Image: Joshua Neff
Here's a new challenge for teachers out there interested in trying things out and sharing the results!
I did this today with my beginner level students. I call it the Wandrous Whiteboard activity. It's nothing unique or original, I guess (as I've done it a zillion times in the past and I'm sure other teachers have as well!), but I thought sharing the results across the blogosphere could be a fun and interesting thing to try.
Basically, you start your lesson by not saying a single thing and leaving your whiteboard completely empty. You pass the marker(s) to a student and indicate you'd like them to do something on the whiteboard. It can be anything at all (this message tends to come across well by refraining from saying anything and smiling and refusing to answer questions).
Once the first student has written something, the marker is passed to the next student, whose turn it is to come and write or draw something on the whiteboard. And so on around the class. As a teacher, I like to take a turn in the sequence as well.
Once everyone in the room has had a chance to contribute something (anything!) to the whiteboard, these become conversation and discussion points. Of course, this is a pretty handy way to get an unplugged language lesson started without too much pressure on the teacher to come up with the topics or talking points. It's also a really fun and interesting way to let the students steer the start of your lesson.
Here's what my small class of beginners came up with today:
I've inserted the numbers there after the fact for the purpose of this post, just to show the sequence in which things appeared on the whiteboard. The blue number 4 there is my own contribution to the thread.
What eventuated was a series of simple discussions about things happening today, tomorrow and yesterday, which local neighbourhoods the students come from, when they arrived in Australia (and how), and then some information about family (husbands and wives).
This being the first time for this class that I applied this, it turned out that the first and second students basically did what they had seen other teachers regularly write down in the corner of the whiteboard at the start of classes. The third student appeared to think he should show his awareness of spelling for days of the week (but we turned that into a bit of a numbers thing ("in three days from now") and future plans for the weekend. The fifth entry was from a lady who was trying to indicate she was going to church tomorrow, and as it turned out she happens to go to church every day of the week (that's devotion for you!). By the seventh entry, the student had decided to change the direction of information a bit, and the students doing the eighth and ninth entries followed her lead (writing different details about themselves within the general category of personal details).
In any case, this went down well and the learners appeared to enjoy having the main input into what we would/could discuss at the beginning of class.
So, are you up for contributing to the wandrous whiteboard challenge?
If so, try it out and take a picture of or sketch the results of the whiteboard wander. Tell us about the conversations that spring off your whiteboard!
If you let me know about your wandrous whiteboard, I will follow up with a post later showcasing and linking to your results (unless you'd rather that I don't, for whatever reason!).