Delta Notes 3: Module 2 – My LSA1 Reading and Feedback

Title/Focus

There are 4 systems (Grammar, Pronunciation, Discourse, Lexis) and 4 skills (Reading, Listening, Speaking Writing), of which you must choose two systems and two skills to focus on over the course of your 4 LSAs (Language Systems/Skills Assignments).

My LSA 1 focused on raising awareness of medium-strength verb-noun and adjective-noun collocations for lower level learners. This falls squarely into systems: lexis.

Reference list

Here is the reference list from my final submission. As you can see, at this point I hadn’t learnt how to correctly format a reference list, something that was picked up on in the feedback…

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Feedback 

Essay

I got a pass for this essay. (Yay!)

Strengths

  • using sub-headings and sign-posts to make the structure clear
  • narrowing the scope (by collocation type, strength and student level)
  • consulted key texts for my focus and used them well
  • my analysis, issues and solutions followed on well from each other.
  • including both learning and teaching problems and referring to a range of learners was another plus, as was using terminology accurately and defining key terminology. My teaching suggestions included activities for raising awareness and activation, and were based on a range of resources, so there was good variety.

Weaknesses:

  • as already mentioned, my reference list formatting was a little odd and also missing places of publication.
  • in my writing, I used too many quotations, where paraphrasing would have been better. Paraphrase/summary is a much more efficient use of words than direct quotation, generally, something which is key when word limits are tight, and also allows much more ‘writer voice’/criticality to come through.

(This was an issue in my Module 3 essay too, initially, as it happens. It’s something I carried over from my B.A. days of yore so had to modify/work on it to succeed in the written components of the Delta. Having done so was a great help when it came to doing the M.A. modules the following semester.)

  • Not enough reference to my own experience and interest in the area, make my analysis more in-depth by including examples, and try to target one issue per solution rather than having solutions that target various issues, as it became a bit too generic.
  • Lack of my own voice/criticality (linking of course to the over-reliance on quotations and not drawing enough on my own experience…)

(It’s funny, these issues – voice, criticality, in-text citation/quotation/paraphrasing and referencing etc – that I had to work on are things that I am now helping my own students to develop and work on in their pre-M.A. studies! I must remember to mention to them that it was something that I initially struggled with too, as I am sure they think I was born knowing how to do it all!)

Lesson Plan/Lesson/Reflection

I got a pass for this lesson – just!

Strengths:

  • The pronunciation analysis and use of phonemes in the language analysis section of the plan  (though conversely my attention to meaning and form were identified as being in need of more work in terms of clarity!)
  • I gave detailed information about the learners in my group (but it would have been better if I had included more information about their ability in the target language point)
  • Good level of detail about how my lesson integrated with other lessons (timetable fit)
  • Comprehensive and varied assumptions
  • A nice clear main aim, which I managed to meet! (Having clear, appropriate aims and meeting them is a Good Thing.)
  • My classroom management was generally effective and I listened/responded well to the students.
  • I gave students some opportunity to correct themselves when they made errors, through use of techniques like gesture use (and was encouraged to do more of this!)
  • My reflection generally identified strengths and weaknesses well

Weaknesses:

  • My subsidiary aim was too vague, with the evidence I gave for meeting it being rather sketchy, and my stage aims also needed more work.
  • The lesson suffered from there being a long teacher-fronted presentation stage, which ended up taking up the first half of the lesson, so the students didn’t have any opportunity for pair-work or group-work until then.
  • I underestimated how long the presentation stage would take (links to above point but is a planning issue, while the above is a lack of student interaction issue that arose as a result of the underestimation)
  • Explaining rather than using students as a resource to check form/meaning/pronunciation.
  • Using unnatural intonation when speaking to the learners – apparently at times it seemed as though I was addressing a group of children. Oops.
  • I also missed opportunities to use questions to check students’ understanding of language items.
  • In my reflection, I underestimated one of the weaknesses I identified – the interaction issue that arose as a result of the overlong presentation stage
  • my suggestions for how I would build on this lesson in future classes were a bit lacking in substance.

I suppose the question is, for a pass, are you doing enough right to balance out all the issues?! I wonder if anyone ever gets a distinction in LSA1 (if you did, hats off to you!!)? I suspect it is almost impossible… Happy to be proved wrong though!

