Monday, October 24, 2005

Classroom interaction

Next week I'll be giving a micro-teach focusing on "classroom interaction." This topic is a little more vague than, say, "vocabulary" or "listening." Nearly every presentation so far has been interactive. So I'll need to come up with something of substance that can be taught in a way that stimulates students to interact with one another.

Independent of anything else, I'd been thinking of teaching an introductory Russian lesson, just because it would be fun to teach Russian. But this probably isn't ideal, as introductory lessons are necessarily teacher-fronted. What I need is something that, once I set it up, will keep going without my intervention.

Interactive strategies that have been used thus far:
-Pairwork. Having acquired new vocabulary, the students practice a short scripted dialogue in groups of two or three.
-Games. Students use newly-acquired vocabulary to find other students similar to them in some way, or to elicit information from other students.
-Chorus. Having taught new vocabulary, the teacher elicits all the students to respond in unison, or one at a time.
-Rotating partners. In an information-gap activity, each student interviews several others in order to get a sense of the information they're missing. Then several students pool their information to come up with a common story.

I really liked the rotating-partner activity; I found it a very effective way to stimulate interaction. Half of the class (the "witnesses") had seen a short video clip, and the other half (the "reporters") had only heard the sound effects. Each witness, however, could give an account only of part of the clip, so each reporter had to interview several of us in order to get a sense of what actually happened. The reporters then talked amongst themselves in order to develop a clear description of the events.

Once this situation was set up by the teacher, she had to do relatively little to keep it going, to keep students interacting.

I would like to achieve a similar outcome: provoke the students to collaborate with one another, then back off to watch it play yet.

I don't yet have an idea of how I will do this, or even what sort of class I'll be pretending to teach.

Since I work in ASE, it might be useful to simulate an ASE class. The session could then be content-focused: introduce a topic, and get students to discuss it. Every week in ASE 2 the students spend a good 20 - 40 minutes just talking about their classes that week. While the teacher provides advice and occasionally brings up a point or a question, most of that time is simply student interaction-- they give one another feedback, and often very good feedback. The classroom interaction is free and easy.

But of course in ASE 2 they all have something to talk about-- and their spoken English is really very good. It will be more difficult for me to motivate the TESL class to have a free, interactive conversation.

But maybe I could.

Perhaps in my micro-teach, I could simply bring up some challenges that teachers face. Grading, or asking effective questions, for example. I could have the students read a brief excerpt from Communicate, then discuss its contents amongst themselves, then come together for a quick discussion of the issue.

Not only would this simulate a realistic ASE 2 situation, but I think the TESL students would actually benefit from it, since ASE 2 is also a teacher-training class.


Post a Comment

<< Home