Classroom Interaction

Foldable for reading activity

Techniques and behaviors for increasing student participation and practice in class.

On July 25 Dr. Ron Schwartz came back to teach and entertain us a little bit. This time we also had the pleasure to have Madeleine Schwartz as a lecture. The topic of the day was classroom interaction and here is a summary to myself and my readers.

When we teach English, we do not just teach a language, we teach communication. If communication is the goal of our teaching, then classroom interactions are really a vital part of our classes. Therefore, this workshop made us reflect on our practices and gave some ideas on how to promote classroom interactions that help our students learn. This reflection, however, was coupled with experiential learning. Such feat was achieved because the techniques and behaviors discussed were role played during the entire workshop having participants act as teachers or students.

One of the tips shared by Dr. Schartz was a chart in which we could mark the kinds of interactions happening in class. As Dr. Schwartz proceeded with the lecture, participants marked on the hand out the equivalent interaction pattern (teacher asks question, student answers question, student volunteers, etc). This exercise reminded us of the importance of guaranteeing even participation and monitoring the quality of language produced by our students. Although the procedure demonstrated seemed to some of us a little challenging to be execute, it could be used by a peer teacher to observe our classroom and later feedback. A chart like this could also serve as check list to keep on the back of our minds, as a reference to remind us of promoting good exchange and real communication.

As we discussed interaction, the theoretical discussion came to the foreground. This gave us an opportunity to reexamine our, beliefs, methods, and approaches to language teaching in the light of our experince as teachers and the context of our institutions and countries. This was good exercise because it allowed us to share our perspective and reminded us that there is no such a thing as one size fits all method or approach. The ideal method or approach is the one that takes students needs into consideration and is flexible and not restrained by theoretical limitations.

Still related to classroom interaction, we discussed techniques and behaviors that conduct to effective leaning. At this point, Madeleine Schwartz gave us a sample class for teaching very young learners (eleme notary students). We played the role of students and she conducted a very instructive reading activity. The used of foldables together with reading strategies such as predicting, clarifying, asking questions, and summarizing gave us precious tips on ways to engage young learners in reading activities.

On a cultural note, we were reminded that culture affects one interaction style. Although this is little stereotypical, but is helpful to understand the way people interact. Americans are monochronic/linear and when answering to a question go straight to the point and do not give much extra information on the topic. Latins, on their turn, are polychronic and tend to zig zag as they answer a question or tell a story. So being aware of these differences between our culture and the target culture is helpful in making our spoken (and even written – essays) interactions more successful.


E-Teacher – The Grits

The Grits

Meet The Grits. This will  be our first hang out place every morning. This morning I got there at seven something. I had to go back an forth many times. First I had forgotten my umbrella, then my iPad, then my jacket. I guess I am getting old or just forgetful. All these things turned out to be really useful. 
It was really nice to meet everyone rested and enjoy the first meal together.

E-Teacher Journal – A Draft

Today is the 20th of July. After about ten hours of flight I finally arrived at the UMBC Campus. I really caught myself biting my nails all the way till I got here. I was a bit impatient with the taxi driver. Although I had a map and everything, I was still a bit afraid to get lost and not make it. First I went to the wrong entrance of the building. One of the staff showed me where I had to go. While walking to the next entrance, I realized that on the rush to find the right place I had left my taxi receipt behind. When I turning around to fetch the forgotten paper, I saw the lady that had given me directions walking behind me with the receipt on her hand. Then again, I entered the wrong building. Finally, with help of a second person, I made it to the right place. It was a relief when Rebecca welcomed me, gave me key and took me to my room. I was really happy to find this beautiful bag filled with treats. Now I am headed for lunch. Just cannot wait to meet the other scholars later tonight.



Lunch was fine. There was a big variety of things to choose from and this made me feel home. I usually eat in a restaurant that has a wide choice of vegetables. So, I stuck with vegetables, some pasta, and bread. For dessert, I just couldn’t help eating some cookies.









While BBQ time did not come, I took the usual after lunch nap. I slept for about an hour and then took a walk around the campus. I was dying to get some coffee. So I went to the bookstore building The Commons. However, as I checked the possible coffee place it seemed to be a bit after hours. So, I decided to check the bookstore.




Barbecue time was fun. We finally met Teresa Valais who has been chaperoning us in this voyage. Joan and Adriana also joined us. We had a great evening and while we savored the food we talked a bit about our experiences and the present state of education in our countries. Scholars arrived little by little, and as they arrived they joined the conversation. I know I should try to name everyone, but I am terrible with names. The food in the pictured is wrapped because we were always waiting for someone else o arrive. Chaouki, who is going to be my roommate, had not arrived till I wrote this post. I really tried to wait as much as I could, but tiredness got the best of me and I had to come to my room. However, before going to bed, I decided to write this post.