This reading comprehension exercise and the developed lesson plan are appropriate for students with intermediate level of English language (B1). It could also be adapted for elementary levels, with slight changes in the text (grammar and vocabulary) and simplifying the exercises. The theme of the text is food (History of pizza) and it covers past tenses.
This tool will be very useful for trainers who teach intermediate level learners – individually or in groups. The tool is appropriate for learners who already have good knowledge of English language. These types of exercises help practice not only reading comprehension, but also grammar and vocabulary skills. The learners will have the possibility to practice the knowledge they already have, to learn new vocabulary. If the tool is applied in a group there is a possibility for discussions between the learners and the trainer which will further improve the acquired skills.
We chose this type of tool because such exercises are very complex and extremely useful. From one side the learners put all their language skills and knowledge in practice and from the other the trainer by choosing adequate exercises could help them assess different aspects of learners’ knowledge and to detect the strong and weak points in each learner.
In the development of this tool we used the platform Wikispaces.com which we consider is the most appropriate and easy to use platform for these kind of exercises and works perfectly on tablets; smartphones and computers.
At first we created an account of Center RUNI in the platform and registered as teacher. After filling in some information about the organisation (country, city, postal code, name of organisation, target language and target group) we started to create our classroom. On the right top corner of the Dashboard we clicked the blue button Create Wiki. There should be put a description of the classroom and the tool which is about to be created – the area in which the tool will be used (primary, secondary, higher education; business; government; non-profit; etc.). After that should be put some information about the theme of the course and the grade level being taught with the new tool.
After the creation of the new Wiki the website redirects to the virtual classroom. There we’ve put a short introduction and welcome message for the future users of the tool.
The next step is to create a page in the Wiki Classroom where to upload the material for the new tool – reading comprehension exercise. This happened by creating a new page (selected from the top menu). The new page was created similar to creating a regular WORD document. There we added the reading comprehension text as well as some images illustrating the text.
After creation of a page containing the text for the reading comprehension we created separate pages where we uploaded the different exercises related to the text (4 different exercises in 4 different pages). We used the feature to Lock the exercises. We will unlock them just before the testing phase.
This reading comprehension tool was developed by two experienced language trainers. The aim of the exercise is to assess the learner’s ability to read and understand a text. Such exercises are integral part of every language course.
The tool is developed according to the target groups’ needs, knowledge and skills. First the trainers created the tool using some information from Internet, analyzing it and compile into a new homogenous text. The material is related to the vocabulary and grammar which are included in the curriculum for the respective target group.
In terms of equipment the trainers used computers with Internet access, educational materials and some online dictionaries.
The development process ran very smoothly and no issues were encountered during it.
Wikispaces is an open classroom management platform where teachers and students can communicate and collaborate. It is suitable both for trainers and learners. There is a feature to create a classroom workspace where the trainer and the learners can communicate and work on writing projects alone or in teams. The platform also offers assessment tools which could help the trainer to measure learners’ contribution and engagement in the educational process. The trainers can easily upload materials, create discussions and projects and most importantly they can help those learners who need it most and challenge those who don’t.
The platform offers features and tools to quickly and easily create assignments, share resources, make announcements, and foster discussions between the learners and the trainer.
The reading comprehension tool created in the Center Runi’s wiki classroom is aimed at intermediate level learners (level B1 English language).
The tool will help practice not only reading comprehension, but also grammar and vocabulary skills. The learners will have the possibility to practice the knowledge they already have and to learn new vocabulary.
Description of possible implementation in class
The tool could be used as an exercise of the learners’ knowledge on themes as history and food. From grammatical point of view – past tenses could be also exercised as well as some prepositions.
The tool could be applied in face to face interactions with the learners (individually or in groups). However, Wiki Classroom is a perfect resource for a distance learning and teaching.
The reading comprehension text and the respective exercises with instructions are already uploaded in the platform. The trainer has to invite the learners (using email or code invitation) to join the classroom and to start the exercise. The exercises will be locked and the trainer will unlock them before the start. The students have to download the files with the exercises, fill them in and upload them again in the classroom space when finished. The language level is B1. The main task for the learners is to read and analyze the text. After reading the text the learners have to make 4 types of exercises – true or false (10 statements); 5 multiple choice questions; 5 open answer questions and 1 vocabulary exercise (to find some synonyms in the text).
Before starting the trainer will present the rules and will set time limit for making each exercise. After the time ends no uploading of answers is allowed. The trainer has to follow that very strictly. During the exercise process the trainer and the learners could discuss some issues faced in the process. The trainer could follow the learners’ engagement and follow the learners’ progress at all times. After the end of the exercise the trainer and the learners who took it could discuss their experience.
With small alterations the tool could be freely adapted and used in face to face class which is explained details in the attached lesson plan.
If the trainer decides the learners could use dictionary while making the reading comprehension exercises.
Pros and cons
The tool is effective for intermediate level learners and makes the educational process very easy. The biggest positive aspect is that it offers all the features that a real-time classroom offers, but everything could be done online. It is perfect for learners who for certain reasons can’t go to face to face classes and for trainers who wish to improve their services. As a negative side of the tool could be pointed the fact that in order to use it effectively the trainer and the learners should have certain IT skills above average level.
Wikispaces classroom is online classroom perfect for distance education. It is easy to use by language trainers and by learners. It allows the trainer to easily create projects and discussions as well as to follow the learners’ progress. The reading comprehension tool is aimed at learners with English language level B1. The tool could be adapted to fit level A1-A2 or B2. The theme of the tool is food.
A wiki is a website which allows collaborative modification of its content and structure directly from any web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages. It’s very easy to use tool by its nature but the initial setup of the platform has to be done by a skilled person in case you prefer to use your own local installation.