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Author Topic: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson  (Read 3646 times)

old34

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A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« on: December 07, 2012, 03:11:38 PM »
This is going to be long...but stay with it; it will be worth the journey.


I can’t remember where I first saw this lesson, but it was years ago, yet, memorable. At the time I first saw it, (TEFL China maybe) I was moved and admired the teacher. Not doable with 4-6 classes-the teacher had one singe class- and, besides, she had done it with scissors and glue.

About 4 years ago, it popped into my email box again. This time, as (yet) another chain letter from one of my cousins who loves sending out that crap. But the lesson is so moving, apart from the chain mail connotation, I immediately remembered it and it got me thinking. “How to do?”

Technology has advanced since the original lesson (c. 1962) and after mulling it over, I figured out a way to possibly do this lesson with a large number of classes, using technology. It wasn’t originally a holiday lesson (it was ad hoc according to the original story), but I decided to attempt it as part of a Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday framework. Introduce the lesson during the Thanksgiving lesson, and show the results during the Christmas party.

So I tried it in 2010 with 6 classes. And it worked a treat. I followed it up last year with 5 classes, same results. And right now, I’m in the third iteration of this woman’s brilliant lesson.

This is going to be a very long explanation of the lesson, it’s background, and “how to do” with technology you already have sitting in front of you reading this, but the original story, the way to do this lesson now, and the reactions of students to this lesson will be IMHO well worth the effort in reading through.

I’ll have to break it down into pieces to make it more manageable.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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The Original Lesson
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2012, 03:12:40 PM »
As mentioned, I can’t remember where I first saw it, but it was early 00s. Around 2007 or so, I got a chain e-mail from a relative which included the story. I’m on her mailing list and get tons of this crap from her, but she’s my cousin and I usually just scan and delete. But this 2007 email re-ignited my brain, because I had seen this story somewhere else before - and the story/lesson was memorable, powerful, compelling.
I started thinking about how I could incorporate this lesson in my own classes.

Tonight, in preparation for writing this piece, I figured I better figure out where I first saw this lesson. I searched my hard drive, but nary a clue was found. Wherever I had first seen it, I had neglected to save a copy to my computer. I googled some key words from what I remember of the story, and lo and behold, I found a number of Chinese websites have a brief synopsis of the story. I am absolutely certain that I never saw the story first there, but the fact that Chinese websites have it on their “English learning” areas is indicative of the fact that they find it a compelling story also.
Anyway, here’s one (of many) links to the extremely shortened version of the lesson appearing now on Chinese websites near you:

http://www.en8848.com.cn/tingli/primary/bsww4/166809.html

I’ll wait while you go read that synopsis….
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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More Background
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2012, 03:14:12 PM »
I'm sure that's not the first place I saw that story. But from that search, I found more keywords to search (the nun’s name, the soldier’s name) and this led me to original source of the lesson. The ultimate arbiter of Internet
Authenticity: snopes.com

When in doubt, Snope it out….

And it turns out that Snope gave it a 100% TRUE rating. And filled in a lot of the backstory. Here’s that link (I’ll wait while you read it all):

http://www.snopes.com/glurge/allgood.asp

Read that whole article. It will make the lesson compelling and, if you are a teacher, you’ll wish you could have that kind of impact with your own students.

While you read, I'll wait.....
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 03:30:48 PM by old34 »
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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How to Do: The Technology
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2012, 03:17:25 PM »
So back in 2009 after being reminded of the story, I sat down one night and figured out how I could manage to do this same lesson with a larger cohort of students (150+) using technology to manage it, rather than Sister Mrolsas’s 20 or so students using scissors, paste and long-hand writing. And I solved it. Tried it in 2010 at Christmas season and the students loved it. Now in year 3. Here’s how:

(n.b. I use Apple and Mac applications on Mac machines, but I’ll write the directions in Windows Office Hua as that seems to be what many of you use and almost all of your students use. The Mac apps I use, I convert the stuff to Windows Office for use by the unwashed.)

PRINT THE BELOW PART OUT IF YOU WISH YO USE THIS LESSON:

1.Introduce the project and tell the original story.

2.Prepare an XLS spreadsheet (if you don’t already have a spreadsheet for each class, why not?) It should be a simple spreadsheet with headers for only Family Name, Given Name, English Name, and Comment. That last field should be very wide.

3. Name the spreadsheet something identifiable for the class, if you have more than one class, like W5Project.XLS (for your Wednesday 5th period class). This will be the template for the students to write their comments on.

4.Have the students download this template, and tell them to type in their comment about each class member in the Comment field, then have them add their name to the file name, and send it back to you. (Eg. W5Project-Mary.XLS) This way, you can keep track of students’ submissions.

