Even though I still have a month left of maternity leave, I’ve been thinking about the school year and what new and different things I want to do. About five years ago I stopped having students present in front of the entire class. I almost always teach Novice learners, and at that level there are few authentic Novice-level tasks in presentational speaking mode. So instead of sharing in front of the entire class, I switched to small group presentations. Instead of presenting to the entire class, students present to a group of 5 or 6 students.
I called the small group presentations “Rotation presentations” because after presenting to their small group, the presenters at each small group got up and moved to the next small group and presented to that group. After the second presentation, the presenters got up and rotated to the next small group. This process continued until the presenters made it back to their original small group. Then, a new person presented to the group and took their “rotation presentation” turn.
Here’s a visual example. Olivia, Tyler and Sam simultaneously present to their respective groups. Then Olivia moves to group B, Tyler moves to group C and Sam moves to group A, and they present to their new group. For their final presentation, Olivia moves to group C, Tyler moves to group A and Sam moves to group B, they present to that group. Afterwards, they return to their original groups, and round 1 ends. Round 2 begins with Emma, Dylan and Ryan presenting to their respective groups.
Rotation presentations work okay with a class of 12-15 students, but a few problems arise with classes of 25-28 students. The bigger classes have to rotate to too many groups. Doing a presentation three times doesn’t feel too repetitive, but presenting five or six times is too much. The other problem with rotation presentations has been that awkward time when some but not all groups are ready to rotate.
This coming school year I want to keep small group presentations but drop the awkward wait time and presenting more than three times. My plan is to rename them “Small group presentations”, use a group generator, and do three rounds of small group presentations. In each round, students will be assigned groups of four or five students, and each group member will present to the small group. For round 2, students will move to their new small group, and again for round 3. Depending on the class dynamics, I could skip assigning groups.
One issue I’ve yet to address is how to build in accountability into the small groups. I usually sit with one group, but how can I systematically ensure that the other groups are staying in Spanish and being kind audience members?