It’s a day of new things.
1) I radically changed my lesson planning style. The old way was fine for a relatively mono-level class, but I have an extremely multi-level class. It wasn’t fair to just teach to the majority in the middle.
I split the class into teams and planned separate and simultaneous activities for the teams. This is outside of my comfort zone and feels very risky (what if they have an important question after I’ve moved on to concentrate on a different team?). For example, the purple team was matching job vocab words with the appropriate pictures and the blue team was writing their opinion on a work-related reading while I set up the yellow team for a grammar/dictation exercise.
It worked decently well, with lots of room for improvement. I kept having technical difficulties (for example, Word crashed and lost the activity I’d just typed out, so it wasn’t ready before class started. And the sound on the listening activity worked when I tested it but not 10 minutes later when it was time for the students to begin). The students were also not accustomed to my reduced presence with any given group and didn’t seem sure when to interrupt me to ask a question (i.e. Wait, what exactly should we be doing? vs. Is this spelled right?) .
I need to be clearer about which team I’m addressing and when they need to interrupt me for clarification. My modeling has not been enough. I need to always have two students demonstrate first and watch the activity for at least a minute or two before I go to the next group. I need to reuse activity structures to reduce confusion (for example, they know what to do for a dictation activity). I need to have low-tech back-ups for the tech-dependent activities, and given that this multilevel style of planning took me absolutely forever just to cover about an hour of class, I’m not thrilled about planning back-ups as well.
2) I busted out the conversation cards during conversation time. I wouldn’t say that they were a silver bullet, but they really did help students lead their own small groups for at least a few minutes instead of just looking at me (a circle of 12 students is too big to maintain for more than a question or two).
3) I start teaching another class through another organization this evening! Their level is Intermediate 2. It should be awesome!
I’m not sure when or if I’ll post about this other class. It’s two evenings per week, and I won’t be able to post directly after class because we have to close up the building and leave. Once I get home after 10pm, I’m doubtful that blogging will happen. So… its presence on this blog will be a surprise for all of us. 🙂