My mind ought to have been like this:
but, instead, it was more like this:
Yes, if I’d been observed, it probably would have been marked as a bad lesson. Was it that bad? Yes, I think so. But, why? Let me reflect a little on it while waiting for the feedback from the students themselves.
I didn’t feel in control with the materials, or at least the organisation of it. The plans were written down, sure, but I kind of felt out-of-sync, like my spirit wasn’t in tune with my body… An easy excuse would be for me to say that the uncertainty of who and how many will be turning up for the class affects me more than it ought to. Yes, it does; with small groups, it makes it more complicated to arrange PW activities, but, no, it’s not a valid excuse.
A manifestation of this body-spirit-out-of-tune was when I started a video, and it turned out that I’d already done it in the last lesson. This doesn’t normally happen to me, so that threw me off somewhat. How could I have missed this?
Some of you would probably think, ‘Oh, that’s quite normal.’ Yes, it’s no big deal, but it shouldn’t have happened. However, the main reason for my thinking it wasn’t a good lesson was my sensation that I didn’t feel in control. I felt like I was rectifying situations all the time, like I was constantly thinking how to make what I was doing better… No, all that ought to have been done in the planning stage, not the execution stage!
In a nutshell, the whole 4-hour lesson of today should probably have been completed in less than half of that time. Meaning: not productive enough!
Please step into the classroom…
Those of you who have been reading these past posts will be aware that I’ve been using Google Docs with this group. Google Docs is great, but it has its (I think of them as a singular entity, hence the singular treatment) shortcomings. So for the past few weeks, I’d been thinking of ways to improve this. Several times in the past, I’d thought of using Wiki Spaces, but there never was sufficient reason to warrant a deeper investigation, but this group has given me enough motivation and the gentle push from Kathy in her comments in And then there were four was enough to send me in that direction again. Thanks, Kath!
So, I created our Wiki Space, and spent the week tinkering around with it. I got the group using it; therefore, we started today’s lesson comparing it with Google Docs and discussing how we could improve on it. Wiki Space is free, and is more user-friendly than Docs, but there are things I wish were easier. Features we take for granted, such as changing fonts, are not as simple as they could be and the tables feature is quite primitive. Here is an image of what our space currently looks like:
It’s generally agreed that this is far easier to navigate than the Docs, and looks much better, too. They also prefer me to carry on correcting their written assignments as I’d done in the Docs, i.e. via ‘comments’. The practice exercises will be corrected directly on the page.
Having discussed our Wiki space, we carried on with our analysis of the speaking exam. This was where I goofed – I’d already shown them Part 2 last week, so we proceeded to some activities. I’d asked them to shoot some photos. We looked at these, and they tried to speculate on what these could be. I also showed one of my own.
We looked at some speculative language (I think, perhaps, it could be, it’s definitely, etc), some adjectives of feelings (confused, weary, determined, etc) and then looked at more pictures where they tried to speculate what the people in the photos were doing, how they were feeling, etc.) There were some pronunciation issues with the adjectives, so I did some drilling with them.
We proceeded to watch a video on Part 3 of the speaking exam and analysed the performance of the candidates, the task, and the language needed for this stage. They received a handout of useful language, where they needed to classify under the correct headings of stating an opinion, expressing disagreement, interrupting, etc.
They looked at some pictures, and did a mock test on these. They switched partners (not much possibility here, considering the size of the group), did the same activity, but with a different set of pictures. They analysed each other’s language.
I asked them to redo all these three activities as homework, but as written assignments.
We looked at another video of a different pair of candidates doing the same part (3) of the speaking exam. Again, we analysed this, and discussed what they consider difficult, what strategies are useful, dos and don’ts, etc.
This, basically wraps up the lesson. Believe it or not, we actually stayed behind for a further 15 minutes at the end of the class! I’m not sure how to take this… I can look at it negatively and say ‘I told you, this lesson could have been done in half the time. They didn’t feel they’d learned enough and were hungry for some solid information.”
Or, I can look at it positively and say, ‘Well, they stayed behind, so that means they weren’t tired or bored, even after four hours!’ 🙂
And, after all that, if you’re still reading… I’d forgotten to write about the inspiration for the title of this post! This has become a long post and I don’t like writing long posts as I feel people don’t have the time to plough through them! I’ll take the risk this once.
Paula mentioned at one point, when we were discussing about the lexis page in the wiki, and phrasal verbs, that she’d learned a new one: crack on. I said I’d never heard that one. I said I’d use ‘cracking’ as in ‘Let’s get cracking’ but not ‘crack on’, mentioning that these probably came from the expression ‘to crack the whip’. But, apparently, it’s in a Sherlock Holmes (not sure if it was a book or the film) and it’s in the dictionaries. Shite.
So, I reached out to my PLN:
Well, there you go! Thanks to my fabulous PLN for participating. I’ve got to crack on -would like to complete another post, a poem, and prepare for a new FCE group starting tomorrow, if all goes according to plan!
Questions for you readers:
- Do you tend to look at yourself more critically than others would?
- Do you use ‘crack on”?
Would love to hear from you!