Posts Tagged student-centered teaching
In the past I have made the analogy between onions and learning situations. Not just any onions: the big, round sweet Spanish onions that saute up so sweet. When you eat them before they are ripe, they are strong and have a sharp, unpleasant taste, but left to grow layer upon layer of sweet goodness, they grow into a delicious taste treat.
After having class on the Moodle platform, I wanted to share the onion analogy with you. Having the opportunity to work in a variety of contexts provides different levels of engagement with students just like the layers in an onion.
- Those that run away from technology have the opportunity of working with the pages in the Anthology dedicated to the Learning Theorists.
- Those that missed class could use the Moodle platform to access the class and not miss important information, although they missed important face to face discussion. Discussion could be facilitated through other contexts, such as through the blogs, and discussion forums in a classroom that are set up for a mufti-layered delivery.
- Those that like to work online worked at their own pace.
- Those that like to work in groups and do not like technology are able to work supported in small groups to access the information and draw conclusions by filling in their matrix.
- Those that want to look at the information again can do so anytime, as long as they are enrolled in the Moodle course online.
This experience provided a differentiation that is seldom available in our regular four walled classrooms. The contexts in which we worked during class on April 27 were multiple and provided a variety of opportunities for all types of learners. We figuratively knocked down the classroom walls and opened up the classroom to expand our possibilities of learning.
I’d like to share this article from an online e-zine in which educators share their views on flattening the classroom walls, or as they say in this article, flipping the classroom:
Favorite Strategies for engaging students in class discussions
Then to wrap up the topic of motivation, I’d like to share a post from one of the teachers on my international PLN (personal and professional learning network) who posted a reflective entry after her visit to IATEFL last year.
Please check out Eva’s blog..
Eva, thank you. I couldn’t have summed it up better.
You are probably wondering what I am saying…and I mean it, don’t motivate your students. If you motivate your students, you are still doing the work for them of getting them interested. Instead, engage your students. Involve your students. Let them have control of their learning. How?
Let them make decisions about their knowledge. Let them set their own goals. Stop trying to control them, let them control their learning processes.
I recently took a good hard look at the typical school classroom in most schools in the town where I live. In every classroom, the seats are lined up to face the front facing the teacher, the center of attention.
Students sit and listen while professors drone on, and once in a while students get to speak during pair work. Students in Mexican universities are required to study English in order to graduate, so they come in thousands (five thousand students registered this past semester in our Language Department and at times, hundreds are turned away!). There are no discipline problems, this is university level studies and they take it seriously.
So, what does engaging your students mean? This is what I think:
- Asking them to reflect,
- to evaluate,
- to stand back and observe what they are doing,
- to learn not only from their product but also from their process. If we say that life is the journey you travel to get to your destination, and the fun is in how you get there, then why do we place so much emphasis on the product?
ASCD author and Annual Conference presenter Bob Sullo says that educators could be more successful with their teaching if they invited their students to be collaborators in their own learning in this video.
Point in case: I asked my advanced level students to bring in their portfolio of written work they had done in the past year after doing an analysis of sentence structure (complex, compound and simple sentences). They were able to observe their progress and note where they needed to make improvements. Most of them had never had the opportunity to sit and reflect where they have been to see where they could go. The AHA moment was tangible as everyone learned and set new personal goals for their writing during the semester. Now that was engagement.
- How would you place more emphasis on the process of learning?
- Would you let your students design their own rubrics? Share expectations?
- Give them a choice and so create ownership?
- Go beyond the classroom walls?
What ideas do you have?
Original Toondo cartoon by author.
Reading is a complex activity and we know that many of our learners are not accustomed to reading in their first language, let alone reading in the target language. When we create a collaborative communicative context for students to work on subskills in the target language, we begin to promote not only reading subskills, but we also promote collaboration, speaking skills, writing skills and listening skills.
It is difficult to separately work with any language skill, out of context with the other language skills. Literacy circles provides students with authentic reasons to communicate, a supportive learning environment and breaks down the tasks that students must do in order to practice and become proficient at reading skills.
Look at the Literature_Circles written by past students of the TKT course.
What is your opinion of Literature Circles? Can they help promote reading in L1 or L2 in your learning/teaching situation? For foreign language learners are they especially helpful? Why? Think about these questions as you investigate more about Literature Circles.
How would you use them in your classes? Investigate the links included in the PPT for more information.
Ever get caught in the “explanation” game, where the teacher-centered explanation, the worksheets you supply, and the extra practice you give on drill exercises don’t seem to help all your students get the grammar point?
Sometimes you just have to use material outside the coursebook.
Teachers around the world who blog share ideas about waking up your classes. Eva in Turkey’s suggests maintaining and adding information on a excel page that she started: songs to teach grammar. Check it out; it contains more than Beatles songs and you can get many ideas for using songs int he classroom.
If you like movies and would like to use those in your home collection, Claudio in Brazil has collected a mountain of information and linked movie scenes from present and past films to grammar points with great lesson ideas to help your teaching become student-centered.
Try it…it is more interesting than teacher explanations of grammar! Movie Segments to Assess Grammar.
Here in Mexico, traditional teaching methods are still commonly found in most classrooms from kindergarten to university level. Student-centered classes are few and far between, and teachers who guide on the side are often called out by their principals to make less noise.
With teacher-centered classrooms still prevalent, students are given few opportunities to develop critical thinking skills. Many teacher trainees in Mexico know that they would like to help change the status quo, but have not had the experience to know how to make changes.
By relying on the HOTS of Bloom’s Taxonomy, teachers help students go beyond simple repetition to using target language and vocabulary in complex tasks which promote the use of critical thinking. The addition of reflection activities also provides many meta-cognitive experiences for learners. Find out more about Bloom’s Taxonomy in these Scoop it pages:
Teacher trainees in the Universidad Michoacana were given the task to design learning outcomes for the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. A great example of their work can be found on Yesy’s Blog, http://yesyhd.wordpress.com/ and and on Malena’s blog . Please have a look to see what we are doing.
Another blogging educator from Melbourne, Australia just published an interesting post on her blog. I invite you to read Edna’s post at http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/learning-isnt-linear/. Please read and share what you feel about the development of critical thinking skills today in Mexico. We welcome your comments.