My supervisor approached me and asked me for help the other day. This year she’s teaching one of our 3rd year’s elective English courses, “Oral Communication.” She’s teaching the class for the first time and is running into a problem that a lot of ALTs have to deal with: the students aren’t as chatty as we want them to be. I don’t think it’s ever been a problem for her before. Her teaching style has them doing a lot of worksheets or only pair work. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t work as well in a 16 person communication class where we need there to be actual discussions.
This chapter’s story was about Hasune Miku, a computer generated pop-star. She has a bunch of CDs, video game tie-ins, and has even done collaborations with real people.
My supervisor told me how she had done class last time: ask the students if she had ever heard of this chick, and then jump into trying to read the giant, intimidating paragraph about her. According to my supervisor, the students hadn’t been able to do everything perfectly and that was stressing her out. She wanted my help. First thing I told her was that it didn’t matter if the students got everything right, as long as they were speaking. (We’ll see how much of that policy gets implemented, but it was definitely a good starting point.)
Then I told her I would come up with a warm up activity. And, because this is me and I look for any excuse to use technology in the classroom (considering we have none), I found some cool apps for the students to play with. Here’s how the class went (with me pretty much winging the entire thing and making everything up as I went):
Ask the students how they use technology. Write the ideas on the board. Tell them that they use a lot more technology than they think, but a lot of it has become so commonplace, they don’t even recognize it as technology anymore. Like the ticket machine at the bus station or the creepy robot lady who greets you at Narita airport. (Ok, I didn’t mention that one, but seriously. She’s creepy.) From there I said something like, “Technology is everywhere. Now, what do you know about virtual reality or augmented reality?” They understood what virtual reality was, but since they didn’t get augmented reality, we had to have a demonstration.
There’s an app for that. I divided the class into two groups. One group got my iPad, the other my iPhone. I had downloaded this cool app that lets you fill in coloring pages and then, using the app, brings them to life.
Here’s the video from their website:
I gave the students a few of the coloring sheets I had filled in and let them play. They had a great time. Then I showed them a few more games, like one that superimposes UFOs on your surroundings. The goal of the game is to keep the UFOs on your screen without moving your iDevice. Finally, we talked about how virtual reality and augmented technology could be helpful. I showed them an app called Japanese Goggles. You point your camera at some Japanese text and the kanji’s (the complex looking Chinese characters) definition appears on the screen. While the Spanish and French versions of this program work a lot better than the Japanese, it was still cool to see.
From there we went back to how virtual and augmented reality are used for entertainment. From there it was on to the reading and the lesson my supervisor had prepared. Afterwards she told me that the students were far more talkative this class than when she taught the lesson earlier this week. Hopefully that’s a sign that I’m doing something right and finally figuring out parts of this whole teaching thing.
The last week or so has been hectic, so more to come soon about the craziness that is the beginning of the school year.