Handbook Two:

Teaching Communicative Methodology

for the New Curriculum

to Student-Teachers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colleagues at China's Experimental Centre for Educational Action Research in Foreign Languages Teaching,

Guyuan Teachers College, Ningxia Province 756000

 

 

 


Introduction:

 

Please Note: Before reading Handbook Two, it is necessary for you to read the companion-volume: 'From Competence to Performance: a Handbook of Communicative Methodology for the New Curriculum' (Handbook One). You may find its Glossary particularly helpful. We will not be repeating it in this Handbook, but only adding any new words to a new Glossary.

 

In addition, your 'students' will be referred to as 'student-teachers', in order to distinguish them from 'school-students'.

 

Background:

Traditionally, Communicative Methodology has been under the control of foreign teachers or volunteers, who were themselves taught through such methodologies before arriving in China. It was natural, therefore, to expect a Westerner to teach it. However, times are changing. With the development of the Open Door Policy and the necessity for all teachers of English in China to teach the New Curriculum, teacher-training has to develop from traditional methodologies to the more student-centred ones. All teachers need to have more communicative methods at their fingertips in order to help their student-teachers to gain the most from their experience in College.

 

Aims of this Handbook: andbookHang

This Handbook aims to help Methodology-teachers teach Methodology to student-teachers who will themselves be expected to teach English under the New Curriculum.  In Handbook One, the writers outlined how the New Curriculum could be taught by new teachers in school-classrooms. The New Curriculum states that school-students need 'to move from competence to performance'. Our college students need to know how they can facilitate that movement with their classroom-students in the future. Your job is to teach our college-students how they can act in such ways that their future students can achieve the New Curriculum's goals.

 

Killing Two Birds with One Stone!

You will find as you read through and use this Handbook (adapting it to suit your particular classroom of course) that many communicative methods and content are run alongside each other. In other words, you'll look at how to teach displaying visual materials through evaluation as process, and you'll look at how to develop questioning techniques through classroom-discussion and group-work. In other words, this Handbook will often kill two birds with one stone! This is because process and content are fused in task-based approaches to teaching and learning. And task-based approaches are the preferred method of learning under The New Curriculum.

 

Structure of the Handbook:

In Part One, we will look at the logic you will need to understand before starting this process of teaching. Secondly, we will look at areas of the New Curriculum that directly affect teaching Methodology. Then you can read a case-study by Moira Laidlaw about her action-planning and evaluation processes, which will show the logic of teaching communicatively before going on to discuss some specific methods in Part Two.

 

In Part Two we will look at processes of teaching and learning with the New Curriculum, using action plans to illustrate ways of improving practice. We will follow the structure of the teaching-advice in Handbook One - in other words, starting with how to teach Classroom Management, going on to how to teach Lesson Planning and finally looking at the teaching of monitoring and evaluation-processes.

 

In Part Three we'll look at how you can facilitate micro-teaching and evolve helpful evaluation-strategies for you and the student-teachers.

 

In Part Four, we will look at ways of introducing and working with Section Seven in Handbook One.

 

Things to Note - Methodology, Language and 'Walking the Talk':

 

             Method: Try to remember that every teacher of English in this department is a teacher of Methodology. Every teacher should be helping his/her students to recognise the processes of learning as they go along.

             Language: You need to decide the language to be spoken in the classroom. Should you speak English all the time? Should you sometimes use Chinese? What language should your student-teachers speak? Remember, every situation should be judged individually. Sometimes it will be right to insist on English. Sometimes, the ideas might be so difficult, you'll need to speak a little Chinese themselves, or ask your student-teachers to speak in Chinese.

             Walking the Talk: In every lesson, you need to be telling the student-teachers what methods you're using and why. So, if you suggest group-work, tell them why so that they get used to looking at methods and process and not just content.

 

Why? Let's say you're teaching Integrated Skills of English, and trying to get your students to understand the content. You'll know from your AR enquiries that if the students understand not only what they're doing but how and why, they are more likely to understand the content better. And along the way, they'll be learning something about methodology. So, if you're teaching anything, you're a Methodology teacher. Try to bear that in mind in all your classes, not just the Methodology one.

 

Part One:

The Logic of using Living Educational Theory Action Research (LETAR) to Teaching Communicatively with the New Curriculum

 

Communicative Methodologies, The New Curriculum and Living Educational Theory Action Research (LETAR) assume some educational bases:

 

             Learners all have different learning styles;

             Learners can help themselves in the learning process;

             People learn more when they are active;

             Learning is a never-ending process;

             Knowledge can be created and negotiated as well as discovered or learnt;

             Democratically-established knowledge is likely to lead to higher motivation and learners' responsibility;

             Teachers as facilitators, rather than lecturers, is educational;

             Teachers cannot control all the processes of learning;

             Encouraging creativity enables learners to learn more deeply;

             Learners can take responsibility for their own learning;

 

The New Curriculum advocates new methods for the new kinds of knowledge (see Handbook One). This Handbook will help you to use some methods, which will influence your students to become communicative methodologists themselves in the future. It will also show you how to make practical links between Methodology, the New Curriculum and LETAR, so that you can improve your teaching with your student-teachers.

 

The New Curriculum in China:

This is, as you will have read in the other Handbook and also through your own research, a very challenging curriculum. It challenges new and experienced teachers alike to facilitate rather than lecture. Teachers are required to move from teacher-centred to student-centred teaching, so that our student-teachers can move 'from competence to performance'. The methods outlined in this Handbook are designed to help you cope with the challenges and the risks that this New Curriculum requires. The New Curriculum places a great responsibility on the shoulders of every learner and every teacher, and insists on viewing teaching itself as a learning activity. This means that not only must you try to adopt this reflective style yourself when teaching Communicative Methodology, but also you will be expected to pass on that reflective potential to your student-teachers. This will feel risky.

 

Taking Risks:

One of the biggest challenges for you as Communicative Methodology teachers is to take risks. You are probably used to dictating not only the content but also all the processes of the learning in the classroom. You cannot do that anymore, either as a teacher of English in the classroom, or now as a teacher of Methodology with student-teachers. One of your tasks will be to enable your student-teachers to take risks, to use their imaginations, to release the capacities of their own students in the classroom. Now, you won't be able to predict everything that happens in a lesson, because with the New Curriculum some of the control of the learning process must be passed over to the students themselves.

 

This probably feels uncomfortable to you. Never mind. The more you experiment in your classrooms, the more you'll feel able to cope with the unexpected. And if you're feeling confident about uncertainty, the more your students will cope with it later on too.

 

What risks are there?

Some feelings of risks in teaching the new methods are misconceptions (A below). Some of the risks are to do with how the teacher feels about uncertainty and facilitation rather than certainty and teacher-centred Methodology (B below).

 

A. Misconceptions:

These are the ones that beset (worry) all teachers.

             Statement: You have to get to the end of the content by a certain time, otherwise all your student-teachers will fail the examinations and everyone will think you are a bad teacher! Response: The truth is, if you start to help your student-teachers to take risks in their own teaching, encourage them to be adventurous and more active, their  students will be more interested; and you are likely to cover the content and enable them to learn strategies, which will help them in the future as teachers.

