My September classes with 1st year students went pretty well. My main aim was to welcome a new generation of students to the library, to show them that I care about their success, and to motivate them to ask questions and think about the library in a different way.
We did the three activities: two activities in Serbian (What do you expect from your school library & Ask your librarian), and one in English (Gift of words – 20 beautiful single sentences in literature). The lesson plan is in my previous post.
Students’ expectations were mostly about the library being available / with a lot of good books for teenagers / the librarian should be helpful, kind and friendly. They expect to find enough assigned readers, and a peaceful and quiet space for reading and learning. The librarian should help them choose the books and literature for their school assignments and project works. They also expect their teacher-librarian to recommend the books that will develop their love of reading and increase their vocabulary and their creative potentials.
Students’ questions were mostly on: the number of books / the oldest / biggest / best … book in the library; computers, video surveillance, working hours and other library regulations.
These are some most interesting questions:
When was the library founded? Who was the first librarian?
Can we donate books to the library?
Are there some English graded readers in the library?
Who is more interested in books: boys or girls?
Can we spend the time in the library when we skip our lessons?
Can we have some extracurricular activities in the library: literature, drama, chess…?
Can you help us learn some learning strategies?
Can we do some project works in the library?
Can students volunteer in the library?
What is your favourite book?
*What is the point of love?*
In the English language activity: Gift of words I got the students to read the sentences first (single sentences in literature about life, love, curiosity, dreams, perfectionism, etc.), then to choose a slip with a sentence they liked best and say why they liked particularly that line. Our conversation was spontaneous and students were relaxed and not afraid of making mistakes. I took some photos and told them that I would write my reflections about the classes on this blog.
We talked about the things we found interesting and relevant at the moment: from our favourite books and writers, some effective ways of learning English, to students’ hobbies and recent experiences. For example, a really interesting moment was when I asked a student with a neck collar why he wore it, what happened to him, and he described that he had hurt his neck while jumping into the sea during the summer holiday (he only needed a little help with the word “seabed” while explaining it). Another student explained that he learnt a lot by playing games on the Internet and he was happy to have made friends with a few nice Syrian boys. A student who loves history was curious about the history books we have, and he told us that he had won the first prize at a competition (he was particularly interested in Tukidid). Some girls were curious about the dictionaries at the library, and asked if they could use the Aviation English dictionaries for their assignments.
English is compulsory in our school and we have mixed ability classes (there are about 25 students from beginner to intermediate level in each class). I was so excited to be able to organize the classes the way I found useful and effective. I strongly believe that students learn the language implicitly and the role of a teacher is to create a supportive space and an atmosphere conducive to learning.
I think that some students were really glad to have the opportunity to speak English, their English was very good and they asked me some interesting questions. Some students were hesitant to speak and they were mostly quiet, but they enjoyed listening to others; only a small number of students were unwilling to speak English. I told them they were free to use the slips with the sentences in Serbian. But, it was funny when a few students asked me (in a trembling voice) if they had to speak only English at the library when they come to borrow books. I reassured them and said: of course not, but it’s up to you, everybody who wants to practise English can ask me for a book or any information in English.
I tried to engage the students by providing opportunities to use the language for communication outside the classroom, and also by providing an achievable challenge. The students were involved in communicative interaction, where they were focused on meaning. They spent the time talking in the target language, and not listening to a teacher talk about it. While talking with students I tried to use some useful words & short expressions for clarifying or explaining, or expressing surprise or excitement, and so on (actually, really, sorry, wow, no way, oh no, that’s amazing…).
I really enjoyed the classes because the students were interested and engaged (although it was their 7th class of the day). They looked lively and cheerful, and before leaving they enjoyed some chocolate seashells at the library, too. 🙂
September classes and students’ (positive) feedback helped me create the library syllabus for this school year. I also found some articles on the Internet with the topics relevant to teenagers and that might be interesting for creating some activities in the ensuing months:
- Learning techniques & strategies
- Cheating & plagiarism
- Healthy habits & sports
- Ecology & Climate change
- Save our planet & endangered species
- Films, music, travels, hobbies & humour
Buster Keaton – The Art of the Gag [https://vimeo.com/146442912]
- English language club