How to reduce the gaps in the students

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(1)How to reduce the gaps in the students Claudia Chirighin Basañez. Abstract: The purpose of this article is to find out how to reduce the gap in the students who are in the same classroom with not only different levels of learning but also with mixed abilities .As an ESL/EFL teacher there are some strategies, you can use to overcome the challenges that this type of class poses. These strategies may vary depending on both students´ and teacher´s motivation, student´s confidence, knowledge´s levels, different contexts for learning, preferences, etc.It is also known that all students respond to various stimuli (such as photographs, music, etc) but for most of them some things give a major stimulation to learn English in a better way. Based on all the mentioned above, the pedagogical intervention was done in a class that corresponds to an 8th grade of 20 girls from a private school located in Vitacura district, Santiago. This intervention consisted of a planning of one didactical unit that included different strategies to improve the engagement of all the students through activities specially designed for different learning styles. It could be established that after this intervention, most of the students engaged to the class in an active way because it was easier for them to understand not only why they were working on an specific topic or activity but also how to connect them with their real context. Keywords: mixed classes, abilities, different strategies, reduce the gap.. Introduction Nowadays, English has become extremely necessary because it is an important tool to have if you want to be part of this globalized world because of the opening of frontiers, the usage of internet and even just the practice of travelling and sharing with other cultures and the access to other cultures through media. Consequently, the Ministry de Education (MINEDUC) has developed different plans to improve English in our educational system Within these changes, it has increased the number of classes of English and the introduction of study programs that give the organization of the year, in terms of didactics to achieve the Fundamental Objectives that are defined in the curricular frameworks (the learning outcomes that students from all over the country are expected to achieve throughout their time at school). Taking in account that English is a foreign language in Chile and that it is a compulsory subject from 5th grade, it could be said that working as an English teacher in our country is a difficult task to do not only because it is a foreign language but also because of the differences in abilities that the students have. Teachers must handle a lot of different aspects, such as different speeds of learning, abilities, preferences, motivation and also teachers should know her students quite well in order to improve their learning process. As Dean (2007), an associate professor from the National University stated “more teachers know about their students the better equipped they are to design lesson plans that are inclusive and motivating for all the students.” In regards to the above mentioned, once teachers are aware of these aspects, they will be able to deal with these accordingly trying to involve all the students in the class, no matter the weakness that students may have. “Teachers who are familiar with the different abilities and needs of their learners and use mixed ability teaching strategies effectively are much better equipped to meet the diverse learning needs of their learners” (Šimanová, 2010). In fact, one of the biggest challenges that a teacher must face is to work in a “mixed ability class” or a “heterogeneous class” which seems to be the most common class today (Ur, 1996).. Claudia Chirighin B, English – Spanish Translator and student of Pedagogy for Professionals. Alberto Hurtado University. Practice workshop guided by Alicia Páez. 2015..

(2) The main goal of this article is to put into practice different strategies and activities to involve all the students in their learning process and at the same time to reduce the gaps in between them provoked for aspects such as different ways of learning, motivation or for methodological issues. Theoretical Framework There are several authors that describe what mixed ability classes mean. Below are mentioned some authors with their definitions in order to understand the “mixed ability classes” concept. Also, it is necessary to mention the problems teacher might face in this type of classes, the strategies teachers could use in order to foster the student´s engagement, the advantages to teach in mixed ability classes and finally how to reduce the gap between students. Mixed ability class or heterogeneous class There are several authors that have attempted to describe what mixed abilities classes are. Ur (1996) claimed that a mixed-level group is a class of two. “If you have two students, you have more than one level”. (Ur, 1996 p. 1). Similarly, Prodromou (1992 p. 8) sets the term mixed-ability class in this way: “All classes are, of course, mixed ability. Although there are mild and acute cases of mixed ability, all classes are made up of individuals who differ in any number of ways.” In the same way, Hess (2001) describes mixed-ability classes as “multilevel classes” and states that it is not easy to provide an exact definition because all learners are different in language aptitude, in language proficiency, and in general attitude toward language, as well as in learning styles. She also mentions language classes also tend to be highly heterogeneous. That is, students in many of our classes are different genders, maturity, occupations, ethnicities, cultural and economic backgrounds, as well as personalities. Multilevelness then, as much as class size, is a matter of perception.” (p.1) Additionally, Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) set that we all may learn in different ways and we also have natural preferences to the way in which we want to learn or enjoy learning. If we only teach in one way or with just the same kind of activities many students will be disadvantaged or left behind. They will also find it difficult to engage in the lesson and may disconnect themselves. They are not less; they just need a different kind of stimulation. From the definitions above we may conclude that a mixed ability class or heterogeneous class is almost every class that is being taught by the teacher. As every person is completely different, the foreign language classes also have non-homogenous student. For this reason, not everybody is able to learn so hard or quickly as the other one. This difficult situation is very demanding for both on the teacher and on the students. The student may try his best when learning and study also a lot at home. The teacher should think about his students and try to have different range of suitable methods of teaching and different activities to work with. The teacher is the main person who may solve this situation properly. But she/he needs also the cooperation and motivation for the students to learn. The term motivation is not simple to define but there is an universal agreement to think about motivation as the reason why humans think and behave in a certain way (Dornyei, 1998, p. 117). A survey in 2004 found that 90 per cent of secondary students considered it important to learn English in school and 85 per cent said that they wanted to do so. The reason is because students connect having language skills with better employment prospects, and there was strong support from parents and teachers, who largely considered English to be an important skill for future educational and career development.. 2.