             Statement: Only foreigners have ever taught Western-style methodologies; Chinese people can't do it! Response: Well, that's simply not true! Teachers all over China are now implementing the New Curriculum, using Western-style (communicative) methods. Indeed, you're doing it yourself here at the college every day in your other courses, like Integrated Skills, College English, Intensive Reading, listening comprehension exercises and so on. Your job will be to teach your student-teachers how to teach communicatively. It's not a risk, it's a necessity and a challenge and you can do it!

             Statement: Communicative (Western-style) Methodology is all right for city-schools but it won't work in country-schools, especially where the teachers are old-fashioned and used to doing things the old ways. So perhaps we should just be teaching the old methods as well. Response: Well, the New Curriculum is law now in China, and this means that processes and teaching-methods have to be brought up to date. Rural China is just as much a part of China as Beijing or Shanghai and it deserves the best too.

             Statement: Sometimes, if trying out a new method and it doesn't seem to work, it's better to fall back on old and tested methods because we know they work! Response: Actually, if they worked so well (particularly in the areas of speaking, listening and critical thinking) we wouldn't need to find new ways. The modern world needs modern methods. Try to give a new method a decent amount of time before abandoning it. Talk it through with your student-teachers and say what your aims are with the methods. Your student-teachers should also be getting used to the idea of discussing their methods with their own future students, rather than just dictating to them what will happen.

 

B. Real Risks: Unpredictability

 

             Statement: Sometimes, on encountering communicative and student-centred methods, the students are initially eager and enthusiastic. After a while, though, they start to question whether these processes will lead to examination success. As a result, the teacher and the students feel insecure and stressed. Response: This is true. Sometimes, student-centred classrooms feel insecure to the students, because they are expected to take a lot more responsibility for their own learning and progress. They are not used to this kind of responsibility and respond by demanding the old methods back again. The best way to counter this, is to be open with them. They should try it out for a long while, instead of expecting immediate results. They should consult others who have tried the methods, ask colleagues to watch their classes and tell their opinions. One of the clearest reports by a teacher taking risks with her students can be found in Liu Xia's paper at: www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/moira.shtml in which she describes her feelings of worry about processes whose outcomes she doesn't know at the beginning. See below in section on coping with uncertainty with Action Research.

             Statement: One of the biggest fears we face as teachers is not knowing how something is going to turn out. In the past the teacher stood at the front and controlled every step of the way. Now we're being told that isn't acceptable anymore. It's really hard to feel out of control of the process in the classroom. I don't want to try the new methods. Response: This doesn't just feel like a risk, it is a risk. It is hard to cope when you don't know how things are going to turn out. It feels as if you have no power in the situation. This, however, is never the case. You are in control of the New Curriculum. You are in control of many of the aims and outcomes of learning. It's just that you're going to have to allow the students to be more active and spontaneous than before, and encourage them to find their own pathways through the learning process. It means that you must have clear learning aims for long-term processes and find ways of monitoring and evaluating what it is you and the students are doing all the time. You have to stop seeing yourself as a teacher only, and see yourself as a learner about your students' learning needs.

 

Coping with Uncertainty through Action Research:

One of the best ways you can help yourself in this situation of uncertainty is through your Action Research enquiries. These enquiries aim to help you learn from experience, rather than trying to control the process from the outset. They also encourage you to help your students learn through coping with uncertainty as well. More and more, teaching in the classroom is going to feel like conducting an action research enquiry - you'll have broad aims, you'll put things into practice, you'll see how it's going, and then you'll evaluate it and change it for the future.

 

As a New Curriculum Methodology teacher, you will be greatly helped through beginning an AR enquiry of your own about how you can improve your own Methodology teaching. One of the factors involved might be how you deal with your fear of the uncertainties in your newly-defined job. This can form a part of the content of your lessons with your student-teachers as you help them to start the process of accepting complexity and uncertainty as a part of their future jobs.

 

Teaching

'Methodology for the New Curriculum'

to Grade Three Students

 

In the following section, you are going to read Moira Laidlaw's account of her teaching of a Grade Three class in 2004/2005. You will find elements of all the comments above and see how she has integrated her understanding of the context with the logic of an action research enquiry. She was teaching two groups of Methodology Grade Three students, three classes in each group, therefore about 85 students in each class. This is the kind of number that many of our graduates might have to teach in their English classes in the future, so it seemed a good opportunity to help the students see how they could teach communicatively in large groups themselves. In other words, Dr. Laidlaw was walking the talk. She used methods like pair-work, group-work, micro-teaching, discussion, whole-class teaching and so on, and helped her students to see the potential for them to use the same kinds of methods in their own teaching. Early results from Teaching Practice in local schools suggest that the students began to integrate more flexible methodologies in their own classroom-teaching of the New Curriculum.

 

The following case study is in two parts. The first is an action plan about Dr. Laidlaw's concerns for teaching in the Grade Three classes. The second part of the case-study consists of an extract from a paper she wrote about her work at the AR Centre. She chose three students from Grade Three to write about in detail, to suggest the general learning of her students: first, a gifted and highly motivated student; secondly a shy student, who was often too nervous to speak up; and thirdly a young man whose work wasn't promising at all. Names of the students have been changed to protect identities.

 

The case-study shows you the logic of teaching and learning under the New Curriculum using Action Research to help you. You will notice the following aspects:

 

             At the beginning of the process, Dr. Laidlaw doesn't know what's going to happen in the future, but she wants to start - using a logical plan to help her as she goes along; (see earlier in Part One about taking risks);

             By stating the problem, she is more likely to cope with issues as they arise, and become more flexible in her teaching;

             The processes of teaching and learning are not straightforward, but full of reflection, self-questioning, and attempts to understand the others' points of view;

             Issues of responsibility (whose responsibility? when?) are key-issues in resolving concerns about learning;

             Dr. Laidlaw's concern with the students' affective domain (see NC Standards) seems to be a key-factor in helping students improve the quality of their learning;

             Meticulous note-taking is a key way of helping a teacher understand the classroom better and identifying ways of improving learning;

 

Compare the students' achievements Dr. Laidlaw writes about in the second part of the case-study with number five on the action plan: How will I know my work has improved? How well do they seem to match up? There should be some relationship between planning and outcome, if the planning is careful enough, and the values are educational.

 

A Case-Study by Moira Laidlaw: Action Plan (October 2004)

 

What do I want to improve? How can I use my classroom methodologies to help my many students use appropriate techniques themselves in their own teaching of New Curriculum English in the future?

Why am I concerned? I teach two groups of over eighty students at a time and next year they will be teachers themselves. The large number could present the problem in the individual communication between us, although the methods I use might show them that large class-size doesn't always necessitate didactic methodology. Differentiation is a problem with such a large group and I want each student to feel noticed and respected, because I believe this is the way to enhance the learning process for them. Our time is limited (two hours a week per group) and there is a lot of content to cover. Aside from the pedagogical content is the context of teaching and learning – rural China in a critical stage of development, with English as a key subject with its own New Curriculum.

