On September 13, 2016 Tottori JALT held a “My Share” event at Tottori University. Naho Iwata (Aoya high school), Noriko Nakada and Hitomi Taniguchi (both from Tottori Higashi high school) talked about Using iPads in the Classroom. Nicolas Verhoeven of Tottori University of Environmental Studies talked about What is a ‘Good’ Teacher? And, Shirley Leane of Tottori University gave a workshop on Assessing Communication Skills in Large Classes.
Presentation 1: Naho Iwata, Hitomi Taniguchi and Noriko Nakada talked about the pressures that public school teachers are feeling recently to use ICT tools, such as the iPad, in the language classroom. Such tools are being encouraged in order to improve students' learning and scores. The speakers discussed what they learned through actually using the iPad in their own classrooms (the good, bad and the ugly) and shared several teaching ideas that displayed ways to effectively use the iPad as not only a teaching tool, but more importantly, as a learning tool. They introduced two main activities. The first was a show and tell introduction of the students’ favorite spots around school. The students videotaped their speeches using iPads and then compiled several videos into a seamless video presentation. The second was a jigsaw activity where the students became ‘experts’ about various endangered animal species through researching information on the iPads (in English or Japanese) and then did group discussions and presentations. In conclusion, the speakers believe that there are limitless possibilities for ICT tools to improve our students’ learning, motivation and confidence, but that such tools must be used properly if you want effective learning to actually occur.
Presentation 2: Nicolas Verhoeven actively discussed with the audience the question of What Makes a ‘Good’ Teacher? He reminded us that our own cultural backgrounds and personal experiences create “ideal images” of "the good teacher." Nico had us passionately discussing in no time our own ideas about what the teacher is supposed to do in the classroom, and shared with us his ideas on some bad habits (such as “flying with the fastest student”) that language teachers need to avoid. He emphasised that “inside a good teacher’s classroom there is a lot of LEARNING going on” and suggested the book Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener as a great reference for those who want to become great teachers.
Presentation 3: Shirley Leane discussed the difficulties of Assessing Communicative Skills in Large Classes. We talked about the reasons why teachers assess students, the large variety of tests that exist, and which of them might be useful in our classes. In no time Shirley had the audience in groups of four debating hot topics related to assessment and evaluation. She presented the audience with various difficult testing situations in classrooms where the teacher had to somehow find a way to accurately assess the students’ language abilities. She then asked us what we would do in that situation, whether we agreed with the suggested means of assessment, and if we had any suggestions for improvements. The presentation was thoroughly engaging and every participant got a chance to give their opinions and discuss various interesting aspects related to the difficulties language teachers face every day. The take away message was that assessment must meet the goals of the class. She recommended a free online reference called “Teaching and Learning Languages, A Guide” as a good resource for busy teachers.