(3) As it is stated, English is important and since no students are the same or learn in the same way, it is unrealistic to think in teaching in only one way. Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences tells us that “we all may learn in different ways and we also have natural preferences to the way in which we enjoy learning”.(Gardener, 1993,) If we only teach in one way many students will be disadvantaged. They will find it difficult to be involved in the lesson and may disconnect themselves from the class. The main differences may occur in language learning ability, language knowledge, cultural background, learning style, attitude towards language, mother tongue, intelligence, world knowledge, learning experience, knowledge of other languages, age, gender, personality, confidence, motivation, interests, and/or educational level. However, these variations may occur in different degrees in different classes. But, if the teacher wants to be sure that all students perform to their maximum potential, the teacher must identify these problems and deal with them accordingly. Problems All the differences mentioned above, may cause problems inside the classroom. The main challenge for teachers is finding the appropriate teaching , materials and resources to fit with every student. The teacher also needs to have suitable materials that are both interesting and challenging for the students. This can be difficult because of the varying abilities of the students and all the differences mentioned. You might think that advanced students may start to underachieve, if the tasks set in class are inappropriate for their level. Other students may feel pressured, if they are not able to achieve the tasks given or if they are shy to express themselves in other language, for example. Finally, it can also take time to determine the needs of each student in the class. Being aware of the problems that mixedability classes have, it helps the teacher to cope with them as accurate as possible. According to Ur (1991) some problems that teacher could face are: - Effective learning - Materials - Motivation - Background knowledge - Discipline - Learning experience According to Ur, these problems are just one part from a very large list and it would be impossible to mention all of them. Prodromou (1992) summarizes his view of mixed ability differences in a more specific and detailed way: “The simplest way of looking at the class is in terms of language ability. It is obviously too reductive just to state that some students know a lot of English, and other know less, but distinctions can be made between specified levels of linguistic ability and between different skills: between phonology, structure and vocabulary, for example, or between discourse and communication. The successful language learner may well be adept at all these skills, but it does not necessarily follow that the weak learner rates equally poorly in them all. Learners usually have a variable rather than a uniform linguistic competence.” (Prodromou 1992 p.7). He adds the following: “…building on what the students already know has always been a good first premise.” (Prodromou 1992 p.7). To sum up: the right question would be: What does a teacher do with these differences in order to make all of their students to learn?. 3.

