Every year in the last week of September my students go on a class trip. (Serbian monasteries , Greece, Italy, Chech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, France or Spain). Two lessons before setting off , they make presentations on their class trip to the class as a result of their project group work in order to prepare themselves and their classmates for the beautiful and magnificent historic or geographical sights they are going to visit.
Preparation for the project:
First, according to the itinerary (5-6 places or sights), I ask the students to divide into 5-6 groups (on voluntary basis, but not more than 4 students in a group) and choose the place.
Then, I explain to them what their project is about – the preparation for the class trip and tell them they should give a presentation on a destination or a sight according to these rules:
- they have the interactive white board and the computer or the CD player at their disposal;
- they can present the place any way they like- they can use the Internet to find and download the information, pictures, videos, they can play the music or dance to the music (national or modern music of the country they are going to visit), prepare some national food, dress up in national costumes; in case they don’t wish to give a computer presentation, they can use posters, or they can do anything they consider to be appropriate for the occasion or suitable for the topic, always having in mind their „audience“- what is it that they themselves would like to hear or see about the country (the place, sight) they are visiting ? and not get the others bored to death! (with useless and boring information!);
- time – their actual presentation should not last more than five minutes + three minutes for placing USBs or CDs in the computer , so that each group will have enough time for giving the presentation;
- the fair division of work in the group!- I warn them that they must equally contribute and share the work: collecting the data, presenting the facts, using the presentation material etc. (team work);
- they can have the notes in front of themselves but at no time read or refer to the data on the board (read them) – they should be freely presenting the ideas (learn them).
I choose „a big giant head“ (one student who is a good organiser), who is going to take down the students’ names and their groups for a certain place they wish to present (so that there will be less fighting over the „attractive“ destinations-as it has always proved to be some, and give them two weeks to plan and do the project. In every lesson we have before these two weeks have passed I ask the students how things are going, if they have any problems (e.g.pronunciation of the historic or geographical names, etc.) and also give them enough time and space to rehearse their presentation before the actual one takes place in front of the class (this is very important so that the lesson can run pretty smoothly!).
At the end of the lesson I praise their work or correct some things so that their presentations can improve next time. I also give them an excellent mark (almost always) to motivate them and reward their effort and hard work.
Such lessons are full of fun, the students („the audience“) are fully concentrated and interested, participating with their (funny) questions, laughing or /and singing. I am always amazed by my students’ creativity, wit and motivation they show when preparing and presenting this work. The whole lesson is carried out by the students, but throughout being monitored by the teacher. (The students are the performers, presenters and the center of the lesson). The aim of this lesson (project work) is speaking and listening practice in English, which, as proved in practice, help the students filled with anticipation to prepare for gaining knowledge and broadening experience in the class trips (which is the actual purpose of such trips). Also, as the students’ presentations are fully in English, such lesson provides them with some useful vocabulary that they will either use themselves or that will be used by tourist guides who will be showing them around these sights or destinations in English.
This English lesson closely interacts with history, music, geography, literature and other subjects.
At the end of the class I give them a task (homework-while it is hot) to do: to send their video, audio or slide presentations to their computer science teacher to download them onto the school web site so that they can be of use for the other school students who can see their work and refer to it when in need (future class or individual trips, history or geography lessons). They often do that, and such presentations can be found at www. trecagimnazija.edu.rs
Finally, when they return, I always ask them: Were your presentations useful to you? and they say they were, they understood everything so much better, but also add that, as at some places they were just so tired and „sleep- walking“, only because they’d already been given some hints about the place in the class they knew where they were at that moment.