Saturday, June 18, 2016

Activity 1.2 - Dream Bazaar

The current situation (context)

I teach IELTS preparation classes at a private school in Armenia. All the applicants are placement tested first before being admitted into an IELTS class. However, I still face the problem of poor grammar knowledge, which doesn't allow them to achieve a higher score in the writing and speaking sections of the exam.The course itself does not focus on grammar; IELTS course books we use don't have much on it either. Of course, I try to give them grammar exercises as homework but then going over the homework and then answering learner questions takes a lot of the lesson time. Many of the learners want to join the classes a month or two before the exam and this does not give me much time to manage to work on everything they need to improve. The thing is that at schools or universities, students mainly do reading and translation of what they have read, so all their skills need to be developed, which does not really give me much time for grammar teaching or improving their spelling, which is also pretty poor very often. Because of poor spelling, they often lose marks in listening and reading (you might be surprised).

The change you would like to see (challenge)

I would like to improve my learners' grammar and spelling as these are essential for them to achieve a better result.
If I succeed, the lesson time could be spent more effectively; and my students could be achieving higher scores.

How you might go about bringing that change (solution)

Although I am for implicit teaching, I think I will have to make it explicit in this case, as I want to do the grammar teaching outside the classroom. I will have no way of monitoring understanding and may not be able to clarify confusions immediately as the learning will take place online at the time convenient for each learner.
For grammar explanation I might use, but I am not sure which tools to use for grammar exercises. I don't want to use the ones available online, as I want to be able to see what mistakes are still made to be able to focus on those further. I was thinking of adding this to the wiki learners have, but if I cannot find the quiz making tool I need, I might use Edmodo as it allows teachers to create quizzes and see learners' answers.

Measures of success (evaluation)

More accurate writing and speaking of my students would be a good indicator of success. However, this result cannot be expected to be seen immediately.


  1. Hi Anna!
    Thanks for sharing your 'Dream'!
    Your context is clear - I know where the project will take place and understand your learners are preparing for IELTS.
    Your challenge is also clear - improving grammar and spelling skills. One question: do you think they will be able to improve both skills at the same time (in one activity)?
    I like your solution - it's sounds like 'flipped learning' - providing a grammar/spelling video with embedded questions, which you can monitor.
    There are tools out there that can help you do this - but I am not sure if they are free: TedEd, Zaption and EdPuzzle for example.
    Final question - how would you measure more accurate writing and speaking?
    Good job, so far!

  2. Thanks for the comments, Karina.
    The thing is that if they pay attention to the correct spelling of -ed; -es; -ing endings, which they will have to do to get a high score in grammar exercises, that will already be a great help to me. Sometimes they make mistakes with these even in the listening and reading section.
    Accurate grammar and spelling could be measured through the frequency of mistakes they make in their writing tasks and their listening and reading answers. In the listening they can even write a plural form of an uncountable noun. If these occur less often, I will know that the solution was effective.
    TedEd is free - I have used it before. Will check out the other too. :) Thank you