Monday, November 12, 2012

Classification in Week 14

Only two more ways to organize paragraphs left, including this one!  I never realized how many someone could come up with.  However, I do agree with with those who put the curriculum together that it is good for the students to get this practice.  As you would expect of students writing in a second language they're not totally comfortable yet, their writing tends to be formulaic and vague; hopefully, looking at different ways to organize their thoughts will help them to write more specifically and clearly.  The vagueness was so bad in their last assignment, though, that I think I need to work specifically on that again at some point.

Anyhow, the 14th (out of 16) lesson of the semester was on organization by classification.  Basically, writing about things in categories. I really liked the examples in the book for this one (the examples, to me, seem to be hit or miss; some don't seem to be very clear illustrations, but this week's were): one example began "There are three kinds of book owners. The first..." Another began "Every educated person has at least two ways of speaking hsi mother tongue. The first..."

I began class with the boring lecture part, reiterating the ideas from the book and going over the vocabulary; I had a little bit of nerdy fan by using the four Hogwarts houses as my first example.  I used another example I found online about the sections at the local video store; it was a bit of an ode to a bygone era--it's hard to find a video store now that everyone uses netflix or gets movies online.

To wake everyone up after the lecture, I had them all get up and move into groups; I wrote paragraphs about the groups of students in the classroom as they organized themselves by birth month, home province, and favorite color.  They always enjoy any opportunity to goof around a bit.

Finally, I gave them a simple personality test to fill out; it was the one that divides people into four groups: lions, otters, golden retrievers, and beavers.  The version I used gave personality traits of each in the categories of relational strengths, strengths out of balance (weaknesses), communication style, relational needs, and relational balance (what to do to overcome the weaknesses).  Just to give you an idea, the first part, relational strengths, for each were:

Lion: takes charge, problem solver; competitive, enjoys change, confrontational
Otter: Optimistic, energetic, motivators, future oriented
Golden Retriever: warm and relational, loyal, enjoy routine, peace-maker, sensitive feelings
Beaver: Accurate and precise, quality control, discering, analytical

It turned out to be a good activity for vocabulary; there were several of the adjectives in the questionaire that they were unfamiliar with, so I spent a while explaining terms; once they had finished, I took a poll of how many we had of each type; we had about five lions (including three of the boys), quite a few otters, a good number of golden retrievers (predictably, many of the sweeter girls), and one beaver.  Blare was looking around bemusedly; was she the only one? Of course, she might not have been; when I tallied up the answers there were about three people who never answered.

Their journal assignment, which I gave them the last ten minutes or so of class to start on, was to discuss whether they agreed or not with the results of the personality test; which traits were accurate? which were not?  Of course, I reminded them that a test with only four types was overly simplistic; many would fall somewhere between the types.   Finally, what is the value of having different personality types? How do they work together?

Hopefully, reading this assignment, I'll be able to get to know my students better! Oh, by the way--I took to quiz myself while the students were working on their journals (I don't know why it didn't occur to me to do that ahead of time), and it turns out I'm a  beaver.  Not surprising, really, and now at least Blare isn't alone.


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