Student Created Content – “It’s about LEARNING not teaching”

I would like to share one of the ideas that most invigorates and informs me as a teacher. The idea of “Student Created Content” or SCC. I borrow the term from UGC or UCC, “user-generated/created content” which is the motor of Web 2.0 and the internet.  It is the approach on which I’ve designed my coursebook “We Teach | We Learn”. 

What is SCC?

It is an approach that tries to simplify the teaching/learning process and equalize the power relationship that exists between teacher/learner (much like CLL – community language learning does with its focus on the teacher as a language “knower”. ). It also is a way of instruction that completely focuses on the student’s world/context. That all language learning must start from that focal point, nowhere else. The teacher models and then the students create the content and re-practice based on the teacher’s modeling as an “expert”.

I believe we focus too much on “teaching” without giving due attention to “learning”.  We need to turn things upside down and get out of our tired and worn delivery methods. SCC as an approach does that. Those interested might read this article – where I discuss more about the teaching – learning divide.

It is an approach. There is no “one way” but rather some basic tenants to be followed. These are:

1. The students create the content (worksheets, words, sentences, topics, dialogues that will be used for instructional purposes). It is a complete “Personal” approach to language instruction.

2. It is REAL. Not about anything artificial or from a textbook. It is about the lives and times of the student and teacher. The classroom situation is no longer treated as an artificial “studio” but rather as a meeting place for real events, for real talk about real things that interest the students.

3. The teacher is also a learner and does what the students do. In this fashion, the teacher is not all-knowing but a participant. In this “low level” way, the power barrier that exists is diminished and better learning occurs and better modeling of the language.

4. It is an inductive approach. It is a holistic approach. The students are first engaged and prior knowledge elicited on the topic. Only then, are the students asked to create the content and practice the language first modeled and encountered holistically and in context.

5. It is simple in design. There is not a lot of planning for the teacher. The focus is on instruction, the art of “how” and not “what”. Teachers using an SCC approach don’t have to spend time planning, making materials, preparing. Their energy and reflection go into developing their teaching skills as they happen, during instruction. The students create the text and textbook.

I now have 60 strong lessons I’ll be sharing in the near future in an ebook where I’ll also expand my thoughts on the SCC approach. Get some of them HERE and start mucking about with your students. But let’s look at one example.
Travel Talk Lesson

The lesson delivery is always the same.
1. The teacher uses a photo/picture to elicit student response. Student prior knowledge is primed as they try to communicate with the teacher. The students talk about “the teacher’s world/life”. In the example below – Travel Talk, the students ask the teacher about his/her last vacation. It is always about “reality”.

2. The students are asked to create the content. This can be in the form of words, questions, brainstorming, drawing etc….. In this example, they choose items of a dream vacation. The materials are created simply so that the student can easily add the content based on their life experience and knowledge.

3. Using this content the students in small groups or pairs, practice with it. The teacher sets up the target language but from the nature and simplicity of the materials, this is usually self evident. In this example, the students ask about each others dream vacation using the question prompts. The teacher monitors and even participates with students.

4. A student or students become the teacher. Step 1 / activity 1 is repeated but this time a student is the teacher. In this example, a student is asked about their last vacation just like the teacher was to begin the lesson. The teacher is off the stage and to the side as the language is reviewed and used purposefully.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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