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Design a worksheet homework

Here's an idea for you if you haven't thought of it already.

Pupils design their own worksheet based on a text.

This could work well with intermediate (GCSE) or advanced students. For intermediate students I would probably supply the text myself, to make sure it's at the right level of difficulty. With advanced students I would suggest they search out their own (short) article. A site such as 1jour1actu would do the job for AS level, something more meaty for A2 level.

You would suggest to students a menu of exercise types to use. They will probably have a good idea of these from their experience with previous resources. Suggest: questions in French, true/false/not mentioned, find the vocabulary, questions in English (last resort, but would suit some students).

Once their sheet is completed, they could be marked by the teacher or, much better, copied and shared amongst pupils for them to do, with the creator of the sheet doing the marking.

This task has many merits which must be obvious, but I'll spell them out anyway!
  • Students get to read carefully and, in some cases, choose their own content
  • Students get to surf for good texts, so have contact with a range of texts and new ideas
  • Students get to think about language teaching pedagogy; they get into the mind of the teacher and therefore take a more active and aware role of both parties involved in the learning (this could even lead to discussion about the nature of language acquisition)
  • Students get to be (buzz word alert) creative e.g. with exercise type or invention of amusing true/false/not mentioned sentences
  • Students get to see other students' work and thus assess where they are themselves
  • Students practice particular grammatical forms e.g. questioning
  • Students are active, teacher does less
  • Students enjoy the task!
You can envisage variations on this theme. One that springs to mind is students simply designing their own grammar practice worksheets, once a point has been presented and practised.

Another one for advanced students would be for them to use their worksheet for some micro-teaching. A good student could lead the class and play teacher. This would work well with most advanced students.

Have you done any variations on this?

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Just to mention that Paul Hayward of The Henrietta Barnett School sent me some very good worksheets to help with the teaching of Au revoir les enfants, the fabulous Louis Malle movie based on his own childhood experience in a boys' boarding school during the occupation. I never taught ht film myself, but I enjoyed showing it to students from Y10 up. Anyway, the sheets are posted as free samples on the site.

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