Over the years I have developed a number of activities to supplement and expand on different areas of the students’ learning. These activities are often accompanied by teaching aids and have in common the following aspects:
1.There is a process involved.
The students are brought through a series of steps and tasks which help them focus clearly on particular elements of the language (elements which may be problematic or need special attention to gain a fuller understanding) as well as developing a greater perspective on how the language can be applied. They are designed to be used over successive classes, reinforcing and building on what has been learned in earlier lessons.
2. Integration of the conceptual basis with the application.
Students are introduced to some of the operative ideas behind the language and explore them in practical ways during the cumulative process. The concepts provide direction and a convenient reference in their exploration of these progressive tasks.
3. Students’ involvement and interest level is high.
Student involvement and interest level play an important part in both the design and the execution of the tasks. Many students have told me that using these materials and techniques helped them not only with the language itself, but it also revitalized their motivation in learning. Sometimes I run into an ex-student whom I haven’t seen for many years and s/he tells me that s/he still remembers those activities and how we approached them. They were something that really stood out in the course.
4. Students control the pace.
Once given the tools and some direction, the students can explore the language at their own pace and in their own way. This provides the added benefit of helping develop their confidence as an English user.
5. The activities typically have physical objects
which can be held and used during the tasks. Manipulating or even simply having tactile contact with something can augment the students’ learning.
The objects (flashcards, gameboards, study pages, LEGO pieces) and the activities themselves are designed to be used as part of a progressive learning experience, but can also be used separately such as in warmers, quick activities to complement the teacher’s own lesson plans, as a review, or even something between areas of focus in the class. Furthermore, once the students are acquainted with the expectations, they become more independent. This has the added benefit that the activities are easy to carry out and they free the teacher up to monitor as s/he sees fit.
The term Integrated Learning has been applied in various contexts outside of this website. The above aspects highlight the features of what I have come to refer to as Integrated Learning in the classroom. The primary focus is for the student to gain confidence in the use of the language, to concentrate on how to strengthen it, and on how to enrich it.