Getting students to do more without checking

Often we need our students to do something but we are unable to check that they did it or we’re unable to check how well they did it. How can we deal with that situation?

For example, I often want my students to practice some language in groups. Right now with some freshmen college students we are learning how to do introductions. I want all of my students to participate in this practice but because there are so many students, I’m unable to monitor how well they are doing it or even if they are doing it wholeheartedly.

Sometimes students need a little pressure to do well. I put the students together into groups and ask them to not just practice but to make a role play of the activity. After sufficient time, I randomly choose a few groups to come to the front of the class to do their role play for all of us.

Because students don’t know which group will have to perform their role play, this puts a slight pressure on everyone to participate in the activity but the teacher does not have to check each groups work.

This approach can also be used for any activity like writing projects. I have done it for speaking projects, asking the students to create an mp3 on a group member’s mobile phone, and we choose a few group’s recordings to play for the class.

A score can even be handed out for these teams. Of course in scoring, you are not checking the whole class, only part of the class. But this should be fine if you repeat these types of activities throughout the semester and cover all of the students. One caveat is to not say that the ones who performed before will not perform next time as this causes them to slack off. Some students may have to perform and get scored more than others.

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