In 2015 Innovating Pedagogy report listed ten most prominent educational innovations. Among them was a concept of crossover learning. Crossover learning is an attempt to combine curriculum with learning in an informal setting – in after-school clubs and museums, at online learning platforms, or outdoors.
Why is it good to implement?
The benefits are obvious.
First, implementing crossover learning increases learners’ autonomy. Taking more control over their own education is what most teenagers need and can do. Students will have much more freedom in selecting informal learning activities than in class, where they are restricted by coursebooks or lesson plans anyway.
Second, it boosts motivation. Choosing educational content outside the classroom, teenagers will opt for the issues which matter in their lives. As we usually want to dig deeper into something that truly interests us, they will not see this kind of learning as one more homework burden, especially if it is authentic and engaging.
Third, crossover learning is a great way of enriching students’ formal linguistic knowledge with some hands-on experience. At the same time, informal learning can be fine-tuned by the teacher’s guidance.
How to implement it?
No doubt that implementing crossover learning, like every other innovation, might be time-consuming for a teacher. How much time should we allocate? What to do with the students who are just reluctant about English and everything related? How to check it? How not to get behind the curriculum? The list of such questions can be quite lengthy. The main answer, though, will be to “Start small”.
- Are you using the flipped classroom approach, which now is included in some coursebooks like Gateway? Congratulations, it’s the first little step to crossover learning, especially if you don’t watch flipped classroom videos at the lesson and let students explore some topics on their own. In a flipped classroom students learn the new material at home and then practise it in the classroom. It shifts the responsibility to the students and lets them control the time and effort.
- General knowledge quizzes and internet researches are one more way to develop a number of skills, such as presentation and digital literacy ones. Are you discussing a topic or concept which your teens know nothing about? Let them google, jot down main ideas and then present it to the class.
- Add a bit of CLIL to your lessons. Content and Language Integrated Learning done in English might help teenagers with their school studies. Also, it’s a good chance for them to focus on the subjects they are considering for their future career. You can ask them to run an experiment and record a short video about it if they are into Physics or Chemistry. Those mad about Geography can host short discussion clubs about countries and cultures. The choice is all yours.
- Arrange a visit to a museum, cinema or cooking workshop. Before that you can provide students with questions or KWL charts. They are visual organizers that will help teens organise information before, during, and after a visit. KWL stands for the following:
K – What do you Know about the topic?
W – What do you Want to know?
L – What did you actually Learn?
You can keep them company or let your teens go alone and tell about their experience later. These visits will enrich students’ learning and definitely spark their interest and motivation.
5. Tell teens about online learning platforms such as Coursera or FutureLearn. They provide free online courses from top universities and have something to cater for every taste. As these courses are held in English, this offers not just amazing practice of the language, but also a variety of communication strategies. And tons of knowledge, for sure. Ask students to study some platform at home and choose a course that suits them. Encourage them to take the course and arrange the date for discussing the new information. However, this works better with higher-level teens who already use English as a medium of communication and will not struggle with doing an extra-curricular course of such kind.
All in all, crossover learning can contribute to students’ development of skills and competencies. Not only will it make the whole learning process more engaging, but also demonstrate the real purposes of learning English. Why don’t we give it a go?