Teaching short stories with Moodle

And sometimes it happens that for a number of reasons you have to introduce some learning material to your teenage pupils before class, and you expect them to actually do some learning on their own. Moodle can help you here.

Flipped Learning” / “Flipping the Classroom”. If you were teaching College or University students, you might assume that most will be engaged enough to take responsibility for their own learning right away, and do their job. However, if you teach teenagers, the safest assumption is that it is better to combine “Blended Learning “ and “Flipped Learning”. In other words, pre-teach and teach some of the material in class, and engage your pupils to take up the rest beyond class time.

I teach English as a Foreign Language in Israel. I have just taken this “mixed approach” to teach two short stories (Literature: W. Somerset Maugham’s “Mr. Know All” and “Morley Callaghan’s “All the Years of Her Life”) to two different groups of pupils.

Dr. Tziona Levi, Chief Inspector for English Language Education, Pedagogical Secretariat, Israel Ministry of Education, has presented “guidelines and information to assist with the teaching and assessment of literature in English as a foreign language.”

Literature not only supports the development of lexis knowledge and reading comprehension skills but also opens a window to English speaking cultures. This window provides access to a deep and genuine learning of language, including the art of writing and the intellectual perspective as manifested in literature. I see great importance in the inspiration, values and insight that teaching and learning literature provides. There is also room for comparison within and between literary texts, expression of opinions as well as relating to other forms of thinking skills. Thus, literature, by its very nature, allows for a variety of learning, teaching and assessment methods.” (Source)

Using Moodle, I can help pupils develop their “lexis knowledge” (Lexis – definition and examples). To be sure, I have repeatedly told pupils that they must be responsible for their own learning (this is, in fact, one of the strategies introduced in the booklet “A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR TEACHING VOCABULARY”:

“• Share with students why they need to learn a lot of vocabulary: it’s probably the most important aspect of language that they need to know.
• Tell students that they’ll need to work on vocabulary expansion themselves outside the lessons: there’s simply no time during lessons to teach them all the vocabulary they need and review it. (…)
• Tell students to keep vocabulary/dictionary notebooks (could be on smartphones or tablets) to keep a record of new vocabulary learnt.
• Give students five minutes during class to check through their vocabulary lists or notebooks and remind themselves of things they’ve learnt.
• Make opportunities for students to share their personal strategies for learning and reviewing new vocabulary.” (link)
Using Moodle, I can combine work in class (using both the textbook and a computer with a screen-projector) to “ COMBINE FLUENCY EXERCISES IN THE FOUR SKILLS WITH A FOCUS ON VOCABULARY
.”

Dr. Tziona Levi sees “great importance in the inspiration, values and insight that teaching and learning literature provides.” When using Moodle to teach the two short stories I have mentioned, it is possible to engage pupils to discuss Prejudice, Discrimination, Stereotyping and more. While it is true that you can do the same without using Moodle, there is the added value of having the learning material presented the way you, the teacher, want, and to have it there for pupils to further learn, review and even be tested.

A traditional exam in class and a project are possible follow-ups. It’s up to you, teacher. As for me, Moodle is a change-maker when it comes to teaching literature.

This link to a video will show you what I have done with these two groups of pupils so far, and what I might do later on.

Happy Moodling, and thanks for your time!

Eduardo Lina
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Eduardo Lina

Born in Argentina, Eduardo has been living and working in Israel since 1979 - and he loves to use Moodle! Married to Susy, with two daughters: Gabriela and Maia, Eduardo is teaching English at school. He is a Certified Israel Ministry of Education Teachers’ teacher. He has developed and facilitated several Israel Ministry of Education's Spanish and English as a Foreign Language online workshops.

One thought on “Teaching short stories with Moodle

  • 29th January 2020 at 11:49 am
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    Very interesting !
    I don’t work with schcool age learners much (aside from my two young primary age daughters!) so reading these approaches to using Moodle with school children is really interesting 🙂

    Reply

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