Workin' with My Students

September 19, 2008

This past week, I have incorporated some new strategies in my class.  To begin with, I’m having my students choose and bring in some short articles, songs, short chapters of a book, etc. to use to practice their vocabulary words and discuss topics that interest them.  Added on to that, I’m having my students actually write up the discussion questions for the articles they choose in order to discuss things that are relevant to their perspectives rather than just mine.  Now, no student is ever excited about more work, but I think they’ll get the hang of it.  Plus, this will give the opportunity to think about a text they’ve chose in more detail and also let them practice their vocab.

Next week, we’ll also start using the essays we write in class as grammar/essay teaching tools.  I’ll pull mistakes from their essays as examples to correct during our grammar lessons and also provide anonymous copies of their essays to discuss how to improve them.  I’ll also be writing essays from now on with my students.  Not to provide good examples:  I don’t want to be setting myself as the end-all-be-all expert, but I am trying to develop a sense of community in class–and I’m a member of that community. 

While high school was not something I particularly enjoyed and I can’t remember to many life-lessons, there’s always been one that has stood out in my mind.  When I ran cross-country (that’s right, for all you people who know me, I actually participated in a sport), no matter how many miles we ran and no matter what crappy running activity we were assigned–and mind you this is miles upon miles–our coach always ran with us.  I’ve always respected him for that, and it has generally been a rule-to-live-by in my classes, ESOL or GED.  I never ask my students to do something I won’t do myself, and generally, I model every activity first.  I’ve found that all my students are more willing to take risks if they see I’m willing to participate and risk making a fool of myself first.  Activities usually work better that way.  We’ll see how these  work and how long they last, but it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

 

Kolter

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