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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Teaching Each Other

The seniors spring to life when asked to share their knowledge and expertise. It's sad that in this society we do not more often tap into this amazing resource that is our senior population. They know how to knit, crochet, mend and alter clothing as well as sew their own. They can teach you how to prune the suckers off a tomato plant and how to cast your bait into the school of White Bass when it runs through the Detroit River in springtime. They can teach you to hold a ping-pong paddle and how to tilt your pelvis upward for the first stance of 24-step Tai Chi.

This past two weeks we have been sharing our hobbies with each other. The first week was spent on vocabulary building, skill building, exploring ideas, making posters, and planning the presentations. The second week we had the presentations.

The class broke into three groups and chose to teach: 1) three basic knit stitches 2) the basics of fishing, and 3) how to play ping-pong. Each group created a poster; some made videos; others brought in photos. Their presentations were the best I've seen in three years. Nobody stared down at a script or mumbled unintelligibly. Everyone made eye contact with the audience, spoke slowly and clearly. It was evident that this time they had practiced several times beforehand.

I have to remember to do this more often. It seems that they enjoyed themselves, made progress in the area of fair distribution of work, and actually succeeded in interesting classmates in a new hobby.

The success of these past two weeks leaves me wondering how far we could take this idea. Could we write our memoirs and get them published at the library? Should we learn to create e-books? What about doing something in collaboration with the on-site childminding department? I'm sure the children would be thrilled to get a hand-made toy or book from the seniors.

Do you have ideas for our class? I would love it if you would leave those for me in the comments section below.


  1. Giving and following instructions isgood for (competency area Comprehending Instructions (sigh)) For lower kevels - simple listing of instructions. Ss share something they kniw how to do ( mostly they just tell "How to..." but we have had students bringing in origami oaper fir everyone and giving instructions ( but nit deminstrating); making oaper rises out if oaoer napkins; How to use chopsticks. For high level students the students write orocess paragraphs and classmates take notes. Sonetimes I do a class biard dusplay (outside in the corridor) with the written instructions so other Levels can see examples. I iften video tge "presentations" , send them to students, review pronunciation or flow points ( but not a heavy!) That's when my ipad tells me I need to buy mire Cloud storage....
    Love your student's pics! Project based kearning. SO MUCH GIES ON! Winwinwin! But I woukd never spoil this with "assessment" beyond deserved lavish praise.IF the students agree - msybe a checklist for elements covered especially higher kevel - transistions)?( But comparisons are odious and I don't want them to see this as competition.

  2. Grrr! Forgot to maximize so was typing last comment with .4 font and coukd barely see typing! Well, hoping you can guess meanings - mire =more; oaper = paper; orocess = process; kevel = level. Sorry! Wish there was an edit function.

    1. The best way to edit is to copy into a new comment and then ask the blog owner to delete the prior one. Anyway, I could understand. Thank you, Claudie, for the ideas! I agree that assessment dampens this! I wish we were not on this crazy hamster-wheel schedule of artefact collection. I feel like I have to weave them in at every opportunity. :(

    2. If students do individual presentstion easy to keep samples of work - copy of presentation (before corrections), checklist, tchrs notes during presentation for feedback. But group presentation? What "artefacts" coukd you collect for this? LSRW? TASK:
      participate planning and delivery of group presentstion/project? Do you evaluate? How? (Mental or physical notes on participation, achievements?) I think teacher observation and "assessment" of students goes on all the time - according to "performance criteria" in our heads but not necessarily "tracked" to filfill what are essentially preset TEACHER performance requirements. (iow - all the "assessment creation" and "tracking" and collecting # of artefacts is for seeing what teachers are doing rsther than reliable assessment of student competencies.)

  3. Your blog posts remind me of the JOY of teaching ESL, Kelly. Thanks for sharing this heartwarming example of student presentations.

    1. I'm glad you can see the JOY! --K