The first line that comes to mind when I hear this question: are the English lessons in the camp different from those at school – oooh, they have nothing in common. Then I wondered if that was really the case?
When we talk about lessons, lesson plans, methods, methodologies, we are all clear that they are as many as there are teachers in the world. But what unites them.
When you are in school, you follow the specific planning from the specific textbook. The textbook sets specific topics and they have specific topics and tasks. The teacher takes the lesson, develops the lesson plan with his own creativity, adds his worldview and is ready for the lesson.
And when he enters a class, he reacts to the psycho-emotional dynamics of the class. If the class is not ready for a thesis, he may decide to prepare it in that class, and the next to continue to develop it.
If the class is ready for more – he will give it more. It is time to mention the individual approach – only certain children have specific needs. It is the teacher who finds the right packaging to impart knowledge to each student.
And so far there is no difference between the camp and the school. Everything is like that again.
But there is one very important factor in the camp: the time factor. If the teacher at school has 10 months each year to build stable knowledge in the student, regardless of the level of this knowledge (who – as much as he can take), then in the camp the teachers have 7 to 14 days. Here are some key differences:
- The first difference is in the goals and objectives of the lesson – we in the summer camp, work with the knowledge already accumulated during the year, which we develop, arrange and “put” into practical use. Our goal is to enable children to put their knowledge into practice, through the tasks in each lesson: projects, group tasks, creativity.
- The second difference is in the form of hours – instead of the standard 40-45 minute hours, we make blocks of 80 minutes. What makes this difference? The different curriculum, which often combines 2,3 and more subjects: language, natural sciences, social world, science, mathematics, music, fine arts.
Or we build interdisciplinary connections and work to enrich the children’s general culture. During class, children have no restrictions on going to the toilet, drinking water .. often do not even sit at desks – each time the room is arranged differently: sitting in a circle when there is a need for a conversation, on the desks, when looking at something on the interactive whiteboard, on the floor, when talking, etc.
- The third difference is that the children themselves participate in the construction of the learning content in the lesson. The main part of the lesson contains: grammar part (which is about 20 minutes / day and does not change), main topic – which is for the whole camp, consideration of the sub-topic, which is for this educational level, then the children are divided into micro-teams and work on a specific task of their choice, corresponding to the sub-topic and the main topic.
Their searches, questions and answers, create unique learning content for each lesson. For example: if the main theme of the camp is Music, the theme of the group is folklore and ethno music, and the theme of the micro-team (of 2 children) is Bulgarian folklore – then the lesson plan will cover information in this area as well. If another micro-team chooses African ethno music or Irish folklore – then these topics will also be covered in class.
Thus, even if they participate in a camp with the same topic (which is rare), the campers never work on the same project and always gain new knowledge and terms. And often teachers study with them, because no matter how much general knowledge you have about the world, there will always be something you don’t know if you go deeper into a topic.
- The fourth difference: the learning content of the camp follows a curriculum created especially for the camp and has nothing to do with school lessons. Why? The children who come to the camp are from different countries, cities, schools – following a specific curriculum is completely impossible if the camp wants to meet the needs of each child-visitor of the camp.
Lesson content is designed so that each child can be actively involved in the class, regardless of which school he comes from, what is his cultural environment and other features of the community in which he mainly resides.
Hardening of the material
In the camp, children have the opportunity to use everything learned on the spot – during games, walks and activities for the rest of the day. The theme of the camp is valid not only in the lessons, but also outside them. The whole shift is thematic. In parallel, the children practice we speak English.
This theme is universal for the camp and does not change. Every morning the children are introduced to a specific virtue and the emphasis is on its application in everyday life throughout the day.
Virtues are part of the educational program and are practiced both in and out of lessons. Teachers prepare special materials for each of the virtues and present their meaning in an interactive way.
Learning in nature
Every Wednesday the children have lessons in nature. In these lessons, in addition to learning outdoors, large projects are made in which one, two or three educational groups can participate at the same time.
In addition to the main topic of the camp, as well as the sub-topic of the specific group, topics related to nature, ecology, social responsibility are added to these lessons. And this is every Wednesday – without exception. Again, we have interdisciplinary connections that make each of the lessons meaningful.
Games: How does a game become educational? Teachers take part in all extracurricular activities on a rotating basis.
Thus, the lesson plans are expanded and actually applied until the children fall asleep. For example: if we play “Guess the picture” and the theme of the camp is “Ancient Greece”, the children guess personalities, artifacts, objects from ancient Greece.
If we have a masquerade ball and the theme is “Ancient Rome” – the children disguise themselves as ancient Romans. If we are outside and doing activities on Banderishka Polyana, and the topic is “Ancient India”, what happens – we paint the children with henna. What did they learn at that time?
They gain knowledge about the different symbols, about the meaning of henna painting, about the meaning of the ritual. Such acquisition of knowledge is often much more valuable than the lessons, because it allows children to participate directly in the activity and learn through their own experience.
Every morning, during the classes, the previous day is analyzed. Sometimes the days are so busy that they need balance and order. All the knowledge learned from the previous day can be applied during the lesson, enriching the children’s projects.
Working on projects allows each child to develop at their own pace and progress according to their own abilities. We do not have a unified system by which we evaluate children. Regardless of the results of the entrance and exit test that the children show, the teachers write an individual recommendation for each of them, based on their personal impression.
In this way, every child feels comfortable and stimulated to continue their development. Another positive aspect of project training and thematic curricula is that children with all kinds of specifics can take part and progress.
Hyperactive, children with dyslexia, children with attention deficit have their place and feel completely comfortable in class. Such a program allows for equal active participation of each of the children, regardless of differences.