How can I improve it? I can constantly reveal my own processes to the students and give them frequent opportunities to practice micro-teaching. I can help to create a non-threatening atmosphere in which they like to learn and to ask questions. I can introduce action planning as a method of improving processes. I can promote discussions in and out of class (English Corner is a good way outside the class). I can give them my Methodology handbook as a starter for their own ideas. I can ask them for feedback as to how they perceive the class is going. I can initiate processes which rely upon them taking responsibility for their own learning – i.e. learning partnerships; validation meetings; micro-teaching slots for each students with peer-evaluation; homework, which demands critical thinking abilities and originality. I can ask colleagues to attend my lessons and ask for feedback during the process. I can open my practice to my colleagues at AR meetings.

Who can help me and how? My students can help me by giving feedback, attending class diligently, completing homework and raising and answering questions. My colleagues can help me by giving feedback from lessons, from students' comments and from their own ideas. The AR groups at the Centre here in Guyuan can help me by increasing rigour and accountability for my actions. My AR group in Bath University can help me by focusing my attention on missed points and inconsistencies of logic.

How will I know the work has improved? Students will demonstrate confidence and competence in a variety of appropriate forms of methodology in their own teaching practice as well as in discussions and free-talks. They will have high motivation for teaching and understand its significance in the development of China, especially as it relates to rural areas. They will show an ability to think critically and to question accepted wisdom. They will recognise that the aim of teaching is learning, rather than clever methodology.

 

Let's look at some of the results of that action plan in an extract from Moira Laidlaw's later paper[1]:

 

Zhang Dongfang:

Zhang Dongfang's command of English is professional and impressive. His attendance at class is perfect. He sits at the front and listens carefully, writing notes and asking and answering questions. He is clever and sensitive and very talented in the classroom However, it isn't all this, which impresses me the most. It is his consideration for others, his empathy and his determination to be the best student in whatever situation he finds himself. This doesn't mean that he's competitive. Zhang Dongfang seems to see co-operation as a goal of his studies. How do I know this? Dozens of examples. When I ask for questions, he looks round to see who is raising their hand. If no one raises their hand, then he speaks. When I compliment him, he passes back the compliment to his fellow-students. He finds ways of collaborating, whatever I ask him to do. He performed the best micro-teaching class I have ever seen in my life. (By 'best', I mean most communicative, most enthralling, interesting, logical and carefully-executed.) His first comments on his self-evaluation after his micro-teaching were to compliment his classmates for helping him, and saying how crucial it is for students to co-operate with their fellows. A further reason I use this student as evidence that one student in my Grade Three class has been influenced educationally by my teaching, comes from a response he made to a question on 15th November 2004. I asked all the students: What do you think you have learnt from me this term and where is your evidence?

 

Zhang Dongfang stood up and said:

 

'This term I have learnt that passion in education is the most important thing with students, because teaching is about learning and passion comes from love of people. I have realised that if you care about people then you care about education. It is a way to help people.'

 

He then asked others to stand up and say whether they agreed that he had really learnt this, or was he just saying it in theory? Several students then stood as witnesses to what he had done in the lesson I referred to before. They mentioned his enthusiasm for teaching, his smiling face, his confidence, his delight when a student got something right. And by his questioning of them, those students were providing me evidence of my own educational influence – they were able to evaluate him. This was a proud moment for me.

I am learning something from Zhang Dongfang. His desire always to include the group rather than focus on his own individual needs as he learns is something I rarely came across in England during my teaching experience. It has taken me several years here to grasp the significance of his actions. In England we encourage individual learning goals and achievements. I am learning that in China a successful student, a successful learner, may be someone who offers his own insights back to the group as part of the process of learning. I would cite our relationship (between Zhang Dongfang and myself) as a truly educative one because it is mutually beneficial. As I help him to understand more about methodology, he is helping me to learn more about alternative ways of valuing knowledge and process. I believe his insights will be important to me in becoming more collaborative in my working relationships in the future.

 

Tian Mei: At the beginning of the course, Tian Mei worried me. A note from my journal:

 

September, 2004. TM always keeps silent. She seems really afraid of me and of being noticed. When I make eye-contact with her, she always looks down and blushes. I wonder what I can do about this. I need to encourage her, to praise her, to smile at her. I need to let her know that I value her.

 

So, I often smiled at her, said goodbye at the door when she left a class, making sure always that she knew I saw her. On 15th October, during Dr. Whitehead's visit to the class, I pushed her a little harder than usual and she stood up and answered a question. I was so pleased and on her way out, I asked her to remain behind so that I could congratulate her properly. I told her that she had achieved a great thing in the class, and that she would never have to be nervous again. I decided then that I would ask her to take a class for the micro-teaching part of the lesson. However, I would leave it for a few weeks and allow her to talk more in class and get used to it. In subsequent classes, she spoke once in every class. On 26th November I encouraged her to take a class on 10th December. She accepted the challenge. Here are some of the notes I made from her class:

 

You drew a lovely picture on the blackboard featuring a tree with two people, asking the students: What can you see? They answer, 'there are two people and a tree.' Then you erase the people and say 'What can you see?' 'There is a tree. There were two people!' And that leads you into the lesson on the past tense. What a clever idea. You are smiling all the time at the class. I know you are nervous but you are hiding your feeling. You encourage them a lot. You let them know that they matter by walking around and talking to them and making contact with them during their preparation in group-work.

 

In her self-evaluation she said:

I tried to remember to avoid all the mistakes, which other students have made before, and I avoided some of them. I walked around the class. I noticed all the students. I gave them a time-limit for their group work. But I forgot to look at all the students when I was standing at the blackboard. I was worried about my writing and I forgot the students standing on my left but I did it! I did it! I am so happy!

 

Everyone clapped, as well they might! Then they evaluated her strengths and weaknesses:

 

'She was kind to us;' 'she remembered all her students;' 'she gave us good examples'.

'She should have given better instructions before the group-work;' 'she needed to let the students evaluate their performances.'

 

I spoke to her after her class. She thanked me for encouraging her, and I reminded her that she had done it, not me. I never saw her smile so freely at me as she did when she left the classroom that day. In her progress I see so many of the educational values I believe in being reflected back to me. I see that, in Liu Xia's words (Liu 2004):

 

'encouragement and respect can turn a coward into a hero,'

 

and I believe that the world is a better place with people acting willingly towards their own positive goals, rather than being coerced by others. In her progress I also see that one needs to experience the value of experience itself. Thinking and theorising about her potential will not necessarily help her achieve it. Doing becomes vital in such a practical art as teaching. Zhang Xiaohua, one of Tian Mei's classmates commented on Tian Mei's performance in a recent essay, designed to find out from students what they had learnt from the course this term. They were free to write about whatever aspect they felt was important. Zhang Xiaohua wrote:

 

'In my experience as a student I have suffered a lot because at school some teachers didn't treat us equally. In that situation students were ignored if they were not 'excellent' students. Tian Mei is a good example here. I knew she could do the teaching in the lessons. I know her well – we are classmates and in the same dormitory. And it proved to be true because she did a good job in our micro-teaching part. Usually she is not noticed by the teacher because she is so shy, but in our Methodology course, Dr. Laidlaw really cared about her. And when she taught a class I was so proud of her. And she was so happy. I think confidence is important and I think teachers can help students to become confident.

