5 ways to supercharge your primary classroom

Alexandra Purcell

How can we ensure our primary learners are motivated, engaged, and excited about learning English? In this blog post we will explore 5 tried and tested tips to bring our teaching materials to life! We will look at practical ideas for making skills practice as interactive as possible and strategies to make sure that above all, learners have fun. Let’s supercharge the classroom for them!

Life is an adventure, so learning should be too. My tips on how to supercharge your classroom are illustrated using examples from Super Minds Second Edition, a new course for young learners that takes them on an adventure.

Top tip 1: Create the right conditions

How do you want your learners to feel? Some suggestions could be happy, supported, and confident. Providing a comfortable classroom environment is a key to successful learning. One way to do this is by engaging children in meaningful, challenging tasks. We can also offer choice where possible and motivate them to become autonomous, independent learners.

“Children show more self-regulated behaviour if they engage in tasks that are meaningful to them, where they have the opportunity to lead their own learning, and where they can adjust the level of difficulty to their own ability.”

 (Perry, 2013)

Top tip 2: Use visuals and videos

Visuals are a powerful tool in the classroom.

  • They help students retain information.
  • They provide an opportunity to think about new concepts.
  • They inspire students to study more effectively.

 How can we exploit them using our course materials?

  • Focus on one image, for example at the start of a unit.
  • Ask learners to note down what they can see in the picture.
  • Hide the image and ask students what they can remember.
  • Play the “chain game!”:“There’s a shark in the sea.” > “There’s a shark and a seahorse in the sea.”

Videos also offer exciting ways for students to interact with their learning material.

In this video, At the house, the course characters are brought to life! Videos can be a springboard for listening activities and class discussion. Some post-watching questions here could be:

  • Which animals did you see in the video?
  • Was Misty brave?
  • Would you go into the house?
  • Who is your favourite character?
  • Tell your classmates about your house.

There is opportunity for not only comprehension of the topic, but also to ask questions which develop critical and creative thinking skills. As well as this, students develop empathy skills by thinking about how the characters and others feel in different situations.

Top tip 3: Take a step-by-step approach

We can support our learners by scaffolding learning, building up to an activity such as a writing task, in a way that they feel more confident and motivated to complete it. Let’s look at another image and how we build the learning process.

First, learners complete two sentences:

  • The biggest boy is talking on his mobile phone.
  • The boy in the blue t-shirt has got a torch.

Next, they answer two questions:

  • Where is the bicycle?
  • What have the boys in the grey t-shirts got?

Then, they write two sentences:

  • There is a ball in the tree.
  • It is a sunny day.

Following these steps not only adds momentum to a lesson, but allows for students to take a more active role in their learning process.

Top tip 4: Personalise

Each student has a different personality and preferences, so it is important to try and meet these needs, interests and abilities in the learning environment. This activity gives learners the opportunity to express themselves by first creating a visual, and then writing about the process and what the visual represents.

Top tip 5: Focus on life skills

There are many ways we can help children to develop life competencies such as communication and collaboration.

In this example, we can ask students to imagine a robot and say or write where they think they are going and why. It encourages creativity and provides the opportunity to share ideas and interact with classmates while enjoying the activity.

We can also make sure the feedback we give is constructive:

  • Focus on the process.
  • Praise effort, rather than the result.
  • Give reasons for feedback.
  • Encourage a growth mindset.

Enjoy using these tips to supercharge your classes!


References

Paes, T. and Eberhart, J. (2019) Developing life skills through play. Part of the Cambridge Papers in ELT series. [pdf] Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Available at cambridge.org/cambridge-papers-elt

Cambridge.org

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