I’ve experimented with it a couple of times already, but not always has it been very successful – due to the lack of time, apparently.
As this experiment is somehow in line with the ideas and attitudes proposed by “from English teacher to learner coach” by Daniel Barber and Duncan Foord , I decided to share it here.
Every time my student(s) and me are about to finish a really useful unit in the book (and to be honest it doesn’t happen very often as, with all the things we add to accompany each unitl, it normally takes A LOT of time: ), I have an urge to create an opportunity for more (independent) practice for my students – in other words, not to let them simply turn over the next page and forget all the great vocabulary, grammar and other things (even if it’s just several pictures to be remembered) about it, but to encourage them to look through the unit again, re-assess it, prioritise and take something away with them. As much as I want my students to do all these things with the unit, I can’t get involved wih the process too much – otherwise it will be not their, but “my” thing, so I have to let my students act.
The idea is just to ask the learners to decide which things are the most useful and worth taking away and remembering for future use, and then possibly sharing this knowledge with the trainer (and the group of there is the group). I thought it would be a great hometask – some quiet time to reflect on the unit, to look up some forgotten vocab, to remember what that text was about…
Well, I still think it’s a great task and an intention which should work just fine for highly motivated students. Let me confess though: out of 3 times that I assigned it as a hometask for my students, only once was it done. In all the other cases I listened to a long and captivating tale of how important the task was and how much they had intended to do it, and how reality prevented them from doing it – well, you all know the lines…
So the last time I made it a part of a lesson (it was another one-to-one course,and I was pretty sure that student would never find time – or rather reason – to reflect and prioritise on her own). It worked out beautifully: she took some post-its to write down the new (or unnoticed/ forgotten) words, tried to remember (quite successfully) what the text and the listening tasks were about, and refreshed several grammar points we had discussed, so it all resulted into considerably much speaking with some elements of grammar and vocabulary, to go with a precious feeling of achievement . And we were both happy with that.
Such a task seems to me a consistent alternative to a unit test – a more conscious one, and certainly the one that involves the student’s mind a lot.
Now we are about to finish the next unit, so I suppose we’ll repeat the experiment, and I might even risk assigning it as a hometask!
Anyway, what do you think? Would you ask your students to do such a reflection/ prioritising task? How would you go about it?