obaketyan (obaketyan) wrote,

Making Things Approach

Last Friday we attended Macmillan ELT Seminar.
Once again I made sure that native teachers and their understanding of Communicative Approach are excelllent for (Very) Young Learners. Adults and Young Adults would barely learn a lot. Now I realize that what we had at our University while we were going through Galperin's book were the best lessons ever.
Speaking about kids I was greatly impressed by Amanda Cant's masterclass, titled something like "Be Flexible (for Primary Teachers)". She has a real knowledge of children's psychology, she is creative and I just fell in love with her.

Her lecture had a very simple structure. First of all she said that her idea of teaching kids came to Making Things Approach (or Arts and Crufts Approach). I was very glad to hear this, because after studying a great deal of books and forums I made the same conclusion. But when she explained and (what more important) showed what she meant... well... that was amasing!

The next thing was the benefits of this approach. There were several things I hadn't think about:

1) the feeling of making an achivement is very important for kids (yes, ok), BUT they understand the "achievement" quite differently then the teacher (which is not so obvious untill you're told about it). For a teacher the language is on the first place, so the progress in language acquisition is significant and evaluated. For kids it's difficult to see this progress, because each lesson they have new words and constructions. Usually they are not aware about their success in learning. So here Making Things comes in handy.
Kids come to class with empty hands and at the end of the lesson they have something nice which they've done themselves!
2) Making Things IS NOT so important for language practice (!) You can start your lesson from making something and then make great play with this thing. (I used to think that crafts can be practised at the end of the lesson, just to fasten new words. This idea of the lesson, based on some toy created by kids at the very begining, seems more logic and useful for me now).

Then Amanda listed the drawbacks: too many materials should be prepared, too much time is demanded and probably wasted, too little language is practised, too much native language is spoken in the classroom. Just messy fun and nothing more!

Then she simply showed us, how to do the crafts with kids avoiding these drawbacks.
The main idea is to divide the whole activity onto small STEPS and CONTROL the children.

And then the fun began. She said: Put your hands on your shoulders, please! Watch! DON'T DO anything!!! Watch!!!
Not all the teachers followed her instructions ;)) But she insisted.
So the activity was the following - we had to fold the sheet of paper in two, then put our hands up with this ready piece to demonstrate that we had completed the step. Then put our hands on our shoulder once again to watch the next step. We folded 3 sm on the both sides, then put a finger inside every corner and pressed so the rectangles appeared in the corners.
At last we got a nice English house. Exactly semi-detached ;)
We drew the roof, the windows and so on (practising There is, There are). Then she gathered the houses and stuck them on the blackboard, added some trees, flowers, some weather elements. Well actually any outdoor topic would be discussable with these nice hand-made houses.
Though indoor topic is also appropriate - kids can draw the rooms inside the house and on the back side they can draw a garden.

In one little house which kids've made themselves in 5 minutes the teacher can find a great variety of possible topics to practise, and a cultural aspect (semi-detached + garden) to discuss.
The main things are SMALL STEPS and CONTROLLING KIDS. Well, it's a little bit different from the idea I was going to introduce into practice with my future class, but I like it very much!
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