Author Topic: ALT role in Writing Class  (Read 4134 times)

Offline kashii

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ALT role in Writing Class
« on: March 13, 2009, 04:33:22 PM »
So last week, the head of the English department handed me a copy of the text (Element) the ichinensei will be using in their writing class this coming school year. I've already flipped through it, but I don't see much opportunity for team teaching.  For any of you who are currently teaching writing classes, how are your classes usually run? Is effective team teaching possible? I find it understandable for Oral Communication, but not Writing. Enlightenment would be appreciated!
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Offline Avacado

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2009, 04:45:36 PM »
You know those classes where the kids write their translations on the board, and then the teacher corrects the mistakes and speaks in Japanese the whole time?  That's team taught writing.
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Offline Electric Barbarella

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2009, 05:12:19 PM »
I'm looking at the Element book now and it looks like a lot of the topics follow what they are learning in their grammar books.  I've also noticed that the OCI books follow these topics, but not very well.

I don't go to the writing or grammar classes, so I'm no help.  I did go to a computer writing class, but I was there just to answer questions the kids may have had.  I think that speaking during writing class would be very helpful, but you might have to work on your JTE.

Didn't Natalie talk about team teaching in writing classes during mid-year?

Offline Avacado

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2009, 05:16:50 PM »
No, ok, I'm being negative.  It doesn't have to be that bad.  Usually the class will be heavily focused on the textbook though, so if you want some input, you will have to take a lot of initiative to get it probably, because chances are, the JTE has planned to follow the textbook, cover to cover.
Normally they will have you grade essays, and they might have you comment on the corrections, why is it said such a way, what sounds natural, why is such and such incorrect, or just point out mistakes that are common throughout the class.
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Offline kashii

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2009, 05:20:57 PM »
I'm looking at the Element book now and it looks like a lot of the topics follow what they are learning in their grammar books.  I've also noticed that the OCI books follow these topics, but not very well.

I don't go to the writing or grammar classes, so I'm no help.  I did go to a computer writing class, but I was there just to answer questions the kids may have had.  I think that speaking during writing class would be very helpful, but you might have to work on your JTE.

Didn't Natalie talk about team teaching in writing classes during mid-year?

Yeah, I remember that she presented, but I can't find the notes I had written down on what she said. And I do agree that there are a lot of grammar points covered in this book. It'll be particularly difficult to help students with grammar when terminology differs from language to language, I think. From mid-January to late February, my current ichinensei wrote opinion essays. I helped them with their grammar and the such, but it was difficult for them to understand the terminology I used to explain what they should do and they'd end up asking the JTE instead.   I encouraged some of them to express their opinions more, but like they wanted to write even more sentences in English... except for a few rare occasions, I felt fairly useless.
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Offline Electric Barbarella

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2009, 02:39:00 PM »
I found this site with English grammar terms in Japanese (including the romaji!).

Here is what my kids learned in grammar class this year.  I think most HS books cover the same subjects.

Present and Present Continuous Tense
Future Tense
Present Perfect Tense
Past Perfect Tense
Auxiliary Verbs
Passive Voice
Infinative Verbs
Gerunds
Participals

Offline kashii

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2009, 09:53:09 AM »
I found this site with English grammar terms in Japanese (including the romaji!).

Here is what my kids learned in grammar class this year.  I think most HS books cover the same subjects.

Present and Present Continuous Tense
Future Tense
Present Perfect Tense
Past Perfect Tense
Auxiliary Verbs
Passive Voice
Infinative Verbs
Gerunds
Participals


Thanks so much!! I'll keep this in mind for the upcoming school year.
There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
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Offline Avacado

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2009, 10:00:50 AM »
I think your best bet for a successful team-teaching experience is to find out who you will be teaching with as soon as possible and then sitting down with them a few minutes and discuss your roles in the class and what will be covered.  The JTE might say they're too busy to meet or find other ways to avoid you, be prepared. 
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Offline nobody

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2009, 11:24:18 AM »
I think your best bet for a successful team-teaching experience is to find out who you will be teaching with as soon as possible and then sitting down with them a few minutes and discuss your roles in the class and what will be covered.  The JTE might say they're too busy to meet or find other ways to avoid you, be prepared. 

