| Day 1
|| I introduced the students to the idea of different praxis of vocabulary learning. I presented a Hot Potatoes tool and the types of exercises it provides. Then I showed them a sample of their first task i.e. a crossword puzzle and explained the purpose of my intent. In addition, I announced that they would be graded and see their grades in Moodle, and that they can redo all tasks many times.
I introduced a new type of exercise, a quiz. It was a hybrid one consisting of different question types: short answer+multiple choice+multi select questions.
JCloze enables most of the teacher’s creativity. Possible task methods are: gap-fill (with blanks or first letter given), gap-fill with drop-downs. Here, knowledge is shown in full extent. Those who didn’t study enough had to help themselves with their study materials along with the tasks. Spelling is also important or else the result is wrong.
Although I wanted to move ahead and introduce some new task types I decided to prepare more Cloze tasks which we would then do together. This caused more difficulties than I had expected. First, the computer lab was unavailable so I organised learning stations (one group used the class computer, the others were busy doing research, running dictation, role plays, etc.)
Students were given one MCQ and one short-answer task which helped them to activate the vocabulary they had learned previous day. Sort of self-assessment task.
For today’s lesson I reserved a computer lab, divided students into 8 groups, set the solving time and made them compete on 5 exercises. Rivalry was harsh and the exhilaration of the winners incomparable. What is more, when they had finished, they were eager for more.
|| Their first impression was very positive. Almost all of them like crosswords and they accepted the novelty with excitement. This type of task is easier compared to say Cloze or Quiz. Will see what their reactions will be next week.
Change is good. The more I deliver this way the more they consume. Apparently, the Vocabulary in Use Workbook will not suffice anymore and I have no alternative but provide these kind of tasks to this group as well as to all that will follow. Acceptance level is 100%; they have all attempted all tasks so far. Hopefully, the results of the final test will prove my (and their) expectations.
It’s just like I thought. This proved to be a more challenging task. Setting time limit has no sense as it takes students quite some time to cope with gap-fills and time would only put more pressure on them. Study process shouldn’t be too strenuous.
When you tell students that the tasks are similar to those on their final exam, they put much more effort in doing them. That brought a question to mind: Am I promoting too much teaching to the test? On the contrary, my goal here is to facilitate learning and encourage collaboration on one hand, and help them become independent on the other.
Important lesson learnt so far: If exercises are presented in a different, slightly “unusual” way, students are enticed to start discovering, searching, browsing for additional information to find results. This “forces” them to use various sources to build their knowledge and eventually remember new words.
Everybody was involved in one way or another from the student who was responsible for entering the answers to the students who were observing what was going on. Even the shy students chipped in from time to time. Great lesson, definitely one to be repeated.