Friday, May 05, 2006

Final Notes on The Miracle Worker

Last week we finished The Miracle Worker. I think the students enjoyed it. They certainly impressed me with their understanding and analysis of the play, its characters, its themes.

We watched the end of the movie, and they were transfixed. I've seen it before, but I couldn't help crying; the scene where Helen realizes that w-a-t-e-r means something is so moving.

And I don't think I was the only one who cried.

We had such poor sound quality with this movie, though. I think it was the VCR, not the DVD, but I'm not really sure. Anyway, because of that I didn't do any listening exercises with the film; it wouldn't have been fair. The film was really a support for the reading we did, and, I suppose, a kind of reward for doing it. After we read aloud in class, and had some discussion, the students could see it realized fully on film. It was good.

I also leaned heavily on vocabulary this term--in part because I found a great vocabulary list online, words from The Miracle Worker that were found in recent SAT tests. I thought that was a good sign, that possibly these words would also show up on the TOEFL, and that they were probably commonly used in English texts of various types. I think it's true, because I have noticed many of these vocabulary words, in books, newspapers and magazines, since we've been focusing on them in class.

Another thing I chose to do with the vocabulary was to get the students to learn the various parts of speech through the different forms and usages of these words. I think that at least some of them got something out of that effort and will be better readers, writers, and--drum roll, please--TOEFL takers next week. I sure hope so, anyway.

One student told me he thought the vocabulary was a waste of time, that it wouldn't do him a bit of good with his major.

"Oh, come on," I said. "Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think." No, I'm kidding. That hurt. I think he's wrong, though. I think this vocabulary will serve him well.

I loved the class. I tried to make the vocabulary fun by having groups make up stories using the words, then telling their stories while other students filled in the blanks with those words.

Discussion was okay, but the same small group of students always spoke. If I had had more time, I would have had a circle discussion in which I posed a couple of questions and had every student say one small thing. This always works for me. The quiet ones have plenty of ideas, just aren't brave enough to speak unless it's demanded.

I did have some small-group discussions, which worked better. When it's more intimate, and there's background noise, more people will risk talking.

Another fun thing was storyboards. For each act, I had each student make pictures of important scenes. We did this after the reading and before the film viewing. I just love those pictures, and I'm still trying to think of a way to use them. This idea was not an original; I found it on a website, public television or something.

One thing I kept doing in class, which I would like to apologize for, is that I would say Helen when I meant Annie, and vice-versa. I'm sure that drove people crazy.

The final test will be the same form as the first two, except that the vocabulary will include all that we studied, about 60 words. So, Part 1 is parts of speech, Part 2 fill-ins, Part 3 match the quote with the character, Part 4 Essay question. Oh, I gave the option to take Part 4 orally, and one person will do that.

Another term ends, another group of students will be missed on Monday morning. Again, this group impressed me; they were so smart, articulate, and thoughtful. I'm glad to know that they will be the leaders of the future. I trust them to do a good job.

And I also wish them all astronomically high TOEFL scores, enshallah (sorry about the spelling)!


Blogger Angelica said...

Hi Mrs. Davis, I have to say that I really enjoyed the class. I think you did a good job making accommodations because of our group had heterogeneous English level, but I think you did it. Another important that I was thinking is related to using our storyboards for something else. Some of us were motivated doing pictures. So, I think you can ask to Mr. Leverett about this idea. Angelica

8:45 PM  
Blogger Lynne Davis said...

Thank you again for your comment! I am working on the idea of getting those storyboard pictures up!

5:01 PM  

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