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!


  1. Hi Vinicious,

    I do not know if it is the post or you omitted the links to your WALLWISHER and your project block. Anyway, I think you are doing a good job and you seem focused on the needs of your students as well as the action to be taken to improve their writing skills.

    Just like you, I have planned my project as an out class activity. As you mention, my concern now is that I cannot force students work on outside class activities. This is going to be a matter of students’ motivation. I think that is another issue to be addressed after/while working on our current projects.

    Good luck on your project.


  2. Hi Viniciuos,

    I like your idea to use Wallwisher, it should certainly work and bring positive results. As for the work outside the classroom it's always an issue. You could probably motivate your students by promising them extra credits, higher grades? I tried it myself several times, I can't say it worked every time but I found it quite motivating.

    Good luck for the next week.

  3. Hi Vinicius,

    Also I, like you and Myriam planned my project as an out class activity because of the lack of computers at school. It will be focused on students' writing skills. One of the websites that I plan to use is There students can find different books for their interest and try to write a short essay or introductory paragraph for their favorite book.

    But, I agree that it is hard to motivate students to work on extra tasks. In my experience till now, they did their online homework and sent it to me by e-mail only when I said that they are going to have extra credits and that they have the opportunity to take higher grades, as Tatsiana said.

    Keep up the good work and good luck with your project!

    Bets regards,

  4. Hello! Vinicius.
    Anvill is a valuable tool; useful that we should be aware of all is played by the teacher in this course. The chat, videos, recordings, and interactivity through Anvill are simply spectacular.
    About Jeff’s point of view not to use technology in class. There are a few pros and cons that should be taken into account. In North America and other countries is common to have a computer by each family, at least. But there is something that we cannot ignore, in my country only a 55% of the population has access to a computer. When many of my students go the Computers ‘classroom they feel really happy.
    Naturally all this is reflected in the quality of education. I like Nicenet to be used by the easy handling and access too .Anvill is a tool more complex, but excellent to explore and use.
    I like Moodle. I have just created a class on it. Anvill, Moodle and Nicenet are excellent tools for exploring and use them frequently with our pupils.