Tag Archives: end of year

Reviewing the School Year: A Lesson

30 May

The last lesson of the school year is often a tricky one to manage.  Often, neither you or the students are in a particularly useful frame of mind – the energy and creativity is dwindling and it can be difficult to persuade students of the value of learning things for the sake of learning things: “But, teacher, we did the test already.”

This year I have made an End of year Review booklet for my young learner groups.  The idea is for the students to look back at what they have done and to think about what they did well, what they could have done better and to identify a few goals for moving forwards.  I have printed it as an A5 booklet and the hope is that they can take this home with them to share with their parents as a reflection on the progress they have made and the progress they could have made – along with some concrete goals for things to do in the summer months away from the pressures of the classroom!

Grammar Graph

The Grammar Graph is not really intended to measure knowledge or attainment in the language feature, what it really does is measure the confidence the learner has in their ability to use the target item.  The features listed are all those that have come up in the past year and I hope that it will reflect the extent the learners feel they can use the feature appropriately and accurately.  There may be students that have better control, but less confidence or there may be students that are very confident and fluent speakers but who have less control.  These conversations will hopefully help learners to see where some of their strengths really lie.

Word Championships

The Word Championships are partly a vocabulary review and partly there as a mingle activity to get students up, moving around and talking to each other.  The learners choose two or three words from the year that are their favourites – or possibly from their own knowledge.  They then mingle and find out what the other students think and record the answers.  After about five minutes (they don’t need to ask everyone for everything), the students work in small groups to share and compare the answers they got and to work out which words are the top three favourite words for the year.

 

Difficult mountainEasy mountain

The difficult and easy mountain is a simple enough reflection on course content – with any luck it should tie in to the grammar graph activity at the beginning – but with a bit more focus on where the focus needs to come in the future.  I opened this up as a kind of pyramid discussion to the class to try and decide what the most difficult thing and what the easiest thing we did in class this year was.  This not only gives some interesting feedback on the content the learners find difficult, but on which of my teaching techniques have proved more accessible.

Lesson Pie Chart

The lesson Pie Chart is intended as a reflection on behaviour in the classroom.  It is really up to the learners to decide what constitutes “being good” and extending this discussion out to the classroom can lead to some interesting revelations.  The intent is also not to demonise L1 (in this case Portuguese) use, but more to point out how much class time they spend using Portuguese as opposed to English.  If I was to do this differently next time (and I will!) I would separate these out into three or four smaller pie charts as while this gives an interesting insight into what happens in a lesson, it isn’t quite so useful for differentiating behaviours, which was partly the aim.

English Learning Goals

Most of my learners are in the 10-13 year old elementary range, and therefore encouraging them to do self-study work over the summer is an uphill task.  The purpose of this activity is to get the learners to arrive at ways in which they can keep their English up over the summer and not forget it all, and still have a degree of fun!  I am less interested here in getting them to do grammar practice or vocabulary learning, than I am in getting them to interact with the language in some way.  One of the goals might be to read a book in English (we have graded readers in the school for them to borrow) or to learn a favourite song in English – to watch a TV show or film in English and write a synopsis or review.  It will be up to them to decide.

 

Superlatives Yearbook 01 Superlatives Yearbook 02

The Superlatives Yearbook is a bit of fun really – it serves partly to review some of the language from the course – but it is really a bit of a break from the personal development review and a chance to engage in a heated discussion.  You may have come across similar “end of year award” lessons – this is a slightly shorter version.  In this version, the students are put into three large groups and have to decide who should be given each award.  No-one in the class can be given more than one award and everybody in the class has to be given an award.  An extension of this is to re-group the students into groups of three, one student from each of the larger groups, and to ask them to present their choices and agree on a final decision.  The learners can then report back to their original groups on what was decided.

The last page in the booklet is a list of useful links that the students can access over the summer:

These are what I came up with, but I would welcome any extension of this so please feel free to add any ideas in the comments!

I hope this proves useful, if you try any of this and want to give any feedback, I’d welcome it – or if you’ve tried similar ideas in different areas, I’d also like to find out what you did and how it went.

 

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End of Year Reflection

29 Jun

Today is the last day of the academic year.  On Monday the school summer courses will begin but that’s next week and it’s Monday’s problem – for now it’s enough to know that we have survived another year without too many problems.

