Just a night out, camera in hand

Not the moon but taken at  f/3.5, exposure 0.5s, focal length 18mm

I’ve taken shots of the moon before, and even ‘red‘ moons. This time out, I didn’t even take my ‘super zoom‘ lens. Instead I opted for the gear I had in my photo bag. But knowing that the ‘shot’ would be at night I’d brought along my tripod.  The affect of this is to greatly increase the effectiveness of my stock lens. I’d done some reading before hand and I was informed that increasing the f-stop value (closing the aperture) doesn’t make much sense since the situation has lack of light. However, reading what more experienced had done does make my shot taking less of a frustrating experience. I was quite pleased with the initial photos taken outside, but also knowing that Canon RAW files can be processed further on computer, The result is what you see here.

Reducing Teacher talk time. Wait, I’m not a teacher!

Teacher Talk Time CREDIT: Macmillian education

Teacher talk time or TTT for short, is an all important aspect of communicative teaching. The opposite for this is Student talk time or STT, and, since CLT is based on mostly pair work and group work, the teacher/ instructor should by rightly, say his or her piece in as precise manner as possible and then simply let them get on with it.

Once I was aware of this, I made an effort to not only to do just that, but also to create tasks for the students so that they will be talking more. Easier said than done as there are lots of facts in student motivation. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors all play a part.  Skill base is one while, things like their affective filter might be sky-high for lots of other reasons.

I remember when I was reviewing some videos of my classroom teaching (some moments are truely cringe worthy) that some of my classmates at the time noted that I had an excess of ‘discourse markers‘. This trait wasn’t unusual and in the past my female high school students at the time told me that I’d said ‘okay’ over 20 times in one lesson. Thinking back, it’s not a word of confirmation, but a rather wet attempt to get the class to be quiet, which they didn’t. Now days, while negotiating for meaning with a student I would have my fingers over my mouth just to signify to the student they are to speak with interruption. It’s just a matter of holding your bottle and letting them just spit out their sentence.

Lessonplans, long forgotten

For some reason or another I have rarely gone over old lesson plans. It does make sense though, since, I’ve taught the same years twice in some schools.

The lesson folder I had uncovered dated back to the 2006-7 time frame. It contained printed material for a lesson, a very loose procedure and that was about it. I comparison, I do still ‘write  up’ the lesson plan up (in a notebook) and this is to clarify what I want to teach and what I need to prepare to teach it. I’d use circle in green pen the resources I’d written down that needed to be prepared. So much more organised than what it was before.

Looking through the book, the lessons were adequate, if you wanted to teach like a KET. But since that time I’d moved on. Even more recently, I’d been taught to focus on communicative teaching/ lessons. The ones where my TTT is minimized and where the STT is maximized. In doing this, I as a teach, maximize the amount of student talk time. That’s what they’re there for, right? Pedagogy aside, following the PPP schema is relatively easy. Once you have the materials in hand, it makes writing lesson plans easier. Looking through the clear-page folder at the lesson plans I’d written back then, I had come to realize that the lesson plans were incomplete. Even if I was teaching vocabulary, I was teaching it properly, as in meaning, form, grammar, and speaking. Thanks, Paul Nation.

But back then, it was an awful lot of talking on my part, and very little in the way of practicing productive skills. I knew that I had to get the students talking, even back then, but I was missing the know-how (theoretical and practical) to do it. How far I’ve come! That extra training does pay off; firstly it was CELTA, and then it was TESOL. Both tough but, useful courses to have done.

Super Moon, Moon eyed

On the urging of a friend, I went outside to shoot the ‘super moon‘. I’d already missed the sunset and the rise of the moon. I didn’t hold much optimism about catching a nice photo. Since it was the best time to shoot the moon and, in addition, it was heavily overcast. Tripod in hand, I walked out and took the best shot that I could be bothered with. Patience is not my strong point with matters such as these, but I persisted.

Looking at the photos on my laptop, I was pleased to see that I had indeed caught something on digital film. An occulus, with an unblinking and unwavering eye staring back at me.

Old station, next century

Old world charm, made substantially prettier by the effect of lighting for whatever reason. Not to be held back in the moment of inspiration, I borrowed my wife’s Galaxy Note 2. The result is what you see here.

Seoul station was built circa 1910 by the Colonial Japanese. It has a nice frontage drawn from Victorian influences from what I can guess. Serving Metro line number number 1 and 4, it certainly is a bit of a hike between platforms.

New comments, more comments!

Finishing the contractual English camp this year was more of a chore than anything else. It’s all in the mind, and I must say that the students I taught were top flight. I did have the best and oldest students at camp. The oldest student was 15, Korean age I’m told.

In the cause of reflective teaching, I wanted to get some feedback from my students. “Write down one good thing and one bad thing about my class and teaching.”  I then disappeared from view, the sheets (bodged A4 photocopies cut into quarters, that were only used on one side.) were then annotated by the students, collected by the teaching assistant later.  Reading the comments later, with a bit of trepidation I might add, was surprising, heartening and enlightening all at the same time. I’d been in a bit of a mood at the beginning of week one. Very unprofessional of me since I was taught to leave all your problems at the door. So, the surprise was that most of the comments were positive in nature, heartening because they expressed that they wanted to come back and have me teach them again, and, enlightening because of the only two negative comments were that they couldn’t understand my pronunciation.  One could rebut that their listening skills weren’t good enough, and that any English speaker doesn’t speak at a moderato tempo. Only in the artificial environment of the language classroom would this tempo be done. What use is classroom instruction if you can’t be understood?

Highlights aside, I know I’m doing the right thing. One student stated that he enjoyed doing grammar. Its the first time I’ve heard that! Grammar for me is what is only necessary to do the productive tasks later on in class.  But, what I have confirmation of is the gamification of the productive task as a vehicle for providing motivation for competitive students. One last note is that Korean students don’t like ICC (intercultural communication). Not just these students I taught, but all ages. The answer to this might be to be more subtle in teaching it. Sort of like slipping a medicine tablet amongst a sweet biscuit.

More (PC) BANG, for your buck

PC bangs (literally PC rooms), are something I have avoided simply because I have had an internet connection. Up until last Thursday when the connection was cut. My fault, haven’t paid the nice people at Korea telecom, and in return they switched off their service. A fair cop. What wasn’t cute and cuddly was once I’d paid the over-due fee, was the delay in restarting the service. Suffice to say having no internet connectivity for four days didn’t kill me, but on the other hand it just wasn’t interesting at all. I did have a lot of time to play games that I had installed on my laptop though.

Sat back in the big, comfy chairs that all PC bangs seem to come equipped with, I then proceeded to check my email and Facebook. Nothing new there. In order to safeguard my passwords and surfing activity, I made sure that I used the browser that was installed on my USB stick. Useful things that, your own browser of preference (Chrome in this case), and it also means that you leave no digital crumbs on what essentially is a computer for public use. I’m such a geek sometimes. Just one niggling complaint is the presence of smokers in close proximity. Most of the patrons that frequented are middle aged men. Given that the area has Samsung manufacturing plants, most users then, are middle aged men that worked in a factory. Sadly, the man sitting at the end of the row of computers was puffing away merrily on his cigarette. I’ve got nothing against smokers, but the fan and ventilation system in the room was pushing his smoke right at me. If anything, that did make me want to leave sooner than I wanted.

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