Friday, November 22, 2013

The Ah Ha Week

The last week of October always is a big week in my classes. We are at the halfway point in the semester, students really understand what my expectations are, and they understand what they need to do in order to be successful in class. I like to refer to this week as the Ah Ha week.

This year has been very different from my previous years, and I have found that although fewer students object to the flipped class, more and more of them are trying to "manipulate" the system to make things easier for themselves. Both of my Spanish III classes keep trying to convince me that Google Translate is ok, they don't need to use a dictionary. It is so frustrating, and I hate constantly arguing with them. So many are determined not to try to use their brains, but to look up answers to everything that we are doing, even though I know that they can do it on their own.

But this is the week where the students are finally realizing that that doesn't work for them. They are receiving points for daily work, but if they didn't use their OWN brain- if they copied, translated, or looked up everything, this is the week where they finally realize that it isn't working for them. I can't tell you how many of my students during the first week of November have said to me,"Maybe I should watch the video, take my own notes, and do my own work." Shocker! When they do this, they do a better job with assessments, discussions, etc.

The real question is, why does it take so long? Are students so accustomed to using these cruthches at the lower levels that they just can't let them go, even with lots of encouragement? What can I do as a teacher to help?

First, I believe that even though I hate assessing students a lot at the beginning of the school year, I think it needs to be done. I think students can't give up the "crutches" because they are afraid of failure. At every level, students need to be challenged, but also be able to be successful. Too late this year, I realized that the only listening practice my level three students got last year was through music. Now, don't get me wrong, songs are great learning tools, but they can't replace practice listening to native speakers having real conversations. I also learned that the teacher who taught level two last year (who is no longer at my school) artificially inflated grades so students are confused why their grade is not as high as last year,and this is also a cause of their reaching for those crutches.

So, I am rethinking what is going on in class. I have reassessed my goals for my students, and realized that they need to receive more practice and more interactive activities where they can feel some success so I can continue to challenge them......and they will try and succeed......without the crutches.