Is thinking working?

It’s the first lesson back after the holidays, 8:15 – 9:05a.m.

It’s the troisième – 20 odd fifteen year olds.

As anticipated a quarter of them were absent.

Not wanting to spend the whole lesson writing ( -we only have three lessons a week and I feel a bit useless sitting there watching them write so it’s usually oral in class and writing for homework), we do an all singing, all dancing oral activitiy first.

OK, it’s more all mumbling, all shuffling, but I do get them up, in two lines, changing partners every 2 minutes.

Now for the writing activity, I’m very excited about this because we’ve just joined the 100 Word Challenge.

Obviously I’m more excited than the students, but I know they love my buzzy lessons deep (deep) down.

I explain the challenge, give them this week’s prompt, and let them get on with it.

A couple start writng, nobody actually starts snoring, I wait…

…and wait…

After five or ten minutes I ask what their story will be about, a few answers, a few questions about vocabulary and style. (“Can we write it in the past?” “Can it be fiction?”)

A good percentage however respond with “I’m thinking”.

Hence my question, I know that real thinking is real working of course, but how do I know they’re really thinking, and about the subject not about how much they wish they were still in bed? It’s easy to see working when they are doing oral activities, or writing, doing listening comprehension, etc.

The last fifteen minutes of class was spent this way, with the work to be handed in next lesson.

Was this a waste of time?

Were they really thinking?

Does it really matter if they were thinking or not as long as they hand the work in completed next lesson?

Surely a breather on the first morning back with a whole day of lessons ahead of them won’t do them any harm.

Or do I just want to be in control all the time?

I’m so aware that there are so many great things we could be doing in class that I never want to waste a minute, but actually I’m not sure if trying to force feed learning every minute of the class is the most efficient way to do things ( images of foie gras and geese spring to mind).

Perhaps I should just let go a little more often and leave more time for thinking.

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About fabenglishteacher

I've been teaching English for a few years now and this blog is part of my never-ending quest to make learning English more fun, and easier for my students.
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3 Responses to Is thinking working?

  1. Thinking is good especially when they are thinking about writing (I would say that wouldn’t I?). I believe that teachers are the worst for filling silences and getting students ‘doing’. Not sure where it comes from. Perhaps it’s because the contact time with students is limited. The proof will be in their pieces of writing. You can then talk about ‘thinking’!

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