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Here Below you can check out the feedback (for one of our units) of one of the 16.000 students that last year took an online course with ITTT!
The thesis of this unit can be found in the answer to question seventeen of this test: "The attitude that the teacher comes into class with will have a profound effect on the success of the lesson."
Notes on Video 1:
The teacher began by asking students what things are "necessary," without any context or examples. Nothing was written on the board. When students didn't give the answer the teacher was looking for, he simply said "No," or even "No, that's wrong." Even after students repeatedly offered wrong answers, the teacher only restated the same question. In this way, throughout the lesson, the teacher actively discouraged students from responding to questions, and that made it very painful to watch: "You said it wrong." "Nobody got me." "You've done nothing!" "Two, three minutes, something like that..." "I can't." "I like this side." "That's how it is in life, there are winners and losers..." From start to finish, students and viewers must be asking, "What's the point???"
Notes on Video 2:
Before the lesson, Simon ensured that all students knew his name, and he confirmed each individual student's name (even repeating it to make sure the pronunciation was correct). Things were much more personal and positive from the start! When trying to elicit responses, Simon gave examples when students were struggling, demonstrated an action (e.g. "leave" a tip") or started writing down a word (e.g. "possible") on the board so students could come up with the answer themselves, and--most importantly--never told a student their answer was wrong. When a mistake was made, Simon left a gap and then later got students to help each other find the correct answer. When a student said "play volleyball" in a sentence that didn't make sense ("You can play volleyball in a restaurant"), he laughed and said it sounded like fun and that he'd keep it up there--and then let that same student use "play volleyball" in a sentence that DID make sense later. Students were given chances to correct themselves in ways that didn't highlight the error but instead laughed at the possibilities of language.
Further, the target language was organized and demonstrated on the board far more effectively during the lesson. Simon used different colors of markers and underlined the target grammar point, drew arrows to indicate the two different types of potential responses, included a chart for proper construction. Students could take very clear notes this way. When preparing for the activate phase, these organized sentences also helped Simon elicit correct responses from students. Those concrete, visual aids allowed the students to follow along and see the connections between the statement and question sentences.
Finally, I loved that Simon reviewed ordinal numbers after the Bingo game by having students say who got first place, second, third, etc. There are times when the Japanese teachers I work with use Japanese in these cases to check, and I've always thought, "HEY, this is an EASY opportunity to let students review English they know and confirm when you use ordinal numbers rather than cardinal..." I love looking for those opportunities in my classrooms.
These two videos confirm that lessons should be organized, should properly balance students' previous knowledge of the target language/activity rules with new challenges. But more than that, these lessons confirm that it is the positive attitude of a teacher who wants to actively engage each student that will make all the difference.