Minigrant proposal, summer 2000
Deborah Venator - William D'Abate Elementary School and Amanda Huling-Hanley - Nickerson House

We would like to collaborate on a project in which the learners of 2 community based ESL classes (mixed levels) design and present a variety of lessons and/or activities to their peers. Our rationale is as follows: We would like to promote the development of cooperative skills deemed to be essential in the modern workplace, for example, teamwork, time management, communication, sharing, problem solving, working independently. Through this learner driven and directed project we will encourage students to be responsible for their own learning, empower them as peer teachers, motivate them to master a skill, topic, grammatical structure, and to communicate effectively in English. Studies have shown that learners remember 95% of what they teach and we think this project will bear this out. As part of this project the students will keep journals in which they will reflect on the planning and research process as well as the experience of being taught by peers. They will be asked to create a tool to assess what was learned from their lesson (if applicable) and will fill out an evaluation/reflection form in which they will state what they gained from the project, how their peers benefited, and the experience of cooperative planning.

We, as practitioners, hope to gain insight as to what students feel are the most beneficial activities for learning and from that will be able to focus on appropriate teaching techniques in the future. We hope to learn strategies to encourage substantive cooperative learning. We plan to work collaboratively between the programs by videotaping the student presentations and sharing them with students from each program. Wherever possible students from one program will participate in the other program's lessons. Students will watch the video of their lesson so they can critique their own performance. We think it is beneficial for the teachers to be able to work together in both the planning and evaluation process.

We think it best to communicate outcomes by writing a summary and presenting our experience in a workshop for other teachers, and of course, by sharing our video tapes and student journals.

We expect that through this project students will gain confidence and new ideas as to how to more imaginatively teach their own children, interact with others in the workplace, and to become motivated lifelong learners.

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