Monday, 19 October 2015

Broaden Your Students' Boarders

At some point (usually in the middle of semester) I start giving out tasks to prepare a presentation at home and deliver it in front of the class at the lesson. It's individual work, no teams or pairs. The speaker chooses the means himself - PowerPoint, posters, blackboard, etc. or nothing at all.
And this semester I have got a group of really great 5-6 graders - they are super capable, willing and skillful. However, obviously, not skillful enough to deliver first-class presentations in English and speak freely for more than 15-20 seconds.

Yet I gave them the first presentation assignment last Saturday. In case you are not familiar with the foreign language level of kids at this age, I'm throwing in a picture. The huge dog illustrating all the skills you've got to have to deliver a presentation and the chihua-hua illustrating the set of skills they posses. Truly.
Now add the nervousness of public speaking (that would be those ears drooping over the little cuttie on the pic) and you'll probably come to the conclusion that it's not the best idea. I wasn't all that sure about it either. The bar should be high, yes. But not too high.

I asked one hero (really, I can call him that now) - Danya - to prepare a presentation on anything he wants: his lovely cat, favourite sport, hobby, favourite food, etc., and he chose to share one of his passions. Which is... Magic Tricks!
Can you believe that?
Trust me, I believed in him and thought he would handle speaking English in front of his classmates. I didn't expect a jaw-dropping performance, however.

Not only did he make a PowerPoint presentation, but also brought some "equipment" and showed us about 10 magic tricks right on the spot.. In English!
You could see his hands shaking, him trying to formulate ideas in English correctly and one would think Gosh, that's overwhelming. Nevertheless he dealt with anxiety just fine and made a great performance. I feel so proud of him! (although there is nothing I helped him with really) And also so glad that I decided to give that task after all.

And this post, I hope, will serve as a reminder to other teachers and myself too that kids are capable of lots of things indeed. We shouldn't limit their creativity and development zone by being afraid of failure or not believing in them. Well, definitely one cannot be successful all the time, and bumps will come along the road, here and there. But you'll never learn (and what is more important - broaden) your borders till you try.
And being a teacher I feel responsible for showing a child where his current benchmarks are and how to broaden them.

So dear colleagues, here is what I want to tell you:

Broaden your students' boarders ;)

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