Last year I wrote about how adding a simple question at the end of class “What did you become more comfortable with today?” helped show students that even though class might not FEEL like learning sometimes, learning is happening.
When learning feels passive (all I have to do is listen and read, I don’t do anything) I think students can get discouraged because they can’t explicitly see that their vocabulary, and their communicative competence is growing.
I took a class with the wonderful Adriana Ramirez and she did something at the end of lesson segments that I immediately started to think of how could I incorporate it. We created a class dictionary.
What a wonderful way to show students that our vocabulary is getting better, and with Adriana pushing us to circumlocute it was still advanced input.
I created a personal dictionary for students to use to limit paper usage this year, but then one day I remembered what Adriana had been doing. “I can do this together with students to wrap up class” I thought.
During my lesson on Friday last week I had students working through some lessons on Garbanzo and while they were working independently I asked them to use their copy of the personal dictionary to add new words that they understood. (I did this by using the Google Assignments tool on Canvas, so every student has their own copy, and all of the student dictionaries are saved to my drive as well.)
After most students completed the Garbanzo lessons we took a song break then we brought everyone together to add words to our class dictionary (which is saved to a folder I share to students that includes our Write and Discuss documents, recordings of class, and our dictionary).
I think having students add words while they were reading was helpful for this last together activity of adding words, but I don’t know how I would feel about students having computers open adding words to their documents WHILE giving whole class input because it’s so easy and so tempting to do something else on a computer when you should be doing your best to attend to input.
So all this is to say, as a class we get to see a growing list of words and phrases that we’ve used and are beginning to learn and I hope this will be motivating for students as we go through the semester/year.
Also, students can self assess their vocabulary knowledge with the check boxes on the dictionary form and I can take a quick look in the shared folder to see what words students are feeling confident with, and which ones need more input.