Welcome! I am here on behalf of Teacher Montira Pandee, who is the Department Head for IEP, the BCC-IEP Intensive English Program. My name is Teacher David Cherry, Learning Stage 3 Coordinator, and I will now present a general overview of our program to you.
The BCC Intensive English Program was created in 2002 to increase students’ ability to understand and use English confidently in a range of different contexts.
At the primary level, students have four 50-minute lessons with a native speaker of English per week, and two lessons with a Thai teacher. At the secondary level, students have five 40-minute lessons with a native speaker of English per week, and one lesson with a Thai teacher.
IEP classes promote independent learning by equipping students with specific skills to continue learning English throughout their lives. We are fortunate to have a faculty of 38 qualified native speaking teachers who are able to bring out the best in each student. Small class size permits students to receive individual attention and opportunities to practice English as they learn it.
Our curriculum is based on the Ministry of Education requirements for reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar and vocabulary. The BCC Intensive English Program provides English language enrichment to develop and consolidate skills in these areas. Standardized activities ensure all the students are similarly prepared for tests at the end of each quarter.
Parents are kept informed with learning journals for every unit, and detailed student grade reports at the end of every semester, which also make parents aware of other issues such as behavior and motivation that affect learning.
Our objectives are to encourage students to be active and constructive in using English as a tool to, seek knowledge and to interact effectively with others at school, and later, in the broader world-community.
We seek to extend students’ competence and confidence in using English in a range of demanding and challenging contexts.
We also train students to be responsible, independent, reflective learners, and to promote collaboration and cooperation among the students.
For Learning Stage 1 Coordinator, Ron Doutt says “We encourage children to be active and constructive in their own learning and to integrate English with other areas of learning at primary school.”
LS1 Students are evaluated through weekly spelling tests, and 4 Common Assessment Tasks every semester, and an end-of-semester exam. In addition to English, polite classroom behavior is modeled and encouraged. Well-behaved students can earn credit and use their English skills to purchase prizes at the Toy Shop, or earn privileges to attend the Movie Club.
For Learning Stage 2 Coordinator, John Payne, says, “Our teachers embrace the challenges of teaching to instill the confidence necessary for students to use English in their daily lives. We believe that our young learners are the leaders of tomorrow. We encourage our students to believe in dreams and to succeed in life.”
LS2 students are evaluated on Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking twice during each semester and four times a year. There is a project week twice a year. The projects are fun, and utilize a variety of technology and resources to complete the tasks. These projects allow for team-building experiences that stimulate individual imagination. Learning Stage 2 lunchtime activities include access to a library and a computer lab which are available to students who perform well in class.
As Learning Stage 3 Coordinator, I say, “Learning Stage 3 want students to succeed in life in general, and at English in particular.”
We separately assess reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar and vocabulary for ten units of ongoing classwork and during quarterly exam weeks. Extended speaking and writing tasks for each unit generate student work for display. Our blogs provide a variety of English language resources. Our online homework currently includes writing tasks for each unit, and online grammar, vocabulary and reading tasks that generate instant feedback on student performance. We also have various clubs such as guitar club and photography club, and we provide a variety of services such as computer lab and remedial English.
Learning Stage 4 Coordinator, Jay Johnson says, “LS 4 is dedicated to providing the absolute highest quality English education available anywhere.”
For LS4, the main focus is constant preparation for university entrance exams.
During the year, students complete eight Continuous Assessment Tests and eight semester exams, covering reading, writing, listening and speaking, four grammar exams, four vocabulary exams, and four exams covering material for university entrance exams.
There are many activities and services available for students such as tutoring, computer lab, guitar club and make-up clubs to help students catch up on any missing work.
Among many benefits, IEP maintains an environment that is safe, welcoming, thought provoking and relevant. In addition to regular English-language lessons, the IEP program provides opportunities for students to practice language skills beyond the walls of the classroom. There are many extracurricular activities that IEP students may participate in such as clubs, English camps and exchange programs.
Rather than merely teaching students vocabulary and grammar in an abstract way, the Intensive English Program aims at developing the whole child, helping students reach their full potential, enhancing their English communicative competence and teaching them to use English in in every relevant aspect of their lives.
May 2, 2012
The IEP Program
IEP is an intensive English Program for students to receive extra English Language training with a foreign teacher. Parents are paying extra money. We need to present them with a consistent program and insist that teachers follow a set curriculum. This insures that all students have a similar experience and the same level of high quality instruction. Different elements of our curriculum direct teachers to do the same activities with their classes at the same time.
Generally speaking, teachers are at liberty to employ whatever means are necessary to achieve the set goals, and perform the activities set forth in the curriculum; with the understanding that administration has authority to make whatever changes are necessary to meet expectations of parents, administrators and the Ministry of Education.
