Making the Most of Classroom Libraries

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Being an English as a Second Language Learner myself, I have experienced the importance of promoting extensive reading in the classroom. This belief was later reinforced with my teaching experiences at all levels, and with my PhD work. Extensive reading should be a ‘must’ in any SL classroom, and it may be developed in many ways (see Day, 2002, to know his suggested top ten principles). In this article, I am dealing with one of my favourite resources: s, and how we can make the most of them in our classrooms. Let’s go!

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Ready to start

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Let me start by wishing you a wonderful academic year 2013/2014, full of exciting lessons, great learning moments and interesting projects.

It is now two weeks since we started classes in my University, and one of the things I hate most of these days is that I have to make students read one dull document we call “Study Guide”. It is basically the syllabus of the subject, and students find it pretty hard to organise all the information all their lecturers are giving in just a few days.

This summer I thought about more dynamic ways of making them read the document and understand what is written on it!, and I would like to share some of these ideas with you, just in case they are working for any of the reading activities you’re planning to carry out in your courses.

1. CHECK-IN POINT. This is a list of four-six questions my students have at the end of the document. They go through them to check if they have understood important information contained in the Study Guide. These questions can also be used as a TRIVIAL PURSUIT activity. The teacher divides the class into groups, and they get points for each question answered correctly.

2. QR CODES. I don’t know about you, but my students cannot be separated from their mobile phones. You can divide the study guides into different parts and covert the text into QR Codes using any app, for example this.

3. THREE, TWO AND ONE. This is an activity I use in many situations, when finishing a lesson as a recap, when starting a lesson as a warm-up, as a reading comprehension activity, etc. It is so useful in my lessons, that I created a poster with to have a nice visual to use with my students.

My 3,2,1 poster
My 3,2,1 poster

You can download it here

4. STUDY GUIDE CUT-OUTS. I prepare a blank copy of the study guide, leaving just the headlines. The body of the text appears in paragraphs. Students have to stick each paragraph to the correct section. This makes them read, understand and classify the text.

5. FIND THE MISTAKE. I make some changes to the original version. These should be crazy and funny, so that students can easily identify them. For example, you may include a crazy aim, such as ‘to be able to fly to the Moon’, or ‘to write Harry Potter’s prequel’ 🙂

6. JIGSAW ACTIVITY. I divide students into pairs. Student A and Student B have half of the information contained in the Study Guide together with a set of questions. They ask each other to complete the information which is missing.

I hope you find these ideas helpful and practical, if we are lucky, we won’t have to answer that very last question. “Is there an exam in this subject?”