar main focuses of each text. And in the remaining parts we noted the different points introduced. While reading my students’ syntheses, I felt that this way of handling the texts to synthesize helped students to write better syntheses. They started with what the texts discuss in common and then write, if there are any, the different points in a more coherent way.
From Elif’s Class:
As all English instructors, I love using mind-maps in class. They are interactive tools that make students think and talk, and do something collaboratively. A humble advice from me about making mind maps in class would be to ask students to elaborate on their keywords for some time. As I put the idea on the board, I ask the students to explain the relationships and to give examples when they can.