Enrichment Activities and Extended projects
Overall, we want what is done in class to be 80% curriculum, and 20% whatever a teacher thinks their classes need or whatever the teacher thinks their classes will enjoy. This ensures uniformity for a consistent program, while giving teachers sufficient job satisfaction and liberty to experiment and express their creativity. Teachers must make sure to do a good job completing the set curriculum activities before engaging students with alternative activities or projects. Most of the set curriculum activities are what students are actually graded on, so do not rush through them.
The Academic Calendar
The academic calendar is divided by weeks, and shows all the main events for the school year, such as start and finish dates, dates of assessments, dates grades are due, and dates for vacation days and holidays.
Our syllabus outlines the units by weeks, and gives brief information about the topic, the grammar point and the vocabulary that will be covered for each unit. It also shows some of the important dates seen on the academic calendar.
The Student Book
Our text for LS3 is English in Mind, 2nd Edition, by Cambridge. This is the second year we have used this book. Before this we had used Success by Longman for three years. Before that, we had used English in Mind 1st Edition for two years.
We found that books like Success were too hard for the weaker classes. Teachers had to spend all their time creating supplementary materials for the weaker classes who could not even do the work in the book. Strong classes were challenged, but unfortunately they spent all of their time in the book. Using Success left no time for creative projects or other activities that students need for enrichment and enjoyment.
English in Mind is not too difficult. It is challenging for the weaker classes, but most students can do it with some degree of success. Stronger classes can get through the student book material quickly, cover grammar in greater detail, and then move on to extended tasks and creative projects.
Curriculum grids are instruction on what to cover for each unit. They give detailed information about what student book exercises, activities, homework assignments and assessments are mandatory for every teacher to do with their classes.
The main exercises from English in Mind that are set on the curriculum grids are the grammar and Reading exercises.
Grammar Exercises from the Student Book
To teach the grammar, teachers are expected to first give the presentations in the book; second, grammar presentations based on the grammar reference from the workbook; and third, their own grammar presentations, involving PowerPoint, board work and exercises, worksheets, games or whatever they believe helps students to understand and use the grammar points effectively.
The students must demonstrate understanding by doing set exercises from the Student Book and writing their answers on the Student Book Answer Sheet. After the teacher collects the Answer Sheets, the teacher can go over the exercises with the class (on the board, or as a game or by calling out answers, etc.) and each student writes the correct answers into their student book. This makes the student book become a reliable study guide for the exam. The answer sheet is more convenient for teachers to mark for unit level assessment than it would be to create extra worksheets or to take up the books to mark after class. The student responses are marked either right or wrong; the points are intended to add up to an even 10 or 20, and the extra questions can be used as extra credit at a teacher’s discretion.
Reading (Listening) Exercises from the Student Book
Reading tasks work the same way. Text is presented to the student in one way or another, and students respond to comprehension exercises on the Student Book Answer Sheet. However, it must be kept in mind that the actual emphasis during class time is listening and speaking. For example, the teacher may read or play audio of the text as students read along to give them listening practice. Or the students may take turns reading key parts of the text to have speaking practice.
Listening Exercises from the Student Book
Although the focus during class is listening and speaking, audio can sometimes be problematic. There may be equipment problems, faulty audio files that will not play, audio that is hard to understand, too fast or so short that it is not really worth cuing up. For this reason the listening exercises from the Student Book are not assigned on the curriculum grids. Teachers are encouraged to do the listening exercises, but we will not obligate teachers to do them. The same thing goes with the pronunciation exercises. Instead, listening activities should be based on the reading texts from the Student Book.
The LS3 vocabulary words are different from the book; therefore most of the vocabulary exercises from the student book are not on the curriculum grids. Some of the LS3 vocabulary words are from the book, but we also had to add TOEFL words. Teachers last year created the lists from the student book, and from a list of TOEFL words. Each unit has 20 vocabulary words. For the first and second week of each unit the students get ten vocabulary words to match to definitions from Cambridge Dictionary Online as homework. Then at the end of each unit they get one spelling test on fifteen of the words that they studied for that unit. The test has two parts: spelling and comprehension. First the teacher reads the words out and as the students spell the words they create a word bank. Students then use the word bank to fill the blanks of example sentences. The example sentences are actually the definitions that have been converted into sentences. We have tried to have students write definitions or example sentences before, but this works better.
Writing (Speaking) Tasks
There are writing tasks and speaking tasks in the book that are usually pretty good. They have associated texts, and good strategies. I encourage teachers to use them, but they are not assigned in the curriculum grids.
