Kobayashi Maru

Individually, my Year 9 German group (set 2 of 2) are nice pupils, some funny, some a bit odd, but by and large OK.  Put them together, however, last lesson on Tuesday and Wednesday, and they become a different life form.  I have lost track of the number of times I have been unable to actually start the lesson because they come in to the room talking and just don’t shut up.

I’ve tried being calm and quiet, loud and shouty, mixing the groups, working individually – the only thing they seem to engage with is Linguascope.  Great for learning 12 items of vocabulary, but after that …?  Then they complain at me because they didn’t get level 5 on their last assessment.

Those of you who are Star Trek aficionados may recognise Kobayashi Maru – the no-win scenario – and most of the time this is what I feel like with this group.  However, if you do know about the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, you may also recall that James Tiberius Kirk actually beat the Kobayashi Maru – he won the no-win scenario.

So this is my 5 week mission to …  OK, I’ll stop the Star Trek references, but I have devised a plan to see if there is any way I can engage this group more successfully.

I have asked the group to tell me how they want to learn for the next half term.  I have given them the non-negotiable facts (which topics and grammar they need to learn, what level they are expected to be working at, and the fact that there will be assessments at the end).

The rest is up to them.  They have been compiling a list of activities they want to do to show off their learning (role play/drama, board games, posters), and have split the work between groups so that they will each be responsible for teaching the class a different aspect of the unit.  They have also made a list of what they need me to do (eg explain about separable verbs, coach on pronunciation).

Over the holidays, my job is to put it all together, and I’ll be handing it over to them in January.

It could work, it could be a disaster.  But at least I’m trying.  I’ll post updates here as we go along.