Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Techniques for Classroom Volunteers: How to "Float"

Assisting in a classroom involves many different types of activities. One of these is “floating”, or moving around and helping students while they are working independently.

First, ask the teacher you are assisting what the focus of the lesson is. If you know what the objectives are, you can concentrate on those as you circulate and assist students. The teacher may ask you to monitor for student progress in:

· a particular aspect of pronunciation (word stress, the “s” sound at the ends of words, etc.)

· accuracy in a particular point of grammar

· reading comprehension

· comprehension of activity directions

Follow these steps, once you have clarified your focus:

1) Circulate around the room.

Observe students as you circulate, noting if their understanding/language use is accurate (according to focus). Ask students to show you their work and explain it to you.

2) Assist.

Give hints. Don’t correct an error or give a student an answer immediately – facilitate the detection and correction of their own errors and/or help them find the answer themselves. For example:

  • ask the student to go back and look at the reading again
  • on a page with 8 questions, where 2 are incorrect, ask the student to look at those again
  • ask the student why he/she chose that answer
  • go over the instructions again and, if necessary, do an example together

3) Don’t linger.

Assist a student with a couple questions/corrections/clarifications/etc., and then move on. After helping a student with a couple of problems, they should be ready to try again on their own. Encourage the student to continue with the rest of the activity, and tell them you’ll return to check on them.

4) Continue to circulate, so that you can help as many students as possible.

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