Bingo: Blended Learning is Entertaining
Written By: Mac-Z Zurawski
Bingo! Another student has won a prize, not just a dollar store item but a new way to discuss the news. Attracting and maintaining students isn’t easy in a small non-profit adult ESL “current events” class at Aquinas Literacy Center, aquinasliteracycenter.org. These are just a couple of thoughts that go through an adult students mind by 6 pm on a Thursday. “I worked a ten hour shift in a sweltering warehouse. My son is having trouble with school and I missed my bus. Now, I’m supposed to run off to class. Should I even go to class? ,”. Yes. My classroom isn’t a lecture hall or testing center. It is a collage of andragogy (http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/andragogy.html) based learning tools creating a living learning experience. Some call it blended learning but I call it common sense. My students know that they will have a great conversation, possibly play “current events” bingo and learn something new.
The classroom is as hot as a warehouse or sometimes as cold as the fridge. My students endure because I attend to their needs. I know they are tired so I keep them engaged. We begin class by watching short video clips on the internet of major news stories from the past week. I keep the clips short to 3 minutes or less to buffer the “zone out” many tired people get from staring at television. We watch from various news websites to get my students comfortable with web sites. Twenty-first century learning is web based. We then begin a discussion after each different clip. Who heard about this event? What does it mean to you? Why did I show it to you? Students, especially adults, want to chime in with their opinions. These create an active discussion. After 20-30 minutes we switch to an activity. Why? My students will become complacent and withdraw from conversation. I am always buffering the “zone out”. We begin playing a game such as Bingo (http://www.bingocardcreator.com allows personalized spaces instead of numbers) or Jeopardy. I research games on the web or ones I’ve played and mimic them for each class. At this point my students are deeply involved with class again. Everyone wants to win something after a long day of toil. Happy faces, joking and bonding occur with my students at this point. After 20 minutes we start to wrap up class. I then open discussion on a story that has been sensationalized like a Hollywood story. Once, again we are shifting gears. I use a five minute lecture at the end of class to reiterate our news stories. The wrap up allows my students to ask clarifying questions. Blended learning is more about blended teaching. My students remain actively engaged in conversation. These conversations, activities and questions create individual learning as each student gets their turn to participate.
Any use of the web in the classroom can be blended learning, just decide what your students may need. My ESL students need to be introduced to learning activities and stories on the web. Find your niche!
Mac-Z Zurawski is an active community instructor in adult education throughout Chicago. She instructs an adult ESL Current Events class at Aquinas Literacy Center (aquinasliteracycenter.org) and tutors Adult GED and US Citizenship Coaching through Chicago Cares, Inc (chicagocares.org). She blends andragogy and technology to create active learning environments. She was inspired to support others by watching her young son struggle with a severe speech impairment that has led into delayed learning process. “If he feels frustrated, an adult must be even more stressed by lack of support”, she says. She is a board member for the Midwest Sociological Society’s Committee on Women in the Profession. Her goal at the MSS is to create workshops on networking in academia and support for new comers to the field. As a member of the Working Women’s History Project (wwhpchicago.org) she supports educational awareness of women’s history. Ms. Zurawski believes education is a positive and lifelong action to help adults “bridge the gap between dreams and reality”. Her education is based on Political Science, Social Justice Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Sociology and Criminal Justice. She is actively pursuing employment in these fields in higher education. You can find her on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mac-z-zurawski/2b/225/5a3 for more information or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.