(4) Strategies to develop skills in a mixed ability class The following strategies for managing mixed ability classes are based on Penny Ur (1991), Šimanová, (2010), Bremner, (2008) research and describe several ways for the teacher to use for using in order to enhance student´s learning process. 1. Creating the appropriate environment: To create a “safe place” for learners to feel comfortable, to know what they will be able to do at the end of the session (learning outcome) and as a result to enhance their learning process. 2. Meaningful context for all learners: To exemplify, visuals are always useful for all age. To use data, videos, photographs, magazines, etc. will be an effective way in order to keep their attention and also to introduce a new topic, vocabulary or grammar point. 3. Building rapport with the students: To facilitate both student motivation for learning and their enjoyment of the course, and enhances student receptivity to what is being taught. Some tips for developing rapport: - Call your students by name. - Learn something about your students' interests or hobbies. - Arrive to class early and chat with your students. - Explain your course policies -- and why they are what they are. - Get online -- use e-mail to increase accessibility to your students. - Interact more, lecture less -- emphasize active learning. - Reward student comments and questions with positive words. - Be enthusiastic about teaching and passionate about your subject matter. - Make eye contact with each student -- without staring, glaring, or flaring. - Be respectful and, do not forget to smile! 4. Awareness of learning: It is important to share with the students what they have achieved by the end of the class for them to be aware of their learning process. 5. Variety: To work on different activities, teaching methodology to reach different type of learners, abilities and way to learn. (visual, auditory or kinaesthetic). These will keep students focus on the lessons and in this way, be the main actor in their learning process. Additionally, it will provoke more interest in the students if these activities are related to their personal interests (this could be found out by asking directly to them what are their hobbies or things they like to do or talk about, for instance. 6. Grouping: Students work in group, in pairs and with different kind of learners giving them the opportunity to learn from and with themselves. In spite of this, it is also important to mention that working individually is also a good way to learn at their own pace using their best way of learning. This could be done through individualized writings, quizzes or portfolios. 7. Open- ended activities: These kind of activities will allow students to task and answer questions with several answer more that just one right answer, on the contrary, they will provoke them to talk, discuss and interact with their classmates. These kind of questions could be made through brainstorming, predictions about a specific topic, completing sentences. Advantages to teach in mixed ability classes It is true that a teacher may feel frustrated if they see in his/her every workday that it is impossible to reach all of their students but it is also true, that as a teacher you can gain other things as a. 4.

(5) rich pool of human resources (Ur, 1991), because of the knowledge of different learning styles which also provides the teacher an opportunity to be more creative and professional to try to overcome the difficulties that students may have in the class not only by changing the activities done in class but also being critical about their own approach or about their methodologies used in class. Another advantage is that teachers can give the students the necessary tools to learn how to work in a collaborative way with their classmates gaining the experience to work as a team or with their peers. It is known that learning from each other (student – student interaction) is not only more effective but also it is a very helpful and positive tool for the classroom climate because, most of the time, students feel confident to each other. Reducing the gap I have chosen to write about this topic because I feel it is a problem that all teachers are facing. I myself have encountered this each time I come into my classroom and take a glance at my students just not like a group but also like individuals with differences trying to learn what I try to teach. I have found it difficult to know how to motivate all those students in each class, especially when the curriculum states that the education has to be equal for all of them but it does not specify how to reach all of them or how to engage them with topics, activities or the class itself. It had already stated that students have different abilities and different ways of learning. Therefore, how can teachers assure teaching effectiveness to make them learn and at the same time to reduce the gap in between them? Diagnosis of the Educational Institution This school is located in Santiago in the Vitacura district which means that the majority of the stu dents belonging to this district or in surrounding districts such as Providencia and Las Condes. Most of the students therefore, live in places with the highest rate of life quality, according to Índice de Calidad de Vida Urbana (ICVU, 2012), which includes aspects such as social-cultural relations, the environment and transportation conditions. The percentage of children in vulnerability conditions does not reach 2%. These conditions provide the teacher and students with important resources for classes, such as English laboratories, computers, data projectors and speakers in all of the classrooms and also a rich background that gives the opportunity to improve their knowledge of English as a foreign language. In terms of national context, knowledge of English as a foreign language in Latin America, as mentioned by Friedrich (as cited in Matear, 2008) has been “often associated with enhanced employment opportunities and social mobility- it’s symbolic function in branding and advertising suggests prestige, sophistication, and modernity and among the upper income groups it is a means of denoting higher social status” (Matear, 2008, p.132). The previous quote about English is related to the context of the school, considering the system is centered on objectives and achievements combined with the fact that the school belongs to the upper class sector of Santiago. English subsequently acquires importance not only in cultural terms, but also in socio-economic conditions since parents and the school board. From school´s official speeches, the school culture is characterized as a private catholic school that belongs to a catholic congregation. They look for the development of all the skills that a student may have being considering the values, academic formation, and living the Christian faith. All of the above orientated to social services. According to the PEI, which is well known by the whole school community (parents, teachers, stu dents and school directors), the main objective of the educational action is “the integral formation of the human being that is, to form bounds between people who are in a specific society with a reason and a. 5.

