In this session we worked actively and it was really interesting!.
Our teacher brought several books to the classroom and everyone had to pick one. The class was arranged into different corners where we could find information on different methods: collaborative learning, games, cooperative learning, problem-based learning and task-based learning.
I have to say that, as we were about 30 people or so in the classroom and everybody stood up to pick their book at the same time, when I had the chance to choose mine, the best ones were already chosen and the same happened with the information in the corners. If we ever develop an activity like this in the classroom we need to plan and arrange everything perfectly because our students are not so well organised and this could lead to some conflict.
The book I chose is called Travel Stories and I found it too difficult for ESO students as it is intended for an advanced learner. It is a compilation of short stories that deal with travelling experiences through different places: climbing the Himalaya, travelling through Mexico… I think that the topic is quite appealing for teenagers as they love travelling and discovering new places but the level is too high for them so maybe I won’t use that book in my class or I would adapt the text for them. It is a pity because this book includes authentic texts in English so it can be a good point in order to introduce students in a “real” English atmosphere. The thing that aroused my attention is that every story contains a summary where the ending is not given so we can use it as a pre-teaching activity in order to ask them to work out the meaning and then compare it to the real one provided in the story.
We had to plan different activities using at least two of the methods proposed. Here is my proposal:
I would tell my students to get into groups of 4 or 5 people and work cooperatively. I like cooperative learning as every member of the group has a role: the leader, the language monitor, the advisor and the secretary. The teacher is a guide in their learning process and they are the ones who have to be creative and imaginative in order to produce good works. They make some effort and they “learn while doing”. I will certainly tell my students to write their progress on Edmodo so the other classmates can comment on their work and the teacher can see the process and take it into account when assessing them.
To present the book what I would do is to project a video on Youtube of the film 127 hours to see their reactions. I would use the video just to catch their attention and make them reflect upon some issues related to extreme experiences of travelling.
It is about an adventurous man who likes risky adventures and gets stuck under a rock while climbing a mountain. It is in fact based on real facts so we can ask them things as:
Have you seen this movie?
Do you know the story shown in the movie happened in real life?
What would you do if you were in his shoes?
After the discussion activity they have a general insight of what they can find in the book.
Then I will give them the titles of the stories which are: The lawless roads, Himalaya, The Land of the Camels, Hammerfest, The Amateur Inmigrant and Long Way Round written in small pieces of paper and they have to guess what are the stories about. Then they have to choose three stories of the six provided and read them. I would like them to read the whole book but maybe that’s too much if I want them to focus on what they are reading and creating nice projects.
2. ACTUAL TEACHING ACTIVITIES:
Once they have read at least 3 of the 6 short stories they have to choose one and create a glogster where they depict the setting of the story, what is happening and focus on the different parts of the story: introduction, plot and conclusion. I think that through Glogster they are working with several skills: they improve their writing and summarising abilities, they learn how to distribute information in a story and also how to be creative. Then they’ll upload their glogster on Edmodo.
Another activity consists on creating an individual blog where they speak about travelling experiences. They have to imagine that they could travel to any part of the world and they have to report their “fictional” adventures: where are they, which perils they have encountered and write a journey diary who will be posted on Edmodo. The design counts so they have to use their imagination and be very creative. They can post nice pics on their blogs using tools as kerpoof (http://www.kerpoof.com/) or add a Voki to present their blog (http://www.voki.com)
3. POST TEACHING ACTIVITIES:
They have to represent the ideas they have discovered through the reading of the different stories and create a wordcloud that depicts them (http://www.wordle.net/).
Using the wordcloud, they have to invent a story of their own and they can represent it and record themselves with their mobile phones and upload it on Edmodo.
ROLE PLAY & SIMULATION
Another way of teaching this book to students of ESO could be through role play. A role play is a technique in which the student has to perform a role, to act out an invented character or unreal situation. It is quite motivating for them but the teacher must create a friendly environment where the students feel comfortable otherwise they won’t talk. Through role-play students can practice lots of vocabulary and the speaking skill can be improved. I have decided to use the role play as I have used this technique with students of primary education and it works quite good but they have a limited amount of vocabulary so maybe with teenagers it’s easier.
The students will be divided into groups of 4 people. Each member of the group will have a card with the character that has to perform.
For example: Speaker A: You’re one of the mountaineers who climb the Mount Everest. You are tired and you want to convince the group of having a rest. Speaker B: You are the expedition guide and you think that you could continue your journey until you reach the top of the mount, you all need to hurry up as it is cold and soon it will get dark. Speaker C: You are a mountaineer and you don’t get on well with the other people in your team. You think you should overtake your partners and wait them on top of the mountain as your dream is to be the first one to reach the top.
This activity could be adapted to the different activities that appear in the book but as I didn’t have the chance to read it I couldn’t think of more ideas.
I found this simulation very useful as well and I think students could do it and learn a lot. (http://www.iei.illinois.edu/travelsim/) Simulations consist on a technique in which students are given relevant problems which are solved in environments which closely and precisely emulate real-world situations. This simulation consists on planning a trip through the Internet so it is something they can experience through their lifes. Maybe they already know how to do it in Spanish but we can help them to manage that same situation in English.
In the same groups, students have to go through this site in which students will have to plan a trip to the Grand Canyon. They learn lots of vocabulary as they have to follow different questions and requests and also make some decisions: when do they want to make the trip, how to travel, what to see, which activities they would like to do once they are there…etc. They have a total amount of $4400 so they also practice real life problems as how to organise their budget and what is better for them. In the end they can print their planning and show it in class in front of their classmates and explain the choices they made and why.
These are just some tips or recommendations on how to teach English actively through literature, if you are imaginative and creative you can design a nice lesson which will thrill your students!