Monday, April 9, 2018

Bringing the World into the Classroom

Sharing project ideas of international education with native English-speaking teachers of New Taipei City

I was absolutely excited as well as nervous to share my greatest passion for English teaching with over thirty native speakers at Jiangcui Junior High School. It put not only my English speaking but presentation skills to the test. Of course, I still made some minor mistakes, but based on their anonymous feedback, I was also proud that I nailed it as a presenter whose first language is not English.

Thanks to Judy Wu's kind invitation, I got to showcase what differentiates me from others, which includes a variety of project ideas of Skype exchange sessions, international volunteers, video making, VR, and AR. I was so ambitious that would really like to cover as many as I can within two and a half hours, but there's was no time to go into details of lesson planning. One of Judy's jobs is to help those English teachers better prepare for teaching demonstrations, which requires good lesson plans for sure.

Objectives, Activities, and Assesment
As a member of the teacher consultants for Cooperative Learning, I have done microteaching and teaching demonstrations so many times and gradually developed my gut feeling for what would work in teaching demonstrations. First and foremost, I would ask myself these three questions: What my students should be able to DO at the end of the course? What activities can help them achieve the objectives? How would I know that they have achieved the objectives? These three questions cover the very core of lesson planning. Are the objectives observable and measurable? If yes, we can use checklists and rubrics as assessment tools. When writing learning objectives, I found the ABCD model extremely helpful because it answers all the three questions clearly with audience, behavior, condition, and degree.

Scaffolding and the Role as a Teacher
The rest two key factors to make sure that my teaching demonstrations would go well as planned are scaffolding and the role as a teacher. Finding good activities is not difficult at all because there are just too many resources out there online. The question is how these activities connect with each other just like connecting the dots. After completing all the tasks, students would be a lot more able to produce output that we desired. Simply put, scaffolding. My favorite pattern would consist of questioning, thinking, discussing, writing, and reporting. Getting students to present in English is really hard unless you give them the necessary words and phrases. For slow learners, even sentence patterns are necessary so that they just have to fill in the blanks. Finally, as a teacher, we give simple and clear instructions. We walk among groups and provide guidance when necessary. Also, we give feedback and suggestions for each activity.

To better prepare myself for this presentation, I read a book about Steve Jobs' presentation skills and watched many speeches on Youtube, including good ones and bad ones. I then used XMIND to make notes of the most important principles and techniques in the hope of internalizing them. However, as I took the stage, I forgot many of my "lines" and could only speak whatever came to my mind. Also, I didn't expect my "American English name" notion to turn out offensive to some. Cross-cultural communication is definitely my next big goal.

lively presenter, a very captivating speaker, easy to understand, his sense of humor kept me listening, motivational, international focus, lots of great ideas, like the scaffolded lessons, more suited for Taiwanese co-teachers, learned a lot from the workshop, he could help with orientation, knowledgable, very useful, very structured and clear, lots of examples

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