Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teaching tip on venue changes: be ready to adjust things

It's been nearly a week since I've posted. There's been some busy but good days here. Yesterday we middle and high school teachers were in Dongsong for Matt's open class and the ensuing discussion and dinner. It was a good time. I'll probably write something about how Matt used Battleship in class. It can work well for practicing new expressions.

I hadn't planned on writing anything today, but sometimes stuff comes up that demands writing about...

Today went quite well for a change. Tuesdays are usually my longest and hardest days because I've five
classes and two of them are the most difficult ones of the week. This post is about my two difficult middle school grade 2 classes.

The lesson: Reflexive, intensive, and object pronouns
*Lesson based on their current chapter in their course textbook.
Materials: whiteboard, two handouts from learnenglishfeelgood.com with example sentences, PPT of vocabulary and examples, PPT Jeopardy game.

The venue change: English zone to regular classroom.

It didn't start off on the greatest note: the projector in the middle school English zone went out for some reason, which rendered the classroom unusable. My esteemed co-teacher suggest we move to the students' regular classroom and plug his laptop into the big TV in there, so we quickly told the students and away we went. I was worried that changing the venue and starting class late would doom the lesson, because doing so threatens the very consistency so needed to run an orderly classroom.* My worries dissipated as soon as we got the PowerPoints up and running, for the students were back in more familiar territory and weren't as tempted to talk. And a good thing that was, because they were better able to focus on the lesson. Having to change meant losing precious time, but losing a couple of minutes is better than no class at all. It may have even helped the students shake off their early morning energy a bit.

Like Murphy's Law goes, anything that can go wrong will go wrong eventually and teachers need to be ready to make emergency adjustments at any time. Changing classrooms didn't affect the lesson in any significant way; only the seating arrangements and the size of the room changed. I did lose the Smartboard, but I still had a computer and a projector to work with. The students picked up on the material right away--they had sentences like "The dog itself chased the cat" and "They call themselves B1A4" down by the end of the class.

To repeat: be ready to deal with problems with they arise. You don't have to have a contingency plan for everything, but don't let last minute changes get to you. They can happen anywhere and at any time.

Stand by for more about this lesson. I'll be writing more about the lesson itself and about how knowing your students' interests can pay dividends helping them understand new concepts.

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