Everyday new concepts are coming out. Some are accepted and some are discarded. All these concepts are for better language education. Educators are modifying them to adjust with the education environment for better learning. Teachers have to give their effort for every activity and concept. And of course, it is true that that for a successful outcome of learning and teaching, the cooperation of the learners is must. Here I have tried to discuss on Alternative Learning and Assessment, Project Based Learning, and finally on Engaging Students in details in the last part.
Alternative Learning and Assessment
Alternative assessment depends on using performance tasks that let students demonstrate what they can actually do with language. These activities replicate the kinds of challenges and learners would encounter in communication outside the classroom.
With this assessment, students are expected to participate actively in evaluating themselves and one another. Learners who are used to traditional teacher-centered classrooms have not been expected to take responsibility for assessment before and may need time to adjust to this new role. They cannot believe that peers can provide them with feedback that will enhance their learning.
The instructor should be aware that group dynamics will have an effect on the performance of each individual. While once students are introduced with the use of checklists and rubrics for evaluation, they can normally begin to assess their own learning and provide feedback to their peers.
Project Based Learning
Project Based Learning is like Problem Based Learning. Here every student does not demonstrate their understanding and knowledge but they do in a group .Here students are the active participant. Here students share about their project and also their understanding of the topic. Students are sharing, thinking and doing themselves of the problem, they manage how to present the topic in front of all. So they are excited of getting the responsibility. This encourage them to do well .as they do themselves, they become free from shyness. No students are inactive here. These are good sides.
If the PBL topics would be real life based and interesting, it would be more effective. Moreover every class has only 40 minutes here. That is not enough for my students. This activity requires a computer for every student and that is a great problem for my students. Because there is only one computer in my English class.
PBL learning can be a successful one if the teacher can develop and encourage the students to practice the sense of responsibility, collaboration and accountability. So if the teacher has the practice to conduct the communicative and students centered class, it will be easy both for the teacher and the students to understand the project activities and complete it in time. Here the teacher plays a great role at the primary level when s/he introduces and monitors the project. So here the alternative assessment and rubrics will play another great role.
Engaging students is a vital issue that we have to face regularly. This is a very important issue for a teacher now a day. We teach using the modern technologies and by traditional process. But we are trying to change both the processes including different techniques to make the teaching and learning more effective and interactive. Here I would like to repeat a Chinese proverb where it has been said that “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” So only involvement can increase the understandings. But it is really tough to teach in a big class giving equal concentration to every student and engaging in class activities. So we need to apply different techniques for a successful class.
Technology supported classes are more interactive. Lectures become more effective when multimedia projector is used and PowerPoint is used to deliver the lecture. Here the important points are given through the power point and there is no option for the students to miss the important points. Moreover as multimedia projector is used, the teaching materials are visible from every corner of the class and the teacher gets more time to concentrate to the students. This class becomes more effective when there is internet connection. But every teacher should keep the backup in a pen drive for the unwanted situation and also should keep the hard copies of the material. For every kind of class, an alternative plan should be reserved if the particular technique or material does not work. Moreover it would be great when the teacher is connected with the students by email. In this situation, the teacher can inform the students earlier of the class topics and send students the lecture later on. I personally see multimedia and computer supported class very effective. From my personal experience it can be said that if the class is a mixture of traditional lecture with computer and multimedia (and internet too), the understanding becomes more clear.
Students’ understanding can be increased in some other ways.
1. Making the class interesting including examples, short stories, current events and so on.
2. Keeping an eye contact with students and having a good voice. These two are very important for any class.
3. Involving students in some activities like “Think-Pair-Share”, “Think-Pair-Square”, “Quick-thinks” and so on. If a short time can be kept after every class for short quizzes, learning becomes effective. For this quiz system, students can be given an extra grade marks.
4. Asking students’ questions after sometime that what they have understood till that time. Then students are alert about the lecture.
Most of all, there should be a good understanding between the teacher and students. This will be a frank and friendly teacher-student relation with respect. This will solve the problem a lot. Any teacher can gain a lot from this. This makes a teacher getting a good cooperation from students. Both the teachers and students need to try making the class a successful one.
ASMAUL HUSNA: MA in English, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka; MA in ELT, University of Dhaka; E-Teacher Scholarship Fellow, AEI, University of Oregon, USA.