I don't teach at HS but I've encountered the same type of avoidance.  It simply amazes me by the lack of training ALTs receive and how polite people are to go out of their way to avoid helping the stranded-ALT out.

Offline kashii

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2009, 11:27:10 AM »
I think your best bet for a successful team-teaching experience is to find out who you will be teaching with as soon as possible and then sitting down with them a few minutes and discuss your roles in the class and what will be covered.  The JTE might say they're too busy to meet or find other ways to avoid you, be prepared. 

hah, yeah, I should go bother the head of the English department to see if anything related to that has been determined yet.
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Offline kashii

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2009, 10:54:43 PM »
I'd like to revive this thread.

So my schedule this year is as such: 14 Writing classes (ninensei) and 3 OC II classes (sannensei) a week. Kofu Showa decided to cut OC I from the curriculum. I'm loving my OC II class, as I have a lot of control. But as for the writing... there are four different JTEs and only one of them asks me to go to class with him. So, at the moment, I teach five hours a week. I expressed my frustration to some JTEs and kyoto-sensei, who then informed kocho-sensei. The news reached the ears of the head of the English department and he confronted me about it earlier today. He said that he personally hasn't asked me to his portion of the Writing classes because he has had no experience team-teaching a Writing class. He went on to explain that another of the JTEs is a part-time teacher, so he doesn't want me team-teaching with her. And the other JTE refuses to team-teach. He asked me about the procedure used in the class I do attend-- which is basically reading sentences that are given as examples and I correct sentences on the board. Then, as mentioned here on the forum, he pointed out that the procedure makes me a human tape recorder and that I'm doing the job that the JTEs can easily do on their own. He assured me that he does want to have me in class (I really want to believe it), but doesn't see how an ALT can be effective. He's open to suggestions, though. The students aren't quite up to par as they should be and he wants them to do better.   

So, the head of the department is curious about how the Writing classes are run at the higher level schools. What is it that's done in classes that gives schools an edge over other schools? And although I asked this before when I initially posted this thread, what else more can an ALT do in a writing class? As an English major, I feel that attending and participating in the Writing classes will be insightful for me, but I can't go to the classes unless my JTEs can find out a way to effectively use me in class.

Teaching only five classes a week is driving me bonkers.  :|
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 11:44:44 AM by kashii »
There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2009, 09:56:32 AM »
I feel you, Katrina.  That's a shame you have so few classes per week.

As far as writing class goes, I have one teacher at my school that I always thought was particularly good.  She teaches the highest-level writing classes every year.  During our class. I do do the correcting sentences on the board, but I think that, logically, a native-speaker can do this better than a JTE.  Often JTEs can be unsure about certain forms (or make mistakes themselves) and I think one of the ALTs main purposes is to be the top advisor in English usage.  Needless to say, it's unfair to say the ALT is disposable for this task.

The second thing I do is grade a lot of papers.  If you grade papers for classes you don't teach, you should tell them you find that a little unfair, and that you sincerely want to be with the students.  One thing other teachers tend to overlook is that the kids like having the ALT around, even if their role in the class is minimal.  Having a native-speaker present stimulates their interest.

The third thing is that my kids in upper-level writing churn out essay after essay.  When the classes first began this last year, I noticed they were having a lot of trouble getting started writing these essays, so I put together a handout that gave them tips on organizing and writing an argumentative essay.  The JTE appreciated that I took the time to do so and used the handout in all her writing classes.
In addition, sometimes, after grading a writing assignment, I noticed that the students are making the same mistakes across the board.  I try to put together lists of the main problems I see in the kid's papers so that we can talk about it in class.  Once or twice, I even wrote example essays or rewrote sentences from the students to show how they can improve.

Anyway, the third graders use the Dragon English and Polestar textbooks for writing class.  I like Polestar, but Dragon English is full of unnatural sentences, and all the kids are expected to do is memorize the sentences, I doubt they actually learn anything from it.  Even the kids think it's stupid.  Also, the title, Dragon English, is written in katakana, even though the kids are 18 years old.
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Offline kashii

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2009, 11:04:20 AM »
Thanks, Jamie!

