Running a conversation class can often be a difficult thing for teachers, especially if there is no syllabus or course plan to follow, or if the class has been going for a number of years with largely the same students in it and has already been through every teacher in the school – who have worked their way through all the usual suspects in terms of resource books and supplementary materials.
I came across a new (to me at least) website today that I think can help with that!
The site “either.io” posits “Would you rather….” type questions such as “Would you rather win an Oscar or win the Nobel Prize?”
If you are just visiting the site for your own pleasure it is easy enough to breeze through several of these questions making snap judgements and then seeing how many of the site’s other users agree with your call, as once you’ve selected you get to see the total numbers and overall percentage of people who made both choices. Thus, I learn I am one of the 15% who would rather live in the Star Trek universe instead of the Star Wars universe. I stand by my decision……
With a class though, this obviously needs a bit more set up, thinking, and exploiting.
First of all, you need the tech to display it – this would work quite well with IWB classrooms for example – but the low tech version might be the teacher looking at the question on their phone and then simply writing the question on the board.
I think you also need to offer the students the choice of whether they want to discuss the question. You may have a class with no strong opinion on the differences between Star Wars or Star Trek, or whether they would rather play basketball with Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Equally, some of the questions are culturally insensitive and may get into those controversial areas that you might not want to visit with your class. And some are just ridiculously puerile.
Once you have settled on a question, you can divide the class into two groups (blue team or red team) and allocate each group one of the options. They then have to think of the advantages, disadvantages, and implications of their option. You can then regroup the class so that one blue team member is paired with a red team member and they can debate the possibilities. With smaller classes, it might work better just to have the two teams debate together.
As content feedback, you can show / tell the class what the actual statistics are for the choice, and this can lead into a discussion as to why you think people made that choice. Some of the statistics are surprising and perhaps reflect the fact that people make snap decisions rather than thinking it through.
Another possibility is you could use this as a warmer question for stronger groups – something to have on the board when students come into the class to get them talking straight off the bat.
If you use or have used the site, let me know how it went!