Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Give me More! Technique: Step 1

Video Clip from Oliver! ("I'd like some more...")

It's easy to get into that repetitive mode of teaching, when you realize students need to follow a pattern for your flow of teaching to go smoothly. They chime and repeat after you, occasionally fooling you into thinking you've done a great job.

Then lessons later, a time for greater application comes and it's their time to show you what they've
learned...and they show you nothing.

With my 5th & 6th grade class, my co-teacher and I got into a teaching style rut of sticking solely to the textbook's expressions, which was very sparse and limiting.  We went from teaching:

I can swim.
I can play the piano.
I can play basketball.


I want to swim.
I want to play the piano.
I want to play basketball.


While mt KT didn't want to throw them any extra words (she thought they were too low-level to handle it); the lessons obviously didn't challenge them enough! They were repetitive vocabulary from previous chapters. My students weren't learning anything new nor were they expanding upon what they did know. They were bored. By sticking to this method of teaching, we were growing their minds to be lazy!

Asking for the minimum and getting even LESS

As in my post (4 Tricks for Getting Slow ESL Learners to Start Learning  Fast)--  kids will rise to the expectation you set for them. If the saying, "Shoot for the moon and hit a star," is true; then having your class shoot for a ground-level standard, will likely have a handful of them hitting basement!

How can students rise when we don't challenge them to?

One day while reviewing vocabulary expressions, I decided to improvise and try something on-the-spot. Call it frustration with this method of teaching "stupid-easy" lessons was an instinctual technique I'd learned as a child, when I'd watch my mom teach class.  I call it ...

The Give me More... Technique

If there's one thing my mother never stood for was lazy students and the sloppiness of one word/incomplete answers. Low level or high, she always expected better of them; she made sure they spelled things out.

Teacher, teacher,.. I need to go...  
Go where? 
... go to the bathroom? (peels of laughter from the rest of the class & embarassment from the student)

... go home?

...  go to the principal's office? ... 
Where do you need to go?
I need to go to the computer class.

Because I forgot my pencil case there
Now I  want you to tell me all of that in a full sentence.
I need to go to the computer room because I forgot my pencil case there.
She'd challenge her students expand their speech into full and complete sentences.

One day, I automatically found myself trying this with my students...

Me: What do you want to do?

Students: Dance.

Me: What do you WANT to do??? Give me a full sentence.
(the lesson's key expression is "I want to...") 
Students: I want to dance.
( This was the furthest we'd ever get in the past... )

Me: Correct. Point for team A!  I want to dance.   I want to dance...Who can tell me where? a disco?

... at school?

... on my chair?

Students:  ???

Me: Two points for your team if you can give me a longer sentence?

Student A: I want to dance in my house!
Me:  Excellent. Two Points! Who can make it longer and tell me...
What you want to dance?


... ballroom?
Remember, I need a full sentence. ..
Student B: I want to dance B-boy in my house.

Voila! I explain to them why it's necessary to be specific in what they tell me.

Dancing B-boy casts a different impression from dancing Korean traditional dance. Dancing in a club to music makes a different impression than dancing in a house without music. And so forth...

The more I used this technique of Give Me More!, the more their responses went from one word answers to a full sentence. I began introducing the idea of stating Who, What, When, Where and Why into their sentence structure. The vocabulary words they learned in the past slowly started to surface more and even my low-level students started to increase their ability to execute at a higher level as well.

I wanted to see if my students could step up to the plate and you know what...? They did.

No comments:

Post a Comment