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Art in the classroom
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If at all possible, we should not correct mistakes on the final project itself, or at least not in ink. It goes against the whole spirit of project work. A project usually represents a lot of effort and is something that the students will probably want to keep. It is a shame to put red marks all over it. This draws attention to the things that are wrong about the project over the things that are good.
On the other hand, students are more likely to take note of errors pointed out to them in project work because the project means much more to them than an ordinary piece of class work.
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There are two useful techniques to handle the errors:. Correcting this in their normal way. The students can then incorporate corrections in the final product. A good idea was suggested by a teacher in Spain to get students to provide a photocopy of their project.
Corrections can then be put on the photocopy. But fundamentally, the most important thing to do about errors is to stop worrying about them. Projects are real communication. When we communicate, we do the best we can with what we know, and because we usually concentrate on getting the meaning right, errors in form will naturally occur.
It is a normal part of using and learning a language. Students invest a lot of themselves in a project and so they will usually make every effort to do their best work. Project work provides an opportunity to develop creativity, imagination, enquiry, and self-expression, and the assessment of the project should allow for this.
Project work must rank as one of the most exciting teaching methodologies a teacher can use. It truly combines in practical form both the fundamental principles of a communicative approach to language teaching and the values of good education. It has the added virtue in this era of rapid change of being a long- established and well-tried method of teaching. Project work involves multi-skill activities which focus on a theme of interest rather than specific language tasks. In project work, students work together to achieve a common purpose, a concrete outcome e. Haines identifies four types of projects:.
Survey projects which may also include displays, but more interviews, summaries, findings, etc. Production projects which foresee the work with radio, television, video, wall newspapers, etc. What these differenttypes of projects have in common is their emphasis on student involvement, collaboration, and responsibility. In this respect, project work is similar to the cooperative learning and task-oriented activities that are widely endorsed by educators interested in building communicative competence and purposeful language learning.
However, it differs from such approaches, it typically requires students to work together over several days or weeks, both inside and outside the classroom, often in collaboration with speakers of the target language who are not normally part of the educational process. In both projects, students might create survey questionnaires, conduct interviews, compile, sort, analyze, and summarize survey data and prepare oral presentations or written reports to present their final product.
In the process, they would use the target language in a variety of ways: they would talk to each other, read about the focal point of their project,write survey questionnaires, and listen carefully to those whom they interview. As a result, all of the skills they are trying to master would come into play in a natural way. Let us consider, for example, the production of a travel brochure. To do this task, tourism students would first have to identify a destination, in their own country or abroad, and then contact tourist agencies for information about the location, including transportation, accommodations in all price ranges, museums and other points of interest, and maps of the region.
They would then design their brochure by designating the intended audience, deciding on an appropriate length for their suggested itinerary, reviewing brochures for comparable sites, selecting illustrations, etc. Once the drafting begins, they can exchange material, evaluate it, and gradually improve it in the light of criteria they establish. Finally, they will put the brochure into production, and the outcome will be a finished product, an actual brochure in a promotional style.
Projects allow students to use their imagination and the information they contain does not always have to be factual. One of the great benefits of project work is its adaptability. We can do projects on almost any topic. They can be factual or fantastic. Projects are often done in poster format, but students can also use their imagination to experiment with the form.
It encourages a focus on fluency. Each project is the result of a lot of hard work. The authors of the projects have found information about their topic, collected or drawn pictures, written down their ideas, and then put all the parts together to form a coherent presentation.
The projects are very creative in terms of both content and language. Each project is a unique piece of communication, created by the project writers themselves. This element of creativity makes project work a very personal experience. The students are writing about aspects of their own lives, and so they invest a lot of themselves in their project. Project work is a highly adaptable methodology.
It can be used at every level from absolute beginner to advanced. There is a wide range of possible project activities, and the range of possible topics is limitless. Positive motivation is the key to successful language learning, and project work is particularly useful as a means of generating it. Another point is that this work is a very active medium like a kind of structured playing. Students are not just receiving and producing words, they are:.
Lastly, project work gives a clear sense of achievement. It enables all students to produce a worthwhile product. This feature of project work makes it particularly well suited to the mixed ability class, because students can work at their own pace and level. The brighter students can show what they know, unconstrained by the syllabus, while at the same time the slower learners can achieve something that they can take pride in, perhaps compensating for their lower language level by using more photos and drawings. A foreign language can often seem a remote and unreal thing.
