Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday's Torch Story

The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers rather than to fill it with the accumulation of others.

~ Tryon Edwards

This week we reviewed our lessons on adjectives (e.g., tall) and comparatives (e.g., taller) and added superlatives (e.g., tallest) to the mix. One thing about our class made me happy and one thing made me a little unhappy.

The unhappy thing was that we didn’t finish the written exercise in time to do the spoken activity. For the written exercise I had made a worksheet with about 40 adjectives that they were to rewrite as comparatives and superlatives. It took people much longer to finish this than I had anticipated and so we never got to the activity where they had to actually speak in class. I think it’s really important that each class include practice speaking, and so I am kind of unhappy with myself that we weren’t able to get to it this week… :(

On the other hand, one of my major goals for my students was for them to become comfortable with and “fluent” using a Spanish-English dictionary. Many of them had never used one before they started attending this class. While I have designed many of our activities to require the use of a dictionary, it wasn’t necessary (and really wouldn’t even help) with this particular adjective worksheet. What made me really happy was seeing, as I walked around helping with the worksheet, that almost everyone was looking up the adjectives that they didn’t recognize and writing the Spanish translation on the worksheet as well.

I didn’t tell them (or ask them) to use the dictionary and the dictionary couldn’t help with the actual assignment. But they have come to view the dictionary as a useful tool and they have gotten enough practice with it so that they can use it quickly and easily whenever they want. And they are internally motivated to learn – not just obligated to complete the exercises that I put in front of them. I think this is a pretty big deal and it makes me very happy! :)


Kelley said...

Awesome. I hear you about the exercise consisting of 40 words. Been there. Thirty was better for my students, too, unless it was homework.