Showing posts with label authenticcommunication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label authenticcommunication. Show all posts

Monday, June 01, 2015

Google Hangouts: Not Your Regular Test Validation Meeting

An important component of the assessment design cycle is validating the instruments, and to that effect we count on the group of teachers working with that particular level/course. This collective validation process used to take place in the form of a traditional meeting which took place in our school’s Main Branch, usually in a room big enough to accommodate a group of around thirty teachers (sometimes more).
I’d already been adopting some group work dynamics in order to optimize the use of time, hopefully enabling teachers to make the best of the experience of collectively analyzing the test. In a nutshell, I wanted a productive, pleasant atmosphere where not only the outspoken individuals had a go at critiquing and sharing their views. I wanted all of them to feel comfortable enough to voice their concerns and suggestions to tweak the assessment instrument at hand. Teachers worked in small groups of five to six people, appointing a spokesperson who would be in charge of communicating the group’s opinions/suggestions regarding the test.
That had been working quite well. So, it occurred to me: they worked so well within their small groups, usually sitting with fellow teachers from the same branch, who have been sharing their experiences on a regular basis. I couldn’t help but wonder if we could make the validation process even more practical. That was when I had the idea to try out Google Hangouts for Test Validation Meetings. This is how we did it.
Let’s Hangout
Teachers were asked to attend the Validation Hangout at their branches; therefore, they worked with small groups of fellow teachers with whom they connect/exchange every day. They appointed their Hangout representative/spokesperson and went about their business of analyzing the test.
Adjustments along the way
The three Hangouts we had this semester were two-hour-long events. In the first Hangout, I took the groups through the test exercise by exercise, asking them to look at one part of the test at a time. That ended up being as time consuming and noisy as a regular meeting.
After getting some feedback from them, which they gave via a Google Form Survey, we decided it would be best if I gave them about 40 minutes to work on their own first, and only then start gathering their feedback. That worked better. (That and using the mute button to lessen the noise, of course!)
However, the third tine around was the best, indeed. We decided groups should be given even more time to look over the entire test before the feedback-giving stage. I gave them an entire hour, and it really paid off. The feedback stage ran more smoothly and rather fast.
Project Success
  • Convenience: teachers were free to attend the Hangout at a branch of their convenience, which most of the times meant the branch closest to their homes;
  • Capacity for collaborative self-management: teachers had to organize the analysis process themselves, preparing to report their impressions and suggestions to the Course Supervisor (yours truly) and the other branch groups in a clear and concise manner;
  • Agency and accountability: they worked hard to convey their opinions and provide pertinent suggestions, relying on the expertise of their own groups;
  • Voice: working with smaller groups of familiar faces made the more reserved people comfortable to speak their minds, something which tended not to happen with the large face-to-face traditional (very loud and somewhat messy) meetings;
And, last but not least,
  • Modeling innovation: teachers had the chance of trying out a new tool which they might find useful for other professional development opportunities.
This is an experience I would certainly like to replicate in the future, and which I would recommend other admins try out with their teaching staff.
What’s next?
Hangouts for Professional Development and innovating the adjacent possible.

Clarissa Bezerra

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Starting Afresh with Ipads in the Classroom

Yesterday I taught my very first class to a lovely group of upper-intermediate teenage students in one of our many outposts. I'd made up my mind to try something different and fresh this semester so I went for an ice-breaker activity using Ipads in the classroom. Here's how it went.
My PicCollage
We used an app called PicCollage, which allows you to create posters with photos, stickers, and text, among other cool features. I had previously used it to prepare a poster of my own, so I began the lesson showing it to students so that they'd get to know me a little better. I then asked students to pair up and, inspired by the imagery, come up with some questions they'd like to ask me about the poster and about my life.
After about five minutes, students began asking me questions, which were, at first, mostly prompted by my poster, but once they began feeling more at ease with each other (and with the teacher), they began asking me other questions, such as "what does your tattoo mean, teacher?" (They never fail to ask me that one, I tell you.)
Sharing time!

Now it was time for the fun part. Each student got an Ipad to make a poster of their own - a small snapshot of who they were, so that later they would share it with everyone else in the group. I could literally see their faces light up the minute I unzipped the two suitcases and began handing out the Ipads. That in itself already gave me such a heartwarming feeling. They were truly engaged! So off they went, and began to work on their posters. I set a time limit of 10 minutes and made myself available throughout, walking around and monitoring. Some took a little longer to get started, as they were figuring out how they'd add their photos to the app and some ideas began to came up. Pairs were helping each other and English was being used for an authentic purpose (how delightful!) right off the bat, on the very first activity of the very first day of class.
A couple of students used
their own devices.
Once they were finished, it was time for them to share. I asked them to stand up and walk around the room, showing each other their posters, asking each other questions. I did, however, give them one very specific piece of instructions: they had to first talk to people they didn't know so well or had never met before. I also gave them a clear goal: in the end, they'd be asked to share something interesting, funny, or surprising about someone they had talked to during that stage of the acitivity. This stage lasted for about 10 more minutes. There were 12 students in the group so they could talk with absolutely everyone. We rounded up by sharing interesting things we'd found out about each other. 
The entire activity lasted for about a half hour and it was worth every minute. Students were using the language authentically at all times, they were curious and engaged, and were fully energized for the rest of the afternoon. They got to know me a little better, they got to know each other a little better, and I have a feeling they actually enjoyed themselves in their very first English lesson of the semester. Talk about good first impressions, huh?
Students showing off their posters!

How about you? Would you be willing to try something like this? I certainly hope so!
Clarissa Bezerra