For my main job, I use Google Meet for teaching online and a lot of our teacher input is based on using PowerPoint slides. This is not my choice, but it was what was in place and the materials get updated every year from existing materials.
Sometimes the slideshow ‘jams’ in Google Meet presentations.
Don’t use slideshows, just show each slide and go through manually.
This looks terrible and sometimes there are animations in the slides that really should only be visible after students have talked about the previous point.
What I learned
In PowerPoint 2013 (yes, I know, but why would I pay for PowerPoint when it’s not actually as good as my institutional Google Slides?) you can go to the ribbon menu and select slideshow settings then disable ‘hardware graphic acceleration’.
You can also check whether your slides have ‘jammed’ by right clicking the slideshow in progress and select ‘show presenter mode’. You would already have selected the open slideshow to present so you don’t actually share presenter mode with your students. You can also open the task bar from speaker mode, or by right clicking in the slideshow again.
This is more for me to search how I did this in about three weeks time, but hopefully it will be helpful to you too! I bet the Japanese menus are a bit difficult for some people, but, er, not much I can do.
I don’t think quiet classes are an unusual problem to have, especially in university settings in Japan. There are usually ways and means to encourage students to interact and communicate in their English Communication courses when we’re face to face.
The problem comes when you are using web conferencing software to teach and are expecting/expected to get some kind of student interaction occurring. I’m not talking about cameras being turned off, here; that’s a different issue, and I kind of understand the reason behind it (the same thinking behind why you wouldn’t invite guests round if your home was unseemly to you). I’m talking about an unwillingness to communicate.
It’s not every student, but a sizeable number of them. They claim to be talking in their breakout groups after the fact, but when they notice I have joined the group, silence falls. Even when I tell them, “I can’t grade you on silence!” nothing much occurs rather than a muttering.
What can I do? I can either grade everyone at an F, which is unpleasant for everyone, or I can do something else. I need some assessment proxies, to show that students have been communicating in English with one another, just not in my presence. Here are some of them:
Record your group discussion task
This was unpopular but not terrible. It also gave me solid evidence (as opposed to disputable, unrecorded performance) about how little or how much students spoke in a task.
I don’t like it, to be frank, because there is less spoken interaction than I would like, and lots of writing, which is beyond the remit of the spoken communication lesson. With a quiet class there tends to be less coming to a consensus involved in group decision making and more devolving decisions to the strongest or keenest student in the group.
Other things that I could do are:
Make a video together
But this is essentially the same as ‘record your task’ but with more room for IT faff and unlikely to result in more English output.
Somebody’s going to say Flipgrid
Why would I ask students to install something on their phone when they can upload work to the LMS or the institutional cloud storage?
Record and transcribe discussion
This could work, but it is a lot of work if the discussion is long. It is also more to mark. However, it does allow for consciousness-raising of students’ own utterances. I have used student task transcription previously with my RPG course.
Produce a podcast or video, ideally for an authentic audience
This is unlikely to be a favourite task, to be honest. Additionally, if it is taken up with no enthusiasm, no authentic audience would want to listen to it, although individual work was done generally well when giving presentations about their favourite architecture.
So, these are some of my assessment proxies (or possible proxies) for interaction while synchronously using voice/video over internet. What are you doing with your quiet classes? Feel free to donate your ideas to me and my three readers!
So, the last post was about how I think your employer should be paying you appropriately if you are using your own computer and internet, electricity, software, etc. Does this mean I want your lessons to be rubbish? No, it does not.
Somebody from one of my workplaces said in a group email “How can I teach listening online?”
Some people say pre-listening, while-listening, post-listening.
I am not those people.
Schema activation: maybe
If it would be normal in the situation that you are going to have your listening task/activity in to be anticipated, you might want to get your students to think about what they already know about the topic and what they would expect from a talk or conversation about the topic between the types of people involved. However, this might not always be the case. I know that the ‘normal way is brainstorm and predict’, but everyone is told this and it doesn’t exactly seem to be bringing about a world of amazing listeners, does it?
So what can we do instead?
You can throw in a bit of micro-listening (Field, 2008). This is likely to make students think about what’s coming up, or even why you chose that particular tiny clip. You do it by faffing about with the start and end bits of the YouTube clip. See below where it says iframe then the link address? Well at the end of the link is a ?start=16&end=17. This means the clip starts at 16 seconds and ends at 17 seconds. You can also mess with this in Moodle. You can even do this directly in your browser.
Well, what do you want your students to be able to do? Do you know whether they can’t?
With TED talks, I often have students to take lecture notes and summarize. The notetaking method is basically that I have detailed here, but I check notes in class. If I am teaching online, I suppose I can only have students show me notes in breakout rooms or send me photos and I can give feedback. This is going to be a challenge, I think, but you do what you can, don’t you.
I do actually do post listening tasks. I try to get students to react to what they just listened to. Sometimes this is not very expansive because listening is a bit tiring due to the amount of attention involved.
I also always have students reflect on what was problematic/difficult in the listening and why. I try to find that part in the listening text. If it’s a YouTube video I open the transcript and search for the key word, which usually helps; if it’s a different text with a handwritten transcript, it’s longer; if it’s a video from a popular paid streaming site, which I would never recommend you use because of legal issues, you would just have to skip and estimate). You can then give feedback about how you would go about getting that bit of listening (or even whether the effort is worth the payoff).
Hopefully this is helpful. If there is anything you disagree with, leave a comment. If you have questions, leave a comment. May the odds of your students decoding listening texts forever be in your favour!