A Thank You to Rocky

This semester I am undertaking to teach a twenty week course in Extensive reading. I am working under the mentoring of professor Rocky Nelson who has over fifteen years experience in both implementing and running Extensive Reading courses. Unfortunately Rocky will retire in December this year leaving a void at my university.

This blog is intended for me to keep a record for not only myself in the future but also any other teachers or students interested in developing or partaking in a solidly designed Extensive Reading course, especially for those in Korea. I will try to provide a weekly plan synopsis as I teach the classes and provide links to materials and other supplements.

I hope this site is useful for those that visit.

Extensive Reading Central -The New Extensive Reading Portal

I want to put at the top of this blog the new main Portal for Extensive Reading developed by Dr Robert Waring. Please click the link below.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Fifth Week

This week we do the standard weekly exercises mentioned last week and Sustained Silent Reading as per normal. The other two hours this week would be a little different if you are running just a regular university class, and I know Rocky does other activities with his undergraduates, but our students are actually public school teachers doing a Teacher Training Program. Therefore, this week we focus further on the theory behind extensive reading and how it fits with intensive reading by looking at 'A Piece of the Missing Puzzle' presentation by Dr Robert Waring. Additionally, one of our goals is to encourage the Korean teachers to feel able and empowered to set up Extensive Reading programs in their schools after the complete the training program.

Piece of the Missing Puzzle by Dr Robert Waring

We use two power point presentations by Dr Waring and actually I had the chance to see his Missing Puzzle presentation at an Extensive Reading Special Interest Group Conference about three years ago. I go through the first few slides of his 'Piece of the Missing Puzzle' power point up to the showing the verb and adjective collocations of 'idea'. The focus here is to get our students to understand:

  • You need to meet vocabulary 30-50 times to consolidate it and not forget it.
  • The 2000 word knowledge and the 7000 word knowledge data differences
  • The range of different things that you need to know about vocabulary including:
    • nuance
    • collocations
    • rare versus useful
    • euphemistic versus pejorative
    • discourse domains
  • That all of this is based on 'RESEARCH' not just anecdotal evidence.
We then give trainees a printout of Dr Waring's Easy Extensive Reading power point. Using this we focus on the role of Extensive Reading as the 'required' adjunct to intensive reading coursebooks. I focused specifically on:
  • The poverty of input and review afforded by Intensive Reading texts
  • The battle against the 'Forgetting Curve
  • Focus on NEW rather than USE. The adage 'Learn a little, use a lot' is often reversed in Korea to 'Learn a lot, use a little'
  • Intensive Reading and Extensive Reading are not opposites, they should work together
  • Perils of 'authentic' material
  • Points for starting an Extensive Reading program
  • That all of this is based on 'RESEARCH' not just anecdotal evidence.
Just on a side note, at the last KOTESOL National Conference I had an opportunity to attend Professor Scott Miles' presentation on ESL and Memory which was very good and here is his power point 'Memory and Language Learning'. There is nice information on fighting the forgetting curve in his power point. 

Starting an Extensive Reading Program

Lois Scott has an excellent article on how to set up an Extensive Reading Program  called 'Starting an Extensive Reading Program' The article is fairly self explanatory and so I just go through the article quickly and let students then look through the article together and then have a question time. 

The Extensive Reading Foundation Guide (also available from their website) also has excellent advice on how to set up Extensive Reading Programs so this is also shown to the students as an extra resource. 

I offer to go to their school to help them after they leave our program, distribute my contact card and the contact card of Extensive Reading Publisher representative's name cards, and provide any encouragement I can. 

Finally, we show the students a list of useful websites for Extensive Reading. I will be updating my links list during the next week. 

Don't forget about recording requirements, doing Timed Repeated Readings and then it is time for Sustained Silent Reading.

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