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Classroom management questions.
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DirtGuy



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 529

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:32 am    Post subject: Classroom management questions. Reply with quote

Just wrapped up my first semester teaching in China and all my classes were the standard oral English (listening) type for freshmen. As part of the final, I required every student to tell me at least one thing they didn't like about the course. A very humbling experience and highly recommended for anyone wishing to have their ego taken down a notch or two. A lot of the suggestions were good but there are two that have me stumped:

1. Classes last 1 hour and 50 minutes. I don't give them a break in the middle simply because there is too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. Students can go to the WC anytime they like. Many students asked for a break in the middle but I'm really concerned about the time this would eat up. I'm afraid that any break would eat up far more than just 10 minutes no matter how carefully I monitored it.

Do you give students a break in your classes or not?

2. The listening book I use requires students to write a short summary of the listening passage. I absolutely love this section because it tells me right away if the students fully understood the passage. The problem is that I have anywhere from 40 to 70 students' books to check and this takes time, especially since this is a listening lab and space is tight. I'm running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off while many of the students are bored. Some will do what they can but then don't follow the suggestions I make and try to fix what is wrong. Others get it right the first time and then have nothing to do while I check others in the class. I like to have 2 or 3 of the students with the best answers go to the board and write, but I need to go through the entire class and check everyone in order to do this.

Anyone in a similar situation and how do you handle it?

Thanks.

DirtGuy


Last edited by DirtGuy on Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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MisterButtkins



Joined: 03 Oct 2009
Posts: 1215

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
1. Classes last 1 hour and 50 minutes. I don't give them a break in the middle simply because there is too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. Students can go to the WC anytime they like. Many students asked for a break in the middle but I'm really concerned about the time this would eat up. I'm afraid that any break would eat up far more than just 10 minutes no matter how carefully I monitored it.


I don't think you'll have such an issue with giving a break. A few of the kids will go to the WC and the rest will just put their heads down and sleep for 5 minutes until you restart class. At least, that's how it was in my class. Having said that, right now I just do 90 minutes straight for my classes. No break.
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kev7161



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
Posts: 5817
Location: Suzhou, China

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you do a 10 minute break but not let students leave the classroom (continuing of course to let students go to the WC as they need it)? Students can get up and stretch, chat with their friends, put their heads down, or continue working if that is what they choose to do. It might even allow you to get a little caught up in your checking of work.

Is a break scheduled into that 1h50m time period or is it a 2h time period and you let them out 10m early because of no break?

As to your other concern about those students who get it right immediately then have nothing to do, I would ask, "why?" Do you bring any English newspapers or magazines for them to borrow? If they are done with your work and there is nothing left to do, can they leave class? Can they bring work from other classes to work on? Can you print off some word search or sodoku puzzles (or something) for them to pass the time? Can you find any other sort of more challenging English work for them as the work you give them is seemingly too easy?
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NoBillyNO



Joined: 11 Jun 2012
Posts: 1762

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I disagree as it seems student are programed to take a break, smoke get snacks whatever. Taking the break away may cause problems with the admin.
We have two hour lunch break and try as I may I can not convince them (admin) to reduce it to an hour, however they have said it was OK to schedule additional classes during the last half of the lunch hour.
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DirtGuy



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 529

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A typical class time is 10:10 to noon. I'm supposed to put a 10 minute break into this but it is at the teacher's discretion. I like the idea of a break but not allowing people to leave the class other than to use the WC. Perhaps a timer with a loud bell so everyone knows exactly when class starts.

I thought about giving students more work while I check other answers. I move really quickly through the class so the downtime for students is not much. This problem has me really stumped.

DG
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roadwalker



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 1550
Location: Ch

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:19 am    Post subject: Re: Classroom management questions. Reply with quote

DirtGuy wrote:
Just wrapped up my first semester teaching in China and all my classes were the standard oral English (listening) type for freshmen. ...


Do you give students a break in your classes or not?

2. The listening book I use requires students to write a short summary of the listening passage. I absolutely love this section because it tells me right away if the students fully understood the passage. The problem is that I have anywhere from 40 to 70 students' books to check and this takes time, especially since this is a listening lab and space is tight. I'm running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off while many of the students are bored. Some will do what they can but then don't follow the suggestions I make and try to fix what is wrong. Others get it right the first time and then have nothing to do while I check others in the class. I like to have 2 or 3 of the students with the best answers go to the board and write, but I need to go through the entire class and check everyone in order to do this.

Anyone in a similar situation and how do you handle it?

Thanks.

DirtGuy


That sounds like a listening class, not an oral English class. In my experience, an oral English class is where the foreign teacher is given a Chinglish textbook, or nothing at all and told to kinda get the kids to talk about stuff. Teacher either gets a chalkboard, or more recently a computer to throw up ppts. or photos etc., if desired. No lab equipment.

I give breaks with the exceptions that if it is an evening class or the morning class just before lunch, I'll let the students choose to end early or not and skip the break. They have always chosen to skip the break.

