|Teaching English as a Foreign Language - to Large, Multilevel Classes (Peace Corps, 1992, 243 p.)|
|Getting to know your students|
Although your students will benefit from individual work, pair work, and small group activities, it is important that a large group of students also develop a whole class identity.
Questionnaires, interviews, and group surveys can result in whole class profiles. Ask groups of students to create simple charts that can be used to record data about interests, preferences, special skills, and study habits. Class charts are simple assessment tools that build cohesion, develop greater understanding, and provide the basis for future class goals.
One participatory whole class activity that provides an alternative to written or oral assessments is Total Physical Response (TPR). As the name implies, students communicate by moving their bodies in response to a stimulus. With TPR, you and your students can demonstrate skills or learn interesting information about each other.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE EXPERIENCE
Whole class TPR assessment activities can be quite simple. For example, if you want to know how many students have studied English for over three years, write the word "Quietly" on the board (to keep the noise level down) and then write "Studied English for more than three years." Then tell the students to stand up quietly if they have studied English for more than three years. Ask one of the students to count and write the number of students on the board. Thank everyone, and tell those students to sit down. You might ask the students to raise their right hands if they listen to English on the radio, or ask them to lift their pencils in the air if they speak English outside the class.
Some teachers have enjoyed teaching their students games, such as "Simon says..." This is a non-threacening activity chat helps teachers identify the listening comprehension skills of their students. This game can also form the basis for future lessons.
TPR activities can be used to identify whole class preferences or attitudes. Your awareness of dominant learning style preferences, for instance, will help you to organize your presentations so that you gradually move from familiar co unfamiliar approaches co learning. To identify learning style preferences, which are described in more detail in Chapter Four, place signs that reflect each of the four major preferences at four points in the room. In the front of the classroom, you might have a sign that says "Talk to someone about it", at the back of the classroom, " Read the directions", facing the class, to the right, "Try it!", and on the opposite wall to the left "Wait & watch..." Put a large piece of paper next to each of the signs so that the students can sign their names.
Using this circle as a visual aid, point out the four points and four learning preferences. Then hold up a picture or piece of equipment (health or agriculture items related to your lessons) and ask the students to imagine that they must learn how to use the equipment. Emphasize the word "quietly" and tell the students to stand up and move next to one of the four state meets-the one that best reflects their first preference when they must learn something new. Emphasize that there are no right or wrong answers. Students may place themselves on a continuum between two preferences, or stand in the middle if they might use all four approaches.
Most students (and teachers) are fascinated by analyses of learning styles. Within their groups, ask the students to talk about why they chose to stand next to a particular learning preference. Share your own style preference, and emphasize that in your class, you will be integrating activities that meet the needs of all four learning styles, including talking and working together, analyzing grammar rules and taking lecture notes, watching and listening to other students, undertaking group projects, and creating class presentations.
Ask the students in each group to write their names on the large piece of paper hanging next co each sign. This information will be useful co you as you create groups of students who will work together throughout the year. You may also decide to follow up with a more detailed self-evaluation after reading Chapter Five.