Time to get back to the 30 Goals Challenge! Give your students the chance to become teachers for a day … or more!
This one has to be one of my favourite things to do in class. It depends on how educators use it and can be very successful if planned carefully beforehand – and it also depends on the students’ age.
With children, I have seen that it works particularly well when a portion of the lesson time is devoted to their deciding on a new activity. If it is the whole lesson, chances are they might run out of things to do, or even worse, things may get completely out of hand in terms of classroom management.
So depending on when you think it is appropriate, it can be the first or last fifteen or so minutes of the lesson. Sometimes I give them a list of ideas – so we have, this, this and this to do…which one would you like? You can either have them quickly vote and go with what the majority decides (and promise to do the other activities another time in case some children start complaining – but keep to your word, they sure will remember!), or split them up in groups and they can do the activity they chose.
With adults, you can let them know beforehand that sometime during the year you will be giving them the opportunity to choose the course of the lesson. If a teacher just goes in class and announces, Ok, so what would you like to do today? your students may think that you have not prepared (even though you may have the best intentions) or they might feel insecure about learning anything that day.
Again, as with young learners, either a portion of the lesson can be devoted or even the whole lesson, if they wish to. Once, I told a group of bankers that I teach that they could have the opportunity to choose to do whatever they wanted. They chose to prepare some presentations and they were so enthusiastic about it, that they had made the best presentations ever, complete with PowerpointTM and this was one of the best lessons ever with them. (I just told them to e-mail me beforehand on what they would be doing, so I prepared some notes for them concerning presentations. And while they were presenting, I was keeping notes of all the super expressions and language they came up with, just to put them on the board afterwards for the rest of the group to see and use.) So if you participate in any of these ways, it shows that you do give them reign, but as educators we also have something to give back to them and not only let them do all the preparation so we can revel in the free time. It is not why we are doing it anyway.
By giving them reign, we give them the opportunity to actively engage in their learning process and find out how they learn best. As educators, we can also gain insight into that from the ideas they come up with.
If you have any other tips on how you choose to give your students reign, I will be very happy to read about them!