Bringing the World to the Classroom

Need, Relevance, Utility

Our Sharing activities do more than connect the world of our students to the world of English, they validate each individual’s identity and demonstrate a sincere interest and concern in what they have to say as evidenced by the initiative of one of the students to suggest a topic for our Sharing time. This simple act of throwing out an idea without even being prompted to reminded me of the importance of basing learning on topics that are elicited in consultation with the learners themselves. Learners need to be granted the opportunity to claim their right to speak. Education, on the other hand, should be grounded in the concerns and needs of the participants. What better way to demonstrate communication not just as the end but also as the means of language learning than to ask students to tell you what they want to know or talk about. 

Education is communication and dialogue. It is not the transference of knowledge

Dogme Philosophy

Designing lessons that allow children to draw on their own background and life experiences invariably boosts the interest and motivation towards learning. The content supplied by the people in the room is the one most likely to engage the learners and to act as a trigger for the learning process. When students have a chance to tell their own stories, they get to develop and strengthen their oral language skills through relevant and meaningful content. In other words, language practice takes place interestingly and directly when students are asked to talk about themselves. Not only that but when teachers leverage students’ interests and experiences from their lives outside of school, they substantially expand the sources of learning in the classroom. Last but not least, when students take on the role of teachers, the behaviors associated with being a teacher are going to increase the feeling of self-confidence.

When students are communicating, communication should, first and foremost, be ‘about themselves’.

Dogme Philosophy

Teachers often complain about feeling stressed-out and overburdened. And this doesn’t come as a surprise when they need to think of how to cover items on a syllabus while providing authentic and meaningful situations. At this point, it is worth noting that when teachers see the students as the primary resource and their raw experience – the primary ‘homemade’ materials, when the curriculum is the product of interaction between the teacher and the students, both teaching and learning naturally and organically occur. Embracing this mindset and approach allows for enjoying ourselves – both we, the teachers, and our learners. 

Learners bring the lesson with them – in the rough form of their language and lives – and the teacher helps them to shape it into a learning experience. We constantly feel the urge to share with other people the things we have seen, heard, read about, or experienced. “I must tell X about that” or “I have to show that to Y.” Sharing activities also serve as a conversation-starter as they lead directly to a discussion and the construction of new knowledge.

Info-gap

Traditionally, show and tell activities center on kids using physical objects that they bring to school and are already part of the learners’ lives. These are ‘things’ that students want to share about with other people. By bringing in items or pictures, and speaking about their own life, lessons are personalized to the interests and identities of the students. From the initial stimulus (an item or an image), the lesson grows naturally. Non-verbal stimulus (visual) and tactile things that can be passed around the room are particularly immediate and can guide the speaker. 

As usual, the journey starts with a ‘mysterious’ item or an image aimed at provoking the inquiry.

Modeling: Output – Input

When students take on the role of teachers, the behaviors associated with being a teacher may increase the feeling of self-confidence.

Demonstrating, Showing or Passing an item around

The power of images to enchant and even bring back memories

Mechanism, and Progression

With varying themes, our sharing time goes through a three-stage process. During the first several sharing sessions, students are expected to deliver just a few sentences by personalizing a given sentence frame: “I have a friend who lives in _____ . His/her name is _____. He/she likes ______ . We _____ together. When we are away from each other, we video call/ talk on the phone/ exchange cards and presents.” 

In the second phase of our sharing time, kids are asked to supplement their description with a short story. “When I was ____ old, I traveled to ________. ______ is famous for ______. When it gets dark the reclining Buddha wakes up and starts singing and dancing. When it gets bright, he goes back to sleep.” The student narrates the story twice, the second time bringing it to life with the help of two appointed classmates who act the story out. When classmates have the chance to act out the story being told, they develop not only their language skills but also social-emotional skills. Seeing a visual representation of the story helps everyone imagine how the presenter might have felt at the time of the event. 

During the last stage of our Show and Tell sessions students are expected to top their description with a story and a short discourse. Volunteers not only role-play the story with the accompanying dialogue but they also need to extend the very same dialogue with one additional turn of sentences. Incorporating a short dialogue helps students focus on how speakers cooperate in order to construct a connected and coherent talk. Students need to consciously think about responding to and building on each other’s utterances while at the same time ensuring that whatever is said is relevant both to what has been said before and to the context of the story. 

Success [in language learning] depends on what goes on inside and between the people in the classroom.

Earl Stevick

When out of a sudden, a student stands up and fills your heart with joy…

Extending the activities – Reuse, Recycle

Guess where in the world I am…

The classroom floor represents a map of the world and the whiteboard features the “real” map of the world for quick reference. Children take turns standing in one of the locations introduced in the course of our Sharing session about Travel and which represents a place they would like to visit. Using only questions that can be answered with yes or no, students have to guess where each person is standing.
Can you see houses?
Are you on an island?
Are you in a city?
Can you see people?

Destination Unknown

Working individually, students draft a postcard from one of the locations we have talked about. They draw the surroundings, based on the images they have seen and the stories they have heard, and include a short message: “Dear friend, I am writing to you from __. I like it here. “ without stating where they are. They secretly ‘mail’ the postcard in one of their friend’s mailboxes (aka toolbox). On the next day, students check their mailboxes to find the postcard. Children need to guess from where was the card sent.

3 thoughts on “Bringing the World to the Classroom

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share your opinion. It helps me see the big picture and gain insight on the way things are progressing in the education field. I guess environmental factors serve as the best catalyst for change.

      Liked by 1 person

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