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In this post I will be (briefly) introducing the 5a form. In Delta Module 2 the amount of sheets, documents, forms, things need to be written and taken care of can be daunting for candidates. Thus, in my posts about Delta Module Two I try to write about some things so you can know what is the course like before taking the journey and be more prepared for your Module 2.

In Delta Module 2, your tutors will assess your work using 3 forms: 5a, 5b, 5c. The 5a form is related to your LSAs. For each LSA there is a 5a from.The form is filled by the tutor, and the trainee gets a copy (usually) the day after the RE is sent to the tutor along with oral feedback. 5b is for your PDA assignment, and 5c I have no idea about it because the candidates don’t see it and it’s filled by the tutors.

There are 47 criteria in 5a and they are divided among the 4 parts of an LSA as follows:
BE 15 criteria, 4 categories.
LP 12 criteria, one category.
TP 17 criteria, 4 categories.
RE 3 criteria, one category

Each criterion has 3 possible grades: met, partially met, and not met . Apparently, if one gets few of the latter, they may fail the LSA.

Met: when you completely meet the criteria throughout your whole BE/LP/TP/RE
Partially met: when you meet the criteria on many occasions. That means if you miss it even once, it will be partially met (It happened to me when I cited a reference and accidentally wrote the first name of the author rather than the surname.)
Not met: obviously, one gets that when they don’t do/write the things related to that criteria.

Your 3 5a forms are sent to Cambridge for assessment. The materials of the one LSA (the internals LSAs) will be sent for assessment, it’s usually your strongest, provided it is a system if your LSA4 was a skill, and vice versa.

5a forms can be really helpful while you are working on your LSA. For starters, you can read each category to understand what is required. Also, you can use it as a checklist to see whether you have covered what is required or not.

One thing you should notice is that any given criterion might consist of more than one thing that needs to be done. For instance, in 2c you need to explain with reference to classroom experience, reading and research why you have chose the area you based your LSA on. That is, if you write only about classroom experience, you are going to get partially met. Why? Simply because you haven’t mentioned about your research, or what the literature says about it. So, there’s that.

Another thing is key words. Not that all the words on the 5a are not important, but there are some key words you need to pay attention to. For example,  3b that you need to show a range of learning and teaching problems occurring in a range of learning contexts. That means you need to write about 4 or 5 issues related to this language area. When I was doing module 2 I was recommended to write about 4 or 5 because it might be difficult to show a range with 3 (but might be acceptable I think,) however, it’s impossible to show a range with only two issues. You also need to mention the cause of that issue and associate it with a range of contexts such as the learners’ L1 or their level.

I’d also like to mention that during the course there will be a session about the form. Your tutors will go over all the criteria, and advise you how to address them. After you get each 5a (when you are done with the LSA) your tutor will go with you over the criteria that you got ‘partially met’, and ‘not met’ to tell you why you got that and how to avoid it in your next LSA.

 

If you have any question, you can ask in the comments sections below 🙂

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The first term of this academic year is over, and I got the chance to test something for the first time: using a point chart (which I gave a thought a couple of years ago but don’t know why I didn’t use.) A friend of mine (hey Defne!) used them last year and as she told me, they were really effective. The learners were really engaged in the process. She rewarded the winners by spending a day with them at the mall. So, I decided to see for myself.

Some of you are probably experts with the topic, and might have been using it for years. However, I’ve decided to write about my experience for 4 reasons:

  1. I found the experience to be a positive one, and this post might get other teachers to test it out.
  2. I might be using some techniques that are new to those who are already using a point chart.
  3. You might give me some pieces of advice from your experience.
  4. And because I’d like to share the point charts I’m using in my classes with you 🙂

At the beginning of the academic year, I introduced the idea to my learners that we will be using a point chart. The learners were quite excited, and the urge to earn points kicked in from day one! Here are some of the things I’d like to talk about so far:

Points Distribution

One of the things that need to be taken into consideration is point distribution. Obviously, the points of a given behavior/achievement/homework/quiz … etc should be fixed, and not  just to give a random point every time a student does a positive thing. Otherwise, you’ll be in a big trouble, because the learners remember what you gave them and you’ll be face with the comment “but teacher! why did you give her 4 points, and gave me 2 points last week for doing the same thing?!” No teacher wants to be in that position, because the whole class will come to you and ask for their right, the points that you didn’t distribute equally.

To provide an example, I award the following points when the learners are writing and role-playing their own dialog:

1 point for pronunciation, 1 point for correct vocabulary usage 1 point for making no mistakes (self-correcting is allowed,) 1 point if the dialog is overall good.

