Just got back from doing my first teacher-fronted presentation (you know, where you stand in front of a room full of people staring at you, the PowerPoint projector glaring in your face). It was TESOL France Lyon’s inaugural event and I was there in the name of Dogme…
The crowd wasn’t huge, around 15 people or so, which:
1) made it less frightening and
2) meant we could actually do a demo Dogme lesson because you guessed it—I presented the experimental semester.
Only a few people in the room had heard of Dogme and fewer knew what it was. Sonia, another speaker of the day came up with a pretty good summary. Something like “not planning too much what you’re going to do, but taking what students say and building a lesson around it, based on what needs to be worked on.” Sounded like a good start
So on we went through a bit of student feedback from their time with Dogme, the background of the movement or the Danish connection as I call it, and some key components of the approach:
- Conversation Interaction-driven
- Materials-light (not necessarily mats-free!)
- Focused on emergent learner language
I also talked about POST-planning lessons as a sort of bird killer (as in “kill 2 birds with one stone”—nothing “afowl” of course!) It keeps a record of what was done in class in case another teacher needs to sub for you one day and helps you track what’s actually been done rather than just what you had planned to do. Plus it provides a chance to reflect on how the lesson went, what worked, and how to build on that.
Maybe the best part though was actually going through a demo Dogme lesson with fellow teachers. We did an accelerated, condensed lesson, talked about how it unfolded, then brainstormed how it could have gone differently. The demo lesson was heavily inspired by the first half of Lesson 7 and suggested alternatives looked a bit like this:
From feedback I got, they really enjoyed this part because it offered the opportunity to see what the lesson looked like and how it could have gone in alternative directions, depending on the interests of a particular group of students.
The participants asked lots of stimulating questions, leading to lively discussion (and thankfully no one just wanted to pick a verbal fight—I was a bit nervous about that, I must admit!)
Two questions came up for which I didn’t have answers, so fellow Dogmeticians, I need your help here!
- (How) could you do Dogme with an ESP class or an exam prep class like a TOEIC class?
- What suggestions do you have for doing Dogme with 5-year olds?
I’ve done non-Dogme TOEIC prep and kids aren’t really my thing, but if anyone has any responses to these questions, I’m all ears and will transmit the answers to the people who asked them (crediting you, of course!)
Finally, a touch of advice for anyone thinking about presenting for the first time—GO FOR IT!!
More to come on that subject, though!