Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Short story “Neighbours” used as an e-couse assignment!

This is for those who have always wondered how their short story would look like as an exam question, or in this case, as an assignment worth 40% of their TESL mark!  I’ve been fortunate that quite a few of my stories from Lovers and Strangers Revisited have been taught throughout Malaysia in various universities, private colleges and even SPM literature (secondary school), and one story was even picked up by the University of Cambridge International Examination (CIE), an excerpt from an earlier version of “Waiting for My Father to Crash” from 25 Malaysia Short Stories, Best of Silverfish new Writing 2001-2005.  A check for £170.00 is now on the way, thank you.  (It was supposed to be three times that amount, but I just found out today that the exam question was never used electronically - on the web or for CD's - just as a printed examination paper.) 
Yet, in all this time, I’ve never actually seen the exam question of any of my stories or how it appeared in the actual examination until today when I stumbled upon an online link for an e-course via Asiaeuniversity, out of Kuala Lumpur that used my short story “Neighbours” in their TESL Masters program.  This is the same story that was taught in SMP literature 2008-2010, published in Thema in the US, adapted as a play, and the subject of the 2010 New Straits Times article, “Are you Mrs. Koh?”   Here is the Story Behind the Story link, too. 

Teaching Literature in English As A Second Language

1) This assignment carries a 40% weightage towards the final grade.
2) Your answers should be typed on A4 paper using I Times Roman, 12 font sizes and 1.5 line spacing.
3) Your answers must be submitted to your Academic Facilitator before / on EXAM WEEK.
4) Online students to submit as attachment to email: secs@aeu.edu.my

This assignment is based on a practical experience where you are required to plan, teach and reflect upon a literature lesson. To fulfill this requirement, submit a bound portfolio to your facilitator based on (a) planning, (b) teaching and (c) self-evaluation of a single lesson based on a given short story. For this assignment, you are required to read the following:
(a) The short story Neighbours by Robert Raymer. [attached]
(b) Material in reading package assigned for the course, as well as other reference texts on teaching short stories to ESL students e.g. Benefits of Using Short Stories in the EFL Context by Erkaya (2005).

As you plan your work you are encouraged to think about the Malaysian ESL learner and how you, as a teacher, can facilitate students’ interactions with the text. You may draw ideas from reference texts on the literature instruction, discussions with colleagues and your own classroom experiences. [40 marks]
B. GUIDELINES FOR ASSIGNMENT Use the following guidelines to complete this assignment. The portfolio that you are required to submit should include all of the areas listed below (1-5) and there is no page limit. Organize your portfolio using appropriate headings and section markers.

1. Identify a group of students
To begin, identify a group of ESL students (minimum 4) whom you can teach for a period of 40-60 minutes. They may be students from your class or young adults who live in your neighbourhood. Write a detailed description of these students, including language proficiency (their grades for UPSR/SRP/SPM), family/socioeconomic background and reading interests.

2. Write a lesson plan
Write a lesson plan to teach the short story Neighbours by Robert Raymer. You can either use the whole story or part of it for the lesson. The plan is for one 40-60 minute lesson, inclusive of one or two activities. Organize your written lesson plan according to the (i) objectives, (ii) steps and (iii) assessment format. Remember to cite references for photocopied or downloaded material.

3. Give a rationale for selected activities
Using your knowledge of the pedagogy of literature and your students’ background, give a rationale for your choice of activities included in the lesson plan.

4. Teach your students
Teach the students using the lesson plan you prepared (as in 2 & 3) above. You are required to make an audio/video recording of the lesson. (Reminder: you are required to use the short story Neighbours for this lesson.)

5. Evaluate your lesson
Write an evaluation of your lesson based on the audio/video recording. Remember that this assignment is based on experience and learning, and that you will not be penalized for having conducted a lesson that has a few flaws. Listen to yourself in the taped recording (audio/video), concentrating on your instructional language, interaction with text, student response as well as pacing. Focus on what happened, and not on what you wish you had done. Present your evaluation in the form of a reflective personal account using the structure below. 

(i) Teaching Effectiveness: What did you do to find out if objectives of the lesson were achieved? What was the most effective part of your lesson? What did you plan or do that worked particularly well for your students? What went wrong? Was the short story appropriate for the students level of English proficiency? What did you do to help students understand the story? Did you explain literary elements well? What did the assessment show?

(ii) Assessment of Learning and Student Response: How did you ascertain that students understood and were able to apply what they have learnt in the lesson? Which literary elements of the story did they understand/not understand? What did your students think or feel about the short story you chose? Did you plan activities that were interesting for your students? How did they respond to the activities you had planned?

(iii) Improvement: If you were asked to do the lesson all over again, what would you do differently? How would you change or improve upon your approach to the teaching of the short story your chose? What advice would you give a colleague about teaching short stories to ESL students?


It is important to always cite the sources of your information in your assignment. Note that if your work is found to be a result of plagiarism and/or copying, it will be rejected and you will be given zero marks (0) for this assignment.
                                                  END OF QUESTION FOR ASSIGNMENT 2

"Neighbours" A short story by Robert Raymer  (New link to the story.  The MPH version has been revised and is now present tense.)

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With the new French version out any day now, should be interesting if any of stories from Trois autres Malaisie gets used in an exam. Just remind me to charge them!

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

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