Saturday, November 5, 2011
Week 6 Reflections
As suggested by Robert, I have started implementing some of my ideas with one of my groups. We had class today and I briefly told them that I had the idea to help them improve their writing skills. My students are supposed to write a paragraph on their tests but they usually get low grades because they lack knowledge in paragraph organization. So, my idea is to work on paragraph outline and raise their awareness of certain elements like topic sentence, supporting ideas , introduction and conclusion.
Today I took the students to the computer lab and firstly did some brainstorming with them using WALLWISHER. I asked them to type a message saying what essential things they thought a typical paragraph should have. It was my first time and their first time using this web tool, so some students had some trouble leaving the message(some didin`t add their names) and I had to help them. Here is the link to our wallwisher:
I could notice that most of them are aware of essential elements a paragraph should have. However I still want to investigate how they use these elements in a paragraph and show them what needs improvement.
So, after the students shared their ideas in WALLWISHER I told them we had an official blog to develop my action plan. Here is the link to our project blog:
I used a metaphor I heard of a long time ago which I thought would be perfect to illustrate the elements of a paragraph: Writing a paragraph is like making a sandwich!
In my first post on the blog, I wrote a short text explaining my metaphor showing that a cheeseburguer would only be considered a cheeseburguer if it had cheese
in it and that, likewise, a paragraph would only be considered a paragraph it some ïngredients" were added.
So, based on the text posted I had my students write a sample paragraph about our hometown, using some pre-determined information that should be included in the paragraph. I didn`t give many directions or details and let them free to write a paragraph the way they thought would be correct. My plan here was to check how they would handle the knowledge they had revised on paragraph writing. Some students were absent today and some of the students who were present had problems uploading their texts. I had to change some settings in my blog account and about 3 students had their paragraphs erased during this process. The bell had rung and they couldn`t stay in class to re-write their paragraphs. So, in the end, I was able to have 4 sample paragraphs posted.
Since my idea is to use the internet to work on some outside class tasks, the absent students and the ones who were unable to post their texts are going to have another opportunity in the future. I cannot force my students to work on extra tasks outside the classroom and I really believe some students are never going to work on them if we do not use some class time to do part of the work. Typical Brazilian adult learners frequently miss classes and hardly ever do their homework. I am pretty sure that some will take this project very seriously but I plan to use some class time every Saturday to work on it so that I can maximize and encourage their engagement.
I am not sure what is going to be the next step but I am sending them an email next week with the links to the project pages and I might give them another task to be done before next Saturday. I might work on paragraph outlines next class because the samples show that they still mess up with paragraph organization. My ultimate goal is to help them improve their skills and with two more lessons, most of them will probably have incorporated some of my tips when writing their paragraphs. My plan is that in each lesson, after they have received some input, they can improve and embellish the same paragraph. I think this way they can have a clear sense of progress and compare their first draft with the last one.
What do you think about it guys? Do you have any tips or suggestions? Do you know any tools or websites that I could use to help me in this project? Any idea is really welcome!
Have a great week dear colleagues!