Today, to pace with the learners’ interests and needs, most of the teachers tend to change their teaching styles, making their classes more interactive and task-oriented. It is a fact that the vast majority of students prefer doing some activities in the class, or participating in debates, rather than listening to boring teachers’ lectures, or, I would say “pretending to listen”. On the one hand, it is hard to blame the students, since most of them are young and impatient; but, what should a teacher do, if the Cultural Studies (or World History, Literature, Ethics, American Studies, etc.) program says that students should get a certain portion of knowledge within an academic term? Recently, I have conducted a number of observations in my colleagues’ classes and some of them made me remember a very useful tool which could be able to turn long and tedious lectures into a place of hot students’ debates. I am talking about a shared-responsibilities technique, as one of the most popular strategy in andragogic (student-centered) teaching. Just imagine that today, in your American Culture class you have to deliver a lecture on American Cinema, the main target of which is to introduce the American Cinema of the 20th century, including the movies that got Oscar, the actors, the most popular movie directors of the 20th century and their masterpieces. The easiest thing that a teacher can do is to prepare the PPT slides, and to cover some details of the topic. Of course, some instructors would also use a case study technique, asking the students to work in pairs or groups, but you cannot do it all the time, since your classes are at risk of turning into a routine. To diversify the situation, change your role! Become a facilitator!
⁃ Divide your class into 2 groups (the average number of students in class may vary between 20-40): presenters (20% of the students)andthe audience (80% of the students);
⁃ Prepare materials: a lecture/lesson plan, indicating the material to be delivered to class; the sources (textbooks, books, journals or other reliable sources); and a list of the lesson outcomes;
⁃ Give your presenters the above mentioned materials. Ask each of your presenter to focus on a particular subtopic (1 student preparing the movies that got Oscar; 1 student selecting the actors (males/females) of the 20th century; 1 student searching for the most popular movie directors of the 20th century, etc.) and to prepare a short lecture accompanied by the Power Point Presentation;
– Ask the presenters to collaborate with each other, as their presentations should be interrelated;
– Give your audience the materials as well. Ask your audience to prepare the questions and comments to the topic and subtopics to be introduced by the presenters;
NOTE: Make sure that both groups read from those reliable sources that your provided earlier.
– Appoint a number of consultations between the classes to make sure that both the presenters and the audience are on a right track (check for the content used for the presentation; give feedback on the relevance of the questions prepared for the class, etc.);
– Inform the students that not only the presenters but mainly the audience will get a grade for their in-class participation.
– During the class, sit at the desk behind and observe the lesson.
If you witness hot debates among the students, then, you did a great job of a facilitator.
This technique has a number of advantages:
- students become more autonomous;
- all students are involved in the lesson and preparation to it;
- the teacher has less to prepare for the class (in terms of preparing the presentation and tasks);
- students have a chance to get extra feedback;
- the teacher creates possibilities to grade all the students, etc.