Thursday, October 20, 2011

Easy and engaging activities in a reading class

Having a reading skill is much emphasized during school times. Students are expected to master skills relating to reading. In this global era, anyone has equal chances to grab the world, but it requires skills which are much related to the ability of decoding information in the form of printed or written resources. Because of this, being good and strategic readers will bring great benefit to them. They can move faster and farther ahead. As a teacher, however, it is not an easy job to do. Many teachers have difficulties in teaching reading. Most students are reluctant to participate in reading class. They get bored easily in a reading class for they have seen the activities monotonously.

It is true that a reading class is very potential to rise up problems since most teachers are trapped with the reading media which are in the form of textbook and any other written sources. This will bring to the activities focusing on answering questions and doing many worksheets, which have been the favorite activities in the reading class but turn down students’ interest and engagement.   

The following activities are worth trying to begin engaging and easy ways:
1.  Pre-reading activities
a)      Show several pictures to students relating to a topic of reading subject and ask them to provide words or sentences about the pictures.
b)      Make one or more simple sentences about a topic, but not too many or complex that will stimulate students responds. Drive them to explore everything that will reveal any important information relating to the topic.
c)       Ask students to list words, verbs, nouns, adjectives or phrases as many as possible relating to a topic.
d)      Ask students to write or say something about what they expect or like and dislike about a topic.
e)      Provide an animal or human picture with enough space to put sentences in the head for the subject and the body (neck to feet) for the predicates of sentences.

2. While-reading activities
a)      Give students charts or tables relating to a topic and ask them to complete or fill.
b)      Spot some mistakes or irrelevant information in a text and ask students to identify and then make some corrections.
c)       Provide main ideas as many as paragraphs and ask students to match, or do the other way around.
d)      Do the activity like “pairing up word”. To do this, you just delete verbs, nouns or adjectives which have strong collocation with the words and ask students to guess what the appropriate words to put in given gaps.
e)      Ask students to make some logical connections by drawing circle and straight lines to connect a word or phrase in each sentence.

3. Post-reading
a)      Ask students to rewrite the text by modifying some words or phrases or sentences as they like. For example, they might change “One day” into “In a beautiful morning”, and so on.
b)      Ask students to paraphrase or make a different form of the original sentence since they think it has a unique form in comparison with their native language sentence form  and find out whether it is  acceptable or not.
c)       Ask students to find other texts whose topics are similar and ask them to list the similar words, phrases or values among the texts.
d)      And ask them which text they think better and why.
e)      Ask students to guess what texts are trying to say, the writer’s purpose of writing the text.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Designing Various Activities for Each Unit in English Text Books

Most textbooks are written and compiled in the same models and components or monotonous within all units of a book. With style like this, there are many weaknesses found, though it also has advantages. The advantages of this style are that students can quickly get used to understand and follow the activities which are in that book. However, this benefit does not last long along with the increasing meeting frequencies. First, students will get bored and lose of a challenge because every time the meetings are conducted, they always face them with the same pattern and model.

The second weakness is the lack of need adjustments to the topic being discussed. The discussion topic requires its own patterns as typical features. If all units are treated in the same activities or models, it will narrow the discussion topic in each unit. What it is meant by the narrowing topic of discussion is the nature of the context of discussion. For example, when a teacher discusses 'Jobs Description "and he uses an activity like a guessing game, then this will be fun. But this is no longer fun when used in the discussion topic of "Conversation on the phone".

Third, it is true that every unit in a teaching and textbook must have the same basic components and teaching chronologies. However, it does not mean that there should be no variation or development in it. Even, if there is no variation, boredom and lack of interest of students will continue to haunt teachers. Most of every unit demands a brainstorming or warming up stage, but when it is treated in the same way for all meetings or units, then it will not run properly. Thus, the need for variation in the brainstorming or warming up stage is much needed. In addition, in each unit there are always listening, speaking, reading, and writing. What will be the concerns for each unit is that they should be designed in various activities.

Here are the ways how to create various activities in listening: 1) finding and collecting all available activities, 2) looking back at the topic discussion, 3) choosing the activities suitable with the topic discussion.

For example:
There are several pre-listening activities as follows:
  • looking at pictures, maps, diagrams, or graphs
  • reviewing vocabulary or grammatical structures
  • reading something relevant
  • constructing semantic webs (a graphic arrangement of concepts or words showing how they are related)
  • predicting the content of the listening text
  • Make a list of possible problems that might have happened to him before you start the listening.
  • going over the directions or instructions for the activity
  • doing guided practice
The next step is to look at the topic. Take for example, the topic is Talking on the phone, then the last step is to choose the available appropriate activities with the topic. Looking at the list of the activities above and considering the topic, it can be said that the appropriate activities that might best suit are looking at pictures, reviewing vocabulary or grammatical structures, view films or photos.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Designing Creative Teaching in each Period

The Rhythmic Teaching

Every process has a rhythm as in a process of making a food. In a certain time quick and skillful actions are required, while in another time slow and careful treatments are necessary to make. This process is also true in teaching English. In a certain condition a teacher needs a quiet class that charges students with attention and concentration, while in other situations cheerful and engaging activities are desired to create.
This rhythmic management is meant to avoid boredom and lost interest of students in learning. If it is applied properly, the stirring atmosphere of learning will be created and maintain that a learning process can be smooth and the internalization of a lesson is established unconsciously to students.
Properly implementation of the rhythmic management, however, is not an easy task to do. It needs creativity and experience of teaching. But In the beginning activity, at least, there are three things to consider in managing the rhythmic teaching:
  1. Input (material to teach)
  2. Internalization of the material
  3. Application of the material

The input includes material or lessons to teach. If the material have lots of things discussed and is considered to be the hardest part, then it requires breaking into smaller and simpler parts that students’ achievement progress can be controlled and detected clearly, or in other words students do not feel the material difficult and get frustrated. At this stage, lots of instruments such as pictures, animation, maps, columns, and etc. must be supplied in that students will not feel burdened in comprehending the material.

Repetition, reading and pronouncing distinctly will be the first step as the transition to the next stage, that is, the internalization of material. At this stage, automatic skills can be the emphasis in which various forms of exercises are needed to train and measure how far students get the material a teacher gave. The crucial part of the stage is that how well a teacher designed the exercises reflecting the achieved skill from a simple to complex component. When the exercises are not design well, confusion, mess and uncertain result will come up and it will spoil the material, which has just been introduced at the first stage. In addition, it will bring unsatisfactory to students who have already grabbed the material faster than others, while those who are still struggling will be confused for there is no logical management of the material.

At the last stage, the application of the material reflects more on how far and well students have achieved the automatic skills. If at this stage students do not have any difficulties, it means that they have mastered the material well. But if the opposite things happen, a teacher needs to review the material in different methods and strategies on the basis of the problems found. At this stage not only as a reflection but also an activity confirming the enchanting comprehension of the material, which has not been conducted at the previous stage.