Teaching is a constant work in progress – as I have repeatedly said “I’m busier in my 20th+ year than I thought I’d be”. And as my teaching evolves so does how I present information about my course on the first day. A few years ago I started using an ‘infographic’ style of presentation. This year, spurred on by #langchat colleagues Wendy Farabaugh and Kris Climer – I have used Piktochart to create an outline that is as updated in look as it is in reflecting my teaching. What does it provide for students?
Class Information – Basics at the start about the course, who the teacher is and how to contact me/connect with the website. I don’t have Google Voice (not in Canada) but if I did my number would be there too! I don’t use Twitter or Instagram with students at this point but there’s always room to add that on if I decide it would be useful!
What We Will Do? – For my absolute rookies it’s a summary of the various unit “I can’s” that they will work to master (eg. You will learn to ask about/tell about …). For my more senior students I use this as a quick introduction to the types/focus of the units we will experience – each with an integrated task at then end of the unit.
Our Focus – Why you are here – what you can expect that class will be about. In my case it is about communicating. I want to establish that we will be working on communication skills of various types at all times. I also want them to know both making errors and not understanding someone are natural parts of the process of learning/using a language.
There are also gentle reminders of the ‘rules’ in the room – purposeful phone use, getting help, missing class and more. Quick and easy and quite honestly they all could probably tell me what they are any way!
How Are Our Tasks Organized? – Straight up – I may not use the ACTFL modes as you do. This is my first year, first dip into organizing tasks into a more meaningful way. I got tired of the 4 skills (read/write/listen/speak) and decided to use a modified form of the mode descriptions. My biggest deviation is probably in the interpretive but I am willing to be a little ‘loose’ on that as I work to implement this way of ‘grouping’ my tasks.
What? No “Homework”?! – No, I banished that word. What is homework? I don’t assign ‘homework’? What I do assign is something that will be needed for next day’s class. So I have changed the wording to “Next Day Preparation”. Why? Because if I choose to assign something that’s what it is – something I need a student to do to use in the next class. (I sense a future dedicated post on this to come!)
Evaluation – How Well Am I Meeting Expectations? – Okay this is what they all care about. I have blogged extensively on going to descriptors in my gradebook. It has taken a lot of tweaking and editing. What you see here is my latest iteration of both describing the descriptors and then ‘how’ I translate them into our school-required percentages. I wanted just ‘one line’ for each major descriptor and selected what I usually find myself saying when I quickly remind students, throughout the semester, what they describe.
What Isn’t There? – Proficiency descriptors. Okay we talk about them a lot, a lot on #langchat. I’m just not convinced at this point that it’s a ‘driver’ for student engagement. That is, I’m not sure I want them on my outline as they are more of a ‘where are you now’ snapshot of progress. In some ways I think they are more of a classroom thing than an outline one. Feel free to disagree…
I have 3.5 weeks left until I return to the classroom (yes Sept 6!) but, as the updated outline shows, I’m looking forward to a new year of their, and my, learning….
PS – the ‘cute’ pictures? From my favourite free Japanese-themed site Irasutoya!