Implementing the Domains of FIRST-ADLX in the English Language Class: An Impact Story from Lebanon by Ms. Suzan Shibli
Learning occurs when an Active Deep Learner eXperience is designed and facilitated, which involves acquiring values, skills, and knowledge. It is an impactful and transformative eXperience for both the facilitator and the learner whether through the stages they go through, the touch points they interact with, and the unique learner eXperience each one of them lives. Such an Active Deep Learner eXperience can open new horizons in the participants’ lives; whether on the personal or professional level.
I am Suzan Reda Shibli, a graduate in English Literature from the Lebanese University and an English language teacher for more than seven years so far. I have taught various levels, both elementary and middle school, and I have faced significant challenges, including managing a large number of undisciplined learners in a single classroom, as well as dealing with middle school learners who do not speak or understand English. Consequently, I had to deal with the challenge of starting from scratch while simultaneously covering the required curriculum.
To overcome these challenges, I participated in various training sessions with different associations and schools. However, despite all that I have engaged in, the desire for more professional development opportunities remained. I felt that I need to look for opportunities that can help me enhance my role as an educator and improve both on the personal and professional level.
This feeling persisted until I came across the concept of the Active Deep Learner eXperience (ADLX) and applied FIRST-ADLX Framework to design and facilitate such an eXperience, and the need vanished once I got the chance to participate in “The Introductory Journey”. This Active Deep Learner eXperience, which was a pivotal milestone in my life, provided me with the opportunity I was looking for, changed my perspective towards learning, and had a significant impact on my career.
Following this experience, I set my goals and decided to apply FIRST-ADLX Framework using various methods. I wanted to avoid monotony and engage learners in a subject they used to consider difficult and unimportant. Hence, I designed and facilitated an active deep learner eXperience, according to the domains I had experienced in FIRST Journeys.
I will now present to you the most significant aspects of the Active Deep Learner eXperience I designed and facilitated, hoping that it will be a chance for sharing experiences and insights.
The Participants in the Learning Journey
Inspired by the underlying concepts of FIRST-ADLX Framework, I designed and facilitated a two-day learning journey for a group of learners.
Age Group: 11 to 12 years
Gender: Mixed (males and females)
Grade: Sixth Grade
Number of Learners: 33 learners
Subject: English Language
School: Iman Al-Arqoub School
City: Hasbaya / Al-Habariyyah
Before implementing FIRST-ADLX Framework, I had consistently felt the need for considerable effort to convey information as learners had always found the English language to be dull and challenging. As mentioned earlier, I had to deal with a significant number of learners who lacked the prerequisites needed for their grade level which negatively impacted their enthusiasm and ability to acquire the learning outcomes. Consequently, I embarked on changing this situation by adopting FIRST-ADLX Framework and working on different aspects cognitive, mental, spiritual, emotional and physical.
Designing the Learning Journey
Designing the Learning Journey
I designed a two-day learning journey and outlined its learning outcomes as follows:
Main Learning Outcomes:
By the end of this journey, the learners will be able to:
- enjoy the English language class
- gain a sense of ease with the subject matter
- trust their ability to learn and progress
- read a text fluently with accurate pronunciation
- use present tense verbs to speak about natural disasters
- define English vocabulary related to natural disasters, particularly hurricanes
- distinguish between past and present tense verbs.
- identify synonyms associated with natural disasters.
Parallel Learning Outcomes:
By the end of this journey, the learners will be able to:
- tell what natural disasters are, especially hurricanes
- describe hurricanes, outlining their causes, effects, and potential solutions to mitigate negative impacts, all in English
- develop communication, teamwork, collaboration, and problem-solving skills
- enhance visual memory
- recognize the severity of natural disasters
- value the importance of getting prepared to them
In a couple of weeks, learners will begin to:
- raise awareness about natural disasters and the necessity of readiness to minimize losses
- analyze and critique an English text for a deeper understanding of content, noting vocabulary and grammar details
- demonstrate a strong commitment to learning
- embrace challenges as opportunities to learn
The Sequence of Activities:
A Pre-Meeting Mission:
Before our first session in which we explored the hurricanes, a new concept for the learners with some challenging terminology, I assigned them a task: I invited them to do some online research about the meaning of hurricanes, their effects, and causes, and organize the information they gathered on a poster along with some pictures and models. The purpose behind this was to present and share their findings with other learners.
Day 1: Meeting 1: A Seventy-Minute Learning Trip
Opener: 10 minutes
I started with a ten-minute opener in which I distributed blank sheets of paper to the learners and asked them to write their names on one side and a characteristic they like about themselves on the other. They then affixed these sheets to the table as introduction cards. I initiated by addressing them by their names and their attractive traits, inviting everyone to refer to each other using these traits. For instance, we referred to Youssef as “Youssef the Smart,” and to Yahya as “Yahya the Creative,” and so on.
