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How to connect reading, listening and video watching for students? How to find interesting, current and thought provoking topics to engage students in thinking and discussions?
Aeon is a free non-profit publication which covers topics related to philosophy, science, psychology, society and culture. In Videos for the Humanities & Sciences, I referred to Aeon's rich library of videos. This post is about using Aeon as a possible source for reading assignments which may include class discussions and then lead to possible writing assignments.
Some of Aeon's articles include a brief podcast; e.g. We have the tools and technology to work less and live better which may set an example for students to create their own podcasts. Other current articles describe the times we are living in; e.g. The planet is burning.
Many topics are complex - just as our times. Giving learners the opportunity to go beyond the superfluous in lessons, to question and reflect is an integral element of classrooms and learning spaces.
For EAP or ELT students, there are always short language tasks which may added to a lesson. For instance, including a vocabulary quiz with Quizlet, either pre or post reading; or any using any other tool which may suit the purpose post reading.
More significantly, when given a theme/topic, students can browse through Aeon, and in small groups select an article which resonates with them. There may be a syllabus to cover, but so often it does not take into account learners' real interests, nor contemporary issues which are part of their world. Learner autonomy is not easy either for students who are accustomed to following instructions and regurgitating information. By having students in small groups read, discuss, think and decide on an article, they are in fact practising how to be more autonomous as learners, learning how to collaborate and make decisions, while bringing their own views and agendas into lessons.
Time for a syllabus to include learners' agendas as worth discussing and learning about.
Time too, to go beyond glossing the surface and giving students more complex and challenging readings. Understanding the contemporary is part of learning.Santiago from Emma Allen on Vimeo.