Friday, 14 October 2011

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Welcome to the handouts branch of my EFL blog.
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Primary Homework Session

Ok, So who's done their homework

Homework! Groan work! Put it down and moan work!
(Homework, Oxford Resource Books for Teachers. Lindsay Painter)

Why do we set homework?

Of course a simple answer to this is ‘because we have to’ but actually homework is really important for both us and our students.

We have to remind students that they can’t just be taught English they have to learn it. And they can’t do that just in 90 minutes 2 times a week. Homework is about using the language and learning the language outside the classroom. It is not an assessment it is something that helps students get exposure to English.

Homework can help us as teachers to diagnose the students need and also prioritise classroom time; setting the students things to do that they don’t need support on.

But we need to be careful when we set homework, we need to make sure we are consistent.

These are the golden rules of homework that people suggested as I went around Poland.

1.Students should see the usefulness of homework.
2.Tasks should be relevant, interesting and varied.
3.Different tasks may be assigned to different ability/learning style groups.
4.Homework should be manageable in terms of time
5.Homework doesn’t need to focus on a written product.
6.Increase learner involvement and motivation by encouraging students to contribute ideas and design their own tasks
8.Tasks should be challenging but achievable.
9.Find out how much time, what facilities they have, and what their preferences are.
10.Homework should consolidate classwork, it should not replicate it.
11.Home is the outside world and tasks which are nearer to real life use of language are appropriate.
12.If homework is set, it must be recognised, and feedback given.
13.Motivating students to do homework is an ongoing process
14. Don’t lose the homework
15. Reward students who do their homework so it is clear that homework should be done.
16. Homework can look forward to the next lesson as well as looking back.

The Homework Book by Lesley Painter, referred to earlier, has some nice questionnaires about homework that you can ask your students to do as homework to find out about them.

Lindsey Painter’s book I mentioned earlier has a rich seam of ideas for homework, such as the photographing English idea or the Dog Ate it idea.

So when we set homework we can look forwards and prepare students for the next lesson... or look back and review what we have already done in class.
We could use the OUP website  or the multi-rom to give interesting homework or set little research projects that would interest the students.
Remember how self study differs from Homework. We suggest rather than set self study.
But we can encourage it by using the website or multi-roms in class... but introducing readers or using dictionaries... either the books or the discs.

So remember…
· Homework is a chance to practice English outside the classroom
· Homework shouldn’t be assessment
· It should be a chance to consolidate what’s been done in class
· It can be chance to look ahead and prepare for future lessons
· We hope that it isn’t something copied from a classmate 3 minutes before the start of class.
· We hope the students think it isn’t pointless
· It is a chance to diagnose the needs of students
· Sadly it is something that is done on the tram on the way to school but we’d like it not to be.

Cyprus Speaking

Testing or assessing learners can be very useful, it can provide teachers with useful feedback on the abilities of their class, inform their choices on how to develop the syllabus and allow teachers to reflect on their own teaching. This formative assessment can be a beneficial part of the teaching process. However students often see tests as negative and cause stress, this is because they receive a grade and everyone from their peers to parents can see how good or bad they are at a subject. If we are assessing just to award a grade it is known as summative assessment, to see what the students have achieved.

 (18 out of 210 teachers said they liked doing tests when they were in school, and about 7 said only in the subjects they liked.)

Another problem with testing is the affect the test has on our approach to teaching.

Testing for young learners should reflect the teaching methods developed for young learners or the washback of the test.

·         In class we tend to use a range of different activities to reflect the different learning styles in the classroom.  Yet test still seem to be based around pen and paper task such as gap-fills, dictations and translation. Therefore testing we should think of how we can change our assessment process not our teaching techniques.

Testing should not negatively affect the methodology used in the class.

·         The danger of testing is that it can dominate our classroom teaching. If the end of course test is a multiple choice test then the classroom could become dominated by multiple choice activities, taking away the creativity of the teaching and learning process.

What to do with the results?

In my opinion, students should not be compared to other students in the class. Their results should reflect what they can do and what they need to work on rather than how well they did compared to Jiri or Eva etc.

Test should be fair and should be measured against a set of criteria (criteria referencing), so the students can understand the results in terms of their own strengths and weaknesses.

If we compare students with other students in the class (norm referencing), we are giving the message that they are not as clever as someone or cleverer than another which fails to celebrate an individual’s achievement. Even a student with a low mark has achieved something and can be told what they can do.

How do you assess?

If we test we need to make sure we have clear criteria we are testing against. I find that the CEFR provides good ideas to help us.

We need to make sure that our tests are not too broad, if we pick up on every mistake then the students will end up on minus marks. A more global approach is needed, based on task achievement and communication.

In the session we assessed Martina and decided on the criteria ourselves. In almost all the groups we decide on the following things.

Did the student complete the task effectively?

Did the student use appropriate language?

Was it easy to listen to or did it put a strain on the listener?

Did the student have effective coping strategies?

Was the pronunciation clear and effective?

For practical activities just think about what makes a good speaking exercise. If it generates language and allows students to speak then it is an effective testing task. What we want are tasks that involve the students so they are thinking about that and not about the test.

So sorting things into categories, saying if you agree or disagree with something, comparing pictures, etc. are all good ways of generating language.

To conclude  a quote.

‘Assessment should serve teaching and learning by providing feedback to you and the students, encouraging a positive classroom atmosphere, and promoting and maintaining a strong motivation for learning English.’

 Assessing Young Learners, Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou and Pavlos Pavlou, Oxford Resource Books for Teachers.


Assessing Young Learners, Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou and Pavlos Pavlou, Oxford Resource Books for Teachers.

Teaching Young Learners , Ana Maria Pinter Oxford University Press.

Listen Carefully

Use pictures to introduce main characters

Ask students questions about the characters, how they feel, are they good or bad, what noise they make?

Use pictures and ask students to predict the story

Use words and phrases from the story and ask students to predict the story.

During Listening

Ask students to make noises or do actions connected with the character.

Stop regularly and ask students questions about what they have heard.

Allow students to stop you and ask you questions.

Play bingo or grab games to encourage students to listen for key words.

Have students listen with their eyes closed. when you stop ask them  to draw what they heard.

Read the story with mistakes, ask the students to correct the mistakes.

After Listening

Have students create one scene from the listening – a photograph.

Have students make a poster from the point of view of one of the minor characters.

Use text speech or Facebook statuses to review the story.

Ask students to bring story up to date – Cyberella  William Twitter etc.

Ask students to recreate the video by acting it.
Watch out on the blog for a glossary of text speak.