 

Wang Binbin: He touches my heart. When I first saw him, tucked at the back of the room, keeping his head low, often in a book (and not my Methodology Handbook either!), avoiding my eyes and turning away from me at the door on his way out, I found myself wanting to communicate with himIt didn't seem right to me that a student was so remote from the teacher. I sensed fear in him and this couldn't be allowed to continue. As with Tian Mei I started to notice him overtly and praised him whenever I had the opportunity. I once caught him reading another course's book during class, and although that had to stop, it didn't strike me as the act of a wilful or disobedient student: it struck me, because of his demeanour and attitude generally, to be the act of someone who had given up on the course, who had effectively given up on himself. I couldn't allow that to continue either. Although I feel strongly that students are responsible for themselves, I also know that people get confused, that they start exploring blind-avenues and become disorientated. I couldn't stand idly by and let that happen because he seemed distressed

 

Let me be clear here. There are times when I don't intervene, when I feel that the progress relies on the individual student's capacity to make decisions for him/herself. However, that decision-making capacity can be damaged for all sorts of reasons. The decision when to intervene and when to allow the student to come to their own conclusions is a difficult one, and I tend to follow the motto: each case should be judged on its merits. It seemed to me that Wang Binbin was acting in ways, which I felt would damage him and that he genuinely might not find his own way out of the maze. The prospects for these young people are not rosy. Many of them will find it hard to get jobs. Even the best students might fail. At this time many Grade Three students are disillusioned and sad about their futures. By not involving himself fully in the lesson, he would possibly damage his chances for employment, but also importantly he could damage his own self-esteem. If he tried nothing, he would gain nothing. If he gained nothing, then he might feel useless and surely as a teacher, I don't want my students to feel useless, if they can feel otherwise, and if helping them to feel otherwise doesn't take away their capacity and right to make decisions for themselves in the future. I felt this was the spiral he was in and I felt I needed to reach him, and then he could make up his own mind.

 

So what did I do? I told him to close his book, and then quietly, I told him to make a choice. He could leave the class and I would not report him, or be angry with him (which would be a typical reaction by a teacher) or he could stay, close the book and take part in the class. I said I would be sorry if he left, but that the choice was freely his. He stayed. Then, during the next class, when he was sitting at the back, but eyes riveted to the front now and to my face, I asked him directly if he would teach a lesson. His spoken English is relatively poor (by which I mean that he expresses himself less clearly than many student-teachers on the course) and he clearly lacks confidence.

 

I can't do it! I can't. My English poor. They laugh at me. I can't!

 

He started to shake. I wanted to give him a hug, but contented myself with saying I believed in him. They wouldn't laugh. They would help him. He really should do it because the first time is the most difficult and he would be so proud of himself if he could. He bent his head for a long moment, looked up, smiled at me, and said he would! His two deskmates clapped him on the back in support.

 

On 13th December, he came to the front and taught a class. He was shaking. At those moments in my teaching I find it incredibly difficult not to intervene and to save the student from his pain, but know that my job is to believe in his ability to cope with the situation, not to support him so that he can't support himself. This is actually a profound comment on my core-belief in the capacity of individuals to take care of themselves. He tremblingly held up a picture of a cat, asked what it was, and the lesson began. And slowly, he began to show his humanity. He laughed with the students. They laughed back. He started to enjoy himself. I say that because of his body-language and the critical feedback from students, who said they realised he liked teaching them. Touchingly he had prepared something to say for his self-evaluation before the lesson, which of course, isn't pedagogically sound. I was pleased in a way, though, because it showed his huge desire to succeed. He read the following, which in fact had been what he did:

 

I tried to see all the students. I drew some pictures. I walked around the class. I asked questions and many students answered. I did some group-work and pair-work with them. I prepared a lot, but my drawings not good. I will try harder next time. I want to be a good teacher!

 

I am not claiming that his lesson was marvellous: it wasn't. I am, however, claiming that I influenced him to find the courage in himself to reach beyond his previous aspirations. Just as I think I helped my brother to recognise he could function in the world, I think I have helped Wang Binbin to stand up for himself. I am delighted with his achievement, because I believe (perhaps because of my past experience) that such experiences lead to growth, strength and happiness. In my delight, though, I fully recognise Wang Binbin's ownership of his own actions and his responsibility for them. I am happy for him.

 

June 2005. When Li Peidong and I went into his classroom on teaching practice, we saw someone who had created good educative relationships with his students, a very gentle and scholarly atmosphere in the classroom, and a sense of purpose and worthwhile activities. Many of his students were active, talked willingly, and clearly very much liked and respected their new teacher.

 

Starting to Teach the Action Planning Process:

You have conducted your own action plans, and now you need to know how you can facilitate your student-teachers to draw up their own action plans. This tends to be best done towards the beginning of the course, as it is a kind of logic for Communicative Methodology, and the students need help in their thinking about teaching in the future.

 

Remember how you were introduced to action planning. Was it a useful way? Could you think of a better way? Ask your colleagues how they've done it with their students in the classroom. Many colleagues have facilitated their students in starting their own action planning, so they might be able to give you a few tips.

 

You could start like this:

             Ask the students to think of one thing that frightens them about being a teacher in the classroom;

             Get them to discuss it in detail with a deskmate. Give a time-limit and make sure both students in the pair have a chance to say something;

             Whilst they're talking, write in big letters on the blackboard, 'How can I improve .?'

             Hear some feedback from them. Don't comment on their suggestions, just write them in short phrases on the other side of the blackboard. You will probably find many repetitions of things they fear: standing on the platform; naughty behaviour they can't control; now knowing the answers; poor examination results etc..

             Reassure them that the course they are about to do, will help them answer these questions, but that there are no set-answers to questions in teaching, because it's such a complex activity and it changes all the time. The New Curriculum wants teachers who can respond flexibly to situations, not robots on automatic pilot.

             Ask them to phrase their fear into a question in the style of Action Research. So, if a student has no self-confidence in teaching, for example, s/he could phrase the question: 'How can I gain more self-confidence about teaching so that my students improve their learning of English?' Remember, each question should focus on students' learning and not just the teacher's fear. It should be a positive rather than a negative question. So, for example, if a student is afraid of naughty behaviour, s/he could phrase the question: 'How can I help the students focus on their work more efficiently?'

             Then give them the next four questions: 'What are the reasons for my concern?' 'What can I do about it? 'Who can help me and how?' and 'How will I know it has improved?' Check that each student understands each question. They should write them down in a book, not juts on a scrap of paper, which they could easily lose.

