Friday, February 17, 2012

Laying the Groundwork

Here's the conclusion of the "Ground Rules" activities that I've been pursuing with my three classes over the last week or so. (I'd like to note that I don't use the word "ground rules" in this activity, just "What makes a good teacher/student?")

Background: I used this activity as inspiration for a lesson in all three of my classes. To start, I pose the question "What makes a good classroom?" and we brainstorm as a whole class. This provided a model for group discussions. I break the class into two groups and each group discusses one of two questions: "What makes a teacher?" and "What makes a good student?" Then we all get back together and share.  Ultimately, the class comes up with 5 items that are applicable to both teacher and student. 

The first time I ever did this exercise was with a pre-intermediate group that I don't teach now.  It was a great success!  After they had defined their own rules, students seemed to take more ownership in classroom management.  I guess you could call it classroom self-management! That was over a year ago and I wasn't doing very much Dogme at the time.  As I recall, their top 5 list was something like:

Respect the teacher and each other
Have good attendance
Participate actively
Be prepared
Help each other

This is an excellent set of ground rules which I would be pleased to post in any classroom. Interestingly, there are some variations in the results from this week.  Here are the lists:

Group 1:
Be patient
Respect each other
Be prepared
Always come to class and be on time
Use new technology

Group 2 (Yes, there are 8.  The group didn't want to reduce it any more than that.  You can see, they wedged several ideas into many of the sentences too!):

Attend class daily and be on time
Work together
Be active in class and speak English
Be patient, responsible, dedicated, hard-working
Have good communication skills (use body language to show what you mean, listen, speak clearly)
Encourage and help each other
Try to learn new technology and new ideas
Do work outside of class and come to class prepared

Group 3:
Make good relationships
Motivate, encourage, be interested
Participate, speak clearly, listen, practice
Know your goals
Share knowledge

Collaboration: fishermen in Gallipoli, Italy 2002

Language that we focused on included:  "should [verb]" and "shouldn't [verb]" for groups 1 and 2,  opinion-sharing words like "In my opinion" and "I think" for group 3, "should be [adjective]" compared to "should have [noun phrase]" and "should [action verb]" for groups 1 and 3.

ETA: Students in the final group were very interested in hearing the lists from the other classes.  Next week, I'll read all of the lists to the other classes as well.

I don't want to read too much into these lists, but I do have two thoughts.  The two classes that mention new technology are the ones where I just introduced 4 classroom laptops.  The group that emphasized good relationships and sharing knowledge happens to be the one where I jumped right in with Dogme on Day 1 (to the extent that I know how, anyway!).  Coincidence?

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