One of the best presentations I watched at “The Old Ship Hotel” in Brighton yesterday was Mary Henderson’s “Meaningful English through Multimedia Projects”. The projects she was talking about were research projects where her students (young adults) had been expected to use various recording devices (video-cameras, audio-recorders) and computer software (Windows Moviemaker, word processing software etc.) to produce a written report and a video-presentation on their chosen topic. The topics ranged from sports and baseball to product design, and from tea-drinking customs in Britain to the meaning of the word “gig”. We got to see clips from the video presentations and we flipped through several of the reports and I thought they were all brilliant!
From Mary’s presentation it became clear that the keys to her (and her students’) success lay in the planning and the feedback. The students had been required to follow a detailed week-to-week plan throughout the project and had had to complete the different steps in the process by given deadlines. That helped the students stay on track and also made it easier for Mary to monitor and assess her students’ work and effort continuously.
I would love to be able to do something like this with my students. However, my students are teenagers living in Turkey and not young adults living in Britain trying to improve their English. So, obviously I’ll have to lower the bar a bit as to the quality of the end product as well as probably think up ways to motivate them to actually do the work. My younger students may or may not be as techno-savvy as Mary’s students, nor have as much time as they did to devote to editing and programming, and that needs to be taken into consideration as well.
Although designing and running a project like this seems to involve rather a lot of work on the teacher’s part (the very detailed planning, the regular assessment, the feedback, designing the rubrics, and evaluating the end products), the examples Mary showed us convinced me that it will all be worth it in the end!