Wednesday, October 01, 2008|
ESL Teacher Blog: Turning a Technical Problem into a Teachable Moment
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:40 PM
- The lights are dimmed and a hush falls over the classroom. We’re about to watch a movie. The students lean forward in anticipation, peering into the screen. I push the ‘play’ button and …a second goes by, another, 20 more seconds… nothing comes up – there is a technical problem…
All eyes are on me watching my next move. Yet, instead of feverish attempts to fix the problem, I put the remote control away and tell the following:
Talk to your partner and suggest 3 ways to troubleshoot a VCR.
Students spring into action trying to come up with the vocabulary they need for the task, or even understand the meaning of ‘troubleshoot’. As they happily chat with each other sharing their ideas and work their electronic dictionaries full time, I check the connections and find an unplugged cable. I turn to the students and listen for their suggestions (replace batteries in the remote, check the settings and antenna – are the most common ones). I tell them what went wrong with our VCR, they nod their heads in understanding.
Shifting the focus of students’ attention let me calmly deal with the problem while giving the students an additional learning opportunity. I felt both sides benefited.
I look forward to my next technical problem now – I’m going to ask them to write down the names of the buttons on VCR (eject, fast forward, rewind, etc)! No spelling mistakes accepted!