Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Best Practice: I do it, We do it, You do it!

Whether you are planning an activity or a whole lesson, here’s a simple and effective way to organize it.

I. I do it

“I” represents the teacher or tutor and includes any or all of the following:
-explaining why you are doing the activity/learning the skill
-creating context
-introducing new language or teaching key vocabulary
-activating learners’ prior knowledge
-giving examples and/or modeling to show learners what you want them to do
-using visuals and realia to aid comprehension
The teacher plays a major role in this step and the learners have a more passive role. We sometimes call these “controlled activities”

II. We do it

“We” means the teacher/tutor and learners are practicing together, or learners are working on structured (controlled) activities, with lots of teacher support, as they practice the new language or skill in multiple ways. Examples of “we do it” would be:
-speaking activities like role plays where tutor initially plays one of the roles
-cloze (fill in the blank) activities
-reading out loud as a class

III. You do it

“You” represents the learners. They are now practicing on their own, applying what they’ve just practiced, as the teacher moves among them, observing and providing assistance as needed. These are called free practice activities and tend to be more authentic or “real life” situations.
-dialogue journals
-role plays

Progression within lessons and activities generally follows this pattern, from more controlled to less controlled, so keep this formula in mind when you plan: I do it, we do it, you do it! You’ll see some tutor tips in the coming year that follow this format, too.

A quick example:
I. I do it: T models a short dialogue using a picture, props, gestures, etc.
II. We do it: Learners repeat after T, one line a time, with multiple opportunities to repeat
III. You do it: Learners practice dialogue in pairs, while T observes and assists

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Using Model Texts

Purpose: To help learners better understand features and language of a writing task they will be attempting

Some activities using model texts

  • Label the different parts of the model. For example, if you are working with business letters, learners would label the addresses of the sender and receiver, the date, the greeting, the closing, the signature, the name typed out and any abbreviations used at the bottom.
  • Match standard phrases used in the letter to their meanings, which you have written below the model text. An example of a standard phrase is “Please do not hesitate to contact me …”, for which you might write, “It is ok to write or phone the person who sent the letter.”
  • Compare a successful version of that writing task to an unsuccessful version. For example, you might choose a good business letter and compare it to one that is too informal or poorly organized.
  • Fill-in-the-blanks
  • Learners put paragraphs or sentences from the text in the correct order.
  • Learners discuss the purpose of paragraphs or sentences.
  • Learners highlight sentences or paragraphs with different colors to denote their function.
  • Learners copy the model (shorter text) into their notebooks, substituting their personal information for the given information in the text.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Welcome to this new blog from the Minnesota Literacy Council. In this blog you can read tips, activity ideas, strategies and advice for adult literacy volunteers who work with adult immigrants and refugees. Check back every week for new tips.

Feel free to comment on the tips, ask questions, make suggestions and share your ideas related to volunteering to help adult immigrants and refugees learn English.