That is because I set a mandatory writing task for the first unit of each quarter. There is a suggested writing task for the second unit for first quarter and second quarter, but teachers may substitute the suggested topic with their own topic. Then for the last unit of each quarter, the writing task will be the midterm or the exam. This reduces the amount of writing for students and the amount of marking for teachers. Teachers are encouraged to extend writing tasks whenever possible to create work to display on walls and in halls. Teachers are free to approach the writing tasks as they fit, with discussion, mind maps, word lists, sample texts, etc. However, it is mandatory that students post their writing on the class blog, either as the rough draft or final draft.
Speaking will be the primary focus during class time, whether it is done as preparation for writing, or whether as a final presentation of written work. For regular class activities, it is up to the teacher’s discretion to use speaking as a way to prepare the students for writing, or for teachers to use writing as preparation for speaking presentations. For midterms and exams, the writing should be done first, and the speaking should be a presentation of what was written.
Homework will be assigned about three times a week. As mentioned, students will have vocabulary homework once a week. Students also have weekly vocabulary exercises to practice online. Students also have extended reading homework to be checked and discussed in class. Furthermore, students also have weekly online grammar homework every week. As mentioned before, students must do some writing at home, and post to the blog, and do outside work on extended projects. Getting parents to sign Learning Journals is also considered homework.
Midterms and Exams
Each quarter, the students have midterms or finals for reading writing, listening, speaking, and grammar. Speaking is based on the writing.
May 2, 2012
With a change in student books, there is an opportunity to improve the LS3 curriculum. Out of fairness to students, teachers need to do about 80% the same thing, with 20% freedom to experiment. 80% of the curriculum will be based mainly on the student book and the assessments.
The premise of this curriculum
The curriculum includes around 62 graded activities per student, per year, per year level. That may seem like a lot, but as you will see, many activities have been consolidated to actually reduce the number of grades teachers need to enter. The core curriculum is intended to be streamlined to take into account the wide difference between our strongest and weakest students. It also prevents teachers from assigning too much work, because it is quite easy to assign more work to students than a teacher could ever mark or give feedback on.
This curriculum proposal is intended to benefit teachers and students because it is not based on trying to get them to do as much as possible, but to start with the marks sheets themselves to see how much work needs to be done to actually fulfill the requirements.
The goal is to define the exact number of tasks teachers must accomplish with every class. It is itemized so teachers can clearly know what they have to do, although it is understood that due to cancellations or other unforeseen circumstances, every single task might not be completed. In that case, teachers should put a short note on the answer sheets, on spelling test papers, and on work done records. If students cannot or will not complete all the work, points will be deducted. If any special cases arise, teachers can discuss it with their coordinator.
This curriculum outline is intended to account for 80 % of what teachers will do with their classes. Teachers should spend about 5-6 days of a two week unit on core curriculum material; roughly one day each for reading, writing, listening and speaking, grammar and vocabulary. Some units will be three weeks long to allow for projects and longer activities. After teachers complete all the core curriculum material with their classes, teachers can experiment with the remaining time. In fact, even on the syllabus for each quarter there are project weeks available for teachers to do alternative writing, speaking and reading activities with their classes.
However, lesson plans regarding any such enrichment activities should include examples of plans, worksheets and other materials to be used. Furthermore, unless the relevance of the activity is self-explanatory, teachers should discuss their ideas for enrichment activities fully with their coordinator and seek approval. Experimentation is good. We just want to make sure all the core curriculum work is done first.
In the event of cancellations, some enrichment activities might have to be cancelled in order to complete core curriculum activities. This is because the core curriculum activities actually represent marks what must be entered so students can be graded fairly and equally across the curriculum.
Teachers should be aware that in some cases, it is necessary to give students remedial work instead of enrichment. If a class is weaker, teachers should use extra activities as a way to build them up to doing the student book material; not just give them easy alternative work that they can breeze through and get 100%. Then the student book gets underutilized, the grades are skewed, and it is unfair to students in stronger classes. All students and all classes need to be graded in comparison with their peers in their year level as a whole.
The activities that define the curriculum
1. Curriculum grid exercises are mandatory, so if you see something on the curriculum grids you don’t want to do, inform your coordinator in writing. On the curriculum grids, certain exercises will be designated as assessed exercises for grammar, listening and reading that students will enter on the new IEP Answer Sheets. This new answer sheet will be similar to the pages in the Vocabulary Test Booklet that we used in years past. On the answer sheets, there will be space for students to write their answers to questions from the student book. The answer sheets for each class will be kept in a notebook the classroom. To reduce the number of graded assignments (as long as teachers agree to read student book texts aloud in class), we will consolidate listening with the reading and assign a common receptive skill grades for both listening and reading.
How to use the answer sheets
The way to use the answer sheets is be to have students put their responses to student book exercises on the answer sheet, and then pass it in for the teacher to mark. Afterward, the class can go over the exercises the way they usually do, and students can enter the correct answers in their student book.