5.After you’ve received all of the students XLS files for the class, open up the original template as a master document, then one-by-one open each of the submitted XLS files. Cut-and-Paste their whole submission into the Master document. This will take some time, but not nearly as much time as physically cutting with scissors and pasting bits of paper.

6.When you’ve finished the “computer” cutting and pasting, then go back to the master document and SORT the document by Family Name and then Given Name. (If you don’t know how to do this, save the Master document first with a different name before you try this.)

7. If you’ve followed this so far, your Master XLS file should be listed with all the nice comments your students made about each of their classmates in groups by name.

8. From there, you should be able to highlight just each persons’ name and have your printer only print out the comments for that person resulting in one page of nice comments for each person in your class.

Cut-and-Paste 2012 style.

9. Once all the XLS files are submitted, it takes me about 2 hours per class to consolidate all of them into one, sort (takes about 2 seconds), highlight and print out one page for each student.

10. I print this out on the inside of a Christmas Card template that I use, so each student gets a generic Old34 Christmas Card with a full print out of all the nice things their classmates had to say about them.

Like in the original story (above), many of my students have been moved by their classmates’ comments.

This lesson rocks, and there’s still enough time to get it done by Christmas if you’ree so inclined.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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BONUS: Soon to be Classic
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2012, 03:19:04 PM »
EXTRA BONUS: Had a major fail for the first time in 3 years with one student’s submission today. I’ll write that up separately in a new thread. It’s an object lesson to Chinese students about being careful about using the Chinese internet for learning English.

This will become a classic! But you need to read through the above process/lesson first to fully appreciate it. I'll post it tomorrow.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 03:27:57 PM by old34 »
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

AMonk

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Re: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2012, 10:02:02 AM »


One of my College professors did this Lesson with us.  I still have my paper tucked away somewhere. But I never new the backstory until today.  Thank you. agagagagag
Moderation....in most things...

old34

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Re: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2012, 10:26:55 AM »


One of my College professors did this Lesson with us.  I still have my paper tucked away somewhere. But I never new the backstory until today.  Thank you. agagagagag

Welcome!

Actually, as I mentioned in the earliest post, I was a little murky on the story having seen it two different times over a span of years. But the lesson itself stuck in my head and a few years ago decided to try to replicate it but using technology.

Only in preparing this thread last night did I track down the backstory. The backstory is moving, and true apparently, but the lesson itself is a compelling one for teachers-and their students who benefit from it. Witness: your college prof did it with your class, and you still have it tucked away somewhere!

I know it's a long-winded thread on my part, but this is the kind of lesson that will build students' confidence in themselves, something in short shrift in China's classrooms.

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

mlaeux

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Re: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2012, 11:14:38 AM »
 
Thanks for reminding me to praise  my students more...  bjbjbjbjbj
I think we will do this activity the day before we leave for Christmas break.

old34

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Re: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2012, 02:05:04 PM »
A student from 2 years ago contacted me this week about writing her an LOR. I tested her by asking her if she remembered this lesson and she responded, "Of course! I still have the paper." I asked her to prove it. Within two minutes she had used her iPhone to take a picture of it (folds and all) and emailed it to me.

I'm writing her LOR tonight.

Attached so you can see how it works. That was version 1.0 of the lesson back in 2010. The 2012 version is much slicker, but I cannot overemphasize (though I am trying hard to) how meaningful this lesson is to students (and teachers).

But it does take some work to set up and execute.



Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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Re: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2012, 12:04:25 PM »
I did it on my Mac - with Pages and Numbers. Numbers for collecting the responses (had to convert the master file to XLS because students here don't use Mac Apps much. Collected the responses (in XLS format) then copy and pasted them all into one large Numbers file. Re-Sorted by name so all the comments for each individual student were grouped together.

Meanwhile, I have a Pages Christmas Card setup with some standard Happy Holidays text in the header and a standard sign-off in the footer with a large, blank area in the middle. I just cut-and-paste each individual student's group of comments from Numbers into Pages (Mac Apps-they just work together) and print off the page. Next student, next cut/paste and print. It's a bit labor intensive, but goes pretty smoothly once you get the keystrokes down.

Did the first of 5 batches last night and it took me about an hour to assemble the 34 responses into one Numbers spreadsheet. Took less than a second to re-sort by name. Then took about another hour to highlight, cut-and-paste each student's group of individual comments into the Pages template and print out each card.

