This morning I designed a short survey in fluidsurveys.com to ask my writing class about the oral feedback I gave last week (see previous blogpost). Here are some interesting insights I gained from the survey:
So, overall, I feel this experiment was quite successful, and the conclusion can be drawn that second language learners, generally, perceive oral feedback to be beneficial.
Last week I used Screencast-O-Matic to give oral feedback to my students on paragraphs they had emailed me at the end of one of their classes. I wanted to try something new, especially since this a rather large class and I’m usually unable to provide much one-on-one feedback. Also, with paper-based assignments I tend to give written feedback - in the form of error codes - that the students then take into account to revise their pieces. So, in other words, I wanted to see if a different form of feedback might have some positive effects on my students’ writing and, at the same time, examine the students’ perception of this new tool (I might conduct a short in-class survey next week). Anyhow, here are a few insights I gained: (1) providing oral feedback is not as easy as I had anticipated – I soon realized that I needed to provide very explicit instructions and find a way to differentiate between mistakes, for example, choose different colors or fonts, or possibly go with the same error codes I normally use for paper-based assignments; (2) giving oral feedback is rather time-consuming – a typical clip was about 5 minutes long and approximately 10MB in size and therefore downloading a file to my desktop and then emailing it to a student took a while; (3) using a platform, such as mybcit or Moodle, to upload files is probably more efficient than emailing students.
After having my students write self-introductions, they started working on their first weekly blog topic this morning. I gave them a topic that required them to use the grammar points we’ve studied this week; however, I won’t correct their grammar as the objective of this blog is fluent rather than accurate writing. Anyhow, it has just occurred to me that reading all these different blogpostings allows me to obtain insights into my students’ lives that I would otherwise not get. It’s been interesting to read about their experiences, joys, challenges and struggles in Canada. In an attempt to make this portfolio project even more meaningful, I might ask a friend in Japan to have his students read and comment on my students’ blogs, which could potentially lead to some interesting dialogue and cultural exchanges.
Creating this website has been a fabulous experience and the reaction of colleagues and students has been very positive. I've always enjoyed experimenting with technology and computer programs, and I remember using geocities (with a friend's help) to create my first website in the late 90s. The site was more like an online resume, and it was a rather laborious process to get it done, but I ended up with a website that I was able to send along with job applications when I first arrived in Japan in 1999. In 2003, I switched over to Frontpage to create a website so that my family and friends all over the world got a glimpse into my life in Canada. Once I figured out how to use the program, Frontpage provided all the features I needed at that time. However, when my wife and I moved to Vancouver in 2006, I decided to take my website off the Internet, as I was too busy with graduate studies and consequently unable to maintain and update the website. So, a few years later, I am now reconnecting with my passion about the use of technology, and I am excited about creating this website for my classes. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for some more blogpost!
This morning I set the Portfolios up for my writing class. I expected this to be a lengthy and somewhat tedious process, but to the contrary...I was able to add 24 students - including their usernames and passwords - in less than 30 minutes. On Monday, my students are going to start designing their portfolios, something I'm very much looking forward to. I mentioned this during the presentation at the TESL Canada conference that L2 teachers ought to be teaching language and not technology. With this concept in mind, I'll go to class on Monday and briefly explain and demonstrate the portfolio system, but then the students will post their first blog entry right away (a self-introduction they wrote on paper last week). It will be interesting to see the development of these sites and what the perception of my students is going to be in regards to extensive writing practice.
Why do I have this website? Don't teachers have enough to do with lesson planning, teaching, marking and meeting with students? Well, I decided to design this site as an experiment; in other words, to see whether a platform like this can enhance my students' language learning. As a matter of fact, I've been inspired by a colleague and friend of mine, Nathan Hall, to include and to effectively utilize technology in my classrooms (we did a well-received edtech workshop together at the TESL Canada conference last October). Another aspect is that while teaching Level 300 Writing last term, I felt that my students didn't get enough writing practice, in particular practicing extensive writing skills. For this reason I've been looking for a program that allows learners to keep a blog - where the focus is on writing rather than perfect grammar - and to design ePortfolios enabling them to showcase their work to friends and family back home. I also wanted a site for which the students didn't have to register, and a platform that allows me to access and monitor their work. Weebly.com seems to meet these criteria so far, and I am looking forward to using the program and, at the same time, to learning with my students. The students' ePortfolios are currently password protected, but they will be made available to the public once the writing course is up and running. As for this blog, I will keep posting blog entries as a means to reflect on the use of my website and ePortfolio sytem this November/December term.
I am a Lecturer in TESOL at the University of Wollongong in Australia. This blog is a reflection of my journey as a researcher, L2 teacher educator, and language teacher.