This article by Sophia Rizzo describes her experience of using Demand High on Delta Module 2 for the Experimental practice assignment.
(Many apologies to Sophia for the delay in posting this!)
My Demand High Delta Module 2 experience
The idea of starting Delta Module 2 was, quite frankly, daunting. I wasn’t sure what levels I would be teaching, or what skills and systems I would choose for my assessed lessons. On top of assessed lessons and background essays, there was also the ‘Professional Development’ assignment, part of which included experimental practice- researching and planning a lesson based on an area of ELT you haven’t used before. Pretty scary sounding. However, it didn’t take me long to decide that Demand High would be the right choice for my Experimental Practice.
A colleague had attended one of Jim and Adrian’s Demand High training days, and was so full of praise that I knew I had to investigate it further. I looked at the ideas on the website, and decided that the ‘not rubberstamping’ technique, as well as ‘one-to-one’ in a group would be a great fit to try out with my CAE class, who were edging ever closer to the exam, and were starting to get rather nervous that they didn’t ‘know’ enough.
I chose a key word transformation task, and set it up as normal. It was when it came to class feedback time that I really started to ‘demand high’. After nominating the first student to give their answer to the first question ( I chose a relatively confident student, whose answer I had checked while monitoring). I knew the answer was right, but rather than saying ‘yes, well done’, I asked another member of the class their thoughts on whether it was the right answer, and why. If they weren’t sure, they could then ask another member of the class, or the student that provided the answer, which opened up discussion amongst the students. I found that this meant I could change my position in the classroom, and the lesson became much more learner centred.
The key word transformation task lent itself well to Demand High, as it looks at discrete items of language, and I was able to ask students questions such as “Can you make another sentence using ‘I’d rather..?’ “ It also allowed me to use one-to-one in a group well, as it was easy to spot weaknesses and confused looking students.
At the end of the lesson, I gave the students anonymous feedback forms to complete, asking for their thoughts on the lesson. I also left the room for a few minutes so that they could talk privately if they needed to. They all agreed that they felt ‘involved’ in the lesson and that they’d learnt a lot.
The students’ responses to the one-to-one parts of the lesson were interesting. Several of the students expressed concern that the students being singled out for one-to-one in a group might have felt uncomfortable. However, all of the students that were chosen for one-to-one actually said they felt completely comfortable and happy they were being helped.
The only slightly negative feedback I received from a couple of the students was that we might have spent a little too long on the task. This is probably valid- it was over an hour for 8 questions. In retrospect, perhaps I demanded too high, and needed to consider whether I really needed to delve into and dissect every answer quite so deeply. This is something I bear in mind now.
All in all, Demand High really has changed my teaching- rubberstamping is a thing of the past, and my lessons are more learner-centred as a result.