If you have a Mac I'd be happy to send you the templates, though they're pretty basic. For the Christmas Card template, you can easily replace the graphic with any other Christmas graphic and text you prefer. The Numbers (XLS) template is just dead, basic and simply used to collect responses from students to be cut-and-pasted into the final result.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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Re: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2012, 12:19:21 PM »
Just a random example of comments about one random student from one random class after compiling all the comments about sorting them. The point is that she'll receive a Christmas card in my class with the following printed (cut-and-pasted) inside:

She is an elegant, tall, fair and charming girl.
 Your voice are so soft and so sweet.
 She is a beatiful and kind girl.
 Her voice is very tender.She is very active.
 She is active and cute.
 you're so beatiful,wish you a  happy Christmas~
 ZHANG LONG is humorous.
 She is a lovely girl.
 She is a considerate girl with bright character.
 Her character is very gentle.
 Your pronunciation is very good!
 She is selfless.
 She is a resposible and steady girl.
 You are a pretty girl.
 You are pretty and smart.
 Her character is very gentle.
 She is lovely.
 She has a pony tail and plump
 she is tender, slender, and she has long hair, a typical fair girl most boys dream of.
 She has bright eyes and she is very kind.
 She is easy-going and dutiful, discreet and independent.
 you are beautiful girl
 She is pushy and passionate, and she seems clever with her glasses.
 She is a soft girl.
 Zhang Long is hardworoking and konwlegeable.
 You are a neighbourly girl.
 this is a nice girl
 She is a nice girl.
 You look very beautiful
 you are a very brave girl! Your speech is good!  Merry Christmas!
 she is easygoing
 So nice to meet you in Class one, wish we can improve our English together!

Yes, the English is bad in (many places) and some students used impersonal pronouns and some used personal pronouns, but remember this is a compilation of 20+ different comments.

My only grammar requirement this year was that I asked them to at least try to write a complete sentence-not just adjectives like my past students have done. (Eg. (cute, responsible, funny")

One thing I ran into this year, is that my classes are a all grad students from different majors (rather than undergrad English majors in the same class for all 4 years), so early on I ran into some students who claimed not to be sure who other students were, nor whether they were a "boy" or a "girl" so weren't sure whether to say "he" or "she". I told those who weren't sure yo use either the student's real name or to use "you". You can see the mix in the above example. Need to clarify pronouns in the next iteration of this lesson next year.




If you were a "girl" receiving these kinds of comments (anonymously) from your classmates, the last thing you'd be thinking about was the grammar.  
« Last Edit: December 11, 2012, 12:27:51 PM by old34 »
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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Re: BONUS: Soon to be Classic
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2012, 12:57:05 PM »
EXTRA BONUS: Had a major fail for the first time in 3 years with one student’s submission today. I’ll write that up separately in a new thread. It’s an object lesson to Chinese students about being careful about using the Chinese internet for learning English.

This will become a classic! But you need to read through the above process/lesson first to fully appreciate it. I'll post it tomorrow.

Posted: http://raoulschinasaloon.com/index.php?topic=8048.msg147171#msg147171
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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Re: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2015, 01:16:25 PM »
Bumping this up. It's that time of year again, and this is is the Best Lesson ever for this time of year. I've been doing it as a Christmas lesson since I first started doing it, but this year I'm doing it as a Thanksgiving lesson since my current classes end before Christmas. I've spent the weekend working on it.

It's an amazing lesson, and one which you and your students will appreciate long after it's given.  I still get messages from students around this time of year telling me they still remember this lesson 5-6 years on.

Start at the beginning of the thread and scroll up for details on how to manage it. At first, it seems like a lot of work and effort, and it is; but, it's manageable, and the payoff for both you and your students will be well worth it.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

rattie

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Re: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2015, 06:40:00 AM »
I can't recall if I have thanked you previously for sharing this idea, but I have used it, albeit simplified to the max! I use it near the start of the semester, I teach the sophomores writing. So when we do our 'adjectives of personality' class we look at the difference between personality and appearance, slim and pale skin are not personality traits! I give everyone a sheet of lined paper and they write their name on at the top. Then the sheets of paper get hurled (passed) around the room and each sheet should have 12 complete positive and affirmative sentences written on it about the person whose name is at the top. Then the sheets go back to the person it belongs to. They sit and chortle, giggle, smile and wipe little wet droplets from their eyes!  akakakakak
It's a really nice way to welcome them back to another school year.
Thanks again.
Rx

old34

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Re: A Lesson for Teachers: A Teacher’s Lesson
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2015, 12:14:40 PM »
Bumping this up. It's that time of year again, and this is is the Best Lesson ever for this time of year. I've been doing it as a Christmas lesson since I first started doing it, but this year I'm doing it as a Thanksgiving lesson since my current classes end before Christmas. I've spent the weekend working on it.

It's an amazing lesson, and one which you and your students will appreciate long after it's given.  I still get messages from students around this time of year telling me they still remember this lesson 5-6 years on.

Start at the beginning of the thread and scroll up for details on how to manage it. At first, it seems like a lot of work and effort, and it is; but, it's manageable, and the payoff for both you and your students will be well worth it.

Mei guanxi! You've figured out another way to do the lesson with less technology The effect of the lesson on the students is still the same:

Quote
They sit and chortle, giggle, smile and wipe little wet droplets from their eyes!  akakakakak
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.