(6) hope about life” (PEI, private school, 2000). The school invest considerable amounts of money to add new technologies for teaching English and also pay for some standardized international English exams such as First Certificate Exam (FCE) and TOEIC exam (taken by students from 11th and 12th grades). In terms of the school culture, the school is centered not only in developing social skills but also in having good results. So, the whole system (more than two thousand students composed of male and females, separated into four courses A and B for male students and D and E for females) spins around on the issue that results and learning has to be evidenced in marks and specific types of tests. Each grade has between 35 or 36 students each, separated into two groups (A meaning advanced and B meaning elementary) which are divided according to the previous performance (average from the last year) and their skills and interests. This decision is made for scaffolding their different levels of proficiency in a more specific manner respecting their learning pace and also there is a grade of balance required into the groups (generally each group has no more than 22 students each). It is proper to mention that this division is also made in other subjects as Mathematics. One group goes to the laboratory and the other attends classes in the classroom with another teacher. Every two weeks they switch from classroom and labs. The aim of this is because they have in most of the labs, computers to use during class. So, students can develop their skills (to prepare presentations using the internet, to write letters or dialogues). On the other hand, there is a special care about students’ diversity and the differences that students have in their learning process. Related to this, there are students with special needs that have differentiated tests (same content but different ways to question them) and there are also assisted tests (if the students require more time in order to finish the test or if she/he has questions throughout the test). But, these students go to the same class as the others, so the difference is just in the test and not in the way the class is taught. According to the evaluations, teachers have to asses students with summative evaluations, global, and a mark that correspond to cumulative quizzes. In total, they need to have six marks. In my opinion, this type of assessment is not the most important one because I think that continuous assessment carried out through the semester is the best way to improve the student learning process as well as allow the students to be an active part of that process. But as part of a system, teachers cannot change some things in spite of their personal beliefs. In addition, the school recognizes that achievement is one of the important aspect in assessment. Therefore in the school, the obtained results from these tests are very important as well as the number of marks that it is compulsory to have during the semester. Another important thing to mention is that tests have to be approved by the other teachers (teachers from the other group), then by the head of the department. In this way, you can have a good feedback in relation to the building of the tests. Something to consider and related to this point is that each group has a different test to take but with the same content. In relation to the information given, my aim is related specifically with this: how to improve the skills of all my students or at least, most of them, taking into account the differences that they have, the different rhythms and interests and in this way, help them to improve not only their language, but also their willing to be an active part of their learning process. This means not only looking at the curricula, (an important part of the process) and the content that we have to go through in a specific period or number of classes but also how to continue working on achieving a specific goal (content) with all of my students and not only with the ones that have more skills or abilities in English. Do I have to stop the progress of those students in order to balance the ones behind? My concerns are related to how improve my class performance using different methods or strategies to reduce the gap between them and with this intention, to reach all of them.. 6.

(7) Characterization of the class The research takes part in 8th grade E. As it was mentioned above, this level is separated into two groups (A and B). The intervention would be in Level B which is a group of 19 girls, 14-15 years old. English has 5 hour of class per week (On Monday, they have two hours and on Thursday they have 3 hours separated in one hour in the morning and two hours together in the afternoon (from 14 00 to 15 30 pm). This level has a very low performance in English (the average in the first semester was 4.8). Four of the students have special needs, this mean, that they have some difficulties not only with the subject itself but also cognitive problems which may cause them to be weaker than the other students, so they need to learn at their own pace, to have more time during tests or meanwhile they are working on some exercises or worksheets as to set some examples. With this in mind, the following article will be focused on how to generate different strategies in a class for reaching all kind of students no matter if they are strong or weak ones. What strategies do teachers have to use in the class for making them to participate in an active way not only for achieving a specific goal (content) but also for giving them tools for being more confident and in this way, to provoke engagement with English. Furthermore, I should try to reduce the gap between strong and weak students, and deal with the facts that there are compulsory plans or national curriculum that they must go through and the real interest that students may have and what makes really sense to them. All of these questions may have different answers depending on the point of view from the main actors (students and teachers). But there is one issue that is the most important one: how to activate the willing of learning, the sense of achievement not only for getting a good grade or because it is something that they are told to do, but also just because it is something meaningful, useful for their real life. Description of the unit. In order to establish the teaching strategies for the intervention, it was necessary to plan a didactic unit,not only considering the curriculum for 8th grade high school student needs, but also determining which type of strategies will be useful according to the teacher and the students. To gain a better insight into this, the students were surveyed anonymously to gather information about their interests such as their best way they think they learn, what are the most difficult skills they have to face with English language, their opinion about how would be the best or at least, one of the best ways to learn English. The results showed that 80% of the students think that speaking is the most useful and necessary skill for developing in the subject and at the same time is the toughest one. On the contrary, writing and listening skills would be the easiest ones. On the other hand, it is shown that students consider as a “good way of learning” the teacher explaining grammar topics or giving direct instructions as well as working in a collaborative way meaning in groups or in peers because “you learn more with a classmate”. However, they pointed out that working together with a peer is a very good way of learning, this depends on the partner´s knowledge because “if my classmate doesn´t know anything, I will have a low performance or a bad grade”. Although this may be true, it can be inferred that the main goal of the students would be only to get a good grade instead of focusing on the learning outcome itself.. 7.

