Have you ever wondered how a chair is made? It is a seemingly easy construction: four legs, a seat on top of it, and a backrest for support. At first sight, nothing remarkable. However, several phases of planning and trials take place before a few pieces of wood are worth the name “chair”. At AMADEUS Vienna we teach our students to set goals, to make plans using an array of effective strategies, and to put those plans into action.
Last month, our Grade 8/9 English B students were challenged to plan a vocabulary-based lesson for their peers. Over the course of two weeks, students brainstormed ideas, became experts in their chosen field, and designed well-structured lesson plans. After several rounds of editing and replanning, all students delivered a 30-minute teaching sequence to the class.
Mr Daniel Poetscher has been teaching English language acquisition courses for three years at AMADEUS Vienna. As Service as Action Coordinator for our Middle Years Programme, it is important to him to bring Service Learning into the classroom. Therefore, students were asked to choose topics of global significance in order to raise awareness of important issues. Some of the topics we learned about included: Pollution, Internet Addiction, Exam-Based Education, Cancer, Corruption, and Gun Laws.
A great challenge to overcome
From this experience, our students did not only improve their planning skills, goal-setting strategies, and vocabulary. They also faced a common fear among non-native English speakers, namely presenting in English in front of others. After their teaching sequence, they reflected on their experience and wrote:
“In this activity, I learned about the importance of having a plan before an actual presentation. I also learned that teaching can be very easy if you prepare well.” (Student, Grade 9).
“Now it has become easier for me to present something and it was cool discuss my topic with my ‘students’ that I got to teach.” (Student, Grade 9)
“This was my first time teaching a class and it was a great challenge to overcome.” (Student, Grade 8)
“I got very some interesting feedback from my peers and I will use this feedback for presentations in the future.” (Student, Grade 9)
“I have learned that it is important that students always speak one at a time and that we need to listen to each other in class discussions.” (Student, Grade 8)
“When you are teaching, you always need to make sure that every student understands.” (Student, Grade 8)
“I learned a lot about my topic [Exam-Based Education] by doing research and teaching others about what I have learned.” (Student, Grade 9)
Planning and giving a presentation may seem easy to some people, but to many others, it is a daunting task. But with the proper support and structured scaffolding, any goal is reachable.