26 April 2012

BYOD Dogme for Kids?

I hate asking my teenage students to get their books and pencils out as much as they hate getting them out.  It's always the same "Do we have to?", "Oh no!", and the general look of disbelief on their faces as they transform into human snails and spend as long as possible doing this simple activity, causing chaos in the process, .  I often factor "getting books out" time into my lesson planning because it can seriously reduce the amount of time for learning!  

But try telling them to get their mobile phones out.  Not only does the whole room spring into life and there's a general buzz of speedy activity, they are also keen and eager to talk - and in English!

For a first BYOD lesson, I decided to digitalise a common TEFL activity using a mystery picture that the students had prepared for homework.  See my lesson plan here which can be adapted for different ages and levels.  I got the original idea of a mystery photo from a recent American Tesol Webinar presented by Shell Terrell .  American Tesol has lots of recordings of webinars - and they're free so they're well worth watching!

The students were so engaged and motivated that I was able to extend a simple questions and answers warmer activity into a speaking, writing and grammar review lesson all using student generated materials.  Students recorded their "presentations" using the voice recorders on their phones, took photos of the grammar review on the board, and photos of their writings at the end of the class.  So now they have revision materials too!

What was so good about this lesson was how it developed its own course led by the students. I realised it was a "Dogme moment" so decided to keep the momentum going and respond to the students by listening and watching them closely to see what happened next. As well as new vocabulary, we reviewed comparatives and superlatives and except for occasional instructions for putting phones away and getting them out again to do specific activities, the students were in control.  It was very exciting for me and one of the most enjoyable lessons I've had with a normally lethargic group.  The students seemed to enjoy the lesson too.

I learned a lot from that first lesson, especially how to manage the mobile phones being used and not used. At one stage, I told the students to put their phones under their chairs, to which half the class replied "go in the pocket!".

The lesson wasn't perfect and there was more L1 than I would have liked.  Also, on reflection, I would have organised the groups differently and finished the class remodelling their original presentations.  But we can always do that another day.

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