martes, mayo 10, 2005

Everybody has their story… drama, wonders, uniqueness. 

Walked into the basement and was greeted by a young adult dressed with a beautiful pink coat and bonnet. She asks me if I am a mother. Not, I answered… and when I asked her, she replied she was. I congratulated her. Tomorrow is mother’s day and she certainly was walking tall. Was glad to share in the celebration… and glad (– relieved) of the simplicity in my life by not having dependents. (only the cats to feed this week). Another student talked about a personal loss at infancy. Could I relate to the sense of loss!

I entered the classroom and there were people from the previous class… I needed to move desks and chairs and when a student requested my making copies of her outline, I gladly returned to the basement to get them done while the group finished using the room. Ok, this request worked as instructed, plenty of time before the start. Once back in the room I noticed an absent student was there early… so we caught up with details of how she was catching up due to her absence. ... reviewing what she missed and how she was going to catch up. I noticed that she had left a message in the “virtual classroom site” asking for someone to inform her about what happened in class. There is definite consequence to student’s absences in a class with a whole semester schedule of 6 five hour sessions. She had the multiple choice test, (not machine generated, but ok- “make sure the next batch is”), she had handouts for her presentation (not the outline as I explained…. Sigh) ok, what about the 8 outlines from the last class, I wondered how she would get them from students in the group.

Organizing all of the rubrics (one for oral presentations and one for participation), the multiple choice tests, the papers (due today), the handouts from each presenter took a filing system. Color coding seems to work! Found some huge sheets that served as folders for the students to turn in their outline and supportive documents used in their presentations. Then started the class with the acknowledgement that since this was the 3rd class, I had more rigorous expectations from presenters. Yes, yes there is the learning curve and the “evolution” from that learning” (different from the initiation of first presenters from the first turn) and now their familiarity with the general structure of the class and with my style. I reviewed what an outline generally was (a logical sequence of ideas going from the general to the specific and then back to the general—and drew the repetitive funneled sand clock) and directed them to get help from the librarian… one student tried it and got some specific help, but not categorical as in writing resources/reference tools. This is a Social Psychology class (I thought to myself, how detailed should I be about outlines? )

Ok, let’s have a rely race…. You are A, you B, A, B, and so on… 5 minutes were set on the timer. Two groups one “A” and one “B”, and go to the board and list the concepts from last week. Books were opened and a line was formed… notice some class members were sitting… they’ve been to the board and where discussing group presentations. Others were back on the line and adding to the list. Time’s up! Group A had, so many and Group B visibly more.

Group A
Powers of positive thinking
clinical intuition
self efficacy
foot in the door
locus of control
self esteem
cognitive dissonance
Hindsight Bias
Illusionary Correlations
belief and behavior
over confidence phenomenon
self confirming diagnosis
learned helplessness
self perception theory
low ball technique

Group B
positive thinking
fundamental attribution error
availability heuristic
hindsight bias
self efficacy
attitudes can influence behavior
differing perspectives
learned helplessness
locus of control
clinical intuition
emotional reactions
overconfidence phenomenon
confirmation bias
behavior can effect attitudes
cognitive dissonance
low balling
illusory correlation
causal explanations

We discussed the impact of the exercise and how the set up was lenient and conducive to listing of concepts and not to evaluation of the concepts (as in, asking them not to repeat concepts already appearing in either group nor by setting more divergent groups…. (achieved by “half of the room” assigned to each group). Instead I chose to assign members from the same table to either group.

A discussion ensued about whether attitudes influence behavior or the other way around, if behavior influences attitudes. Some discussion was related to attitudes and emotions as in the case of “optimism”. Is an attitude an emotion? and how the emotion piece is not really related to the behavior/attitude loop.

Am I making sense? --I thought… humm, yes we are talking about cognition and about setting up relations among concepts and testing how these concepts hold by proving the opposite relations…. What was that concept? Probing the opposite as a way to validate or discount a relation... when systematically we test a theory by proving if the opposite holds, and then the relationship is supported.) I shared with the group my amazement with the author of the text and about how succinct his writing is. Some students agreed with how at times the module ends right in the middle of the consideration of a topic. That realization is an important one because I am underlining the needs for summary statements which are limited in the textbook. I also want proper citation and references to be included in the outline and in the paper and the later is lacking at the end of each module in the book. Why is it that the references are gathered instead at the end of the book?.... (Author's License, of course).