             In pairs, the students need time to develop their ideas for the first three questions. This should not be rushed. Try to remember yourself how difficult it can be to think in this new way. The New Curriculum advocates critical thinking, but it's not easy or quick to do. Ask the students in pairs to go through each of the first three questions, and the deskmate should write something down. Then reverse the process.

             Ask them to write down in detail for homework the first three questions in answer to their concern in number one. (Asking them to do the whole action plan at once, is too much for most students. It should be done in two halves - first three questions, followed by the final two questions afterwards.)

             During the next class, ask them to look at questions four and five and discuss them as above. Then write for homework. You have to go through each action plan and ask for more detail when they're not specific enough. This takes time, but is an important step in their learning how to think about teaching. Make sure their action plans are dated.

             Evaluation: With every process in your Methodology Teaching, you need to evaluate what you've done with the students, so that they become more used to using evaluation themselves in their future teaching. Ask them some open and semi-open questions (see Handbook One for descriptions of different questioning techniques):

 

-              Was this process of action planning easy for you? Why? Why not?

-              Did you enjoy the process of doing this? Why? Why not?

-              Can you think of a better way we could have done it?

-              What questions do you still have about action planning?

 

Now look again at the five basic concepts the New Curriculum wants you to consider at all points in your teaching of Methodology:

 

             Focusing on common ground and establishing a base for development;

             Offering alternatives to meet the needs of personal development;

             Optimising learning strategies to develop learner-autonomy;

             Increasing awareness of students' affective attitudes and enhancement of humanistic perspectives;

             Perfecting the Assessment system to promote students' development.[2] (pp 2/3)

 

See how the action planning exercise fits neatly into those criteria, particularly the first four. As you can see, the logic of Action Research (and Action Planning), the New Curriculum and Communicative Methodology have a lot in common.

 

If you follow the steps of the Action Planning section above (or modify them as you want to), you are already a Communicative Methodology Teacher for the New Curriculum. Let's look at why:

 

             You have facilitated your students' critical thinking.

             You have helped them begin to make plans to take responsibility for their own learning as teachers.

             You have started using processes that they can use themselves in their future teaching and shown them how process works.

             You have given them a chance to evaluate their learning and your teaching.

 

A good start!

 

In Part Two you can now read about setting up a context in which the student-teachers can learn about how to teach communicatively under the New Curriculum.

 


Part Two: Processes of Teaching and Learning with the New Curriculum

 

In Handbook One, we looked at Classroom Management in detail. In particular we were concerned about using facilities educationally and planning for the structure of a class. We detailed the significance of motivation in learning and explained the management of oral-work together with its relationship to learning.

 

In Part Two, we'll look at how you might teach the processes outlined in that section. The question you can ask yourself at this stage is,

 

'How can I help my student-teachers to teach classroom management in line with the New Curriculum?'

 

Teaching Classroom Management

in Line with the New Curriculum:

 

Starting off[3]:

The first question you need to ask yourself is,

 

What are the purposes of helping student-teachers to manage the New Curriculum well?

 

This question is necessary to understand fully at the outset of the process, so that you can base your approach in the classroom on your desired outcome. 'The New Curriculum Standards (2005, Spring) for Junior Secondary and Senior High Schools' has the following to say about its basic concepts. The New Curriculum is:

 

             Focusing on common ground and establishing a base for development;

             Offering alternatives to meet the needs of personal development;

             Optimising learning strategies to develop learner-autonomy;

             Increasing awareness of students' affective attitudes and enhancement of humanistic perspectives;

             Perfecting the Assessment system to promote students' development.[4] (pp 2/3)

 

These are broad and ambitious aims, but if you ask yourself at every step of the way if your teaching is bearing them in mind, then you are more likely to be initiating processes that are in line with the New Curriculum. You will also be helping your student-teachers to learn more effectively about how to teach in the future.

 

Read the five basic concepts again. With every piece of advice in this Handbook you will need to find ways of living those values in your actions over time with your students so that they will be able to live such values out in their classrooms with their students. This is the essence of this Handbook.

 

So, before we start looking at Handbook One's Classroom Management section, you need to find a way of helping your student-teachers to understand the above concepts from the New Curriculum. There are various ways you might do that.

 

Rather than taking them one at a time, which would suggest they are separate, let's see if we can find ways of helping students to begin understanding these principles together, and learning how to help others to understand and use them. A few activities might help here. We're setting this out as a problem-solving exercise, using the logic described in Part One, so that you can get used to thinking in a particular way about preparing task-based activities for your student-teachers.

 

So, first, what is the purpose of this activity? (In other words, when planning for your teaching, each task must have an educational purpose!) The purpose here is two-fold:

 

1)        It can help the student-teachers understand the basic concepts of the NC language programme;

2)        It can help the students see that the methods you use to help them understand are going to be similar to the methods they can use in the future to help their students understand.

 

So, what kind of activities would help to fulfil those two purposes? (In other words, when you have defined the purpose of the task, you need to find task-based activities, which will help the students to learn through doing, i.e. 'moving from competence to performance'. It is important to remember that you should be basing your teaching of the student-teachers on task-based learning principles, because the New Curriculum requires all teaching and learning to be done on that basis. In addition, if the student-teachers experience it, they are more likely to copy the style of task-based teaching when they become teachers themselves.)

 

A Task-Based Activity on the Five Concepts:

Prepare a large white sheet to stick on the blackboard, with a big title, clearly written in large black letters (and characters if you want). Make sure it's legible from the back. (This is what Handbook One tells student-teachers to do when preparing for a lesson as well!)

 

1)        Go through the five concepts on the white sheet to check the students understand the basic meanings;

2)        Split them into 5 groups. (Friendship groups are fine, although if you know your students well, you might have educational reasons for forming groups based on your knowledge of them.) Each group must take on a different concept.

3)        Ask one member of the group to be the scribe and take notes;

4)        Ask them to discuss their idea and give three examples of a task that might fulfil the language aims. For example, 'developing learner autonomy' might be fulfilled by the teacher asking the students to find out information about something, or to present a class-report and so on. (Don't worry if they find this difficult - after all, this is the beginning of the Teaching Methodology course, and you can't expect them to have loads of ideas at this stage.)

5)        Ask students to give feedback to the class and for everyone to take notes, because this is fundamental to the knowledge of the whole course.

6)        Ask the students for homework to discuss each of the five concepts again and to prepare some ideas for next class on which task-based activities they could use to fulfil those concepts. (Although they haven't yet done the course, and might have trouble with finding task-based activities, this homework itself could help you to know what learning-needs your students have at this stage in the course. If they all seem able to find a lot of ideas for tasks, then you can adapt your future teaching accordingly.)

7)        Ask the students to consider (in pairs/groups) what methods you just used to facilitate the above activity. Get them to look at process. Looking at process is one of the key-skills for you and for your student-teachers. If they can become more sensitive to process, they are more likely to become flexible users of different processes for different aims. Ask their opinion about the task. Could they think of better ways of doing it? Can they offer suggestions? Can you use any of their suggestions in a subsequent lesson?

