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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Actively Learning Passive


 What do you do when you need for your students to work on their own? I'll tell you what I do: I digitalize.

Tomorrow I will be testing some of my students orally on their project work. While they are being tested in pairs I need the rest of them to be meaningfully occupied. We have had little time to devote to explicit grammar instruction or practice this year, What with all of the book reports, project and literature we have been doing (and LORD knows why, but they feel that if they are not being drilled in grammar, they are not learning English ... not that many of them remember the rules). Tomorrow we are going to go passive, very actively.
I embarked on an archaeological expedition in the bowels of my computer and retrieved a number of activities that I have used in the past for teaching and practicing the passive, either as work pages or as PowerPoint presentations.
I made the PowerPoint when I was just learning how to add different animations, because I felt it would serve the need to have words moving around in order to demonstrate how to turn an active sentence into a passive one. However if I am busy testing some of the students I cannot be up at the board at the same time running the PowerPoint presentation. So I recorded it on my screen and uploaded it to YouTube.  I then prepared a barcode of the Internet site, so that students can scan it and watch on their Smartphones (they love doing that! ;-) , and provided a shortened URL, as well (compliments of bit.ly) for those who bring their laptops.




After they watch the presentation they will be sent to do a Trivia Quiz which MUST be answered in the passive! For the trivia quiz they will be called upon to answer questions in a Google Form. I assume they will NOT know ALL (or most) of the answer, so they will also need to go hunting for the answers on the Internet. I am planning to have students do this in pairs that way one can write on the Google Form and the other can search for the information online,  using their smartphones and / or laptops.


In the past, I would have had to print out reams of pages, and bring them to my students to work on the trivia quiz in class. Some of the pages would get lost, others crumbled up and left behind. Not tomorrow!
For those who are quick workers, I have transformed a pen and paper activity which I used in the past, to have students transform an adapted newspaper article about John Lennon’s death, into active. This time, they will need to copy a Googledoc which I share with them (but they cannot edit) and save a copy of their own, in their Googledrive. This might be challenging (or impossible) on their smartphones, since they need to use “Comments” instead of rewriting the sentences. Students who do not get to it in the lesson will do it for homework.
Finally, towards the end of the lesson when I have finished testing the students who need to be tested tomorrow, we will have a low-tech relay race (which I also had saved on my computer from previous years, from "Karin's ESL Partyland" , which I can no longer find online). I'm hoping this will be an interesting and engaging (dare I hope… even entertaining, to an extent?) way to keep the students who are not being tested, learning something new and honing some usefulskills. I'll let you know how it went.
Have any of you done anything similar?