Yesterday’s class stood out to me because I felt that I had confused my students, and I was worried that they were frustrated. I know that they’re adults and that they can handle being frustrated… but I still didn’t like it.
I actually stand by the difficult work we did. The activities helped me gauge their comprehension and made them think very hard about what they’d been learning the past couple of weeks. I wish I’d done a better job of highlighting what they already knew before they began. I also wish I’d followed it up with something more fun and manageable.
My goal for today was review, but even more importantly, I wanted them to feel good about their English. I know that could easily become BS-y or condescending or a total waste of time if the content was weak. I owe them more respect and professionalism than to assume they want easy fluff and then pandering to said assumption. So I thought of it as a day to be sure to set them up for success.
I think it worked out well. First we had a contest to remember exercise vocabulary. It was fun and different and not too difficult. And it will be on the test.
Then they separated into small groups to make posters of the two verb tenses. I was very happy with the process and the results. Firstly, they had to speak English because the groups all included people with different first languages. Secondly, they had to read and interperet the instructions that were projected on the screen. Thirdly, they had to think hard about what they already knew about the verb tenses. It was a matter of remembering, organizing, and applying. At least one student per group knew it cold, and this allowed everyone to practice, contribute, ask questions, and/or make corrections. Fourthly, we now have great review materials I can use next week.
Next, we rehearsed the play again, but today Group 1 rehearsed while Group 2 watched and vice versa. We staged it so that nobody’s back was to the audience, and worked on adding a bit of drama: inflection, pointing, and in once case having a character bolt out of the room. It was a good time, and I hope that it helped with comprehension for the one or two students who still needed it. The culmination of all of their practicing this week was performing for the ESL class next door! The audience seemed to get a kick out of it, and my students finished off smiling and seeming energized.
For the last activity I let them choose between a dictation and watching anther Mr. Bean episode. Dictation won, as it always does. 🙂 Different students read each sentence, and other students wrote their final answers on the board where we identified once again which were Simple Present and which were Present Continuous.
I think they worked really hard today, and I also think they both demonstrated and felt success. It’s a nice way to finish the week!