(8) Other important aspect to be considered, it would be that students think that different activities would engage with the subject. “The most varied the activities are, the more motivation you get to participate in the class” was argued by a student. Finally, they were asked about what they will use English for in their life and most of them (almost 90%) had as a reply that they will need this tool to be able to communicate themselves with people from other cultures or all over the world as English is becoming the most spoken language worldwide. In addition, the survey was useful to realize that English will be a powerful tool in their future working life. The lessons The unit consists of 8 classes (90 minutes each) developing different strategies used in activities to foster engagement with the subject and to try to reach all students. These activities are planned in relation with the textbooks (student and workbook) used by the school (Solutions Intermediate, second edition). Some of the strategies mentioned above will be implemented in every class taking in account the way that students learn being the main aiming to engage all the students with English. In other words, to assure that all the students will have the opportunity to learn at their own pace, at their own way of learning working on activities specially planned considering all the aspects mentioned anteriorly.. 8.

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(11) Teaching resources Accommodating common learning styles that is visual, audio and kinesthetic (VAK), and creating activities which generated engagement were the criteria used for deciding on the choice of resource materials. This translated into using audio visual aids such as PowerPoint presentations; film clips; and film musical clips. The kinesthetic learning preference was done by eliciting answers to questions through body language and rhythmic (hand clapping) chants and games such as “Simon says”…in which students have to do what it is said by the teacher (ex Simon says: do the mimic of a train, plane, flight attendant, etc). The name of the unit is “Globetrotters” which reflects the theme of the lesson means of transport and vocabulary related to “travel”. Content was taken from the books used by the school (Solutions intermediate, student and workbook). But, the strategies and activities were chosen according to the suggestions from the students and taken, most of them, from the literature read for this intervention. In the first place, it was necessary to establish rapport between English and the students, so, the class started with speaking activities making up personal questions to catch their attentions, to build confidence in between them and with the teacher and finally to achieve talk and participate in the class actively. In the first session focused on just arranging the class in a different way to create a closer environment explaining that in that way they will have to talk to if they have any question or doubt related to the exercises they will work on. After that, the teacher decided to explain a new topic related to “different means of transport” vocabulary. For this purpose, the teacher wrote three different circles on the board with three words: plane, train, ship. Students were asked to think and mention all the words aloud while teacher grouping them into the correct circle. Once this activity is completed, the teacher would use images, pictures and a powerpoint presentation for those who are visuals and need explanations directly from the teacher. Every word is explained in English giving synonyms, definitions or just examples for them to understand. The goal was to explain everything in the target language. Further on, the exercises were done in pairs allowing them to choose their own partner. The main target was to give them the opportunity to clarify their own doubts using the target language and working in a cooperative way. In the next lessons, it was decided to end the class with a metacognition closing. This means, provoking awareness in the student about what they had learnt and how. To begin with, the teacher asked what they learnt and if they felt it is worthy or not in their daily situations or life. They were able to identify and talk about the different structures taught, vocabulary and reading and listening activities done throughout the lessons. Evaluation Because this intervention had the purpose of using different strategies to involve all the students in the class and their learning outcome, the evaluation had to be thought as a process to identify if these new approaches achieved the described aim at the beginning of this article. Formative evaluations were done through every class by taking notes and individual records for working in class. These notes will be translated into one “participation in class grade”. Student reflection and feedback at the end of each class contributed towards informing formative evaluation assessments. Assessment was undertaken throughout lessons. A summative evaluation was undertaken at the end of the unit. This took the form of a written test, using a comparable question format to one used during. 11.

