Monday, November 4, 2013

FB Meet-Up: Second Connecting Activity

Irwin's and my classes met up for a second time. The first was on blogger and his class gave guided feedback to my guys. This time, we visited them on FB. As a reminder: Irwin is teaching Composition I. I'm teaching ESL 097, which is the *lowest* (don't like evaluating language learners that way, but...) level.
Irwin and I negotiated what my guys could handle, what his would find useful, pedagogically and Irwin came up with a lovely activity sheet for his guys to post. See his explanation HERE.
I was worried that not everyone would be on Facebook, or would want to be on Facebook, but the three who weren't acquiesced pretty easily. Non-issue.
I'm not sure what Irwin's class thought, but this is what was wonderful for my class. They really, really, really got into figuring out what their "partners" were writing about and wanted to be sure to post something meaningful, understandable, and helpful. In other words, they didn't pull out stock phrases (well, many of them do not have enough English to pull out stock phrases!), but still; they were more concerned about the intelligibility of their English; and they wanted to construct comments that actually responded to the feedback questions their partners posted.
It dovetailed beautifully with the focus on grammar, language, and feedback that we've been working on in class. So I was happy.
The thing is: It might not look like a lot happened when you look at the product. The screenshot above is a comment that one of my students (I'll call him Mike) posted. It may look like a few lines, but we had one of the best conversations I've had about language, grammar, and communication as we negotiated together what he would say to Irwin's student. (We'll call her Sara.) The following day, we were workshopping their own revisions and as I went over to his group, I heard an exchange that mirrored our own conversation.
What am I saying? As a social pedagogy, I feel that the anticipation and responsibility that the students felt about the connection got them to rally their skills and reach up, up, up to the upper echelons (okay, again, I don't like using the level metaphor, but still) of their ZPD with language. I don't know that I could quite achieve that in our classroom community (where no one is going to be fluent in English).
There were some *errors* that my students caught on their partners' posts which raised a whole other round of conversation: How do errors interfere (or not) with communication?
To be continued....  

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