At the beginning of every semester, I belive it is important for the students to build rapport with oneanother and with me. Not only does this lesson help students learn a lot about one another is also one where everyone listens and encourages one another to try their best.
- To begin, I show students an example of what I expect from them in this activity.
- Then I send them away to prepare 5 selfie photos and notes about each photo for the next class.
What I love about this activity is that the teacher talking time is reduced to a minimum and the students talking time is increased dramatically. The teacher’s role is to simply monitor and note any common errors for the end of the activity feed back.
In a 90min lesson all students will have spoken or have been engaged in conversation for around 45 – 50 minutes each.
- To introduce the activity, I demo my selfies with a few short sentences.
- Next, with one of my selfies, I introduce ‘follow-up questions’ by eliciting from students questions about my selfie and also eliciting why follow-up questions are important.
- On the board I write Wh- questions and elicit, Where, What, Why, etc.
- Next I pair up the students and ask them to come up with as many follow-up questions as they can about my chosen selfie (allocate 3 minutes)
- I nominate students to ask me their questions. At this point they can feel a more natural conversation taking place rather than me just presenting and describing my photo.
- Next, I divide the class into two and ask one half to sit on the inside of the horseshoe and sit face to face with their partner (see video)
- Give the students on the outside rubrics to write notes about each speaker while they listen.
- I set a huge online stopwatch/countdown timer to 3/4 minutes and explain to the students that if the time is too long they must ask many more questions to keep the conversation flowing.
- Students on the inside speak first.
- When the buzzer sounds students on the inside of the horseshoe move one space clockwise.
- Continue the activity until each student on the inside has spoken to 5/6 students
- Students on the outside of the horseshoe switch places with those on the inside, repeat instructions 7 -12
- When the activity is over, follow up by asking students to report information they learned about one student without saying his/her name.
- Other students have to listen and figure out who the student is.
- Write any errors on the board from the activity and ask students to correct them.
Using this activity at the beginning of a course or semester allows the teacher to understand each students strengths, weaknesses, common grammar errors and vocabulary knowledge. Thus, making future planning more focused on the true level of your class.
This kind of activity is also perfect to review new concepts and language taught over the course of the semester.