REaChing for the stars
Empowering English Language Learners
It has been far too long since I've updated this teaching blog. It has been a busy spring. The school year in Japan ends in February/March and begins in April, and is always busy with Graduation events, then new year opening events and orientation. And, thankfully, we also get spring vacation in there. My husband and I took our vacation in Thailand this year. We had beautiful, hot weather everyday, and were able to totally relax on the gorgeous island of Ko Pha Nang, eat delicious Thai food, and watch the sunset every night.
In April, I met my new students for the 2013 school year. I am again teaching second year skills classes, fourth year Advanced English (CLE2) and presentation class, as well as the fifth year Comic Class.
As a new introductory activity in Advanced English class, my co-teacher Lee Knowlton and I asked students to create a self-map. I had read about this activity in The Language Teacher (a JALT publication,) in an article by Ellen P. Motohashi, "Moving Beyond Self-Introductions to Sharing Self Exploration and Expression." I felt this would be particularly pertinent in this class, where all students have just returned from a year-long study abroad program in New Zealand. They have a difficult transition to make, back into Japanese school life, after a year of life changing and eye opening experiences. They have little time to process what they have done and seen before they are thrust back into the busyness of Japanese high school life. However, their time in New Zealand plays an important part in their growing senses of self.
In this activity, students reflect on three parts of self: their enduring self, their situated self, and their emerging self. The enduring self is the part of themselves that pretty much stays the same, aspects of their personality or values; the situated self is the self which may act or feel differently with different people and in different places; and the emerging self is the part of them that grows and changes, and the person whom they want to become." After long, hard, reflection on these parts of self with guiding questions, students were challenged to create a self-map, a visual, metaphorical map to represent themselves. They all did a fantastic job! Here are the results:
I recommend this or an adapted version of it to all teachers. It's a great way to get a deeper glimpse into our students, and to help them become reflective learners.