The results on the answer sheet will be recorded as a percentage of the unit grades for grammar, listening, and reading. The answer sheets will be kept as part of the documentation that teachers turn in at the end of the year. The exercises will be selected at the discretion of the coordinator.
2. First Semester, First and Second Quarters, Extended Writing:
Once per unit, there will be extended reading tasks included in the standardized curriculum that will be taken from sources outside the course book. These exercises would have their own associated tasks and worksheets, and would be entered as the unit reading score for that unit; not as something separate.
For the first unit, do the prescribed activity on http://alwaysdothehomework.blogspot.com.
For the second unit, you may do the second activity on http://alwaysdothehomework.blogspot.com. Otherwise, you can create your own writing activity as long as you turn it in with your lesson plan. You must include any instructions or worksheets you intend to use.
For the third unit, the writing will be the Midterm or Final exam itself. This will be a prescribed writing task that will be printed and distributed to you. The Final Exam is given under exam conditions. The Midterm Exam is more flexible. Students may actually take it home to work on it. Teachers have more latitude to coach, offer suggestions and elicit responses.
Second Semester, Third and Fourth Quarters, Extended Writing:
There are only two units each for Third and Fourth Quarter. For the first unit, do the prescribed activity on http://alwaysdothehomework.blogspot.com.
For the second unit, the writing will be the Midterm or Final exam itself.
If a teacher wants to do any additional writing with their classes, they may have time during the weeks designated as project weeks.
Grading will be done according to the rubric that is on the server.
3. Project tasks will be extended writing tasks with speaking tasks built in. All writing must include a mind map and be based on standard outline structure. This year, writing tasks will be shorter, and will be intentionally designed to prepare for speaking presentations. In most cases, a first draft will be good enough to serve for credit for the entire grade. It would be preferable for students to speak from point form notes, but if time does not allow, just have students present their first draft orally. The same mark will be entered for unit speaking as for the unit writing scores. For M1, a 150 word limit is set for 1st quarter, 200 words limit for 2nd quarter, droping back down to a 150 word limit for 3rd and 4th quarter. For M2, a 200 word limit is set for 1st quarter, 250 words limit for 2nd quarter, droping back down to a 200 word limit for 3rd and 4th quarter. For M3, a 250 word limit is set for 1st quarter, 300 words limit for 2nd quarter, droping back down to a 250 word limit for 3rd and 4th quarter. When giving presentations, students should speak for only about 1 minute 30 seconds per presentation to allow for more than one activity per class session. (10 writing/speaking tasks, 5 writing/speaking grades for teachers to enter.)
4. Homework will continue to be set as it was this year. There should be two nights of homework assignments.
Homework will include the online activities on http://alwaysdothehomework.blogspot.com.
The scores will be automatically calculated and be saved on the server.
The homework will include a weekly grammar exercise, a weekly vocabulary exercise and one reading task per unit.
Hopefully in the near future, we will have a listening task per unit that will be scored and stored online, and a speaking task per unit that will be submitted online.
The writing tasks, mentioned earlier, should also be entered on the class blogs, online.
Note: Students will now receive a cumulative grade for their homework. The homework exercises themselves will be nearly the same as the final exam grammar exercises. If students do the homework and attempt to understand it, they might actually do well on the finals.
5. The vocabulary list on the learning journal will have blanks where students fill in the definitions. Spelling lists will be 20 words long; ten coursebook words and ten TOEFL words. Spelling tests will be one per unit in the form of answer sheets for each unit instead of a test booklet. They will be distributed to teachers along with unit packets and would be returned to the students after they were marked. Marking should be easier and more subjective. Test should take less time in class. Please see the attached sample. (class activities should include 10 spelling games, 10 crossword puzzles, 10 tests, 10 spelling grades for teachers to enter.)
6. Midterm exams will be given for reading, writing, listening, speaking, and grammar at the end of 1st and 3rd quarter. We might reserve the option to begin mid-quarter for writing/speaking exams. Use the rubric for all writing and speaking tasks. Give the same mark for writing and speaking. Sure, these marks are a bit subjective. (10 reading, listening, writing, speaking and grammar tests, 8 reading, listening, writing/speaking and grammar grades for teachers to enter.)
7. Final semester exams will be given for reading, writing, listening, speaking, and grammar at the end of 2nd and 4th quarter. We might reserve the option to begin mid-quarter for writing/speaking exams. Use the rubric for all writing and speaking tasks. Give the same mark for writing and speaking. Sure, these marks are a bit subjective. (10 reading, listening, writing, speaking and grammar tests, 8 reading, listening, writing/speaking and grammar grades for teachers to enter.)