Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Harder than it ought to be

Last week I wrote about my decision to eliminate worksheets from 2 of the courses I teach. One of them, my Intermediate class, will be pretty easy. The other instructor of that level and I have been modifying the stated curriculum to make it more meaningful for our students, and I don't use many worksheets with them anyway. The other class, though, is proving to be a little harder.

I am the only teacher of the Beginning II class. As a result, I have a lot of autonomy, but I miss having someone to discuss the changes with. I need to stick pretty much to the curriculum, I think, until we make changes this summer. I teach two classes of this level, and each will have 24 hours of instruction before the term ends. I am supposed to cover workplace safety, finding a job, future tenses with "going to" and "will" and prepositions. The worksheets that have been prepared for this term are a hodge podge of things, with no apparent attempt to connect the topical content and the grammar content. We have no textbook for the course; those worksheets are all I have to build the course on.

That is, of course, a blessing. It opens the door for me to do basically whatever I want -- as long as it touches on those topics. I have decided that I am going to modify the test I give students at the end of the term to reflect the more communicative nature of my class, so I am not strictly bound to the test. I do, however, feel I need to cover those topics.

I think what I want to do is have students work in groups of three. They will choose a job that interests them. I want that to be the basis of the work they do all six weeks. I want the culminating project to be a sharing of what they have learned about that job. If I had access to technology, I would have students do this on a wiki. Since I don't, they will have to work on paper and then make an oral presentation, too.

I have to include grammar instruction in here somewhere and somehow. I think that the topics we have to cover are going to be familiar enough to them that it won't require instruction as much as reminding them of what they already know.

Anyway, I am working on this. Today is Tuesday. I have to be pretty much ready to go with it on Monday evening. Fortunately, I love this kind of work. I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.


Gabriela Sellart said...

Tough work, Nancy.
I find it so strange that you are supposed to cover only worksheets!
Don't worry about the grammar. It will be easy and natural to fit into the topic.
"going to" can be used for plans when you cover "finding a job".
And they can predict what the jobs they've chosen will be like in ten years' time.
A pity you don't have access to technology. Well, we managed to teach before the digital world flooded our lives, didn't we? If they could use a wiki to register their research, they would be able to share what they are learning while the work is in progress, so I wouldn't wait until the end to do so. Perhaps some informal sharing in the middle will keep the enthusiasm.
Good luck

teachagiftedkid said...

Hi Nancy,
I am so burned out on designing curriculum for the classes that I teach! The little school I work at has a bunch of textbooks picked up from Half-Priced books or sample copies, no teacher's guides and no real objective in their stated goals for the students. I get to design it all using the 'net' and the mass quantities of teaching trade books. Sometimes, worksheets are necessary for my sanity.

I love developing curriculum but with little time little resources, I don't think I'm being effective.