It all depends of the level of engagement

Showing support to the local Soccer Team

From general education to ELT the focus nowadays has been quite heavy on technology and its benefits for 21st century learners. Although I love technology myself and quite convinced of its benefit, I am also 100% sure that the simple implementation of it does not provide better outcomes. So, what does?

Students still sit in large rooms facing the teachers and getting 40 minutes of almost non-stop of Teacher Talk most of the time. It is pretty hard to get the attention of a group of 25, 30 or over that number all at once is another fact. And it is said that if taken to the lab, they will do anything but study. And unfortunally that is sadly true as far as I heard in regular school.

My reflection though is not about THAT context in particular in which my students are used to nor it is about the use of technology. But both mentions are important in my reflection as they take me to the theme of engagement, and especially when talking about those participating in the Light, Camera & Action Project – my 9th graders. Needless to say that I am amazed by my students (both LLLearners and HLLearners) involvement in the tasks/lessons which made me reflect about the times I’ve seen full involvement in class, like when games, videos or songs are used. No one doubts that a class with games in its menu is a winner. And they are all good, have their own benefits and outcomes, but nothing like I’ve seen students doing in this project. For one, taking responsability for the task and use of language. And they have been offered nothing more than an invitation to produce (HLLs) and to learn (LLLs) . Which makes me think whether the website I created to present the project helped HLLs engage in the task or not. Was the need to reach HLLs level of comprehension a sort of a push? I don’t know yet. What I know though is that the lenght of engagement by both group types is mind-blowing for me. The thought, however, that something may go wrong is pretty scary still. I am totally out of my comfort zone with this project. I’m used to be there in the room and follow their every move. So, how weird is it to leave them in another room for while and switch rooms as needed? As far as technology go, I have been using my cellphone to audiorecord their interaction (Only the HLLs). And I wonder if it is an attempt to force them to keep on the task or like I plan to use a way to collect data to further explore language and practice.

Thus the level of engagement they’ve showed urges me to take a serious look into this project in order to determine what exactly has affected the dynamic of the groups positively, in special in those that the gap of language level was greater and a constant reminder to speak in English was needed. And plus I need to start planning the future bimester and I wonder if a similar project would get them working as they are now.

A Project for Mixed-Levels: Light, Camera & Action!

Light, Camera n Action: Dividing the group (HLLs n LLLs)

Dividing the Groups: How do Ss feel about it?

Next post: Before the Project and now        

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3 thoughts on “It all depends of the level of engagement

  1. Dear Rose,
    Well done! You and your students as well! I find your reflections here very important and useful. The fact that you are out of your comfort zone is probably the key to success. Because unless we do something completely different, unless we explore areas never tested before, how can we develop, to achieve new heights?!
    The fact that your students play along is simply wonderful! There are definitely various factors which help. your engagement, novelty aspect, new kind of responsibility (!!!) your students are experiencing, lack of disturbing external details ( e.g more advanced students who know “everything” so i don’ t dare to ask a “stupid” question)
    I guess the most important things to retrieve from this experience are precisely the elements on their own and these ingredients can be later used together or separately in other groups and for other tasks. What I have learned over the years is that you never have the same experience twice, so I guess the lesson to learn in the end is not why this particular project works so incredibly well, but rather, what ingredients make up the whole and how these contribute to positive experience.
    So glad for the success 🙂

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    • Thanks so much for taking the time to follow every step of this project Sirja. You have been an inspiration and someone I have been looking up to as you have experience with mixed-level and understands the feeling of it.

      Thanks also for pointing out some possible factors that contribute for it to work out ( the feeling that something might go wrong at any moment is not going way btw). Very important what you said about the elements/ingredients. That is what worries me the most. Now that I took the courage to try something totally different and splitting the group, even if it is temporarily, what will happen after this project is over? I feel like I may not live up to their expectation. I am thinking of two possible next projects. Or another Virtual exchange project.

      I really appreciate comments and Questions if anyone has any.

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  2. Dear Rose,
    As I read your posts, I feel excited about your project! Thank you for sharing it with us. It gives me hope that there are other ways of teaching, especially mixed level classes. It also makes me wonder if I am too much of a controller in my own classes. These are important questions for me to ask right now, since I have a new group of students coming next week. So thank you for your helpful and reflective posts.

    Like

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