This post describes a change in my current curriculum that will be active as of April 2011.
Why the change?
This change in curriculum came about due to a few key factors.
- I want students to be more autonomous when it comes to their language learning (emphasis on the their!).
Coming back to my curriculum change, I plan to implement a bi-weekly homework topic asking approximately a quarter of the class to browse the Internet for a news article that they find interesting, summarise it, and then tell their group members the following week (more details on the actual homework assignment shortly). Now, I know what you are thinking...
- To increase students exposure to English.
- To improve the assessment criteria.
I am fortunate at my current university in that they allow teachers to decide upon their own assessment criteria (as long as it is consistent), therefore, I proposed that assessment weighting should be changed to make attitude towards language learning the main component (attitude in class, homework completed, participation etc.). From next year then, and in my class only, I plan to put 30% of their assessment onto completing homework assignments and actively participating in class.
OK, time to introduce this activity:
Student News Reports
This activity was introduced to me by a colleague called Darrell Wilkinson, at the ETJ conference, November 2010.
First of all, students complete a homework assignment (at home of course) before they complete the main activity in class with their group members. Finally, the activity can be expanded upon and done with the whole class.
- One person from each group has to write a summary of a news report.
- Highlight important words
- Write a summary to read to group mates
- Fewer/simpler words
- Read sentence, look away and try to re-write it in your own words.
- Only main points, no extra information.
- Write 3-5 questions on the article.
The Breaking News site gives LOADS of help at the bottom of each article. It even has questions that the students may choose as their own! Highly recommended.
In class (intra-group):
- The student that wrote the report checks important words with group members.
- They then reads the summary.
- Other members take notes.
- The student who wrote the report asks questions about the article and the other members answer.
- The other members copy down the questions to ask other people in the class (if doing the expansion).
[Optional] In class (inter-group):
- Group members split up and go to one of (up to) 6 designated areas.
- Each person takes it in turn to tell the others about the story they just heard and ask the questions that they write down about the article.