Homework. One of those necessary evils of education.
“Flipping the classroom” is gaining momentum, but many teachers still use homework as an important tool in their lessons. I don’t want to start a discussion on the correct use of homework or the reason some students don’t mind and others can’t get used to it.
What I do want to stress is that discussing homework, or videos that have been watched at home, do need to be discussed in lesson. If students do not know whether what they did was correct, there’s not really a use is there?
Answer sheets are an idea, something a lot of teachers use. Answer books are even provided by publishers so students can check themselves. That’s a good thing, but discussing their work might be vital as well.
So, how can you discuss homework in a CLIL way?
Step by step procedure
Here’s what I do:
- I first ask my students to discuss their homework in groups of 3 or 4.
It is important to scaffold this process. Don’t just tell the students to ‘discuss things’. When I introduce this activity the first time I will mention something like:
“First compare your answers and check if they are the same. If that’s not the case, figure out why your answer is different and try to convince the others that you are right.”
I set a time limit of about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the amount of assignments I want the students to discuss.
- I tell my students 2 assignments I want them to explain later on. Assignments that were part of the homework.
In this part of the activity I help the students to focus. I choose 2 assignments I think are very important, assignments I know will return at some point later on.
- Students have to discuss these 2 assignments for a short period of time, after which a student will be selected to explain the assignment to the entire class.
“I don’t know” is not an option anymore after the time limit of this part has passed. After the students have had time to discuss in their groups and even receive some extra time to focus on the assignment that needs to be explained.
I set a time limit of about 5 minutes for this part most of the time, also because I don’t want this activity of discussing homework last too long.
- One student is randomly selected to explain one of the assignments.
This is an important part of this activity. Quite often, especially when you have never done something like this before, students might back out of this part.
They might be afraid of failing.
They might be inexperienced in standing in front of the class.
They might prefer explaining in a small group.
But I don’t care.
At this point, students have to do as they are asked. And believe me: once you have done this a couple of times students have gotten used to it and don’t mind it all anymore.
And the results are great!
Mind you, during this entire activity I only explained what they were supposed to do and might answer a question at some point.
But if you provide clear instructions and the homework was no too difficult, this activity will result in a lot of student engagement, a thorough discussion of the topic you want explained and, most importantly, the students speak English!
Try this in your lesson and let me know if it worked out! Do you have other ideas? Let me know, I want to try out other activities next year again