Learning Activity 1: 30 minutes
The learners were invited to present and share their findings, and I facilitated the activity using the three stages of RAR Model.
I invited the learners to share their thoughts and feelings about the research they conducted. Then, I invited the first volunteer to present and share the information they gathered.
Learners presented one after the other, and they exchanged questions and answers. As for me, I mainly managed time, encouraged the learners to ask and answer questions, and made sure everyone was participating. I also intervened when necessary to enhance understanding of specific concepts or in other words to probe and assess.
At the end of each presentation, each learner shared one new thing they learned from their peers or appreciated in their work, along with the reason.
Note that some presentations were postponed to another day due to the large number of learners, aiming to prevent boredom and ensure engagement.
Learning Activity 2: 20 minutes
After presenting and sharing findings, the learners were invited to read a text. Again, the three stages of RAR Model were applied.
Once the presentations were completed, I had my learners engage in some physical movements to prepare for a focused reading session. It was time to settle down for a brief reading activity.
The learners began reading the text, taking turns to read aloud. I occasionally intervened to clarify concepts and ensure their ability to connect story events with their research findings. I also paused at key vocabulary terms, elaborating on their meanings and providing examples based on their research.
I invited the learners to share what they understood and what lessons they drew from the text. This allowed the learners to engage actively with the text, connect it to their research, and reflect on their comprehension and insights.
Linking and Summarizing Activity: 8 minutes
To help the learners link and summarize what they had learnt, I divided the learners into groups and encouraged them to play an educational game (Word Puzzle). I prepared puzzles related to key vocabulary words.
The puzzles required learners to use synonyms and a set of clues to find the secret words (key vocabulary). I divided the learners into groups, provided them with the puzzles, explained the instructions clearly, and started the activity.
The learners worked together to arrange letters and words, uncovering the secret word. I monitored the group work, ensured everyone’s participation, and assisted as needed. Once the teamwork was complete, they shared their findings and collectively formed a sentence.
Reviewing actively: 2 minutes
The learners shared what they accomplished, the lessons they learned, and the potential applications of their newfound knowledge in the future.
Day 2: Meeting 2: A Thirty-Five-Minute Learning Trip
I distributed blank papers and invited each learner to write the first letter of their name on the paper, along with something they like and something they dislike. Then, they folded the paper and placed it in an empty box. Afterward, each learner randomly selected a paper and read it aloud, while everyone else guessed the author. The activity continued for 7 minutes, with volunteers taking turns to choose and guess until the designated time for the activity was over. This activity promoted engagement and interaction among the learners while providing a fun and engaging way to get to know each other’s preferences.
Learning Activity 1: 18 minutes
Learners then watched a video, and I balanced between the “Pulling” and “Pushing” techniques to facilitate learning.
I encouraged the learners to be attentive and focused as it was time to watch a video.
I presented a short instructional video about the verbs used to talk about natural disasters such as hurricanes.
I invited the learners to reflect for a minute before selecting a paper from the box. The learners chose papers and read the questions I had written on them before the session, directing them to their peers. They took turns selecting papers, reading the questions, and answering them. The activity lasted for 18 minutes, and we stopped choosing and answering questions as soon as time was over.
Learning Activity 2: 10 minutes
After that, the learners were invited to play a game and match cards.
I placed cards on the board with verbs written on them back to front so that the verbs are hidden (Each verb was written twice on two different cards, both in the present and past simple tenses). I asked the learners to put on their memory hats as the upcoming game required a strong memory. Then, I provided them with instructions and asked them to work in teams to match similar cards, finding the past and present verb forms of the same verb.
The learners worked in three groups (assigned based on their seating positions) and selected cards, flipping them to find the present and past verb forms. At the end of the allocated time for the activity (6 minutes), we counted the verbs the teams were able to match together, and we congratulated everyone on their efforts and collaboration.
Each learner shared a verb he/she learned today in both past and present tenses.
I invited the learners to gather in a designated spot in the classroom and form a circle. I asked for a volunteer to stand in the center. Then, I invited the volunteer to choose something he liked and say it out loud, starting with “I like…”. I informed the learners that if they also like the same thing, they should move to the center of the circle next to the volunteer. However, if they don’t like it, they should stay in their places.
The first volunteer said, “I like fruits.” Those who liked fruits quickly moved to the center of the circle, sharing smiles and laughter. The activity continued with different learners taking turns to stand in the center, sharing things they like, until the allotted time for the activity was over.