(12) lessons and quizzes. Due to the test had to be the same for all the other levels, this has to be a standard test but despite this, it was intentionally constructed to fit with the strategies and activities used during the intervention. Learning results At the beginning of the didactic unit students were aware of what it was wanted to achieve and done in this intervention to use different strategies which will help to enhance the learning of all or the students. These strategies were presented to the whole class at the beginning of this intervention and every time that they were used in class, they were named loudly by the teacher for the students to understand what they were working on and why. To set examples about this, when a new grammar point was introduced, the teacher said that in that specific occasion, it would be presented by the teacher as a controller, standing at the front of the class, explaining everything related to that topic, role that it is effective in grammar explanation but on the contrary, if the main teacher goal is to encourage student to be an active aspect of their own learning, a new topic or vocabulary was introduced with predictions, using synonyms and student´s previous knowledge. With this in mind, it was an effective aspect to mention what the strategy was because the students engaged easily and actively to the activities finding sense in what they will work on and because they felt that those strategies were chosen by them as an “effective one” to improve their learning. In relation to the survey done to the students at the beginning of the intervention, more than 90% of them mentioned that “a good way to improve our learning is working in pairs”. For this reason, this strategy was one of the most used strategies. As a concrete example, new vocabulary was introduced (means of transport) showing the new words with photographs label them with the word in English. After that, the students had to identify the word and put them into the right category: plane, train, ship. This activity was done in pairs and the result was that almost all the students were engaged with the activity and worked together cooperatively. It is important to say that some of the students said that they prefer to write the meaning of the words immediately in Spanish because it was easier and faster for them to understand. In their own words: “el año pasado lo hacíamos así y era mejor”. In terms of evaluation, there were changes but not meaningful; most of the girls kept their grades but still, their performances were better than in the previous unit test taken at the end of the unit before the intervention. Some of the students did not get a better grade but they had a better disposition to English class and to improve their learning process and results. In addition, and as it is observed in the survey done after the intervention, 15 girls out of 18 pointed out that grouping strategy and building rapport were the best ways for enhancing their learning process Students also said that the awareness of their learning process made at the end of every class, was so important to realize what, how and why they have learned. Analysis of the intervention This analysis can be made from different perspectives: A two-line approach was undertaken to set the presenting problem; how to reduce the gap between students and measures to motivate student engagement. These then, serve as the criteria to evaluate the strengths and weakness of the intervention undertaken. As it was pointed out at the beginning of this article, one of the strategies used during this intervention was to create a good rapport between students and the teacher. This was achieved by. 12.