Another example: I award the following points for quiz marks, and it’s always the same no matter what:
100 = 5 points
90+ = 4 points
80+ = 3 points
70+ = 2 points
60+ = 1 point

‘White’ Manipulation

By ‘white’ manipulation I mean using the points to  target many issues in our classroom. Whether that is solving an issue related to behavior (if you’re dealing with young learners/teens) or toward learning and motivation. Below are a couple of examples:

  • At my school I have only 2 contact hours a week with each class (I have 14 classes!) So that means I have to cover a lot in 2 lessons. To save time, I used the points to my advantage by providing a ‘challenge’ that by the time I enter the classroom all students who have their workbook opened to the homework page will get 1 point. Employing that technique allowed me to cut my homework check time by 50-60%.
  • I’ve also used the points to promote ‘honesty’. That is, if I unintentionally mark a question on the quiz as ‘correct’ while it’s false; or when I accidentally add an extra point to a student at the end of the lesson, the students gets to keep that point if they notify me that I’ve made a mistake. However, their quiz mark will change. This happened 3 or 4 times this term, and the students were more than happy to tell me that there was a mistake.

Adding an element of collaboration

I often ask the learners to do a task/activity with a classmate to promote collaboration, and to give them a break from individual competition. I assign teams of different number (2, 3 or 4,) and mostly pair strong and weak learners. Sometimes I invite an element of unpredictability to the process of pairing students by using a decision wheel (see image below). The students would spin the wheel and see who they are paired with. It’s a cell app called Decision Roulette.

The Rewards

When it comes to the rewards, there are some options to choose from. You could hand out certificates. Defne (the friend that I’ve already mentioned) hands a The Student of the Month Certificate every month for the student who earned the most point at that week. Alternatively, you can make it a weekly thing.
I give certificates for two students who earned the most points for their dialog (since my classes are speaking-focused.)

Another option could be giving a small present weekly such as chocolate, a pen, or anything your students fancy.

The option that I’ve decided to go with is collecting money in a moneybox to buy a USB drive for the top 3 learners. This option might be not allowed in some schools, however, my school, my students, and their parents are totally OK with it. The idea is that if learner forgets his/her book, disturbs their classmates, or shows up late to class (not the morning class though, since it might be due to traffic) they pay a small amount of money (exactly 0.50 TL which is currently like 13 cents in USD.) And to be fair, the rules applied to me too (I was never late to a class, but I forgot my markers once, and the students demanded that I pay the fine!) At the end of the term, the moneybox was opened, and the top 3 learners chose some awesome USB drive from AliExpress.

A NOTE: when I introduced the moneybox idea, it was important for me that the idea gets a unanimous vote. In one of my classes, 2 students voted against the idea, and I called it off with that class, since it’ll cause a lot of arguments among the students.

The ones to avoid

Don’t punish any student by taking or erasing all the points (or like a half of their points) they have no matter what they do. If you do so, the whole experience would become a negative one, and they would no longer care about the points and any activity related to it. Or, you’ll have to give them their points back when you see that they are heartbroken; you don’t want to do that since it’ll send a message about the consistency of your policy.

I don’t award points to students who clean the board before I come to class, or those who help me by carrying and connecting my laptop to the projector since it will promote the idea of the ‘Teacher’s Pet’ which I don’t prefer at all . I simply thank them, and smile 🙂

Future action

For the second term, I’ll be testing out and implementing more strategies and further employ the point chart and other techniques. I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading regarding motivating learners, and hopefully, by the end of this academic year I’m going to write about the experience. Stay tuned 😉

Download a point chart

Below are 4 point charts in different colors. You can print them in A3 size or A4. A3 is recommendable though. The point chart fits 24 names. I might add other colors/designs later, so give me some suggestions/feedback in the comments 🙂

 

This article was published in EFL Magazine. You can read it here.

A demo lesson can be nightmare, especially if you are a shiny, new teacher trying to land your first job. Some people stress over it and compare it to taking a horrible exam. However, I perceive the demo lesson experience as an opportunity rather than an exam. It’s a chance to show off your teaching skills, your knowledge, your passion, and to basically show what kind of a teacher you really are. Another way to look at it is to consider yourself as a ‘product’ and the demo lesson is the ad that would get you sold. Wouldn’t you follow an effective marketing strategy to sell your product?

Not every teacher has the luxury of a TEFL training course, perhaps because of finances or through personal circumstances. For those non -TEFL trained teachers in the far flung corners of the world, of which there are many, here are some tips to give a brilliant demo lesson that will help you land that teaching job.
Write a procedure form and a lesson plan.

Writing a lesson plan and a procedure form will show your observer(s) that you know what you are doing, when you are doing it, and above all WHY you are doing it. The procedure form will allow the observers to follow you in case there are students in the lesson. In your procedures write how you will give instructions, and how you will check the understanding of the instructions.

