When we do zoom sessions in the Hands up Project, we generally try to build in activities for students to do before the sessions (as preparation) and after the sessions (as a follow up). This is a great way to keep the students engaged with English for longer, and to make the online link ups very meaningful and student-centred. This post by long term volunteer Inas Younis in Khan Younis, Gaza has lots of great ways to do this. Over to you Inas….
As one of the English teachers, involved in making live zoom sessions with a partner outside Palestine, I realised that it’s so important to think of more ways to involve your students as much as possible in these sessions. I believe that the special opportunity to communicate with a speaker of English outside of Palestine really adds a lot to their acquirement of the language.
This year I had some special wonderful sessions with Sara Wood , a British teacher who lives in Spain .My students and I enjoyed these sessions a lot. They added a lot of things to our experience.
During these sessions , my main aim was to get my students to learn as much as they can. As I believe in the great results of active learning, I was always thinking of ways to involve them positively as much as I can. Here are some ideas:
1- Before every session, me and Sara plan together what we will talk about . She sometimes sends me an email of the activities we’re planning to do. Also, she asks about my suggestions at the end.
2- After receiving the email I meet my students and give them an idea about the topic or the activities of the next session. Then, depending on the topic, I ask them to search for something on Google or draw some pictures or write a short story. These things are all in preparation for the session.
In one of our sessions , I asked them to draw some pictures which start with the first letter of their names. Then they have to write a short story using the names of these pictures. Actually, it was really a nice activity as they practiced many different skills.
3- Another activity which was very useful for my students is the adjectives activity . It was Sara’s idea to make all the session about learning some adjectives. She sent me these adjectives by email and I asked the students to find out their meanings. Also , Sara suggested to ask them to think of one person they know who these adjectives apply to. Students wrote about their fathers , uncles and friends. Additionally , they prepared some silent sketches demonstrating these adjectives which Sarah would have to guess in the sessions.
4- In the same session, Sara told me that she will talk to them about space. So they printed some pictures and wrote some words about space life.
5- Another activity was when Sara told the girls a Chinese story about a family of rats and she asked the students to think of how this story could end. Then they prepared to perform the story with puppets that they made themselves. Two students who are good at drawing volunteered to draw the pictures and make the puppets, and I helped them to write the script. Then I asked them about the end and we agreed to end it the way you will see in the following video.
Also in the video you’ll see some information that they prepared about our festivals to tell Sara. Then they gave a quiz to test her on what they had told her. Sara, also told them about one of her favourite British festivals – “Bonfire Night”. It was a nice new information for me and my students.