Most of the students spend their time in traditional schools, where all the chairs and desks are faced to the blackboard. Teachers are teaching the lesson and most probably students are not listening to her/him, daydreaming or are busy with other activities. Now, if the same students are obliged to attend after-school programs having the same conventional teaching format, they will definitely use every trick to skip the classes.
Uhhhh, as an English language teacher, how can we go beyond the traditional classes and make our lessons more innovative? Any idea?! I think I have one! Project-based learning + Technology = great teaching/learning is a great formula to motivate students to come to the classes more enthusiastically.
Now consider that you have students, who are 12 years old and older with at least low intermediate English proficiency. They all are digitally literate, and in previous classes, they made at least two digital stories (refer to the previous post). For the next classes, you are planning to give them mini projects, where they need to make short videos and record their voice in it.
Now, several questions may arise about the topic of projects, the language or the strategies that students need to know to fulfill the projects.
Here are some ideas!
- The topics of projects should be challenging and age related. You may have mixed group of students having different ages, then it is important to have a topic of common interest of all ages. Moreover, before choosing project topics, you can ask students’ opinion via survey or class discussion. Bellow, are the topics that my students are interested in:
- Environmental problems in Armenia (how to raise awareness)
- Movie/film world (my short movie)
- UN goals
- If I were …
- These projects are done in groups. Thus, try to have diverse groups, especially if you have a mixed classroom. For every project change the groups, making new ones, giving each child an opportunity to make more friends. Every time being in a different group is more challenging rather than being stick to one group. For the first group projects, let the learners form their own groups, for the next projects you arrange students. Here are some helpful strategies.
- Sometimes working on a project, means neglecting the language learning, as students may focus their attention on the fulfilling the project rather the language itself. As a teacher, you need to guide them with the grammar and vocabulary use. To clarify this point, let me bring an example; if the topic of project/video is “If I were” students should use the grammar of conditionals in their narratives. If the topic is “UN goals”, they will focus on present and future tense, first identifying current problems of the world then suggesting solutions.
- Before assigning students the topic, first bring them readings, listening or a videos for them to get familiarized with the topic. Teach them the corresponding vocabulary within the context for them be able to use in their speech. Teach or review the specific grammar that they may need while making the videos. For example, if the topic is environment, make the learners ready for their project. Here is an example ( wetland-lesson-plan )
- Remember that you as a teacher need to guide them, not to direct them. Give the topic, teach them the language, and let them come up with a question, a solution and a video! Give them a week for each mini project, and if you feel that they need more time add 2-3 more days.
PBL projects are challenging in nature, especially when they are integrated with technologies. Though students are digitally literate, they may always face problems and get confused how to make or edit videos. Send them tutorials, and run another video making workshop if necessary. Moreover, younger students may find difficult to come up with an idea for the project, in this case help them, give ideas or send them articles, but be cautious not to impose your thoughts on them.
To sum up, video making and project based learning will add some colors to the life of students, will develop their critical thinking, and improve their collaborative working skills!
Hope you find my post helpful!
P.S. consider the following video for tutorial.