At the end of the lesson plan, write an extension to your lesson. So, let’s say your lesson was ‘clothes lexis’, then as an extension suggest that in the following lesson you will teach, for example, functional language, to shop for clothes.

Ask the following questions

  • What is the age of the learners?
  • What is the level of the learners?
  • Are there going to be students, how many?
  • How many teachers/observers will be there?
  • How much time do I have?
  • What is the topic of the demo lesson? (A skill, then which? A grammar point? Again, which one ?).

The topic

This is the most important point in the lesson. I have seen countless demo lessons, where the teachers weren’t able to explain the target structure, nor answer some of the questions raised by the observers. Once your potential employer informs you of the topic of the lesson (most of the time it is going to be grammar), go and research the target structure, even if you think you know it like the back of your hand. Some books that you can consult are:

  • Teaching Tenses By Aitken.
  • Teaching English Grammar by Scrivener.
  • Practical English Usage by Parrot.
  • Concept Questions and Time Lines by Workman.

This part of the lesson is the meat in your sandwich, so you need to do it well. I have seen observers shut down after asking a question that was not answered correctly or accurately by the teachers being observed.

  • Use some CCQs (concept-checking questions) in your slides.
  • Use a guided-discovery worksheet.
  • Be ready for tricky questions, such as, what would you do if the learners still do not understand the target language?

Answering questions

Do not rush to answer a question the second it is asked. This is a common occurrence in teachers who are trying to please their observers. Instead, make use of the two second rule. Take two seconds before answering the question. This not only shows that you value the question being asked, but, it also gives you a little more time to process the question and formulate the best answer. Our brain processes are very fast and two seconds can make a big difference between a good and a poor answer. If in doubt, repeat the question. Another delaying tactic is to make the comment “good question”, before giving your answer. However all delaying tactics should be used with caution and used only once.

Technology

Try to use your own laptop if you have one, because you’ll have all your materials and the programs you need on it. The school might not have a video player that plays all the video/audio extensions. Have all the slides and materials in one folder and copy it onto your desktop, so you can reach it easily during the lesson.
Handouts

Use handouts that are clear, and error-free. If you are using some materials from the internet, do check them and see if the exercises are only about the target structure. Make sure they are PARSNIP free (Politics, Alcohol, Religion, Sex, Narcotics, ISMs, and Pork.) Some institutions are pretty strict about them.

Activities

Try to find various activities such as games and communicative activities for the target structure of your demo lesson, especially if you are applying for elementary or middle school. Also try to vary the skills of the activities to include speaking, writing, listening, and reading. There are lots of books that provide activities and games based on language structures or lexical groups, or functional exponents. You do not have to include all of them in the lesson plan, but by inserting some games, even if you don’t use all of them, it shows that you have done your preparation well and have a store of material to call upon if your lesson deviates a little from the plan.

Slides

When doing the demo lesson, and trust me on this, you are going to have like a gazillion thoughts per second, not to mention the questions and the looks that will come from your audience. So, having some slides in your arsenal is also very useful. They will keep you organized, on topic, and will have everything you need to avoid forgetting something and they save s time.

Try to create your own slides with your name in the corner, and avoid writing 100 words on each slide. Simplicity is the key.

Know who is your audience and how to address them.

I recommend using this strategy when there will be no actual students in the demo lesson. When you are about to start your lesson, ask how your observer(s) would like to be addressed. You need to know whether your observers are going to be students all the time, students and observers/teachers, or just observers/teachers. I find the second one to be the best since you can ‘teach’ the lesson, and comment on it simultaneously. If the observers do not specify an approach, try to choose the second. The reason for this is because that way you will present the activity/skill/language point/material/stage and have the chance to give the rationale behind it. You will be able to show them that you’re doing this because it will lead to that.

Some other tips

Practice teaching the lesson at home, and if possible, have a colleague or a friend observe and critique your lesson.

It is fine to reschedule. If anything goes wrong, or they ask you to give a different lesson from the one already agreed upon, then reschedule, so you can prepare the materials. This happened to a good teacher who agreed to do a different lesson. Unfortunately, it did not go well for him. So, do reschedule.

Do not be over confident and do not patronize the observers as if they are learners and know nothing. Even if you think they know very little, do not act like it. Again, this happened to a teacher who ended up talking to experienced teachers as if they did not know the first thing about English. She kept giving them tips about learning, and told them that with practice they would be able to speak without any trouble. All they asked was “can you highlight the difference between the simple past and the present perfect?”

Thank the observers for the time and the opportunity. You can ask when they will contact you to inform you about the decision.

This might seem a lot of work, but the old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail” comes in very useful here. If I had a language institution, I would definitely expect a good teacher to follow most of these tips and in a perfect world, all of them.

Do you have other tips you would like to add?