Saturday, September 8, 2012

Week One, Part Two

First week, continued...since we're ending the semester early, we have to double up these first four weeks, so I'm meeting with each class twice a week for now.  The second time I saw the students the first week, the lesson was on the writing process.  To tell you the truth, I wouldn't have places this lesson here; I'm going to have to rehash it all next semester when we actually get to writing essays and papers anyhow.  It just seems a little out of place to talk about brainstorming, cluster mapping, outlining, writing a draft. etc., and then going back to word choice, then sentences, then paragraphs, and not using all of that until months later.  But, I'm trying to go along with the plan my Chinese coworkers came up with--even if there are fine points I would do differently, over all I'm glad to be a part of their planning purpose and I think they're going in the right direction with the overall plan. 

Anyhow, it was an easy lesson to put together; as a former English myself and having taught writing before, all of this second nature.  Of course, in writing my own college papers, I did rather go through the steps a little faster than recommended, and rarely made it to revising--it's hard to spend too much time mapping and planning when it's nearly one in the morning and the paper's due at nine and you only had four hours of sleep the night before, too, and you have another paper in two days.  But I of course try to teach my students better.  While I could breeze through the planning process, I think it will be very helpful for them as they try to construct a coherent message in a language that is so unnatural to them. 

For their journal topic, I had them read the following story (I don't know where it came from originally; I got it from some teaching materials that were given to me):

Several years ago, a teacher assigned to visit children in a large city hospital received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child.   She took the boy’s name and room number and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now.  I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework so he doesn’t fall behind the others.”
It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized it was located in the hospital’s burn unit.  No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain.  She felt that she couldn’t just turn and walk out, so she awkwardly stammered, “I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.”
The next morning, a nurse on the burn unit asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” Before she could finish a profusion of apologies, the nurse interrupted her: “You don’t understand.  We’ve been very worried about him, but ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed.  He’s fighting back and responding to treatment.  It’s as though he’s decided to live.”  The boy later explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw that teacher.  It all changed when he came to a simple realization.  With joyful tears, he expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?” 

On the next slide, I wrote: 
The hospital teacher, in fulfilling her responsibilities, gave the dying boy something to hope for—a reason to live.
Why do people need something to hope for?
What happens when people give up hope?
What are some things that give people hope to keep going in the midst of difficulties or challenges?

I'm looking forward to seeing how they answered when I check the journals in a couple of weeks; I
do sometimes enjoy journal topics that are fun like "If you could be any animal, which would yo  be?", but I also like to use the journal sometimes to bring up more serious topics, that hopefully will start someone to thinking about the bigger things in life.



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