(13) making personal questions to the students at the beginning of every class, (asking them how their weekend was, parties, etc.). This activity had two goals: to make them to talk in English using their own context and build a bond between the teacher and students which can help the teacher to connect with the class and to get the students ‘attention. It can be affirmed that once a nice and fun class environment was established, the students wanted to participate more during the class improving their learning process. On the other hand, there were students, although they wanted to express themselves, they weren´t able to do it because of the insufficient English skills that they have. Taking them in account, other strategies were used to build rapport (arrive earlier to the classroom in order to talk to them in a more relaxed way). Once the rapport was established and in relation with the different stages of the class, the teacher focused on writing the goal(s) of the class on the board for the student to know what was the lesson about and what was it expected from them and where they were moving forward to. This goal was read by the teacher at the beginning and at the end of every lesson. A metacognitive process of monitoring and controlling their own learning was made to assure that all the students or at least the majority of them, achieved the main goal of the class and due to this metacognition stage was made in Spanish, this can be evaluated as a positive reflection because even the weakest students could give their answers and participate actively in this stage developing conscious awareness of what they have just learned. With respect to the process of evaluation, it was decided to value formative assessments in almost every lesson (a signature system was implemented; they got the teacher´s signature if they work on their exercises, copy on their copybooks the topics written on the board, participate voluntarily, etc). This system was an effective method to those who didn´t feel confident to talk in English aloud or to those who were slow students. At the end of the intervention, these signatures were part of the participation grade. It is a positive aspect to mention that 100 % porcent of the students got a seven grade related to the participation grade (although it was just a percentage of this final grade, the students were motivated and interested in keeping their records and they recognized that being evaluated because of this in spite of being just right or wrong, kept them engaged with the lessons and finally, they felt that their effort was worthy. This recognition was not only through the points they obtained, but also through verbal reinforcement made by the teacher. The summative evaluation was made at the end of the unit “globetrotters”. The test consisted of different items focused on some grammar points as passive voice, vocabulary related to means of transport and compound nouns and a third part related to a reading comprehension. What was a relevant aspect regarding grades had to do with this final test: only 5 out 18 students got disapproving marks and over a 70% of the class obtained over a 5.0. One downside of the evaluation was set in the reading comprehension section where students were asked to read the text, then answer some questions using true or false justifying the false ones. The topic of the text was related to travel and it was taken from a real text. In spite of a glossary was put to explain some key words, there were students got troubled because they didn´t understand the explanation given in this glossary (all the definitions were written in English). Students got confused in this section and they wasted a lot of time trying to “translate” almost every word from the text. After analyzing this section, it was noticed that the chosen text was too difficult and long for them. Another obstacle detected related to evaluation was that no matter how the student learns, we take the same type of evaluation to everyone and always giving more importance to summative evaluation rather than to formative one.. 13.

(14) Improvement plan One of the main goals for this intervention was to set that every student has different ways of learning and through the knowledge of these students, many varied strategies and activities could be used in order to achieve and enhance students’ learning. Once, this is established, students must know what the goals they are asked to work on are. These goals must be specified by the teacher. In spite this was done through every lesson during this intervention, I did not work on the metacognitive process at the end of every lesson because of two reasons: basically because of two issues: lack of time and the students did not have the habit of reflecting or making conscious their own learning process. By virtue of improving this class stage, it is suggested to write this stage on the board and ask at the beginning of the class one student to be in charge of remaining the teacher about 10 minutes before the end of every lesson to complete this relevant stage of the class where it is reflected on what the students have learned. With this in mind, this stage has to be improved and well planned through CCQ or opened questions where correct or incorrect answers are not expected focusing only in the awareness of the student´s learning outcome and since now, this metacognitive stage is included in every lesson and it is planned as one of the three stages of the class. During this intervention, I took several formative assessments in order to reflect how and what my students had learned. But at the end of the day, it seems that the summative evaluation is the most important one because of the number of grades that the Ministery of Education request the school to have in relation to the number of class hours. I wonder if it would be better to focus more on formative evaluations for monitoring the whole process of learning more than focus on evaluating at the end of every unit. What it is done with the results of the evaluation is another relevant aspect to be analyzed. Another key point is related to the activities and how beneficial they are if they are varied, so, it would be advisable to include several and well planned activities for having effective instruction for diverse learners and according to their styles (auditory, visual and kinesthetic); and in this way, developing a classroom community based on cooperative and supportive working relationships, quality work, and high expectations for everyone’s participation, performance, and learning. Conclusion By the end of this intervention, there are several aspects to be considered. To begin with, I can mention my own performance as a teacher. To teach I have to know my students deeply but before doing that, I have to know myself, my weaknesses and strengths. It is often said that “good teachers are born, not made” but according to my experience, it could be both, to have a natural affinity to the job and others who can learn their “job” through a mixture of personality, intelligence, knowledge and experience and how they reflect on it all the time. To be aware of my own performance, I can do things differently or better if it is the case. I need to look into my own process, to evaluate my planning lessons, my activities, my strategies used in every class to improve them, to avoid keeping doing the same activities all the time and finally to innovate my teaching process to improve better learning outcomes in my students.. 14.

