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Post-lesson reflection on the lesson plan

Lesson plan by Darron Board

Overall impression of lesson

The lesson went according to the plan in terms of timing and classroom management. The web was relatively fast, considering the lesson took place on Saturday morning, although this was something I did not take into account when planning (i.e. it could have been saturated) and something I will have to remember for the future. During the lesson I felt the students were almost excited by the prospect of using the computers to do different things that normally in class we would not do. There was some confusion over the initial brainstorming activity in that they were not sure if they had to brainstorm one area or all three. I could have very easily asked them to brainstorm one area only, but my intentions of using computers to do it was to allow them to walk around the class giving information to the “typists”. One area I ignored of course was to allow the typists to walk around too, and should have asked them to change roles, i.e. let the typists walk around giving their ideas and getting other students to type. The students came up with more than I perhaps expected, especially about Stonehenge. This was good however as it meant there was lots of information for students to check up on, as well as a few questions that were asked. The language itself was fine and I was happy to see that the students did not have major problems in formulating the sentences or questions, with perhaps some help needed with past perfect constructions (generally not remembering irregular participles). The web-based activity went extremely well, probably due to the enthusiasm that the students had in being able to “browse” the net, even if they were restricted in what they could view. Overall, I feel the class was stimulating for them and satisfying for me.

Objectives

My teaching objectives of practising speaking, reading and writing skills/sub skills I feel were covered, as well as reviewing and practising the past tenses. I was perhaps worried deep down that using computer-based tasks could lead to the situation where task comes before language and the students would be so engrossed in using the web that they would drop into Spanish. This however was not the case (no more than usual). In this sense, web-based lessons can be as effective as conventional lessons (e.g. in this case using a paper-based reading text), and I think is far more stimulating as it is on-line. I found that the students found the integration of ICT easy to adapt to and were happy to turn their backs to the computers to face me to do “whole class” activities and then go back and look at the screens. Again, a worry I had was that perhaps students would be “playing” with the computers whilst I was trying to explain something to them.

I decided to see how successful the class was from the learners’ point of view via their student diaries. They seemed to be delighted by the novelty of firstly having the class in a different environment (library) and secondly by using the computers to do different things. Adolfo commented that it was better to use the computers to do “different things, like Internet, not just the CD Roms.” This was my initial comment, i.e. that ICT should be integrated to the lesson, not just an “add-on” class as an extra “treat” for students. All students said that they wanted to have more lessons like the one today.

I thought that learner autonomy was an issue in the class since I did not tell them what exactly to look for or to what depth. Of course, I had to set up the activities and choose the sites, but I feel that more classes of this nature would eventually lead to a situation where the role of the teacher is one of facilitator and monitor, which I feel can not happen in more conventional teaching contexts.

For the future

There are a few refinements I will make to streamline future web-based lessons. These include developing a system of folders for the “favourites” menu, where I can categorise web sites. For this activity I could have had “encyclopaedias” and “dictionaries”. This would mean students could instantly access the web sites without me having to tell them the addresses – this saves times and avoids typing mistakes. Other folders could include browsers, on-line shopping channels (for shopping activities), travel sites, etc.

I am also going to prepare worksheets for the teachers at my centre of the activities, and encourage them to do so, so that there is a bank of ideas/lessons which could be checked (for dead links) and adapted according to the level and class of each teacher.

I obviously want to continue with ICT integrated classes as I feel that they require almost less preparation in the long-run for the teacher and are more motivating and stimulating for the learner. ICT is not only the web however. I am going to experiment next with using PowerPoint and Real Audio to produce slide shows with commentaries, which can be shown to the class via projectors. I also wish to experiment with word processors to practice reading sub-skills and develop an on-line teaching environment. The learner diaries, for example, could be done on-line and this is something I will think about. By using an on-line learning environment (such as www.blackboard.com), I could give my students secure email addresses to send me their learner diary accounts, as well as on-line home work, and message board. This would require however all students to have home Internet access, or alternatively improving the centre’s self-access centre. Another area I wish to look into is email projects, where they can deal on-line with students in other countries; I am currently looking at exchanging emails with students at centres in UAE and Pakistan.

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