Monday, October 22, 2012

JAM in the classroom

JAM, short for Just-a-minute, is something I was introduced to in my college days. It was one of the most fun-filled element of inter - collegiate fests. The instructions were very simple - speak about a randomly drawn topic for exactly one minute. 

Following my co-teacher’s suggestion, we thought of using this game in the classroom to improve the speaking and oratory skills of the students. We have been doing it once every week and three weeks have passed since we started. As of now, the students are given some time to prepare notes prior to the actual speech. We will gradually try to make this more challenging by asking them to speak impromptu.

Inspite of being discouraged by the PYP, using grades turns out to be a very useful tool in this kind of engagement. Each student is assessed on a scale of ten. There are ten pre-decided criterion -
  • Precision of time
  • Confidence
  • Voice clarity
  • Fluency of the language
  • Language usage (Grammar)
  • Articulation
  • Relevance of the content
  • Interest level of the audience
  • Eye - contact
  • Hand gestures
Every time a student finishes the speech, the rest of the students in the class give 'marks' to the speaker based on each criterion. There is a 'Time-keeper' who checks the speaker for the duration and a 'Scorer' who adds all the ten scores together. These roles are taken over in rotation. (Decimals are touched upon too as each score is in the range of 0 to 1). The assessment is followed by the speakers noting down the score in there journals. They also write two criterions they scored well in and one aspect they need to improve in.

It is highly evident that repeated exposure to this exercise is helping to students to articulate themselves better. Looking at the big picture, the students are getting opportunities to reflect on their language skills on the whole. What’s more, they enjoy it thoroughly too!

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