Being in a frivolous mood today so I have decided to start a new series of posts on lesson planning. As, truth to tell, I am a little bored by being boring about spelling – which could explain the minor 18 month hiccough in posting.

Where the idea came from

This one came to me by accident. My normal practice in the computer room when estimating how long any activity may take is to think of a number and double it. Lost passwords, no sound on the computer, Web 2.0 etc etc. One day though, the unthinkable happened and everyone logged on, didn’t confuse their hotmail account with their Facebook account and then did I what I intended them to do. Problem. There was that awkward little 10 minute gap before the end of the lesson and the computer room isn’t the ideal place for the jaunty and impromptu little communication activity.

The idea

Devilishly simple. Just let them do what they want for 10 minutes on the computers. What’s going to happen next? Do they

a) go on to their Facebook account?

b) look at the football scores?

c) continue playing with one of the language sites I’ve introduced them to?

Answers on a postcard show that around 75% do the educational thing without any prompting, the other quarter waste a further 10 minutes of their time.

Does it work?

For me, yes. For me the ICT lesson is almost invariably the self-access learning lesson too. It’s a chance for them to find different ways to explore English in their own time. It’s very rarely a homework sort of lesson, simply because context dictates that not everyone has access to the net and not everyone likes/sees the point in learning via computers. They can if they want. Strictly not compulsory.

What they do

What happens in that 10 minutes? They get to choose to be independent learners. They use the net in the way almost everyone does use it outside the classroom – hopping from one site to the next. Seems a reasonable use of 10 minutes. In PPP terms, I class this as the free practice stage.

What I do

Oh, I do the teachery sort of things. I help, assist and advise. Most of all though I observe. I get to see what has worked about my lesson and what hasn’t. If they go to the sites I’ve been using with them earlier, that is the most informative and positive feedback I can possibly get. If they don’t? The feedback is rather less positive but just as informative.

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