This inevitably has a negative effect on motivation, because the students do not see the language as relevant to their own lives. If learners are going to become real language users, they must learn that English is not only used for talking about British or American things, but can be used to talk about their own world. It encourages the use of a wide range of communicative skills, enables learners to exploit other spheres of knowledge, and provides opportunities for them to write about the things that are important in their own lives.
When students use English to communicate with other English speakers, they will want, and be expected, to talk about aspects of their own lives — their house, their family, their town, etc. Project work thus enables students to rehearse the language and factual knowledge that will be of most value to them as language users.
Another important issue in language teaching is the relationship between language and culture. There is a growing awareness among language teachers that the process and content of the language class should contribute towards the general educational development of the learner. Project work is very much in tune with modern views about the purpose and nature of education:. There is the question of educational values. Most modern school curricula require all subjects to encourage initiative, independence, imagination, self- discipline, co-operation, and the development of useful research skills.
Project work is a way of turning such general aims into practical classroom activity. Cross-curricula approaches are encouraged. For language teaching this means that students should have the opportunity to use the knowledge they gain in other subjects in the English class. So we can come to the conclusion that project work activities are very effective for the modern school curricula and should be used while studying. Although recommendations as to the best way to develop projects in the classroom vary, most are consistent with the eight fundamental steps.
In the process, teachers will also build interest and commitment. By pooling information, ideas, and experiences through discussion, questioning, and negotiation, the students will achieve consensus on the task ahead. We define the final outcome of the project e. We agree on objectives for both content and language. Collectively we determine the steps that the students must take to reach the final outcome and agree upon a time frame. Specifically, we identify the information that they will need and the steps they must take to obtain it e.
We consider the authentic materials that the students can consult to enhance the project e. If they are not used to working together, they may need help in adapting to unsupervised collaboration. They may also be a little reluctant to speak English outside the classroom with strangers. There are times, during project work, when students are especially receptive to language skills and strategy practice.
We identify the language skills which students will need to gather information for their project Step V and strategies for gathering information. If students will secure information from aural input, we show them how to create a grid for systematic data collection to facilitate retrieval for comparison and analysis. We identify the skills and strategies that students will need to present the final project to their peers, other classes, or the headmaster Step VII. As they prepare their presentations, they may need to work on the language written or spoken of formal reporting.
After students design instruments for data collection, we have them gather information inside and outside the classroom, individually, in pairs, or in groups. Working in groups or as a whole class, students should compile information they have gathered, compare their findings, and decide howto organize them for efficient presentation. Students will present the outcomeof their project work as a culminating activity. The manner of presentation will largely depend on the final form of the product.
It may involve the screening of a video; the staging of a debate; the submission of an article to the school newspaper or a written report to the headmaster; or the presentation of a brochure to a local tourist agency or hotel. In this final phase of project work, students and the teacher reflect on the steps taken to accomplish their objectives and the language, communicative skills, and information they have acquired in the process.
Theycan discuss the value of their experience and its relationship to future vocational needs. Though it may be difficult, we should try to identify the social and professional contexts that they will have to function in and to think of projects students can undertake that require them to use the language in a way that resembles their ultimate use. Secondly, we should consider the linguistic skills that students will have to employ in these contexts. Projects that require practice in those skills would be most useful. Thirdly, consider what is feasible.
One popular projectinvolves querying travelers as they pass through an airport terminal or major train station. If this is the case, there is no point in insisting that students interview native speakers of English. At the same time, teachers should not abandon the ideaof a project altogether if ideal circumstances are not available. Since most professional conversation in English is probably carried on among non-native speakers, students will benefit equally from projects that put them in touch with speakers of varieties of world English.
In addition, there are numerous sources of material in English that can be obtained at no cost with a formal letter of request and then sifted, compared, and summarized. In other words, we should not give up simply because a pool of native speakers or authentic printed material is unavailable close to home. Finally, we should do a lot of planning. There are many schools where curricula demands, the lack of equipment, scheduling problems, issues of insurance, administrative rigidity, and the like preclude instructional innovations like project work. Incorporating project work into more traditional classrooms requires careful orchestration and planning.
