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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Activity 2.3 - Objectives

Theme: Use of Educational Technology to improve learners grammar knowledge

Learning Objectives

After finishing this learning activity, my learners should be able to:

  • hypothesize using appropriate structures to increase their IELTS score in writing and speaking;
  • tell about past events by employing right narrative tenses to make it easier for the examiner to follow their story in Speaking Part 2;
  • improve spelling verbs with -ed; -s; -es; -ing ending;
  • employ infinitives and gerunds more accurately in writing and speaking; 
  • generally minimize grammar mistakes in writing and speaking

Activity 2.2 - Personas

Persona 1 - Potential migrants

These are professionals who need to take General IELTS and score 6.5 or higher to earn he missing points for their visas. They are highly motivated and have a specific aim in mind. They are both male and female aged 27 to 35 (the upper age limit for those applying to migrate to Canada, New Zealand or Australia). All of them are married and most of them have children. They can mainly study in the evenings after work and after their children have gone to bed. Representatives of this group are Armenians and Iranians and their motivation levels are the same. 
The jobs of people in this group are accountants, economists, financiers and programmers. Their partners apply as secondary applicants who do not need to take IELTS. They are all migrating with their families. 
Some of them are at Intermediate (B1) level and need a lot of work to be done on their grammar. 
They are all confident users of computers as they use it in their work. They have serious issues with correct spelling as they hardly ever write anything on paper. 

Persona 2 - Foreign university applicants

These are Academic IELTS students applying to universities in the USA, Canada or in Europe. 
95% of these hold a BA degree in a variety of subjects from Armenian universities and want to apply to a foreign university to do their MA/MSc. They are aged 21 to 27 and need to get a minimum of 6.5. They all aim at much higher scores to be able to secure a place at the university of their choice and get a scholarship. 
Students in this group are highly motivated and complete their home tasks in full as it is their dream to study abroad and are hoping to be able to get a job and stay. Many of these students are unemployed and unmarried so have plenty of time to study. 99% of them are advanced computer users and spend a lot of time looking for IELTS preparation material online. 
These students are generally at Upper-Intermediate (B2) or Advanced level (C1) and know grammar rules theoretically but find it difficult to apply their knowledge to the writing tasks they do. This is due to the education system in Armenia which teaches them grammar but does not require its application in speaking and writing. They make fewer spelling mistakes than Persona 1 but still have them. 

Persona 3 - Local American university applicants

This group consists of high school male and female students aged 15-17. They want to be accepted by the American University in Armenia as this one of the few universities that provides good quality education locally. There is also pressure on them from their parents to do well so they are often very worried about their IELTS score and are doing their best to score higher. A high score will also ensure tuition free enrollment into the university. 

As they are still at school, their spelling is much better compared to the other two groups but grammar knowledge is not always very strong. 
They use computer a lot so are the best among the three groups at understanding how various tools work and are also more interested in using new online tools. However, their schoolwork and end-of-term exams do not leave them much time to do much work for IELTS which becomes a problem at times as they may not even manage to do their homework. Some of them sometimes can get deprived of computers or Internet access by their parents, which they do to make them study more.

Images: creativecommons.org

Activity 2.1 - Analysing Context: Factors and Concerns

Factors and Concerns:

1. Material

  • All the students have a computer connected to the Internet at home. The Internet can be down at times or other members of their family may be using it. This is not going to be a problem as such, as our face-to-face lessons are not going to depend on how much work students have done on their grammar.
  • Students will need to be able to work in a quiet room preferably on their own. Some of the students have children who can disturb them. However, these students usually work after their children have gone to bed so they will not need to change anything. 
2. Social
  • No groupings are planned for these activities. Students will be working independently and will take responsibility for their learning. 
  • Students may feel lonely without their usual communication with peers. Perhaps some chat room/forum should be added to give them a chance to discuss something that they find difficult. (I already have a chat wing on the wiki they are using, so this may be the solution).
3. Intentional 
  • Generally my IELTS students are very motivated and want to get a higher score than required because this will give them a competitive advantage when applying for state scholarships here. So motivation is not going to be an issue. 
  • Because of motivation some of them may try to do all the tasks in one or two days. As a result they may mix everything up and start making even more mistakes in their application of the grammar rules they have learnt. This can be solved by posting tasks one by one every other day. 
  • One or two students may not want to do the tasks online and might write them in their exercise books and hand them in for me to check. I do not really see this as a problem. As long as they do it, I am fine with that. 



Activity 2.1 - Analysing Context: Factors and Concerns

Factors and Concerns:

1. Material

  • All the students have a computer connected to the Internet at home. The Internet can be down at times or other members of their family may be using it. This is not going to be a problem as such, as our face-to-face lessons are not going to depend on how much work students have done on their grammar.
  • Students will need to be able to work in a quiet room preferably on their own. Some of the students have children who can disturb them. However, these students usually work after their children have gone to bed so they will not need to change anything. 
2. Social
  • No groupings are planned for these activities. Students will be working independently and will take responsibility for their learning. 
  • Students may feel lonely without their usual communication with peers. Perhaps some chat room/forum should be added to give them a chance to discuss something that they find difficult. (I already have a chat wing on the wiki they are using, so this may be the solution).
3. Intentional 
  • Generally my IELTS students are very motivated and want to get a higher score than required because this will give them a competitive advantage when applying for state scholarships here. So motivation is not going to be an issue. 
  • Because of motivation some of them may try to do all the tasks in one or two days. As a result they may mix everything up and start making even more mistakes in their application of the grammar rules they have learnt. This can be solved by posting tasks one by one every other day. 
  • One or two students may not want to do the tasks online and might write them in their exercise books and hand them in for me to check. I do not really see this as a problem. As long as they do it, I am fine with that. 



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Activity 1.2 - Dream Bazaar

The current situation (context)


I teach IELTS preparation classes at a private school in Armenia. All the applicants are placement tested first before being admitted into an IELTS class. However, I still face the problem of poor grammar knowledge, which doesn't allow them to achieve a higher score in the writing and speaking sections of the exam.The course itself does not focus on grammar; IELTS course books we use don't have much on it either. Of course, I try to give them grammar exercises as homework but then going over the homework and then answering learner questions takes a lot of the lesson time. Many of the learners want to join the classes a month or two before the exam and this does not give me much time to manage to work on everything they need to improve. The thing is that at schools or universities, students mainly do reading and translation of what they have read, so all their skills need to be developed, which does not really give me much time for grammar teaching or improving their spelling, which is also pretty poor very often. Because of poor spelling, they often lose marks in listening and reading (you might be surprised).




The change you would like to see (challenge)


I would like to improve my learners' grammar and spelling as these are essential for them to achieve a better result.
If I succeed, the lesson time could be spent more effectively; and my students could be achieving higher scores.






How you might go about bringing that change (solution)


Although I am for implicit teaching, I think I will have to make it explicit in this case, as I want to do the grammar teaching outside the classroom. I will have no way of monitoring understanding and may not be able to clarify confusions immediately as the learning will take place online at the time convenient for each learner.
For grammar explanation I might use Present.me, but I am not sure which tools to use for grammar exercises. I don't want to use the ones available online, as I want to be able to see what mistakes are still made to be able to focus on those further. I was thinking of adding this to the wiki learners have, but if I cannot find the quiz making tool I need, I might use Edmodo as it allows teachers to create quizzes and see learners' answers.






Measures of success (evaluation)


More accurate writing and speaking of my students would be a good indicator of success. However, this result cannot be expected to be seen immediately.