 

Teaching Classroom Management Strategies:

Let's now take a look at Handbook One's 'Classroom Management' section. Let's see how we can devise ways of using that content, referring it to the five NC concepts and linking it with an AR enquiry that will help you focus on the development of your students' learning. We will organise this section much as we organised the section in Handbook One on Classroom Management, so that you can refer to that document easily and see the links between learning about Methodology and learning how to teach it.

 

There are several common ways that facilitate the teaching of Methodology. Let's look at those. In your own teaching, you use most of these methods yourself already, but in teaching Methodology, you need to be able to explain their use to your student-teachers.

 

These common methods are action planning (see Introduction), group and pair work; taking notes; question and answer; peer and self-evaluation and class-discussion. (Of course, you need to remember that multiple strategies should be used in every class, and you will mix them educationally for your student-teachers. For the sake of argument, though, we're presenting them in relative isolation, in order to highlight their main functions. You will need to explain to your student-teachers why you are doing this, of course.)

 

The following sections will take you through each idea above, and relate it to a task-based activity on how to teach a particular methodological aspect of the course, and then relate each section to the five basic concepts in the New Curriculum.

 

Class-Discussion (with some group-work!):

We're looking at this first in order to establish one of the main ideas at the beginning of the process of teaching Communicative Methodology to student-teachers. Rather than just jumping into strategies for Classroom Management, you need to help the students develop a sense of the context of their learning for the course. For this discussion you will need some large sheets of paper (A3), some pens, and some sticky-tape.

 

A useful question to make them think could be:

 

             What makes a good teacher? (They could tell each other stories about their own Middle School and College Learning.)

             What specific actions does a good teacher make to aid the learning of her/his students?

 

These questions tend to make students think critically about pedagogy, which is one of the aims of the Communicative Methodology course. It also gives them a chance to begin the process of thinking about the kind of teachers they want to be themselves and how they can learn to do it during your course.

 

Ask the students to:

             Discuss the question as a group. Ask them to be specific. What was it that good teachers did to help them learn. They should focus on what actions are linked with what learning outcomes, rather than any vague statements like: 'the teacher was kind', or 'I liked that teacher'. What specific actions does a good teacher make to help the students to learn?

             One student (the Scribe) should write down the actions that lead to good learning on the sheet of paper;

             Ask the students to stick their sheets on the walls and then go around and look at everyone's contributions.

             Ask them to report back on the repeated ideas (there are bound to be some repetitions between groups).

             Write only the main ones on the blackboard and ask the students to write these main ones in their exercise books. Ask them to put the date on the work, so that they use it to refer back to later in the course and compare their opinions.

             Then ask the student-teachers again to look at the five basic concepts from the New Curriculum, and discuss as a class, how each concept relates to the process you have put them through.

 

Group and Pair Work:

Instead of just telling you about how to set up group work, let's look at it as a part of a task-based activity you need to be teaching your students. Let's look at the use of group work and pair work as a way of facilitating your student-teachers' understanding of how to structure a lesson.

 

             First, read the section in Handbook One about beginning a lesson. Also look again at the five basic concepts in the New Curriculum and copy them in black ink onto a large sheet of white paper and put them somewhere prominent:

 

-              Focusing on common ground and establishing a base for development;

-              Offering alternatives to meet the needs of personal development;

-              Optimising learning strategies to develop learner-autonomy;

-              Increasing awareness of students' affective attitudes and enhancement of humanistic perspectives;

-              Perfecting the Assessment system to promote students' development.

 

             Bring some blank sheets of A3 paper - one for each group of about six student-teachers.

             Before dividing them into groups, remind them how important it is for each student-teacher to co-operate and contribute to the discussion. No one should simply sit and listen! (This is a good thing for them to remember when they become teachers themselves as well - reminding all students to participate and take responsibility for their own learning.)

             Divide the class into groups of about six and give them one sheet per group with marker pens;

             Ask them to think of all the activities they consider make a good beginning to a lesson and then write them down on the sheet of paper (in Chinese or English - up to you, but explain your reasons for giving them the choice or telling them, just as they will need to when they are teachers);

             Get the groups to display their ideas and allow others to walk around and look and chat! Let them tell each other anecdotes about their own memories of good beginnings. Keep them on task: don't just let them chat about middles, endings or something else!

             As you go round and look, write down the main ideas.

             Have class discussions arising from:

-              Any disagreements;

-              Any understanding now of the basic requirements for good beginnings;

-              What does 'good' mean? What should it mean? (This needs to be discussed so that you can share the standards between you, so that everyone in the classroom knows what a high standard of education means. We should not simply take for granted that everyone knows what 'good' means.)

             Ask student-teachers to pick a leader - and don't allow them to waste time on this. (Alternatively you can organise each group to have a leader to save time - but explain why you're doing it that way!) - The leader needs, with the rest of the group, to plan for ten minutes at the beginning of the first lesson on Introducing Themselves from 'Go For It'. (They don't yet know much about lesson planning, so don't be too strict about this. Just remind them that the aims must be educational.)

             Then the student-teacher needs to teach it to the five others, who are students.

             Looking at what makes a good lesson (see above), then get the student-teachers to evaluate their leader. You need to go round and note down things to remark on, either for this lesson or the next. (It's important to set the example of walking around as an evaluative tool. The New Curriculum advocates peer and self-evaluation. A teacher, however, needs to be alert to what's happening at all times. Your student-teachers need to see you walking around and taking notes and following up on them afterwards.)

             Evaluation and Homework: Ask them to look at the five concepts behind the New Curriculum:

-              Focusing on common ground and establishing a base for development;

-              Offering alternatives to meet the needs of personal development;

-              Optimising learning strategies to develop learner-autonomy;

-              Increasing awareness of students' affective attitudes and enhancement of humanistic perspectives;

-              Perfecting the Assessment system to promote students' development.

             Ask your students to evaluate the lesson you have just had with them using those principles as homework. They should give it in the following lesson. (And it needs marking by the lesson after that. It is important to set a good example through this behaviour.)

 

Question and Answer:

(See Handbook One on Managing Oral Work.) The process of question and answer lies at the heart of the logic of Communicative Methodology, action planning and action research. The ability for your student-teachers to ask you questions as well as answer them, will affect the way they facilitate their students to ask and answer questions as well.

 

Let's see how this process works through a task-based activity on how to end a lesson. We've already looked at how to begin one, so now let's find ways of helping your student-teachers to understand more about the endings of lessons. Look at Handbook One on how to end a lesson (Part One).

 

A Task-Based Activity to develop Question and Answer-Techniques:

For this task you need to make sure your student-teachers have:

             Some slips of paper to write on (and be able to pass to other student-teachers);

 

Start by explaining what the section of the lesson/whole lesson is about. Write the aims on the blackboard - or, as it says in Handbook One, prepare a large sheet of paper with some aims (in heavy black ink for visibility) and stick it on the blackboard to save time.

 

Aims: (please add your own if we've missed any!)