Students who are not used to functioning autonomously, who may even be accustomed to close control and monitoring, may find it hard to take control of their own activity. Therefore, we should ease them into it by planning cooperative, small group work beforehand. Similarly, many teachers encounter resistance from school administrators when they challenge the status quo with the project approach. Traditional schools that are governed by strict curricula guidelines and systematic testing are frequently not the most receptive environments for project work.
Some administrators, for example, may complain that the elaborate activities associated with project work do not prepare students for required exams. Project work can only be effective when teachers relax control of their students temporarily and assume the role of guide or facilitator. The teacher can play an important role by diligently overseeing the multiple steps of project work, establishing guidelines, helping students make decisions, and providing instruction in the language when it is needed.
Giving students freedom to immerse themselves in the project can lead to motivated and independent learners, but it requires a certain flexibility on the part of the instructor if students are to benefit maximally. Divide the class into pairs.
Ask each pair to draw up two lists: what they expect of you and what they think you should expect of them. Give them about fifteen minutes for this. Meanwhile you make a list of what you expect of them and what you think they should expect of you. Tell your students that you want to draw up a contract with them basedon the expectations that they and you have just noted down.
Appoint a class secretary to make a fair copy of what you are about to write on the board and give them a sheet of paper to write it on. Nobody else need write anything. Negotiate with the class, on the basis of what you and they wrote down, what they can expect of you and you are willing to abide by, and vice versa. Draw up an agreed wording on the board for the secretary to copy.
When it is complete, you and all your students must sign the secretary's fair copy. Take the fair copy of the contract. Make enough copies to give one to each student. Distribute the copies next lesson and stick the original on the classroom wall. If any new students join the class, invite them to read the contract and sign it. Give them a copy too. At regular intervals, once a week in a one-month course, or beginning, mid and end of terms in a one-year course, hold a brief discussion with the class on how well everyone is abiding by the contract.
If you are all doing well, give yourselves a round of applause. If not, discuss what is going wrong and what you might do about it. This might include discussion as to whether you are slipping or the demands of the contract are unrealistic. David agrees to give motivating lessons, maintain a good relationship with the class, be honest and critical, respond to initiatives, attend regularly and be punctual, correct homework promptly and thoroughly and to speak English out of class.
Discuss it briefly with your students. When you have drawn your shadow explain the symbols to your students. Ask them to draw their own shadows. When they have done that, if you have a small class, ask them one by one to explain their shadow to everyone else. If your class has more than around a dozen students, divide the class into groups of between six and a dozen to do the cams. If you remain in whole-class formation, make sure the explanations are directed towards everyone in the class, not just you.
If you have groups, monitor them discreetly, again making sure the explanations are directed towards their colleagues rather than you. As a follow-up task, either in class or for homework, ask your students to write up the explanation of their symbols. There are also faces of boys and girls: these are my friends, and they are in a little box apart because I do not reveal myself to them, I do not have as many close friends as I would like. Ask everyone to think for a moment about the ingredients for happiness.
Tell everyone to imagine they are going to bake a happiness cake. What ingredients and what spices would they put in? Ask them to work alone and write down the ingredients and spices for their cake.
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Allow five minutes for this. If you have a small class, ask each member in turn to tell the others about the ingredients and spices for their cake. You tell them your list last. If you have a larger class, divide it into groups of six to dozen, and get them to do the same. Monitor the groups and when they have finished, ask them to report back to the whole class. Again tell them your ingredients and spices last. Talk to your students about your own good and bad learning experience and the extent to which these correlated with good and bad relationships with your teachers.
Tell your students to draw two columns. In the first they are to list teachers they remember getting on well with and in the other those they got on badly with. Divide the class into groups of four or five and ask them to tell one another about these teachers and effect they had on their learning. Bring the students back together as a whole class and ask them what they feel are the main things that contribute to a good relationship between students and their teacher.
The most important thing is regular, honest communication, because everything else both depends on this and can be remedied through this. Your students may come up with other points but be sure to emphasis the importance of regular, honest communication. As a follow up, either in class or for homework get your students to write about their positive and negative learning experience. Draw an object, e. Tell the students that your object is the starting point for a picture you would like the class to create and that you would like them to come up to the board one at a time and add more things to it.
