14 students of English as a Foreign Language (A2 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) discovered live online what writing was like in the past and how it is a lockdown activity nowadays. They also learnt how to ask for agreement using question tags.
All throughout the lesson the students felt engaged, supported and encouraged to make conversation. They built connections and enriched their language knowledge and experience in relation to free-time activities.
My main goal with this lesson was to work with my students towards increasing their use of spoken English and building on their confidence. The immediate learning objective was to use simple phrases, i.e. question tags, to seek agreement. The longer-term aim is to achieve communicative competence.
I used a synchronous (live online) session in an Adobe Connect meeting room with my 14 tweens as an instance on the digital scene where teaching and learning take place nowadays. The asynchronous part is the Seesaw virtual learning environment. This is all a challenge: to provide meaningful schooling experiences at a distance as the education world grapples with the impact of Covid-19. This way of teaching and learning thus requires ongoing reflection and feedback.
What I have learnt about teaching and learning live online so far is that, on a macro level, teachers need to connect with their students on a human level, adjust instruction and stay true to social and emotional learning. On a micro scale, word/phrase banks (to be steadily enlarged) such as attention getters or brain breaks, but also compliments on appearance (haircut, clothes, background etc.) and (humorous) encouragement/praise expressions for feedback like: “That’s wrong, but it’s a wonderful mistake!” or the more commonplace “Way to go!” can (and have already) come in handy.
My students enjoyed the lesson tremendously. They especially liked the previously mentioned attention getters they have already become accustomed to – this was this group’s 4th synchronous (live online) session. They were also fond of the brain breaks with yoga poses and simple jumping. The possibility of viewing the recording of the lesson was also a perk. Watching the lesson again can help develop their language skills. Informal feedback after the live online session provided me with valuable information about the lesson. I will make sure to use it to improve future sessions.
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