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Teacher quality vs mentor quality

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I have come to the end of a 2-year-long post graduate course at the university. My thesis was about teacher quality and mentor quality – as I keep questioning myself about the whole issue: can I be a good mentor, can I really help trainee teachers if I am not sure I am a good teacher myself?

So, here comes the summary of my thesis:

The main aim of the thesis is to find out what the extent of the relationship between teacher-quality and mentor-quality is. Do the positive elements of teacher-quality and the areas to be developed as a teacher appear when we look at the same person as a mentor?

I consider the examination of the above relationship important, because if we find connection between the quality of the teacher and that of the mentor, we can take steps to improve mentor-quality through the improvement of teacher-quality.

Earlier studies have stated that in order to be a good mentor it is essential to be a professionally excellent teacher, but no research has been performed in order to find out the relationship between teacher- and mentor-quality.

In the present thesis the term “mentor” refers to mentors mentoring trainee-teachers doing their last part of the university training, i.e. the so called “long-term” teaching practice in schools. Therefore the present research was neither extended to mentoring experienced teachers nor to mentoring students.

In the course of the research three mentors were assessed in their roles as teachers. The methods of assessment were the following: interview, teacher questionnaire, student questionnaire, lesson observation. Having considered the findings of the research I compiled a list of questions that were used to interview the three mentors as well as two of their trainees each about the mentoring process.

The research has proved that the elements of teacher-quality reappear at the same person when acting as a mentor, regardless of the fact whether the elements show areas to be developed or are proofs of excellence. My hypothesis, which stated that there is strong relationship between teacher- and mentor-quality, has been verified.

The mentors’ professionalism and knowledge was appreciated both in the role of a teacher and a mentor. If the mentors’ interpretation of classroom situations were adequate in their role as teachers, the interpretation of situations as mentors proved to be adequate as well.

If the mentors in their teacher-role showed wide variety of teaching methods, that variety appeared in mentoring as well when they showed several different ways of self-reflection to the trainee-teachers. At the same time, if a mentor did not give the students the possibility to voice their opinions in the classroom, the same mentor in the mentor-role was only interested in uttering her own ideas and showed no interest in the trainee-teacher’s thoughts.

The research showed that a teacher with emotional-relational problems would not be interested in examining the emotional-relational aspects of teaching during the trainee-teacher’s teaching practice. However, good relationship between the teacher and the students could serve as role model for the trainee-teachers.

As the research has shown strong relationship between teacher- and mentor-quality, the findings could be exploited to improve mentoring, since improvement in the elements of teacher-quality would probably induce change in the aspects of mentor-quality as well. The extent of that change could be revealed by another research.

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Blogging with my students reloaded

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Well, with a different group. It is not a new idea, I did some blogging with my students a long time ago in 2013-2014, but now as another group needs some motivation (and practice) in writing, I thought “why not try it again?”

So here it is: this time groups of three students, one of them posts once a week, the other  two comments on hte blog post and they take turns. The new thing here was that after some weeks we did an evaluation session, when the students could vote (with the help of an on-line questionnaire) on the best blog and on the best post.

There were two posts that were voted number 1: one of them was entitled ‘Feminism’ the other one Focus on children about UNICEF.

The most popular blogs at the moment are

Across the Moon

and

Teen Thoughts

I hope there will be a competition to win ‘The Best Blog of the Year’ title and ‘The Best Post of the Year’ title as well!

Reporting verbs

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The following activities were all follow-up activities for Unit 5E in Solutions Upper-Intermediate. Having looked at the examples of the different reporting structures following the reporting verbs in the unit and having done all the exercises in the book and the workbook, some more activities were necessary to make students more confident about using the appropriate structures.

Activity 1. Grammar police

Six students in the class get a sign with one of the 6 sturctures i.e

  • verb + infinitive with to
  • verb + object + infinitive with to
  • verb + gerund
  • verb + preposition + gerund
  • verb + object + preposition + gerund
  • verb + that + should-clause

They stand in different parts of the classroom so that they are not too close to each other. All the reporting verbs are put on cards and scatterd on a desk in the middle of the classroom.

(Reporting verbs on cards – here in the order of the structures above:

  • agree, offer, promise, refuse, threaten
  • tell, advise, ask, order, forbid, instruct, invite, encourage, remind, warn, persuade, beg, command, request, dare, urge
  • admit, deny, recommend, suggest, report, mention, propose
  • apologise for, boast of, confess to, insist on
  • accuse sb of, warn sb agains, congratulate sb on
  • demand, insist, suggest, propose, recommend, request, advise)

The students without a sign have to pick up a card and try to “sell” it to the student with a sign – that is they have to find which verb is followed by which structure. The students with the signs can accept the cards or refuse them – then the appropriate sign/structure has to be found for that card.

When all the cards have been selected and none is left on the desk in the middle, the students become grammar police and now they can use their courssebooks to check whether all the verbs (cards) are at the right place. Corrections can be made now.

Activity 2. Demo sentence

Now that each structure has its verb, students sit down in 6 small groups according to the reporting structures – they join the students with the signs from the previous activity.

The small groups have to come up with 3-4 sentences demonstrating 3 or 4 of the verbs in their group. When ready, they read out their demo sentences and the other groups have to make a sentence with the appropriate reporting verb and structure. For example the demo sentence might be “Please, young lady, give me some money, I am hungry!” and then the right sentence is “He begged the young lady to give him some money.

I turned this part of the activity into a competition – the fastest group to come up with the right sentence was given points.

