REaChing for the stars
Empowering English Language Learners
We've sure been busy around here at KTC. In the past two months, we had two fantastic rounds of student presentations before the holidays, and lots of fun with holiday parties for Christmas. Then, was off on my trip to Taiwan for the winter holiday, where I had a great time exploring the cities, culture and foods of Taiwan. Now, we're back to work, getting ready to finish up the school year.
Before the new year, my fourth year students in two different classes: Presentation and Advanced English I, both made noteworthy presentations that I wanted to write about, but didn't have the chance until now.
At the beginning of this year, I also finished making the second year skills class school video diary, pulling together videos from all of the students. I used these for a class listening activity.
Read on for more about these projects.
4th Annual Gaming Conference
First, for the fourth year in a row, Presentation class students created posters on their favorite video/computer/cell phone games. Proving once again that focusing on topics that interest students is a fantastic motivational tool. This year, students did a fabulous job creating poster designs inspired by color schemes and imagery from their chosen games. At the conference, two sections of the class took turns presenting their posters in English, and teachers were also welcome to come and hear the students poster presentations. Students were encouraged to treat the presentation as a professional poster presentation, where they needed to grab audience members' attention, hold it, and think on their feet to answer questions and respond to comments. Visitors to the conference could vote on their favorite poster designs in each section and the best English presentation. In addition, this presentation is graded with a peer component, where each student is assessed via checklist by a few of their classmates. Scores are averaged and are a percentage of their final grade. The following week, in class, winners were announced and received a 500 yen gift certificate to Baskin Robbins, simply "31" here in Japan.
Junior High School Presentations
In Advanced English I: Collaborative Learning in English and Engineering, students train for much of the year to become English engineering teachers. Their goal is to learn how to teach a hands-on engineering project in English to local junior high school students. They work in teams, each on a different project. They learn important skills for teamwork, communication, presentation and teaching. It's not easy! This year we had the same three projects as last year: a rubber band car, to teach about energy and prototypes, a marshmallow tower, to teach about shapes and forces, and a computer animation project, to teach about the concept of frames in animation. Each group of KTC students worked incredibly hard to plan these projects in English, typing several drafts of their plans, presenting portions to each other, and doing a trial run with first year students at school. In December, they took all their planning and practice with them as we presented to three eager groups of junior high school students at Takamatsu Junior High School. Advanced English students had on their biggest smiles, despite their nerves, and drew junior high school students into their topics with ease, creating a fun atmosphere for learning and English practice. Afterwards, they all reflected on the experience, noting how difficult it was to be a teacher, but, how rewarding it was to see students smiling and having a good time. They wrote about their learning, teamwork, project concepts, and gave advice to students next year. Here are some excerpts from their writing:
Below, please find some pictures of students at the junior high school presentation.
KTC Video Diary Project
In the second years skills classes, we have a several week project where students get into small groups, of two or three students, and are responsible for planning and implementing video interviews about topics of interest to the students for a KTC video diary. Students have to borrow a video camera from my office, plan time outside of class to create their videos, and interview students from different grades and classes. I then pull all of these together, editing them, adding background music and titles in Windows Movie Maker. The result this year was a 12 minute video, on six different topics, with interviews from all of my second year students. To make viewing this video more interactive, this year I added a listening component. I created a set of questions for students to answer about the interviews, and the results were great! While at first students were a bit shy to see themselves on the TV screen, they were all engaged in listening and trying to answer the questions, which was also a great review of language we'd studied in class. My goal for next year is to spend a bit more time on planning and training for recording the videos, and to also gives students more choice in topics.
This is always an invigorating point in the school year for me. I am able to see students' cumulative progress, reflect on what worked and what didn't, and start brainstorming how I can improve curriculum for next year.