I just came across this message that I wrote to my MEC colleagues
last November 16th during a week when I had laryngitis. I teach oral
skills, so at first the thought of teaching just seemed impossible,
especially the day when I had near-zero voice. But the more I thought about
it, the more I realized it shouldn't be a huge problem, and would in fact
be less trouble than prepping a sub, so I carried on as described below.
Several of you asked yesterday how I intended to teach OS with no voice.
To save my voice today, here's the answer!
Pondering how to explain to a sub what to do with no voice was exhausting
just to consider so I decided to do a no-teacher-talk day.
1) I wrote instructions on overheads and had all students read them aloud
in chorus before each activity. When they didn't read together, my Saudi
student named Bill yelled at them all to "read together please," and we
started over, and most of them did as he asked.
2) We were in the language lab, and I had planned for them to take notes
on a taped lecture. We did that as planned. Then I had them answer
questions from their notes with partners. All instructions were given as
in #1 above.
3) I had planned to show them "Jungle 2 Jungle" to go with our level 3
themes of global village, North America, and stereotypes. I usually show
it later in the term but decided to move it up for this occasion. They
first went through the guessing protocol (guess which name goes with which
character; predict what will happen in the movie), with a handout and
instructions as per #1 above. Then we watched 15 or 20 min. of the movie.
4) We returned to the classroom where I wrote movie topics on the board
and elicited statements from them about what they had seen. At this time I
had a little voice with which to get this activity going.
5) Then, as planned, students worked on posters for their "What I Would
Like Others To Know About My Country" presentation coming up. Most were
working with partners and did not need to talk to me. One student is not
using class time to do this as he wants to do extensive research and do a
fancier presentation than others are doing, after Thanksgiving. So I sat
next to him and invited him to tell me about his country (Egypt) since he
wasn't working on his poster. He was very happy to do so. He understood
that I had no voice, but really enjoyed telling me a lot of things about
Egypt that I hadn't known before.
Today, we'll have a listening quiz, then one or more student presentations,
then see a bit more of Jungle 2 Jungle, and finally, students will go to
the level 6 speaking poster session in Nolte Center with specific
instructions on how to talk to the presenters and report back to me on
paper and/or to the class on Monday. All instructions today will be given
as in #1 above.
It was interesting yesterday to observe leadership emerge (Bill repeatedly
gave instructions to get others on track when they were in their usual
'duh, what do I do' state); to listen closely to student negotiations about
what to do, without my usual intervention; and to see the silent students
have to take responsibility for their tasks. They learned that if they did
nothing, I would try to talk to them and it was painful to listen to, so
they began trying to say anything to keep me from talking!!!
Is that more than you wanted to know? As I said, I'd like to save my
voice today and not tell this story verbally!
By Margaret A Scheirman, Minnesota English Center
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN