Backtalk, what to do about it?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 13, 2011 by razmadan

The last time I saw a student backtalking to a teacher, I was the teacher. It was several years ago, I was in my last year at art school here in Morelia, and was doing my social service at a secondary school around the corner from Bellas Artes.

I think I commited my most grave mistakes even before the student confronted me. I hated the job, wasn´t prepared for it in any way other than knowing English, and I basically saw it as something I had to do. I quickly grew bored with the work and so did the students. Once the students became bored, the disciplinary problems began. One student in particular, who was actually a pretty good student at the beginning, started acting up, talking during class, not paying attention, and not doing any work.

After countless confrontations between the two of us , I knew I really had lost his respect when after one class he asked me if I wanted to fight him to settle our differences, and he was dead serious. I stood there in disbelief, realising how much interest the students had lost in the class, because I had lost interest. I declinced his challenge, obviously, I wasn´t about to fight one of my secondary students who was half my age and about 30 pounds lighter than me. First of all I don´t fight, and second I only had a few more weeks to go on my social service and I was done. I wasn´t about to sacrifice all the hard hours I had put in up until then over this conflict. Somehow I managed to make it through the next few weeks, kind of just ignoring any disciplinary problems, at this point I really had no desire to try and resolve them, I finished my service and got out of there.

I may not have resolved anything at the time, but now that I´m studying to be an English teacher this experience serves as a valuable lesson for me. I look back now and realise all of the mistakes I made at the time, mainly loosing interest in the class which in turn caused my students to loose interest, which is where the diciplinary problems began. Of course,things are different now, I have chosen to teach English, any future job teaching English will be my choice, not an obligation. Now I realise the importance of keeping the class interesting for the students and for myself. I have a little more knowledge on the subject now. I still have my doubts on how to manage a classroom, but as with many concepts I have been introduced to through this TKT course, I believe it is up to me to do further research on the subject and put it into practice in the classroom.

Bloom´s Taxonomy

Posted in Uncategorized on May 6, 2011 by razmadan

Through the TKT course I have been introduced to several new concepts and theories each having to to with teaching and learning a second language. Bloom´s Taxonomy in no exception, it´s new to me and a little difficult to understand it in it´s entirety, however, the basic understanding that I´ve gotten out of it so far is helpful in begining to understand certain methods of teaching which can be applied in the classroom. Just as any new theory, I believe true comprehension can only begin once you start to put it into practice, but just knowing a little about the theory has helped me to reflect on many of the possible methods of teaching english. I found the stages defined within the cognitave domain the most applicable to our needs as teachers. Below is a brief description of a possible lesson plan using Bloom´s theory.

Lesson: Talking about Movies

The students will make a list of vocabulary related to movies.

The students will classify the vocabulary according to the part of speech each word belongs to.

Students answer a worksheet with questions related to movies, using the vocabulary discussed earlier.

Students will anylise common phrases used to describe movies used in the worksheet.

Students will evaluate their progress in using the new vocabulary and phrases.

Students will design a short storyboard (5-6 pictures) describing a movie they made up and present it to the class.

Learning Styles

Posted in Uncategorized on April 4, 2011 by razmadan

Learning styles are important to take into consideration when teaching, they give us great insight to the different ways that students take in, understand and retain information. It came as no suprise to me that according to a survey I took on, that I was a predominantly visual learner, however I was suprised at my high percentage of kinesthetic learning.

Although we each may have our own predominant style of learning, I think we all can learn using other styles, or combinations of styles. As a teacher it is important to understand the theories that exist related to learning, but most important is to test these theories in the classroom and see what results are attained. Only by putting these theories into practice can we be sure of how effective they really are. Here is a short power point presentation I put together which illustrates my personal learning philosophy. My personal learning philosophy


Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2011 by razmadan

This past week´s project proved to be a very useful learning experience for me. I learned quite a bit about myself and the other team members. Although we had a few moments in which we struggled as a team, I think that overall we worked very well together. I was satisfied with the final presentation we put together and even more so with the learning experience the project involved us in.

The first challenge was getting in contact with everyone, while emails can be an advantage, sometimes we can rely too much on the accesability of the internet, thinking, since we can access it anytime, we have all the time in the world. As soon as contact was established with all the team members, it was much easier to coordinate tasks for everyone, which of course was the next challenge, deciding who was going to do what. Eventually we all agreed on tasks for everyone, and agreed on a date and time to meet. Then came the biggest challenge of all, putting the information together and summarizing everything we had researched up until that point. Once we figured out how Glogster worked, that motivated us to get started on putting everything together and to use our creativity. We had a few ups and downs in the process and a few disagreements but we managed to work them out as a team.

