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Ceri Jones - Taking stock
Whether it's at the end of the school year, at the end of term, or just when you feel like taking stock, here's an idea for using images to review what you've done and look forward to what might come next.
First look back through your classes over the last month, term, year and choose some images that you've used in class or seen in a book or your students have shared with you. I like using mosaic grids so 9 works well (as does 12 or 15 depending on the time scale). Here's an example from a recent beginners class. I've changed most of the images as they were from the students or from coursebooks!
[Thanks to the following flickr users for sharing their photos on a creative commons licence: from left to right - youngthing, Grand Parc Bordeaux France, Pedro Szekely, stvcr, mahjqa, Leo Reynolds, Kevin Fox, Lorianne DiSabato, Beatriz Sirvent]
I project the mosaic on the board. If you're working without a projector, you can show it on your laptop screen and get the class to huddle round, or ask representatives from groups to come forward, look at the images and then report back to their group. Or you could post it on a site (facebook page, blog, wiki etc) where the students can access it on their phones. You could create a QR code to facilitate this if you wanted. I give the students time to look at it and then I ask them in pairs or groups to think about each photo and discuss these questions – one at a time.
- What was the topic of the lesson or lessons?
- What discussions or conversations can you remember on this topic?
- What kind of language can you remember from those lessons?
First I ask the first question and write in on the board. I allow time for discussion and for each group to find at least one word to describe the topic for each image. For example the first one could be families or people. Can you work out what the others were? The students could identify them all, sometimes after a little thought, as we'd used them all in class together. Once we've established the topic for each one I give them the other two questions and ask them to answer at least one for each image. This actually takes quite a long time and I think it's worth letting it run. Some groups may need more prompting and support than others.
The next step is optional. I prepare slips of paper or post-it notes with vocabulary items or chunks of language that the students then stick on the mosaic on the board, connecting the language to the images. I quite like this collective step as a way of bringing things together. I then ask the students to evaluate their own competence/confidence in each area with some kind of visual code, for example smiley faces, ticks or crosses, a mark out of 5 or 10 and then discuss which areas they'd like to consolidate. Depending on the stage of the course this can lead to plans for self-study over the holidays, plans for revisiting certain areas in the next few lessons, plans for guided homework or revision.
Note: if you want to hand over the preparation to the students too you can set them the task of looking for images in the previous class or for homework, which then just leaves you with the task of compiling them in a grid.