2. If this is just daily work and you just want to see if they are getting it or not, you could just have them correct each others or select a few randomly to read out loud and see if everyone agrees or not. Use the usual top students to help you explain. That way they have something to do and you can make sure they really know. Slowly go over the main points once more and play the recording again if necessary. That might be quicker overall than checking each paper individually.
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DirtGuy



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 529

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We are all called "oral English" teachers but some of us have listening classes (cr*ppy books) and some have conversation classes (equally cr*ppy books). I'm doing the listening part and I work in a lab with fixed seating.

When I find students who have the correct answer, I ask all the students around the particular student to look at the correct answer. Modifying this in some way might be an answer to the problem.

DG
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it'snotmyfault



Joined: 14 May 2012
Posts: 527

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I get my writing classes to peer mark quite a bit, not all the time, just depends what kind of exercise we are doing. It definitely helps with my workload though!
Plus I think they enjoy looking at each others work.

I've noticed a few listening classes where I am with no Chinese teacher in sight, they've cleared off and left the monitor "in charge"
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:00 am    Post subject: Re: Classroom management questions. Reply with quote

DirtGuy wrote:


1. Classes last 1 hour and 50 minutes. I don't give them a break in the middle simply because there is too much to do and not enough time in which to do it.

2. The listening book I use requires students to write a short summary of the listening passage.



1 - Give them the break. They need it, and you probably do too. Asking someone to study something for that long, in another language, with no break is too long. If you think you have too much to do per class ... just do less. In this example, less could well be more. This is a no-brainer for me.

2 - With classes so large you need to get away from the idea that you need to check everything with every student. It isnt going to happen, and if it does it wont be happening in an efficient way. You are running around like a headless chicken because it sounds like you feel responsible for each student and their comprehension. You arent responsible ... they are, and are responsible for each other. You need to encourage peer checking on this task IMHO, and get them to work together to reconstruct or comfirm their understanding of the recording.

The idea of students writing a summary is rather a poor one IMO, and the act of writing something actively encourages students to move away from their peers and go back into their own world writing....something to be discouraged in a language lesson I think. Why do they need to write a summary? Can they not work in groups and discuss a summary? Something agreed together which they can share with other groups?

How long is the listening tape? Could they work in groups and perform a dictogloss task with this text? Again, working in a group to perform a single produced text through dictogloss would be more useful.


40 - 70 students??????????????????????? Damn!
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Andre 3000



Joined: 01 Jun 2006
Posts: 14
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,
I think breaks are disruptive, but it really depends on the maturity of your students: are they going to come back on time, are they going to be focused?
There are other ways to check comprehension; I don't know what activities your listening book proposes, but you could write your own comp questions based on the text and check as a group - this would work for true/false sentences too. You could also put the students into teams and do a quiz on the text, and award points accordingly. If they don't know the answers, get them to check the transcript at the back of the book.
To summarise, put 5 nouns from the text on the board and get the best student to give you an oral summary using the 5 words. Then put 5 adjectives from the text on the board. Put the students in pairs, Student A summarises to student B with the nouns, and then B summarises with the adjectives.
Your central problem is having 70 students: checking that each one has understood is nigh on impossible.
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Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 1339

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitely include a break.
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fat_chris



Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 3135

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shroob wrote:
Definitely include a break.


Seconded.

I teach 90-minute classes to freshman: two 45-minute sections with a 5-minute break in between. There is a building-wide bell that rings, so it's easy for me to enforce these breaks.

Even if I didn't have the bell to enforce the breaks, I would still have the 5-minute break. It works well and I find that it does help the students. As was mentioned earlier, I would think that 90 minutes without a break would be too long. The break helps keep everyone focused.

I also teach a class to graduate students and I also give them a 5-minute break in between the two 45-minute sections. It works well for them as well.

Warm regards,
fat_chris
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milkweedma



Joined: 19 Nov 2006
Posts: 151

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Breaks can be disruptive but i firmly believe in them. Without them, long classes get boring and stale. A break reinvigorates the teacher and students with renewed energy and alters the mind set.
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haopengyou



Joined: 02 Mar 2009
Posts: 196

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not clear from your post...but whenever a question about the duration or location of the class comes up from the students, first thought is to always throw it at the monitor, who will always say "ask the leaders", which I then do. If they say "up to you", then I would put it to the students. Breaks in the middle of such a long class do not have to be disruptive but you have to plan them carefully and let the students know that the break will come at the end of a certain segment of the lesson and not automatically at 10:05. Then do your best to make sure that that part of the lesson does usually end around 10:05.

Second part...I may be missing something here, but why do you have to have immediate feedback from their papers? When I want immediate feedback from students I use what I call finger quizzes - ask the students a t or f question or multiple choice and ask them to respond with a show of fingers on their hand. They can hold their hands down in front of them so that the whole world does not see their (wrong) answer...some uni students balk at this but if I tell them the other choice is to have them write long paragraphs about what they have just read (groans) they usually are happy to oblige. I also will write out half a dozen questions bout the passage, give each question to a different student and have them quiz the class.
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sharpe88



Joined: 21 Oct 2008
Posts: 226

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know if I was in your class I'd want that break.
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