Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Last week with Kanda


This is the last week of the Kanda program. Wow, time really flew and I have to say that it really felt like I taught this class by the seat of my pants. If it wasn't for this action research, I think that I would have been lost in my own teaching. Having a focus of raising students WTC and understanding and its relationship with L2 Self gave me a focus when I normally would have skidded off track. I think that teachers do action research a lot but not formally. We think about our practice and sometimes we take notes and write down what happens. But then the focus, the problem posing part of action research, gets lost somewhere in all of the daily stuff that we have to juggle. Working to answer a question does help not only to become aware of what we are doing, but also become aware of what we are not doing.

This is my second action research study, and I feel that there was so much that I didn't do right. At times, I felt that I didn't let students have enough control, at other times, I felt that I wasn't properly scaffolding my lessons. At different points of the process, I noticed that my students' intrinsic/l2 self/investment whatever you want to call, would fall only to rise unexpectedly somewhere else. If I were to do this all over again, I would try not to pay attention to what other teachers were doing in their classrooms. Worrying about what others did decreased the options available to me. Also, I would give students a menu of choices so they could chose what they wanted to do. Allowing students to choose is basic needs assessment, but it surprising that we just overlook it and jump right into lesson planning without consulting the students. Lately, I feel that I have a hard time thinking of fun and creative things to do. I need to pay attention more to where I get my ideas, what works, and what can be reused or recycled from different courses or materials.

Last week our class visited Whole Foods where they researched different foods in order to create a healthy menu. This Monday, the students will create their new menus and present them to the class. On Wednesday, we've reserved time to complete the class' post-questionniare and gave students time to work on their final presentations, which they will show people at a trade fair on Friday. This final presentation will culminate a lot of work by the students through the program and is the reason why so much of the teaching work was integrated.

Again, I'll give just a brief summary of the classes and a reflection.


On Monday, I began the lesson by asking the students to discuss what they saw at Whole Foods and what surprised them, and what the learned. After pair discussion, I one person from the pair to report what their partner had said. Then, I organized the class into their teams. I gave each team member an evaluation sheet and distributed some supplies and paper. Before letting them begin on their project, I showed a video of Chef Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmare show where he visits a restaurant to help them reorganize a new menu. After the video, I checked with each team to make sure they understood the assignment, and then I let them begin work on the project for approximately 40 minutes. After a class break, I asked each team to elect two captains who would present their team's menu. I explained that the rest of the class would now become judges based on presentation, healthiness, taste (imagined), creativity, and price. Each group came up and gave 10 minute presentation. I asked questions after each presentation and then allowed other students to ask questions, which one or two did. We then wrapped up the class. Wednesday followed the same format. We opened by talking about our experiences as a class and what we learned and what activities we liked. Then I gave the students most of the hour to complete their final presentations. When we were thirty minutes from the end of class, I asked the student to put away their stuff and take the post-questionnaire. I also had to ask some students from Jame's class to take the post-questionnaire as they had taken the pre-questionnaire.


I used Bloom's taxonomy to carefully plan my lesson activities this time. As usual, I opened up the class by having the student talk about a topic that would help them Remember the content of the project from last week. Then I had them work on Comprehension by having them share their partner's story. Then we used a video to Apply the menu to a real world event, and then we had the students Create their presentation. Finally, students Synthesized by giving a small presentation and Evaluated it using the rubric. It's rare that a lesson can cover all of Bloom's taxonomy, and granted that some are loosely based or out of order, but it did help me plan and helped the students understand the usefulness of the project by having all of the elements there. However, I did notice that some students were not participating in creating the final project as much as I liked, so I gave them seperate tasks and stopped by to check on their work. Also, there was a low amount of speaking in English. I think that the problem with project based lessons is that students revert to their first language in order to complete the project.

In order to gather more information on the students' I decided that the weekly student reflections just were not working right. I think that the students might have responded better with a different format than the Google site. Voxopop which allows students to record their responses would have been better as it would have let them focus on their speaking and listening skills. So instead of relying on their reflections I decided to interview four students who I felt represented the range of proficiency in class and also had different levels of WTC.

Kenji is very proficient but has low WTC inside of class and low WTC during assignments but high WTC when speaking with people one on one.

Kanari has an intermediate proficiency but she states that she doesn't enjoy speaking and she might be more motivated by her Ought than L2 self.

Miko is intermediate speaker and has a high WTC and she seems to be highly motivated by her L2 Self but has some Ought Self motivation too.

Minami is a lower intermediate speaker who has low WTC during class but high WTC away from class. She is more motivated by her ought self.

Interviews with these students helped me understand how the students saw themselves in terms of their motivation but also how they viewed their experience, which is also a component of the L2 Self motivation construct as argued by Dornyei.

With the data from the questionnairs, the interview data, and my own blogs, I hope to answer the main research questions posed at the beginning of week three.

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