Activity 3. Noughts and crosses

It is quite easy to turn this grammar point into the popular game where one group is assigned noughts the other one crosses and on a grid of 3×3 they have to make 3 in a row.

Of course at the beginning each square is given a number, as the students (groups or pairs) call out a number, they are given a reporting verb and they have to produce a sentence. If the correct sentence is produced they get a nought or a cross according to their group. The winner is the first group with three noughts/crosses in a line.

Activity 4. Translation

It was my students’ homework to write a sentence with each of the above verbs. In class I gave them slips of papers and they had to choose 2 or 3 sentences that they now translated into Hungarian. I collected the slips and read out the sentences that the students now had to translate back into English.  (not too much preparation for the teacher and great practice for the students!)

Activity 5. Short dialogues

In this activity the students have to produce short dialogues, little situations demonstrating  any of the above reporting verbs. They act it out in front of the rest of the class, who have to guess with an appropriate sentence which reporting verb have been demonstrated. (similar to Activity 2. but more kinaesthetic)

2014 in review – not bad for a start… :)

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 930 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Food Waste Scandal – a lesson on a TED Talk

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I find this TED Talk really inspiring and my students who are preparing for their final exam found it useful, too.

1. Some preparation on the topic is necessary but following some vocabulary work and general speaking activities, I planned a complete lesson based on the first 4 minutes of the following TED Talk by Tristram Stuart and it worked perfectly well. This is Tristram Stuart as he is delivering his speech:

2. Students looked at the title of the talk and predicted the content. Then I put them in pairs and they wrote down a list of about 10 words that they thought they would hear in the talk.

3. As they were listening to the talk, they had to pay attention to the vocabulary and tick the words that they had predicted well and had in fact been uttered. We also discussed some new vocabulary that the students had heard or had read. With TED talk you can decide if you want to watch it without or perhaps with subtitles and if you decide to use the subtitles, you can choose the language. With this particular group of students for the first listening it was good to have it subtitled in Englsih.

4. Another advantage of TED Talks is that you can use the transcripts. So I produced a gap fill task with the help of the transcript but this time only the beginning of the talk, Of course the subtitles were gone this time!

5. After the gap fill task, the students had to explain the meaning of the underlined words and expressions.

6. Finally they discussed what they find surprising in the talk and what could be done to stop the bad tendencies regarding food waste.

Revision of simple dialogues with beginners

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This is the end of the school year, so it could be useful to do some revision in a fun and easy way.

1. Make a list of the situations that you were discussing and practising during the English lessons. E.g. ‘Ordering food in a restaurant’, or ‘Buying a cinema ticket’, or Arrival at the airport’, etc. Put the list on the board.

2. Students choose one or more situations.

3. Send students to Dvolver movie maker 

4. Tell students to create their own movie: select background and sky, select a plot and select characters.

5. Ask students to write the lines of their characters. These lines should be based on what they have learnt during the year. They write the whole situation, and dialogue according to the situation they have chosen (point 2)

6. Students may select background music as well if they feel like doing so.

7. They can add a new scene or finish movie with that one scene. If they are hooked on movie making they can produce lovely long movies with several scenes.

8. Ask them to give a title to their movies and send the link to you.

9. Watch the best movies together and enjoy the last English lessons!

 

Discussion for teenagers: The Bystander Effect

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This is actually a video that I received from one of my students, suggesting that we should watch it on one of our lessons. The student thought it would be an excellent source for further discussion and as soon as I watched the video I decided to use it in class.

I think it is good from level B1 upwards.

 

Before watching:

I prepared some sentence beginnings that I projected to students and they had to discuss them in groups. For example:

If I saw a beggar in the street, I would… / I wouldn’t…

and

If people see a beggar in the street they usually…

or

If I saw someone lying in the street and I was the only one around I would… / I wouldn’t…

The full list of the discussion sentences is here.

 

Students had to discuss the sentences one by one and while they were discussing one they didn’t know what the next sentence would be. I considered it important because I had sequenced the sentence beginnings to make them more and more involved in the topic. So there was a brief class feedback on each of the sentences and the students were really happy to share the main points of the small group discussions.

 

While watching:

Students watched the video to 00:33 and had to understand the meaning of ‘bystander effect’.

Then I muted the video and we watched it from 00:34 – 01:17. While watching I stopped the video each time a new passer-by appeared and asked the following questions:

What is going to happen? Why?

and in the end:

How long do you think he had to wait? Why?

 

After that we watched the segment with sound and there was a short discussion on what had been heard.

 

We watched the next segment: 01:18 – 01:38 and the students had to answer the following questions:

What are the two conflicting rules?

What is the pressure that is mentioned?

What is difficult?

 

The next step was prediction. The experiment went on. What do you think should be changed to have different effect?

 

We watched the next part: 01:39 – 01:45 and the students had to predict in groups how long the woman had to wait for being recognised and they had to give reasons.

I repeated the activity of watching the next segment muted, stopping the film at every passer-by and students had to predict again who is going to stop to help. Finally they had to answer the following questions:

What is the reason for not helping according to the speaker?

Then we watched the video till 02:57 and discussed what the woman said afterwards.

 

The final part was 02:58 – 03:01 and the students had to predict what would happen to the man in different outfit and why. We watched the last 20 seconds (till 03-.22) to check.

 

After watching:

A discussion followed on how surprising hte whole experiment had been for the students and what they think of the whole situation. We slightly touched upon the questions we started the whole lesson with.

 

Follow-up:

The students had to write an essay stating their opinions about the whole issue, discussing the introductory questions again but this time focusing on any changes of their answers having seen the whole video.

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