Ok, presentations…. The first presenter informed me that she had to leave because she had a crisis at home. I guess you gotta go I said! There are values for each activity and missing class shows up statistically…

Presentations, who is next on line… and I set the timer for 10 minutes… Outlines are not paragraphs….. I noticed. Nevertheless, they had power point presentations ready and would talk in front of the room. I noted that timing and a good outline are the crucial elements for a good presentation. Also crucial is the speaker’s ability to engage the audience with interesting topics. Yes, culture and diversity was brought up in an interesting fashion. When it was time for discussion, I took up to the board to present my concept of culture, ethnicity, language and migration. The door opened, -- and into the classroom walked the program director to observe the class. I had told the group that this was going to happen and the two Doctors shock hands in the front of the room. I asked her to join in the front of the room, but she requested a less imposing location by the side of the room, so I moved a chair to the spot she chose, and I gave her a copy of the oral presentation rubric used for that activity.

I turned back to the board and proceeded with the explanation and the discussion which was forcefully argued by a vocal student. Others where making sense of the discussion nodding in agreement. I tabled the argumentation to a later time and explained to the visitor that I did not want to exhaust the topic. She stated that the topic was interesting. I then introduced the next presenter—who just looked at me when I asked for the copies of the outline. Since I had told her that I would make them in the break (which we didn’t have because of not having the first presentation) I took the original copy and ran downstairs to make them. Luckily I had the code number for the machine and didn’t take too long. (Still, if the student had requested copies ahead of time… I would not have had to leave the room. The director left quietly after the student’s presentation, and I waved goodbye., wishing she had stayed for the discussion, and participated in some fashion.

At that point I set the structure for the next activity. I asked each student to choose one of the best examples they brought for the week and place it on the table by the wall. I told them to find a “dyad” to go out to campus and make observations and even try out some of the theories of social dynamics (being loud and/or get physically close to others). And I asked them to be back in half an hour. At which point they where to go to the examples and write comments of what they thought the comments represented.

And after the field activity and the wondering around the table we proceeded with the next presentation. By then students had made it very clear that the timer was REALLY a stressor (I wonder if its use will prevail?) I decided to move closer to the back of the room. One student was finding misspellings and correcting figures in the slides and I noticed how my scoring reflected those mistakes with a lower mark. When I stated how her remarks influenced me in being critical, specially since her timing was way off, she asked that I change the score to reflect my tolerance as I did with others. I mentioned that the outline had a lot of problems and I pointed to those. I gave her the choice to re-write the outline and submit it on the last class. I presented the FIRO model and showed the inclusion, control and affection theory for individual and group dynamics.

The last presentation was removed from it being an outline and the score in the rubrics most critical of how mechanical a presentation could appear when a speaker reads without engaging the group! We had also been in class for close to five hours! So, at that point we had a large discussion about the examples and about any incongruity in the remarks. Some of the comments where read and the caricatures shown. And while there was divergence in the concepts assigned to the examples, they made sense. I asked them to work on the participation rubrics through out class and at this point to show it to somebody else who would add their comments and show agreement (or not) with their self-assessment.

At half an hour before the end of the class a student states that we should be let out early because of it being Mother’s day tomorrow. I acknowledged that a positive meaning could be attributed to such an act, and possibly more meaning the earlier they where adjourned. Instead I directed a discussion towards the social construction of motherhood. Is it just biological? And of course the theory of evolution brought up earlier served fairly well in the discussion about the taboo of incest, as in genetic evolution being protected by the availability of abortions. How is the possible evolution of the taboo of incest related to the social construction of motherhood, we wondered! Are we predicting the future accurately?

We worked solid and did not talk about the observations done in pairs. Must start with the observations next time. Time’s up! Acknowledged the hard work and called it a day! Wished mothers well and applauded those graduating next week.