             To help student-teachers understand the importance of promoting question and answer from their students in the classroom;

             To help student-teachers think of ways of promoting question and answer in their classrooms;

             To help the student-teachers understand something about endings of lessons; (or, of course, you can have a task on some other aspect of methodology instead of endings)

             To relate 'question and answer' strategies to the five basic concepts in the New Curriculum.

 

Method:

             Ask student-teachers to write down a question they have on how to end a lesson? Their questions should be something to do with what makes an ending educational?

             Then they should write their name on it and go to another part of the classroom and exchange their questions with another student-teacher. (This is also to help student-teachers interact with unfamiliar student-teachers, which the New Curriculum wants students to do in school-classrooms too.)

             The student-teachers should then sit with each other and discuss their questions and answers, taking notes - i.e. writing down question and main points of answers.

             You should then ask students to volunteer a question and an answer. Other students may have the same questions or a different answer. Encourage discussion about it. (This increases critical thinking and classroom-interaction, as well as improving discussion-skills, processes, which can be used by school-students too.)

             Try to get the student-teachers to ask and answer each other, rather than you doing all the questioning and they only the answers. (Active questioning by students in the classroom is one of the New Curriculum's aims, as it promotes critical thinking, confidence, participation, responsibility, and increases learning.) This can happen in various ways. A student-teacher can:

 

-              Nominate someone else to answer or give a question;

-              Come to the front of the class and field questions and answers like you (good practice for a student-teacher);

-              You can field questions and answers; (but this isn't as active for the student-teachers)

-              Ask them to move into groups to ask and answer questions about the content about endings and then report back.

 

             During the above, keep a record on the blackboard of the main questions/answers about endings. Add any new information as you see fit. (Tell the student-teachers you have a responsibility as a teacher, as they will, to add information when necessary. Again, this is 'walking the talk'.)

 

Evaluation and Homework:

Ask student-teachers to summarise in detailed writing, the most important learning from the lesson. It should be in three parts:

             What have they learnt about endings of lessons?

             What have they learnt about questioning and answering techniques?

             How did the processes of your teaching in that lesson live up to the five basic concepts in the New Curriculum? (You may need to explain this one, as it's difficult for student-teachers at this stage to understand the links between tasks and learning.)

 

Taking Notes:

Taking notes is sometimes perceived as a traditional method, so what part can it play in the methods for the New Curriculum? In fact, taking notes is a skilled process, and student-teachers need to develop it well during the course so that it can help their future students. Taking notes helps to:

 

             Promote critical thinking;

             Organise ideas;

             Aids summarising skills and consolidates knowledge;

             Aid memory;

             Fill in blanks in knowledge;

             Help with homework and later revision for tests and examinations.

 

In order to teach this part of the course, we're going to ask the student-teachers to look through all the notes they've made so far on the course and summarise them. They can do this in pairs.

 

Aims:

             To promote learning about taking-notes;

             To help student-teachers recognise the links between processes and learning;

             To give them ideas about how to use note-taking with their future students;

             To help them see note-taking as a summarising skill with their future students;

             To help student-teachers see the usefulness of peer-evaluation (see NC guidelines);

             To help student-teachers see the usefulness of involving learners in their own learning-processes.

 

Method:

             Ask student-teachers to work in pairs for this exercise.

             Get them to ask each other the question: 'Why should school-students take notes?' Discuss this for a few moments. Each student-teacher to write down their ideas in their own exercise-books.

             Then, student-teachers should go through each other's exercise-books, checking on their deskmate's efficiency at writing notes since the beginning of the course. Get one of the pair to ask the following questions of their deskmate, and write notes themselves in their own exercise-book about what they find:

-              What are the main points of your learning so far?

-              How has your organisation of this exercise-book helped you in your understanding of Communicative Methodology?

-              What are the weaknesses of your note-taking method?

-              What are the strengths of your note-taking methods?

-              How can you improve your note-taking methods?

             Then the pair should reverse roles;

             After that process, ask student-teachers to give feedback and talk about each other's insights and learning.

             Evaluation: Ask student-teachers to discuss in pairs/groups or as a whole class, why you asked them to learn about note-taking in this way. Take note of their ideas. (Writing them down yourself might help you to adapt your future teaching to their suggestions if they are good ones. It also shows you evaluating as a formative process, rather than simple as a summative activity - see Handbook One on Evaluation.)

             Homework: Ask student-teachers to devise their own homework on this task! In other words, ask the student-teachers to plan what a good homework from this might be. Ask them to look at the aims of the lesson and see if they can devise a homework which helps to fulfil the aims. Then they should do the homework. They need to give educational reasons why they devised the homework as they did. (The New Curriculum wants students to become more involved in the processes of their own learning, so that they are more active and responsible. In addition, such a homework gets our student-teachers to think about what educational value homework has.)

 

Self- and Peer-Evaluation:

The New Curriculum presupposes that if teachers and students can learn to evaluate what quality means in their work (i.e. what is educational), they can then improve it. If they can improve it, they will understand more about it and feel better about their work. If they feel better, they are likely to do better work. Evaluation lies at the heart of the New Curriculum, Communicative Methodology and Action Research processes, just as we described the question-and-answer process earlier. Evaluation under the New Curriculum, as you already know from your Action Research enquiries, has become more complex than the teacher simply grading a student's work. Evaluation has become a way of empowering the learning process for students and teachers.

 

Just as in previous sections in Part Two, you have been teaching a process with specific task-based content, this time, let's look at the main focus (self- and peer-evaluation) with Display Materials in the classroom. (First, read the whole section in Part One of Handbook One about visual materials and then the section about Evaluation.)

 

This is a very complex set of ideas, and should take you two three lessons to complete, because there is a lot of content to go through, as well as processes to reflect on. You want to help the student-teachers think about the educational potential of their future students' learning environment, as well as how to evaluate their own and others' abilities to provide such an environment. You are going to be helping them to see the value of formative and summative evaluation-techniques for themselves and their future students.

 

Your aims in this whole section are to:

 

             Help student-teachers to use self- and peer-evaluation as a vital learning-tool;

             To promote critical thinking skills;

             Learn how to facilitate such techniques to their school-students;

             Help your student-teachers learn how to use the blackboard.

 

Resources:

             Some sheets of A4 paper for student-teachers' use;

             An early section from 'Go For It', photocopied if the student-teachers haven't got their own text-books;

             Some crayons and pens. (Of course, if you can't provide these, you need to ask the student-teachers to bring them, and if they don't, you need to tell them about the importance of reliability and responsibility for teachers! They are supposed to become role-models for their own students.)

             An A4 sheet of paper, with your (flawed) design for a blackboard from the early section of 'Go For It'. (If you create a perfect blackboard, the student-teachers won't learn anything. Perhaps you should use pale colours, write too small, put all the information in one small space, make it boring to look at - no colours, no drawings, etc.. This will help them evaluate it.)

 

Aims for Lesson One:

             Help your student-teachers learn how to use the blackboard.

             To begin the process of evaluation with them.