So more questions... how often are the Writing classes at your school conducted? They're taught twice a week here. And how often are they assigned essays? Are the essays done as homework or classwork? How about textbook exercises? Each JTE has his/her own style... one JTE explains the grammatical points and the such in class and then has the students do the exercises, while another doesn't do that part and goes straight to the exercises. I'm not sure what the other two do. What's the general procedure in your classes?
There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
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Offline Avacado

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2009, 01:55:15 PM »
I think the kids have writing class twice a week, but it depends on their level.  Essays are assigned each class, actually two, agree and disagree, but that's just my top sannensei.  They are done as a combination of class and homework.  The Dragon English textbook simply has example sentences that are explained and the kids are tested on memorization.  Polestar has varied exercises that go from expressions and vocab, to essay assignments.
Each JTE does have their own style, but it also depends a lot on the class.  Older students can do more varied activities.

By third year, the teacher doesn't have to explain as much grammar, but grammar classes are run more like what you're describing.  The teachers has the kids do the assignment ahead of time, then we checked answers during class and the JTE explains the finer points, especially in the case of the sentence having a mistake.  The following week, the kids are quizzed over that lesson.  That seems to be how it goes in all the classes.
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Offline kashii

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2009, 02:11:56 PM »
I'm assuming you teach only the sannensei Writing... do you know how the ninensei Writing classes are run? Would you say they're about the same?  The ninensei are the ones I was assigned to-- should have clarified that earlier, so I'm sorry about that.


That said, it's interesting the teachers haven't even considered placing me with the sannensei Writing classes this year.
There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
-George Bernard Shaw

Offline Avacado

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2009, 03:25:57 PM »
Ninensei writing, I have only taught the highest level class.  Last year, it was with the same teacher that I had been teaching the sannenseis with, so class with run much the same except that they were finishing the textbooks they had started the year before. 
The year before, I taught with a teacher that focused only on translations.  We never did any essay writing, even after I had suggested it and assured her I'd be happy to do all the grading.  I wasn't very happy with that class then.
Now, the second year class I'm assigned to teach, I haven't been to yet.  The teacher said he may start having me come after Golden Week, but there's no point right now.  It's slightly anoying, but otherwise I think he's a competent teacher.  He said he'd have essays for me to grade as well, but I don't know when those would start.

That being said, I only know how the high-level writing classes are done.  I'm sure the lower classes are almost completely translations and CD listenings.  I don't really know.
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Offline Electric Barbarella

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2009, 03:59:28 PM »
This year I'll be helping with one of the 2nd year English course writing classes.  I told my ESS Club girls to ask me a lot of questions so that I can talk to them in class since I won't be teaching.  I'll start going to class on Monday, so I'll tell you how they are.  They just did a thank-you letter for an invitation to a party.  I've looked over the letters and told them what was good about what they wrote and what they should add.  I was told not to correct their English.

Two years ago, I helped out with a writing class in the computer room.  The teacher gave them a writing assignment and they had to type it up.  I just walked about and answered any questions, helped correct some sentences, and told them how to use Wikipedia in English.  They taught me how to get around the firewall to see YouTube.  8-)

Like Jamie, I've only been invited to help with the higher-level classes.  I don't know what they do in the lower levels.

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2009, 04:13:50 PM »
Wow, looks like Daichiko does way more fun stuff than we do.  I mentioned to the teacher the other day that a lot of other high schools use the computer lab and practice typing English.  I don't know if that particular teacher would be interested in such a thing though.
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Offline kashii

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2009, 04:32:01 PM »
Jamie, thanks so much for the insight. When my JTE is available, I'll talk with him to see what can be done based on what you said. And Michelle, I look forward to hearing how your classes go!
There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
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Offline Electric Barbarella

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Re: ALT role in Writing Class
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2009, 04:46:06 PM »
Wow, looks like Daichiko does way more fun stuff than we do.  I mentioned to the teacher the other day that a lot of other high schools use the computer lab and practice typing English.  I don't know if that particular teacher would be interested in such a thing though.
Weellll, it was only that class.  I don't know if other English classes do that.  I found that most of the time they just surfed the web.   :-P

I remember that they did writing for English contests held by universities a few times.  One time they had to translate an English song into Japanese.  One was some crappy pop song, the other Jump by Van Halen.  :?