Category Archives: Groupwork

What is Study-English-Online.Net?

Teachers’ Digital Toolkit

International online learning projects for students

ThinkQuest

Online tools for resource creation

Animoto Create videos from images

Benettonplay Create stunning animations

Classtools.net Create educational games

Gliffy Create floor plans, flowcharts and 3D diagrams

Glogster EDU Create interactive multimedia posters

Kerpoof Create movies and stories

Mixbook Create a page turning e-book

Myebook Create an e-book

PoducateMe Exe files How to create a podcast

Power League Create an online debate

Prezi A zooming presentation tool

Scratch Join up and download programming software to create digital learning objects

Sketchcast Embed evolving sketches into your blog

SketchUp Create, modify and share 3D models

Storybird Collaborative storytelling

Storyjumper Create a page turning e-book

Technology tips and cybersafety

Timetoast Create a free online timeline

Voice Thread Hold an online conversation about an image

Voki Create a personalised speaking avatar

Wordle Create word clouds to summarise main concepts of a unit for students

Source/Courtesy – UNSW

Three Generations of Distance Learning Pedagogy

Three Generations of Distance Learning Pedagogy

1. Cognitive Behaviourism

2. Constructivism

3. Connectivism

Pair & Groupwork vs Teacher-Student Interaction

According to Mckay & Tom (Teaching Adult Second Language Learners, CUP, 1999, p. 26), working in groups helps students feel they are part of a community. They come to know each other as

  • individuals &
  • friends

Pair-  and groupwork serves an important pedagogical purpose, because it

provides more opportunities for individuals to talk than does a teacher-fronted class, as well as less formal and potentially threatening environment.

Working with peers, adult students are less likely to feel afraid to make a mistake, they are more relaxed and thus often end up speaking and experimenting with the language more.  What is crucial is your teacher’s classroom management skills, though. There is more to efficient pair- and groupwork in a language class than simply putting people into pairs or groups and telling them to talk about something.  The tutor has to design appropriate tasks and provide enough scaffolding in order for this type of learning activity to benefit the students.

Online Language Lessons – Idea Bank

It looks like more and more language teaching is being done on the web. Let me summarize what online language teachers have on offer, what they do or could do in theory.  I will list several examples from Curtis J. Bonk & Ke Zhang’s (2008) Empowering Online Learning, pp.  62-63.

Types of resources & activities for online language learners

  • online flashcards
  • electronic dictionaries, glossaries & corpora
  • webinars
  • videoconferencing
  • presentations / slide shows
  • simulations
  • webquests
  • mazes
  • grammar lessons
  • vocabulary lessons
  • voice games
  • word games
  • interactive speaking games
  • news portals
  • topic-specific websites
  • podcasts
  • videos
  • reading exercises
  • listening quizzes & exercises
  • collaborative writing tasks
  • digital storytelling
  • blogging
  • text & voice chat sessions
  • asynchronous discussions
  • pronunciation labs
  • progress reports
  • interactive quizzes
  • online conversation classes
  • placement tests
  • self-paced lessons
  • peer-to-peer practice conversations
  • expert mentoring, etc

What else is out there? Is there anything on the list you either have tried and liked or hated, or would like to try?

The 4 Types of Multilevel Class Activities

Heather McKay & Abigail Tom (1999, CUP, Teaching Adult Second Language Learners, pp. 21-22) suggest teachers differentiate among four types of mixed-ability activity.  Unless the text is in quotation marks, it is my own interpretation.

same input, same task

What is different in this situation is the level of your students’ language proficiency. What makes it possible for the students to do the task is their collaborative effort. You have to divide your class of students into pairs or groups so that weaker students get to work with stronger ones. The tasks that are best suited in this case are those that require problem-solving skills, e.g.  games, puzzles, mazes, quests, trivia quizzes and the like. In other words, the focus is not on English but on the task, which should require the students to draw on their knowledge of the world and life or work experience as opposed to their knowledge of grammar rules or lexis. You should design the activity so that it would not look, feel or sound like a language practice activity.

same input, modified task

A good example of such an activity would be a multilevel dictation.  The more proficient students would have to write everything, the less able ones would have to fill in the gaps, and those you consider a pain in the neck could be asked to tick the options they hear.  Once you have finished dictating, everyone should have the same text.

Another example is multilevel listening. Stronger students may be instructed to listen without reading the script while the audio is being played, and weaker ones could be permitted to consult the script as they listen.

By and large, weaker students are provided with more scaffolding.

different input, same task

This type of mixed-ability activity requires weaker students to use the input you provide “as is” and stronger students to do something with the initial input in order to do the main task. For instance,  you can choose to give the more proficient students in your class cues and the less proficient ones ready-made questions when you do a mingling activity such as “Find Someone Who”.

same task, different performance level

This last type is very much like project work. What makes it special is that the teacher doesn’t give out any materials, but just sets the task.  The students work alone or in small groups, and the language they produce will vary according to their level.  I imagine all sorts of “create a poster” type of tasks will fit in this category.

Is Studying 1-to-1 Pairwork?

Does studying 1-to-1 qualify as pairwork? And is it necessarily teacher-centered and bad? Anyone?

Interactivity & The 5 Ts that Make it Fail

Ian Forsyth (Teaching & Learning Materials & The Internet, 3rd edition,  p. 135) defines interactivity as

emulating the traditional classroom

He lists the 5 Ts that cause interactivity to fail on the Internet (pp. 19 -23)

  • time
  • technology timid
  • territoriality on topics
  • training
  • truss – an infrastructure requirement
  • Digital Storytelling

    A digital story is a personal experience represented in narrative format. The script is amplified by including video, music, still-frame imagery, and the author’s voice. A digital story typically lasts for two to three minutes. Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools p. 43

    It must take ages to create such a story, but the idea is interesting anyways. I imagine the teacher has to provide a lot of scaffolding to make sure that it is about learning English rather than having fun with technology. The learner should also have a story to tell in the first place. If you have nothing to say, your story will be a flop.  Songs and stories have one important thing in common – they have to have a real message to be a success.

    Here is a wonderful example of a digital story

    Types of Groups and Groupwork

    GROUPWORK

    Various names have been given to this form of teaching, and there are some distinctions among these: cooperative learning, collaborative learning, collective learning, learning communities, peer teaching, peer learning, reciprocal learning, team learning, study circles, study groups, and work groups. But all in all, there are three general types of group work: informal learning groups, formal learning groups, and study teams (adapted from Johnson, Johnson, and Smith, 1991).

    Informal learning groups are ad hoc temporary clusterings of students within a single class session. Informal learning groups can be initiated, for example, by asking students to turn to a neighbor and spend two minutes discussing a question you have posed. You can also form groups of three to five to solve a problem or pose a question. You can organize informal groups at any time in a class of any size to check on students’ understanding of the material, to give students an opportunity to apply what they are learning, or to provide a change of pace.

    Formal learning groups are teams established to complete a specific task, such as perform a lab experiment, write a report, carry out a project, or prepare a position paper. These groups may complete their work in a single class session or over several weeks. Typically, students work together until the task is finished, and their project is graded.

    Study teams are long-term groups (usually existing over the course of a semester) with stable membership whose primary responsibility is to provide members with support, encouragement, and assistance in completing course requirements and assignments. Study teams also inform their members about lectures and assignments when someone has missed a session. The larger the class and the more complex the subject matter, the more valuable study teams can be.