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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Marisa in Edtechland

My Intermediate and First Certificate classes have started this week and I have managed to encourage my students to start their learning year in a motivating way by putting into practice what I had learnt thanks to my PLN members.

Some of my students felt flabbergasted to see I had devised a blog for their class. In this class blog I included a link to a Wallwisher for my students to share their plans, expectations and wishes for this learning year. I have also introduced a link to a dictionary for my students to look up words and phrases at home. Besides, there is a link to a picture dictionary so that my students can develop visual and auditory skills as they can see the picture, read and hear the word. Apart from that, I have included a Website through which they can practise pronunciation in a motivating way.

As I enjoyed Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and found it interesting for teenagers, I decided to use it as an introductory conversation topic for the first class. I started the class by asking the whole group about the films they had seen during Summer holidays. Then, I asked them if they had seen Alice in Wonderland and made them work in pairs to create a chart with what they knew and what they would like to know about this movie (plot, characters, setting, ending). When my students had completed their charts, we talked about it with the whole group and I showed them the movie trailer for them to check if they were able to find replies to what they would like to know. Finally, we watched the video of the soundtrack, for which I use safeshare TV and my students were supposed to identify words and phrases from the lyrics. As all this material is linked in the blog they can continue watching and listening to it at home.

We are going to use this blog as a tool for communication with my students and they can make comments or solve their doubts. I have also invited them to share what they find helpful. I have designed one page for each of the students, where they can do homework and upload material.

In brief, I have managed to encourage my students to become independent learners and to do extra practice after class in a motivating way. I am extremelly grateful to my PLN members, with whom we have shared all these helpful links via Twitter, especially to the soul of my PLN: Shelly Terrell (@shellterrell), whose generosity is endless.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Your Name Is......

The Importance of Remembering Students' Names

I'm starting my group classes in a week and I'm making the necessary adjustments in my mind to be prepared after the three-month holidays. I've already planned how I'll do my best to motivate my students to be more exposed to English (see my previous post). Now I'm thinking about key factors I should bear in mind to feel my classes are successful. One important ingredient from the very beginning is remembering my students' first names. I'll have two group classes this year with about 15 students each. One of the classes won't offer my memory much trouble because I had those students last year in their upper intermediate class. So it'll be a question of looking at them again and their names will reappear in my mind. But I'll have a group of new students and it'll require a little effort to ensure their confident participation. For students to be called out their names is of utter relevance to feel they belong to the group. You can recognise that fact in their faces and for that reason I do my best to remember new names. I always use some kind of nemomic that instantly matches the face I'm looking at and that student's name. Generally, I make connections in my mind between that student and another person I know. Anyway, that memory aid should act in seconds.

Former Students' Names

As time passes and I come across students of mine, I continue making efforts because I feel embarrassed about not remembering that person's name. The instant I see their face, my mind starts the searching function and while I hear: "Hello, Marisa. How are you?" I put my memory in action. Many times I'm successful, others I'm not.

What about you? Do you use memory aids to remember your students' names?