Club Activities: Constantly Developing Educational Environment and Organization of Educational Process

Margaret Sargsyan 

The Reader's Club has been functioning for already two years. Learners of different age groups are involved in the club. The club members are constantly changing: some of them leave school, new learners choose our club, the learners of Grades 9-11 change their club activities. Each learner makes his/her own contribution in club life with his/her own peculiarities, distinguishing feachers, expectations, individual experience and skills. The work with students with mixed abilities and skills becomes possible thanks to the club projects. It is important that each learner be active and feel self-importance; To feel self –importance and go ahead, to cooperate and be ready for a dialogue, to be able to justify one's own opinion, to be able to make proper presentations, to listen and contradict.

And now I want to speak about one of the club projects.

This project presupposes an individual or group working model and gives an ample opportunity to choose subject materials, methods of working, ways of presentations and terms of project fulfillment. This freedom is both stimulus and bait: the learners themselves become coordinators and decision makers.

The project theme is determined only through discussions taking into account the learners' preferences and interests at the given period of time. The principle is as follows: there are no good or bad, interesting or uninteresting, hackneyed or original, smart or foolish themes. We can study and speak about any phenomenon which interests us. The essential thing here is that how we present it, which sources we study, how we work with obtained information and what things are highlighted.   

I want to speak about how the learners make presentations. The problem is that the old way of presentations presupposed some elements of learning by heart, and they were intended for a few voluntary listeners, and the others had to listen and they did it unwillingly. Everything has changed. The everyday life of our club has the air of freedom. We don't have to do anything unwillingly. So we may also not listen to the speaker. It is clear that we keep the written and unwritten rules and school regulations, the formulated and nonformulated norms of coexistence, but it is also clear that the learner can also use his right not to listen to the speaker. What can we do to make him/her use that right as little as possible or be unwilling to use it? The answer for me, at least at this moment and at least for me, is one: to make the student the creator of the process and the interested participant of it. We encounter here a specific case: the organizer-coordinator is not the teacher with already established prestige, who can conduct the lesson so that each student might work to the extent of his/her abilities, but the student who doesn't have the teacher's experience and prestige, he/she can't make the presentation seem to be serious. I can say from my own experience that the classical way of presentation doesn't work, however interesting it might be. Most of the students are not interested in it, and the working group, the presenters are insulted. It turned out that the work had been done only to present to the teacher or to some passive listeners. It is the same with the TV news. You know that they are not telling the truth, you do not agree with them, but you don’t have the opportunity to interfere, express an opinion, or you are not willing to do that: you are just a viewer; they deliver it. You may take or may not take it.

We began working on the new form of presentation. I made a conclusion for myself: form is important in the open system of education; the form gives the content an opportunity to come out, attract and carry away. Ignoring the form causes uniformity, whereas endless change of the form causes depletion. The work on the mobile form model should be of a group type so that the students are given the opportunity to exchange-share-privatize. The word “privatize” doesn’t presuppose any restriction of rights. Not a single old or new method of conducting a lesson works in the same way anywhere. Each man uses it according to his capabilities, imaginations and the peculiarities of the subject matter and the audience. However, most of the theorist-conductors of the seminars or presenters of new methods (with their superior offices) do not understand this, and their thought of new method is presented as a universal truth which should be considered invariable. The reason for that is clear. They don't have practical work experience with students. They themselves don't conduct lessons. It is easy to speak about forms of lesson planning and suggest possible utopian versions when you do not organize a lesson yourself. The theorist and practitioner in pedagogy is only the teacher. The rest is false. It is worth thinking over. 

Now let me share my experience with you. Every time we are to present a new theme we think over a new form which will ensure the content presentation, student involvement, theme interest and all-round discussion. There is a wide range of presentation forms: not yet tried, unexplored, not yet worked on. Both the students and me worked on the forms. The students' discoveries in this field were much lighter and game like. In the result of this work we had some failures and quite interesting techniques of organizing presentations which I am going to introduce in two groups:      

           Game Tricks

  • Challenges, duel-debates
  • Performances
  • Online games
  • Contest games
  • Debates
  • Games with rewards
  • Brainstorming
  • Drawing games
  • Games organized in the parks and in the countryside
  • Wandering lessons

Presentation model-versions of seminar-discussions

I have tried to present diverse materials where you can find successful and works and failures.

1.   Club individual seminar-discussion: Cigarette smoking and its affect. Coordinators: Sona Grigoryan, Nelli Hovhannesyan, Grade 11  

2.    Club individual seminar-discussion: Animated cartoon. Coordinator: Lia Movsisyan, Grade 12

3.   Phobias Coordinator: Alvard Manukyan, Grade 11

4.   Video exploration: Seminar reference on Sebastatsi Days. Coordinators: Hovsep Abrahamyan, Vika Markosyan, Sona Grigoryan

5.   Was there a club seminar-discussion or was there not any? Coordinator: Vika Markosyan

6.   Modern Art: a small seminar-presentation. Coordinators: Nare Ghalamkaryan and Emma Isakhanyan  

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