Little time, big profit
Teaching strategies to employ in the first minutes of a lesson that enhance learning
By Patricia Muiños & Ana Castells Ruiz
e want to share how we take profit from the first minutes of the lesson. As teachers we are aware that learners are more attentive to participate and to get involved at the beginning of a lesson. So, we strongly believe that this stage of the day enhances learning.
Having applied Phonology Routine and Language Function Routine as part of our institutional plans, little by little we have been introducing new segments. We believe they cover children´s needs and interests that are above the syllabus.
A) Reflecting moment:
When kids come inside the classroom, there is a question written on the board related to something that happened the day before in relation to attitudes and values. We expect this interrogative leads to comments that mention possible solutions that will be applied if the problem persists. For example: instructions have to be repeated once and again, and still, some students don´t follow them. The question is: “How many times do we have to repeat clear instructions in order to be followed?
B) Have your say on… :
This segment was born after Japan´s earthquake. Spontaneously, kids started to bring pieces of news from different sources. We also noticed that boys focused more on sports, and girls more in singers, actors and actresses and models.
Actually we prefer to make a more guided activity presenting the piece of news so that they trigger reflection and brilliant comments.
For example: “We have an Argentinian Pope!”, Máxima Zorreguieta has been crowned Queen Consort from Netherlands.”
C) Collocation Corner:
Having noticed that children made recurrent or classic mistakes, we created this instance to make them aware that words cannot be combined at random. We also noticed that when they produced, they used basic, simple vocabulary.
In order to improve this aspect, we created panels following these steps:
1) Children select “key” words from each story.
2) They search for the correct collocations using a net-book or a traditional Collocation Dictionary.
3) When making the panel, we use different colours to classify different types of words.
4) Students to take profit from this strategy whenever the speak or write.
D) Vocabulary segment:
In order to help students preserve advanced, complex, relevant, rich vocabulary, we designed this segment.
The objective is to avoid kids using only restricted vocabulary, encouraging them to include these words by means of recycling. The steps we follow for this segment are:
1) “What can you say about…?”
2) They are allowed to *consult dictionaries,
*give their own definition
*mention synonyms or opposites
*say type of word
*tell an anecdote or experience
*make connections with stories or movies
*build a sentence containing that word
To us, the benefits of these segments rely on the fact that not only we are covering Grammar and Vocabulary but also Ethics and current issues. What´s more, we believe that this segment helps children improve their fluency and it creates a warm up moment before the formal lesson which may make introverted or weak students feel more confident.