Hi everyone, well, I promised I’d tell you what happened when I used my screencast of the lights out tool I talked about last week, which you can see here, if you missed it. I had intended to use this nifty little tool to do an activity where I slowly revealed different parts of a picture of a graffiti covered desk. This was to lead into a discussion about the difference between graffiti and street art, whether it was decoration or defacement etc. But, in fact, it was lights out for my lesson plan because nobody could see the video despite the fact that I’d lovingly uploaded it before the class. The joy of technology, eh? Anyway, this gives you the opportunity to think on your feet so I quickly switched to the screensharing mode, where learners in the WizIQ classroom can see some of the things that are on my screen. Infortunately they can’t use the chatbox during screensharing, so I simply asked them to watch the video and tell me what the picture was at the end. Phew, this worked. But it was an added frustration because the lesson had got off to a rocky start as I had been expecting more of my university students and, in fact only one showed up. This makes me wonder about the wisdom of offering free classes. Is it that people don’t appreciate things that they don’t have to pay for, or is it simply that they’ve all had a lot of exams recently and want a rest from studying…let’s hope it’s the latter.
THE FREE PUBLIC CLASSES
What happens when you offer free public classes in English on WizIQ? Well, you usually get quite a lot of interest and up to 50 or so people will enrol for the class, but they don’t all turn up, they don’t all read your description of the class or necesarily do the preparation work. They don’t all have microphones, and they are all different levels. Added to this you occasionally get someone who is just playing around. (In extreme cases, you, the teacher, can block someone, but it would have to be quite extreme before I felt like doing that.) This means that you cannot know who you will have or what level they will be, so it is quite a challenge. In this lesson I had aimed it at a higher level, because I was thinking of my university students, whereas, when I was in class I realised that the level was probably too high for most of the learners present. So, again thinking on your feet is important, and I adapted some of the questions about “Street Art” which was the topic of the discussion to the level of the people there, whilst giving the more advanced learners the chance to use the language they had prepared in advance too. After the class I felt a little bit frazzled due to the technical and logistics problems and I began to be quite frustrated at the lack of continuity etc. I had also prepared a linoit canvas as back up work for these learners where they could go and post their own photos after class and in my negative mind set I was thinking “Oh, nobody will bother with that!” So, imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that people had gone and posted their photos, and that they have reenrolled for class next week, and that maybe the whole experience hadn’t been quite as negative as I’d thought.
One of the plus points is always the buzz in these classes. Things move forward at a fast and furious rate and learners joke with each other (in English) in the chatbox, and generally communicate a lot. I always end the lesson on a high note with a game of some sort to recycle either content or language that has come up in class. This week I wanted to play “hangman” but it takes me too long to manage the free drawing tool for the whiteboard, to draw the hangman. In fact, this was of no importance whatsoever, as the learners were very happy to guess the letters and the words, applauding enthusiastically when someone won. (All the winners names are published after the event on the WizIQ site, so that is a high point too 🙂 )
I also wanted to make next lesson more learner centred so I asked them for the topics they wanted to talk about and we will be organising our lessons around those areas in the next few weeks. So, I suppose, in the end it was quite successful, and I’m looking forward to next lesson. (I will not be planning for any particular level in mind, but will be ready to think on my feet! The best way to approach it all.)
Oh, and I will not be giving the whiteboard controls to everyone right at the start either. That was another mistake this week. In the virtual classroom you can give the whiteboard controls to the learners and I was using this fundction for a brainstorming session where they wrote questions on the board around a picture I had previously uploaded, but I had not checked who I had in the class, so not only did I get the questions I wanted, but doodles, geometric designs, people moving the board around etc. etc. but it was…. learner centred, that is true, and once again, I just laughed and then took the controls off them again.
Anyway, if you want to see the video of this event you can judge for yourself (Don’t be firghtened when you see me in the video. I had had my hair cut and bore an uncanny resemblance to a goat. I’ve since washed it a few times and it’s… well, on the way to getting back to normal.
See you soon 🙂