(15) I have to be flexible to cope with different situations that could happen in every class because however well we have prepared, the chances are that things will not go exactly as we planned. So, I need to be prepared to decide what the response should be when it happens. In regards to some weaknesses in my performance, I will change the way I use the results of the evaluations taken. In spite I always feedback my students with their results, I just share the right answers with them but I rarely stop myself and retake the contents or topics which they are descended in. As well as teachers, students need to know their performance in class, what they did wrong and right and also their strengths and weaknesses. In relation to the aim of this intervention, I think that all the strategies undertaken in every class were good enough to make a difference in my student´s motivation and in the engagement with the class. My students were more likely to learn, to participate in the class and enhance their learning. It was easier to those who were weak students to show a better understanding because of the activities done in class were more appealing to them and their learning styles. Although I was able to observe a better understanding, a more collaborative environment inside the classroom. I know that there are a lot of steps to walk to achieve that all the students learn and reach their full potential but I think that if I continue working on these strategies and activities, I may say that I am walking in the right road.. 15.

(16) References Bremner, S. (2008) Teaching a Mixed Ability Class. Recuperado de: Dornyei, Z. (1998). Motivation in second and foreign language learning. Language Teaching, 31, 117. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind book. The Theory of multiple intelligences. Hess, N. (2001) Teaching Large Multilevel Classes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Indice de Calidad de Vida Urbana (ICVU). 2012 Matear, A. (2008). English language learning and education policy in Chile: can English really open doors for all? Asia Pacific Journal of Education,28(2), p. 131-147. 10.1080/02188790802036679. Prodromou, L. (1989). The mixed-ability class and the bad language learner. English Teaching Forum, 27/4, 2-8. School official document: Manual de Convivencia (School Regulations). School official document: PEI (Spanish acronym of Institutional Educational Project). (2000). Šimanová, A. (2010) Dealing with Mixed Ability Classes. Recuperado de:;id=183114 Ur, P. (1996). A Course in Language Teaching: Theory and Practice. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press.. 16.

(17) Appendices Appendix A: Survey to students before the intervention ENCUESTA ALUMNAS Querida alumna: Agradecería contestar esta encuesta que me servirá para recopilar información que necesitaré para realizar mi investigación. Esta encuesta es anónima y sólo será usada para los fines antes mencionados. 1.- Ordene las habilidades en Inglés desde la que se le hace mas fácil a la mas difícil, siendo la 1 la mas fácil y la 4 la más difícil: ___ leer ___ hablar ___escribir ___ escuchar a) Cuál de las habilidades crees es más necesaria,……… ordenar ….. ___ leer ___ hablar ___ escribir ___ escuchar b) Cuál de las habilidades se trabaja más en clases …………..ordenar ….. ___ leer ___ hablar ___ escribir ___ escuchar 2.- Señala con una cruz la(s) alternativa(s) que crees son la(s) mejor(es) para aprender Inglés. - El profesor explicando algún punto gramatical dando la instrucción - El alumno en forma individual investigando un tema dado en clases - El alumno trabajando en conjunto con otros - A través de textos del estudiante y libros de ejercicios. _______ _______ _______ _______. 3.- De acuerdo a tu opinión personal, cómo aprendes mejor Inglés, individualmente , en parejas, en grupo?. Por qué? ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. Con cuales actividades se sienten más motivados en la clase de inglés?. ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ 5.- Para que crees que utilizarías más el inglés en tu vida profesional en tu futuro? Marca con una cruz la o las alternativas: a. Para hablar b. Leer información c. Para escribir d. Entender lo que escuchas. _________ _________ _________ _________. 6.- Deja aquí algún otro comentario sobre el inglés en tu vida _______________________________________________________________________________________ ¡Muchas gracias!. 17.

(18) Appendix B: Day by day class. 18.

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(20) Appendix C: Survey after the intervention. ENCUESTA Estimada/o alumna/o: Agradecería que pudieras contestar esta encuesta, que me servirá para recopilar información necesaria para realizar mi investigación de titulación. Esta encuesta es anónima y sólo será usada para los fines antes mencionados. 1. En estas últimas clases ¿sientes que fue más fácil para ti expresarte oralmente en inglés? □ Sí. □ No. Marca con una cruz tu respuesta y fundaméntala. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________. 2. Respecto a la metodología de trabajo grupal, da tu opinión y fundamenta (aspectos positivos y aspectos negativos) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________. 3. Evalúa tu motivación para aprender inglés antes de la unidad “Globetrotters” y después. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________. 4. ¿Qué le dirías a la profesora sobre la intervención realizada? ¿Qué es lo que más te gustó? ¿Y lo que menos? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ¡Muchas gracias!. 20.