Overall it was a positive experience for me as I believe it also was for the other members. A lot of the time it is much simpler to work alone, but the challenge of working in a team can be much more satisfying in the end. Working in a team also diversifies the process and the final product, resulting in experiences and ideas a person would never have while working alone.

see our Glog on Krashen´s Theories

The four skills

Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2011 by razmadan

The four skills, reading, writing, listening and speaking are exremely important to keep in mind when teaching a foreign or second language. Reading and listening, which are receptive skills, are generally developed first, whereas writing and speaking, which are productive skills, are generally learned only after having some knowledge of the other two skills. Poeple need to understand the language they are learning on a receptive level before being able to produce it.

The knowledge of these four skills, and their importance in teaching, are helpful in developing lesson plans which focus on one or more of the skills. A teacher can easily monitor their students progress in each area as well as on a global level when they have an understanding of these four skills. Lessons can be designed to focus students learning on only one skill at a time, or can be designed to invlove more than one skill, helping students to develope in a more natural way.

Literature Circles

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7, 2011 by razmadan

Altough I have never had first hand experience in using literature circles as a teaching tool, they seem to me to be an extremely useful activity to encourage students to read and to help them further understand the literature that they are reading or have finished reading. The dynamic nature of the activity is very important in captivating and maintaining the interest of the students, which I find, can be difficult with other activities that are not as involved. Literature circles are very flexible and can be adapted to fit the needs of several different levels and age groups.

In Mexico where I live and plan to teach English, reading is not a discipline practiced on a regular basis by the majority of the population, this includes students at all levels. Literature circles can be very helpful in getting students to develope a healthy habit of reading. This activity takes the pressure off the students, who may be used to having to turn in all assignments to the teacher for the teacher to grade. In literature circles students are encouraged to read in order to participate with other students in a more “real life” activity that encourages social interaction, participation, communication and can be a lot more interesting and fun for them. This can be effective in getting students to read since rather than forcing them to read, they are provided with a purpose to read, their natural instinct to communicate their ideas will provide them with the incentive to complete the assigned reading.

Literature circles are very dynamic and therefore encourage a lot of interaction amoung students. The very nature of the activity can help the quieter students get more involved in classroom activities. The changes in roles, helps students develope skills they might already have, discover new skills and work on “weak” areas. Furthrumore, the constant change will help maintain the students´interest in the activity and keep it challenging which is important.

Depending on the age group and the level of the students your are teacing, literature circles can be adapted to fit the needs you require in your classroom. They can also be designed to be used when teaching a foreign or second language, as in my case to teach English reading to native Spanish speakers. Hopefully through encouraging my future students to read in English, I can also help them to develope the habit of reading in their own language.

Literature circles are a great activity, helpful both for students and for teachers as well. I plan on learning more about them in order to use them in the classroom. I have included a short video I found on the web which convinces me that they are an effective and fun tool to use.

Graphic Organizers

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7, 2011 by razmadan

The idea of using graphic organizers as an aid in teaching and learning activities really appeals to me and I consider them to be a potentially useful tool in a classroom setting. Graphic organizers place enfasis on the visual aspect of learning which can be very helpful for students at all levels and all age groups, many people find it easier to understand information trough images, graphs and charts rather than just words. They can be specially helpful when teaching a foreign or second language, considering the fact that students are learning new vocabulary and new concepts, graphic organizers offer a way for students to organize and understand this new information. As a tool for understanding writin language, graphic organizers are extremely helpful in a classroom setting, making learning fun and interesting for students. There are many sources available on the web which provide examples of graphic organizers, below I provide a list of some examples that I found.

This is a simple 5 pointed star organizer which can be used at a primary or secondary school level. It could also be used to help students understand other lessons, not just reading.

5 Pointed Star Organizer.

This organizer can be used before reading a book or text, in order to get students interested in what they are about to read. It can be used with students at an intermediate or advanced level, who posess a fairly good level of reading and writing skills.

Prereading Questions.

This is a basic flowchart which can help students express their general understanding of the book or text they have read. I think it would be useful at secondary level and above, might be a little boring for primary students.

Your Basic Flowchart.

This is very simple, image oriented graphic organizer which is ideal for younger students, kindergarten and primery level.

Details Tree Note Taking Organizer.