Today was a difficult class. Difficult for me because the students completed my class evaluation, and difficult for the students because they have a lot of assignments to complete and its at the end of the semester when we don't have a lot of steam. I noticed this problem today in class when one of my students was literally falling asleep. I don't think I handled it so well. The first time, I ask the student if she was OK; the second time I told her that it was to leave if she wanted to sleep. I immediately felt terrible about what I said.
I'm wondering how I can keep my class moving forward, keep the students engaged, and also not let them take advantage of me. Also today in class, I noticed that one of my top students wasn't talking, another wouldn't look at the information I was giving, and another student was working on a project for the class and not paying attention to what was going on. At this point, I have a lot of self doubts about my ability to manage the class, the student's efforts, and the time available to us.
We also continued on peer editing, and because the class time was filled with student presentations, two evaluation, and a short introduction to a technology tool, I didn't have time to properly give my students peer review instructions and practice. In the theme of classroom management, I'm wondering how I can effectively lead peer evaluations, especially when there is limited time.
In the previous class, we finally finished the last timed conversation, which was in the form of a debate on the role of women in the work force. I framed the debate using the "ping pong" format in which students presented their argument and the opposing speaking partner summarized the previous partner's points and the countered with their own position and points. It was necessary to practice this format before the actual presentation. We also recorded the presentation and the students will do a self-evaluation and a peer evaluation of their speaking partners and hand these evaluations in on Thursday, Aug. 5.
Having completed the last timed conversation, we then had a little time to turn our attention to the final presentation. I asked the students to take large paper and brainstorm their ideas for their presentation. Some students created formal outlines while other students simply wrote down their ideas as they came to them. My plan was to follow-up with this activity in a speaking/peer evaluation task for the main activity for today's class.
I began the class by telling the students the agenda for the days work. Then I asked/told a student that she would be in charge of the course and program evaluations, explained their purpose, set a 20 minute timer, and then left the classroom.
When we returned to class, we began the student news summaries for the day, and I recorded some mistakes from their speech, which I will provide feedback through an email. There was some student lead discussion after the first presentation regarding the cause of immigration and how it is viewed in America. The second presentation was on the rights of Afghanistan women and the student compared how women are in her home country and Afghanistan.
After the student presentations, I opened my Prezi website and used a self-made tutorial to introduce the different features of Prezi. There were some questions regarding the different features of Prezi. Some students had their heads on the table, were working on their computers, and were not looking at the presentation. Other students asked questions about how to import videos and adjust the starting point of the video.
With 20 minutes in the class, I directed the students to share the brainstorm/outlines they generated in the previous class with a partner. Some students discussed their project without looking at their paper, and some discussed the topic only briefly and then waited. I walked around the room and asked students about their projects and answered questions. At the end of class, I quickly summarized some points that I noticed about the students' outlines and their brainstorming and potential areas of concern.
We then wrapped up the class.
I feel that I have more disaster classes than I have successful classes. I think that from the reactions and behaviors of my students today, that lack of interest or motivation has finally reared its ugly head. The problem, then, is what is the cause of the lack of motivation for my students? Why do they appear so disconnected from the lesson?
This problem began when I gave a short tutorial on how to use Prezi, which is an online program similar to PowerPoint. Prezi could be an important tool for students and in the last class, I had a student ask me how to use it. So I thought it would be a good idea to take some time to introduce the technology to the class. However, the students seemed really board (e.g., student falling asleep or checking Facebook in class). One immediate glaring reason for the lack of interest, it seems, is that students have already decided on the platform for their presentations. Thus, the presentation had little relevance to either their final project or to their real lives and so it failed to be relevant or informative.
Second, I see that despite my attempts to train peer reviewing by discussing the need for peer review, the benefits of noticing and giving information, and the large amount of peer review practicing that we do, my students are not getting any better at it. In class my students exchanged very little relevant ideas on their projects without prompting. For example, two students were not discussing their projects when I approached them. I asked the first student if he understood his partner's presentation, and he said, "yes." Then I asked him if he thought it was well organized, and he said, "no." But the two students didn't seem to care that it wasn't well organized until I stared asking more questions. Another pair had discussed the wording in a presentation, but it wasn't until I began asking questions that the student's self-diagnosed a potential problem in her own presentation: her bias for Korean food over U.S. food on a presentation discussing the effects of U.S. food on Koreans who move to the U.S.
I'm see now at the end of class that I needed to do a better job in giving examples of peer reviewing and taking a class time to devote to peer review. Also, I regret not conducting the ALR research on peer-review for this class because reading about the literature, studies, and theories behind noticing and peer-review would have helped. In all, I think my efforts to integrate peer review to help my students target specific grammatical problems has been inadequate.