First day with a new class. List of names. Check. Keys to the room. Check. Markers for the board, pens, pencils, blank paper for making notes. Check. Coursebook…coursebook…nah, not this time.
A few days before meeting the new class, I spent some time trawling the many Dogme blogs. One in particular grabbed my eye: Oli Beddall’s An Experiment with Dogme. Great account of how he’s experimenting with Dogme, apparently in Japan.
Since Dogme is a new path for me, I thought I needed some sort of classroom compass while honing my teacher instinct. I printed Oli’s Lesson One and took it in as a sort of road map to show students what Dogme meant. I wanted to show them, but tell as well. Or rather, lead them to finding out.
We started with cut up cards of the definition of Dogme ELT from the first pages of Teaching Unplugged by Luke Meddings and Scott Thornbury. Ss worked to piece the definition together followed by a class discussion of various words in the definition. First lexical set of the day (classroom materials) and a quick word family (Merlin–wizard–wizardry) came of it.
Me: “So, how can this relate to you and to this semester?”
Ss: blank stares
Right, so the question was a bit abstract. I told the students not to worry, that we would uncover the answer as the hour-and-a-half lesson progressed. And we did.
We worked through Oli’s first lesson, which brought up the fact that I was doing the DELTA, that it involved an Experimental Practice research project, and that I wanted this group to help me along. It also led to a look at past vs present perfect simple and continuous tenses, as well as a little “make” vs “do” collocation work.
Ss actively participated, more than expected. Maybe I was on the right path…so, back to the abstract question, supported with Luke Medding’s drawing from the IATEFL Brighton conference. Ss worked out that they were going to supply the content and create the lessons, but still didn’t know exactly what that meant.
More visuals: a comparative chart of Dogme ELT and Traditional courses, filled in collaboratively. They were getting it and even better, they looked interested!
Last step: a questionnaire in L1 (here, French) on students’ views on continuous teacher development, taking part in my DELTA experimental practice research, and trying a different approach for at least the first half of the semester.
This first encounter wasn’t completely material-less (Question: does a true Dogme lesson have to be? Comments appreciated!) and having a little map to follow made me feel more confident.
Now that I have the learners’ green light to explore the exciting world of Dogme, maybe next week, I’ll leave the classroom compass at home!