by fox kiyo
The idea of un)-plug-(un lessons is one that has been hovering in my subconscious ever since I read it on Jason Renshaw's site. There's something about the idea that seems to maximise creativity and uses all a teacher's skills. You have to manage an emergent moment, guide it into something on the spot and then on reflection create a piece of material that captures the heart of that moment.
However, unlike the horrendous art of butterfly pinning, after capturing the moment, you take it into class and let it take flight again in anyway it likes. There are many ways of doing this (and I would like to learn some more!) but the one I'm enjoying at the moment is Live Reading. So when my barely literate and barely speaking Early Entry Burmese came into my class last week desperate to tell me all about their trip to the caves in Clapham, I couldn't carry on with my planned 'directions' session!
It took awhile for me to even figure out what they'd done but their excitement was infectious so together we found the words to express their experiences, first as a discussion, and then on the board. In hindsight there was too much language for their level but it was all stuff they wanted to say and I'll learn to be more concise next time!
The following class I had a go at inputting the text into a template by Jason with a few simple word level practice activities and ended up with this.
There was definitely too much text, even though I edited it down, but the reaction was postive. My learners respond well to professional looking resources, especially when those materials contain their work!
We played around with the text again, the learners took it in turns to read the sentences, and despite the text being way above their skill level, they made another really good stab at reading and understanding. When it came to matching the pictures, the task was challenging but possible, and lent itself to differentiation, as the faster learners completed harder anagrams on the board.
The materials led easily into a discussion about class trips in general. We chatted about when and where we were going for our class trip :-)
Since that class, the learners have taken the reading home with them, practiced it, written it out for themselves and tried the tasks alone, without me asking them too. I think they thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the session, subsequent material and discussion despite the difficulty level!
I really believe there's a lot of mileage in this approach for learners and it creates a high level of job satisfaction for me so thanks as usual to Jason Renshaw :-)
Any tips or ideas for how to improve this lesson or how to handle a similar situation differently would be very welcome! :-D