Friday, February 25, 2011

Second week with Kanda


Last week I was a bit surprised that my students seemed really motivated to talk out of class but didn't really want to talk in class. My two attempts to build negotiation skills when speaking with native speakers seemed to fall flat on their face. Are my students WTC and self confidence higher than I think. The other community interaction teachers seem to think that sending the students off to talk to native speakers right off the bat is fine. I've voiced my concerns but then on Friday my warm up activity disintegrated as students rushed off to complete an activity that James created where groups of students asked the public about sustainable fishing. In one week the students have talked to professors at school, went out to talk to professionals at a non-profit, talked to native English speakers in panel discussions, and completed two scavenger hunt type activities. I'm wondering what is left for the students to do in my class. There goes my idea of social scaffolding too as students have willingly jumped into the deep end of the pool. Good for them, but that means I have to re-evaluate my entire action research study. Yet, as I noted above, the students seem to be reluctant to talk in class.

However, this week on Wednesday, our class completed a discourse completion task and on Friday they went out to Monterey Peninsula College to complete a survey and walking activity there. This journal will briefly narrate the events of both classes and then reflect on the events and plan for next week.


1) At the beginning of the class I outlined the menu for the days events. Then I asked students to find a speaking partner and told them that today's topic would be about their experiences at Stevenson's Middle School. I asked the students to talk about what they learned there and what they will do for their next visit later in the week. Sekiya sensei also announced to the class that there might not be computers and profectors for PowerPoint presentations, so they may have to think of some other strategies for giving a lesson. I asked the students if they would like part of my class period to work on their projects, and they said yes.

2) After the warm up conversation, I gave students hand outs to students who could not complete their online reflections. I then told them that they are expected to complete the online journal and if they can't log in, then they should come to the workshop next week.

3) Then I told the students a story about how I poured soy sauce on my rice during breakfast at my host mother's house in Japan and how I offended her accidentally. I told them that in language, we should think about culture when we speak to other people. Then I played a clip from Mr. Baseball where the pitcher accidentally doesn't tip his hat to Tom Selleck and causes a fight between both teams.

4) Next I divided the teams by their closest class members and handed out a worksheet with examples of pragmatic problems between a teacher and a student that I made up. I asked each team to read the discussions and then discuss what they noticed about the discussions.

5) After the students had a brief discussion about the made up pragmatics. I asked them to turn the sheet over. On the other side I wrote down some pragmatic problems and asked each group to write four different answers to the situation. E.g.,

Pay a complement: You want to give someone a complement for losing a lot of weight without hurting their feelings.

Furthermore, I told the students that they should write four answers with one being a really good answer, two being not so good, and one being bad. After the students wrote their answers, I asked them to find four people on campus and ask them to tell you which is the best way answer they were most likely to say. Sekiya sensei also said to ask the person if they would say something in a different way. I gave the students 15 minutes to complete the survey.

6) After the students were finished, I asked them to share their answers with the class.

7) I gave the students the remaining time to work on their presentations.


1) James and I met all of the students at the bus stop at the transit plaza. We took the bus to MPC and got off at the lower stop.

2) When we reached the main campus, James gave the students direction to complete the survey that was given to them in the survey class. I also gave them a map and a "scavenger" hunt task to visit different places on campus and find different information. I told the students that the first team to come back with all the information would win a souvenir from me (four kitchen magnets about Monterey).

3) The students then went off to complete the task while we waited. A group from James' class was the first to finish my scavenger hunt task. I also stuck around to update students and help them figure out what they wanted to do after the class while James left back to school early.


Wednesday's class sounds good on paper, but there seemed to be a disconnect between what I had planned the students to do by warming them up in with partners, working in groups through reading and discussion, and then sending them out to survey students around campus. I was in a rush to complete the lesson plan earlier that day, and despite repeated vows, I wasn't able to plan ahead as early as I would like. However, I don't think the lesson was as bad all that. My impression is that the students didn't find the task useful and were not invested in it. The students who had higher abilities didn't care and the student with lower abilities were confused. Sekiya sensei and I seemed to be the only ones who cared. So, indeed, the end was very anti climatic, but I do think that the students learned how to do a discourse completion task correctly, and maybe if I had more time to think of better situation, or better yet, if I asked the students to create their own discourse task, they would have felt more involved. So this class, I definitely didn't do a good job in maximizing learning opportunities.

The trip to MPC was a disaster. I think the survey that the students were given didn't interest them, my task was perceived as busy work, and the campus didn't have any classes so there weren't many college students for our students to talk to. We definitely should have had them do something else.

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