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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 28th, 2006, 12:27 pm
ana
 
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Default Oversized classes!

Greetings!
I have 25 8th graders in once a week, and I've been feeling really frustated because I haven't been able to manage student's oral participation, it always gets a bit out of hand. My most fluent students are always eager to participate and they feel sad when they have to hold on and wait for the weaker ones to go first. Any good ideas to manage their oral participation so that both parties get the most of English classes?
Thanks,
ana
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 28th, 2006, 07:27 pm
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

I'm wondering what kind of activities you are giving them, because you say that they wait for the others to speak first. Are they giving presentations or do you mean class discussions.

It seems that if you divide them into groups and give them group activities, they should all get a go. Then while the stronger ones take care of themselves, you can work with the weaker ones.
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Unread Sep 29th, 2006, 04:13 am
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

What emile said. I always break my students into groups (when I have larger classes).

You could also try having two teams and a team only gets a point (or several) when all the students can answer/participate correctly. This will let the stronger students to help and encourage the weaker students to have a go. This is also good for crowd control, as the students will discipline themselves if their team mates are losing them points!
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Unread Sep 29th, 2006, 09:44 am
ana
 
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

Greetings!
Thank you for your suggestions. The trouble is that I do not only have oversized classes but also mixed ability classes. I have students who barely know how to tell me their names and age in English, and others who know how keep a simple conversation going. Besides I have highly motivated students paired with highly unmotivated students, which makes everything even more difficult. Last year I tried to organise them in groups and hand out different tasks according to their proficiency level, but this year I only have one 90m class a week, and an official very long curricula.
I never felt so impotent and frustated as I do now...
Thanks for 'listening'!
ana
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 29th, 2006, 07:04 pm
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

hi ana,

i know how you feel. i am in that situation now and have been for 2 years. big classes and mixed levels. i used to be very frustrated by it because i saw a much more effective and effecient way to teach them but the school won't match the student's by their levels. so knowing this was out of my hands i tried to relax and have some fun with them. my feeling is there is no sense banging my head against a wall that is really hard and won't budge. it starts to hurt after a while. the school has imposed some ridiculous situation on you so that can't expect miracles.

that being said, there are a few things you can do to help ease the pain. use groups as much as possible. and allow the groups to work together during the class. and change the groups up every week. don't keep the same groups as they will get stale.

if you are using games in class, which i highly recommend, use games that involve chance for points, not skill. this way, the low students can earn points just as easily as the high students. chance games could include card games, rock scissors paper, rolling dice. also, charades and pictionary don't rely too heavily on english ability.

i hope this helps.

also, here is a great list of games to play with large classes.

eric
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Unread Oct 1st, 2006, 08:25 am
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

Hi Ana,

Working with large, mixed-ability classes can be tough. Here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of your 90 minutes per week:

I agree with the other responses that have suggested using groups to split up your larger class to get everyone to participate. Having them participate in games within these groups can be useful and fun as well... and the competition factor might help to motivate some of the students who don't seem too interested in class.

As for getting the students into groups, I've used a ton of different methods that are different than just numbering off or calling out names that are time savers as well.

One such example is to prepare index cards ahead of time with different numbers, colors, shapes, words, etc. on them. Hand one to each student as they enter the classroom at the beginning of class. If you'll want your students to get into more than one group during a specific class period, you can even use two (or more) different types of classifiers on each card. Then, when you want the students to get into groups, just tell them that you want them to find the others with the same color or same word, etc. (You can still use a reward for the first group to get together, if you want.)

In addition to that, you can find some great speaking games at the website below that can be easily adapted to your classroom situation.
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  #7 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 2nd, 2006, 09:30 am
ana
 
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

Greetings to you all!
Thank you sooooo much for all those great suggestions. I'll definately try them out.
Just one more thing... When you have students reading out loud do you interrupt them to correct their spelling or do you wait until they have finished?
Thank you!
Good work!
ana
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 2nd, 2006, 10:08 am
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

Quote:
Quote Ana Loureiro
When you have students reading out loud do you interrupt them to correct their spelling or do you wait until they have finished?
Do you mean correct their pronunciation? If so, I usually try to nip the problem in the bud as soon as they say it. If they're just reading, I have no problem stopping them, correcting their pronunciation and then having them read that line again. If a student is just free talking i'll usually wait to correct pronunciation.

If you mean spelling, I'd correct that before they begin reading.

eric
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  #9 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 3rd, 2006, 03:43 pm
ana
 
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

Greetings!
Thank you Eric.
Indeed I meant pronunciation. It's just that sometimes I sense that weaker students tend not wanting to read out loud because they are afraid of making mistakes and being corrected all the time, and it does happen that I have extremely weak students who are not able to read a single word without hesitating or misspelling it.
Kind regards!
Have a great week.
ana
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  #10 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 3rd, 2006, 04:49 pm
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

reading out loud causes a great deal of stress and anxiety. If possible have them read together as a large group and possibly in pairs and encourage the pairs to help each other. Peer correction has been shown to be more beneficial than teacher correction.

I wouldn't stop the students reading for correction. I just help them along when they are stuck. I make note of some problem words and then address them at the end. That takes some of the pressure off the actual task.

I hope that helps.
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  #11 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 3rd, 2006, 05:33 pm
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Default Re: Oversized classes!

I also encourage students to read by rewarding them with points/stickers. I have done it with kindergarten students right up through college students.

once a reward is attached to volunteering to read, you'll get most of your students stepping up. i reward my young students with stickers and stamps and my older students with participation points.

literally, i can get almost everyone in the class to volunteer when i reward them. sometimes so many people volunteer that the material runs out and there's nothing left to read.
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