At LSA1 stage, I think the key thing is to really get to grips with all the feedback you are given in all its forms. At Leeds (was Met) Beckett, we had draft feedback on LSA essay and lesson plans, and then we received the Delta 5a report after the LSA observation within an individual tutorial which gave us the opportunity to discuss the lesson and the feedback with the tutor who had observed us. That’s a lot of feedback/opportunities for learning. What all this feedback presents you with the main thing that sticks in my mind when I think of LSA 1: an almost vertical learning curve. It’s where you are tasked with getting your head around understanding exactly what an LSA is, involves and requires from start to finish. The challenge is then to take everything you learn from LSA1 and feed it directly into making the LSA2 process more successful and hopefully less painful. In other words, to develop the various skills  – researching (including reading very selectively and efficiently, which is probably a skill in itself!), planning, teaching, reflecting – being checked on each time you do an LSA. So, rather than spending time thinking that the feedback isn’t fair, or that you should have got a pass/merit/distinction (delete as appropriate), focus on using it to be better next time. It’s hard having your teaching process pulled to pieces and dissected, but you can learn a lot from it too.

I hope this post is helpful to my readers who are doing their Delta Module 2 now or anybody who is planning to do Module 2 at some point.

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Cambridge Delta: all that Module 2/3 feedback, all that reading…

In February this year, I revisited Leeds (was Metropolitan now) Beckett University (where I did my Delta and M.A. in the one crazy yet incredibly awesome year that was academic year 2012-2013) to deliver a workshop on Blogging to teach and to learn for the Multimedia and Independent Learning component of the M.A. in ELT. (This post is not about that but if you want to know more, you can read about it here.) This visit and workshop gave me the opportunity to meet this year’s cohort. During the practical element, when I was moving around the room helping students to set up their blogs, one of them asked me why I didn’t upload samples of my work e.g. LSA essays, lesson plans, module 3 sections and the like, as everyone is always desperate to see “a model” to make it clearer what they are aiming towards. The truth is, as I explained to that student, for better or worse, the Cambridge view is that this creates the potential for plagiarism issues to arise and so is best avoided.

In accordance with the Cambridge stance, Sandy Millin has offered a very useful alternative: on her ever-popular Delta page she shares a summary of the feedback she received for each essay and lesson plan of her 4 LSAs, together with the grades she got. I recommend having a look. Upon hearing my explanation of the Cambridge stance, the student I talked to at Leeds Beckett suggested that in that case it could still be very useful for Delta people if I shared my reference lists for each LSA and my Module 3 essay. I can’t see a problem with doing that as the same sources can be used to build up support for any number of arguments – and truth be told, it won’t narrow things down *that* much as I had access to a fabulous university library so was able to get my hands on a lot of resources!

Since that visit to Leeds Beckett, the conversation with that student has been in the back of my mind and finally I am going to do something about it – bit by bit!  I thought perhaps a good plan would be to use both the above alternatives combined into one: share my reference list and a summary of feedback I received for each of my assignments. This will hopefully complement Sandy’s post as I got a smattering of passes, merits and distinctions across 4 LSAs, coming out with a distinction overall. I was thinking of doing one post per LSA to make for four less cumbersome/lengthy posts rather than one ridiculously long one, and link to them from my M.A. ELT/Delta page, for ease of access. I might try to do one for the Module 2 PDA/Experimental Practice and Module 3 post as well, if it turns out to be useful. All in good time.

I hope this will be helpful to people, though I would still emphasise the importance of making full use of whatever drafting/feedback process you have in your institute (for example, I found it useful to go through the Delta 5a form and highlight all the suggestions made for the essay/plan/teaching components so that I could refer back to them as I worked on my next LSA., as well as using the in-text comments in my draft essays and lesson plans, and asking a million questions during tutorials) – this is where the real learning takes place and everybody’s trajectory is different.

The benefit for me, meanwhile, the way I see it, is that in doing these posts a few years down the line (time flies!!!), I get to re-visit all that learning (yay!), which is never a bad thing. (What a deeply influential learning journey it was, especially in combination with the M.A…) – Of course, I *am* working full-time so it won’t all happen at once… Watch this space!

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