Let’s see what Doernyei, (Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom. Cambridge University Press 2001) says:

Creating the Basic Motivational Conditions
1 Demonstrate and talk about your own enthusiasm for the course material and how it affects you personally.
2 Take the students learning very seriously.
3 Develop a personal relationship with your students.
4 Develop a collaborative relationship with the students' parents.
5 Create a pleasant and supportive atmosphere in the classroom.
6 Promote the development of group cohesiveness.
7 Formulate the norms explicitly, and have them discussed and accepted by the learners.
8 Have the group norms consistently observed.

Here the development of group cohesiveness is taking place as a function of group development. Some norms of support are being settled in the classroom atmosphere, but norms are challenged every time a new procedure is added (as in the countersignature on the participation score, the new procedure for the examples and the observations where smoothly followed. Norms are emerging and their observation is followed regarding procedures and requirements.

Generating Initial Motivation
9 Promote the learners' language related valuse by presenting peer role models.
10 Raise the learners' intrinsic interest in the L2 learning process
11 Promote 'integrative values by encouraging a positive and open-minded disposition towards the L2 and its speakers
12 Promote the students' awareness of the instrumental values associated with the knowledge of an L2
13 Increase the students' expectancy of success in particular tasks and learning in general.
14 Increase the students' goal-orientedness by formulating explicit class goals accepted by them.
15 Make the curriculum and the teaching materials relevant to the students.
16 Help to create realistic learner beliefs.

This is interesting. There was interest in the culture discussion and some students were taking notes and advancing arguments and counterarguments. However the extent to which the class was promoting the students interest, goal orientedness, was relevant to the students and created realistic beliefs is hard to ascertain. Discussion and statements in the participation rubrics could be requested as evidence.

Maintaining and Protecting Motivation
17 Make learning more stimulating and enjoyable by breaking the monotony of classroom events.
18 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by increasing the attractiveness of the task.
19 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by enlisting them as active task participants.
20 Present and administer tasks in a motivating way.
21 Use goal-setting methods in your classroom.
22 Use contracting methods with your students to formalise their goal commitment.
23 Provide learners with regular experience of success.
24 Build your learners confidence by providing regular encouragement.
25 Help diminish language anxiety by removing or reducing the anxiety-provoking elements in the learning environment.
26 Build your learners confidence in their learning abilities by teaching them various learner strategies.
27 Allow learners to maintain a positive social image while engaged in the learning tasks.
28 Increase student motivation by promoting cooperation among the learners.
29 Increase student motivation by actively promoting learner autonomy.
30 Increase the student' self-motivating capacity.

The goal setting methods seem obtuse and more needs to be done, although reference to excellence was made often. Encouragement is given by my urging them to re-write their outline and submit it in the portfolio for grading. There was plenty of new strategies incorporated in the class to maintain interest and reduce monotony. How this would help students achieve self-motivation is questionable… other than the rubric scores serving that function.

Encouraging Positive Self-Evaluation
31 Promote effort attributions in your students.
32 Provide students with positive information feedback.
33 Increase learner satisfaction.(celebrate achievements, display work)
34 Offer rewards in a motivational manner.
35 Use grades in a motivating manner, reducing as much as possible their demotivating impact.

The rubrics do some of the feedback functions, and as grades, possibly serve to motivate. It needs to be established how could rewards serve as motivation. The multiple choice tests could possibly serve as some of that reward.

Ok, I better load this text into the blog and call it a week. I have soooo much to tally…. Multiple choice tests, presentation outlines and rubrics, participation rubrics, 8 papers and make their rubrics for the next class… not to mention the review of the text. Hmm, how could I skip the note taking step?

happy mother's day, la gurrruuu.

What amazes me as i read your class is how meta you are even in the thick of discussion. Aware of the larger, outside sort of pattern of what is happening. Amazing. I like your take on Doernyei's list, too, looking at a whole section rather than at each item.

Reminds me that I myself haven't checklisted this week! Getting slack, you're giving me motivation here, thank you.
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