 

Method for Lesson One:

             Make sure the student-teachers have read Handbook One - particularly the sections on Blackboard Skills and Displays - before your lesson;

             Outline the Aims of this series of lessons - prepared on a large, white sheet, perhaps, so that they can be visible throughout the process. Give them a chance to ask and answer questions about anything on the Aims.

             Ask them if there are any questions about the Handbook One sections. (To check, if no one says anything, it's a good idea to ask particular student-teachers key questions, so they know they are supposed to answer questions truthfully, rather than simply remaining silent. It is often the case that students in classrooms don't answer such a question. Your student-teachers need to learn how to deal with that situation.)

             Ask them to split into small groups (maybe four student-teachers in each group), to discuss educational uses of the blackboard. Make sure they have their Handbooks closed! They need to use their critical thinking skills in these lessons.

             While they are doing that, you should quickly copy your design from your prepared sheet onto the blackboard. (Don't discuss it with the student-teachers, and they will be intrigued. As it says in Handbook One, mystery is an important atmosphere in a classroom. It builds suspense and helps the students focus. If anyone asks, say you'll tell them later!)

             Ask the student-teachers to give you feedback. You can do this by walking around, or through class-discussion or a combination. (Tell the student-teachers why you choose a particular method. You will need to tell them honestly that you value their feedback and critical ideas, because this is an invaluable process of educational development. They may find it difficult to criticise your design, but if you let them see the list in Handbook One of qualities of a 'good' blackboard in Part One, this will help them to review yours more clearly.)

             Ask the student-teachers to comment on each others' suggestions. Don't do all the evaluation yourself. Ask them what they think about different suggestions. (Insist on them being active about this. If they won't, then remind them of their responsibilities as future teachers: they MUST be active, otherwise how can they expect their future students to be? Keep a note of silent student-teachers and think of ways of involving them in the future - see Moira Laidlaw's case-study at the beginning of this Handbook.) Ask them to take notes about useful suggestions for the use of the blackboard. Tell them you'll check their exercise-books to see how helpful their notes are (which will follow up on the lesson on note-taking before).

             Ask the student-teachers to summarise what they have learnt about writing on the blackboard and draw up a list together in their exercise-books. Ask them to compare what is in Handbook One on the subject, and to add anything they have found. (Give them plenty of time for this activity. For this they can work in pairs, otherwise they are likely, some of them, not to be active enough. Tell them why you are getting them to work in pairs.) They should write notes on all this in their exercise books as they will need the notes for homework.

             Evaluation for Lesson One:

-              What have they learnt?

-              What processes/methodologies were used for this lesson and why? (i.e. group-work, class-discussion, note-taking, critical thinking, evaluation etc.) Ask them to think of any improvements on the methods you and they used. Ask them to take notes about which ones worked best and why.

             Homework:

-              Ask them to write a description of the lesson (in Chinese) for homework. At least one side of A4, in which they explore what you have just talked about in the evaluation. They might want to structure it like this:

-              How were the aims of the lesson met or not met during the lesson? Give reasons.

-              What processes of learning were particularly useful to you? Which weren't? Why/why not? (This makes them evaluate, as well as link process with content, as the New Curriculum needs them to be able to do all the time in their teaching.)

-              Ask them to read through the notes on evaluation in Handbook One in preparation for Lesson Two.

-              Give out photocopies of the 'Go For It' Unit, or tell them which pages to look through before next class.

-              Remind student-teachers to bring pencils, crayons etc. next time.

 

Lesson Two on Blackboard Skills and Evaluation-Techniques:

Aims:

             To consolidate and further student-teachers' understanding about blackboard-skills and evaluation-techniques;

 

Resources:

-              'Go For It' sheets/books.

-              Paper for drawings.

-               

             Review last lesson. Ask them to tell you what was new in their learning from last time. List main ideas on the blackboard. Check if there are any questions.

             Check they have done their homework by going around the classroom. Those who haven't, make a note of their names and ask them to stay behind after class.

             Ask for questions about their homework-reading on Evaluation. (If no one speaks, ask direct questions in order to show them you expect them to be active in their own learning processes. It is also a way of checking whether they have done their homework or not.)

             Hand them out A4 sheets of paper, one each. Ask them to look at the Unit on 'Go For It' (see Resources above). Ask them to design a blackboard to supplement the educational experience of Junior One students' learning on a specific lesson - you can choose the Unit in advance. They should use their notes from the Methodology lessons to help them, and can work together, but each student-teacher must design a blackboard for evaluation by him/herself and peers and the teacher - you.

             Remind the student-teachers what they need to do. Remind them about re-reading parts of the Handbook One to help them. They should:

-              design an educational facsimile/copy/likeness of a blackboard;

-              make sure it is clearly organised - visible, educational, interesting, informative etc.;

-              remember this has to be done quickly when they become real teachers, so it shouldn't be too complicated;

-              make a checklist of all the qualities a 'good' (educational) blackboard should have and then check they're fulfilling those requirements.

             This could take time. The student-teachers will need some guidance and help as they're doing the work. You should go round and advise and help, but allow them some free-expression of their ideas as well. (Praise their efforts rather than criticising their mistakes.)

             After they have completed this task ask them to go around and look at each others' for a few minutes.

             Then talk with them about self- and peer-evaluation, relating it to the New Curriculum guidelines on formative evaluation. (See Handbook One on this subject.)

             Then ask them to talk to their deskmate about what they have done and why they have done it that way. They should be able to justify:

-              lay-out/design;

-              colouring;

-              writing - size, legibility, appearance;

-              proportions of text to pictures and other aspects;

-              educational purpose of the whole thing.

             The deskmate should listen and let the designer talk and justify. Then s/he could ask questions, like: 'Why did you put that there?' or 'what was the purpose of that part?' in order to make the designer think educationally about his/her work.

             Then pairs should change roles, so that both have had a chance to self-evaluate and peer-evaluate.

             Then the pair should discuss what they have learnt from doing this work and make notes in their exercise books on:

-              self and peer-evaluation;

-              designing a blackboard;

             Feedback and evaluation session - of the work itself and of your process of teaching these new ideas.


Glossary of Terms and Expressions Used in Handbook Two:

 

Kill two birds with one stone: This means to accomplish two things at once. This Handbook shows you how to teach your student-teachers some Methodology-content whilst at the same time emphasising the processes of teaching and learning.

Walk the talk: this means to do what you say. If you say learning should be interesting, then if you truly 'walk the talk', you make it interesting. 'Walking the talk' is a very important aspect of communicative teaching, action research and the New Curriculum. Very often our AR enquiries arise when we are not 'walking the talk'.

 



[1] Laidlaw, M., (2005), 'How can I help to promote educational sustainability in the Centre and beyond?' paper at: www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/moira.shtml

[2] Beijing New Curriculum Working Party, (2005), 'The New English Language Curriculum Standards',

[3] One of the best ways of starting off a programme of Communicative Methodology is action planning. See Introduction for details.

[4] Beijing New Curriculum Working Party, (2005), 'The New English Language Curriculum Standards',