Before continuing my exploration of how “doing away with the coursebook” would influence teaching special needs children such as the ones I teach, just a quick look at the status of the previous two angles explored:
* Readers’ comments have made me feel much better about recycling vocabulary in a class without a coursebook (“Angle 2”)
* I remain as concerned as ever about the mainstreamed special-needs children and their tutors (“Angle 1”).
And now for “Angle 3” !
I teach a lot of reading & writing skills by having students answer questions about pictures.
I work on reading & writing skills by doing “Reverse Reading” activities on the board.
Students participate in the Y.A.L.P vocabulary project.
Sometimes we play games.
These are all activities done without the coursebook.
Then along comes the pupil who flips through his coursebook and says :”Look how many exercises we’ve skipped! We haven’t learned anything this year!”
The more ambitious the students, the more they are concerned about comparing their progress to something clear and unambiguous. They can look at their grammar book and see which tenses /structures they’ve drilled. They can see which pages they have filled in their coursebook. The Y.A.L.P vocabulary project has its own tracking page which shows progress.
Progress in reading and writing activities cannot be measured in such a manner.
This morning I was explaining to a group of tenth graders about the different levels of the national exams in English they would be taking next year. In the easier exams the students can copy a sentence from the text as an answer but the harder ones require the students to actually form the answer on their own. This prompted one very ambitious, smart and tense girl (profoundly deaf, too) with a “horribly low” level of vocabulary,to accuse me of not teaching them how to write this year…