Tell them that they can draw absolutely anything except people and that quality of the drawing does not matter. The picture is finished when there are about a dozen items in it. Put the chalk or board pen where everyone can reach it easily — make sure they know where it is. Then get out of the way and let them draw the picture.
When the picture is reasonably complete declare the picture ready. If your class has had to come out to the front, send them back to their usual places. Ask the pairs to choose any two items. In the picture write a dialogue between them of about ten lines. Tell your students they must not mention the name of their items in the dialogue. How are you today? First reaction to this task would usually be a gasp of shock, but they should quickly get used to the idea.
Keep out of the way for about five minutes while they settle. Then be available to help with vocabulary, etc. If you are not needed, do not hover, just sit down out of the way. When they have finished, ask the pairs in turn to read aloud their dialogue, each partner taking a part. The others in the class must guess which item is talking to which. This phase is very good for making students read loud and clearly as colleagues will not otherwise understand.
If you have a magnet, show it to the class and check if they know what it is called. Otherwise, you may need to explain it in the next step. Divide your class into pairs and ask them to draw up a list of characteristics in the columns on the board. Ask your students to think for a moment about the way they act in various social contexts, for example at parties, with colleagues, in the family — more like a magnet, an island or a bridge.
Divide the class into groups to discuss the problem briefly. Ask them, still in groups, to discuss which attitude — the magnet, the island or the bridge — is most conductive to a good working environment in class and what that implies in term of actual behaviour. Discuss as a class the findings of the groups. They should feel that being a bridge is the most conductive and that it implies a spirit of co-operation, participating, helping others. Extend the discussion to how bridges can be formed out of class. Draw up a list on the board.
Give your students a few minutes to discuss with those sitting near them which of these ideas they feel are most appropriate to them and how they intend to implement them. Ask a few members of the class what conclusion they came to. Ask which of them are in the habit of readingregularly in English outside class.
Ask what kind of things they read and where they get their reading material from. Put it to the class that for most learners regular reading out of class is absolutely essential to reach an advanced language level — it is one of the best ways of expanding vocabulary and probably the only way to get a good sense of style. Tell them you are going to work with them to set up a framework that encourages them to read regularly. The first hurdle is to find a source of suitable books. With the help of your students, write a list on the board of possible sources of books in English. Tell them to copy it into their notebooks.
It will probably look like this:. Arrange with your students for all to bring a book to class the lesson after next so that everyone can get an idea of what their colleagues are going to read. When the class brings their books, ask each student to set a realistic target date to read their book by. Tell them that the date must be agreed with you. As target dates are reached, check on progress, do not be 'heavy' if they do not achieve their targets but remind them that they are the ones who set the target dates and that you do expect them to finishsoon.
It might look like this:. Discuss with your students which of these are available locally. Draw their attention to the help that images give in understanding and to the high level of concentration needed when listening, which is quickly tiring.
Follow-ups for listening are more difficult to set up than for reading. Once again, in general encourage reflection. Initiate a discussion with your students about their interests. Ask them about how they might link those interests to their study of English. Put it to them that they could extendan interest or begin a new one by doing a project on some aspect of English-speaking culture. Tell them that they can choose anything they like within that, only that atthe end of the project they must produce something to presentto theothers in the class - orally or in writing.
This canbe something quite modest but its purpose is simply to provide some kind of objective. If you get a reasonably positive response, go on to Step 2. Tell them that the hardest part is often choosing the project. So give them copies of the handout given below:. Next lesson ask each student what their project is going to be about and make a note of it. If more than one wants to work on a particular area, suggest they work in a pair, but discourage more than two students working on one project. There are so many to choose from that it is a pity not to have a wide range.
Agree a target date for completion of the project and presentation to the class - in a one-month course it will have to be near the end of the course, in a year-long course towards the end of the term you start the project in. Tell your students that you will ask them from time to time how their projects are going and will set aside some class time to discuss progress and to deal with any problems.
Mini-projects have great success, where the students identify some small thing about English-speaking culture they want to know about and have just one lesson in a library to find out. You accompany them to the library and help them find the materials they need. The next lesson they report back what they found. Ask your class what they think are the main problems of being a more advanced learner.
They usually talk about difficult vocabulary, complex structures and other language items. Accept these points but put it to them that there is often a much more fundamental problem, namely how they go about their learning.