Learning Activity: 5 minutes
I went to the board and wrote “Present Tense Verb” in one corner and “Past Tense Verb” in another corner. Then, I handed out sticky notes to the learners and asked them to write down something they learned today and stick it in the appropriate place.
The learners wrote down what they remembered and placed their notes in the correct category. They then moved around the sticky notes, reading and commenting on them, while I moved among them, checking and assessing. The activity continued for 5 minutes.
Each learner shared what they learned from this activity about the difference between past and present tense.
Implementing the Domains of FIRST-ADLX Framework
During the journey, I applied the domains of FIRST-ADLX Framework as follows:
Focusing on Learnerrrrrrr Behaviors Domain
- I called out the learners by their names along with the positive qualities they chose during the opener on Day 1.
- I built upon the qualities they chose to highlight other positive traits they possess but they may not have realized or mentioned at the beginning of the journey.
- I moved among the learners and ensured everyone’s participation in team activities.
- I assigned roles to ensure everyone’s involvement in activities like the circle activity and selecting questions from the box, among other group activities.
- I made sure to involve those who didn’t participate in a certain activity in a later activity.
- I empowered learners to explain information during presentations, and I only intervened to explain when necessary.
Interacting within Positive Group Dynamics Domain
- I designed activities with different interaction patterns: learners worked individually for the very first mission, in groups during the sessions, and interacted with every single learner and with me during group activities such as reading, project presentations, sharing lesson learnt in the final activity, and more.
- I emphasized giving positive feedback while reading what learners wrote on sticky notes.
- I avoided singling out individuals who gathered the most vocabulary, and we applauded for everyone to appreciate their effort and collaboration.
- I ensured a safe environment for fun and laughter.
Reviewing Activities within RAR Domain
I divided the learning activities into three stages as mentioned in details earlier:
- Readiness Increase: Before each activity, I ensured that the learners were mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared. I invited them to wear their “thinking hats” at times and to open their minds and ears at other times.
- Activity Facilitation: During the activity, I closely observed their work, facilitated their progress, and provided assistance to ensure tasks were completed within the designated time.
- Reviewing Actively: In this stage, I posed a series of questions to guide learners in reflecting on what they had learned and how they could apply it in the future. I also prompted them to share their feelings and thoughts, reinforcing the impact of the activities on their minds and emotions.
Sequencing within Session Flow Domain
For a smooth flow of the active deep learner experience through the journey, I arranged my learning and experience activities in a coherent and logical manner, taking into consideration the learners’ energy levels in order to prevent boredom and fatigue. I also used various tools and supplementary aids such as videos, cardboard, papers, puzzles, sticky notes, and more to avoid monotony and address different learning styles. This helped learners maintain engagement, flow, and sequential connection between the activities.
Transforming Learning into Performance Domain
- Learners were provided with the vocabulary and grammar needed to discuss the topic through various activities.
- The topic was connected to real- life events/scenarios, which encouraged learners to gather practical information from outside the textbook.
- Learners shared some real-world examples and highlighted the practical applications of the new knowledge and skills in life beyond the classroom.
The Impact of FIRST-ADLX Framework on the Learners
The application of FIRST-ADLX Framework had a profound impact on the learners:
- The learners’ perspective towards the subject changed noticeably, reflected in their behavior immediately after the journey. The initial sense of difficulty transformed into more positive feelings and a greater fondness for the subject. They even began using English in their conversations and discussions among themselves effectively.
- Their pronunciation of certain words improved, and they started imitating proper pronunciation. Some even expressed a desire for extra lessons.
- A few learners started writing articles in English and sought feedback.
- Some learners confidently delivered speeches in English during the morning radio session.
In conclusion, the performance outcomes, which aimed at enhancing self-esteem while communicating in English, fostering a strong desire for learning, and embracing challenges, were clearly achieved. Undoubtedly, this led to the acquisition of new concepts, development of communication skills, and confidence to use English outside the classroom without hesitation or fear of making mistakes.
Today, I can proudly declare that my love for this subject and the significant impact FIRST-ADLX Framework had on me has resulted in a fundamental shift in my teaching approach, vision, and approach to challenges. It has also transformed the opinions and impressions of the learners. The practical application of the different domains of FIRST-ADLX Framework in order to design and facilitate an Active Deep Learner eXperience had deeply influenced the learners’ hearts and helped me convey the noble message of the educator’s profession. We aspire to become beneficial contributors to our nation and serve as role models for others in the future.
Meet the Writer
Suzan Rida Shibli has a BA in English Literature from the Lebanese University, and has been teaching English for more than seven years.