Monday, February 27, 2012

Ice Breaker Module 2

I am Adria Arafat.  The Adria part is my name given to me by my mother – Adrienne.  Her name was given to her by my grandfather – Adrian.  I, of course, named my daughter wait for it….Adrienna.  The Arafat part is from my wonderful husband of almost 30 years, Aiman.  Yes, I married a Palestinian named Arafat back when it was one of the most recognizable names in the world.  And no we aren’t related.  We have four lovely children and two grandchildren.  My two oldest live in the U.S. with their children, so I don’t get to see them much.  My two youngest are here – one at Sharjah University, and one at Raha International school. 

I was born and raised in a very small town in Utah, U.S.A.  I had never been east of Denver, and then moved to the Middle East.  I have taught ESL in the U.S., Palestine, Oman, Egypt, and most recently UAE. 

I was reminded while reading the other postings that I have always been curious.  I was always the one my family asked to ‘fix’ things.  My father would go for days not knowing what time it was because he could never figure out his digital watch and would wait for me to come home from college and reset it.  My parents were founding members of the flashing 12 club (think VCR’s a while back).  My father used to say he wasn’t on the information super highway, he was on the information cul-de-sac.  I am just the opposite.  I can’t get enough of the internet, gadgets, widgets, music, movies, etc.  I played with an Ipad at an educational conference, and had to get one the next day. 

Having said all that, I am pretty low tech in my class.  I try not to use any more than is necessary.  The key word is necessary. What do my students have, and what do they need. 
I teach foundation English.  The key word there is foundation.  My students aren’t ready for academic classes yet.  It is my job to get them ready.  You know the one about you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink?  Well, I feel my students are a lot like that.  I can lead them down the road, but if they aren’t willing to do the work (I gave a homework assignment – only 1 out of 18 did it) then I must try something different.  I won’t give up, but reaching these students is proving very difficult.  I try to make my classes interesting, exciting, lively, but at the end of the day, my classes are still the basics.  We were supposed to be “reviewing” the present continuous and most of the class acted like they had never seen it before in their life!  I ended up ‘teaching’ it.  
I would love to “flip” my classroom, but fundamentally I know that this would a)not be practical, b)not be allowed by the powers that be, c)not be accepted by my peers, and mostly d)not be accepted by the students!  The students would never watch the videos.  Not because they aren’t interesting, but because they just don’t spend any time outside of class doing any school work.  I don’t want to become the ‘teacher that shows videos’ just so I don’t have to teach.  That isn’t my goal.  I want to show videos because they are entertaining, and educational – edutainment. 
I have a lot of ideas in my head, it’s the implementation of these that I have problems with.  I look forward to the module and reading all of your stories, ideas, and insights.  


  1. Thanks Adria for sharing your first blog post. I've been to Utah a couple eyars ago to vist BYU where my husband graduated from and he'd like our kids to follow in his steps. Beautiful state.
    I was actually wondering about your last name and whether you are related to the famous family. I'm sure you get that a lot.

    I used to teach in Foundations and trust me I hear what you are saying...I can relate to your pain!
    I hope that this module will give you some practical ideas to apply in your classroom.

    Welcome and great to have you in our team.

  2. Hi Adria,

    I haven't been through Utah since 1985. I remember that it was raining like crazy and the Great Salt Lake was on the rise. Interstate 80 was a narrow lane between the sandbags holding back the water.

    Your assessment of the flipped classroom is probably pretty accurate for the students we have. I have trouble getting my graduate students to watch a video on their own time. But I do like the concept. I'm taking a free online course with Udacity right now which is video-based along with quizzes and homework that is computer-graded. I love the model.


  3. I understand what you say Adria about Foundations students and use of education technology; if you got unlucky (like me!) and had three sections last semester of level two and three then the use of education technology is a real challenge, especially if it requires them to work individually and away from classroom. The lack of English is the real reason of not having them motivated to do their work and to use technology for other reasons than entertainment. I am happy that our group has a great variety of teachers with different backgrounds, I am sure that you and I will find many ideas and suggestions that suit our Foundations level of students. Looking forward to work with everyone.

  4. I've only worked with Diploma, Higher Diploma, and Bachelor students...and I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be to teach those in the Foundations level.

    Perhaps instead of using videos, you can also look at using computer games to help students with their English (so it would be more of "play" instead of simply "work"). For example, one game that comes pre-installed in many Blackberry handsets is "Word Mole" where you have to build words.