A week ago, we had our end of year wrap up session – talking everybody through all the end of year paperwork, reports, handover notes, choices for the following academic year and the like.  As part of that our Director of Studies asked us to take a moment and reflect on the last nine months of teaching – and asked us to look at a 12 item questionnaire to help us do that.

Now I must confess to a certain amount of cynicism in these matters.  I’m better at analysis than reflection and I find questions that ask me to think about the last time I felt joyful or inspired quite difficult to answer.  How, for example, do you define “joy” and are we talking inspiration generally or the degree of inspiration over the baseline level that I normally work with?

But for what it’s worth, I thought I’d share some of the questions and my answers to them.

The questions that we were given came from Raquel Lynette’s “Minds in Bloom” website and the post: “20 Teacher End of the Year Reflection Questions“.  I’ve gone back to that post to select five questions that I’m going to include here:

  1. What are some things you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
  2. What is something you would change about this year if you could?
  3. What is one way that you grew professionally this year?
  4. When was a time this year when you felt joyful and/or inspired about the work that you do?
  5. Knowing what you know now, would you still choose to be a teacher if you could go back in time and make the choice again? If the answer is “no,”  is there a way for you to choose a different path now?

What are some things you accomplished this year that you are proud of?

Thinking about this academic year, it’s been quite a busy one personally and professionally.  My son was born last October and helping my wife with both him and our daughter has been challenging – huge fun at times, incredibly stressful at others and mostly just very very tiring.  I was very pleased with some of the feedback on my MA assignments earlier this year and if I’d finished writing my dissertation by now that would be my biggest accomplishment – but I haven’t so it isn’t.  Yet.

I’ve also been very pleased by some of the reactions to posts I’ve published on this blog.  Blogging can sometimes be lonely, in the sense that you don’t always know whether what you’re writing has value or has a positive impact on people, so getting feedback and reading and responding to people’s comments is always good.

What is something you would change about this year if you could?

This year I’ve been teaching a group of 10/11 year old beginner students.  It has been very challenging and frankly, I haven’t enjoyed it very much.  What I would change is the approach to the class that I took.  Having now spent a year together I have a much better idea of who they are and what they are capable of, so this is possibly only hindsight, but if I did it all again I would think much more about what boundaries I wanted to set with them and I would write those down and keep a copy handy to remind myself of what they are.  I’d incorporate a much more complicated behavioural routine system with them and apply it consistently.

These are all things that I know I should have done anyway – they aren’t revelations – but I do wish I’d started out on a better footing with that group.

What is one way that you grew professionally this year?

This year I’ve been involved in running the International House Certificate in Advanced Methodology course, in a sort of secondary tutor role, and I’ve really enjoyed doing it.  The course is a quite comprehensive overview of ELT and current pedagogical thinking and it’s reminded me of a few things and taught me a few things – I hadn’t, for example, come across ecolinguistics before.

It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in a teacher training course and I think running the course has helped me think about my own teaching in a different way.

When was a time this year when you felt joyful and/or inspired about the work that you do?

The cynical answer I gave to this question was 1st August 2011.  But in fact, it would probably be most afternoons or evenings.  I’ve been lucky in that my classes have been nice this year, CAE, CPE and Advanced Conversation – all higher level groups and so the level and content of conversation is fantastic.  We have been able to talk about a massive range of topics and issues, some lessons have been approached in Dogmesque way, some in a more TBL approach.  I’ve been able to try new things out and while some of these fell flat, others flew.  There have been lessons and conversations where I’ve come out of the class buzzing with the exhilaration of the debate – hopefully some of this has been communicated to the learners as well!  But these lessons have been fun and, by extension, these have been the times when I’ve felt “joyful” and “inspired”.

Knowing what you know now, would you still choose to be a teacher if you could go back in time and make the choice again?

Hell yes.

I don’t think it’s the teaching that most teachers have an issue with.  Most of the things I read or hear suggest that most teachers would be really really happy in their jobs if only everybody else would just leave them alone.  It’s not the teaching that gets people down, it’s everything else that goes along with it.   But that aside I’d still make the same choice again!

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So that’s my five reflections on the last academic year – what about yours?  Why not take a look at the 20 Teacher End of the Year Reflection Questions on the Minds in Bloom site and choose your own five reflection questions to answer?