Conference follow up: Notes on developing a student centred curriculum

29 Oct

“Curriculum is not a product (developed before the start of the program), but a process, which is constantly created through participant interaction.” (Elsa Auerbach)

At EFA London’s Exploring Participatory ESOL conference on 11th October we asked participants how topics emerged in their lessons. What activities did they use to find out more about their students and their interests? What strategies did they use as a teacher to create a classroom community where topics could emerge?

Below are their ideas:

Activities and tools

  • Allotment / museum / library visits
  • News story routing: students bring in a story to talk about — see what generates interest
  • Encouraging learners to provide a ‘video’ of the week to share / discuss
  • Sharing stories — students experiences (not letting it dominate class)
  • At the back of a notebook write out:
Language Ideas Change

Note down ideas that come up in class

  • Card cluster leading to river activity → for scheme of work
  • Footprints to topics
  • Drawing a house. Next time adding problems.
  • Breaks with food + drink and trips
  • Role playing issues that have evolved
  • Newspapers, media, web, TV


Teacher strategies and attitude

  • Building / learning independence (library visits)
  • Nurture the community – bonding, supporting eachother
  • Work with absolutes
  • Be prepared to feel uncomfortable and draw out feelings and opinions
  • Take inspiration from students + use it to create future lessons
  • Follow through on promises to learners e.g. find numbers, websites
  • Spontaneity, grabbing opportunities, open mindedness, courage
  • Encouraging learners to bring real life issues / needs to class
  • Flexible, open, fluid
  • Teach on a week by week or lesson by lesson basis
  • Tasked based learning, starting points
  • Showing interest in the learners → tea time trips, more personal time, 1-2-1 conversations
  • Observations and tailoring lessons based on student comments during classes


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