Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Web-based lesson design process

How would I go about designing a web-based lesson? 

First, I would focus on the topic or topics the unit from the book has got. So for example, let’s say I choose unit 5 from Super Goal (Manuel Dos Santos, 2001). The title of the unit is: Is there any pizza? The grammar points are: coun –noncount nouns; some & any; and would like. I find this unit in the book and scan the content to identify the topic(s) where functions and linguistic aspects are embedded. In this unit, we have two topics: food & restaurants I will choose as my web-based lesson focus: food

What do I do next? 

Well, I start finding sites related to this topic. I can do one of the following things when searching information about it: 

Option 1. I can type in the Google search engine the word “Food”. It will retrieve a list of sites with broad topics related to food. I’d check the first link since it is the most visited site and this may mean it has got interesting information (It’s not always like that, though).  

Option 2: If I want a game or quiz, I would type: “food+games” or “food+quiz” or “food+interactive” and choose one my students may like and enjoy.  

Option3: If I want a sound (and do not want to have copyright problems), I could type: “food+podcast”. For a video, you can type: “food+videocast”. Even though, you can download this audios or videos for free to your computer, it’d be great if you acknowledge the people who produce them by mentioning them in your material as reference or sending a letter to them and letting them know how useful the sound or video has been for your class. 

Now, let’s pretend I went for option 2 and found a game related to food:

This game will be my inspiration to start designing my web-based lesson. Remember that we will follow a task-based approach to design our activities for this lesson. So I will divide the whole process into: pre-task, task and follow up activities.  

The pre-task could be a brainstorming activity, questions, a picture, a short text related to something they have previously seen or practiced in the classroom. Remember we are recycling or reinforcing, NOT introducing new content!! Ok. Having made that clear, let’s say I go for a picture. So I go to Google images and find one that I could use for my students to identify words related to food. This is site is: It was the best I could find. We will not always find the perfect thing on the net because people don’t design their sites thinking about our pedagogical needs (unless it is an EFL site) but we can always ADAPT! …What I'm trying to say is that we don’t have to spend hours finding the perfect site…It should be reasonably sound for our main purpose: recycling and exposing our students to language and more authentic material that will lead them to do things (writing, listening, speaking, reading) meaningfully. Ok…Having found this picture, I will design the following activities:  

1) Students will match with the picture with a list of words related to food with a classmate. 
2) Students classify the words from the list into “Good for my health”, “Not so good” or “Can live without it. 
3) Students to compare their answers (communication – sharing tastes in food) 
The task activity can be started by asking students: “GO TO”….That is, by visiting the site we chose for this part of the lesson…For the task, you can choose activities like scanning, making comparisons, solving a problem, etc. For this material about food, I ask students to  

1) go to:

2) play the game. 

3) read the suggestions given after the game and correct the ones they have in the external material. 

4) play the game again and organize the food into things they eat little, some or a lot…As you can see we are dealing with grammar but within a context…I try not to shoo students away by writing “Classify food using expressions of quantity” in my task-based activity  

5) share this information with their classmates (communication again). 

The follow up activity (activities to consolidate what students did from the previous activities in the web-based lesson) can be a writing or speaking activity (a letter, dialogues, role plays). For my lesson, I ask students to write about a food group (which is what they have in the game) and e-mail the composition to their teacher. Check: Food (external material) and a graphic representing the web-based design process.

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